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To see Crete or not?

My husband and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary with a trip to Greece. We have 15 days. I had planned for us to arrive in Athens 2 days, Crete 3 days, Santorini 3 days, Naxos 2 days, Mykonos 3 days then back to Athens.
Here is my question...if we were to eliminate one of those islands, in order to spend time on another island, which island would you eliminate and which island would you spend more time on?

Let me say, my husband is 66 and I am 57. I am in better health than my husband. Nothing serious for him, (type 1 diabetes) I am just more active. We own our own business and work everyday, it is important that we have “down” days. We both enjoy the beach and my husband is a huge history buff, but I don’t want to return from vacation completely exhausted.

Posted by
162 posts

My husband and I spent three days in Crete several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it! It was a pre- tour for another trip. We found the people warm and gracious. The tour guide we had guided us through the three major cities on the island. The Minoan civilization is fascinating.

Posted by
18405 posts

Crete is a very large Island and would seriously benefit from more than three nights. I've been known to suggest that folks not even go there if they only have three nights.

You list the number of days you'll be spending in each place, but I assume that's really the number of nights you'll be sleeping there. The number of days will be less, because the time in transit is not available for sightseeing. In particular, two nights on Naxos just gives you one full day and a few hours on the island--and there's a lot to see there.

There are many folks on the forum who have more recent experience in Greece than I do, but I would eliminate Mykonos, adding one night to Naxos and two to Crete. I'd also consider reducing Santorini (which is both expensive and touristy) to two nights--adding the omitted night to Athens so you'll have more than one full, non-jetlagged day there. Unless you have no interest in Athens' museums and classical ruins, two nights there at the beginning of your trip (the first, partial, day probably being severely sleep-deprived and jetlagged) is not going to be sufficient.

If you tell us what date and time you expect to land in Athens, our Greece experts may be able to suggest a way for you to go straight to one of the islands. That would benefit you greatly, because you would be able to put all your Athens time together, at the end of the trip, eliminating one hotel change.

Posted by
1812 posts

What are your travel dates, and what time of day will you land in Athens? We really can’t give you good advice without this information.

Posted by
395 posts

I'm also a big history buff and really, really enjoyed Crete. Visiting the national archeological museum in Heraklio in the morning and then Knossos in the afternoon was a major highlight of our two week trip to Greece and Crete last year. It's an opportunity to learn first-hand about a major civilization that was distinctly different than mainland Greece. The museum in Heraklio can easily be done in a couple of hours even for those who like to read the display text (!) and the artifacts are first-rate. Visiting both of these in one day is easily done.

You'll probably see everyone recommending Chania. We absolutely loved it - one of our favorite towns anywhere. It's a large town/small city, great place to relax for a few days. Beautiful old town surrounding a harbor, great shopping and restaurants, a few clubs with live traditional music at night, small museums to provide some focus to the day. Excursions out of the harbor if you'd like to get out on the water.

Posted by
4637 posts

Eliminate Mykonos. The island is for party animals. Add the days to Crete - the largest Greek island with a lot to see.

Posted by
2845 posts

Crete is huge and it takes a minumum of a week with a rental car just to barely scratch the surface.

Posted by
4573 posts

Acraven has great advice, as usual. I'd agree -- skip Mykonos, cut back Santorini, add the time to Crete and Athens. Try to get to your first island as soon as you can after landing in Athens, since you're already at the airport and jetlag is easier to deal with in a quieter setting. You could certainly spend a week in Crete if you had it, but don't miss it just because you have only a few days. There's a lot to see but, as with any destination, you don't have to see it all in one trip.

Posted by
4 posts

Happy Anniversary! I am going to celebrate my 50th birthday with family & friends in June. I have never been to Greece but researched the @! out of it. We are spending 5 days on Crete, which is less than I'd planned but hopefully will give us a taste to determine where to visit next time. I concur, skip Mykonos and add that time to Crete. Maybe 1 less day on Santorini and add to Naxos. We have a similar itinerary but more time. Also, we also opted for Sifnos (foodie heaven!), in lieu of Naxos. Have a great time!

Here's our itinerary for 21 days:

4 nights touring Themopylae, Delphi, Olympia and Ancient Messene
3 nights in Nafplio
5 nights on Crete (3 nights Chania, 1 night Chora Sfakion for a day on the water. and 1 night Heraklion for Knossos)
3 nights Santorini, based in Kamari
3 nights Sifnos, based in Platis Gialos
3 nights Athens

Posted by
6 posts

Happy Birthday!🎉 kwoolever. What a great trip you have planned. I will take a look at dropping Mykonos as we are not big party people and I am hearing Mykonos is more for the party people.
I haven’t heard anything about Sifnos or Nafplio but will look them up
Thanks again and Again Happy 50th.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you to all that replied. I thought I had this trip planned and now I am rethinking all of it. I will take all of your advice and cut out Mykonos and spend more time on Crete. I still want some days in Santorini to see the volcano and black sand beaches. sidenote...I lived in Hawaii for 4 years and never got to see the black sand beaches there.
Thanks again.

Posted by
6 posts

Sorry, I failed to post my travel dates. We are arriving on August 30th and will leave Athens on September 14th.
thanks again for the advice.

Posted by
1812 posts

First, I think it would be helpful for you to start thinking of your itinerary in terms of nights, not days.

I agree with the others that you should skip Mykonos. But I would give just one of its nights to Crete, and add the other two to Naxos, giving you 4 nights on each. Perhaps steal a night from Santorini and give it to one of those islands as well.

From Naxos, ferry companies will likely still be running day trips to Mykonos, so you can at least see Mykonos and take a trip to the sacred island of Delos, which your history-loving husband should enjoy.

Many island hoppers report that Naxos is their favorite island ... offering a good combination of sightseeing, history, great food, and maybe a little beach time. I would recommend staying on St. George Beach, which is walking distance to town but offers you a long, lovely beach for early morning or late evening strolls.

Congratulations on your anniversary and I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
6373 posts

We saw no evidence of the”party scene” in Mykonos. We were there in September.
We enjoyed two weeks on Crete, barely scratched the surface of Western Crete.