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Trip Me! Mother/Daughter first trip

I am looking to take my daughter (17) on a graduation trip to Greece next spring. It might be our last mother/daughter trip for a while. While she was growing up we took trips to Peru, Ireland, China, Vietnam, Italy to name a few. Some with guides, others by ourselves. I am looking to snag some frequent flyer tickets from LAX and looking at landing in Athens June 13 and leaving June 27th. Those dates could change but that is what I am starting with. We prefer staying 3-4 days in each place so that probably limits us to 4 locations. My daughter and I are very interested in Greek history. We love the atmosphere of the beach but won't be spending hours laying on a lounge chair. We love hiking, staying in small quaint b&b's or small hotels with character. So a mix of history and culture is great. We like activity but don't necessarily want to be around other tourists a lot of the time. I hope that is enough information about our interests. Any suggestions on itinerary, hotels, or tours or things to do would be very appreciated. Right now my first pass of lodging locations looks like this:
June 14-16 Santorini
June 17-19 Naxos
June 20-23 Nafplio
June 24-27 Athens
Thanks in advance!

Posted by
746 posts

Your plan seems to be pretty good. You have chosen destinations that will give you what you are looking for.
Experienced travelers tend to find connecting flights to their first island immediately on arrival in Athens. It appears you are planning that first night for Athens. There are late evening flights to Santorini and I can assure you you will enjoy getting over jet lag in Santorinirather than doing it in Athens. We too travel from the west coast and understand its a very long haul but we always get out to our island destination that first day. This also saves you the trouble of getting into Athens then back again to the airport next day.

You will need 2 hours for that connection.
For Naxos stay at St George beach. It is a nice sand beach with loungers and lots of space. It is lined with small family run hotels with lots of choices in every price range. St George is also the town beach so you have all the activities of Naxos town just a short 10 minute stroll along he shore partway into Naxos town waterfront Promenade. Greece can be very noisy at night but St George is quiet for sleeping.
St George Beach Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632113170279/

I see you are planning on 3 nights in Naxos. If you swipe a day from Athens you can add it to Naxos. I believe that you will not regret that extra day in Naxos.
Naxos Mountains and Villages http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632110674306/
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/

Get a hotel near the Acropolis, This means the Plaka or Monestraki area. All the Athens highlights are in this area and you can walk everywhere. You can do Central Athens well in three days.
For the Acropolis arrive at opening 8 AM. You can see the opening ceremony then with a couple hundred other people you will have the whole Acropolis to yourselves. The tour buses arrive between 9:30 and 10 and suddenly the place will be swarmed. Thats the time to leave and go to a museum or one of the secondary sites. By mid afternoon it will be very hot and you won't be happy up in the Acropolis at that time of day. I understand the crowds thin and it cools down a bit in the early evening so that an option as well.
Athens http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632121475515/

Posted by
2439 posts

If you are interested in Greek history, why did you leave out Mycenae and Crete? Or are you planning to go to Mycenae on your way to Nafplio?

Posted by
1119 posts

We did a similar trip this past May and June with a family group of 7 and it was wonderful. We spent 3 nights santorini, 4 nights Naxos, 4 nights nafplio, and 3 nights Athens. What I liked about this itinerary is that it wasn’t too much moving around and yet we had huge variety. Santorini and Naxos are both islands but very different from each other. Nafplio is a small town and Athens a big city.

We flew directly to santorini like Stan recommended and it really is the way to go. Much better to wake up first day on an island rather than near Athens airport.

I also would agree with Stan to move one day from Athens to Naxos. We spent 4 nights in Naxos and would have loved at least another day. Athens is great but I figure if I come back to Greece, I will have to go through Athens again and can see more then.

We flew to santorini and from Naxos which I would highly recommend.

I posted a trip report (under trip report on travel forum) if you are interested.

Beth

Posted by
30 posts

Thanks everyone! Stanbr I will look at the itinerary again to see how I might reallocate a day. I am looking at flights so I will see how I might fly right to Santorini, thanks Beth and will look at your trip report. And cala since this is our first trip I knew we couldn't do everything. One of the reasons I had 4 days in Athens is that I thought we might do a day trip that might include surrounding sites. I think Crete might be too difficult to fit in this trip, but I am open to suggestions.

Posted by
1119 posts

You can easily do Mycenae from Nafplio. It is about 30 minutes. We visited it, Nemea (a site that once was like Olympia), and a winery one day. Nafplio is well located for day trips.

Crete, I agree, is another trip.

Beth

Posted by
746 posts

Sorry I totally forgot to comment on Nafplio. Its a very pretty seaside town that can fool you into thinking you are on a Greek island. Be sure to seek out the main central square. It is very large paved with marble and every evening the locals and tourists come out to spend time in the square. Its very family oriented with kids chasing balls all over the place.
The Palimidi fortress will take a good 4 hours to visit. You can walk up the 999 steps however there is a road up to the top on the back side. I do love drive in fortresses. The area around Nafplio is rick with ancient sites. You can easily do day trips using Nafplio as a base.
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/

Posted by
122 posts

HI I loved both Nafplio and Naxos. For Santorini I liked staying in nearby Perissa on the black sand beach- not as crowded with tourist/ less $$ rooms and food PLUSW cheap and fast bus direct to Santorini tourist sites.
Your daughter is lucky to have had some memorable MOM and daughter trips... and so are you. I still squeeze in a few trips with my adult daughter who lives in Tokyo. Relaxing and special.

Posted by
30 posts

standbr those photos are amazing. Exactly what we are looking for. cjleisch thank you for the Santorini lodging location suggestion, and yes I hope my daughter and I will continue this in the future.

Posted by
1119 posts

I would stay near caldera on other coast in Fira or oia or towns in between. It is more costly but you can walk to some of the places you will want to see. I think a more central location is worth it personally. We stayed in oia which is less central than Fira but was where we found an air Bnb for seven at a reasonable price and we were very happy with our choice. Oia itself is very charming (more than Fira I think) and you can walk down to amoudi bay as well which is a great place to swim off the rocks (which we did) and there are some seafood restaurants there too. I do think however that outside of gyros, oia is pricier for restaurants. We ate dinner in Fira one night when we had rental car. Firostefani is 15 minutes walk to Fira and not as busy as Fira and is frequently recommended by people on this forum so definitely look there. That is where I intended to stay initially.

Beth

Posted by
2416 posts

I heartily second recommendation to book a room in Firostephani ... it's the "goldilocks" of Santorini locations -- close enough to attrctions, removed enough for serenity. It's 15-minute stroll to Fira town cafes, shops, sights, along rim path or a "hidden" level flagstone lane. Plenty of caldera-view hotels, on their inland side, just a few yards to the local bus stop for frequent busses to Oia. Your dates are well into JUne, famous as "Bridezilla Month", honeymooner prices AND bookings reflect it ... another reason to have a brief stay on this isle. Moderate hotels, smaller often family-run include nonpool places like hotel Mylos, Gaby Apts, Villa Fotini, Sunset Hotel (this one for instance is $629 for your 3 nights) and pool hotels - Agnadema Apts, Villa Ilias, Dana Villa. Many of these are not yet showing up on booking.com or other online agencies for 2019 but all have websites & you can e-mail them direct, see who answers first, & compare prices.

Posted by
30 posts

I appreciate all the Santorini suggestions. I anticipate spending a little more here, maybe around $350 a night if I need to. Don't need the spa pool or huge room, but would love the nice balcony view and I have always enjoyed getting to know the hosts at small b&bs.

I have a few more questions, it looks like most people rent cars in Greece. Looking at my itinerary, do you think in order to make the most of our vacation I need to rent a car or can we get by on public transportation and selected tours?

Also, my daughter and I always book a cooking class everywhere we have traveled which is always a highlight. Has anyone ever done that and is there any locations where that is suggested.

Posted by
1119 posts

We rented cars but we were a group of seven and I was trying to minimize hassles. There are only 2 of you so a different dynamic.

On santorini we stayed in oia and rented a car for one day. All the buses leave from Fira so we would have had to take one bus to Fira and another to where we were going and then reverse it coming back. We decided it was too much hassle.

On Naxos , we rented a car to explore the island. You can see a lot walking but at some point you either want to take a bus, a tour, or rent a car. It was cheaper for us to rent a car but we had more people than you.

We rented a car from the airport in Athens after flying from Naxos to drive to nafplio. It was simpler because taking the bus would have meant a long bus ride or a taxi to the bus station.

It wasn’t always perfect but it was the best choice for us. You and your daughter have traveled abroad together so you must have a sense of what would be best. Waiting for buses and trying to navigate the Greek bus system seemed to be more stressful with a group of 7 than driving.

Beth

Posted by
30 posts

Thanks to everyone I felt comfortable enough to book my frequent flyer flights and add an extra day (yay!) Here is what I have and my basic plan before I look at hotels -

June 10/11 overnight lax-lhr - Stay in London overnight Wed June 12 lhr-ath 7am - 12:45 - fly to Santorini (have yet to book)
June 12-15 Santorini (3 nights)
June 15-19 Naxos (4 nights)
June 19-23 Nafplio (4 nights)
June 23-26 Athens (3 nights)
Leave Ath 1:35 June 26 for return flight

So now I am looking at accommodations. I am looking for a good view and at least a queen (prefer 2 beds) in Firostefani - Best option I have found is Villas Illias, but am open to suggestions. After I lock that down, will work on other accommodations, Kymata looks like a popular suggestion for Naxos. Any other suggestions as I do my research is appreciated. I love boutique feel, balcony with view, with friendly hosts. Pool is nice but not essential. Location important. Also, will look to book flight to Santorini, ferry to Naxos and flight back to Athens, any tips on that would be great. We love special tours like food tours or Sailing tours or anything else that would make the experience special.

Posted by
1119 posts

We stayed at Kymata hotel and would return. As my son said, why would you ever stay anywhere else. That said, it is a two star hotel which has somewhat been renovated so you need to have realistic expectations. Some of the showers are of Greek style but part of the charm. And no elevator. But what we loved about Kymata was the people. They were beyond helpful. And it is a small place so you felt like family.

Twin rooms are pretty small (beds end up being practically on top of each other) but another idea is to rent rooftop room. We did that to gain outdoor space for group of 7. It has a separate suite with a door, separate a/c unit, and tv. One of our sons ended up staying there. It would be perfect for your daughter and give you both your own space.

The roof top deck was fabulous. We ended up eating 2/4 dinners on roof which was great and saved some money.

Breakfast was great. But if you book through online company like booking.com don’t purchase breakfast. It was cheaper to add on after arrival.

Beth

Posted by
2416 posts

Js, all over greece twin beds are waaay easier to find than Queen-size unlike US. Its because of age of buildings -- smaller rooms, so double beds r still v. common (when I first started going to greece in '99, sometimes they were still described, in an older term, as "matrimonial beds") vs. Queen. The big international chain hotels in athens & some other big cities have queen-size, and upplaces that title themselves "resort" hotels, plus luxe boutique hotels... the smaller places you say u want, you'll find twin beds or double.

Posted by
30 posts

I am now rethinking a few things and would appreciate any feedback. After looking at the map and reconsidering renting a car I am wondering if I would want to switch a few things and trying to add Olympia to the list. Another thing that concerns me is flying right to Santorini from Athens. Since they will be different airlines if my plane gets delayed from London I might miss the flight to Santorini which could be expensive rebooking and an extra night lodging. Because of this, I would probably build in a long layover at the airport, which makes for a long day. So with that, here is another consideration.

Day 1 - Land in Athens at 1pm, rent a car, Drive to Nafplio stopping in Corinth. Overnight Nafplio
Day 2 - 3 Nafplio with day trips to Mikenes and Epidavros.
Day 4 Drive to Olympia? Not sure the best route here or where to stop Overnight Olympia
Day 5 Olympia
Day 6 Drive to Delphi. Overnight Delphi or Galaxidi
Day 7 Drive to Athens Airport turn in car, Fly to Santorini
Day 8-9 Santorini
Day 10 Ferry to Naxos
Day 11-12 Naxos
Day 13 Fly to Athens early - Stay in Athens
Day 14 Athens
Day 15 fly home.

I know this is a little less relaxing, but once I saw that I would probably want to rent a car (and avoid driving in Athens) I started looking at other options. I would be very interested in any feedback.

Posted by
1119 posts

I assume you are arriving from London not North America or I would not attempt driving jet lagged.

I would delete Olympia. It looks like you have two nights there. It is about 3 hours each way out of your way which eats up a lot of time. You would be better off adding one night to Athens and another to either Naxos or nafplio. Travel in Greece takes more time than you think and I think you are better off not moving so much. We visited Nemea which is close to nafplio (same day we went to Mycenae). It was part of same four year rotation as Olympia for 300 years.

Beth

Posted by
30 posts

Thanks Beth, yes we will have an overnight in London so arriving in Athens fresh. I am looking to change the order to avoid driving into Athens so thought to put the island part of the trip in the middle and then care hire or public transportation in and out of Athens in the end. I am debating skipping Olympia, but sports is my life's career, so am pulled to try to get there. am going to stew on this for another week before I make my final decision and book the rooms. I appreciate all your input!

Posted by
1119 posts

You, of course, will have to decide if all the driving for Olympia is worth it. But before you do, spend some time on Nemea’s website. Were it not for the fate of history , it could have been the Nemean not Olympic Games. Janet told me originally about the site and I found it fascinating that it was all uncovered during my life time. I got so interested that I even ordered a dvd about it’s uncovering from Greece! Anyway, parts of it are on their website and it is all very fun to learn about.

Beth

Posted by
2416 posts

Here's the Nemean website -- https://nemeangames.org/ancient-nemea/excavations-ucb.html --- not only a fab. ruin, BUT a new tradition... the Revived Nemean Games every 4 years, thousands of people come... from GReece and worldwide.. You're 1 year off, it was 2016 then 2020... But your daughter can march thru the heroes tunne into the stadium and race from the 2,400 year old starting blocks, still there! Also ruins, temple columns, a small but choice museum. And it's right on your way, 5 km to right of the big highway btween corinth canal & turnoff for Nafplio.... while Olympia is 5 hr nonstop drive from Athens. The Olympia museum is swell ... the site itself is hard to understand w.o. a guide or advance study... the onsite signage is lame. Look at the NEMEA website - the excavation, all the elments of the stadium, faithfully uncovered & authentically restored.

Posted by
2416 posts

PS the Olympic site is not so much about sport as about art and artifacts ... buildings, columns, statues, metal "votive" items ... so if you are thinking you'll have a big sports experience, you might be disappointed... you need to READ about it before deciding.

Posted by
30 posts

Fascinating! Thank you Beth and Janet. Aside from Olympia, any thoughts on my reordering our trip starting with a drive to the Peloponnese upon landing (after an overnight in London, so less jet lag) instead of flying directly to Santorini? We can be on the road by 2. Then bringing the car back before flying to the islands, and ending in Athens as has been suggested. Also, aside from Nemea, Epidayros and Mycenae, any other sites that might be interesting in the region?

Posted by
1119 posts

You, of course, want to the pal midi fortress in town. We also very much enjoyed walking to Karathona beach. It is a gorgeous walk and a pleasant beach. You pick up the path in the parking lot of the town beach-Avanitia beach. We also went here (hit streak of temperatures in high 90s so spent afternoons at beach). It is rocky but fun with beach cafe. Karathona is sandier and more like a beach in a state park in US. But big draw is the gorgeous walk.

As far as order goes, I preferred flying my first day in Greece rather than driving but we had an international flight from US that wasn’t very likely to be delayed. Make sure you get a map at airport and study it before you leave with a rental car. Road is easy to follow until around Corinth but then need to know the cities that are in same direction as nafplio as nafplio not listed on sign until you are off tollway.

But nafplio will be a fine introduction to Greece.

Beth