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Which order to travel in?

We are starting to plan a trip for July (working around kids summer breaks) with our family and extended family. There will be 10 of us - the oldest in their 80s and youngest 11 - this is to visit where both of my in laws families are from.

In planning our trip we are trying to decide what would make the most sense - we would like to spend probably 4 days in Athens, 5 or 6 days on Crete and at least one or two days on Santorini. The in laws say they don't feel the need to visit Santorini and the rest of us should do it as a day trip from Crete, we aren't so sure a day trip is enough.
Any suggestions on our itinerary? What makes the most sense to fly in and out of? BTW we are leaving from Seattle.

Posted by
21667 posts

Obviously flying into Athens and returning from Santorini or Crete would make the most sense. Most likely the Santorini or Crete flight would connect in Athens. Crete to Santorini might be an issue of transportation. I might suggest you fly into Athens - do your four nights, take a boat to Santorini for two nights (at least) and on to Crete IF you can arrange the flights. Transportation between the island can be tricky. You will have to check the boat options between each island.

Posted by
2923 posts

A daytrip from Crete to Santorini will be too expensive for just one day. Not only that, there's a lot to see and do there. Don't go unless you can spend at least 2 full days there.

Upon arriving at the Athens airport fly directly to Crete, to Chania. At the end of your stay on Crete make your way to Heraklion for the ferry to Santorini. It departs in the morning at 9:00 and takes 2 hours.

Save all your time on the mainland for the end of your trip so you aren't scrambling back to Athens at the last minute for your flight home. This allows for a "time cushion" to compensate for any last-minute delays that might occur. July is notorious for high winds that occasionally ground planes and cancel ferries, although it's rare. If the in-laws don't want to go to Santorini have them stay on Crete for those days, then just meet you back in Athens.

Posted by
5221 posts

I agree with Lee about the sequence. Head for Crete first, Athens last so you can make your flight home with least risk. If the in laws can make it between Crete and Athens on their own, let them do that and the rest of you visit Santorini. If not, you'll have to decide together whether to include it. I agree that a day trip from Crete isn't a good idea.

Posted by
1117 posts

I also agree that a day trip from Crete is not a good idea. It's really too far to for a day trip, in my opinion. Travel time and enjoying-the-island time would be grossly out of balance.

I'd be curious as to why your in-laws say they don't feel like they need to visit Santorini. Of course there is no "need" to visit Santorini, and everybody has the right not to want to go someplace, but nonetheless, I am curious. Have they seen it before? Or have they only heard awful stories of masses of tourists?

Posted by
87 posts

Thanks for all of your input! I've been relaying this info on to my husband and I think you've helped us decide that a day on Santorini just isn't enough time.
Good info on the winds in July, I think I saw something about that on another thread, something I've never heard of before and why I love these RS forums!! So many people with great info that you don't necessarily find in a book.
I think the reason my in laws aren't interested in Santorini is because one, they've already been there (they are both Greek - my FIL lived in Athens until he was 30) and two they probably wouldn't be able to do as much walking as the rest of us. They would probably be happy to stay in Crete an extra couple of days or arrive in Athens before us.

Part of our concern with this trip is that neither of them are big walkers - but we want to get a first hand view/tour of where they are from and get to meet some of our family that still lives in Greece.

Posted by
1117 posts

I think the reason my in laws aren't interested in Santorini is
because one, they've already been there

O.k., that makes sense. I was a bit suspicious because I know people (not Greeks) who will not visit great sites in their own country only because these places have a very touristy reputation. And they are missing out on a lot only because of this stupid prejudice.

Part of our concern with this trip is that neither of them are big

I guess at age 80, everybody has the right not to be a big walker. :-) And I think your solution of part of your family staying in Crete for a couple more days while you explore Santorini should work out well. If your in-laws are in fact Greek, they should be able to handle the return trip without you, I would think.

As far as Greeks and walking are concerned, here's a nice quote for you that I got from some travel guide:

"In Greece, only women, donkeys, and tourists go on foot. In that order."


Posted by
106 posts


I agree too, the day trip is not a good idea. While in Santorini, you'll need at least 2 days to see the basics. Trust me I've done a day trip to Santorini some years ago while on a cruise and I was really disappointed because we stayed only 4 hours for coffee and shopping. It is so beautiful, you'll want to see more of it.

I'd suggest Athens - Crete - Santorini - Athens (spent 2 days in Athens at the beginning of your journey and 2 days at the end)
You could consider this alternative as well... Crete - Santorini - Athens (spent the last days in Athens)

Just lol --> "In Greece, only women, donkeys, and tourists go on foot. In that order."
It seems pretty accurate, men usually choose to go everywhere on wheels...

Posted by
87 posts

Thanks for your input!! It looks like we will start in Crete (Chania is where we will plan to be for the whole time we are there) and then to Athens. We are still thinking about Santorini since we are changing up our travel plans a little bit. Sounds like finishing in Athens is probably the best way to go in case of weather postponing flights or ferries.
I've been reading as much as I can about Chania and from what I've read it sounds like renting a car wouldn't be a bad idea so we can explore a bit more. For any of you that have rented cars there - and it being an island - are most rental cars going to be small? There will be 10 of us so that means we would most likely need at least 2 cars depending on the size. What is driving like there?
As far as accommodations, is staying in a hotel in the main area or finding an Air BNB that might have a pool and more room for us to spread out a better idea (my in laws insist that staying up in an AirBNB will be too far away from everything) ? We stayed in Air BNBs in Paris and London and really liked having somewhere to hang out other that a hotel bed.

Posted by
2813 posts

Whew!! If you try to get an Airbnb in High Season, with all those folks (10!!) , and a pool as well ... yes it WILL be far away from everything, and you will have to have multiple cars and coordinate driving, and it will be just as hectic as home. Most places that accommodate more than 4-5 people are Recent, past 15-20 years, and have had to be built inland, because all the beach areas were built up. So your parents are right, it will be far from everything, and they will be isolated unless someone drives them. If you wanted to get something like this only close-in to Chania, you should have started months ago, sorry to say.

The best answer I have for you is a wonderful little family-run low-rise apartment place a block or so off an Excellent beach, about 2.5 Km (1.3 miles) WEST of Chania Old Town ... with the frequent LOCAL bus to Chania stopping right outside the door. Lefka Apartments has a lovely pool, in a garden setting... has studios and one bedroom apartments -- rave reviews from Trip Advisor. It would be perfect for your group.

Alas, Lefkas is so loved that people from Europe especially come back and back, it's probably booked solid for July. It doesn't use (they don't have to), so you'd need to contact them direct. They may be able to accommodate your party in various rooms, or nearby. I would NOT advise just filling out a form -- because forms do not allow you to EXPLAIN and PERSUADE. Hidden at the bottom of the page "rates & booking information" is their e-mail - (It's not shown elsewhere). I'd suggest write a very friendly, respectful LETTER by e-mail (Greeks appreciate this) in which you explain you are a Greek-American family making your first trip to Crete with the Grandparents, who are from there. Give dates, and the size of your party... in DETAIL (i.e., you & husb & children 9 & 11,needing 1 BR apt; grandparents a separate room; another family of 3 etc etc). Explain which are the most important ones to accommodate. And ask whether, if they can only accommodate your family & the grandfolks, can they recommend other assorted rooms within a block or two for the remainder? Be VERY complimentary about the wonderful things you've heard about Crete, and that you 've read about Lefka Apts (it won't be lies, they have TOP ratings), and close with formality and good wishes. Believe me, this is the approach that works best for family-run places in Greece --- I've had great success with this... in Greece for people like this, it's not just a business... it's a personal relationship. Good luck!!

Posted by
87 posts

Janet, thank you so much for your suggestion! The apt sounds like such a great idea, too bad we didn't plan our trip out earlier. The idea of having our own space but still be able to hang out together would make that the perfect type of place to stay. I guess we have to see what other types of hotels/apartments might be available. Are there any hotels that you would recommend?

Any areas to avoid?

Posted by
2813 posts

Separate units -That's what many multigenerational families do ... after all, there can be too much togetherness (and too few bathrooms). Grandparents appreciate seeing their adult children, and grandkids, but ALSO to have their own space, own bathrooms, etc.

West of Chania is a beach, Nea Chora with apartments and "studios (both 1-room and 1 or 2 BR). I didn't see anything there for all TEN of you ... but look at next beaches over, Kato Daratso/Chrissi Akti the same ones Lefka Apartment uses... and the same local bus to Chania Old Town. Google Kato Daratso; I found GOLDEN SAND SUITES, seems to have what you need. As of tonight, for July 6-12 they list two 1-bedroom apartments that sleep 4 each .... my thinking is, they may also have single rooms and/or know buildings next door that would accommodate the rest of your party. Here's the link -- a huge string condensed to a "tiny URL" If you like the look, this may be your answer.

However, I do Not advise you to book thru ... much better to contact a hotel DIRECTLY. Their website: Tho its heading is "Golden Sands Hotel", text says " the studios and apartments offer quietness and relaxation to all visitors." so its the same Golden Sand Suites. E-mail is at the bottom of the page.

However, I further advise, since you have SUCH an assortment of needs (apt for u & kids, studio for grandfolks, apts? Rooms? for the other 4?) I suggest that you TELEPHONE. Do not faint! Back before the internet was widespread, I made my best Greece booking bargains at 2 in the morning EST ( 9 AM Greek time) -- On the west coast it will be easier... 11 pm Washington state = 9 AM Greece. Or does Washington mean DC? In that case, 2 am. So set the alarm. When a hotel is open, BEST time to find a fluent English-speaker at the desk is 9 - 11 am (check-out time). There are 2 numbers listed -- the desk, and a mobile. The hotel doubtless is closed in January so you might get an answer on the mobile first ... you'd find an owner-manager, if not on hotel premises, prepared to do business. You get faster results by phone -- Europeans know that, so they phone. A desk person can ignore an e-mail or postpone responding. Nobody ignores a ringing phone. Also, if there's persuading, or changes that need to be made, you can act on the Spot, by phone... where with e-mail, they might just think, oh well.

Here's what you do: when someone answers, say ENGLISH PLEASE??? When you get an English Speaker, be very direct, simple sentences, VERY Complimentary. Sample: "I'm from America, we are coming to Crete in July. We are Greek-Americans from Crete and we are bringing the grandparents, to show our children the wonderful island we come from. We read about your lovely Golden Sands Suites. We thought, it's perfect for the Papadakis family (or whatever your family name is) ! We looked at but we want to book with you directly. We want at least 2 apartments for us. for about a week ... and we need even more rooms, because there will be 10 of us ... 8 adults(?) and 2(?) children. We are hoping so much you will have room but we KNOW you are so popular, you may not have enough rooms for all 10. But if you can take most of us, we hope you could send the rest to a good place nearby. (Pause) If I tell you the dates we want to come, can you tell us what units you have available?

IF you cannot solve your problem this way, I advise to turn ASAP to a GREECE-BASED travel agency that is used to working with US and Canadian visitors online. Dolphin-Hellas has an excellent Rep. E-mail Immediately, and tell them of your wants.... be VERY specific about the lodging needs (# of rooms/apts) ... tell them about Golden Sands, and ask them to try to book it, or something similar on or near Chrissi Akti beach.

Good luck!!

Posted by
87 posts

Janet you are the best! I really appreciate all of your help with this! Thank you so much for your help.