Hi everyone, planning our third trip to Greece in June '08. We plan to revisit Santorini for 2-3 days just because it's so beautiful and we can't resist going back again. But, having a hard time deciding which other island(s) to visit. We're considering: Naxos, Milos, Sifnos, and Folegandros. We've already visited Mykonos and Paros on previous trips. Any advice and/or recommendations would be helpful. Also...I know you don't "do" Crete in a few days - but is the Palace of Knossos and the Samaria Gorge worth heading down there for 2-3 days? Just wondering. Thanks again. :)
The Palace of Knossos can be done in an extended afternoon. It was one of the places I had always dreamed of seeing and it was frankly a bit let down. The Greeks don't honour their heritage the way they should. It's an easy local bus ride from Heraklion. Samaria Gorge is well worth a full day and it's a lot more enjoyable, you'll need a day to recover and then move on.
OK you don't do Crete in three days but you can experience it in the 'island hopping' way and have a very enjoyable time.
I agree with Al about Knossos. FYI, there are guides that you can hire and they are well worth it. They are in a small building off to the left, as you enter. The building is opposite the ticket booth. The guides will offer to wait for more people, so you can get a group rate. People I have talked to have really liked Samaria Gorge, but we decided against it since it is an all-day trip. I forget the distance, but it's quite a hike. Instead, we opted for Imbrus Gorge, which is about half the length (and time) of Samaria.
Regarding the Cycladic islands, of the 4 you mentioned, we were on only Naxos. We totally loved the island. I would definitely recommend going. There is an ex-pat Brit, Stuart Thorpe who does great photo tours of the island. http://www.naxosphotoworkshop.com/onedaytour.php. Even if you don't own a camera, he gives great tours.
Thanks for your responses. We've decided on Naxos for sure - thinking 4 days there. Still deciding on Crete. Thinking this island may be a separate trip down the road. Has anyone visited Milos and/or Sifnos? Trying to decide between them. So...Santorini - 3 days; Naxos - 4 days; Athens w/ family - 2 days; still leaves us 3 days on Milos or Sifnos. Thanks for the help :)
I agree with other people about Knossos. The site itself isn't in a spectacular location (as compared with say Delphi or Mycenae) and it was badly restored by my countryman Arthur Evans.
Sifnos is really nice. We were there in September a couple of years ago when it was really quiet. It may be busier in June - Apollonia, the main inland town, had a street full of boutiques / jewelery shops all of which were closed when we were there.
There's a good bus service so it is easy to get around the island. Castro - a medieval walled village - is well worth a visit and Vathi is a beautiful little village, although a new hotel Elies Resorts - www.eliesresorts.com - may have changed the tone since we were there.
Serifos, the next island across, is also worth a visit.
When scheduling how many days to spend at each location, be aware that getting from one island to the next can take longer than you might think. There aren't direct connections between every island. Nor are there connections between certain islands on every day. www.ferries.gr has a good booking system with dates/times. FYI, we used them to purchase our ferry tickets and had great service.
your comment confirmed my thoughts that Crete would be best left for another time. We've been to Mycenae and Delphi so would probably be disappointed by Knossos after reading some of others' comments.
Thanks for your concern over ferry connections. We're very familar with them and the Santorini/Naxos/Sifnos/Milos islands will be easily doable within a 12 day time frame. You're right about Folegandros though - that's a tough one to get to. But, I think that island is going to have to wait for another trip too.