3-weeks in greece too long?

i am planning an 11-week itinerary next summer : 5 wks in france, 3 in italy, 3 in greece. i have read many of the suggestions in this helpline about greece. i notice the same places: santorini, naxos, paros, mykonos. from all this, i plan to stay 1 week each in athens and santorini. where should i spend the other week that would be different?
also, i have read ferries from bari or brindisi to athens. is there any to santorini so we don't backtrack? we fly home from athens. thanks, guys.

Posted by Bill
San Leandro, CA, USA
631 posts

For a very different Greek Island experience, try Corfu...lots of history, different climate than the islands in the Aegean, and easily accessible from Bari or Brindisi.

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1637 posts

There are no ferries from Bari, Brindisi, Ancona or Venice to Athens. They all go to Igoumenitsa or Patras, and from there you have to take a train or bus overland the rest of the way to Athens.

Since you are travelling next summer you have plenty of time to take advantage of Aegean Airlines' promotional fares, which includes international travel to Athens from either Rome or Milan. Last year these tickets were offered beginning in December or January and the fare was 39 euro plus taxes to Athens, and from Athens to Santorini or Mykonos it was 10 euro plus taxes. This is cheaper than the ferry from Italy to Greece added to the overland cost to Athens and the ferry from Athens to Santorini or Mykonos. And it will only take a few hours instead of 1-2 days (or longer if you count the time wasted getting to Bari or Brindisi). Start monitoring the Aegean Airlines website and you'll eventually find the promo listed on the home page.

http://www.aegeanair.com/

If you were to spend your third week on Paros you could also take the frequent local shuttle ferry across to Antiparos as a daytrip, giving you a chance to visit 4 islands instead of 3.

Posted by Olivia
Margate, FL, USA
100 posts

bill - i googled corfu. looks interesting, thanks.

lee - thanks aegeanair suggestion. our italy trip goes south, 1 wk each in umbria, rome and positano, we could use napoli-athens leg if we decide to forego corfu. if we do corfu, bari/brindisi is a 2 or 3hr bus ride from positano, then the ferry. my question: how different is paros from santorini? and is paros a better choice than corfu?

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
433 posts

No three weeks in Greece is not too long!! 4,000 years of history, and the greatest beaches in the world await you! But a week in Santorini IS too long! It's just a 12-mile long island, has ONE thing to offer -- the view of the Caldera. Its main archeological site Akrotiri is closed indefinitely It TEEEMS with tourist and is VERY expensive.

What part of summer do you go?? I would advise saving Athens to the End... Athens in August is more peaceful because so many have fled to the islands... and the Islands are PACKED -- so do the vice-versa. Try a ferry from Italy to the Peloponnese -- enjoy Nafplio, Epidaurus etc... Then to Piraeus port and to Santorini for THREE DAYS MAX ... then 2 other islands -- Naxos? Milos? Sifnos? If you go to Santorini u can skip Mykonos... more of the same... cruise ship crowds, costly shops, all-night discos. The other islands ahve more scenery, greenery, hikes, ruins, good food, and prices are about half that of Santo & Myk!!

You have time to master the greek ferry sites to figure out a schedule. I recommend Thos. Cooks' "Greek Island Hopping" guide (try yr library) to show you the realities of island chains & how to "hop" efficiently. PS: Corfu is harder to get to, an dis not the "blue and White" island type you see on posters... that's all in the Cyclades. There's also Rhodes for a different kind of history -- the crusades. E-mail me if you want to discuss in detail.

Posted by Bill
San Leandro, CA, USA
631 posts

We all have our favorites...however, I would disagree with Janet about being able to skip Mykonos if you are visiting Santorini...even though they are both very touristy...Mykonos gives you access to Delos, a world heritage site, and a truely remarkable part of Greek history. I would also point out that Corfu is not harder to get to from Italy...just a ferry ride to Igoumenitsa then a quick trip by local ferry to Corfu (just a few miles off shore).

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1637 posts

Paros is a lot different than Santorini, there are no hordes from the cruise ships there. There are lovely beaches and lots to see and do.

And Bill, as for going to Delos, you can get there on a daytrip excursion boat from both Paros and Naxos, you don't have to go to Mykonos just for Delos.

I personally think it's a bit redundant going to both Santorini AND Mykonos since they're both so upscale and busy. Choose one or the other. both are close to Paros.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3300 posts

The best vacation of my life was 4 weeks in Greece. What made it work was that we slowed down. We slid into Greek time. We worked on the art of cafe sitting If we didn't sit in 5 cafes a day there was something wrong. And yes we did see the museums, the ruins, the beaches, the gorges. I did Corfu on another trip and would strongly recommend it as well. It's a wonderful place. Pick up Jerry Durrell's booka on his family's time on Corfu in the 1930's. It's a marvelous account of the people and fauna of the island through the eyes of a young boy. The insights into Lawrence Durrell are an added bonus.

Pam

Posted by Olivia
Margate, FL, USA
100 posts

thanks guys. it looks like each island is different : corfu, paros, delos, naxos, santorini, mykonos, rhodes, peloponnese. perhaps 1 wk in santorini is too long. perhaps some island hopping is the answer. we're going jul 20 - aug 8, 2009, which is high season, so i have to arrange advance accommodations.

thanks for the suggested 'greek island hopping' guide and the jerry durrell's book on corfu.

i have learned a lot from you guys. if anyone would like to suggest something more, pls do so.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2371 posts

The islands you mention are certainly popular, but there are many, many more different sights. Try the whole Peloponnese...Olympia, the area around Sparta, Epidaurus, Mycenae, Nafplio (to name a few); The Saronic Gulf Islands, Delphi, the Meteora (unreal geography and monasteries); and I could go on and on about Crete alone. Much depends on the time you are there. If it is August, everyone in Europe will be in the Islands, plan ahead, figure on moving around less for various reasons. The mainland, in some areas can be less crowded, but it depends a lot on what you are looking for (Beach, ruins, party, etc.) Given all that, a week in Athens is too much, plan on a day or two when you arrive, and a couple days before you leave. Santorini will be crazy with people and certainly a true wonder, but a couple of night would be plenty. If you want true Greek beach without hardcore party, just relaxation; check out Koufonisia, at the end of 11 weeks, it would be a nice ending.

Posted by Olivia
Margate, FL, USA
100 posts

gosh, and i thought 3 weeks was too long.

paul - i like some beach, some night life, more history. i do have the meteora monastery in my list of sites to visit, but i have lumped that up with athens. i now have an IT in mind, i just need to read up on my choice of islands and towns.

what an education. this website is great. i can even identify the island groups now. thanks y'all.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1359 posts

Hello Olivia. Now I will add to the confusion by recommending other islands. (It is good that you have an entire year to decide where to go). I recommend : go to only one island group : the Cyclades islands. Fly from Athens to the island Naxos. Be there a mimimum of 4 nights. Ride in a boat from Naxos to Santorini. Be there 2 nights. Ride in a boat from Santorini to Folegandros. It is a small island, but it has the most pleasant town in the Aegean Sea, and one of the best old bell towers, and a great view from high above the deep blue Mediteranean Sea. Ride in boats to Sifnos. It has a variety of sights, and busses. A fast boat goes from Sifnos to the Port of Piraeus. Read about all of those islands in the books : Greece (Lonely Planet): 6th Edition. And the Thomas Cook book on the Greek Islands.

Posted by Olivia
Margate, FL, USA
100 posts

thanks ron for the suggestion. since the cyclades islands are close to each other, it would be easy to go from one island to the other. i was reading frommer's greece yesterday, and read about all those islands you mentioned.

funny, am currently reading the memoir "the summer of my greek taverna" by tom stone. it tells about the island of patmos. legend has it that st. john the apostle lived here for some time. patmos is close to naxos (i think), so am thinking of a day trip to check out the st. john's monastery.

has anyone been to patmos?

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1637 posts

No, Patmos is not close to Naxos. It's in the Dodecanese island group which is on the far east side of the Aegean Sea. Close to Patmos are Samos, Fournoi, Leros and Kalymnos. The closest island to Naxos with a connection to Patmos is Mykonos, but it's much to far for a daytrip. It takes about 4 hours to get to Patmos from Mykonos and the ferry is not daily, meaning the chances are slim that you'd be able to return on the same day.

Posted by Chere
Kelso, WA, USA
221 posts

Patmos is lovely. I second the comments about ferry hopping around the Cyclades, try to get in some of the smaller, less touristy islands to get a feel for the real Greece.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
433 posts

Olivia, your remark about popping over to Patmos tells me that you have not yet looked at Th. Cooks book, GREEK ISLAND HOPPING. PLEASE do so -- this is the book that makes it crystal-clear what is do-able ferrywise.

Are you near a barnes & Noble? you can stop in and brows the book. Also, check your local library, and if your branch doesn't have it, they may be able to get it for you. Of course it would be nice to have the newest edition, but even an outdated one will show you the strategy of island-hopping.

Another great way to get a feeling for where ferries go is to learn to navigate the ferry website with the most information: http://www.gtp.gr/RoutesForm.asp

(WARNING: LESSON FOLLOWS)

It has slots for POrt and Destination. Fill in both slots, i.e., Piraeus (the port of athens) and Patmos. As date, leave year at 2008, set month at "any", and Day at "any." UP will pop a long list, arranged by departure time. Each listing shows arrival time also (indicating duration of trip) and how many stop. If yo click on "further information" and then scroll down, a cute little map has a moving red line that shows the ferry route, stopping here & reaching Patmos, and then the return trip. Fascinating!! You will also thus see where it does NOT go. It will help you realize that most ferries stick to ONE island chain (Cyclades, Dodecanese, N.E. Aegean) and seldom "cross over" into another chain.

Other ferry websites are a little easier to get a quickie answer from, but not as versatile. Example http://www.openseas.gr/OPENSEAS/index_en.vm
This one is quicker, but you have to pick a specific DATE, whereas gtp shows the PATTERN of ferry service.
Spend some time on this... and you will get more comfortable with how to plan your "hopping" most realistically, and minimizing time and delays.

Happy planning!

Posted by Olivia
Margate, FL, USA
100 posts

thanks, janet. the routes website was very helpful.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
433 posts

GLad you found the website helpful. NOW -- go find the Th. Cook book. Even more helpful. PRomise me.