Five days in the Greek Islands

We have five days in mid-September between the RS Village Turkey tour (ending in Bodrum) and the beginning of the Greece tour in Athens. I have a pile of library books on the Greek Islands, but I'm coming up with more frustration than answers. I think we probably want to stay on one island and we'd enjoy a picturesque and walkable town. We don't need nightlife or swimming, but we do enjoy walking along the beach. Reasonably easy access (by air or water) to and from the island would be helpful. The Greece tour spends two nights on Hydra, so that's not an option we want. I would so appreciate any suggestions!

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2371 posts

Nothing specific for you, but a general direction. Airfare from Turkey to Athens can be costly, since you will not find budget airlines running those routes. You best bet may be to find a ferry from either Bodrum or a nearby port to a Greek Island. By the position of Bodrum, both Kos and Rhodes may be likely options. Both of those islands are worth spending a night or two, or more, then you can either take the ferry to an island closer to Athens for a night or two, or fly directly to Athens on Olympia or on Aegean Air at a very reasonable price. If you plan to stop at another island after Rhodes (for example) it would need to be on the ferry route from Rhodes to Athens, making it easy to get to, the easy to get to Athens. Others on here may be more familiar with these routes, but I seem to recall that you could get to Santorini from Rhodes directly, then to Athens from there by Ferry or Plane, as one possible example.

Posted by Debabrata
Mumbai, India
75 posts

I would suggest you split your time between Mykonos and Santorini. These are the 2 most beautiful islands in Greece. Mykonos is definitely a walkable town - at least most of the good places are. Santorini is bigger - but you can take a bus / cab between one village and the other.

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1636 posts

Rhodes or Kos are the logical choices since they're close to Bodrum and easily reached by ferry in a short time. And instead of taking a long ferry ride back to Athens you can possibly get discounted airfare from Aegean Airlines, as little as €39, all taxes included. Just sign up for their email newsletter as well as make trial bookings on their website for your travel dates every day until their 'saver' fares appear. Be patient, they will.

Posted by Nancy
Beaverton, Oregon
135 posts

Thanks so much! I think all of these islands look like good options for us. I had thought that traveling between the islands would be much easier than it looks now. From Bodrum, Kos is the obvious answer. Rhodes looks more interesting to me, but ferry connections are only twice a week (I think) and not on the day I'd need and, of course, they're weather permitting. I'm not finding a lot of options to fly from Bodrum (other than expensive flights that go to Istanbul or Athens first), but perhaps I'm hitting the wrong websites. At the RS event in Edmonds on Saturday, a Greek guide suggested we go to Naxos, but I don't see that as being easy access either. Santorini is looking quite appealing, too, but I'm not finding a good way to get there from Bodrum. I do realize we could take a ferry to Kos, spend five nights and then fly to Athens. But, would that be too many days on Kos? I'm not sure what my problem is, but I'm definitely having a hard time with these plans.

Posted by Margaret
Nashville, TN, USA
451 posts

Nancy, what a great trip you have planned!! You'll love it! Definitely figure out a way to get to Santorini, staying in Oia (or is it Oai?)........incredible beauty....get a room overlooking the caldera. Since you are doing two Rick tours, I would suggest calling his company and asking for some recommendations/help on how to best do this between tours......they've got some great travel brain-power in that office, and I'd be surprised if they would charge you for a simple question like visiting Santorini between two of their group tours. My only advice is to not try to pack in too many islands, due to the travel between issues. Rhodes was mentioned....we enjoyed Rhodes, but to me, Santorini is more the "typical Greek Island" that one conjures up in their minds. I smile every time I see a photo of a blue dome on a white building :) Memories :) If you plan to return someday, you could take a cruise through the islands (but if you don't plan to return), definitely do Santorini this time. Have fun!!! Safe travels.

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1636 posts

One problem you're having with finding the information you seek is your timing. It's much too early for all the September ferry and plane schedules to be available. I'm pretty sure that by September you will have a lot more options, including frequent ferries from Bodrum to both Rhodes and Kos as well as some inter-island flights on www.skyexpress. http://ankertravel.forth-crs.gr/english/npgres.exe?PM=BB http://www.bluestarferries.com http://www.gtp.gr

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
911 posts

I would recommend sticking with the southern Dodecanese islands. We spent 2 great weeks there last September. Option 1: I've not visited Kos, but if you choose to go there, I highly recommend that you spend one night on the nearby island of Nisyros. It's a tiny island (pop. 948) that has an active (but not erupting) volcano. You can walk around inside the crater. Absolutely fascinating. There's a main town by the port, where you can rent a car for a day (or motorbikes, if you're so inclined) and drive around the island on its one road, visiting its 4 tiny towns. It was one of the highlights of our trip. There are daily excursion boats from Kos to Nisyros. I'm pretty sure they would allow you to go there on one day and come back to Kos the next. If you go, don't do the bus excursion to the volcano with the other tourists. Instead, spend that day exploring the island. There's a great little yacht harbor called Pali. Then, early the next morning, go to the volcano when no-one else is there. Later that day, go back to Kos for a day or so, and fly to Athens from there. Our other favorite place was Kastellorizo. I'll do a separate post for that & Rhodes.

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
911 posts

Option 2: I think there's a daily ferry from Marmaris, Turkey to Rhodes. Rhodes is a large island, with a fascinating historic Old Town. You could stay at Hotel Attiki, right in Old Town, and rent a car or take bus trips around the island to various beaches, etc. You can take a day trip to the nearby islands of Symi or Chalki. Then you can easily (and cheaply) fly to Athens for the start of your next tour. Option 3: A little more complicated (but worth it, IMHO) would be to make your way down to Kas, Turkey, and take a ferry (daily, in the morning) to the tiny, gorgeous island of Kastellorizo. Spend a couple of nights there, then ferry to Rhodes for a few days, then fly to Athens. If you're looking for picturesque and walkable, Kastellorizo is exactly that. Look up Hotel Megisti. (http://www.megistihotel.gr/index.html). There are lots of good restaurants and a really good "blue cave" to visit. No beaches but great swimming in the harbor. The kicker here is that ferry service from Kastellorizo to Rhodes is limited to 2 or 3 a week, so timing is critical. We based our trip on the Blue Star Ferry schedule (bluestarferries.com). A big Blue Star leaves Athens twice a week for a run down the Dodecanese. Last year it was Wednesday and Friday, stopping at Kalymnos, Nisyros, Tilos, Rhodes, Kastellorizo. It spent about an hour in Kastellorizo, and then turned around and stopped at the same islands on the way back to Athens. I think the September Blue Star schedule comes out in March. If the ferry schedule doesn't mesh, you can also fly for 35 euros from Kastellorizo to Rhodes (but not every day).

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
433 posts

Nancy, you are posting quite a challenge! (example: in Denver you have 5 days, want to visit New Orleans and NYC). Also, u want the "classic Greek island look" (whitewashed cube bldgs) these are all in Cyclades, faaar from Bodrum. Yes I think 5 days in Kos may be too much. Alternative gets u Santorini but involves $$$ & travel. Early on Day #1, Bus from bodrum-Marmaris & ferry to Rhodes takes up most of day. day 2 & part of day 3, Rhodes ... old Town & Lindos?? 5 pm day 3 IF you time it right, ferry to Santorini (it goes 3x week)..5pm-midnight. Day 4 & 5 on Santorini, fly to Athens on aegean Olympic, late on day 5. You could MAYBE short-cut this & get 4 days in Santorini by flying Sky Express from Rhodes, BUT ... who knows if they'll be running a sked in mid-Sept, or even if they'll be in business?? Plus, they only allow about 22 lbs TOTAL luggage (18 pass plane) and charge the earth for overweight. If you decide to forego the "white cube" look of Santo (note: beaches there are mediocre to walk on; black gritty) you can have 4+ great days in Rhodes & fly back easily to athens, on Aegean on a bargain ticke, many departures.

Posted by Nancy
Beaverton, Oregon
135 posts

I sometimes muse about whether it would be possible to come up with any travel question that someone on this Helpline couldn't answer. This is simply the most amazing resource and I so appreciate all of your responses. I hadn't originally considered flying, but I definitely will now. Lee, I've signed up for Aegean Airlines' email newsletter. And, I've come to accept that I'll need to give up on some of my obsessive planning and go with the flow later in the year - this wasn't easy for me! Charlene, thank you so much for taking the time to map out three options for me. The second and third ones sound especially good to me. Have you stayed at Hotel Attiki? And, Janet, thanks for the reality check :-). This was exactly what I needed to hear. No more thoughts about Santorini!

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
911 posts

I have stayed at Hotel Attiki and can highly recommend it. It's the #1 ranked B&B in Rhodes on Trip Advisor. Not really a B&B (I'd term it more a small hotel). They do offer breakfast, but it costs extra. The best things about the hotel are the location right in the Knights Quarter, the reasonable price, and the wonderful owner, Mara. I can't say enough about how helpful and hospitable she was. Comfortable, air conditioned rooms in an old, old stone building ... kind of reminded me of Base Rooms in Diocletian's Palace in Split, if you've been there. You could keep busy on Rhodes, but I hope you can work in Kastellorizo. Check out the website for that hotel. It's as pretty as it looks. A little pricey, but I think it's worth every penny. We have been to Santorini and many places in Italy and Croatia, and Kastellorizo topped them all. My husband said this is where postcards come to die! (Whatever that means!). Let me know if you have questions. I have all kinds of information I'd be happy to share.

Posted by peter
los angeles, calif, usa
1 posts

well...I hope you have your plans solidified I am finding your post much later than others...I've been to the islands 8 times...and I've learned, that the first time around, make it as EASY on yourself as you can. If you want a really memorable experience SANTORINI never fails. But you are on the far Eastern edge of the Aegean, and that comprimises your ability to get to the Cycladas Islands and still have time to see TWO islands. inter-island flights are almost non-existant. and many make your double back thru Athens. I will be interested to hear just how this all ends up for you. You could see Mykonos & Delos in 3 days and you will have seen typical Cycladic buildings and villages, and some of the most famous ruins in Greece. And there are probably ferries to Athens every day from Mykonos/
Anyway, good luck, and enjoy the riches of the Greek islands that have captivated people for 1,000's of years.

Posted by Roger
Monein, Pyrenees, France
425 posts

Kos will keep you entertained for a few days. Kos town may be a little "busy" for you, although it's a VERY interesting place, but there is plenty to see on the rest of the island. Then get the ferry to Piraeus. If you have never traveled on a long distance Greek ferry you ought to experience it while you have the chance. And you will get a "snapshot" of all the islands that it calls at on the way.

Posted by Nancy
Beaverton, Oregon
135 posts

Thanks so much for your responses. We're currently on the Village Turkey tour. After the tour, we'll take a ferry to Kos, where we'll be able to spend most of the day before getting a ferry to Rhodes, where we'll stay for five days. We have a flight to Athens on the day our Greece tour begins. I think this will work for us and I so appreciate all of your suggestions.