We are trying to plan our fourth trip to Europe. We have made two trips to Italy and one to France. We have noticed that airfares are very reasonable right now to Greece. Just wondering if it is because of the trouble there. We would like to spend a few days in Athens and than visit some islands. How safe is Athens right now and are there strikes every other day? How much time do you think you need in Athens? What islands would you suggest to visit if we go? It is either Greece or Southern France and Switzerland but Greece would be our first choice because it seems so inexpensive right now and we always wanted to go.
Go to Greece. It is safe. The media tends to overemphasize and sometimes sensationalize, and Greece is an easy target. Strikes are announced in advance and almost always happen mid-week. You can keep track of them HERE. Demonstrations, different from strikes, always take place in Syntagma Square and in front of the Parliament Building. If there happens to be a demonstration going on you can easily avoid that area and you won't even know it's occurring. The islands are even less-likely to be affected unless it's a public transportation strike or an air traffic controller's strike, and then it might be difficult to move around and to get from the mainland to an island or back to the mainland from an island. These sort of strikes are rare and only last for 24-48 hours, and again they're usually mid-week. You need a minimum of 3 full days in Athens if you want to see all the major attractions. But if you plan to visit an island or two save your exploration of Athens for the end of your trip so you don't have to stress about returning to the mainland at the last minute for your flight home. Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air both offer cheap flights to several islands. Sign up for the Aegean Airlines email newsletter and you'll be notified when they release these 'saver' fares of €39, all taxes included for one-way tickets to the islands. There are too many islands to suggest. I love Santorini and there are several other excellent choices nearby reachable in a couple of hours by ferry. Check out Naxos, Paros and Antiparos for example.
I second Lee's advice. Greece is fine to visit. We were in Athens for two weeks over Christmas and New Year, and will be back for a week in March. Lee is also right that the main problem you are likely to face is a transport strike. It's best therefore to plan your time in Athens for the end of your holiday, so you are near the airport. Among the islands we are very fond of Andros and Stros, both of which are more off the beaten tourist track. Alan
Agree - you should go to Greece. We were there for 27 nights beginning in early September 2012. We were in Athens when Angela Merkel visited and while there were some demonstrations the majority of othe activity was as Syntagma Square and we were able to walk a couple of blocks away so it did not affect us. This was our first visit to Greece and we loved it! We agree that Santorini is beautiful - it exceeded our expectations, which were set pretty high, as far as scenery and history. We were there for four nights. We also spent five nights on Naxos which we also loved for the scenery, history, beaches and food. From there we took a day trip to the archaeological island of Delos and Mykonos. We spent three nights in Athens but four would have been better. Don't know how much time you have to spend in Greece, but the Peloponnese also has a lot to offer. We rented a car for 13 days and drove around the Peloponnese from Piraeus, then to Delfi before returning the car in Athens for our stay there. We really can't say enough about the people in Greece - everyone was very helpful and friendly. We learned some Greek words and phrases before we went although most people spoke at least some English. And the food is delicious! So much so that towards the end of our trip we joked that we were bringing a lot of Greece home with us. You may be able to tell that we had a wonderful time in Greece and if you go you probably will too!
Tom, you'll get the best advice if you give some key info such as: WHEN r u coming? (May-june much different from August) and how many days will you have? (advice for 10 days much different from a 3-week trip). As for the transport strikes as a rule, the practical Greeks do not stage demos or stoppages on Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon (it might hurt THEIR weekends, and they could not get students to march). Also, July & August usually not months w. demos. If u can plan so you don't arrive in ATH on T-W-Th, u minimize risk of any inconvenience. If u are on islands during a demo, little impact except maybe a museum would be closed. As for costs .. Waaayyy less than S. France or Switz; Athens, Santorini & Mykonos have costlier lodgings than other places, but islands are much more moderate in costs than Italy or France ... and you'll find that in a taverna (their name for simple restaurants), for an authentic hearty Greek dinner, with a couple glasses of barrel wine, hard to spend more than €13.
thanks to all for replies so far. We would plan to leave new York on August 30 (Friday)and leave Greece on September 9. We would like to spend a few days in Athens, a day trip to Hydra, Santorini and we saw videos of Lefkada and would like to go there. We always drive when it makes sense so the trip to Lefkada could be a drive. We dont want to spend too much time traveling the first day because of the long plane ride. So I hear everyone saying save Athens until the end of the trip, but the first night would have to be there too? Does this make sense or too much? We dont mind a fast pace but we also like to get to know a place we are staying for a bit. Some feedback our schedule and Lefkada would be appreciated. This site has never let us down.
Tom Driving to Lefkada is probably unrealistic in the time you've got. It's off the west coast of Greece and is a day's travel each way by the time you factor in the drive and the ferry. Alan
Tom, I doubt that you'll have any problems with "stability" in Greece, however there could be sporadic transportation disruptions. I was there in 2010 when demonstrations were ongoing, and never had any problems at all. If you're planning to drive in Greece, be sure that EACH driver has the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. You can easily obtain an I.D.P. at your local AAA office for a small fee (Passport photos required). Greece is a beautiful country and well worth a visit! Happy travels!
Tom, can you tell us the time of day your flight will land on SAT Aug 31. This will enable better advice. and is it nonstop from NY?? You really only have 8 days so u can't waste time going into ATH 2x, trust me. Its like bussing into Manhattan from JFK to stay in Biltmore, next AM taking bus out no sense to it. When u arrive, if before 6 pm, take 45 min. flight to Santorini... and rest up there. If arrive afer 6pm, go to small b & by with pool near airport, fly out at 6 am Sun. That can be your island experience; u only have time for 1 island. Do NOT go to Lefkada (mainly Grk resort area). If u love Italy, u will adore Nafplio on Mainland. On Tues? Wed? Fly back to airport (u booked too short a vacation to go by ferry), then rent car, drive across corinth canal thru beautiful scenery (only 2.5 hrs, modern hiway) to Nafplio; here's website to enchant you http://www.visitnafplio.com/visitnafplio.com/Home.html Greeks rate Nafplio Old Town the most beautiful in all of Greece, Venetian architecture, castles, forts, beaches, ruins, oh my! Sunsets better than Santorini IMHO. Spend 2 nights there, back Fri nite or early sat for 2 days site-seeing in Athens. NOTE with short athens stay, get VERY central hotel, walkable to all major ancient sites. Hotel Airotel Parthenon liked by many "regulars", good pricing, right off pedestrian walkway so. of Acropolis.
Ok Lefkada is out. It is non stop from NY. 10 hour flight that gets in at about 10 am. thanks for all the help so far you guys are helping us shape this trip