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Greece Island Hopping with Family

My husband and I would like to island hop in the Greek Isles with our three kids - 16,13,8 - next summer 2013. It sounds easy and inexpensive to do with a small party, but can we do it as well? We are flying into Athens, thinking of spending 5-6 days on the islands, and then returning for 3-4 days to Athens in early June of 2013. I'm a newbie to Greece so any advice is appreciated.

Posted by
14 posts

Brilliant suggestions on the airlines which I will immediately take a look at. Do you think there will be any problem with our "small party" finding rooms on some of the smaller islands on which I understand that locals renting rooms meet the ferries?

Posted by
2916 posts

There's no reason why you can't do it all yourselves. Thousands of families do it every year. A family of 5 is a "small party". First, get a copy of T. Cook's "Greek Island Hopping" to familiarize yourself with the different island groups and what they have to offer so you make the best choice. Every year Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air have airfare sales for their domestic flights that cost as little as an economy ferry ticket and will save you hours of time you could be spending on an island instead of at sea in transit, assuming you choose an island with an airport for your first stop. Sign up for their email newsletters and you'll receive notices sometime in February or March for flights in June. Be prepared to buy your tickets right away when you see the offer. They go very quickly. Ferry schedules can be found here: http://www.gtp.gr but don't expect to see anything for next June until April. Here's a link to a ferry route map. It's not 100% complete but it's the best one out there: http://www.greeceathensaegeaninfo.com/ferry-info-greece/greek-islands-ferry-chart.htm As much as you might be tempted, don't try to fit more than 2 islands into your 5-6 days of island time. Every time you move from one island to another you lose at least 1/2 day of free time to enjoy your surroundings. Once you've chosen your islands come back for hotel recommendatons but be sure to mention your travel dates, the size of your party, the amenities you require (full-service hotel vs. self-catering, pool, ect.) and most importantly your combined maximum daily room budget expressed in Euro. For a good selection of hotels try www.booking.com by starting with the name of the island, and for hotel reviews and advice try www.tripadvisor.com.

Posted by
2790 posts

Hi Shari!
Lee has given you the Perfect start on trip planning, and YES, you can do it with a party of 5, and inexpensively too! I go almost every year with 3-4 travel pals, and we do it on about €70 per day and it would be less for you, putting the 3 guys in 1 room (but don't try looking for rooms for 5 in Greece; that's US stuff, & besides, no fun for the parents). The T. Cook book is great you can get a used copy on Amazon. And for a quick online overview, I always recommend http://www.greek-islands.us/ not commercial, put together by a young Greek schoolmaster who lilkes history AND beaches, food, landscapes AND nightlife. Very pictorial too. Totally agree, best sequence strategy is: LAND, get soonest bargain airflight to Island (3 days), ferry to next island (3-4 days, back to mainland for 3 days. For newbies a great combo is Santorini, then Naxos, then back. About Lodging those people at the port in June are usually there because their places are not convenient; besides, for your bunch, you might not find what you want for your bunch. Best to do some research, e-mail a few places with your dates & budgets. Not in Santorini but in other places, it's good to look at a "self-catering" place that just means there's little kitchenette ell - so handy when teens want food at all hours. And here's a shout-out to Warsaw; When I was a child that didn't mean Poland... it meant the town nearest to Dewart Lake and our only vacation spot, Quaker Haven. Memories!!

Posted by
2790 posts

Clarification: when I said €70, I meant Per Adult. The way we travel, that covers cost of shared double room beach hotel (incl. breakfast), a picnic lunch, simple taverna dinner, all site admissions, ferry transport, local busses, share of car rental for a day, beach-chair rental, water & snacks.

Posted by
14 posts

Janet - I've been to Dewart Lake and our kids have made memories there as well :) Here's hoping for more good memories with your wise advice and island suggestions! I have ordered the Ferry Hopping Book per both of your suggestions. Before, I thought of Santorini as too expensive to work with a group of 5 budget minded people, but your thoughts give me renewed hope to do more research on it. Do you have any budget lodging suggestions there? Naxos definitely looks amazing as well. Thank you for helping to direct my scattered thoughts.

Posted by
72 posts

I suggest taking a look at Villa Evgenia on the island of Santorini. I stayed here in May and had a great experience. You will not have a view of the caldera but some rooms have great views to the Aegean on the east coast. The owner picked us up from the port and took us back to the airport when we left. He also offered great suggestions to help make the most of our time on the island!

Posted by
2916 posts

As for budget accomodations on Santorni, it's not a problem as long as you stay away from the hotels with a view of the caldera. Check Villa Manos and Pension Atlas in Karterados as well as Anemomilos Hotel in Oia. Both have apartments big enough for all of you. As I've already suggested, go to www.booking.com and put 'Santorini' in the search box and use the filter system to narrow down your choices. This is an excellent way to find something affordable. Of course this applies to all hotels in their listings for Athens and other islands as well. Just don't put too much store in the "star" system these hotels use. Island hotels, especially, don't necessarily adhere to the standards set by the Greek National Tourist Office. Instead, they arbitrarily give themselves the rating they think they deserve. Most of the hotels on booking.com will have their own website. Do a cross-comparison to check pricing, and you'll see that some of these hotels will even offer free transfer to and from the airport or ferry port. With the economy and tourism being in trouble this year I suggest you ask about free transfers even if you don't see it mentioned on their website. They may agree just to get your business. Not all the rooms offered by the locals who meet the ferries will be in bad locations, but there's no way you're going to know that. With kids in tow it's best if you just find something affordable in the location you prefer that you can book online. Some of the hotels will even offer free transfer to and from the airport or ferry port. With the economy and tourism being in trouble I suggest you ask about free transfers even if you don't see it mentioned on their website. They may agree just to get your business.

Posted by
14 posts

Bless both of you - 5 can be a difficult number to find a place without renting more than one room. I'm on the booking.com right now but the three both of you suggested look excellent.

Posted by
2790 posts

Shari, I don't want the place to fill up before we get to Santorini, but Villa Fotini as I said in my PM, is perfect for your 5-some and my quintet, next June. Run by a lovely family, parents & post-college young man/woman. In Firostephani, but right on the border of Fira Town ...a quickie walk to the town, but quiet by day and evening. Near the rimside path AND the bus stop for Oia; Ideal location. Get triple for your boys, double for you 2. Plusses: shuttle to the Ferry port, continental bkfst, AND use of pool at neighboring hotel. And final thoughtful touch -- water cooler in lobby for free chilly refills of your bottles.

Posted by
14 posts

You mention the refills to the water bottles which is a marvelous idea. Now I just need to get those airline tickets arranged so I can get my definite dates lined up! It's reassuring to know that there are indeed lovely and affordable accomodations on Santorini for 5.

Posted by
1878 posts

Here's another place to check in Santorini. A friend of mine stayed at a studio apartment outside Thira, www.pensiongeorge.com. She loved it .... pool, friendly owners, a short walk to town, all for 40 euros (in May, 2010).

Posted by
2916 posts

I can get pretty hot in June so you might want to think about finding accomodations that come with a pool.

Posted by
24 posts

Hi Shari, we are thinking of doing the same thing you are with my 3 kids-17,15 and 12 with another family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids 17 and 15). We are thinking 10 days island hopping and 3-4 days Amalfi Coast. I am glad you post the entry.
Thanks

Posted by
14 posts

All of this great advice has really helped me to flesh things out with the whole family in mind. We are thinking 6 days to Santorini and Naxos, then Athens. After that Florence and Rome :)

Posted by
72 posts

Hi Shari, If you are still looking for accommodations on Naxos I'd like to recommend Sigma Studios. I stayed here in May and really enjoyed the experience. The location is very near the beach and a short walk into town. Happy trip planning!