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Greek Island vacation

My wife and I are planning a 2 week vacation to Greece in late summer/early fall of 2012 and this will be our first trip to Greece. Our goal is to relax and focus on 2 islands that have a different feel and different things to do. We will likely spend the last couple of days in Athens before we head home. We plan on traveling to by ferry to, between, and from the islands. Any suggestions on where to go, what to do, see or avoid while in Greece would be appreciated.

Posted by
2876 posts

Hi Carl- How about helping us help you? There are over 200 inhabited islands in Greece so you expressing some idea of what you're looking for would go a long way to narrowing the field to some manageable choices. Start with researching the different island groups. You have plenty of time. Get a copy of T. Cook's "Greek Island Hopping" for starters. You will gather a lot of information from this book. Once you've got a couple of options in mind you can go online to research ferries, tours, historical sites, hotels and other aspects of the tourist infrastructure available for visitors to the islands you're considering. is an excellent source of forums for general information and for hotel reviews. If you ask for hotel recommendations be sure to include your travel dates and maximum daily room budget expressed in euro. is considered one of the most complete ferry schedule websites. Schedules for next summer/fall won't be available for several months but when they are you'll find them here. The two primary mainland ports of departure near Athens for the Aegean islands are Piraeus and Rafina.

Posted by
2876 posts This map of the Greek ferry system isn't 100% inclusive or accurate any more, but it will give you a good idea of what sort of connections you can make. Be advised that there is a ferry between Santorini and Rhodes even though it doesn't show on the map. Both Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air serve some of the islands, and they periodically offer "saver" fares to and from the islands they serve. Sign up for their email newsletters and you'll be notified a couple of months ahead of the travel dates in question. These fares are very cheap, as low as €39 one-way with all taxes included. To save time you might want to consider flying to your first island, ferrying to your second, then flying back to Athens. Just a thought.....

Posted by
11450 posts

I will tag on to this thread too,, I have been to Mykonos and Paros.. but many many years ago.. Liked both, and they were very different from each other, Mykonos had alot of beach choices, was more crowded, and was definately a party town. Paros was alot quieter(may have changed by now) and to get to some really nice secluded beaches little boats would ferry you out to private little beaches for a few drachmas( yes that long ago plus some, lol ) and collect you at end of day. Would love to go back to Greece ,, not interested in Mykonos much anymore,, too old to party, but thinking Naxos sounds good. We want quiet but not dead ,, need some nice cafes etc perhaps some other type of sightseeing also,, and of course beaches,, thats important to us. Santorini looks spectacular, but sounds expensive, and very touristy,, and not to sure about beaches there, we love to swim and snorkle,, so what do you think Lee?

Posted by
31325 posts

Carl, You might find it very helpful to have a look at This Website, which has an enormous amount of information on travelling in Greece, and includes lots of details on the islands. The Athens & the Pelopponese Guidebook would also be a good source of information (currently "on sale" for $13.95). Especially with such a short trip, it would be a good idea to choose islands which are in the same general area, as that will provide easier travel by Ferry. The Cyclades Islands would be a good choice. I visited Naxos and Santorini last year, and the Ferry trips were relatively short and easy. One thing you might consider would be to place Santorini at the end of your trip as there are easy flights back to Athens from there (not all of the islands have an airport). Happy travels!

Posted by
1816 posts

We love Greece. There are so many options, though, that I know it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are 4 of our favorite trips. Get a Lonely Planet guidebook (maybe from the library?) and look up these places, and see which (if any) sound more appealing. 1. Cyclades ... Upon arrival in Athens, fly directly to Santorini. There is nothing better than waking up on a Greek island on your first morning of vacation (especially in spectacular Santorini). Spend 4 or 5 days here, then visit a couple of other islands by ferry (Naxos, Paros, Milos, Folegandros, Sifnos ... lots to choose from) on your way back to Athens. 2. Dodecanese ... Upon arrival in Athens, fly directly to Rhodes. This is a large island with lots to do. Spend a few days here, then fly or ferry to spectacular tiny Kastellorizo. Then ferry to Tilos and Nisyros (two more tiny islands). Nisyros was one of the most fun places we have ever been; you can climb down into the crater of an active (but not erupting) volcano. We grinned the whole time. You can continue on the ferry all the way back to Athens (about 8 hours?) or can fly in an hour from Kos. 3. Lesvos ... Fly directly to Lesvos upon arrival. (We did stay overnight in Athens once and took a ferry the next morning, but it seemed to delay the start of our vacation, so now we always keep flying.) This is another large island. We spent three weeks here, staying at four different places on the island. It was one of our all time best vacations. We have since returned twice to one of the hotels ... a wonderful place. 4. Northeastern Aegean ... Fly directly to Samos upon arrival. Make a day trip to amazing Ephesus in Turkey. Visit Patmos and Ikaria (or maybe Lipsi or Leros) by ferry. Ferry or fly back to Athens. There are lots of other options, but hopefully this will help you get started! Have fun planning.