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Greek islands itenerary help!

I am planning a trip to the Greek islands and I needed some help with an itenerary. I really just have a list of the islands I am thinking about visiting..most of them are part of the Cyclades group. But I need to narrow down the list and pick how long I will stay in each one. Also, do you recommend buying ferry tickets ahead of time? I could have them shipped to me, or should I just check the schedules but buy them when I get there? I will be starting in Rome and going to Greece. Have not decided whether to ferry or fly. Here is a list of islands I am thinking about:
Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Paros, Skopelos.
Any advice would be great! Thanks!

Posted by
194 posts

Hi Blair,

My husband and I went on our honeymoon to the Greek Isles in fall 2006. We spent two nights each on Paros, Mykonos and Santorini. We really, really enjoyed Paros and Santorini. I'm glad we got to see Mykonos, but if I never went back, I would be OK with it. It was definitely the most crowded and most expensive, I would say. We stayed on the beach outside the main city, which was nice. We loved Paros. It was very, very laid back, but it's the island we started on, and that was really nice. Santorini was just beautiful. We rented a Smart car our second day there and got to see all of the island. I highly recommend that if you have the chance. If I could do it over again, I'd probably spend three nights on two of the islands. It was a lot of traveling getting from island to island. But we only had about 10 days for three islands and Athens. We set everything up with a travel agent before we left and she had our ferries planned for us. We just picked up our tickets at our first hotel. We took the ferry from Athens to Paros, then a ferry to Mykonos, then a hydrofoil to Santorini and then flew back to Athens.

Posted by
5365 posts

First, what time of year, and how much time are you planning on? That will make a big difference in your plan. In general though, I can offer the following rules of thumb.
*If you are going directly from Rome to Athens, it would be much cheaper and faster to Fly (Aegean Air, maybe 100 Euro, half day of travel) vs Ferry (Train to Bari, Ferry to Patras, Train/Bus to Athens, easily a couple hundred Euro and 24 hrs plus of travel.)
*Plan on the minimum two nights per Island, so including Athens, a quick run through your itinerary is 12 to 13 days in Greece.
*Island choices and sequence is critical for efficient travel. In the Islands you have chosen, Santorini, Paros, and Mykonos are all sensible as a sequence, but while it is easy to get to Milos from Santorini, it is not easy to get from Milos to either Paros or Mykonos without backtracking to Santorini or back to Athens(Piraeus). Skopelos of course is out on it's own from this Itinerary, so best reached from Athens.
*Any "non-direct" ferry, meaning you take a ferry to someplace to catch another ferry, raises the possibility that the two ferries will not allow a connection that day. As an example, if you are in Santorini, then plan to ferry to Milos, spend a few nights, then ferry back to Santorini to catch a ferry to Paros, you may wind up staying the night again on Santorini in order to do so.
*I see no advantage in ever buying Ferry tickets ahead of time (meaning from the US) with the exception being Easter week or a few weekends in August...both times I probably would not travel in Greece anyway. I normally would buy ferry tickets either the day of, or day before I take that ferry.
*For the Athens/Santorini leg, consider flying (Aegean Air again), I simply do not like any ferry over 5 hours.

Posted by
2866 posts

Getting from Rome to Athens will take a long time if you don't fly. It means getting to the east coast of Italy by train or ferry, then a long ferry ride to Patras or Igoumenitsa, and a train or ferry the rest of the way to Athens. When you add an 8-hour ferry from Athens to Santorini you will have taken at least the better part of 2 days reaching your destination and will most likely have spent the same amount of money in the process that a plane ticket would have cost.

Santorini, Mykonos and Paros are all easily combined, but when you add Milos and especially Skopelos you run into scheduling problems that will probably take up more of your precious vacation time than you might want. Flying of course is the fastest method of travel but there are no direct island-to-island flights which means you must pay for a flight back to Athens to continue on to the next island with an airport. For Skopelos you'd have to fly to Skiathos and time your arrival to include a ferry across to Skopelos.

For the best use of your time I suggest you stick to one island group. If Santorini is a 'Must-see' island for you these would include Paros and Naxos as well as others that aren't necessarily reached by ferry on a daily basis. You have not mentioned when you plan to go to Greece. This will make a significant difference in your ability to move around the islands. Paros, Naxos and Santorini are all on the same DAILY ferry route from Athens, so they're the logical choices. Mykonos is accessible from Santorini after April 10 by highspeed catamaran.

But I also suggest that Mykonos is not the best choice because of overdevelopment and overpricing. It's become a group-tour, cruise-ship, charter-flight, honeymooner's delight sort of fantasy destination island that's nothing like it was in its heyday as the Jet-Setter's paradise. If you do go there be prepared to spend a lot. Premium Mixed Drinks in one of the more popular clubs will run as much as 15 eur

Posted by
2866 posts

Sorry, I made a mistake in the first paragraph. I meant to say "It means getting to the east coast of Italy by train or BUS)".

Posted by
632 posts

I agree with Lee...we did 3 islands and Athens last fall (early Oct)...we were smart enough to fly to Santorini for a 3 night stay...then ferry to Naxos for 3 nights, then ferry to Mykonos for 3 nights...then ferry back to Pireas (Athens)...we enjoyed Mykonos very much, but many will tell you that Mykonos is overpriced and overrun with tourists, so substituting Paros for Mykonos makes sense for a lot of people. We loved the efficiency of the connections made at the Athen airport instead of flying into Athens, then getting down to Pireas then catching a ferry (long trip to Santorini)...that would have been an all day affair...we made it a 1 hour shuttle. The Ferries between the islands are fun as long as you don't have to spend all day on them.

Posted by
2866 posts

Sorry, I just noticed another mistake I made. There is no ferry from Patras or Igoumenitsa to Athens. I meant to say take a train or a bus.

Posted by
38 posts

Thank you so much for all the great info. I will be heading to Greece around April 24th or 25th. I know that is close to their holiday but it is the only time I can go. I really do not have a time limit, but over 10 days would probably be a little too much. But I will not plan on spending time in Athens as I have already been there. So I would just fly there and catch a ferry. Does anyone else have any advice on the other Cyclade islands like Milos or Slfnof? It sounds like Mykonos might be a little too touristy for me. And if I did want to go to Skopelos should I just go there first and then head to the other islands? Thanks so much for your help!