my fiance and I want to spend 14-16 days in Greece for our honeymoon. We only want to spend around 2 days in Athens and then go Island hopping. Are there any islands that you absolutely recommend? We are stuck on how our itinerary should go. Also, is it better to plan on our own or do a guided tour like contiki? Thanks for the help!
I would totally do it on your own. The ferry schedules are painless and you can come and go as you want. You MUST visit Santorini - it's amazing; I would suggest 3-4 days. Don't miss Akrotiri!
I wasn't a huge fan of Mykonos. Very expensive, very crowded, and I thought the beaches were overrated. Great night life though and Delos was memorable.
We liked Paros alot. A quiet island (at least it was 9 yrs. ago) with just enough toursim.
We're visiting Naxos and Milos in June during our 3rd trip to Greece. Have heard Naxos has some of the best beaches and Milos is supposed to be wonderful too.
Whatever you decide - Greece is incredible and I'm sure you will love it! :)
Islands have personality, so it really depends what you are looking for. Luxury vs typical; Party vs Alone time, Ruins vs shopping.
Mykonos is classic party, but we enjoyed the atmosphere and beaches more than we thought. Great mix of shopping, ruins, food, and beach.
For pure "nothing but beach" (and each other) I can highly recommend Koufonisia. You get there via Naxos, low cost rooms, a few reataurants, and nothing else. Probably the best beaches of the trip.
Santorini is a spectacular sight, but I was unimpressed with the rest of it; I would rather spend my time elsewhere.
Crete is also high on my list of favorite places, too big to really be considered one of the "islands" really almost a country unto itself. Consider Chania.
Greece is easy to plan on your own, unless you are looking at August. As for itinerary, with your time, in addition to Athens, figure at the most four stops, two or three would be a nice slow pace.
Paros and Naxos are ideal places to use as a 'hub' for island hopping, they also have a lot going for them in their own rights. Once you're on either of those islands you can catch ferries to many islands according to your personal tastes.
If you've not been before Santorini is not to be missed.
Thank you all for the great suggestions. We will be going the first two weeks of September. Is it a long distance between the Islands, I was trying to find timetables for the ferries but was unsuccessful. Does anyone have a useful link?
I echo the advice to do it on your own. It's very easy.
The ferry timetable I always use is this one
Timetables for September won't be available yet, but it will give you some idea.
Unless you are on a real budget don't rule out flying. Internal flights are cheap and frequent. A good bet is to fly outwards and take ferries back.
So, for example, you could fly to Santorini, then come back via Serifos, Sifnos and Syros (which would be my favourites) or various other cycladics that might take your fancy.
As other people rightly say, where you go depends on what you're looking for. Serifos, Sifnos and Syros are all relatively undeveloped which suits me better. If you want to party then Mykonos might suit you.
Again, personally I don't like Santorini for any length of time - it's too commercialised for me - but it is undeniably beautiful and would make a great start to a honeymoon if you can afford to splash for a caldera view hotel for the night.
I think you are going to have a great honeymoon. Just a couple of pieces of advice: Travel as light as possible. Make sure the majority of clothing you bring is casual. If you book a tour with contiki realize you are going to be with a bunch of single, under 25 year olds, often recently graduated. Contiki has there own resorts like on Mykonos. You kind of miss being around greeks that way. This is fine if you are into resorts, but you are going to Greece you want to explore! Either go solo and Island Hop or go with a "small group" tour company like Ricks or www.adventures-abroad.com (I had a great time with them) Islands I recommend with my remarks:
Santorini (touristy but you simply have to go)
Mykonos (don't miss paradise and super paradise beach for optional nudity)
Naxos (not touristy but just touristy enough)
Amorgos (not touristy a couple of small villages, beautiful monastary, perfect for a honeymoon)
Skip Ios it has nothing but night life. During the day there is nada
The first two weeks of September are the perfect time to go. Like clockwork, most of the Holiday crowd will have just left, everything will still be going on, and the weather and water will be perfect (water warm, weather not so hot as August). Ferries are plentiful, be less concerned about specific times, and more about routes. As an example, the most common route through the Cyclades is Athens-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini (roughly). So your stops should mimic that order, and realize that to go to an island off the route may require some odd transfers or going back to Athens(Piraeus). For September, unless you find that perfect place, just plan on showing up for a room, or call ahead before you get on the ferry.
Thank you for all of the suggestions. I think we have an idea of which islands we want to go to. Can anyone give some suggestions of towns they really recommend with a name of a good hotel? We are thinking of starting off in Athens (2 days) then to Mykonos (3 days), Santorini (3 days) then Crete (3 days)
For Mykonos, I suggest staying in or around Mykonos town. Can't recommend a hotel though, we stayed in a wonderful low cost place, right on the harbor with an ocean view. The problem was noise, from the restaurant until midnight then from clubs until morning. If you are away from the central area it will be quiet. As someone mentioned, head to Paradise Beach, great beach and water, great people watching. Santorini, everyone says stay in Oia. Crete, best would be Chania, but it depends on transportation links, you don't want to spend 2 days getting someplace. Otherwise there are numerous coastal towns near Heraklion, the main city where you will arrive. I do not suggest staying in the city, a little to gritty and urban.
A very nice, but pricey, hotel in Fira in Santorini is the Theoxenia
Crete is such a large island that it is difficult to get any sense of it in 3 days. Chania is one of the prettiest towns and the hotel Lucia is a good bet
Alternatively you could stay in Rethymnon. Not as scenic but located between Chania and Iraklion so both can be reached by bus (about an hour to each) for a day trip. I've stayed in the Brascos here
Modern, central with friendly staff, but not particularly characterful.
You are going to have a wonderful honeymoon.
Based on your selected islands, let me suggest the following. Fly USA to Athens and continue directly on to Crete by air. Crete to Santorini with lodging in OIA. Santorini to Mikonos. Mikonos to Athens. Athens for your remaining nights and fly home. Visiting Athens (citycenter) last has the advantage of giving you some flexibility should you miss some of your travel connections, have a change of plans, or be impacted by weather problems.
It may be possible to fly to Crete from Rome or London but probably less expensive and confusing to connect thru Athens. You can check.
Finally, responding to the notes that there isn't alot 'to do' in Santorini. In a way this is true but for a honeymoon, and to get over the jet lag, I can't think of a better, more beautiful place to do it than Santorini. You'll always remember it.
I would not go to Crete for three days - just not worth it in my opinion. Maybe consider spending three days on another island in the Cyclades - Milos? Naxos? Paros/AntoParos? Folegandros? Kifounissia? Just a thought.
My husband and I went on our honeymoon to Greece in September 2006. We were there for 10 days and spent a few days in Athens, then two nights each in Paros, Mykonons and Santorini.
I would definitely recommend Paros. It was the perfect starting out point for us: peaceful, beautiful and a good mix of enough to do with plenty of downtime.
I liked Mykonos, but don't really have a desire to go back. We stayed outside of the main city, on the beach. That was really nice. I can't think of the city, but it wasn't as crazy as the main city.
I thought Santorini was beautiful, and even though it's touristy, I think it's worth a visit. We rented a Smart car there.
While we did everything on our own (no organized tour group or anything) we did have a travel agent in our hometown book the flight, hotels and ferries for us. It worked out really well. We just had to pick up our ferry and hotel vouchers when we got to our first hotel.