We are going to a meeting in Istanbul this summer and would like to continue on to Athens and Crete. Would like to go by boat but can't find much info. Is train or air the best options?
Howdy, Neighbor- Greetings from Cottage Grove. There are 5 main Turkish ports from which you can enter the Greek islands but there are no ferries from Istanbul to any of the Greek islands. If after Istanbul all you want to do is go to Crete and Athens then flying is probably your best option. You'll have to go to Athens to make a connection to Crete by air or ferry. Aside from returning to Athens there's no other practical way to fly from Istanbul to Crete without first flying to So. Turkey then taking a ferry to Rhodes where you can catch a ferry or plane to Crete, but this takes a couple of days. Without knowing more of what your plans include there's not much else I can offer. I've never taken the train from Istanbul to Athens but I've read that it's a long and exhausting trip with a change of trains in Thessaloniki.
There are no ferries from Istanbul to anywhere in Greece. Olympic, Aegean, and Turkish airlines all fly nonstop Istanbul to Athens. The flight is an hour and 20 minutes. Take a plane. There are ferries from Athens to Crete but the journey takes a minimum of 6 1/2 hours. A flight on Olympic or Aegean takes 50 minutes. Take another plane.
just fly. look up olympic, aegean air, or cyprus air see if you can find a deal.
While physically possible, train travel between Istanbul and Athens is so time consuming and convoluted that it is not even a serious option. A full day train trip vs. a one hour flight just does not make sense. Ferries are possible but painfully slow and not all that cheap. Fly.
From the comments, it sounds like train travel between Istanbul and Athens hasn't changed since I did it long ago in my salad days. It took 28 hours as I recall with a long layover at the border where I sat for hours watching old men play backgammon in the depot. It was cheap, though ;-)
Yesterday on the Lonely Planet website someone made reference to the fact that international train travel between Greece and her neighbors has been suspended. If this is true for the Istanbul>Thessaloniki Train then it might now be necessary to take a train to the Greece/Turkey border and a bus to Alexandropoulos to catch the train that goes to Thessaloniki.