Itinerary Help- Athens/Istanbul/Ephesus/Santorini

We have booked round trip tickets to Athens for two weeks in June/July. We want to visit a few Greek islands, especially Santorini and Sifnos, and we also want to make our way to Ephesus and Istanbul. Is there a way to ferry over to Ephesus, then Istanbul and fly back to Athens? Would it best to consider a cruise? Does anyone have any recommendations on cruise companies?

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
1135 posts

I think you're trying to fit too much into one trip. Athens, Santorini and Sifnos could easily fill much of your two weeks. By adding Turkey, you'll need to schedule an overnight on Samos and possibly on Syros as well. And maybe one night near Ephesus. It doesn't leave much time for Istanbul. Instead of spending so much time (and money) in transit, you could be enjoying another island near Santorini and Sifnos (Milos? Naxos?) or some time on the mainland (Napflio? Delphi?).

Posted by Lee
1960 posts

The closest Greek island to Ephesus is Samos. There's no connection to Samos from Santorini but you can get to Sifnos. From Sifnos you'd have to take a ferry to Syros to catch a ferry to Samos. From Samos there is a ferry that will take you to Kusadasi, and from Kusadasi you can take a bus or taxi to Ephesus. There is no ferry to Istanbul but you can take a bus to Izmir to catch a flight or another bus the rest of the way. Go to CRUISE CRITIC to ask about cruise companies.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
768 posts

Have to agree with Charlene. In 2011 we thought we could spend three weeks visiting Turkey and Greece. After researching all we wanted to see we broke it into two trips over two years and we're returning to Turkey, with a side trip to Rhodes, in the fall. Santorini is beautiful with some great archaeological sites. Naxos is a great island to visit - beautiful beaches, interesting villages, and a great old town. Hydri is a cute island near Athens where you could spend one or two nights. Since you want to go to Athens, Delphi is a great archaeological site a few hours drive fron Athens. If you have some extra days Nafplio is an great town to visit and you can also see Epidavros and other historic sites. Just Santorini, and a couple of islands in addition to Athens could occupy two weeks. Both Greece and Turkey have so much to offer you might be doing yourself an injustice by rushing from one place to another without really being able to appreciate the relaxed culture and sense of each town you visit. With only two weeks you might consider paring your list and stick to one country.

Posted by Monique
Dallas, TX
3 posts

Thank you for your advice. We are also trying to see Delphi, Olympia, and Nafplion, so we are probably trying to do too much. We will be traveling with our two children, ages 12 and 14. If you have any recommendations for a tour guide and driver or small tour group to take us around the Peloponnese, please let me know. We would prefer not to drive ourselves.

Posted by Tom
Seattle, WA, United States
26 posts

If you like to travel at a good pace, like we do, I think you can do much of what you would like to do. But I would recommend driving some of it if you want to see all of the places you want to see. We spent 3 wks doing Istanbul, Capodoccia, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Kusadasi for the ferry to the islands, Santorini, Athens, Meteora, Delphi, Nafplio, and we did not feel particularly rushed. We did not see Olympia. Having a car on the mainland of Greece and in Capodoccia was very helpful. Driving is easy, much faster and more flexible than public transportation. Without it we would not have seen as much.
We found the ferries to be the only frustrating part in our itinerary. Check the schedules and connections very carefully, and be ready to be flexible traveling amongst the islands. You might consider flying to Santorini, or the night ferry from Santorini to Athens as we did, saving a night in a hotel.