My mom and I will be traveling to Greece in May and plan on spending the whole trip on the islands (we're flying into Athens, but it seems that most things I've read say that a day or two in Athens is enough). We're going to be there two weeks and now we're trying to come up with a good itinerary. What are the best islands to visit? Is it best to just take ferries between the islands? We'd appreciate any suggestions/tips on planning since this will be our first trip to Greece. Thanks!
Sarah, I think it's great that you're going to Greece with your Mom, and you have picked the very best month to go, in my experience. I've been 7 times, and 6 of those times have been in May. It WOULD be good to know what your exact dates are, because there are some May occurences that can affect travel and bookings.
The rains are over, it's sunny, even warm enough to swim, (in the right places), flowers are everywhere. Things are open but not crowded, and Greeks have time to be their sociable selves.
I think you have time to go to three islands, and Athens, without rushing off your feet. DEpending on your arrival time, you may be able to fly out to Island #1 immediately on landing at the airport -- thus saving an in/out Athens journey. then you can "hop" your way back via ferry.
What islands? Too many questions, too little space here! I've sent you a PM to help figure out where your interests lie; I'll look forward to hearing from you!
I would stay at least two days in Athens. I was a little worried because I planned to stay there for four nights-- when I knew that what seemed to be a general consensus was not staying too long. Well, I left wishing I had four more nights. Can't wait to return!
The best plan is not to plan.
It's impossible to say which islands are the best to visit because they are as individual and unique as hunman beings. In my opinion the ferries are definitely the way to go, others will tell you to save time by flying out to an island. Neither opinion is wrong, neither is right, we're all different.
All I can say is that Paros is a great place to use as a hub. You may choose to stay for a couple of days or you may never leave. Accommodation is easy to find and the islanders are about as honest as it gets. Cheap, clean and friendly but basic is way it goes and payment in cash please.
If it was me I'd book travel to either Paros or Naxos and book two nights accommodation in advance - after that I'd do whatever I felt like doing and not plan at all.
I am also going to Greece the last two weeks of May and early June, so I have been doing quite a bit of planning/reading. Since Rick Steves doesn't have that much info on Greece, I strongly suggest you check out Matt Barrett's website, greektravel.com. I have used this site alot. He has some good info on each island, and links to useful info such as ferry schedules, etc. I have also gotten a couple of lonely planet books, one on the Greek Islands, another specifically on Crete.
As far as which islands you go to, that should be based on your interest and what you enjoy. You should try to stay within a particular group of islands so that you will be able to connect easily by ferry. A suggestion to save time: consider taking ferry from Athens to islands, and have your last island be one with an airport so you can fly back to Athens. An example of this would be Athens>Paros>Naxos>Santorini>Athens
Have a fun trip.
thanks so much everyone! this has all been very helpful!
Plan your Athens time (except maybe for your first night)for the end of your trip, that way if weather or ferry schedules interupt, you are not worrying about your flight home. Try to find a map or timetable showing ferry routes, and plan a route that utilizes a common route, otherwise you will waste time travelling back to Athens then back to an island. The Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Ios, Santorini route is the most popular, but you can venture off of that somewhat easily. Find some good guides (Lonely Planet, Lets Go, Frommers) and make a list of possible rooms/hotels. No need to book ahead, at the most, call ahead before you get on the ferry to the island, otherwise, there will be hoardes of people offering rooms at the dock when you get off.