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Questions about Greece

Hi,
My brother and I are planning to go backpacking in Greece and Italy next summer. It will be my first time doing anything like this so I bought some books and already started a rough itinerary.

We will be staying two weeks in each country. I'm interested in seeing the local life and celebrations but the only big holiday in the places we'll be in Greece is a feast of food, music, and dancing, at a monastery in Tilos celebrating Saint Pantaleon on July 27. Has anyone been to a festival of this sort? I can find very little information on it and am wondering if it would be worth going a month later when there will be more crowds and heat.

And I'm interested in renting a moped for a day or two to get around Rhodes with. Are they fast enough to get all around the island with and is it ok that I have no experience with mopeds?

And finally, would we be best off in terms of beating the crowds and the heat by going to Italy or Greece first?

Thanks.

Posted by
2862 posts

Alex, you won't be "beating the crowds and heat" anywhere in Italy or Greece between mid-June and the end of August. This is the absolute peak season in both countries. You might as well get used to the idea now that you will be competing for accomodations, restaurant tables and ferry tickets during July and August.

Mopeds can be fun but are very dangerous if you don't have any experience with them. Greeks and Italians are fast and loose when it comes to their driving, so if you are timid because of a lack of confidence you will be at a dangerous disadvantage, especially on the narrow roads that are everywhere in these countries.

Posted by
632 posts

And better weather...the earlier the better.

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks for the response.

Unfortunately, the only time available for me to go would be in the summer. But June would be a little better than July or August, no? Apart from Athens, many of the places I'm planning to go to in Greece aren't the typical tourist spots and resort towns. Do you think I would still have trouble finding a hostel or cheap hotel to stay in? I figure the heat will be okay. I live in a dessert so it will be a treat no matter when I go.

Posted by
2862 posts

June is a lot better in terms of finding accomodations.

Posted by
658 posts

If you have no experience of mopeds Rhodes is the last place on Earth to try your hand at riding them.

Every year the Greek Islands have a long list of tragic accidents and, sadly, fatalities all to do with tourists and mopeds.

Every experienced island hopper has at least one tragic tale about either themselves or someone they knew having a very bad accident. This is particularly true of Rhodes, Crete and Corfu.

For just a little more money you can get a small hatchback and a lot more safety.

Posted by
1358 posts

Be aware that most European countries take August as vacation. That means that some tourist centers are affected.

Ask about reliability of services before you set your dates. As for Italy or Greece first, it won't make a difference unless you know about the affect of vacations in each country.

If I had no experience on mopeds I would not want to learn in another country. Manage to ride one here before you go to be sure you want to do it over there.

Remember that they are far more dangerous than driving a car--- especially if you are a beginner.

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Alex. I think it is great that you can travel in ITALY and GREECE for a total of 4 weeks. If you want my opinion : I say skip Rhodes. I drove a rental car on Rhodes, I did not see any beauty there. The traffic situation, driving from Rhodes town, along the north coast of the island (the scenic side of the island) is dangerous, and terrible in the summer. I did not like Rhodes Old Town and its palace of the Grand Masters. And inexpensive accomodations on Rhodes are hard to find in the summer months. And Rhodes has thousands of people from the cruise ships. I think a better choice is the Cyclades islands. If you will be on a tight budget, you might want to inquire about camping sites at a beach on the island Naxos. The ferry boat ride from the port of Piraeus to the island Naxos is six hours. The busses on Naxos stop at the ferry boat pier. An easy bus ride south to a beach that has camping sites. Busses go to most places of interest on Naxos. When I was on Naxos, I did not want to leave it. And you will have time to explore other islands in the Cyclades : I recommend Folegrandos, and Sifnos. A fast boat goes from Sifnos to the port of Piraeus. I suggest : don't do much traveling on the mainland of Greece. And, on a hot day, Athens can be horrible. Traveling in ITALY in the summer : all the popular places will have big crowds of people : get your room reservations far in advance. And get a room that has air conditioning.

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks Ron, I just may have to do that. :) It would certainly save us the extra ferry ride to get down to Rhodes. Naxos sounds great and all the other islands I have an interest in are right around there in the Cyclades: Amorgos, Delos, and Syros.

I think I will do a day trip from Naxos to Delos as I have no interest in staying in Mykonos. And what do you guys think about Santorini? It doesn't sound all that interesting to me but I'm hearing a lot of people saying you can't go to Greece without visiting Santorini. Just seems like all the other islands plus nightlife and volcanic sand and a large crowd.

Not sure about camping though and whether or not lugging around a tent and a sleeping bag will be worth the money saved. Unless we're be able to manage with just a light sleeping bag?

Posted by
2862 posts

"Just seems like all the other islands plus nightlife and volcanic sand and a large crowd."

You couldn't be more wrong. No other island is like Santorini. Going to the Greek islands without seeing Santorini is like going to the Louvre and not seeing the Mona Lisa. I hope you don't miss it.

Posted by
131 posts

Hi Alex,
We just spent 3 1/2 weeks in Italy/Greece in June. It was a "great" time of year in Greece (June 7-18). We visited family in Athens, a week on Naxos, and 3 days on Santorini. Not "that" touristy and the the wild flowers were still blooming on Naxos. The sea was still quite cool and refreshing and the Greeks weren't "sick" of tourists yet. Italy (June 19-30) was more touristy. Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome were crazy with people. We had a great trip though so I would recommend
possibly going in June if you can. I can't imagine Italy in July or August and have heard Greece is just as bad - especially in August when every Athenian goes to the island on holiday. Have a great trip! These are two of my favorite countries.
Although, don't get your hopes too high about Florence - it was my least favorite place of our trip. Cheers!

Posted by
1158 posts

Lee is right about the terible traffic in both countries. I know in Italy they drive their cars on the sidewalks. I rented a car in Crete and drove it around for a whole day and the traffic was OK, but in Athens is very crowded. I walked when I was Athens. I enjoyed much better that way.
You can rent a car. The car I rented was a small Fiat, $18/day. If you decide to to rent go for a smaller local company instead of the well known ones.

Posted by
1717 posts

Alex, A sleeping bag is not needed at the islands of Greece in the summer. Just bring a sheet sack made of cotton, and a small sleeping bag, in a back pack.
Eating in restaurants and cafes in Greece is not low priced. A person camping at the islands could bring a small cook stoves (for back packing). I think a traveler could buy a small amount of gasoline on the island Naxos. Bring a stove that can burn any kind of liquid fuel. The stoves that use a small gas canister can be convenient, if you can find a store that sells that kind of gas canister at the islands of Greece. Those gas canisters can not be in an airplane. A person camping at a beach on Naxos can easily go to a market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

Posted by
1717 posts

Error in my previous reply. I intended to say bring a "small tent", not small sleeping bag.