Hello, My partner and I would like to spend 5 nights on a Greek Island. We would be departing for the island from Turkey and traveling on to Athens after our island stay. Does anyone have experience with what we are looking for: a less touristy island with lodging that is simple, less expensive but with private bathroom. Near nice beach for swimming and tavernas for good food. We are wanting a relaxing location with short walk to village. We will not have a car and will depend on the ferry and taxi service. Travel date is for around July 10th through the 15th. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have been to Santorini and Crete and neither are options for this trip. Thanks in advance! Sonja
Sonja Andros might fit the bill. Our comments on it are here http://www.greekramblings.org.uk/Andros.html The main town, Chora, is beautiful but really low key. There are a couple of beaches and a handful of good tavernas. It's only a couple of hours by ferry from Rafina and there are ferries every day. Have a great trip. Alan
Which Greek island you choose should at least be determined partially by where you are in Turkey when it's time to enter Greece. What's the plan?
We are thinking of departing Turkey via ferry to Samos. We've been looking at Ikaria as an island to stay on as it seems to fit the description of being laid back with nice beaches. Any thoughts about the best beaches or places to stay there? Thanks!
I don't have first-hand experience with those particular islands but judging by what I see with Google Images I think you're on the right track with Ikaria if you're looking for something less-touristy with nice beaches. Just keep in mind that in July even the least-touristed island will be busy relative to what it has to offer. Small islands mean fewer beaches so those that are there will probably be crowded. What accomodations there are will be in high demand so be sure you have confirmed reservations.
Sonja, You might want to have a look at Matt Barrett's excellent Greece Travel website. There are good descriptions there on most/all of the islands, so that will give you some idea on which ones might best fit your criteria. In choosing an island, be sure to consider the ease of travel back to Athens. At that time of year, the Ferries will likely be crowded so an island with an airport would offer another option. As Lee mentioned, the islands will be busy at that time of year, so be sure to pre-book accommodations! Happy travels!
There is one ferry on July 15 back to Piraeus from either Ikaria or Samos (the Karlovassi port), leaves 18:25, arrives 1:10 next AM. It's a big car ferry, so if u book it upon arrival on your island, should be NO problem. I've also longed to go to Ikaria, but never have, main reason is I don't drive, and all research shows me public transport is VERY infrequent. I've been to Samos 2x and hope to go back;stayed in Vathy, Hotel Pythagoras, near a v. small beach; enjoyed the town and also used as base for hops to Patmos,Ephesus,Chios. Samos does have better public transit. Samos in High Season has tons of package tourism in places like Pythagoria (S. E.) Kokkari (North subject to meltemi winds!) and in the S.W., Marathakambos. HOWEVER to the WEST of Marathakambos is Votsalakia, nice sandy beach, small village, served by bus, not package tourism. Here's a good website that gives the "flavor" and some good small lodgings http://www.angelfire.com/super2/greece/votsalakia.html Also, the Samos bus system gives a round-the-island tour weekly Sunday AM. BTW, Chios has a mon 7/15 ferry o-nite, leaves 23:10 arrives Piraeus 6 AM next day again, the less-frequent bus service would be a limitation. This site gives good candid reviews of Chios Beaches, their popularity, accessibility, etc. http://www.chiosnet.gr/tourism/worth/beaches.htm Chios is an UNIQUE isle for its mastic villages; worth renting a car 1 day to see.
A PS on Samos: here's the bus schedule, takes some figuring, but a general idea: http://www.samos-online.com/EN/timetable.htm
I have been to Ikaria and it's beautiful. We stayed near Armenistas at a beautiful hotel on the beach, very inexpensive. Absolutely untouristy, golden sand beach, several tavernas to choose from. We used ferries and taxis to get around but did also rent a car for one day ... easy to do ... they brought it to the hotel and picked it up when we were done. There are flights from Ikaria to Athens in addition to the ferries. I can dig up the hotel info if you're interested; it was around 40 euros, clean, balcony, private bath, wonderful owners. I'm not sure if ferries run daily to Ikaria from Samos, so you would want to time this carefully. Another good choice would be Lesvos. You can ferry directly from Ayvalik, Turkey to Lesvos every day. We found a hotel that we love and are visiting for the fourth time this September following 3 weeks in Turkey. It's called Hotel Votsala, a short taxi ride from Mytilene (where the ferries dock). It's on a private beach (albeit pebbly), a couple of tavernas a short stroll down the beach, classical music playing while you eat breakfast under the olive trees, free water toys. Check out Trip Advisor reviews. About 60% of guests are return visitors. Lesvos is the 3rd largest Greek island but gets few visitors because it's out of the way. Lots to see on the island. We usually rent a car for an occasional day or two; again, they deliver it right to the hotel. But buses are available, and the hotel also takes guests on optional excursions (hikes, boat trips, once we went to Pergamon in Turkey). Simple rooms, around 60 euros, I think. The most wonderful hosts we've ever met. From Lesvos, you can take a long ferry back to Athens or a one-hour flight (we always fly).
The name of our hotel on Ikaria was Atsachas, near Arministis. It has a great restaurant, too. It's on Trip Advisor. A few more thoughts on Ikaria. You will ferry from Kusadasi to Samos and then ferry to Ikaria, but probably not on the same day. Check the ferry schedules on http://www.gtp.gr ... just put in Samos and Ikaria, with no dates. You'll see there are two ports in Samos (Vathy, where your ferry from Kusadasi arrives, and Karlovassi, which is on the other end of Samos). You'll also see two ports on Ikaria: Agios Kirykos and Evdilos. When we visited, we took the ferry from Vathy to Evdilos, then a taxi to Arministis. When we left, we took a bus to Agios Kirykos and a ferry back to Vathy. (That bus ride, by the way, was an amazing journey along sheer cliffs that rival the Amalfi Coast.) You would probably want to rent a car for at least one day but driving is simple. Virtually no traffic. On Lesvos, here's another option for a place to stay ... Skala Eressos (spelled Skala Eressou on Trip Advisor). It has one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, IMO. We've stayed at the Galini Hotel twice; inexpensive, clean, basic, with AC, about a block from the beach. There are also beachside hotels, of course. Votsala is more of a community, where you meet fellow guests on excursions or breakfast ... a very sociable place. Skala Eressos is a small town, with restaurants lining the beach. Really pretty. Beautiful sunsets. (At Votsala, you get sunrises.) To get from Mytilene (where the ferries arrive) to Skala Eressos, you can take a bus or rent a car. You could spend a night at Votsala (a short taxi ride from Mytilene) and then rent a car right from the hotel the next morning. (Let the owner know in advance if you'll need a car.) Driving on Lesvos is easy, too; good roads, very little traffic.