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Travel to Athens and the Greek Islands

My wife and I are beginning to work on a 2008 trip to Athens and the Greek Island of Santorni (not sure of the spelling). We plan to depart the States on May 5th and will return home on May 14th. Our initial plans call for 3 days in Athens and 3 days on the Greek Island. In regards to the Greek Island, we prefer natural beauty, scenic walks, and historical places over commercial beach areas. Here are our questions:
1. What type of weather should we expect during early May?
2. What ferry companies would you recommend? We seem to remember seeing a video on a company that offers an overnight to Santorni. Has anyone taking this one? Is it possible to get some sleep on the overnight ferry? Any websites or email addresses?
3. How expensive are the ferries and other forms of transportation to the island?
4. Do you have any recommendations on safe affordable hotels in Athens and Santorni? Any websites or email addresses?
5. Do you have other suggestions on islands to visit?
6. Orthodox Easter for 2008 is April 27th. By going in early May, will we skip the crowds?
Your help will be deeply appreciated!
Have a great day!
James Michael

Posted by
658 posts

This is a purely personal perspective on your itinerary. I don't like Athens much. Once you have climbed to the top of the Acropolis and seen the Parthenon the rest is a concrete jungle full of noisey traffic, heat and dirt. The ferries leave from Pireus and I've used the Blue Star Line a lot to get to Paros. Santorini is another half day sailing from Paros on that ferry. I've never booked a cabin or a lounger chair. I just get a meal and sit in the lounge with all the Greeks. The weather in May can be very good or if you're unlucky it can be quite rough. It's hard to predict the weather in that area of the Mediteranian in early May but statistically it's usually very good. Personally I'd cut a day off your time in Athens and use it to spend a day on Paros, thus breaking your ferry time.

Posted by
6015 posts

You may also consider flying, particularly back to Athens. Aegean Air offers some low cost flights, little more expensive than a ferry, but much faster. Ferries sound more romantic than reality, they are after all basic transportation for the masses in the islands, not at all like a cruise. Other Islands: Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, and a couple smaller islands are on the major route to Santorini, one of those makes the most sense. Crowds will not be bad in early May, you should easily be able to find a hotel, transportation, etc. You could even just show up on an island and get a room.

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello James. Because you will be in Greece for a short time, I recommend : be in Athens for two whole days (after the day you arrive there at the airport), fly from Athens to the island Naxos. Fly from Naxos to Athens the day before your flight from Athens to the U.S.A. I was on Naxos for two whole days in 2005, and I wished I could have stayed on Naxos for 5 days. Read about Naxos in the book "Lonely Planet : GREECE". The island Santorini does not appeal to me, it is a big rock covered with buildings. I think you will have time to be on only one island. I think Naxos is a much better choice than Santorini. I could say more in E-mail <

Posted by
221 posts

one thing to keep in mind James, be patient. things don't run on time or as efficiently as we are used to in the states. the ferries often run late and a long ferry ride could cut your time short on the islands. I would agree with the other folks here to get out of Athens as soon as you can. I would fly to the island if you can,you'll have more time.

Posted by
22 posts

I did a 21 greece trip about 5 yrs ago. I spent all my time on the islands. I would suggest that you see the parthenon very early, then walk the plaka in the afternoon looking for tourist agencies to the islands. It costs next to nothing and all the ferry tickets and accomodations on the islands are arranged. the b&b owner will meet you at the dock and also get your tickets for the next island. things move SLOW on the islands and if you do it on your own, you will spend hrs acquiring tickets etc. The island trip is customized to your taste. My fav. islands are Paros(church of 99 doors & Naussa), Mykonos (Delos the archeological island), Paros (island tour)and Crete (Samarian Gorge). Heraklion is overrated. But to rival the Eiffel tower, Venice as the most romantic spot on earth, visit Santorini.
walk the paths, visit the shops and chase the sunsets with a bottle of wine and some bread n cheese. Ride the bus to aiya or hike. watch the sunset there.
my suggestion. fly to santorini only