We plan to arrive in Athens at least 2 days before our R/S Tour to Athens/Greece at the end of September. There are so many decisions to make. After the tour, we have about four days left before we head home to the US. Comments have been made to visit only one island for these four days. What did former R/S Tour members to Athens/Greece do for the before and after itineraries?
If you have not booked it yet, see if you can make it one day early and five days together at the end, as that will give you a bit more cushion if you have to fly to an island and fly back to Athens. I did not do the tour, but I would also choose one island with that amount of time. Santorini is probably impossible to resist, but everyone loves Naxos.
Last, check your flight options--most of us have to fly through Athens, but we don't know where you are flying from or your budget. If you can fly direct from an island on your way home, that would be convenient. Even though it is a large island and you'd only scratch the surface, you could also technically fly to Heraklion (see Knossos), head to Chania for the rest of the time before flying out from there. I know both of those airports are well served (through Lufthansa for example).
When we took this tour in 2019, we unfortunately, did not have any more time, but several people in our group when to Santorini and other islands. Check out Meteora and see if that interests you.
We took this tour in April 2016 - immediately after the tour, we flew to Santorini for 3 nights - it was a fantastic way to end our time in Greece. Highly recommend staying in Oia - much quieter and you get a front row seat to the sunsets. We did not rent a car - public transport worked great for us to get around the island. Have fun!!!
There are so many interesting islands to visit depending on your interests. I particularly liked Rhodes with its connections to the crusades and Knights of St. John. As well as the city of Rhodes with its medieval layout and attractive buildings, there are the ancient ruins at Lindos and if you are looking for beach time Rhodes can supply that to. I think it would be a good place to relax and recover from the busy RS tour.
My favourite island is Crete but it needs more than a few days as it offers so much of everything - beaches, archaeological sites, historic sites, hiking, food…….
Wherever you decide to visit one of the Islands you will need to spend your final night in Athens as the flights to North America leave in the morning.
I would visit Paros and Antiparos if I were you.
When we took this tour last year, my husband and I arrived a couple of days early and we visited the Ancient Agora in Athens. That's not part of the RS tour and I highly recommend a visit.
We took this tour in September 2017 and arrived 2 days prior. This allowed us to visit museums, etc. that were not covered on the tour. In addition we did a private Jewish walking tour that also covered areas not included on the tour. Following the RS tour we spent 4 nights on Santorini and a week on Naxos. We felt we got the “authentic Greece experience” on Naxos. If we had more time we would have gone to Paros and or Crete. Next time! ;)
In October 2022, on our few pre-tour days in Athens, we visited the Ancient Agora (including small museum) using Rick Steves' audio tour, followed most of the Rick Steves' City Walk audio tour, and visited the Byzantine and Christian museum, Also, while my husband took a solo trip to the National Archaeological Museum (even though we were visiting it with the group tour later, he knew he wanted more time to explore on his own), I did the Psyrri/Central Market neighborhood walk in the Rick Steves' Greece guidebook. Plus, we spent A LOT of time on our hotel rooftop bar mingling and enjoying the views/weather.
We lifted weights at a local gym (nominal day fee) a couple of times too. We did not have a chance to do that anywhere else on the tour, if that is important to you.
We could not stay after the tour but various tour members did with some flying/cruising to Greek islands or other European destinations.
I hope you enjoy the tour as much as we did! It was a terrific experience and I'm excited for you.
Thanks everyone who have replied with ideas and suggestions. These are greatly appreciated. Please continue to post your comments as they will help with our decisions regarding before and after our R/S Tour since there are too many choices just from reading R/S Tour book. We will be flying from the West Coast with our traveling friends.
We stayed in Santorini for a few days before meeting the tour in Athens and then two days post tour in Athens. Great tour!!
I spent five days in Naxos before the tour and absolutely loved it. ( Last May and into June) I landed in Athens, spent the night in a Hotel close to the port and sailed out on the ferry the next morning. I then ferried back two days before the tour started and loved it. Even though we were set to see the Acropolis as a group during the tour, I wanted to see it on my own. I am so glad I did. It was wonderful. Like a religious experience! I walked all over Athens and fell in love with Greece even before the tour started.
I am glad I went to Naxos first as I needed to decompress before the tour started. Plus, I am famous for itching to get home after the tour ends. Can't help it. I start to miss my routine....
Also the reason I went to Naxos is because so many wonderful forum peeps gave me the advice to go to Naxos. I seriously cannot wait. to get back to Greece. I miss all of my tour family!