We are scheduled to be on the Rick Steves tour of Greece that begins March 30 and ends, after breakfast, on April 12. We shall be flying back to the States on April 16 (with a mid-day time of departure). Thus, we shall have a full 3 extra days in Greece. This will be our 3rd Rick Steves tour. We previously did a two week tour of England & Wales and a tour of Sicily. Based on those experiences -- which were great -- we are thinking that it might be nice to have a mini "vacation from our vacation" after the RS tour ends and we may want to go to one place for 3 nights where we can just relax and unwind. I was hoping that alumni of past RS trips to Greece or others might suggest where we might go. I was thinking that it might be fun to go to one of the islands as the only one that the tour includes is Hydra. I have a thought that it might be better not to stay in Athens where the tour ends? Recommendations or suggestions are solicited! Thanks.
Before joining the RS Greece tour in late October a few years ago, my husband and I stayed 3 days on Santorini, in Firostefani. It's out of the mainstream of visitors who cluster in Oia and Fira but walkable distance to Fira. We had an amazing time. We flew into Athens, transferred easily to a short flight to Santorini and then back to Athens. We loved the Greece tour and I bet you will, too!
I took this tour in April 2019 as a solo. I spent the prior 9 days in Crete, and flew into Athens the morning the tour started. To me, the tour short-changes Athens. Thus, I spent 4 additional days in Athens after the tour ended ( but switched to the Hera Hotel!), taking food and other walking tours; visiting museums and food markets; and generally wandering around and enjoying Athens on my own. I took the subway after buying a multi-trip ticket. YMMV
If you aren't spending time in Athens pre-tour. . . . there is a lot to see there that isn't covered by the tour. I would want to be in Athens on the night of the 15th - weather can cause delays and even cancellations of flights and ferries.
In mid-April, the water will be too cold for beach time. You could fly from Athens to Chania Crete - lovely town with lots of history, pretty shops to wander through, great bars and restaurants. Olympic Airlines has several flights a day. I'd suggest booking the 15th at the tour hotel and leaving most of your luggage. Fly "golight" on the first flight of the day. The tour director will be arranging transportation for the 12th to the Athens airport anyway. You can return early on the 15th for a final day in Athens, or late in the evening just to have dinner and a night's sleep.
Naxos is another alternative with direct flights to ATH. If it were later in the spring, it would be a good choice. I would avoid Santorini . . . I was there this past October and even though it was the tail end of the tourist season on Naxos, Santorini was still unpleasantly crowded with tourists, both overnighters and cruisers - even in Firostefani where I stayed for 3N.
I do not know how much time the RS tour gives you in Athens but three full days are really needed. The last place I would go is Santorini, looks so Greek but doesn’t feel like it. If you want an island, go to Crete, Naxos or Paros for a more Greek experience.
Thanks to all who commented! Based significantly on your comments, I have decided for now that we shall stay in Athens. Per some of the comments & earlier research that I had done, we are relocating to the Hera Hotel where I was able to book the last room available with a terrace overlooking the Acropolis. There is another discussion on this forum about the pros & cons of staying at the tour hotel or relocating to the Hera (which RS sometimes uses but is not using for our tour). I decided that the relocation should require a minimal inconvenience as the two hotels appear to be within almost walking distance of each other. While the tour hotel likely is just fine, the assurance of an "upgrade" in our assigned room hopefully will give us the "bounce" that I was thinking we might find if we were to visit one of the islands. ;<) Again, thanks!
If your tour hotel is the Acropolis Select, the Hera Hotel is a block and a half away, so a 5 minute walk. Sooooo much nicer than the Acropolis Select; smaller; and better breakfast. Enjoy Greece !
I stayed at the Hera before my tour because the Select (used by my tour) wasn't available. I liked there Hera much better. It's about a 2 block uphill (not steep) walk from the Select. It shouldn't be difficult at all. Have a drink in the rooftop bar and watch the sunset.
Added thanks to those who chimed in!
We went on an RS Greece tour last year. My one regret is that I wished for more time in Athens. We missed the Agora and the Byzantine Museum, sites I would absolutely visit if I again find myself in Athens one day.