When I was researching our trip to Greece, I had a tough time finding suggestions for a short trip. We knew we wanted to get out and visit some of the islands (beause let's be honest…that's where all the magic is according to Google Images), but we only had a week to do it. Everything I researched on hopping the Greek islands suggested taking a month or more, otherwise you would be better off just picking a resort on one of the islands and staying there. Multiple forums said that it was next to impossible to see the islands with only a week.
That wasn't going to jive with us, so we did our best piecing together snippets from blogs and forums to come up with an itinerary that still allowed us to get a feel for the islands, but could still logistically fit within a week. And you know what they say about research on the internet: If you find there is a missing piece in the information, write about it yourself.
So even though I have blogged this Greece trip to death, I wanted to write one last post on the details of our trip so that others can see the Greek Islands, even if they only have a week too!
We decided to stick to the Cyclades Islands because they had the shortest travel time. It would have taken half our trip just in transportation to get to the other famous islands like Crete and Rhodes, so we definitely didn't want to do that. We also decided to only pick 2 islands because a major goal of this vacation was relaxing. If we had wanted to put the focus more on exploring I think we could have easily fit a third island in within our time frame, but that would have meant much less beach time so we were very pleased with our decision to stick with two.
We knew that Santorini was FOR SURE one of the islands we wanted to see (it's the classic Greek island and is pretty much on every Greek postcard) but we were stuck for a long time on which island to pick for our second choice. We narrowed it down to Paros or Naxos because they were both on the ferry route from Pireus to Santorini and according to much Googling they had some of the best beaches and a fairly local vibe. (The other usual top spot to hit, according to the internet, is Mykonos, but we weren't really on this trip for a party-scene or the nightlife, so we opted to skip it).
Paros is known for it's action-y water sports scene and Naxos is supposedly the most lush of all the islands. We decided since we had a baby along we weren't going to be doing much water sports, so we decided to go for Naxos. While Naxos didn't turn out to be lush, exactly, we were very pleased with our choice! Naxos was awesome!
I've broken down our itinerary by day so you can see how we fit it all in. Plus, I'm sure it'll be great to remember the nitty-gritty details ourselves when they start to get fuzzy. The prices are what we paid for travelling in September so they are subject to change depending on the season.
Day 1: Flew into Athens
$50 per couple per night
Day 2: Caught 7:25am ferry in Pireus to Naxos, arrived at 12:45pm.
Hotel: Marine Dream
$30 per couple per night.
Read more here
Day 3: Naxos
Hotel: Marine Dream
Day 4: Ferry at 12:45 from Naxos to Santorini (the same ferry that dropped us off before). Arrived at 3pm and spent the evening in Oia
Hotel: Villa Dmitris
$56 per couple
Read more here.
Day 5: Beach, exploring Fira, caught the 1am ferry back to Athens
Hotel: Spent the night in a cabin on the ferry (It was the most expensive “hotel” of the whole trip, but we thought it was totally worth it to get a good night's sleep so we could be ready for our big day exploring Athens the next morning.)
Day 6: Arrived in Athens at 8am and spent the day in the city.
$50 per couple per night
Read more here and here.
Day 7: Flew home in the morning
Advice from our research that really helped us:
- Don't take a ferry the same day you have a flight. The ferries get cancelled all the time for various reasons (weather, wind, strikes), so give yourself some wiggle room on either side.
- Be early for everything. The best ferry seats go quickly so you want to get in line early!
- Bring cash. Few places take cards.
What we would have done different:
Overall the trip was perfect! The only thing we would have changed would be to have done the trip in reverse with the night ferry from Pireus to Santorini and ending with Naxos. Santorini was more about walking and exploring and Naxos was more about relaxing. It would have been nice to have the relaxing part at the end of the trip after we had worn ourselves out exploring, instead of the other way around.
Some useful links:
Matt Barrett's Greek Island Guides:
Ferry Scheduler/booking agent – We used this website to plan our ferry schedules as it was a little bit more reliable and less confusing than the actual ferry website. We also booked our over-night ferry cabin through them and were very pleased with their service.
I hope this post helps someone out there realize their dream of visiting the Greek Islands, even if they only have a short time to do it! Good luck and na diaskedásoun to you, whoever you are! :)