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23 replies
Croatia and Greece
jsak
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Hi! I am planning on traveling to Greece and Croatia this upcoming summer. I have never been to either country and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions! I am in my mid-20’s and looking for a mixture of good night life and relaxation! I am more interested in being active (hiking, swimming, boating, biking..etc) than going to museums. I will be spending approximately 15-25 days between the two countries.

I am leaving from Detroit, MI with $5000 for 45 days
London, Zürich, Interlaken, Gimmelwald, Oxford, Athens, Chania, Heraklion, Thíra, Íos, Athens, Vienna, Split, Bol, Hvar, Korčula, Dubrovnik, Paris, London
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Cil
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Have you done a search of this forum yet?
Both countries have been discussed here before.
Plenty of hiking, boating, swimming—not sure about the biking (rental?)
How are you planning on traveling between the two countries?

oldlady
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Quote:
How are you planning on traveling between the two countries?
Very important question…. While this looks quick and easy on a map, it’s 29 1/2 hours (Zagreb to Athens) on the train and requires 2 overnight ferries and a day in Italy by ferry. I would find the cheapest flight between the two and plan around that.

In both countries (Greece for sure) you may find more of what you’re looking for on the islands instead of the mainland. That means a fair amount of travel time and logistical hassles like meshing the bus schedule and the ferry schedule. Your 15 to 25 days is adequate but may require the kind of advance planning necessary for a whirlwind trip in other countries.

luv_the_beach
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jsak wrote:
Hi! I am planning on traveling to Greece and Croatia this upcoming summer. I have never been to either country and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions! I am in my mid-20’s and looking for a mixture of good night life and relaxation! I am more interested in being active (hiking, swimming, boating, biking..etc) than going to museums. I will be spending approximately 15-25 days between the two countries.

For hiking, I recommend you check out the Zagoria region in northwest Greece, just north of the city of Ioannina. You can maybe combine this into a broader Greece itinerary that includes Meteora, Parga, Corfu & Paxoi, possibly Cephalonia and/or Lefkada (all within a pretty compact area of the country) and still be within good distance of Croatia.


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jsak
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Thanks for the responses!! We will be flying from Athens to Vienna (staying for a few days)
and then flying from Vienna to Split. I figured that would be the best way (time wise) to get from Greece to Croatia and we’ve never been to Vienna so it’s a good “layover!”

What islands do you recommend in Greece? I would rather be able to relax and lounge around then party 24/7 but having the option to go out and have a good time would be great as well!

I am leaving from Detroit, MI with $5000 for 45 days
London, Zürich, Interlaken, Gimmelwald, Oxford, Athens, Chania, Heraklion, Thíra, Íos, Athens, Vienna, Split, Bol, Hvar, Korčula, Dubrovnik, Paris, London
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oldlady
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I really enjoyed Rhodes. It’s big enough to have a lot of variety. Ancient ruins and medieval crusader castles for sightseeing, beaches, a good sized city for some nightlife, lots of quiet rural area. I’d look at renting a car to get around.

Mykonos is picture postcard pretty. It’s expensive. Some folks say it’s 24/7 party, but I thought it was a leisurely place with a crowd slightly older than the 24/7 partying crowd who were more into watching the world go by the outdoor cafes and taverns.

Split is a fair bus ride from the Split airport. We arrived fairly late at night. The bus drops you off in the middle of everything in Split so arriving at night was no problem, although a little disorienting with a huge crowd of people, agents hawking ferry tickets, etc. The bus was timed for our Air Croatia flight and seemed to wait until everybody was through customs and had their baggage before leaving the airport.

I would try to get to Dubrovnik — it’s doable as a day trip from Split.

Davy
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Having just been to Croatia, I can highly recommend Split. Was my favourite city in Croatia. A great sea front with the old “palace” in the background. Also had a great atmosphere about it. Dubrovnik is also a must see but a little crowded in the summer, it is doable as a day trip as suggested but would not recommend travelling there and back in a day.

I am leaving from Glasgow, United Kingdom and traveling for 15 days
Athens, Páros, Náxos, Mýkonos, Náxos, Íos, Thíra
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

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I really hope I’m able to make it to Croatia this summer, I’ve never heard anyone say anything about it that made me not want to go Smile

I am traveling for 51 days
Bath, Haltwhistle, London, Füssen, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Speyer, Nördlingen, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Rome, Ostia Antica, Athens, Delphi, Athens
luv_the_beach
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jsak wrote:
What islands do you recommend in Greece? I would rather be able to relax and lounge around then party 24/7 but having the option to go out and have a good time would be great as well!

Well I already made some recommendations, but okay:

Since you’re interested in hiking and nature, you would love the mountainous, rugged areas in the northwest mainland, in the Epirus and Makedonía regions. Add the islands of Corfu, Paxoi, Cephalonia, or Lefkada, and you got yourself an itinerary.

Crete is another option where you can do both beaches, great towns (Rethymno, Chania), sightseeing, and nature/hiking.

If you go the Aegean route, I second oldlady’s suggestion to visit Rhodes. I would also suggest adding one Cycladic Island: Santoríni, Páros, Syros, or Naxos, then head back to Athens.


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Cil
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Highlights:
The volcano hike at Santorini
Open market in Chania on Crete
Cafés in Hvar Town on island of Hvar, Croatia, also the fields of lavender (might be nice for biking)

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I was in Rhodes, and liked it.. Kind of have to steer clear of the masses of package-tour Brits and the touirsty areas that cater to them, but there are nice parts..

I’ve only been to Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini. Rhodes was OK compared to the other two, which are just freakin’ killer.

The Samaria Gorge in Crete was VERY VERY cool – 16km hike downhill through a huge nature park to the sea.. Beautiful scenery.. Not too difficult, makes a great day outing.. High on my list of great European travel experiences…

And Santorini is a MUST – preferably not in the high season… Santorini is just stunning.

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Rhodes is highly worth it, just avoid Faliráki (resort town overrun by Brits).

Do visit:

Rhodes City: especially the old town which is supposed to be Europe’s best preserved medieval city, the massive walls surrounding the old city, as well as the medieval Palace of the Grand Masters. Getting lost in the scenic (and quite massive) medieval city is one of my best travel experiences. The modern section of the city also has many pleasant surprises, like the occasional art deco building in the older section of the modern town. I suggest staying in Rhodes City, the city has very good beaches and a local buzz/vibe unlike Faliráki.

Charming town of Líndos is worth daytrip. Doing research online, you’ll find a lot of information about the ruins on the top of the hill: the summit served as an acropolis in ancient times (a sacred high-altitude space with temples, just like Athens Acropolis), and then as a castle/fort in medieval times (and there’s a small medieval church on there). While the classical ruins are not as extensive, awesome, and well-preserved as those in Athens, and the medieval ruins don’t match those of Rhodes City, the very charming town of Líndos itself on the slope of the hill is [unfortunately] overlooked in tourism lliterature, and worth a visit if you can make it there by bus.

The island’s coast and interior is also very scenic, and there’s a lot of interesting surprises.


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Santorini and Mykonos are the big party island…super crowded with tourist in the summer months. Worth a trip if you’re into body shots, drinking contests, etc. (i.e. geared towards anyone under 25 yrs.). Not my scene anymore, so I prefer the slightly quieter Soronic Gulf islands like Spetsei, Hydra, Poros (closests island to Athens if you have limited time…ferries leave out of Pireaus).

Across a small bay from the mainisland of Poros is the island of Galatas (there’s a small boat that runs between the islands). On Galatas is a place called Lemonodasos…you take a donkey ride (or hike) up to the top where there’s a beautifil view and a great little taverna set in a lemon grove. A great place to chill out with a bottle of retsina or their fresh squeezed lemonade…a totally sublime experience

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”

luv_the_beach
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Well, Santoríni is a lot more than just that, and I never saw any drinking contests or body shots. That certainly describes places like Kavos (in Corfu) and Faliráki (in Rhodes) where Brits congregate. Perhaps there’s some pockets of this in Santoríni and Mykonos too, but they are not known for this. Mykonos is a party island, but far more sophisticated than Kavos and Faliráki.


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finnegan
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You must have been hanging out in the wrong places LuvWink…I think Ios is still a pretty big part place too. I haven’t been there in years since I’m of an age where I enjoy peace and quiet over T and A

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”

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One of Santorini’s big selling points is the sunsets off that one end of the island.. And it IS impressive..

I was on a rented scooter, drove out to that place – on the complete opposite end of the island from where I was staying…………………………………………., and on the way back (the sunset WAS absolutely unreal…) ran out of gas in the pitch-black night on a hilly curvy road… This dude picked me up, took me back to his house, got a container, and started siphoning fuel out of his really shiny Harley..(after giving a coded whislte to the biggest baddest Rottweiler you ever saw to let us onto the property…) Actually, he started doing it with a tube, then got fuel all over himself.. So then I did it and got a mouthfuel of gas… Dude had a really nice house like on a cliff..

Was overall an odd experience – but the dude did hook me up…

Anyway, Santorini is a beautiful place. Rent a scooter and just go all over the place… LOT of fun…

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Finnegan:

There must be pockets like what you described, but not the entire nightlife scene. Otherwise these two islands (Mykonos and Santoríni) wouldn’t be popular with Italian tourists and Greek mainlanders; they don’t care for drinking contests and body shots. Your description of Ios doesn’t surprise me, though.


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jsak
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If we chose to visit Santorini, Crete and Rhodes what would be the best route? Santorini to Rhodes, Rhodes to Crete? or Santorini to Crete, Crete to Rhodes? We would be leaving from Athens.

I am leaving from Detroit, MI with $5000 for 45 days
London, Zürich, Interlaken, Gimmelwald, Oxford, Athens, Chania, Heraklion, Thíra, Íos, Athens, Vienna, Split, Bol, Hvar, Korčula, Dubrovnik, Paris, London
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positiveman
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I was coming from Turkey, so naturally Rhodes, Crete, Santorini was how I went..

I don’t know – do you have a way to check travel times from Athens to Rhodes, and the others? Is there a package deal??

But I would think you’d want to go Athens-Rhodes-Crete-Santorini-Athens, or the reverse…

These islands are pretty far apart I think.. Was a while ago, but I think they were like overnight boat trips….

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It depends on the ferry company. www.bluestarferries…. which is one of the largest ferry operators in the country, connects Rhodes with Santoríni, and Santoríni with other Cycladic Islands, and with Athens of course. www.nel.gr and www.hellenicseaways…. also have dense Cycladic networks. Blue Star seems to be the primary operator in the Dodecanese Islands (where Rhodes belongs to). One good itinerary would be Athens-Syros-Santoríni-Rhodes, then fly to Athens. It looks like www.gaferries.gr connects Heraklion (Crete) with Rhodes and Santoríni. Another possible itinerary is Athens-Santoríni-Rhodes-Crete (focus on western Crete, and stay in Chania) then fly or ferry to Athens.

And yes, positiveman is correct on the distances. General rule of thumb: if they don’t belong to the same island chain, assume there’s a reasonable distance, so go for the overnight ferries. Your guidebook should have a decent map of the country.


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positiveman
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Just my opinion…, but I anyway would definitely do Crete over Rhodes.., if push comes to shove and you end up having to ditch one…

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finnegan wrote:
Santorini and Mykonos are the big party island…super crowded with tourist in the summer months. Worth a trip if you’re into body shots, drinking contests, etc. (i.e. geared towards anyone under 25 yrs.).

It really depends where you stay.
On Santorini, we were in Oia. A large crowd of tourists would develop at sunset, then dissipate afterward. No body shots—actually not too many backpackers. I think all the youngsters were down in Fira.
After Corfu, we flew from Athens to Crete, then worked our way back: Crete>Santorni>Ios>Athens.

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Even in Firá, where there’s ample nightlife, I didn’t see any of the cheesy “drinking contest” type that would appeal to college-age North Americans. None of the bars I went to fit that description. It’s gotta be somewhere on the island if finnegan experienced it, but thankfully it’s only a small contingent of the island’s nightlife.

Cil, I know you also went to Ios, and were able to experience the quiet side of that island.


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Cil
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We had a good time on Ios. There were other families there (we had our youngest with us.)
And even the drunken behavior we did see was just sort of good clean partying fun, no fights or anything, just lots of Scandinavian guys singing.