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8 replies
Greek Islands for 10 days
sarafification
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Hello everybody. I need some help planning my upcoming trip to Greece.

We’ll be flying to Athens on the 19th of July. Maybe spend a night in Athens and then head to the islands for 10 nights. We’re three 31 yr old straight guys looking to do some serious partying and some diving, in that order of priority. In between we’d like to maybe relax a bit, enjoy the sights and culture. This is very similar to Britta’s recent post so maybe repetitive, except that we need to have access to some very good diving at least 3 days out of the 10 days we have. One of us is an advanced diver.

So far we’ve only decided on Mykonos where we want to spend 4 nights. I’ve heard that any more than that and we’ll be broke! Mykonos will be our last stop before we head back to Athens. We were thinking we should visit 3 islands in all. So we still need to decide on 2 more islands where we can spend 3 nights each. We thought maybe Santorini could be one. But we’re not sure. And the 3rd island? We are having a hard time narrowing it down. Any suggestions would be hugely appreciated! We don’t have to necessarily be in the Cyclades either as long as it is worth the travel and we get some good nightlife and some good diving options during the day. Keep in mind we’re 31 and not exactly looking for a scene that has only college kids.

Also, if anybody has suggestions on accommodation in these places, that would be great! We’d rather be in a reasonably priced apartment than a hotel room.

Thanks!

Cil
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Keep in mind that you can’t necessarily get from A to B on the Greek ferry, it can be tricky.
Also, the ferries do not always run on Sunday, but July is high season so you’ll probably be okay in that regard. I recommend Crete and Santorini, but I have never been to Rhodes and I hear it is also well worth it. Are you hoping to see some underwater ruins when you dive? I don’t know much about this, but have heard that it can be done.

sarafification
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Sure…underwater ruins, caves, whatever the sites have to offer. Do you think Corfu would be better or Crete, if we’re already doing Santorini and Mykonos?

Cil
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Well, with 10 days, 4 of them already accounted for on Mykonos, plus you want to go to Santorini—your time is limited, even if you get a high speed ferry between islands. As an example, we arrived in Corfu, spent time there, then flew to Crete. After that, we ferried to Santorini, and from there to Ios, and from there we took an overnight ferry back to Athens (Piraeus.)
I think there are a lot of wrecks you could dive, you just need to decide what appeals most.
Take a look at this ferry schedule and see what looks workable to you:

http://www.ferries.i…

Don’t forget that with the financial situation, things are kinda crazy in Greece right now, transportation might be tricky with delays or strikes. On the other hand, you might get some good deals.

sarafification
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Thank you Cil. Looks like we would have to use flights if we decide to include Corfu in our itinerary. Crete seems to have better diving options than Corfu. Does it have good nightlife?

Cil
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Crete is a big island. You’d need some kind of transportation to get around. We rented a car. Other than the archeological museum, Heraklion was not my cup of tea, it just kind of seemed loud and dirty but without much personality. We really liked Chania and Plakias.
Chania had plenty going on and was easy to walk around. Plakias is a much smaller town, but still worthwhile.

A couple travel tips for Crete:

http://www.eurotrip….

http://www.eurotrip….

luv_the_beach
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sarafification,

For diving, it’s a very popular sport in Greece; a lot of locals are into it. I have a friend who lives there and is an experienced diver as well. The Mediterranean underwater, while not exactly like Indonesia or Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is indeed breathtaking, especially in Greece where you have a rugged landscape both above and underwater. And diving in Greece is a very popular method of fishing; your friend will probably know about how this is done, with a some type of underwater trident gun to catch large fish. I don’t know much about it, but my friend is all into that. Of course, should you choose to do this, please don’t accidentally kill a dolphin or sea turtle.

Now here’s the bad news:

Scuba diving is very regulated. You can, legally, only dive in approved places. It’s not like there’s police lining the shore; but areas that are highly likely to contain underwater antiquities, like Santorini, then don’t even think about it (let alone that the parts of the island that were submerged by the volcanic eruption around 1630 BC are physically inaccessible because they’re bordered by cliffs, not beaches, as well as unsafe because they’re crisscrossed by heavy ferry and cruise traffic). Areas where there may be underwater archaeological artifacts are strictly prohibited. Greece is very protective of its historical treasures, and is trying to prevent the kind of looting that went on in the 19th century (there’s a reason you can find Greek statues in, for example, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles or the British Museum in London). Nowadays, even if you legally buy an antique from 1890 (hardly ancient), you need special permission for it to leave the country…of course it’s difficult to enforce this for something small, but nonetheless, there’s an effort to prevent what happened back in the 19th century.

Please don’t attempt it; respect their sensitivities.

So, you can forget about coming across some ancient sunken city like something you’d see in a movie. Such a thing would probably be impossible to find anyways; especially finding such a place that historians wouldn’t already know about. Even if such a place existed [but hasn’t been discovered yet] there would at least be either legends or written records about it (and Greek history is well-recorded for at least 3 millenia). And I’m not aware of any such legends, except for Santorini which is speculated to be the source of the Atlantis story. The types of undiscovered antiquities that are likely to exist underwater in Greece would be ancient (and medieval) shipwrecks that contain coins, pottery, even works of art. But again…needle in the haystack.

Speaking of shipwrecks, Greek waters also contain a lot of modern shipwrecks from more recent centuries…like the 19th and 20th centuries, including downed WWII aircraft, and the British ocean liner the HMHS Britannic (the Titanic’s “sister ship”) that sank in Greek waters in 1916 (“only” 30 people died, so it’s not as well known today as the Titanic). These 20th century shipwrecks are not regulated, to the best of my knowledge. I believe the Britannic is visited by divers all the time.

As for underwater caves, I’m not exactly sure, but the west coast may be a better bet. At least above water, the Ionian coast/islands are indeed very cave-y and cove-y. Zakynthos and Cephalonia are well-known for being cave-y, at least above water. But there’s areas in the Aegean that look spectacular too.

For more information on diving, check out these websites: http://www.scubadivi…
http://gogreece.abou…

My recommendation is to hook up with local organizations / local diving facilities.

You may even want to organize your trip around the diving, if this is really important to you.

Regarding all other advice, Cil’s covered it all (and she’s suggested some great places for you). If you only have 10 days, then I would personally reduce my time in Mykonos to maybe 2 or 3 full days (that’s 2 or 3 days, not including the days spent traveling to/from the island). Keep in mind that traveling will require maybe half a day, or a full day, depending on points A and B and method(s) of travel. The current fiscal crisis has also led to labor strikes here and there, so you’ll want some cushion days in your itinerary. Ferries don’t serve every possible island pair. Just as, for example, there is no guaranteed direct train between any random city-pair on mainland Europe. Like trains, ferries have specific routes with specific stops on the way. The number of inter-island flights have been growing in recent years. There should be several inter-island flights between Crete, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, and Santorini (basically, the more touristed islands in the South Aegean). Smaller islands (of the ones that have airports), may only have service to Athens. Small islands without airports should at least have ferry service to a nearby island with an airport, if not ferry service all the way to the mainland. Corfu, on the Ionian side, only has flights to the mainland, which is fine because the mainland is on your way there anyways (you can fly from, say, Mykonos to Athens or Thessaloniki, then catch a connecting flight to Corfu).

Mykonos, of course, is the top summer nightlife destination, but Santorini has great nightlife as well. In order to avoid the Cancun-frat atmosphere, then avoid the following towns like the plague: Kávos (on Corfu island), Malia (on Crete), Faliráki (on Rhodes), and Laganas (on Zákynthos). All 4 of those islands are highly worth visiting; just avoid those towns. I don’t care if you run into an American or Australian during your time in Greece who swears by Malia…avoid it. Mykonos has far superior nightlife anyways. On the other islands, I’d hit the local bars in the main towns (away from the Brit-filled resort towns) where the locals go…you may not find anything as party-like as Mykonos or Athens, but you shouldn’t have trouble finding nice bars, cafes, or lounges to chill.

Ferry companies and airlines to look at:
http://www.bluestarf…
http://www.hellenics…
http://en.aegeanair….
http://www.skyexpres…
http://www.olympicai…
http://www.minoan.gr…
http://www.nel.gr/in…
http://www.anek.gr/
http://www.astra-air…


beach-lunch-siesta-beach-shower-dinner-nightlife-repeat

sarafification
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@luv_the_beach – Thanks so much for the info. We’ve cut our trip to the islands by a few days. So now we’re just doing Santorini for 3 nights and Mykonos for 3 nights. Any advice about accommodation in these two places would be great! We have a budget of 100 Euro per night for a double room. We’d like to be close to the nightlife.
Thanks again!

luv_the_beach
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Enjoy your trip.

I don’t have accommodation recommendations, because it’s been a while since I’ve been to the Cyclades personally.

Just to add 2 last cents…physical distances can be deceiving. A more distant island, like Crete, Rhodes, or Corfu, can be “closer” by air than a non-airport island is by ferry. Santorini does have an airport, but should you change your itinerary…any of the places you were originally considering are worthwhile. Santorini, of course, is really worthwhile.


beach-lunch-siesta-beach-shower-dinner-nightlife-repeat