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Old 15th August 2017, 09:30 PM   #1
yflyer
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Default Getaway to Greece - Advice Needed (Athens, Mykonos, Santorini)

Hi everyone, I am planning a short getaway (7d) with Mrs yflyer to Greece at the end of Aug / early Sep. I've never been there, so it looks like it will be the touristy places that I'll be visiting. Current plan is Athens, Mykonos, Santorini but open to suggestions.

Some specific questions here. Any general advice would also be appreciated!

1. Should I fly or take the ferry between Athens and Mykonos/Santorini?

2. Which part of the island of Mykonos should I stay on?

3. Any recommended hotels in Athens/Mykonos/Santorini? Ideally less than S$350 a night.

4. Recommended dining?

5. Any daytrip island cruises to recommend?
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Old 15th August 2017, 11:06 PM   #2
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paging N_Architect
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Old 16th August 2017, 03:24 AM   #3
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Hi yf

I'll answer your questions one by one.

1. Ferry between Athens and Mykonos is fine. Modern fleet are usually operating nowadays between such destinations. Please note that I have never been to either Mykonos or to the 1-2 nearby islands so cannot offer first-hand experience on what class of travel is offered onboard these ships.

For Mykonos the best option is to leave (i.e. take the ship) from a port called Rafina. Alternatively, there are also ships departing from Piraeus, but the ride is much longer.

Plane can also work (A3 essentially), mainly for those who are not big fans of sea-travel (or) for those who usually travel without the need to rent a car.

For Santorini the same (and better) applies. If I am not mistaken there are three classes of travel in the fast (3hr) ferry/catamaran to Santorini. Slightly slower good quality ship/vessel service is also available.

Ships and fast ferries to Santorini are departing from Piraeus, mainly.

2. At this stage I can only offer some advice on the beaches available. With regards to staying in Mykonos, I'd have to know more on your preferences and also then ask a friend who visited recently (and is a regular visitor in the island).

I am sure you are aware that Mykonos has literally become an island for billionaires, in the last few years. Prices for hotel/room, food, alcohol, beach umbrella rental are already (if not more) at levels which are similar to cities like Tokyo and Oslo.

A very basic meal with local/street-type food/delicacies, i.e. souvlaki, Greek salad and Coke or beer will cost you around USD 40. The beds in every beach are rented by the day (obviously, say 10am to 6pm) and if you manage to find/book one then the cost is abt USD 50, whereas anywhere else in Greece for the same bed you would pay USD 5 per day. A family of four would need to spend abt USD 180-200 for a relatively satisfactory meal at a local taverna.

There are a couple of beaches in Mykonos (e.g. the infamous "Psarrou" where all the socialites attend and the daily rental cost of a bed at the beach is abt USD 400). Things have changed in Mykonos, big time. If you want to go out for a drink you need to be prepared to pay at least 4-5 times more per drink as compared to if you were in a different island.

Same applies for accommodation. Absolute holes, tiny and relatively dirty spaces for a person or two, go for USD 200 per night. It is madness. All this because the Arabs or other billionaires (not millionaires - there's a difference between the two) flock in the island from June to September splurging $$$ around without any consideration.

I continue with my answer on the next 3 questions in an upcoming post.
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Old 16th August 2017, 04:07 AM   #4
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Continuing with answering your questions:

3. Recommended accommodation.

Mykonos and Santorini - the style here in Greece, in the Aegean islands, is that (if) any hotels these would be more of the seasonal style, meaning that the rooms are fairly small, the overall expectations with respect to quality or hotel amenities are not to be high, and that the general standard is that of a three- or four-star hotel.

Crete island is an exception to this (as I try to describe it earlier, at least). In Crete there are properties (hotels) which will shock you with their luxury, quality of service, offerings and amenities.

A very popular accommodation type is "rented rooms" in small islands like Mykonos and Santorini but for this you would have to be led to only by reference, otherwise the quality of offerings may negatively surprise you.

I do not know any specific places in either Mykonos or Santorini. Despite the fact that my grandmother comes from a small village in the island, last time I visited Santorini was back in the summer of 1991, which by today's standards is ancient history. The place has changed a lot, but one thing that has not changed is the thirst of the locals for $$$ when they conduct business with tourists. So beware.

If I would go again in Santorini I would certainly visit Oia. The subject village is located at a prime island position, and it is truly majestic to stay there. There is accommodation available on the sides of the Oia cliff, overseeing the Aegean Sea and the volcano/Santorini port area, but to get a nice small villa there you need to pay ca. USD 400-800 per night.

All August is high season in these places, i.e. Santorini and Mykonos. Therefore accommodation will be kind of limited, at least in the popular places/locations. You may be able to get a small rental room for two in a non-popular part of the Chora (i.e. the capital of Santorini, situated down in the port) but what everyone is rightfully looking for in their vacation is a nice, clean room or small villa with a majestic view. In Greece, and in these two specific islands, these two are completely different things and do come with a distinctly different price tag.

Athens area - The recently renovated "Electra Palace" is a good choice. It gets good reviews. Most satisfying for many is to have a view of the Acropolis from their room, and the "Athens IC" is one of the hotels offering this in few of its rooms. Other recommendations include... (pls hold on to that as I am awaiting a couple of very good and reputable suggestions)

4. Recommended dining:

Again depends on what you desire and like. As a general rule, for a city like Athens I would suggest local food mainly in the form of fish restaurants and/or well-known taverns. I also am of the opinion that Asian food in this city is not so nice, so best to be avoided unless of course you stay in a nice hotel property which is part of an international chain.

Mind you that to eat fresh fish here is possible, but it is going to be costly. There are very good quality fish taken out of the Aegean Sea but this is the cream of the cream and sells for very high prices at luxury restaurants and 5-star hotels. More or less the rest of us who wish to eat fish we are fed frozen, imported fish at most medium-price-level restaurants out there.

Despite that, the experience is very satisfying, as the climate, the side dishes and the location (if by the sea) can make your meal a wonderful experience.

Recommended fish restaurants include "Akti" (in Vouliagmeni), "Labros" (again in Vouliagmeni, LabrosRestaurant.gr).

5. Daytrip cruises to recommend:

Yes, very much preferably to Hydra island, or even to Spetses island if they manage to fit Spetses into a daily trip, as this is slightly more far away than Hydra. Such cruises depart from the port of Piraeus.

Last edited by N_Architect; 16th August 2017 at 02:39 PM.. Reason: Corrected messed up text; sorted out other text more clearly.
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Old 16th August 2017, 09:12 AM   #5
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The last time I was in Athens, I stayed at the Hilton, which have rooms looking towards Acropolis.... Athens is very well served by rail... to see sights, walking will be good, so have a very good pair of shoes for that.... I have a good friend, a Filipino with Greek citizenship living in Pireaus if you need assistance.
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Old 16th August 2017, 10:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N_Architect View Post
Hi yf

I'll answer your questions one by one.
Thanks, N_Architect, for the ultra-detailed response! Appreciate the advice and opinions (Yes, Mykonos does seem very expensive!), will go through your notes in detail and am sure I will have follow-up questions in coming days!

And thanks, 9V-JKL, for paging our resident expert on Greece! I did search the old SQT threads and read N_Architect's previous posts before posing my question...(If I didn't search first, HUGE AL would come after me for being lazy...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kapitan View Post
The last time I was in Athens, I stayed at the Hilton, which have rooms looking towards Acropolis.... Athens is very well served by rail... to see sights, walking will be good, so have a very good pair of shoes for that.... I have a good friend, a Filipino with Greek citizenship living in Pireaus if you need assistance.
Thanks, kapitan! Will check out the Hilton to see if redemptions are available...I usually like hotels with views, but given the cost I might forgo the Acropolis views this time round. As for shoes, the more walking the better. If I can run around the city, better still!
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Old 16th August 2017, 11:58 AM   #7
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I've visited Santorini 3 times in the last 4 years - If you're looking for a place with some people around and not too quiet: Oia is the best place to stay.

If you're looking for absolute peace and quiet - places like Imerovigli (next town down from Oia) and Akrotiri are very tranquil.

Fira (the main port) is too touristy. All the cruise ships dock there and the daytime becomes pretty crowded. Mykonos strikes as a bit like that also but I've only been once.

All 4 of these towns face the Santorini Caldera and sunsets are amazing no matter what.

If you don't want to face the caldera - there are some quaint towns like Vlychada and Perissa - which are very quaint, and far less touristy.

August is definitely peak period - and is crazy.

As for dining, recommendations are tricky: I've noticed what was a fantastic restaurant on this trip, suddenly went downhill the next trip - i found out it was related to the roving chefs. They're hired for the season, and the next season they may not work there anymore.

But I do like Strogili's / Skala and Floga - all in Oia. Skala and Floga are next to each other. They've been the most consistent for me over the years.

As for Athens - The Hilton is a good bet. The nearest metro station, Evangelismos is on the airport line and is only one stop down from Syntagma square, and another one down to Monastiraki. Acropolis views are a bit overrated: if you have club access you'll see it anyway.
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Old 16th August 2017, 02:32 PM   #8
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I'm also alerted from a very close friend who has a leading role at the local hotel industry that you should definitely check "Electra" hotels (for Athens area), especially their "Metropolis" property.
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Old 17th August 2017, 03:36 PM   #9
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(If I didn't search first, HUGE AL would come after me for being lazy...)
…and for not knowing better...

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...
Glad to see you back!
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Old 17th August 2017, 10:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by SQflyergirl View Post
I've visited Santorini 3 times in the last 4 years - If you're looking for a place with some people around and not too quiet: Oia is the best place to stay.
I remain in awe of your travels...

Yes, I've booked a place on in Oia. Was debating between Oia and Fira but your post, and N_Architect's inputs, swayed the decision to Oia.

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August is definitely peak period - and is crazy.
Hopefully tail end of Aug / early Sep isn't as bad...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SQflyergirl View Post
As for dining, recommendations are tricky: I've noticed what was a fantastic restaurant on this trip, suddenly went downhill the next trip - i found out it was related to the roving chefs. They're hired for the season, and the next season they may not work there anymore.

But I do like Strogili's / Skala and Floga - all in Oia. Skala and Floga are next to each other. They've been the most consistent for me over the years.
OK am checking these places out! Thanks for the insight about the variability of restaurants from year to year, and how restaurants sometimes hire chefs just for the season...I would never have guessed that...

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As for Athens - The Hilton is a good bet.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kapitan View Post
The last time I was in Athens, I stayed at the Hilton, which have rooms looking towards Acropolis....
I've booked the Hilton Athens for a one night reward stay on our last night...no status at Hilton this year, but they had redemption availability...

Quote:
Originally Posted by N_Architect View Post
I'm also alerted from a very close friend who has a leading role at the local hotel industry that you should definitely check "Electra" hotels (for Athens area), especially their "Metropolis" property.
For our first night in Athens, I booked the Grand Bretagne on an SPG redemption...I checked out Elektra Metropolis, as suggested by N_Architect and it was very impressive, however it was over budget, and the SPG redemption was free, so I went for the SPG this time round, but the Metropolis looked great!

Quote:
Originally Posted by N_Architect View Post
Recommended fish restaurants include "Akti" (in Vouliagmeni), "Labros" (again in Vouliagmeni, LabrosRestaurant.gr)
Fish restaurants are a great suggestion, and thanks for the heads-up that many places use frozen/imported fish...we would have been none the wiser. Will look up those places that you mentioned...

Last edited by yflyer; 17th August 2017 at 10:08 PM..
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Old 18th August 2017, 04:33 PM   #11
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What a fine collection of travel advice! Never been to Greece myself but my Greek colleague tells me to skip the expensive touristy islands and head to the real Greek islands. I guess one has to still visit Mykonos and Santorini at least once.
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Old 20th August 2017, 11:52 PM   #12
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What a fine collection of travel advice! Never been to Greece myself but my Greek colleague tells me to skip the expensive touristy islands and head to the real Greek islands. I guess one has to still visit Mykonos and Santorini at least once.
I agree! This sort of advice is really hard to come by!

Yah, doing the touristy thing this time. Hope to see more of the "real" Greece next time round...
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Old 22nd August 2017, 11:35 AM   #13
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Yah, doing the touristy thing this time. Hope to see more of the "real" Greece next time round...
You should. I spent quite a lot of time there in the early 2000's - mostly based in Thessaloniki but driving a lot into Xanthi and Kavala. Really enjoyable. Still have a big ol' bag of Drachmas that i guess i'll keep as a souvenir
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Old 22nd August 2017, 09:09 PM   #14
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You should. I spent quite a lot of time there in the early 2000's - mostly based in Thessaloniki
Mrs yflyer was keen on Corfu as well, but one look at the map told us that Athens, Corfu and Santorini in 7 days just didn't make a lot of sense (Although to my credit I somehow managed to plan a theoretical itinerary which actually did that...). So we will need to do Corfu another time, ditto Thessaloniki etc, as well as Crete, as suggested by N_Architect...

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driving a lot into Xanthi and Kavala. Really enjoyable.
Not too keen on driving in Greece, although Mrs yflyer read that scooter rentals were quite popular. Not sure if I want to risk a scooter either. Must persuade her to go around on foot, in running shoes...

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Still have a big ol' bag of Drachmas that i guess i'll keep as a souvenir
Probably stashed together with your bags of Italian Lira, French Francs and Deutsche Marks...

Last edited by yflyer; 3rd October 2017 at 10:38 AM..
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Old 24th August 2017, 03:23 AM   #15
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Scooter rental in the islands is very popular and practical. Talking about small islands of course here, e.g. Paros, Santorini, Patmos, Ios, etc.

Don't forget that due to the morphology of these islands, scooter use is very helpful especially during the high season summer months, otherwise how can you have access to some points/destinations within the island.

However one needs to be very careful when driving the scooter, please wear a helmet at all times and be very mindful of car drivers.

August 2017 is now approaching its final days, the locals who live and work in the Athens area (centre and suburbs, incl. Piraeus) are gradually returning back from their summer holidays. So by the time the clock hits September 1st more or less all of them will have been back to their positions and the city of Athens will be much more busy than today.
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