Greece: Cyclades and Crete

This was my fourth trip to Greece and Steve’s first. It was also our first trip to a country where neither of us knows the language. Since I’d been here before and knew from previous visits and research that English is widely spoken, and Greece has a reputation for hospitality, it seemed a good choice for hitting our most foreign country (to date). We tried to keep to at least three nights per stop so we didn’t feel rushed. 

Food and Beverage $37 per day*

Average per person per day. We ate most meals out.

Lodging $62-$110 per night*

Santorini was our least expensive stay, though Chania was close; Athens was our most expensive with Iraklion very similar.

Transportation $270 per person*

Most transportation costs were ferries and flights between islands and Athens. (The flight from Chania to Athens was cheaper than a ferry.) We used busses and the metro in Athens. We did not rent a car.

Entertainment $184 per person*

We did three tours and visited several museums and and ruins. We saved on beach chair and umbrella rent by eating lunch at the restaurant that rented the equipment.

* Costs in US dollars at time of trip

Days 1-2: Athens

Planned Activities

  • Plaka
  • Acropolis
  • Ancient Agora
  • Monastiraki Flea Market
  • Acropolis Museum 
  • Filopappou Hill

Actual Activities

  • Plaka
  • Acropolis
  • Ancient Agora
  • Monastiraki Flea Market
  • Acropolis Museum 
  • Filopappou Hill
  • Shopping for contact lens case and solution

The Plan: While we didn’t want to spend a lot of our trip in the city, we did want to see the major historical sights and take in some of the older neighborhoods..

The Reality: Summary of results. 

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Fly from home

Stay at Athens Hotel Cypria

Conveniently located. They've added a rooftop bar since we stayed here.

Get around by walking

Days 3-6: Naxos

Planned Activities

  • Climb Mt Zas
  • Halki
  • Day trip to Delos

Actual Activities

  • Day trip to Delos
  • Guided tour of Naxos
  • Plaka beach

The Plan: We wanted to hit another island in the Cyclades besides Thira (Santorini), one that was new to both of us. We eliminated Mykonos as too pricey and touristed and eventually narrowed it down to Naxos or Paros. Naxos won out for it’s old town and food scene. 

The Reality: We’d planned to do some hiking on our own but when we got the opportunity to do a guided tour with a local expert, we did that instead. We still ended up doing a little hiking! 

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Ferry from Athens

Stay at Chateau Zevgoli

Quirky, friendly small hotel in the heart of the old town. Start at the sister Apollon Hotel to find it easier than we did.

Get around by walking

We took the bus to the beach

Days 7-9: Thira (Santorini)

Planned Activities

  • Walk from Fira to Oia, stay for sunset (Saturday, no cruise ships)
  • Ancient Akrotiri (Sunday)
  • Walk to Ancient Thera?

Actual Activities

  • Walk from Fira to Oia, stay for sunset 
  • Ancient Akrotiri 
  • Beach time

The Plan: I’ve wanted to go to Thira since the first time I was in Greece in 1983. I hadn’t been able to fit it in until now. We expected to spend most of our time around the caldera. We stayed in Perissa because it was less expensive.

The Reality: We loved Perissa! It’s now our favorite beach town. We didn’t actually spend much time around the caldera, though we did walk from Fira to Oia. (And were woefully unprepared since we did it spur of the moment.) 

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Ferry from Naxos

Stay at Stelios Place

We liked it so much we're going back, for a week this time.

Get around by bus

We walked within Perissa and took the bus everywhere else

Days 10-15: Crete

Planned Activities

  • Knossos
  • Hike the Samaria Gorge
  • Elafonisi or Falasarna beach

Actual Activities

  • Knossos
  • Hike the Samaria Gorge
  • Neo Hora beach in Chania

The Plan: Hiking the Samaria Gorge was another bucket list item I didn’t fit into a previous visit to Crete. We were able to arrange our schedule so that we could do Knossos en route to Chania. And we planned to go to one of the famous beaches on the east coast of Crete. 

The Reality: We hiked the Gorge and it was as wonderful as expected. Knossos also went as planned. In the end we decided the beach at Chania was nice enough that we didn’t make the effort to get to one of the more out-of-the-way beaches. 

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Ferry from Thira

Our ferry dropped us at Iraklion. We took a bus from there to Chania.

Stay at Hotel Lato

Boutique hotel in Heraklion worth a little splurge.

Stay at Vranas Hotel

In Chania's old town on a pedestrian street with charming balconies.

Get around by bus

We walked within Chania and took the bus everywhere else

Resources

Greece book cover
  • We used Lonely Planet Greece (Kindle format) as our main resource
  • Greek Travel Pages has a ferry search tool that allows you to enter an origin or destination and see how you can get from/to there. Great for researching possible ferry connections without having to know exact end points or dates. 
  • Matt Barrett’s Greece Guides has been around forever and is an encyclopedic resource to travel in Greece.