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A Greek/Italian Odyssey - initial itinerary advice

A Greek/Italian Odyssey - initial itinerary advice

Old Sep 24th, 2022, 07:30 PM
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A Greek/Italian Odyssey - initial itinerary advice

Hi Fodorites,
I am looking for feedback for a trip I am planning for September 2024 (yes, a long way ahead but we are a group of 9 which takes a lot of co-ordination). We are in our 60s,Australian, healthy and mostly fit. We like history, sightseeing, gardens, beaches, eating, drinking, walking, going to markets, seeing people's daily activities, chatting and meeting locals. We are not into resorts or very touristy places or most cities. We are happy to kick back and relax too!
This is what I have thought of doing at this stage:
Fly into Italy on 31st August (we will be coming from different destinations) and go to Puglia.
Puglia x 6 nights (possibly stay at 2 destinations - visit Alberobello, Martina Franca,Locorotondo, Cisternino, Ostuni,Monopoli, Gravina and Lecce
Corfu x 1 night (flying in from Bari - flight arrives at midnight)
Paxos x 7 nights (ferry from Corfu)
Meteora x 2 nights (hire a car on the mainland)
Athens x 2 nights
Paros x 4 nights (car ferry)
Santorini x 2 nights (car ferry) and yes, I know it is extremely touristy, but I think I need to see it once in my life
Rhodes x 6 nights (flight via Athens)
Crete x 4 night (flight from Rhodes)
Athens x1 night
Depart for home early October.
Love to hear your thoughts on this! I am tempted to add Sicily or the Aeolian Islands at the last week of August.
Cheers
Pam
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Old Sep 24th, 2022, 08:15 PM
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I can't help with the Italy portion of your trip but I can offer some advice with your Greek trip.

I think it makes more sense to go straight to Paros after Meteora. Drop your rental car off at the Athens Airport and then fly to Paros. Since you are flying home from Athens, it makes the most sense to spend all your nights in Athens at the end of your trip. Spend 3 - 4 nights in Athens at the end. This way you aren't wasting time going back and forth from the airport to Athens city center, which takes close to an hour.

I love Santorini! It is beautiful and well worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. If you can fit it in, I recommend spending 3 nights in Santorini so that one day you can rent a car and drive around the island, for instance, visit the Akrotiri archaeological site, the lighthouse, the red sand beach, and the black sand beach. The caldera is beautiful and stunning but there is more to Santorini than just the caldera.

I know you are staying in Italy and Greece a long time, but it seems like a lot of moving around. But if this is fine with you, go for it. I am not experienced enough to suggest what to cut. Some people might say 4 nights in Crete is not worth it because Crete is such a big island.
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Old Sep 24th, 2022, 08:26 PM
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It sounds like a wonderful time. Of course any itinerary is highly subjective but I'd make some changes if it were me.

I'd have more time in Puglia. Five days is not long to explore the area and see what you want to see. Crete is a huge island and really deserves a couple of weeks. With just 4 nights, you're likely to just visit one small area so I'd skip Crete and add that time to Puglia. If you have time to extend your holiday, then I wouldn't include Sicily or the Aeolian islands (they deserve more time and are really off track) but if you're flying into Rome or Naples, there's heaps of places to enjoy between there and Puglia.

I'd take the ferry to Corfu instead of flying. Taking ferries in Greece is part of the experience of being there.

If your plan is to have a car just for Meteora (you won't want one in Athens) then it is possible to visit Meteora without your own car. I'm not sure you need a car at all with this Greek itinerary, although there may be places where one (or two/three?) is handy in which case you could hire one locally.

Why have you chosen Rhodes over other closer islands? We enjoyed Rhodes but there are other islands much closer which you may also enjoy. If you stick within an island group (e.g. Cyclades, Dodeconese) ferry timetables are more convenient. If really keen to visit Rhodes, then of course go there. In which case, check both ferries and flights as both will be long unless there are direct flights between them. You could also check for direct flights from Bari to Rhodes, and then head north by ferry.

Have a wonderful time!
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Old Sep 25th, 2022, 12:44 AM
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Since you plan to be in northern Greece, consider flights to Paros from Thessaloniki rather than returning to Athens. Since Paros built its new airport there are flights from Thessaloniki, but not as many as flights from Athens. Blue Star Ferries have, in the past, had ferries 3 or 4 times a week from Santorini to Rhodes. If thatís still the case in 2024 it would save taking connecting flights via Athens. I know there have been a limited number of direct flights between Rhodes and Crete in summer, but check that out nearer your date of travel before making firm plans.
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Old Sep 25th, 2022, 11:25 AM
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We spent ten days in Puglia in seaside Polignano al Mare. Donít miss this pretty small city.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 12:47 AM
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Thank you so much Karen - really great suggestions. That makes a lot of sense. We will skip Athens and add the days to the end of our trip so that we only face the city once. And I will think about adding an extra day to Santorini. There are such divided opinions on Santorini!!! But we definitely will be going there!
Pam
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 12:48 AM
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"We spent ten days in Puglia in seaside Polignano al Mare. Donít miss this pretty small city."
That is definitely one of the places we will be sightseeing! It sounds beautiful.
Pam
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 12:51 AM
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"Since you plan to be in northern Greece, consider flights to Paros from Thessaloniki rather than returning to Athens. Since Paros built its new airport there are flights from Thessaloniki, but not as many as flights from Athens. Blue Star Ferries have, in the past, had ferries 3 or 4 times a week from Santorini to Rhodes. If thatís still the case in 2024 it would save taking connecting flights via Athens. I know there have been a limited number of direct flights between Rhodes and Crete in summer, but check that out nearer your date of travel before making firm plans."

That is a great suggestion. I had no idea that we could fly from Thessaloniki to Paros, nor that we could go direct from Santorini to Rhodes. It is a minefield working out transport between so many destinations.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post
It sounds like a wonderful time. Of course any itinerary is highly subjective but I'd make some changes if it were me.

I'd have more time in Puglia. Five days is not long to explore the area and see what you want to see. Crete is a huge island and really deserves a couple of weeks. With just 4 nights, you're likely to just visit one small area so I'd skip Crete and add that time to Puglia. If you have time to extend your holiday, then I wouldn't include Sicily or the Aeolian islands (they deserve more time and are really off track) but if you're flying into Rome or Naples, there's heaps of places to enjoy between there and Puglia.

I'd take the ferry to Corfu instead of flying. Taking ferries in Greece is part of the experience of being there.

If your plan is to have a car just for Meteora (you won't want one in Athens) then it is possible to visit Meteora without your own car. I'm not sure you need a car at all with this Greek itinerary, although there may be places where one (or two/three?) is handy in which case you could hire one locally.

Why have you chosen Rhodes over other closer islands? We enjoyed Rhodes but there are other islands much closer which you may also enjoy. If you stick within an island group (e.g. Cyclades, Dodeconese) ferry timetables are more convenient. If really keen to visit Rhodes, then of course go there. In which case, check both ferries and flights as both will be long unless there are direct flights between them. You could also check for direct flights from Bari to Rhodes, and then head north by ferry.

Have a wonderful time!


More great suggestions, Dreamon! OK I will leave out Sicily and the Aeolian islands and put that time to Crete instead. Rhodes - lots of people love Rhodes and have recommended it...so I will work on how to get there in the most efficient way. But I will keep your suggestion about sticking to one island group too - I might sitll change my mind. I will come back with an updated itinerary when work slows down and see what people say.
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