5 great nights in Athens and the Greek Islands - Apr 19 - Apr 24, 2022
Angela from Greece Adventure Trips organized our trip at short notice (just a few weeks). She was prompt, friendly, and figured everything out. She organized all of our travel within Greece and it went flawlessly.
Our trip started with an evening in Athens where we stayed in the Elektra Metropolis hotel (wow --- great location right in Plaka with great street walks and just 10 mins walk to the Acropolis). That evening, we did a walking tour of the Acropolis with the most amazing guide (Alex --- he is a trained archaeologist and he taught us so much in just two hours, great story teller, friendly and kind -- Alex also gave us great information on what to do during the rest of our Greece trip). I think we should have spent another day in Athens but I had been insistent we should spend most of the trip in the islands. Next time!
The next morning, we took a ferry from Piraeus to Naxos. Very scenic few hours, though very crowded on the ferry because it was the easter week. On Naxos, I think we were there just about at the start of the tourist season, since many places were just opening. Our hotel 18 Grapes was a boutique resort, very laid back and luxurious. The food from the small resort restaurant was amazing --- especially the sumptious and scrumptious breakfast served with style and personal charm. We took a short taxi ride into the city to walk around, check out the stores and restaurants. On day 2, we rented electric bikes at a great place called Aurelia Bikes and biked around half the island, getting to see some of the beautiful villages in the interior. We got really lucky finding Aurelia Bikes --- they manufacture their own bikes optimized for the region. When unfortunately I got a flat tire a few miles away from the store on the way back, the owner was kind enough to come out in a truck to pick me up.
The next day we took a ferry from Naxos to Santorini. Here, Angela had booked us into the Santo Maris Luxury Suites in Oia. Ultra-fancy resort hotel and just a few minutes walk from the heart of Oia (with the beautiful views, white and blue buildings, shops and restaurants). We hadn't pre-planned this, but because it was right in the midst of easter week, the same evening the citadel of Pyrgos on Santorini had its annual celebration (which is something unique --- tens of thousands of lanterns light up this citadel on a hill) --- we got to go walk around in the midst of it and enjoy the amazing experience. The next day, we did the caldera hike from Oia to Fira (beautiful, picturesque, though in hindsight should have heeded everyone's advice to go from Fira to Oia instead).
Finally, flew out of Santorini, thru Athens, and onward. Every step of the way, things went flawlessly.
Much kudos to Angela for making great default choices for us. She did also suggest various guided activities on the islands but we decided against because we just wanted to chill and do stuff on our own. Also, our party had two vegans and two vegetarians, so we weren't entirely sure a planned culinary tour or wine-and-cheese tour would work out so well for us. But for most families or groups, that would be an added plus.
In hindsight, I think I'd have added a day in Athens. The ferry has different ticket options and I think if I'd known that, I might have picked a ticket option with more of a view). I think I'd have been a bit more prepared for how touristy Santorini is (Naxos is so laid back in comparison). But those are just minor details that would have have added at most a bit more icing to our amazing Greek vacation cake.