Athens, Nafplio and Santorini in 10 Days - Apr 14 - Apr 23, 2022

Traveler: Shawn O. - Local specialist: Amalia Symvoulidou

Traveling abroad, whether alone or with family, requires significant planning and preparation, consuming valuable time reading travel guides and research, with the hope of making the best use of precious time off from the daily grind. This planning becomes even more challenging when you are visiting a country for the first time, and strictly basing an itinerary on the recommendations of others and a list of the most famous landmarks to visit, without the local experience and knowledge. For our recent (and first) trip to Greece with the family, we chose to use KimKim (local agent - Somewhere We Know) to relieve us of the burden (and gamble) of planning ourselves. This was our first experience with KimKim, and my family and I are so thankful we did.
Throughout the planning of our trip, Amalia (our fantastic local agent - Somewhere we Know) was extremely responsive answering any and all questions (we had many) ahead of our visit to Greece. We had ten days available, and Amalia did an amazing job developing an itinerary based on our criteria exposing us to everything Greece has to offer with stays in Athens, Nafplio and Santorini. The detailed itinerary shared prior to our trip was invaluable, and we referenced it many times throughout our vacation. We started our trip in Athens, where we met our driver Thanasis who would be our transport between activities while staying in Athens and Nafplio. Thanasis offered us a warm welcome to Greece, and each ride with him was an educational driving tour of the area. Thanasis is a real pro, not only in his effortless navigation of the labyrinthian streets of Athens but sharing his knowledge and answering our questions along the way.
Our stay in Athens felt like a ‘home away from home’ at The Foundry Suites. From the attentive staff to the delicious (and fresh) baskets of food delivered to our door each morning, we were very pleased with the accommodations and the overall experience. The Foundry Suites is perfectly located and a great starting point each day in walking distance of everything Athens has to offer. The rooftop garden patio offers a beautiful view of the city, and a great spot to view the sunrise or the brightly lit Acropolis at night. We stayed in Greece for 4 days (one night returning from Nafplio and before heading to Santorini). On day 2 we had a private tour of the Acropolis Museum and Acropolis. Our guide, Xenia, was excellent and the tour was well planned and satisfyingly educational. Xenia was engaging and offered thorough explanations of key exhibits during our time at the museum. Xenia then led us up the hill to the Acropolis, suggesting spots for family pictures along the way. Many thanks to Xenia and highly recommend her as a guide for this tour.
The evening of day 2 we took a food tour of Athens starting with an olive oil tasting at Malotira. We received a quick primer on olive oil production in Greece, and the pride of those who produce it locally. Our guide selected a great variety of restaurants to sample the local fare. There is no personal description I can share that will do justice to the food in Athens, try all of it, often and anywhere you can get it. It’s all delicious. Many thanks to our guide.
From Athens we headed to Nafplio with our driver Thanasis. During our ride from Athens to Nafplio, Thanasis shared details on notable landmarks and made an unexpected stop at the man-made Corinth Canal, a truly breathtaking site to see. Nafplio is a gorgeous and quaint seaside town, and a great reprieve from the big city pace for a couple of days. Our stay at the Castellano Hotel & Suites exceeded all expectations with very spacious accommodations, located in the heart of the central square and great staff. We took two separate tours while in Nafplio, and were extremely lucky to have Vivi as our guide. We visited the Palamidi Fortress a very short ride from our hotel our first day, and a 30-40 minute ride to Epidavros on the second day in the region. Vivi gave exceptional tours of both locations, and we were very thankful to have both sites to ourselves due to overcast skies and light rain. We appreciate Vivi’s level of detail in the history shared, her patience with our two boys and obvious pride she takes in her tours.
On day 5 we traveled back to Athens for a ‘free’ day before flying to Santorini. The Athens airport is very accessible and a short ride from the downtown area. We experienced no issues on the (very short) flight to Santorini. The classic pictures of white-washed houses on the cliffs of the island did nothing to prepare us for the overwhelming beauty of Santorini, and the breathtaking views in every direction. Our stay at Abelonas Retreat in Imerovigli was fantastic, set north from the very busy center of Fira and high above the sea below. Once again, the location was perfect, allowing us to walk down to shopping and restaurants in Fira or staying ‘local’ in the quieter setting of Imerovigli and having the best meals of our stay only minutes from our hotel at Anogi (so good we ate there twice for dinner!). The couple that operate Anogia are amazing, and welcome you as if you are part of the family. While on Santorini, we took an afternoon to sunset tour with Panos and Sophia of Baikas Travel starting at the peak of the island at the Monastery in Pyrgos and ending in the gorgeous village of Oia. Panos offered great details at each stop along the way, and both Panos and Sophia were extremely helpful. With stops at the Red and Black beaches, the Monastery in Pyrgos and Oia we truly got an immersive experience to see the entire island.
Last, but by no means least, we took a day time Caldera Classic cruise along the coast of Santorini and nearby islands. We could not have asked for a better experience, and Captain Elias and crew were gracious hosts. This particular cruise is partially private, and there was only one other couple along with our family on the boat. Captain Elias made frequent stops at key points of interest around the island, and shared the history of the birth of Santorini. The crew made an amazing lunch, and we anchored in a cove to enjoy the views, the weather and the food. We were very grateful for this experience.
Prior to our departure, we had a free day on Day 9 where we took our COVID tests to return to the States (at the Central Clinic of Santorini in Fira, which took 10 minutes and very easy), take in more of the local cuisine, shop and enjoy the views. Amalia’s perfect planning gave our family an amazing, ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. Our driver Thanasis, and tour guides Xenia and Vivian made this an unforgettable memory our family will reminisce forever. Baikas Travel and Caldera allowed us to fully experience the unique island of Santorini. Many thanks again to Amalia at Somewhere we Know, and we cannot recommend using this service enough to plan your next travel experience.