Any one ever been Greek Island hopping?

(56 Posts)
Portofino Tue 11-Jun-13 13:22:54

I am thinking of this for next year as dd wants to see the Acropolis and the photos of the various islands look so gorgeous. I have no idea where to start though....Any tips?

ArabellaBeaumaris Tue 11-Jun-13 13:30:36

I did, before I went to uni. Can't remember the details but as I recollect it was pretty easy! I think we had a vague idea of which islands we wanted to go to, & you can pretty much rock up & buy tickets as & when... Was lovely.

bruffin Tue 11-Jun-13 13:59:19

We didnt do island hopping as such, but stayed in Poros and got the dolphin over to other islands and the mainland. We went to the Acropolis and Mycenie, as well as Aegina.

burberryqueen Tue 11-Jun-13 14:02:42

long time ago I was au fait with Greek ferries, you just turn up and buy a ticket as arabella said, easy as anything.

Portofino Tue 11-Jun-13 19:58:41

Bruffin. - that looks gorgeous. I am not one for package holidays but dd will be 10 so I don't want to rough it TOO much. I looked at interrail, though you can't do trains into Greece at the mo due to the financial crisis, but it does include ferry from Italy to Corfu then to Piraeus. I want to have a clue on where is best/reasonable to visit say over 3 weeks...

burberryqueen Wed 12-Jun-13 07:57:53

if you can get an internal train from Patras (ferry port from Italy) down to Kalamata in the Peloponnese, then a bus or taxi down to Koroni, there is a lovely campsite at Agios something, would recommend that over the more popular islands, incredibly child friendly and not much to do except swim fish and eat.

burberryqueen Wed 12-Jun-13 08:04:22

we spent a memorable three weeks on this campsite

Hullygully Wed 12-Jun-13 08:11:05

Research it carefully, because of the "austerity" destroying the country, a lot of ferries have been cut or can only be taken from Piraeus. Choose a group of islands where you can definitely get ferries to and from without having to go back to Piraeus.

Poros is crowded in the summer and Aegina is falling apart (packages withdrawn). Agistri is tiny but quite sweet.

I'd look at the Cyclades or Sporades

Lavenderandroses Wed 12-Jun-13 08:11:48

Yes, fantastic experience and easy to do with children. I got a really good book about island hopping which explained all the ferry timetables. You can only travel easily between certain islands.

Just book flights and turn up. No need to book accommodation. I would look into where to stay in Athens though. It's not a great city in my experience and I would want to know where I was staying in advance.

burberryqueen Wed 12-Jun-13 08:14:52

that is interesting what you say hullygully about ferries and package operations being withdrawn - have not been to Greece now for four years although I spent a long time working there or on extended (beachbum) student vacations.
possibly there is no train now to Kalamata...

Hullygully Wed 12-Jun-13 08:16:53

We had four ferries from our bit to others and two boats have been sold to South America! We miss them <sad face>

Hullygully Wed 12-Jun-13 08:18:23

You should also think about the mainland, Porto.

The Pelops has amazing sights and beaches, much more so than th eislands. It might be an idea to travel the mainland for two weeks and pick an island for a week's vegging?

bigTillyMint Wed 12-Jun-13 15:02:03

I did quite a bit of Greek island hopping in a previous lifesmile

Agree with Hully - we had a great holiday one year - mainly on the Peloponnese (on the back of a motorbike!) and on the island of Spetses. Athens is an interesting place too.

Portofino Wed 12-Jun-13 18:45:40

That is an interesting thought. I picked up a second hand book about Athens and it mentions Mycenae, Corinth, Epidaurus etc as excursions. Explore also do a family cruise round islands to the NE of Athens which looks fun. So maybe one week sights, one week cruise, one week beach/island? I normally allow about 150 euros a night accommodation costs as that is what your average mobile home/gite seems to cost in July and it looks like I can even do naice hotels for round the 120 euro mark. So there should be bargains to be had. I don't need posh.

CatsAndTheirPizza Wed 12-Jun-13 18:50:21

Only as a student - it was lovely though. I imagine doing it as a non-student not being in Piraeus catching the cheap ferries out v early in the morning, and sleeping beaches, would be v nice

Hullygully Wed 12-Jun-13 20:09:07

I'll give you recommendations for the Pelops if you like?

Mystras, Monemvassia, Nauplion...

Portofino Wed 12-Jun-13 21:34:07

Very interested Hully. Sounds like you know the area well :-)

Portofino Wed 12-Jun-13 21:39:54

We normally fling stuff in the car and drive. So this is a bit of a new thing for me. Pre child/Dh I did lots of Eastern Europe and walking in mountains. And we did a lot of city breaks way back when.

Did athens then from pireus to naxos one year. It was very chilled and easy. Booked up front online so no stress.

Athens is a great place to spend a few days as well as just seeing the parthenon.

Quodlibet Wed 12-Jun-13 21:47:45

Do people think Greek island hopping would be ok at 24 wks pg? We are thinking of going...

Lavenderandroses Wed 12-Jun-13 21:52:19

Yes! You will be fine when pregnant. Enjoy

unebagpipe Wed 12-Jun-13 22:39:06

Just returned from Naxos... Amazing. Not overly busy, beautiful beaches and good accommodation (Faros Studios). We didn't island hop and enjoyed a week there... Will watch this thread with intent as looking for more ideas for next June. grin

Hullygully Thu 13-Jun-13 08:46:03

So, have a few days in Athens, there is a hotel called The Phiippos where we stayed a few years ago that was (then at least!) very reasonable compared to other hotels and we had two adjoining rooms. It's right at the foot of the acropolis so easy to walk up first thing to the Parthenon and then can walk down through the agora (very nice) and on and around Plaka for little shops/stalls/cafes etc. Go to new museum too.

Then get a car and head off. Drive down to Corinth (ancient Corinth) (couple of hours), there are a lot of hotels close to the ancient castle, again walk up really early (it's worth it) or you'll die. Not much else to do there so head off afternoon and go to Nauplion which is a beautiful Venetian town with lots of lovely places to stay, narrow streets, a lovely port where you can take a boat trip, lots of castles to climb to (how fit you will be), a nice museum, and a really nice evening buzz to stroll around in.

Then go to Mystras (couple of hours), near Sparta - do not go there, there's nothing as the Spartans were only into training and fighting so no monuments or anything of interest!, MYstras is a Byzantine village/town that is deserted and beautifully preserved. Again, go early and start at the top and walk down, it's really stunning. It's not on the well-known site trail for some reason, but coaches do turn up, go early and you'll beat them.

I would then go down to the Mani which is the maddest part of Greece in my opinion. Everyone lived in tower houses and had feuds for generations, supposedly the Maniots were the original Mafia (they all went to Italy). Lots there, there is an amazing boutique type hotel at Geromolinas, and you must go to the Caves of Diros where you float through in a boat. I'd go to the bottom of the Mani, to the gate to Hades, because it is a stunning landscape.

Then go up and round to Koroni and Methoni, keep going up and head into the mountains of Arcadia to Stemnitsa, Dimitsana etc which are stunning and hang off the mountains, there is a gorge there where you can raft (float) which is lovely.

Then across again and back down to Monemvassia, which is a Byzantine town completely hidden in a rock. You can't see it from the sea or the land until you walk through the rock entrance (no cars) and there is an amazing tumble of houses, flowers, churches etc. Nice hotels in and at the entrance.

Go down to Elafonnisos for an astonishing beach (five second ferry) and then end of the island of Kythira (which I haven't visited but want to).

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Jun-13 08:58:25

Oh yes, the gorge! Samaria gorge? You can walk down it - lovely day out, but stiff legs the next daysmile

Hullygully Thu 13-Jun-13 09:17:41

Samaria is on Crete...

I think it's the Lousios river, if you google Trekking Hellas, they have loads of active suggestions (am thinking of kids), we always try and build in activities as just looking is dull for kids (and me).

There is a great website for small Greek hotels, can't remember the bloody name.

Malvasia is the hotel to go for at Monemvassia

En route to Corinth you can also stop and look at the Corinth Canal (and bungee jump)

And on the way up and out of the Mani, stop at Kardamyli where Patrick Leigh Fermor lived and which is lovely.

FuckThisShit Thu 13-Jun-13 09:25:06

I did it when I was 16, so unless you are after a list of the best bars and clubs, I think my experience is useless. if I could remember much grin

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 09:25:49

Hully that sounds absolutely lovely! It is making this year's trip to France seem very dull in comparison. <<ungrateful emoticon>> I shall have to print this thread and go looky on Google Maps.

Hullygully Thu 13-Jun-13 09:27:20

Oh lovely lovely old Greece...

<completely unbiased>

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 09:35:36

What do you reckon the theCaique Cruise ? It would work out very expensive but looks fun. There are lots of flotilla holidays but I don't want to be entrusted with sailing my own boat....

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 09:36:16

You're not Hully Onassis are you Hully? wink

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 09:42:33

Fuck, my only previous visit to Greece was Kavos in Corfu when I was 20. Tis not the kind of holiday experience I am planning for my pfb! grin She is really interested in history at the moment, so I am planning to grab the moment - before the hormone hit and she turns into a sulky teenager.

Hullygully Thu 13-Jun-13 09:54:18

It looks really nice, my caveat would be that it only pootles round Evia, but I can see the attraction of it, deffo.

If you wanted to do that, miss out the western Pelops, but you MUST go to Nauplion, Mystras, Monenvassia and the Mani (all the best places begin with M). You could also add in Epidauras and Mycenae if history is a big thing.

There is a summer prog at Epidauras every year, a mix of music/plays (we have had Helen Mirren/Kevin Spacey) so have a look and maybe see a cultural thing which is a much more interesting way to experience it than looking at the empty theatre (and cooler in the evening). There is also little Epidauas which has events too.

beachyhead Thu 13-Jun-13 10:32:46

That route looks amazing......I'm putting that in the diary. Might prefer it without children....

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 11:05:37

Quick question: In theory we could also do 2 weeks at Easter vs 3 in the summer. Next year that is 7th April onwards. Would it still be too cold for swimming then?

Hullygully Thu 13-Jun-13 11:09:32


Good time to do driving round and visiting places, sea is bitter.

Fluffy1234 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:40:21

I dit it when I was aged 7, almost 40 years ago and can still taste my first ever stuffed pepper, and feel the wind in my hair waiting for the very early morning ferry to take us to our first island. Such a great experience.

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 19:03:25

I love hully's itinerary for the mainland. I am going to base my research round doing that for a week and doing an island or 2 and spending some days in Athens. Naxos/Poros sound popular choices but I might also look at getting to Santorini, or the mamma Mia islands of Skopelos and Skiathos. Any suggestions of lovely places very welcome. Especially places where there other kids.

Hullygully Thu 13-Jun-13 19:05:26

Poros beaches aren't much cop and it is packed in summer. Naxos is nice and much bigger. And it has (or had) a nudist beach...

burberryqueen Thu 13-Jun-13 19:10:40

well I have not been there for years but remember Anti-Paros a tiny island off Paros as being lovely which might fit in with Santorini quite well.

burberryqueen Thu 13-Jun-13 19:19:49

but if i were you i would choose one main island group and stick to it, i mean Skiathos/Skopelos might not fit in that well with Santorini which as u know is in the Cyclades.

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 19:24:30

Oh I wouldn't do both. I would go for one area. Nudist beach, Hully? Do tell me more....

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 19:26:52

I bookmarked some of the ferry companies going out of Piraeus earlier.

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 19:27:09

When I should have been working.

bigTillyMint Fri 14-Jun-13 06:16:15

Skopelos and Skiathos are lovely (or they were about 20 years ago!) - Skopelos much quieter, but Skiathos definitely has/had a nudist beachwink

Hullygully Fri 14-Jun-13 08:20:50

Skiathos is much more developed, because it has an airport. Basically, if you want lively, tourists etc, pick an island with an airport, if you want quieter, pick one without.

BegoniaBampot Tue 18-Jun-13 22:54:16

Did it a long time ago. Was so easy. You just get on a ferry, at the other end there was usually touts selling accommodation (all nice ensuite rooms)and will arrange any transfers. Would imagine this still goes on. We did Corfu, Paros, IOS, Santorini, Athens - that I can remember.

PlentyOfFreeTime Wed 19-Jun-13 12:47:21

About 3 years ago I took the ferry (overnight) from Italy to Patras and then drove down to Athens via some of the archaeological sites.

Had 3 very hot das in Athens (Acropolis, Parliament, Olympic stadia etc). However Athens was a very disturbing place to wander around - admittedly I was a solo traveller. Many of the streets in the centre had drug addicts lying on mattresses on the pavement. I had one come up and grab my shoulder to beg money, as I was waiting to cross the road. Was very glad to leave Athens as I did not feel safe there.

Then went to Tolo a small resort on the Peleponese and an hour or so's drive from Athens. As Hully said, Nafplio is a lovely little town to visit. Corinth and the canal also do-able from Tolo. In Tolo harbour large motor yachts can take you up the Corinth canal or south to visit Spetsas and Hydra. I did the Hydra trip from Tolo and the moment we left the harbour and set out into the bay we were surrounded by leaping dolphins and rainbows of spray - out of this world!

You can also visit Poros, Aegina and Hydra in a day from Piraeus (the port for Athens).

It's also possible to plan in trips to greek theatres (along with amphitheatres these are my favourite things to visit).

PlentyOfFreeTime Wed 19-Jun-13 12:52:48

Sorry - ferry from Italy was to Igoumenista? Patras was the return journey as stayed in Olympia on the way back.

Epidaurus was the highlight of the trip - an incredible theatre.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Wed 19-Jun-13 13:01:48

Yes - but it was about the same time Noah was busy with the Ark, so other than saying 'It was FABBBBBB' I'm no use at all grin

I hope you have a brilliant time.

CatherineofMumbles Wed 19-Jun-13 13:03:47

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee grin

LittleBearPad Wed 19-Jun-13 16:49:35

I'm sorry you didnt feel safe in Athens Plenty. The financial crisis does mean there are beggars but I haven't seen drug addicts in the way you describe on my recent visits. It generally feels very safe to me. Of course you have to be careful, as you would in London or any large city.

The Athens metro is really good, if you have a buggy there are lifts, much better than London.

Other random factoid. The National Archaeological Museum is fantastic. It has lots of stairs outside though. There is disabled/buggy access though. Go to the left, go up onto a bridge and knock on the back door.

Can you tell I'm pushing a buggy on all my visits!

BegoniaBampot Wed 19-Jun-13 20:18:45

Athens is one of the least impressive cities I've been to and felt a bit dodgy. I'm in no rush to go back.

Portofino Wed 19-Jun-13 22:09:37

I plan to do 2 days in Athens. Love the sound of the dolphins. I fully appreciate the financial crisis. Am not offended by beggars. I did lots of trips to Eastern Europe before they all became eu. Better to go there and support the beggars and the tourist industry than avoid IMHO. They need it.

Portofino Wed 19-Jun-13 22:15:34

That might not have sounded right. I meant that Greece, beggars or hotel owners/employers need our euros. It is better to spend money in Greece than to avoid because there are poor people. I can make more difference by going there an spending money than I can by staying away.

PlentyOfFreeTime Wed 19-Jun-13 22:40:56

I don't have a problem with beggars either. But the people who threatened me in Athens were not the usual type of non-aggressive beggars. The Athens people were aggressive drug addicts that you could not avoid. they were living on mattresses on the street and were in a dreadful state. Some had open festering sores, some were drunk and very disorderly.

LittleBear It was the National Archaeological Museum that I was on my way to when I was grabbed. I was staying at the Hotel Stanley. It happened on the main road from the hotel to the museum.

The Acropolis Museum was excellent. I came out of there thinking it was a shame that we are hanging onto their marbles.

LittleBearPad Wed 19-Jun-13 22:52:13

Omonia isn't the nicest part of Athens, unfortunately it's the metro station closet to the NAM.

Athens isn't a pretty city by any stretch of the imagination but I don't think it's less safe than most other capitals. Enjoy your trip Portofino.

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