My Boyf and I (late 20s) have 10 days in early October to travel from santorini to Athens and I'm looking for some help on planning the best route.
We would like a good mix of beautiful scenery, great food and a real feel of the local culture. We want to avoid anywhere overly touristy, and have a budget of £100 a day each including accommodation.
Can anyone recommend the best islands to stop at? So far we just know we would like to spend a couple of nights in santorini and then a couple of nights in Athens at the end. We've been recommended Naxos and I'm curious about Mykonos but fear it'll be too overrun with tourists.
Any thoughts would be really helpful!
Hi there! Don't over estimate your time is my first suggestion. It would be nice to travel to some islands, but October can be a windy month and sometimes the ferry time tables can be changed by hours or even days!
I assume that you start in Santorini, so my advise is to think of the very small island of Folegandros. From there the island of Milos. From Milos you can reach Piraeus with 3 hrs. For Folegandros take 1 night or max 2, Milos 3 nights and rent a car. Beautiful!
When you like the bigger islands, I suggest that from Santorini you go to Crete (Heraklion), make a tour on Crete (if you want suggestions, please ask) and take the night ferry from Chania to Piraeus.
While most islands have extended their summer season during recent years, early October is already off season on most of the smaller ones except the over-promoted Mykonos and Santorini and there will not be much to see or do there.
On the other hand, larger islands with large pernament population such as Naxos and Paros have some life all year around and actually get some visitors till latter in this month. The ferry line Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-(Ios)-Santorini and v.v. is a daily all year around route and while some of the smaller seasonal catamarans might not run on strong winds or will cease their operation around middle October, the slower, stable Blue Star ferries serving this route are very reliable and it takes extremely strong winds for them not to run, something uncommon on October.
Santorini and Mykonos will not be wall to wall busy on October exept when cruise ships arrive, but still very busy. While there are some less known corners on each island, I do not think those two are ideal to get a feel of the local culture at all...
Thanks so much for your advice. It sounds like the larger islands might be our best bet, but is there somewhere you'd recommend rather than Mykonos?
I wrote a large reply which for some reason disappeared on thin air!
Anyway, my point was that a well-know island is not necessarily large and a large island is not necessarily very populated. Remember that Cyclades islands are mainly barren, windy, dry rocks and it is hard to sustain many people. Some tourism is what helps people survive on most of them. Naxos and up to an extend Paros is the exeption of this rule, because they are fertile and quite developed islands, along with some others such as Syros which is the commercial and administative center of the area...
Santorini for example covers about 76 square kms territory and holds only around 12 000 pernament population, Milos is about 151 km2 large and holds only 5 000 population. Mykonos is 86 km2 and holds less than 10 000 population, Naxos is 429km2 and holds 19 000 pernament population.
Do some more specific research and do not plan only by name-throwing. You did not mention how you envision your days spent... Lying on the beach all day? Hiking? Interested in watersports? Archeological sites? Are you willing to hire a car?
Anyway, I think Paros or Naxos definately fit the bill for a more diverse and authentic experience and offer some nice scenic spots. As far as you mentioned food, you may be glad to know that those have a very decent production of local meat, dairy items (tons of different cheeses), vegetables and up to an extend fish (Gouna, sun dried mackerel is a speciality on both islands) . If you wish you may visit a winery off Naoussa on Paros and a kitron distillery on Chalki village on Naxos.
[ Edit: Edited on 30-May-2015, at 14:04 by mariha2912 ]