Planning an exciting 7-9 days vacation for summer 2008 (June - August) to a destination in Europe. This will be the first visit and I hope more in the future. We look at two popular destinations: Greece (Santorini/Thira) and Italy (Venice, Rome, Florence, and Sicily).
Travel expense to Santorini is more expensive than to Italy. Both places offer classic architectural buildings and landscapes. Scenery on Santorini is unique especially at sunset. What are the exciting and memorable attractions? How would you compare Venice, Rome, Florence, and Sicily? (Personally, I enjoy watching sunrise and sunset over the ocean from high above.)
I appreciate and look forward to reading your response about those destinations.
Personally I preferred Rome, Venice and Florence (haven't been to Sicily and in only 9 days you're already cramming a hell of a lot in for such a short visit, consider dropping a place if you choose Italy). Santorini is nice mainly for the reasons you mention, but you will obviously find a lot more things to see and do, the culture is better, nicer food etc all are in Italy. If seeing the sunset over the water is important then Santorini is the must out of those places you mention. I spent 3 days there and felt that was enough for Santorini (didn't go to Thira). It can be done cheaply if you stay in a hostel like I did and maybe do a full day tour which I think from memory was about 30 Euro I think from memory. That full day tour took you pretty much all over the island and also got you to where the best viewing for the sunset is before you got a bus back to your hostel/hotel.
For something a little closer to your home, if you haven't already done it before, in the future you really should aim to go to Negril/Jamaica for the sunset thing. Even at sea level that has the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen anywhere. As the sun is setting it has the illusion of the sun melting in to the water with boats near where the sun appears to be melting over the boats (if you get at the right angle) and the water is crystal clear and warm to go swimming in and walking in to take photos. Key West on a clear afternoon/evening and Honolulu (at Waikiki Beach) are also pretty good for beautiful sunsets. I am hardly ever up early enough for a sunrise so I can't really say much about places with good sunrises. One that I did see which was very spectacular was at Mt Sinai just near Dahab in the Sinai region of Egypt. That had unusual looking mountains as the background but meant climbing to the top in the dark and freezing your butt off all night even when it was well over 30C during the day time.
[ Edit: Edited on Sep 28, 2007, at 5:45 PM by aharrold45 ]
Oceanfront village on Santorini is so beautiful at sunset. Only Bora Bora beach is comparable at different depth. I am surprised at the negative responses about Santorini, Greece! How could you run out of excitement for such a beautiful island?
We plan to visit one city in Italy (Venice, Rome, Florence, or Sicily). I believe Florence is the most complete destination.
Food is expensive in Italy. But then food is expensive in most European destinations relative to the U.S. and Asia. How about France and Greece?
I'd definitely go to Italy (I'm probably biased lol). Anyway, since you said you intend on visiting one city if you do go to Italy I suggest Rome. With 9 days, you have enough time to explore Rome adequately (at the least) and nearby towns such as San Gimignano. I'd also visit the beaches as well but I would stay away from Ostia Lido, there are so many other beaches on the Mediterranean coast that are much better. Try Sprelonga or some of the beaches north of Rome.
I did a 21-day tour of Italy last May, starting in Palermo and ending in Venice. As for travelling on a budget, Sicily is great. I took a tent and cooking gear along, stayed on camping sites and bought my food at the traditional market stalls. I spent about 15 EUR a day on food and accomodation that way. I managed to do the same in Florence, but it was a lot harder! In Florence it was cheap pre-fab toast and packed swiss cheese, while in Sicily I got the bread from the bakery and topped it off with fresh tomatoes, basil and hand-made mozarella and still paid less. I would say that fresh produce is about 30 percent cheaper in Sicily. A standard slot for a tent and one person is generally less than 10 EUR in Sicily, while between 10-15 EUR in Northern Italy.
My favourite memory from that tour is touring the Etna volcano.
However, with only 9 days you will have very little time. If you decide to go to Italy, my recommendation would be to tour Venice, Verona, Tuscany and Florence. Be warned that the best time to go to Italy is in early June - July and August are way to hot and crowded. Plus prices for flight tickets from the US to Europe skyrocket from mid-June on, so keep this in mind.
Please give your most recent experience. Greatly appreciated.
I'm going to spend about 4 days in Rome and then 3 days in Greece. Santorini sounds like a very good place to visit from what i heard. However, I plan to stay in Athens for 2 days. Is 1 day enough for Santorini? I would imagine I need more than 1 day but I don't have it. I only have 3 days for Greece. So, should I visit Santorini in 1 day? or perhaps Delphi is a better place as it's closer to Athens?
1 day Athens (Acropolis) 2 days Santorini - it's a fantastic place. Just my 2 cents.