i just came back from greece a month ago. i visited athens, delphi, nafplio, mycenae, epidavros, santorini n crete. r u going on f&e or on tours?
how many days r u spending in santorini? since the tourist traffic to the islands is still pretty low in april, u don't have to book ferry tickets in advance. i will advise u to visit mykonos first, see how much u like it b4 deciding whether to extend your stay.
the view in santorini is gorgeous. n the sunsets r spectacular. i highly encourage u to take watch the sun set in oia. i rented a car in santorini. an automatic car was abt 50 euros a day. the manual cars were much cheaper. hving a car made travelling around santorini a lot easier, since we could visit all the beaches and sights. one thing tho, the beaches in santorini r all pebble beaches, so if u r looking for sandy beaches, mykonos will be much better.
I took up a pkg - 1st stop will be athens which comes with some city tour. the next 2 stops are mykonos and santorini which are free n easy. and we're extending 3 nites, juz can't decide if we should spend more time in mykonos or santorini. the tour operator is arranging for our transfers so have to let them know where we would like to stay longer.
both places sound beautiful! but our tour operator told us that mykonos is mroe happening, with night life etc.
do you have any recommendations for accomodations in both places?came across ostraco suites in mykonos on the website - it looks fabulous! but there're mixed reviews, so....
and any must-see places in athens, mykonos and santorini?
i'll be going to acropolis, partheonon, argolis, delphi as well. don't really know what to expect though.
i'm glad to help. ur itinerary sounds quite similar to mine! only difference is that u r visiting mykonos instead of crete. hee hee. be mentally prepared to see tons of ruins from different times of greek history. n since ancient greeks think that all sacred sites should be on mountains, be prepared to climb!
what does ur package include in mykonos and santorini? do u mean 3 nights total for both mykonos n santorini? i've never seen mykonos, so i also dunno which to recommend. mykonos is a party island n it is known to be much more happening than santorini. n from mykonos, it's possible to hop over to the sacred island of delos. it was thot to be the birthplace of apollo n artemis. delos is a world heritage site n the entire island is protected. no overnight stays r allowed. the cyclade islands r named cyclade becos they circle delos. santorini's pluses is its the gorgeous scenery. since santorini is a caldera, the hotels r usually clustered on cliffsides where u get really beautiful n unobstructed view of the beautiful blue sea merging into the beautiful blue sky. santorini produces its own wines, so u can take some wine tours. there's ancient akrotiri, if u like ruins. akrotiri was unfortunately closed when i was there. n u can also take a tour to visit what's left of the volanic cone.
i highly recommend renting a car in santorini. sunset in santorini is a must-see. i highly recommend staying in oia, it's much nicer than fira, where i stayed. at the edge of oia, there is a windmill where u can get pictures of the sunset, the windmill n quaint blue-white chapels. all throughout the island, there r beautiful byzantine churches that make postcard perfect pictures.
in athens, the acropolis, the roman agora, the archeological musuem n the acropolis musuem r all must-see. when we visited, admission to all the ancient sites were free on sundays. athens has a lot byzantine churches, n if they r open, we simply wander into them. the shopping district is around syntagma square. the streets at the base of the acropolis r filled with tourist sourvenir shops. if u r looking for places to eat, byzantino http://www.vizantino.com/ is a nice and not too expensive place. it's near the student n traveller's inn in the plaka.
one thing i should warn u. almost all the ruins in the acropolis are covered in scaffolds. it's part of the greek culture ministry's efforts to restore the acropolis n they r doing it stone by stone. but the parthenon is quite magnificient, even with all the scaffolds. if u look carefully, u can see how the ancient greeks build their columns so that the top is thinner than the base and the floor is highest at the centre n gently slopes outwards.
the theatre of epidavros has amazing accoustics. it's an ancient theatre, but u even at the top of the steps, u can hear a coin drop on the theatre stage. we managed to get to the theatre when it just opened, n we tested that claim. it's true. now i finally know how ancient greeks lived without microphones!
thanks for the speedy reply!!! and u sure make greece sounds like a great place to visit!!! and all-so beautiful!!!!!
oh man...looks like i've to wear my running shoes since i'll be climbing mountains to see the ruins!
well, my pkg includes 2 nites' stay in mykonos and 2 nites in santorini - free n easy. santorini sure sounds like the place we should extend our stay in. hotels perched on cliffs sound great!!! the nearest i've gotten to a hotel on a cliff is probably the 4 seasons hotel i saw in bali!
by the way, which hotels did you stay in? are they any good? or expensive?
and how's the food there?
Can I know if Nov is a good time to visit Greece? If i'm thinking of going to santorini and probably 1-2 cities, would there be any problem if we were to do F&E? How many days are recommended for each place?
it's not a prob. i went in february, n f&e wasn't a problem. the only thing abt travelling to greece in winter is that the ferries n buses halve the number of departures.
what r the other cities u r considering? i spent 2 nights at santorini, which i thot was a relaxing pace. i arrived at 3-4pm n departed at abt noon 2 days later. it might be better to book hotels in santorini beforehand. that way, the hotels can send a car to pick u up at the port.
good shoes r a must! i'm a budget traveller, n i think the budget choices in greece r much cheaper than most european cities n just as clean.
our "hotel" in santorini wasn't really a hotel at all. we stepped off the ferry n a tout offered us a "hotel in fira" for 25 euros, inclusive of one-way transfer to "hotel". we couldn't find the bus, so we took his offer, which was at a "hotel in fira" n costs only 25 euros a day. the place he brought us to was clean enough but it wasn't a hotel n wasn't in fira. i hv no idea what street it was on even. we asked for directions n took 20 minutes to get there. once we got to fira, we immediately rented a car. the cheap hotel + car turned out to be a good combination, since we could tour the entire island (something that is difficult to do with the reduced bus schedules in winter) quite affordably. i wouldn't recommend the "hotel". we had to pay upfront, which i always thot was really fishy. we never saw the tout or the owner of the "hotel" after our first day, which was even more fishy.
in athens, we stayed in hotel tempi http://www.travelling.gr/tempihotel/. it's a nice hotel, only 2-3 minutes or so from monastiraki metro (which connects to the airport n the pireus port), 1 minute to the shopping district n 5 minutes to syntagma square. plaka is abt 10 minutes away. tempi is a budget hotel. the rooms r not luxurious, but it is clean, comes with a tv, a small cupboard, heating n aircon n it costs only 45 euros a night for a room with attached bathroom in winter. there's a book-exchange corner. the counter also has a large collection of lonelyplanet guidebooks. u need to make reservations for tempi. by the time we left in late feb, we couldn't get rooms with attached bathrooms without reservations. the owners of the hotel r nice pple. a bit gruff, but they r v. accomodating. we got off the ferry from crete at 5am n arrived at their hotel b4 6am, they still took us in n did not charge us an extra day of rental. but one thing... tempi doesn't hv lifts n it is 4 stories high.
when we visited argolis, we stayed in nafplio. i like nafplio, cos it's a welcome change of the hustle n bustle in athens. it is a tourist town that slowed down in winter, so u don't see tourists, but most of the tourist infrastructure is still opened. in nafplio, we were looking for pension marianna but ended up at pension dalfina. dalfina was 35 euros, while marianna was 80 euros!
the dalfina also has a small kitchenette, which we didn't use.
one note of warning. greek toilets don't take toilet paper, cos it can cause them to choke. it's a rule that applies to all toilets, not just the budget hotel. so there's a bin where u r supposed to dispose of toilet paper. and hor, remember to shower either after sunset or wait until the sun has risen for some time. bcos most greek hotels run on solar heating. it makes sense economically since they enjoy sunshine all yr round, but if u try to shower at day break, u will find that the hot water disappear quite quickly.
as for food, i find greek food quite heavy. maybe bcos i visited in winter, so most menus r left with red meat. the highlights r octopus, calamari, grilled lamb, rabbit, n fish. the greeks grill octopus really well. v. flavourful n not rubbery. the best i had was in crete, which u r unfortunately not visiting. anyway, octopus = highly recommended. they hv giant calamari, so calamari is a lot tastier than in sg. i wasn't a lover of lamb before, but i thot greeks stew n grill their lambs quite well. if u hv never tried lamb, i suggest u start with grilled lamb first. rabbit stifado is rabbit cooked in tomato sauce, it's quite nice, it's tender n u dun get the rabbit taste in it. this was my second time eating rabbits n i thot stifadoes r much nicer than the kebab i had in prague. i like fish in general, especially since it breaks up the monotony of eating meat. the greeks r good at grilling, n their grilled fish is pretty good. if u need to get food fast n cheap, gyros is everywhere. i'm quite meh abt gyros, since some places sell really fatty meat, so eating their gyros is really like eating fats. but there r some tasty gyros, like the one near byzantino in athens. not fatty, not too oily n dirt cheap. it costs 1.50 euros per gyros. greece's most common fast food chain is friendly's. i found mcdonalds only in athens. there isn't much choice in terms of vege. the most commonly found is greek salads, which r a combination of tomatoes, some greens n olives. the dressing is olive oil. u can get fruits in supermarkets.
oh yes, u hv to buy water. it's much, much cheaper to buy water fr supermarkets. but if supermarkets r too far away, there's a minimarket near monastiraki where u can get cheaper water. if u use film camera, stock up on film in singapore!! it costs 6 euros per roll of film in greece!
thanks och and sorry for the late reply - my pc crashed! anyhow, woah, the food sure sounds good! so looks like i can chuck out the instant noodles i wanted to bring for the trip. but think i'll give the rabbit meat a miss =oP.
and haha thanks for the tips on when to shower! yeah definitely dun want to be caught bathing in cold water!
btw, is it cheap to rent a car and navigate the roads? i don't suppose there'll be alot of english signs, or that many of them speak english.
and are the things in greece expensive? like food?
it costs me abt 50 euros to rent a car in santorini n fellow travellers tell me it was also 50 euros in nafplio. but these r winter rates, u might want to check out the rates online. alamo, avis etc all hv branches in greece.
many tourists rent cars n drive themselves around, so there r signs in english. most road signs r in english n greek. there aren't that many roads on the islands, so it is difficult to get totally lost. on the greek mainland, the terrain is quite hilly n once again, there aren't that many roads.
the number of english speaking locals decrease sharply once u get out of touristy areas n modes of transport. greece is not as easy to navigate as most western european cities, but the pple r helpful enough, even if they dun speak english. they will find paper to write down the distance or point out the pple who do speak english n direct u to them. but we find that the old retirees we ask directions from almost always says that our destination is 300-500m away, even if it was really, really far off.
sit-down meals costs 6 euros n upwards for a main meal per pax. pork/chicken souvlaki, mousaka were at usually abt 6-7 euros. lamb chops, rabbit stifados etc r usually abt 7.5-9 euros. seafood usually start at 7euros n can go above 10 euros. salads r abt 3-4 euros. there's a cover charge that differs according to the class of restaurant. budget restaurants charge 1.5-2 euros.
if u exclude the souvenirs, we spent less than S$5500 for 16 days for 2 pple. the amt we spent was a bit on the high side, since this was a last-minute trip. i think $5k for 2 pple (excluding souvenirs) will be doable if we planned in advance. we only booked the flights 2 weeks b4 departure n we paid $1300 for a flight out of sg on klm. we also splurged on 4 meals at fancier restaurants, which costs us 40-50 euros per meal. they were supposed to be valentine's day n yuan xiao celebrations but the bills almost broke our hearts. our meals r usually less than half that price. the one thing we saved on was accomodations. some places dropped their prices by half in winter. the 16 days include the plane ride. yup, it's f&e. we get from place to place by local buses n trains.
thanks for the tips! am really looking forward to the trip! hope the weather will be fabulous! and haha will take the old retirees' words with a pinch of salt! and yep will probably rent a car and drive around then - sounds fun!
Hi Mel, i booked my pkg with anandas. paid about $2.5k for a 12D trip to athens (city tour included), mykonos (F&E) and santorini (F&E). the pkg includes air tix and ferry tix (to travel from island to island) as well. can't remember if meals are included tho. so far, anandas is 1 of the few agencies that offers a rather comprehensive greece pkg. the pkg is flexible in the sense that u dun need a pax of 10 or whatever before they confirm that the trip is on. so believe u can still sign up if u want. think greece will be pretty warm in june.
Tks blueroti, I manage to get in touch with the greece local tour operators. Tryg to d o the planning myself, I will be going santorini and crete, not going to mykonos. I thk it would be warm but not as bad as July and Aug.
are you back from your trip? does ur trip include mykonos? hubby and i are thinking of going there this year, may be in oct?
how is your planning going on? can share with me the total cost? after my planning for my Taipei F&E trip, i felt so exhausted liao...so, i'm thinking whether to take package tour from one of the local agent or plan another F&E on my own. Wondering which one is cheaper...
am thinking of going to Greece with my family end of this year or early next year, is it possible to have a short F&E holiday like 7D5N at Athen with budget like 6-7k for 4 pax?
how much is the airport tax in total and normal 2*hotel rate (saw the web is like 100euro)?
hi lemoncake, i think it really depends on the airfares u can get. if u can get tickets around $1300, n accomodations r 100 euros per night, u still hv approximately S$1k to spend on daily expenses before hitting the budget of $7k. the budget is tight, which means that u will probably need to watch ur expenses quite carefully.
as for hotels, hv u checked out hotel tempi n hotel acropolis view? most hotel rooms in greece can accomodate up to 3, but few budget options i investigated hv a quad option. tempi doesn't hv quad rooms, so u will need 2 double rooms. not sure abt room arrangements at acropolis view. the rates i was quoted this past winter was 45 euros for a double in tempi n 55 euros in acropolis view. there's also a hostel, the student n traveller's inn, which hv 4 bunk beds in 1 room.
there r other ways to save. on sundays, the attractions (including acropolis, agora, musuems) r free, so u can time ur visits to make sure u save some money. i got into the athens archeological musuem free. students get 50% off the price of admission too, so make sure that any students in ur family bring their pass. n if u r taking day trips, it's probably much cheaper to rent a car n drive out.
hi j&j, it depends on the places u want to visit in greece. athens is bustling all yr round, but some, not all, restaurants or hotels in the islands may be closed.
why don't u consider late sept? Read somewhere from the net that it's one of the best time to go since it's not too hot (around 24 degree) and little rain, may be 1 day or 2. Also, you'll miss the peak summer period and accomodation will be slightly cheaper.
If you go during winter (november- march), it's cooling to travel (around 10 degree) but think it'll be too cold to swim in the sea. Also, they will reduce the frequency of the transporations ie ferries.
Actually, i read know all this from surfing the net lah..
You planning to go there for your honeymoon or holiday?
hi och, thanks for recommending tempi, the price sounds good
and i have read your previous posting about the hotel. I saw KLM having a promotion till end Oct, it's $875 to Athens. Do you mean adding the airport tax, it costs $1.3k how much is the tax in total (incl SG tax)?
oh... i think winter is snowing every where in europe right...hmmmm... so it may not be so convenient to move around in Athens then.
Still in the midst of planning, I am going to book through a local agent but vey much F&E, I just ask them to book hotel,transport and transfers for me. email me at [email protected], I will pass you the contacts. BTW, I just came back from taipei as well, F&E, i stayed at Flowers Hotel, very convenient, next to Tpe main Station.
hi lemoncake, the $1.3k thing is only an estimate. if u can get the entire airfare deal below $1.3k, then i think ur budget is doable. sorry to confuse. if u can get cheaper airfares, then it's definitely better, more $$ to take day trips n eat good food.
i've no idea what the tax is, since i dun usually read the breakdown of airfares carefully enuf.
if i'm not wrong, snow falls in athens for only a couple of days a yr. it's only when u move northwards, towards the mountains, that snow may actually be a major consideration for planning ur travel. http://www.athensguide.com/#Basic has some good information abt travelling to greece, including information abt weather.
hi och and mrc,
do you mind sharing your itinerary with me too?reading och's postings about the trip is so motivating! actually i am going for a 7D F&E trip to France with my hubby next month, which is going to cost us about 5k. I just realised this is not a good deal at all, but what to do, we have booked everything. after seeing that och actually spent 5.5k to Greece for so many days, i think you are so smart! btw, thanks for your info
mrc, when are you going to Greece? Is there a better air fare you know of for end of this year?
u must be staying in good hotels is it? 5K for 7 days only? and june is peak period, so probably everything is more expensive..
actually, i haven't done much research.. just read some review here and there..check out the weather , rain, wind, etc.. if i go, it'll be probably late sept into early oct to avoid the summer..thing will be slightly cheaper then and lesser crowd.. also, it's a cooling period to travel an d probably to siwm in the sea
i dun know if i should book everything myself this time round..might be just taking a free and easy package from some local travel agent to minimise the hassle..hehe...
i'll definately share my itinerary with you once i have it all plan
just want to stress that i went in the dead of winter, where many cities n islands were practically emptied of tourists, so accomodations were really really cheap. hotel rates practically halve in winter n we r not v. fussy abt where we stay (for example, our bochapness lead us to the dodgy "hotel" in santorini but it also lead us to the dalfina pension in nafplio), hence we spent v. little on hotels. the $5.5k din include souvenirs either. i thot blueroti's package was pretty good, $2.5k for 12D in april, when prices hv gone up.
i can send u guys the itinerary this weekend. i'll update it to make it accurate, since we kind of changed our trip on the fly while we were there.
so kind of you to take the effort to update the intinerary for us somemore.
wow, you're going in march/april and you start your research now?
when do you intend to go huh? personally i prefer F&E so that i can spend my own sweet time strolling on the beach, laze around the swimming pool, go places on my own, etc. in you join tour, you'll be rush from one scenic place to another.. but then the luxury is that you dun have to travel on foot or take public transport from one place to another and can "chuan1 mei3 mei3"..hehe..
i just came back from taipei F&E and i was totally exhausted from the trip... so much walking!!! but shopping was good..haha
may be 10K will be sufficient for a comfortable trip to greece/athens for 11D during off peak period??
hi garfield, sure, when it's updated, i'll send u a copy.
mrc, no problem. muak back.
lilacblur, maybe u can give us an idea of what u mean by comfortable? r u talking abt staying at hilton n flying to the islands kind of luxury comfortable or a slow-paced holiday kind of comfortable or a no-hassle, tour-quality kind of comfortable? my advice is to choose the travelling style most compatible with ur expectations, which in part depends on what u define to be comfortable.
to me, comfort means travelling at my own pace, doing what i want n basically, chilling out with my husband, hence i am very much a f&e person.
i get to watch sunsets with my husband (quality time!), i can get up late if i want to (quality time too!), n i can spend as much or as little time i want at any of the sights. n i get to know the places i've been to better, since i usually hv to navigate thru the streets n interact with locals. but there r cons lah. planning takes time n sometimes, things may not go as planned(e.g. that "hotel" in santorini n numerous other examples). n in greece, there r also language barriers lah.
the budget depends on the number of days, the number of islands u want to visit n the travelling style amongst others. hv u taken f&e b4? when is ur hm?
just cheap cheap hotel 1.1k, air tickets already 1.2k each, another 1.5k for food transport & entrance fees. so total 5k. it is really true that travelling during winter is much cheaper and also less crowds. it is nice if you are going in late september.
hi och, no hurry, please take your time. so sorry to have trouble you to update. i think if we go to Athens only is a bit pity, sounds like it is a must to travel around the islands... have to do more research
hi mrc, lemoncake, garfield, jolene, sent itin liao. btw, need to moderate ur expectations of the itin. 1) since i normally do slow n v. easy holidays, the itin is not packed with places to visit. not all the sights, e.g. castle of nafplio, corinth, r included in the itin. 2) i dun hv all the guidebooks n receipts with me, so pls treat the cost breakdown as an estimate.
wow lemoncake, 1.2k for flight tickets to paris in summer is quite cheap.
if u go to greece, who will u be going with? parents or children or siblings? is the limiting factor budget or time? to be quite honest, i think the greek experience should include the islands, cos so much of their history is tied to the seas. but greece has so many islands u will be spoilt for choice on which to visit.
hi jolene, sure, i'll be glad to help in any way i can. i'm not familiar with package deals to greece. in fact, i only know of blueroti's package, which is a kind of f&e. but i think the decision to take package deal or f&e really depends on ur travelling style n ur expectations abt ur holiday. each travelling style has its pros n cons. on the pro-package side is the fact that not all greeks speak english, so there might be some language barriers when navigating on ur own. oh yeah, n depending on ur luck n the driver, long distance bus rides can be either suffocating or enjoyable. their trains r fine though, not as sophisticated as the western european ones, but still comfortable. on the pro-f&e side, greece has so many attractions (historical/mythical, nature, cultural, religious) that doing f&e might be the only way to tailor that ideal itin. n going f&e offers u the best chances of avoiding the crowds.
hi och & mrc,
Thank you och for your itinerary and the break down on the expenditure for the trip. It is really helpful to have this, and it would be the template for my future trip too
initially i thought 1.2k to europe at peak season is cheap, but later my friend told me last yr they only paid $800 for SQ in June, so i feel heart pain... hope you all don't find me too stingy la...heee
thanks for ur thoughful advice. both hubby and i may not be the most adventurous so we are carefully selecting the best way to travel. we may refer to ur intinerary for the island tour. Crete has been a place i would love to visit cos i've been reading abt it fr Bible.
i guess we dun always get good deals all the time. what your fren got was as of last year when travel industry was at its worst. this year, things have picked up, plus higher taxes, so we have to bear the extra$$$. we are fellow sufferer of inflation!
Considering going to Greece for honeymoon in early Nov, but if it's winter, may have to think twice, cos' I hate lugging heavy winter clothing around...$5k for 2 pax sounds good, but I suppose dats on the low side...how much can it go up by?
hi och,apostle paul wrote a letter to titus who started a church in Crete...in it u wil noe how the ppl there conduct themselves in the early AD. o jus wanna u noe, i may take a package tour then go to Santorini and Crete on f&e. stil planning my intinerary.
hi everyone, i just checked with my husband n he says that the misc expenses r closer to 400 euros, which brings the total to abt $5.7k. so sorry abt that. now u know who pays for stuff during our trips.
hi jolene, wow, i din know that crete had a mention in the bible. tho i admit i know v. little abt the bible. all i know comes fr websites during planning, n it appears that casual reading just isn't enough.
hi starry^2nite, schanauzie, i've sent u the itin.
starry^2nite, err.... i dun think i'm the best person to say how much the travel costs will be. like i mentioned b4, it depends on ur travel styles, expectations etc. i hv a small survey of budget to mid-range accomodations in the itin. for something more comprehensive, i will recommend a guidebook liao. maybe u can use them to guestimate ur costs?
its alrite! even thessaloniki and patmos were mentioned! i found the reference sites u gave us very helpful. thanks for ur help! coming into this thread makes me excited to plan for my belated HM!
you're planning for ur belated honeymoon?? me too!!By the time i go, it'll be our 1st anniversary liao..hehe...Indeed belated hor? Now, just pray that we'll be able to go.. you know, $$$$ is the main factor!