It’s a tough call. The good news is that whatever you decide, it will feel like the right thing after you’ve done it. You’ll almost certainly say to yourself, “I’m so glad we saw both islands” or “I’m so glad we had 6 full days on Santorini.” In deciding I would ask whether a return trip to Greece is likely or possible in the next couple of years. If so, then spend your 6 days on Santorini and explore that island, then return to Crete at some time in the future for a deserving 7 to 10 days. But if this is a one-time deal for the foreseeable future then do 3 days on Santorini and 3 days in Crete. (Whatever you decide don’t do a day trip to the other island as it’s not worth the time and effort.) 

Lefkada is an island, but is connected to the mainland by a causeway at the northern tip and its access airport is on the mainland at Aktio (Preveza). It is an island popular with Greeks and mainly European visitors. Italians and Brits predominate. It is green, verdant, has good beaches and facilities and is compact enough to get around easily. Tourism is centred on the east coast around the port village of Nydri. It is low-key accommodation with villas and small family-run hotels predominating. Off-shore from Nydri are a couple of islands worth visiting on excursions: the sizeable Meganisi (car ferries run to and fro’) and the private Skorpios Island which belong to the Onassis family. On your own hired motor boat, you can heave-to on just one private beach on the north side of the island and swim and claim boasting rights to having swum on Aristotle Onassis’ private piece of Greece.
Unlike its luxurious Caribbean neighbors, here you’ll only find more budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses. Everything needs to come by ship or airplane, so it’s not super cheap. However, since no non-natives can own property there is no influx of overdevelopment, keeping the island simple but beautiful. For a more rustic, non-touristy getaway, this might be the island for you! 

Located in the Caribbean Sea, this Dutch-owned island is perfect. Voted one of the best in the Caribbean, Curacao is like being in tropical Holland. The town is built in the Dutch style, but the surrounding areas are all tropical. Hit the beaches, lay in the sun, and party the night away. This may not be Gilligan’s Island, but what it lacks in privacy, it makes up for in romance and fun.
My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece in late May/early April. We already plan to spend a few nights on Santorini, and are trying to choose one other island to pair with it (will have 3 nights on other island). We are in our late 20s and are more interested in outdoors (hiking, exploring, beaches, boat trips). I’d like to keep travel time to a minimum, so I have been looking at the closer islands – Milos, Paros, and Naxos. Do you have any recommendations or thoughts on a good island to pair with Santorini?
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It’s best to visit Greek islands within the same group. For example, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Corfu and Santorini on the same trip as they’re on opposite sides of the country. Instead, visit islands in the same island group: the Cyclades, the Sporades, the Dodecanese, the Ionian, the Saronic, and the Northeastern Aegean. For one, they’re close to each other. And two, they have frequent ferry connections with each other. For first time visitors to Greece, the Cyclades make the most natural and convenient introduction.
Panama is an underrated destination in Central America, including the San Blas Islands. This is a popular spot for sailing and boat tours, though there are also some resorts in case you’re looking for a more luxurious stay. Generally, the islands are quite rustic and make for a great off-the-grid island getaway. There are tons of beautiful spots for good sailing, diving, and snorkeling.
I would recommend Naxos over Mykonos and with 12 days you could easily add Paros too. With Santorini, Paros, and Naxos you’ll get a good mix of different delights and some ferry island hopping too which is fun in itself. 1.5 days in Athens is perfect for most – 1 day for the Plaka, Parthenon, Acropolis Museum area; and a half-day to visit the Archaeological Museum which is a short drive or walk from the Plaka but hard to fit in one day along with the other sights.
Fabulous site Dave! I am taking my daughter to Greece for 12 days in late May 2017 as a grad gift (yeah I know…, I think my Dad gave me a Timex watch, but I digress) and we are flying into Santorini expecting to spend 5-6 days there then ferrying over to Mykonos (not really sure why?) for a couple days. A couple days there and then flying into Athens for 2-2.5 days to inject some culture into what is otherwise somewhat hedonistic trip. I was wondering, after reading about other islands whether it is worth going to Mykonos. I’d love to go to Crete but it seems to be tough to squeeze that in. The original plan was to go to Istanbul for a couple days but it seems really sketchy right now. So is Naxos a better idea than Mykonos? Should we stay longer in Santorini? Is 2.5 days too much for Athens? Any and all info is appreciated.
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