You seem to have your heart set on Zakynthos but I have to say it’s not a good use of time for a sort-of overrated payoff. Your time is much better spent (in my opinion) seeing another Greek island in the cyclades (maybe taking a ferry to Naxos or Paros sitting outside on the deck drinking a bottle of wine) rather than taking a bus and connecting flights. Zakynthos and Santorini/Mykonos are on opposite sides of the country and the only way from one to the other is by flying (or some combination of bus and ferry). So, my recommendation is to consider spending those Zakynthos days in Naxos, Paros, Milos, or some other Cycladic island.
They are located north of Australia and east of Bali and offer stunning tropical scenery, a remarkable history, friendly villages, and some of the globe’s most pristine, biologically diverse coral reefs. The only way to reach them is to island-hop the Indonesian archipelago by small planes, ferry services, or eco-friendly cruises for serious divers but it is more than worth the trouble.
– Any advice on where to go after for around 5 nights? Back to Naxos (we didn’t really move from the town last year unlike in Paros where we rented a car and saw the whole island)? What about Folegandros? Tinos? Milos? We would like somewhere with a nice town to walk around, upmarket, more couple less family, nice bars and things to see during the day bit also nice beaches etc?
As soon as I think of travel, it’s not long before my mind drifts to white sand beaches, azure blue water, and palm trees in tropical locales. When most people think of paradise, chances are they’re thinking of tropical islands is far-flung corners of the world. Lounging with a good book, drinking from coconuts, soaking up the rays. Does it get any better than that?
My husband and I are heading to Greece in July this year. We fly into Athens and then are connecting to Samos where we are meeting up for a friend’s 50th birthday celebration. We have 4 nights here and then another week to explore some other islands. We would love to visit Santorini although I know it is not close to Samos so not sure if that is the best option? We thought about Paros or Naxos for 3nts, and then Santorini for another 3nts. Then fly back to Athens and spend a couple of days here before we head for Dubrovnik. Do you know if there are ferries between these Island points and would that be the best use of our time? I guess we don’t want to waste too much time travelling between points! We are just playing around with ideas at the moment as Samos is the only part set in stone. Open to any suggestions as this is my husband’s first trip to Greece and my last trip here was with my parents about 35 years ago!
Question: Is it worth taking the evening ferry on the 4th Sep to Crete (Heraklion) from Santorini, then the bus onto Chania so that we can do the Samaria Gorge on the 5th? Spending the full day in Chania on the 6th and taking the last flight out of Chania that night back to Athens? (or do you think this is trying to squeeze in too much in too little time)?
Considering your interests (great food, hiking, beaches, nightlife unimportant) then Naxos should definitely be your other island. (And Naxos has many daily ferry connections with both Santorini and Athens.) Also, Athens needs at least one full day to explore so you should drop any thoughts about Delphi or Nafplio. Also, I would look into flights from Athens to Santorini on your night of arrival. If you could get to Santorini that night (and move your day in Athens to the end of your trip) you’d almost gain an entire day and could spend two nights on Naxos.
Hi dave – very cool and informative site! We’re a family of 6 (all adults) traveling to Greece for the first time…and most likely the last time. We’d like to visit some historic sites, but more interested in experiencing Greek life in small towns. Beaches and nightlife are not important. I’m looking to put together a balanced itinerary covering 10 days (11 nights) and had the following in mind:
Flight Boston - London (BOS - LHR) $303+ Flight New York - London (JFK - LGW) $334+ Flight New York - London (JFK - LHR) $336+ Flight Newark - London (EWR - LHR) $340+ Flight Dallas - London (DFW - LHR) $358+ Flight New York - London (LGA - LHR) $372+ Flight Chicago - London (ORD - LGW) $374+ Flight Newark - London (EWR - LCY) $386+ Flight Chicago - London (ORD - LHR) $387+ Flight New York - London (JFK - LCY) $390+ Flight Newark - London (EWR - LGW) $399+ Flight Washington - London (IAD - LHR) $410+ Flight San Francisco - London (SFO - LHR) $417+ Flight Los Angeles - London (LAX - LHR) $422+
Another South Pacific island group (see a pattern here?), the Cook Islands are pretty far off the map. OK, not too far, but they are considerably less visited than some of their neighbors. These tiny islands are named after James Cook, the intrepid man who discovered them. With few amenities, this is the best place to find your inner castaway and escape modern life. The islands see similar weather to the rest of the area, with temperatures hot and humid all year round.
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.
Great list Matt! Indeed, there obviously there are some spots on this globe I have to visit. Can confirm the Maldives though. Has changed over time, but then again, the first time they were still “exploring” their “tourist economy” potential. Been there twice now and although definitely more crowded still holds its appeal. Be prepared for culture shock though. If you return to the “civilised world” you will wonder about the rest of the grubby world and catch yourself day dreaming regularly. 😉
Flight Atlantic City - Fort Lauderdale (ACY - FLL) $89+ Flight Atlanta - Fort Lauderdale (ATL - FLL) $105+ Flight Denver - Fort Lauderdale (DEN - FLL) $107+ Flight Houston - Fort Lauderdale (HOU - FLL) $111+ Flight Houston - Fort Lauderdale (IAH - FLL) $111+ Flight Philadelphia - Fort Lauderdale (PHL - FLL) $111+ Flight Washington - Fort Lauderdale (BWI - FLL) $113+
Lefkada is the island that’s not an island. You can drive to it across the causeway from the mainland, but it feels every bit an island. Aristotle Onassis bought the satellite island of Skorpios here as his own bit of getaway paradise. Beaches, windsurfing, boat hire, good food and wine are all here and there are few built-up package resorts. The main tourist area is centred on Nydri.
Transport between the three islands relies on local ferries and these are unsophisticated ‘landing-craft’ style boats that do little more than ferry passengers and vehicles in Spartan comfort, but they are very functional and vital to the inter-island communication. There is plenty of on the ground support excursions and infrastructure and the islands are well-used to tourism; the only exception is that travellers will need to use a bit of independence in getting between the islands.
Have just discovered your blog today and love it! I am a student from NZ and want to travel to somewhere fantastic next year for a few weeks to get away from the hussle and bussle of study and work. Originally thought Thailand would be fantastic, and I see you agree with me here so great! But I also did not realise Bali was also so cheap. For a first trip overseas for a poor student (apart from Aus), where would you recommend? Bali or Thailand?
The Ionian Islands are a quite different entity to the more familiar Aegean islands. There are in effect only seven of them plus a sprinkling of satellite islands that make for a very enjoyable package. They are different from the point of view of flora – they are greener and less barren than their Aegean cousins and they share a different history to the rest of Greece and the other islands, having absorbed much Venetian and Italian influences over the years. This is particularly apparent in the Old Town of Corfu where you could be forgiven for thinking you might be somewhere in Italy.
Naturally, there are some amazing coral reefs for snorkeling and diving and pristine beaches (my favorite is Whitehaven Beach). Upon arrival, you’ll instantly see why this is one of the best tropical islands in the world — and why over half a million people visit a year. One of the most popular way to see the islands is via a multi-day sailing tour (which is what I did when I visited). It was an amazing experience — especially diving! Prices start around 450 AUD for multi-day sailing tours.
Harbour Island, part of Eleuthera, which is actually a chain of islands itself, seems as if it made specifically for romance, with the beaches on the three-mile-long isle filled with tiny foraminifera, red-shelled creatures that give the sand its rosy hue. Its hub, Dunmore Town, was once the capital of the Bahamas, and it still retains picturesque Georgian architecture, marked by pastel-hued buildings, white picket fences and bougainvillea-draped door frames. The island is home to less than 2,000, and only a small number of tourists visit at any given time, providing a laid-back atmosphere that ensures a peaceful escape from the chaos of day-to-day life.