Re: First time to Greece – 3 weeks
Mar. 5, 2018, 12:22 a.m.
No worries about ferries. The islands you’ve listed all have multiple daily departures.
The recommendation to put Athens at the end is for several reasons. 1) it puts you back in Athens for your return flight, with no stress about whether you will be there in time, 2) recovering from jetlag is much more pleasant on a beautiful island, and 3) you will have developed more of an understanding of greek culture by that point in your trip, and you will be better prepared to enjoy Athens. It really is an enjoyable city, but not with jetlag.
Santorini, Milos, and Naxos all have daily departures from Athens airport. Santorini, especially, has multiple options. If you can make a same-day connection, that is ideal. Just make sure you leave plenty of time between flights, in case you have any delays. If you need to overnight near the airport, this place has free transfers, and gets great reviews. It’s a lot cheaper than the Sofitel airport hotel at the terminal. https://www.perishotelapt.gr
In June, I would recommend staying in the main towns for Naxos and Milos. It will be alive, but not crazy busy, and it will be the easiest pedestrian experience, with the most options. Plus, local bus service will leave and return primarily from there. Santorini will be busy anywhere you go, pretty much, but still not middle of summer busy, so stay where appeals to you most! Cheaper is on the east coast, and expensive is on the cliff overlooking the caldera. So, choose what you value most! 🙂
The islands all have boat tours, Generally, I like to go to the harbour the evening before, look at the boats, talk with the operators, and book for the next day.
Renting a car is great, especially for Milos and Naxos. The others are okay without, I feel.
Since you are looking at Naxos and Milos, which have lovely beaches, I would consider a different Saronic island than Aegina. There’s nothing wrong with Aegina, but I think Hydra is more special. It is completely walkable, which is fortunate, because there are no cars! No private vehicles or scooters allowed. It is a peaceful, heavenly retreat, and absolutely postcard beautiful! It really feels like you’ve traveled backwards in time. You can walk around or you can also take the water taxi.
Athens is AMAZING for history. I’m not a museum person, myself, but I love the museums in Athens. My advice is to hit some outdoor sites (Acropolis, Roman Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athena Nike, etc.) in the early morning when they first open, and then hit a museum in the afternoon. That way, you can avoid the arrival of tourist buses, and enjoy some pleasant morning temperatures. Then, when the afternoon heat comes, you can be in a nice air-conditioned museum. Top two museums are the Acropolis museum and the National Archaeological Museum. Third priority, still excellent in my books, is the Benaki Museum. Two or three full days in Athens is probably enough.