HoneymoonFilter: Europe Edition (Greek islands, Italian neighborhoods)
March 5, 2015 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Which neighborhoods should we be trying to stay in, as first-time travelers to Rome and Florence? Which Greek island should we be looking at?

My fiancé and I are getting married and planning a decadently long (one-month) honeymoon in Europe this May. We plan to spend a week in Greece (probably on an island), a week in Rome, a week in Florence, and a week in Paris. We know people in Paris, but need location recommendations for the other spots.

What's an excellent Greek island? What neighborhoods should we be looking at staying in in Rome and Florence? We plan to Airbnb most or all of our accommodations. Recommendations for specific Airbnb pads are welcome, but knowing which neighborhoods are likely to be cool, walkable/convenient to transit, and perhaps not too awfully loud at night, would be just as good.

Island-wise, Santorini and Naxos seem to be popular choices. I've heard intriguing things about Ithaca, though it seems a little hard to get to. We're looking for relaxing, peaceful, affordable, warm water, sun and shade, reading on the beach; don't need a big club scene or anything. Tell me about your hidden gems!

Finally, we'll probably fly into Athens; are we dumb for blowing off the Peloponnesus? I feel like you can't do it all, and I don't want to feel rushed; then again, I haven't been to Greece before, and I don't know when I'll be able to be back in Europe.

Thank you!
posted by toomuchkatherine to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you want hidden gems in Greece, try Thassos -- it's up north off the coast of Thessoloniki. Not a big club scene, but some beautiful beaches and couple small towns. It's tiny and there's basically one road on the island, so renting a car is easy.
posted by mrfuga0 at 10:08 AM on March 5, 2015

I traveled to Athens, satorini, and Crete in September. santorini is definitely amazing, but very touristy and not exactly good for reading and relaxing on the beach. though it's hard to say not to go there anyway, because it's beautiful and romantic and unlike anyplace else! Crete has beautiful beaches! check out elafonisi. the sand is pink!! Crete is the largest of the islands, and many locals told me it was their favorite when I was in greece.
posted by sabh at 10:49 AM on March 5, 2015

I really enjoyed Mykonos, but I don't have any experience on other islands for comparison purposes. In Florence, I recommend staying across the river nearish the Boboli Gardens - you can easily access the sites without having to be in the center of it all when you want to relax. There's a fantastic (yet affordable) restaurant called Sant'Agostino 23 in the area - I recommend, um, everything.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:00 AM on March 5, 2015

Rhodes was totally my favorite Greek island. I could have happily spent a whole vacation wandering the old city, and though I didn't visit them, I understand that other parts of the island have nice beaches.

Crete is big and has lots to do and many places to visit; I liked Chania best as a city. Many nice beaches; easier to get around with a car. I have nothing to add about Santorini. It is exactly as beautiful as it is supposed to be, and exactly as packed with tourists.

Also, this is maybe not advice you're looking for, but I would not spend an entire week in the city of Florence. I was there for three nights and four days, and it was more than enough time for the city. Add another Greek island instead :D
posted by goodbyewaffles at 11:08 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

My favorite neighborhood in Rome is Trastevere. Lived for a semester there in college and stayed there for a week last year. As close to Santa Maria in Trastevere as possible.
posted by yeti at 11:10 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

We stayed at an AirBNB type place (I'm trying to dig up the exact place) on the Piazza Barberini when we went to Rome. It was almost literally upstairs from a Metro stop, and there is also a stop for the hop-on-hop-off tourist buses just up the street, which are a really convenient way to get a nice overview of the city and to get decent transportation if you don't want to mess with the subway or cabs. It was slightly loud at night, but we happened to be there the weekend of the double papal canonization, so I couldn't judge how it would be on an average evening.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:20 AM on March 5, 2015

We did a trip through Greece, and stayed too long in Athens. I could have done a full day in Athens and then headed out to the islands in a heartbeat. We loved Naxos -- nice and laid back, with nice quiet beaches. Santorini is worth a stop -- it's as beautiful as all of the photos suggest -- but a couple of days (and sunsets) there would be plenty. I wish we would have spent more time in Crete; the little bit we saw was gorgeous and left us wanting more.

Seconding the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome. So long as you can read a map (well), lots of Rome is close together and walkable.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody, these are all priceless.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 12:09 PM on March 5, 2015

Nthing Trastevere in Rome.

For Greek Islands, my wife and I spent some time on Crete (Chania and Heraklion) and Santarini. Crete was amazing and felt way more relaxed, though you really need a car to get beyond the towns. Beautiful empty beaches and interesting villages. We stayed here (http://www.madonnastudios.gr/) in Chania and really loved it. Santarini really is amazing, but defiantly feels more touristy.
posted by bajema at 3:18 PM on March 5, 2015

Trastevere in Rome is lovely, but I think our best Roman Holiday was in an apartment near the Campo di Fiori. It was so central to just about everything, including Trastevere. (We have been in Rome every Christmas for years and years).
I agree you don't need a whole week for Florence if you have pre-booked museum visits etc. But maybe you could spend a couple of days in Siena? Really a lovely town surrounded by beautiful landscapes.

There is so much to see and experience in Greece off the beaten track, and it is a country where you really need to stay at a distance from the main tourist destinations - the lesser known places are amazing and the tourist traps are horrible. Several of my friends share a house in Lesbos, I haven't visited yet, but from their pictures and accounts, I get the impression it is really wonderful.
posted by mumimor at 3:39 PM on March 5, 2015

I stayed here in Rome. Cross-pollinate has some other apartments in Trastevere and in Florence, and booking through them is very easy.

I also stayed across the river in Florence. I won't recommend the specific apartment, because it was a basement with no windows, but it was quite a nice area.

Check out the late opening options of museums etc in Rome and Florence. They are often much quieter.
posted by kjs4 at 3:43 PM on March 5, 2015

Here's the exact apartment we stayed in. It's a two bedroom two bath, so maybe a bit more than you need for a honeymoon, but it was really nice.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:42 AM on March 6, 2015

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