Your thoughts on visiting Greece?
April 5, 2015 7:27 AM   Subscribe

When I go to Greece this summer, will I regret it if I don't visit one of the islands?

My friend is turning 50 this August and is celebrating by spending two weeks in Greece with a few friends, of which I am one. The invitation was to join the trip for all or any part of it. He's in charge of the itinerary, which is 9 days on the mainland, and then another 6 days on the island Milos. For various reasons, I'm leaning toward doing just the first part, on the mainland. But will I regret it if I go all that way and then don't visit one of the islands? In other words, will I experience the beauty and fabulousness of Greece if I just stay on the mainland?
posted by swheatie to Travel & Transportation around Greece (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I thought the islands were beautiful, but I don't know if I would have wanted to stay there the whole time. They run island tours out of Athens, where you go to a couple of islands over the course of the day and end up back in town. That might be a good compromise.
posted by Gneisskate at 7:30 AM on April 5, 2015

If you are the sort of person who will get out to Greece again in the near future, then skip the island and save it for another time. But if this is the sort of thing where you won't go back to greece for another 10 years, if ever, then at least take a weekend trip to an island. Greece is an island culture, and you will miss out on part of the essence of the country if you don't go. (All those pictures of small whitewashed houses with narrow walkways overlooking the water are on islands)

I have never been to Milos, though.
posted by deanc at 7:44 AM on April 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding deanc, who said exactly what I was going to say. I've only been to Greece once (and will probably not go back any time soon). My island memories from Greece are some of the best memories of my trip there.
posted by gudrun at 7:52 AM on April 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

A few years ago I had the opportunity to stay on Santorini for a few weeks and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, period. I also visited Athens, which was interesting, and of course it was remarkable to see the ruins, but at the same time Athens is also just a big city like many others.

But there was something about the island that almost felt like being in another world -- so magical. The light is different, the ocean actually seems eternal, the architecture feels too picturesque to be real, the food was glorious. The stars are crazy bright and when a storm comes you can see it for miles. And in my experience people tended to be more relaxed and friendly (and patient with foreigners who don't understand obvious things like how stores work).

I did not get a chance to visit any of the other islands when I was there and it's one of my biggest regrets. I still hope I'll have an opportunity to return and explore more widely.

So... I think you should go to Milos.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 8:12 AM on April 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Milos is very special, but 6 days is probably too long to spend there if you only have limited time. If possible, spend most of your time on the mainland and leave 3 days for Milos. Make sure you go sea kayaking in the caves (Google Sarakiniko!)and it will no doubt be the highlight of your trip.
posted by oxisos at 8:33 AM on April 5, 2015

More ideas, check your memail.
posted by oxisos at 10:56 AM on April 5, 2015

I went to Greece 15 years ago. All of my favorite moments were on the Islands. I love it there.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:12 AM on April 5, 2015

Nine days where in the mainland? Athens in August sounds hot and miserable, and I love cities - but there are other places in the mainland that sound great to me. It also might be less crowded with tourists than the islands.

I've only been to Samos and Mykonos. Both were so very different, and it sounds like Milos is different again - so even "going to the islands" doesn't mean one single thing.
posted by kanewai at 11:20 AM on April 5, 2015

Try to make it for whatever part of the trip goes to Delphi; that was probably our favorite major site that we visited.

Athens was.. essential to visit as it had several don't miss sites, but not as pleasant as the other places we visited within Greece. And the crime problems there were bad (~5 years ago, though I doubt they've gotten much better.) 3 out of the 12 people who were traveling together were robbed in Athens, one on the Metro, one pickpocketing somewhere at the Acropolis, and one jewelry-snatching where a guy darted out of an alley and grabbed at a small gold chain one of the women was wearing, breaking it and cutting her neck in the process.

I would advise trying to sample several regions if you can, and at least some time in the islands would be a good choice, especially in August.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:43 PM on April 5, 2015

I went to Greece and went so far as to look up the directions to go to an island. I never made it though because I was lazy and overheated and just wanted to sip cold drinks in dark caf├ęs.

I still regret it to this day.
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 7:05 PM on April 5, 2015

Another vote for going to Milos. My sister and I toured mainland Greece for a few weeks in the summertime, with a few days on Skopelos in the Cyclades. The island was really a highlight. If you live in the US, and do not have any special plans to visit Greece again, you should really do the complete trip in my opinion.
posted by BibiRose at 8:49 PM on April 5, 2015

Athens has always been a bad place for visitors - lots of interesting sites and history, but not a place you want to advise your parents to spend three days in. The islands are a much better bet - the farther away the better. Crete? Personally, I also love Northern Greece and Thessaloniki is my favorite cement Hell in the world.
posted by zaelic at 12:43 AM on April 6, 2015

Thanks, everyone. You've convinced me that I should include some time on Milos. I've gotten an updated itinerary from my friend. The plan is not to stay in Athens, but rather to drive to various sites: Sounion (temple of Poseidon), Delphi, and Nafplio. Given this, does that change anyone's feelings about the mainland? Are those sites amazingly cool, or is one pretty much like another, and I'd be fine missing one or two of them? Thanks, all!
posted by swheatie at 5:47 AM on April 6, 2015

Okay, I just made an executive decision. I think I'll skip the first two sites, join the group in Nafplio and then go on to Milos. Thanks for your help!
posted by swheatie at 6:09 AM on April 6, 2015

That sounds like an amazing trip! My own preference, if I were short of time for some reason and had to cut somewhere, would be to shave a couple of days off the Milos portion if at the end. I wouldn't want to skip a single thing altogether, and the logistics of joining up somewhere during the mainland trip would be cumbersome compared with just leaving Milos a bit early. This is respecting the fact that I don't know what your exact reason is for not wanting to do the whole thing. You may hate beaches or you may hate visiting historical sites or Mediterranean scenery may leave you cold. But if it's just time management I would sacrifice some of the island trip.

Also, joining up later you will have to navigate entering an unfamiliar country alone, with all the hiccups that may involve.
posted by BibiRose at 6:12 AM on April 6, 2015

Oh shoot. Our posts crossed. Well it will be great fun anyway. Nafplio is amazing!
posted by BibiRose at 6:14 AM on April 6, 2015

« Older Low on $$, need help deciding on doing nude...   |   Must-do, must-see New England activities for a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.