First time in Greece – 12 nights

I have always thought of myself as an independent and organised traveller. For my trip to Greece, I didn’t plan much, except in figuring out the general routes. I wanted to experience traveling like hippies. But this is not my style.

It turned out that it was more expensive to purchase ferry tickets and hotels on the go. And it was very stressful to figure out how to go from one place to the other. We spent two nights in Athensthree nights in Santorinitwo nights in Naxostwo nights in Paros, and three nights in Nafplio. On our last day, we took early bus from Nafplio to Athens, stored our luggage, and explored Athens for the last few hours.

ATHENS

Staying at a hotel next to Monastiraki station is the best choice. Monastiraki neighbourhood is near to many iconic landmarks, restaurants, flea markets, and direct metro to and from Athens airport, and Piraeus Port for island hopping.

Monastiraki Square is lively and provide a very nice experience. I love hanging out in Monastiraki and Plaka, and soaking in the ambience. Athens streets are picturesque, full of graffiti, with views of every day life accompanying by soothing Greek music in the background.

We climbed the Acropolis hill and had our first view of the Parthenon, the iconic temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. Once we’re done with the sacred rock, we headed to the Acropolis Museum before stopping for a lunch-Greek style.

We visited Syntagma Square to see the changing of the guard in front of the House of Parliament. It was rather unique. Their uniforms and movements were so interesting and they have the greatest tassels on their shoes.

 

In the evening, we went to Mount Lycabettus to enjoy the sunset and panaromic view at the top of the hill. Indeed it was beautiful.

During our last day in Greece, it happens to be a Sunday where Athens flea market is opened. We visited the bustling and quaint market and have a late lunch accompanied by live Greek music.

SANTORINI

As soon as I arrived Santorini by ferry, I was overwhelmed by it’s beauty. I was in awe. Everything about this place is stunning.

From Santorini port, we took a bus to Fira, and changed another bus to Oia. Oia is a charming, bustling village and has plenty of exciting places to dine. We witnessed the beautiful sun set over the caldera as the town literally lights up into wonderful shades.

 

Oia village is the most popular spot for sunsets, and we were happy with our choice of stay. We wandered at the boulevard at anytime of the day and able to take good pictures without any other people in the frame.

During our stay, we rented a car and explore the island. We visited the ancient Akrotiri, Pyrgos, Emporio, Ancient Thira, Kamari Beach, and Perissa Beach.

 

As we were short of time, we didn’t complete the full trail to Ancient Thira. It was worth the hike up to the top of the hill to see the ancient ruins and the entire island from a bird’s eye view.

We were fortunate to experience Easter in Pyrgos village. The prayers, chanting, and the lightings were spectacular. The entire village glows ablaze, it is a true magical sight not to be missed.

NAXOS

The first thing we noticed when we arrived Naxos is the unfinished Temple of Apollo (also known as Portara), that has become the postcard for Naxos. The view was amazing especially as the sun goes down between the columns.

We were looking for our place of stay, but got confused with the little alleys. Greek people are warm, friendly and eager to help. The lady walked with us to our destination, we were so grateful.

I rated Pension Irene as the best value for money accommodation we had in Greece. It really is such a great place to stay! The rooms include a kitchenette with a mini fridge, stove top, and kettle. The location is ideal and the host is wonderful.

 

We rented a car and enjoyed wandering around the island. Naxos is a big island in the heart of Aegean sea. A very interesting place that we can experience variable activities. One needs at the minimum three nights to explore, and we had only two.

The church of Ayios Nikolaos is peculiar and the surrounding environment is full of nature. We also visited Halki, Apiranthos, Filoti, Koronos and Koronida.

PAROS

Upon arrival at the port, we couldn’t find our hotel host. It turned out that Andreas has waited for us the previous midnight,  mixing up the ‘am/pm’ as they use 24 hours time format in Greece. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our stay at La Sellini.

Parikia is the main village and it was wonderful. It has everything; shopping, eateries, bars, castle, beaches, and lovely locals who go out of their way to make you feel welcome and special.

We rented a car and drive around the entire island. We wandered through beautiful traditional villages like Naoussa. Naoussa is a charming and colourful village, where the ruins of a Venetian fortress stand at the entrance to its beautiful small harbor.

 

Lefkes is a quaint village in the middle of the island with lots of little nooks and crannys. The Byzantine church is beautiful with a breathtaking views of the sea.

The island itself has some nice beaches with sand and clear blue waters, some great mountain and sea experiences.

NAFPLIO

Upon reaching Piraeus port, we bought bus ticket at the Nafplio ticket desk (across the road), crossing back, and took bus 420 to Kiffisos bus terminal. From there, we took a bus to Nafplio.

Located in the eastern Peloponnese, Nafplio is a seaport town with it picturesque bougainvillea streets and lovely sunny squares. We are forever thankful that a friend, Gio, is kind enough to let us stay at his cozy and beautiful place near the main square.

While we can take taxi to Palamidi fortress, we enjoyed the climb up to 999 steps. The views were spectacular and we had plenty of stops along the way to catch our breath and taking pictures. The site provides a great vista to see the surrounding area and other castle ruins dotting the neighboring hills. It gives you the sense of what it was like to live in those times.

On Saturday, we visited farmers’ market that stretches from Kyprou Street to Martiou Avenue. There were plenty of fresh fish, vegetables, cheeses, fruits and daily stuff. We paid €1 for 3 kg of oranges! Maybe the old lady likes us or just wanted to clear her produce. Whatever it is, the oranges that came straight from her farm were sweet and juicy.

 

On one of the evening, we visited Bourtzi, another fortress on an islet west of the old town. The boat sails along the coast and we enjoyed the beautiful view of the sunset. We also enjoyed relaxing at the lovely Aarvanitia beach with white pebbles and aqua water. The view was spectacular.

 

We encountered some greatest food moment while in Greece. We enjoyed the food at Lotza, Oia – Santorini, Relax Pizzeria at Naxos overlooking the port, and Bairaktaris Tarvena at Monastiraki Square in Athens.

Relax Pizzeria at Naxos. What a view!

Greece has many islands to discover, and is a fantastic country to visit all the year through. This country has plenty to offer and we truly enjoyed the picture-perfect scenery, fascinating culture, the friendly people and cats, and the food.

 

SUGGESTIONS AND TIPS:

  • Be sure to plan ahead – plan and book early.
  • Purchase ferry tickets online. The tickets were sold out fast even in the month of April. Blue Star Ferries – www.bluestarferries.com
  • Stay in Oia for an exclusive view to the sunset, comfort and serenity.
  • Rent a scooter or car to explore the villages. Like everywhere else, we suggest you to take pictures and videos of the vehicle before signing the dotted lines. In Santorini, they wanted to charge us for a small dent on the car, which we seriously did not commit.
  • Travelling between the main towns is easy on the comprehensive KTEL bus network – www.e-ktel.com
  • Do not flush toilet paper.
  • Be culturally sensitive – bring scarf to cover shoulders when visiting holy places.

ACCOMMODATION:

ATHENS           2 Nights Accommodation: Cecil Hotel Athens www.cecilhotel.gr

SANTORINI      3 Nights Accommodation: Pension The Flower http://flower-santorini.com

NAXOS             2 Nights Accommodation: Pension Irene II https://irenenaxos.com/home-2/

PAROS             2 Nights Accommodation: La Sellini http://laselini.com

 

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