Travel Tips – Greece
Greek Islands – Santorini, Paros, Antiparos, Mykonos
- Eff-hart-isto = thank you
- Don’t drink the tap water – it is just filtered seawater.
- Gratuities: Tip – 5-10 % at meals. Make sure the tip isn’t already included on the bill. $1e per day for hotel room cleaning and $1e per bag for bellman.
The food is outstanding: greek yogurt and honey; greek salads of cucumber, tomatoes, onions, olives with feta every meal including breakfast; eggplant dishes; Greek fish; cheese pie; spinach pie; Santorini special cherry tomatoes. Paros: stuffed grape leaves with pine nuts, raisins, carrots, rice; baklava; grilled squid and octopus. Breakfasts are included with hotels; Lunches (after 2:30 pm) and dinners (after 8:30 pm) are late.
Assyrtiko (the varietal) wine – Ask for dry, white wine from the region. Dessert wine. After dinner digestivo shot: mistika (?); some amaretto tasting shot with an ice cube (?); ouzo.
Book ferries online at direct ferries.com. You have to get the ferry tickets printed at the ferry company stores found in the towns or at the ports. General admission tix are fine. Try to get the fastest direct ferries (with no stops). Arrive to the ferry boarding no more than 20-30 minutes prior, as all of our ferries were 20 minutes to an hour late for departure. We tried and tested — and there is no need to stand in the long lines waiting to board the ferry, cattle herd style. Just get in line from the side when the ferry arrives and the line starts moving. You get the same seats either way – there are plenty of seats. We carried our luggage with us on the ferry – (but you can check it at the bottom when you board — it just takes longer when you are getting off, and it seemed a tad risky.) We preferred the smaller ferries run by Seajets to the large Blue Star Ferries with several stops. There is food, bathrooms and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating available on the ferries.
ITINERARY-5 nights in Greek Islands:
Recommended: 1-2 nights maximum Santorini; 2 nights Paros; 3 nights Mykonos (+ 1 night plane travel coming from the US; + 1 night layover in Athens or Rome flying home.)
Taxis from JTR airport to Oia are $35 euro or arrange a hotel transfer which is cheaper.
ACTIVITIES – SANTORINI:
- Hike Oia to Fira
- Do other hikes listed in NY Times article with a local guide
- Ancient ruins at Akrotiri
- Red Beach
HIKE – SANTORINI:
Caldera hike: 6-9 miles (depending upon where you start in Oia), sea-facing route from Oia to Fira.
Start early: 9 AM-10 AM. Bring water and wear cool clothing and hiking or running shoes. Walk through the town of Oia on the path and occasionally the path veers off and turns into the road. Just keep the seaside on your right the whole way. Once through town, go past the water treatment plant in a parking lot and you are back on the trail. Then you pass a church up on a hill, a roadside snack bar, pathway overlooks (which take you off the trail for a few steps), 2 small towns: Firostefani — and then through Imerovigli — a cute town with nice restaurants / bars if you want to stop for a drink or lunch, as restaurants here look nicer than in Fira. The path gets busier, more urban as you approach Fira. Fira is super-crowded and tight with all of the cruise people. The shops are all really tacky and touristy. There is a long line to take the tram. I spent little time here. Take the #31 bus for $3 euro back to Oia. On the main road “25”: There are some good, recommended quick dine gyros places on the right side as you walk down to the bus station on the left. For a nice lunch in Fira – make a reservation at Argo.
Sunset in Oia is a big gathering and popular activity. Serious crowds walk en masse in the tight lane ways and gather at the end of the main pathway in town above the old castle. There is one small restaurant at this tiny point. Go to the old castle at the point (if you can side track the masses in town) early with your own bottle of wine or sit on one of the rooftop decks overlooking the point an hour before sunset at 6:45 pm on October 5. Rooftop bar recommendation: Tramonto – has a full view of the sunset, but not of the point or old castle.
- Apithia – Traditional Greek food. Best view! Reasonably priced, great service. For dessert, the restaurant upstairs Thalami.
- Thalami – upstairs Tavern with really good Baclava and Assyrtiko – best baclava and wine I had in Oia and it is the most casual / cheap place I went!
- Ambrosia – Elegant, amazing food. Make a reservation. Reasonable for such a romantic, refined dining. Sit outside — if a table isn’t ready outside, tell them you will come back in 20 minutes. Cheese pie appetizer. Greek fish.
- Metaximas – Best food we are all of the trip! Amazing views sitting on a hill overlooking vineyards and the sea. Pomegranate Salad. Cheese pie with Blackberry sauce. Special meatballs, pits, tzazeeki. This Taverna is situated in the middle of the island. Good to go to when flying in or out (or on one of the hikes mentioned in NY Times article.)
HOTELS in OIA:
- Canaves Oia Hotel
- Alexandro’s Boutique Hotel
- Captain’s House
- Avoid: Atlantida Villas
Avoid arrival port town of Parikia and taxi straight to Naoussa. Naoussa: great shops, restaurants, town square and port. Paros had the best shops and most quaint village of our whole trip!
Sommaripa – overlooking the cute town square and port. Ask for Mano and Flora! There are lots of cute bars in this town.
- Dinner at authentic Greek favorites: Stethoros – say “hi” to Jiannis.
- Palai Agora (not in Google) for our favorite authentic Greek tapas dinner: Eggplant; meatballs.
HOTEL-PAROS: Hotel Senia, Naoussa, Paros
- Rent bikes – 3 miles to Santa Maria – gorgeous beaches.
- Rent bikes – 3 miles to Kholimbres beach; Monasteri beach is a bit further.
- Daytrip to Antiparos
From Paros take a taxi to Punda port (not Punda beach) and catch a 6 minute ferry to AntiParos; Pay onboard $1 euro each/each way (no round trip tickets.) Arrive in the port town and find a taxi ($20e) to Ag. Georgio Beach / Pippino restaurant. Walk along the coast to the right towards the little blue church and beyond. Swim in the secluded bays. Ask about a water taxi to the water caves (it was too windy when we went – no boats were going out.) We passed Tom Hanks’ house on the way to the beach from the port, facing Paros.
All the locals recommend Pippino’s for lunch. Have the restaurant call a taxi back to the port for your ferry back to Paros. If you take a :15 ferry it will link with a Paros bus — if not, arrange beforehand a taxi to meet you back in Punda for pick up.
LATE LUNCHES & BEACH ACTIVITIES-MYKONOS:
- Kiki’s – just above Agios Sostis Beach. There are no reservations you show up and wait outside (there are complimentary boxes of rose and water as you wait overlooking a beautiful little beach – Ag. Sostis.)
- Nammos (see and be seen seafood restaurant) -Psarou Beach
- Panoromos – Beach (and club)
- SantAnna Beach – Sigalia – great fish restaurant next to Santa Anna beach. Ask for Constantinos to look after you (Tony Lawson)
- Spend day at Santa Marina spa and pool;
- Hippie Fish -on the beach (next to Anax hotel)
- Buddha Bar (Saturday-club)
- Scorpio (Sunday-club)
- Ftelia Beach
- Avoid: Paradise Beach
- Windmills; & Little Venice is the cool town – near ferry/old port.
- Lookout Monastery
- For sailing: www.MykonosCatamaran.com
- Island across from Mykonos – you can go “earthing”
DINING / RESTAURANTS-MYKONOS:
- Avra – in old port laneways
- Kazarma – seaside in old port
- Jimmy’s Gyros – fast food gyros/souvlaki pork and chicken in old port laneways.
- Sunset from Anax Hotel pool bar or beach.
- Sunset from Hippie Fish.
- Sunset from Little Venice from the Veranda Bar.