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Greek Islands Recommendation

Greek Islands Recommendation

Old Apr 26, 19, 11:35 am
  #1  
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Greek Islands Recommendation

Hi All,

We have some A3 miles to burn and thought we would do a vacation on a Greek island in Autumn half term (26 Oct to 2 Nov). We want to rent a villa when we're there. We will have 2 x 3.5 year old and 1 x 5 year old in tow, plus my mother (68) and step-father (69) who are both fit and mobile. We're not looking for a 100% beach holiday and there should be a bit of stuff to keep the kids entertained. We also love good local food and architecture. We don't speak Greek but are willing to give it a go.

Any advice welcomed. Rob

Last edited by roberino; Apr 26, 19 at 11:42 am
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Old Apr 26, 19, 12:13 pm
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
Hi All,

We have some A3 miles to burn and thought we would do a vacation on a Greek island in Autumn half term (26 Oct to 2 Nov). We want to rent a villa when we're there. We will have 2 x 3.5 year old and 1 x 5 year old in tow, plus my mother (68) and step-father (69) who are both fit and mobile. We're not looking for a 100% beach holiday and there should be a bit of stuff to keep the kids entertained. We also love good local food and architecture. We don't speak Greek but are willing to give it a go.

Any advice welcomed. Rob
It's not clear how you're exactly looking to spend your time with that family group. Or your style of travel.
But, I'll suggest Crete, because it will suit anything. It has terrific archaeological sites and museums, great beaches, superior hiking, really charming Venetian cities, and lots of unspoiled villages where you can still experience the Greek island culture before the advent of mass tourism.
If you're more interested in the classic Cyclades style island, let me recommend Naxos, as a family alternative to the way popular Mykonos and Santorini (which you can visit on day trips by ferry if you choose).
Once you decide on a destination island, and the things you want to do, come back and you'll get some great specific recommendations. There are some real experts on the islands on FT.
Last note, Greeks are familiar with the old expression "it's Greek to me" and understand their language isn't easy to speak, nor commonly understood. Learn the 20 common phrases and you'll be rewarded. But ime even that's not expected.

Last edited by rickg523; Apr 26, 19 at 12:59 pm
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Old Apr 26, 19, 7:11 pm
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I do agree that Crete and Naxos are two of the many good choices, and I would also avoid the "in" islands (add Ios and Spetses to the two mentionned by rickg523). But, as suggested, it really depends on what one wants to do during this vacation. I've spent a few (or many) days on about 30 inhabited and another ~10 non-inhabited ones (the latter were ages ago, when I was young), and I've only been disappointed by one (that was in 1972, though). So, let us know what you "need" and I'll suggest a few of the ones I've been to.
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Old Apr 26, 19, 7:39 pm
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Just got back from two weeks on Crete. Mostly the eastern side.....beautiful, magic, great food, some lifetime memorable experiences. A small inn at the farthest point of eastern Crete in a tiny town called Kato Zakros was so wonderful...that we ( my husband and our two travel companions) will never forget it.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 6:36 am
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
Hi All,

We have some A3 miles to burn and thought we would do a vacation on a Greek island in Autumn half term (26 Oct to 2 Nov). We want to rent a villa when we're there. We will have 2 x 3.5 year old and 1 x 5 year old in tow, plus my mother (68) and step-father (69) who are both fit and mobile. We're not looking for a 100% beach holiday and there should be a bit of stuff to keep the kids entertained. We also love good local food and architecture. We don't speak Greek but are willing to give it a go.

Any advice welcomed. Rob
well Crete is the obvious choice for great weather and family activity
traveling with 3 small kids to Naxos, Paros, Mykonos or Santorini can get uncomfortable if the weather gets windy and cold, thatís very common at the end of October for Cyclades islands.
i live in Paros and if I want to get the last good summer days in autumn I would go to Crete myself
The city of Chania is great, avoid Heraklion if you can
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Old Apr 27, 19, 11:42 am
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It's sounding like Crete is a good choice! Flights aren't too expensive either. Any good recommendations for a villa to stay in? Or locations?
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Old Apr 27, 19, 12:43 pm
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
It's sounding like Crete is a good choice! Flights aren't too expensive either. Any good recommendations for a villa to stay in? Or locations?
Lots of Airbnb's on the island. All of Crete is great (mountains, beaches, food, etc.) and October is usually fine, i.e. about a 20% chance of a storm not lasting more than 3-4 days. I prefer the western part of the island and, indeed, Chania is much more beautifil than Heraklion. That is sort of ugly but lots of things to see and do, and closer to the Eastern part, which is also very nice. Kato Zakros (see post #4 ) is one of my wife's favorite spots for relaxation (not mine ), but if you decide to go there do get a few books with you: hiking, swimming, eating and nothing else to do...
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Old Apr 27, 19, 1:16 pm
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Originally Posted by jannosk View Post

well Crete is the obvious choice for great weather and family activity
traveling with 3 small kids to Naxos, Paros, Mykonos or Santorini can get uncomfortable if the weather gets windy and cold, thatís very common at the end of October for Cyclades islands.
i live in Paros and if I want to get the last good summer days in autumn I would go to Crete myself
The city of Chania is great, avoid Heraklion if you can
I lived in Chania in the 1970's and revisited last year. I found it surprisingly quite touristic. The old Venetian Harbor seemed a tourist trap, complete with guys hawking the over priced restaurants. The ferries used to dock there (Souda was strictly a Naval Base). And it was just a charming old town.
For me, because of the comparison over time, I wasn't that thrilled.
But I found that Rethymnon, truly a backwater in the 70's, is now quite charming in the Old Town, more like my memories of old Chania. The people that you'll generally meet as a visitor are less inured to tourism and less, shall we say, mercenary
Just to be clear, this is a comparison of the two cities. In no way, an absolute judgement. In terms of tourism, neither city is comparable to Santorini or Mykonos or Rhodes by any means. I'm only saying that of the two Venetian cities, I prefer the smaller, less easily accessible thus less visited Rethymnon.
Heraklion is a working city, not really touristic or very charming. But it has a fantastic Archaeological Museum featuring Minoan Crete. And if it's your first trip to Crete, you should go to Knossos.
But Crete is big. It takes a couple of hours non-stop driving to get from Chania to Heraklion. So you have to plan your itinerary.
I think of Crete as having five distinct areas to visit.
- Eastern Crete has luxury resorts around Elounda.
- The Southern coast has fantastic warm beaches and amazing hiking in the many gorges (including Samaria Gorge - World Heritage site).
- Minoan Crete, centered around Heraklion.
- Venetian Crete, Chania and Rethymnon.
- The (still) Wild West, mostly undeveloped and the best chance to get to see traditional Crete, if you get to isolated villages off the main roads.
Just researching Crete and planning an itinerary can be extremely beguiling. You can't see it all, don't try. I didn't see it all even though I lived there for 15 months.
No matter what your choices (other than spending too much time in Heraklion), you can't step wrong.

Last edited by rickg523; Apr 27, 19 at 1:23 pm
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Old Apr 27, 19, 1:48 pm
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So would anyone recommend staying in between Heraklion and Chania? Or should I push more toward the ends of the island?
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Old Apr 27, 19, 2:01 pm
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
So would anyone recommend staying in between Heraklion and Chania? Or should I push more toward the ends of the island?
Between Chania and Heraklion, it's easily Chania. By miles . Other areas are really dependant on what you plan on doing while in Crete. With the little ones and your folks, I'd look at Chania, Rethymnon, or Elounda. You'll have enough infrastructure to accommodate all ages. The more rural areas then can be visited on day trips.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 2:19 pm
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Rethymnon is looking like a winner.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 3:28 pm
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
Rethymnon is looking like a winner.
It's location, sort of midway between, allows day trips by car to both Heraklion and Chania. There's no airport and much more limited ferry schedules than the other two cities (which keeps it less visited). So you might end up starting in Heraklion or Chania. We stayed in Heraklion for two days when we first arrived in Crete and visited the Museum and Knossos. The rented the car to drive on to Rethymnon.

There are two hotels in the heart Old Town Rethymnon on the little street that leads to the Neratze Minaret. Because of this location, commercial development is limited in this street and it feels - and sounds - like a real neighborhood.
Minares Traditional Houses consists of three nicely renovated serviced apartments. This is where we stayed last year. Dimitra, the proprietor, is wonderful. Speaks some English.
​​​​​Minares Houses - Rethymno Creta , Traditional rooms and suites.​​​​​
We didn't spend much time in our apartment, but with your family group, you'll probably need to consider the creature comforts, so...
A more upscale choice is Rimondi Boutique Hotel. We didn't stay there, as our travel style is more in line with the Minares Traditional Houses. So other than location, I can't really comment.
Rimondi Luxury Boutique hotel in Crete Rethymno
Besides these there are many other choices to explore in Old Town. Rethymnon also has a long (4 km?) public beach outside of the Old Town lined with dozens of modern hotels as well.


If you should opt, instead, for Chania, try to stay just behind the harbor in the Old Town. Casa Delfino is one of many choices.
https://www.casadelfino.com​​​​​​
But watch out for some of the smaller independent hotels in Chania. They can look charming outside, but the rooms can be pretty bleak (this of course applies anywhere).
Have fun!
​​​​​
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Last edited by rickg523; Apr 27, 19 at 3:39 pm
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Old Apr 28, 19, 1:26 am
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Originally Posted by roberino View Post
So would anyone recommend staying in between Heraklion and Chania? Or should I push more toward the ends of the island?
my preference is the west side of Crete near Chania
that's because you are 5 to 15 km away from an amazing beach and i love to spend my day with water sports or swimming
the food also is amazing in the many small villages around this area, you will need to rent a car
the country side around Chania is amazing
Rethymnon is nice for a day visit in my opinion
I wouldnt stay there with Kids , I would stay close to a beach so they could be happy and not bored

If i had 3 small kids i would never go to Heraklion for the museums, archaeological sightseeing is usually for kids older the 6 or 7
Airbnb has amazing offers for villas and you can also book great hotels from a british travel agency
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