Question: Is it worth taking the evening ferry on the 4th Sep to Crete (Heraklion) from Santorini, then the bus onto Chania so that we can do the Samaria Gorge on the 5th? Spending the full day in Chania on the 6th and taking the last flight out of Chania that night back to Athens? (or do you think this is trying to squeeze in too much in too little time)?
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They’re all great choices. Athens (1 to 2 full days) is great for historical sightseeing. Mykonos for beaches and nightlife (2 to 4 days). Crete for historical sightseeing, greek culture and towns, some beaches but spread out (4 to 7 days). Santorini has great sightseeing, tours, and some history (4 to 7 days). If visiting outside of June to September then drop Mykonos and do the other 3 for sure.
The Ionian Islands are a quite different entity to the more familiar Aegean islands. There are in effect only seven of them plus a sprinkling of satellite islands that make for a very enjoyable package. They are different from the point of view of flora – they are greener and less barren than their Aegean cousins and they share a different history to the rest of Greece and the other islands, having absorbed much Venetian and Italian influences over the years. This is particularly apparent in the Old Town of Corfu where you could be forgiven for thinking you might be somewhere in Italy. 

A throwback to a gentler, slower, more elemental way of life, Astypalea is surprisingly easy to get to (daily one-hour flights from Athens). Every gap in the burnished hills frames a different view of Hora, cascading from the Venetian castle to seaside Skala. The scent of saffron biscuits wafts through the whitewashed lanes. Tucked beneath the battlements, Castro bar has a magical terrace that seems to float above the archipelago.
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Tinos is only 15 minutes from Mykonos, so it's a wonder it isn't overrun with tourists. The harbour is swarmed on 15 August, however, when Orthodox pilgrims flock here to kiss the icons at Panagia Evangelistria monastery, one of the holiest sites in Greece. Otherwise, the island is miraculously untouched. Solitary chapels and whimsical dovecotes stud thyme-scented hills, dropping to sandy bays whipped by the meltemi wind. There's a nascent surfer scene on Kolibithra bay, where a VW camper van has been converted into a cute beach bar.
Excellent choice of islands, though getting between them presents one or two challenges (they are not as conveniently connected like the Cycladic or Dodecanese islands so island hopping is not as popular in this island group). All three islands are served by airports with year-round connections to Athens and in the Summer with international charter flights from Europe. Let’s take the pros and cons of each island. 

Great list Matt! Indeed, there obviously there are some spots on this globe I have to visit. Can confirm the Maldives though. Has changed over time, but then again, the first time they were still “exploring” their “tourist economy” potential. Been there twice now and although definitely more crowded still holds its appeal. Be prepared for culture shock though. If you return to the “civilised world” you will wonder about the rest of the grubby world and catch yourself day dreaming regularly. 😉
You seem to have your heart set on Zakynthos but I have to say it’s not a good use of time for a sort-of overrated payoff. Your time is much better spent (in my opinion) seeing another Greek island in the cyclades (maybe taking a ferry to Naxos or Paros sitting outside on the deck drinking a bottle of wine) rather than taking a bus and connecting flights. Zakynthos and Santorini/Mykonos are on opposite sides of the country and the only way from one to the other is by flying (or some combination of bus and ferry). So, my recommendation is to consider spending those Zakynthos days in Naxos, Paros, Milos, or some other Cycladic island.
The mountainous interior, all sleepy stone villages poking out of pine forests, is great for hikes and bikes. (Eco Zante can arrange outdoor activities guided by insiders.) Askos Stone Park is a wildlife sanctuary inhabited by deer, chinchilla, and dozens of other species. After exploring the Venetian castle high above the harbour, treat the kids to thin-crust pizzas (with grown-up toppings like bresaola, aubergine, and gorgonzola) at Alesta on cute St Mark's Square.
Tinos is only 15 minutes from Mykonos, so it's a wonder it isn't overrun with tourists. The harbour is swarmed on 15 August, however, when Orthodox pilgrims flock here to kiss the icons at Panagia Evangelistria monastery, one of the holiest sites in Greece. Otherwise, the island is miraculously untouched. Solitary chapels and whimsical dovecotes stud thyme-scented hills, dropping to sandy bays whipped by the meltemi wind. There's a nascent surfer scene on Kolibithra bay, where a VW camper van has been converted into a cute beach bar.

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If the glitzy excess gets too much, escape to Fokos taverna for superfood salads and lamb chops, or Kiki's, an off-grid grill-shack overlooking Agios Sostis bay, where even Naomi Campbell has to queue for a table. Or cruise over to the tiny island of Delos, an archaeological sanctuary that once thronged with 30,000 sun worshippers (the temple is dedicated to Apollo, the Greek god of light).

We would love your help, we are a party of four 50 plus adults from Australia and never have been too the Greek Island. We’re not sure whether we should be going to naxos or paros , we are there for 4 days and not sure whether just to stay on one island and ferry to the other and if you think possible even a day trip to santorini. Our priorities are culture and history, swimming in beautiful beaches, beautiful views, nice towns, and food and drink. We’re not interested in clubbing at all, but more laid-back late night bars definitely appeal. This will be our one big holiday this year as we will be celebrating my 50th birthday while there so want it too be special.


Take everything you want Greece to be — olive groves and tavernas, fishermen and bakers leading quiet village lives, stone villas and cypress trees and brilliant bougainvillea — and put it on a tiny, Ionian island only reachable by boat: That’s Paxos. On the western coast, sheer cliffs, rock arches and 40 sea caves put on a stunning show. Daytrip to the neighboring island of Antipaxos for powder sand and water so aqua, it rivals the Caribbean Sea.

Budgeting for Greece is always going to be subject to what your expectations and needs are. Assuming that you, like many travellers, like to eat a filling breakfast, savour maybe a light lunch and feast on a heavier dinner (or vice versa), enjoy a drink with your meals and are not totally vegetarian/vegan and prefer to sleep in comfort and cleanliness, then there is a set of figures that can be guesstimated.
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