"A trip round the Cyclades in low season" Top 5 Page for this destination Prefecture of the Cyclades by Joe_Atiyah
Prefecture of the Cyclades Travel Guide: 3,954 reviews and 12,263 photos
This is a record of a trip round the Cyclades from the 7th May to 9th June 2003.
I am nearly 60, my wife is a little younger. We like swimming, eating, walking round town and along waterfronts. We also like a reasonable degree of comfort.
So the comments here will be relevant to those who are looking for something similar, and who are travelling in low season. In peak time, things are very different.
We visited Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Santorini, Sifnos, and Paros again.
Its hard to pick our favourite – each island has something to offer, but we both liked Paros. It has a good combination of old town, waterfront, inland scenery, beaches and fishing ports; it also has good links to other islands.
We have been to Greek islands before (Poros, Corfu, Skiathos, Crete), but never island hopping. We thought it might be difficult to manage the ferries, buses, hotels etc, and so travelled light with a small trolley case each. In fact, it was much easier than we expected. Ferries ran on time, buses meet the ferries, hotels are in walking distance from the ferry terminal (and others have hotel buses to pick you up from the ferry). Of course the whole island system revolves around the ferries, buses and foot passengers – not many people go island hopping with a car.
It might have been different if the weather had turned, but we had no such problems – just a stiff wind at times. It was also easy because it was very quiet – at least to start with. Later on it got a little busier – especially Mykonos and Santorini.
May is definitely a good time to go – lots of room on ferries and hotels (and cheaper), lovely weather, spring flowers. I recommend it. You can go, as we did, without booking anything ahead. You can bargain for hotel prices – though we didn’t try much – they were so reasonable anyway.
Hotels We stayed mostly in C class, with a few B class. Standards have improved a lot over the past couple of years (partly the Olympic effect). Almost all hotels now have air con and fridges, but not coffee making equipment or hair dryers. Many had brand new beds and furniture. We found that we preferred hotels in the town so we could walk to tavernas, shops, and the waterfront. Some hotels have English books left by previous guests, but not many. Hotels will usually take you to the port when you leave if you ask.
Some hotel owners will be at the ferry terminals, but mostly room owners, and never the smart A/B class hotels. These people can be a nuisance at times, but I noticed that as things got busier, e.g. at Santorini, the port officials kept them at bay from the passengers. In the quiet islands like Andros and Sifnos this is not a problem – you may not see any.
The B class hotels, and some C class, will take credit cards, but the others cash only.
In B class hotels you will get fresh towels daily, in C class maybe twice per week.
Athens The bus from the airport to Rafina took only about 25 minutes, the ticket agency is close by, and you can be on the ferry from the airport in 30 minutes.
At the end of the trip we arrived in Athens on a Saturday – not a good idea since the hotels fill up, and are expensive compared with the islands. We opted for a bus from Piraeus to Omonia, but it was quite a long walk from the ferry – the metro would have been much closer. We stayed in the Plaka, and the first night we ended up in Nikis hotel – not to be recommended, though it did have air con. On the Sunday we moved into the Adonis – better – we had the ‘best room with Acropolis view’ (401) for €70 incl. Breakfast. The view was somewhat reduced by the roof of the building opposite, but you could see the Acropolis. The bathroom must have been the smallest I’ve ever seen, with a curious radiator about 3 inches wide.
The bus from Omonia to the airport took around one hour. You can buy tickets from a kiosk before getting on the bus.
Greek Drivers You must understand that it is forbidden for Greek drivers to have both hands on the steering wheel. One hand must always be free for eating, drinking, gesticulating, or – mostly – for the mobile phone. On no account must it be placed on the steering wheel. This particularly applies to bus drivers while traversing hair pin bends on mountainous routes. Just shut your eyes, or look firmly out of the window.
The horn, you realise, is not for warning other drivers or pedestrians, it is merely a device for saying hello to the numerous locals who are known to the driver.
Another thing to remember is that whenever two Greeks have a conversation, it sounds like an argument – even if they are just talking about the weather.
Internet Cafes are on all the islands we visited except Andros (?) – but Sifnos only had one, in Appolonia. Mykonos and Paros had loads. Typical rates are €1 for 15 minutes. ATMs are everywhere – we found it easier to use cash most of the time, as credit cards are not as widely accepted as in western Europe. In Kamares (Sifnos), there is only one ATM, and one day it refused to pay out any cash, so be warned.
Food is quite varied (though after 5 weeks somewhat repetitive) – Mezes, Greeks salad, Souvlaki, Stifado, Kleftico, Vegetables baked in oil, Pasta, Pizza. Have a Gyros €1.5 for a snack lunch – in the Cyclades these now come with chips in the pitta along with the pork, tzatziki and salad. The ubiquitous Greek Salad is also an excellent light lunch, and good value. They seem to be very fond of putting feta in everything here, in veal or lamb stews for example, which makes them rather rich. Try lamb in lemon sauce for a change. Fish was a disappointment – fresh grilled fish is sold by weight and is very expensive. You can get a reasonable grilled swordfish – but this will be frozen, as will any other cheap grilled fish, which are mostly best avoided. Set meals (the equivalent of the menu du jour or menu del dia) is uncommon, though we did find them in Naxos and Athens, and they were good value there. Local ice cream is good (e.g. Dodi’s) – try a Kaimaki.
Drink the house wine – ‘open wine’ as it is sometimes called; white is generally much better than red. Coffee is relatively expensive, but you can get a Greek coffee for €1 – or a double for €1.5.
- Pros:Beautiful, varied, cheap, great fun
- Cons:Can be windy
- In a nutshell:Go when you get the chance
Greek Drivers You must understand that it is forbidden for Greek drivers to have both hands on the steering wheel. One... more travel advice
Sifnos Was an interesting experience. We decided to stay in Kamares (the port), but hadn’t realised how small it was... more travel advice
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