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So I'm planning a trip to Greece this summer. I know Santorini is a definite. Other than that I am torn about where to go. I do not want any islands that are super touristy and have cruise ships (aside from santorini)- I much prefer a more authentic experience with nice water to swim and interesting/beautiful scenery/great food. I'm not sure how many to visit, for how long and which to take day trips to. I figure the trip will be 10-12 days. Help! (also any food/hotel recs welcome!!) So appreciate it.
Milos. We are actually going there again this summer. Beautiful beaches, far less touristic, reasonable prices and great food. If you decide to get there, don't miss the nearby island of Kimolos, only a short ferry hop from the fishing village of Pollonia. From Piraeus, Milos is 3 hours by catamaran. When we visit Milos, we stay at Kostantakis Studios in Pollonia.
If Santorini is a definite place then I'd suggest to research the ferry options from Santorini to nearby islands. Ios is a less touristy island near Santorini. If I remember well Santorini also has connections to Paros and Naxos
If it can be of any help I've a couple of guides on my blog about which island is "ideal" for you and how to get around the islands
Having visited last summer I found both Santorini and Mykonos extremely touristy and full of cruise ship passengers. What I did enjoy with Mykonos is that you can catch the ferry over and spend the day on Delos. This is still an active archeological dig so you can only do this day trip but a great way to spend the day. It is an incredible island and not a lot of people on it. For an authentic experience I would suggest Samos. Very quiet, nice village with cafes right on the ocean. Really loved this place. Also spent some time in Crete and found it to have the original flavor I was looking for without the crowds. As for food I can honestly say you can't go wrong anywhere, we did not have a bad meal anywhere. Some of my favorites are the meatballs, never had one like they make them in Greece, not even an authentic Greek restaurant stateside. Another appetizer we loved was a cheese wrapped in filo, baked with sesame seeds and honey drizzled over, YUM! This in addition to one of my favorites, saginaki (sp?).
I'll second Crete! It's my favorite island so far. When I went I took a high-speed ferry from Santorini to Crete, (Heraklion), and first stayed in Heraklion for a night to go visit the archaeological museum and the Knossos palace site. After that I rented a car and drove to Chania where I spent most of a week. Chania has an airport, so it was easy to fly back to Athens afterwards. Old town with it's Venetian harbor is beautiful, and there were lots of great restaurants in the city; we ate very well! If you search for Western Crete beaches you'll see why spending a week on that side of the island was way too easy :) My favorite beach was Balos lagoon, even though it was about a 40 minute drive it was gorgeous and totally worth the time spent getting there!
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It can only be reached by ferry, it's a small island with just three villages. There are only a couple of hotels, the rest are SC villas and apartments. The food is traditional Greek everywhere you go and very authentic.
But shhhhhhh Don't tell everyone about it, it's a quiet place and we kinda like it that way :)