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We find late  September, early October great further south say in Crete.  In the more northerly islands and Italy it can be cooler and rainier.  This year Greece experienced a cyclone a week ago.  So as always YMMV

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Agree.  When we go to Greece we typically work north to south.  Not unusual for us to finish up in Crete.  This past fall we started in the north and in the ionian islands in Sept to early/mid October.  Cyprus in mid-late October-the weather was stunning!

Edited by iancal
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I suspect that many in North America have no clue regarding the size of Crete.  Although it is an island, it is huge (over 3000 Square miles).  Crete is not a place you see in a port day or even a week on land.  It is actually over 200 miles from one end to the other if you drive this island.   Probably more then any of the Greek Islands this is the place to spend a few days an have a rental car.  

 

My favorite part of the Greek Islands remains the Ionian Islands but most of these are not accessible by cruise ship and not easily accessible period!

 

Hank

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Last year in Corfu, in the Ionians, October 1 the weather was pleasant but some hotels and beach concessions were already closed.  We were surprised, made it really difficult to get taxis outside the main town.  

 

Agree with Hank that Crete is huge.  We’ve been three times and have spent six weeks.  I recommend a minimum two weeks to see either Eastern or  western Crete.  But it is the farthest south, actually on the Libyan sea, and has a permanent year round population.  It can be absolutely lovely in early October and there is lots to do.   Some of the highest end resorts are in  Elounda,  but you Need some very deep pockets.   But there are also many small family run lovely small hotels. 

 

 

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We spent three weeks in the Ionian Islands last fall.  Corfu, Kefalonia, and Zakynthos.  Picked a spot, rented a car, and toured each island.  We have been to Greece a number of times but this was one of our favourite trips.  Sept to early/mid October.  We had no trouble finding accommodation.  At that time of year dealing direct with the owner and paying cash yields some very good discounts.   We did see a few restaurants closing up on Zakynthos on the last two days.   Further north so I suspect that the season ends a little earlier for them.

 

Comments on Crete are so true.  We have done several one week stays on the island.  We keep going back.  One port day does not even scratch the surface.

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Having a car is important, I guess. We also plan to rent one for the trip. Driving around is such a pleasure in Southern Europe, I've done a number of times in Italy and France, I expect same from our Greek trip!

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2 hours ago, Fran2020 said:

Having a car is important, I guess. We also plan to rent one for the trip. Driving around is such a pleasure in Southern Europe, I've done a number of times in Italy and France, I expect same from our Greek trip!

 

It really depends on where you choose to go.     Driving in Greece is unlike Southern Europe.  Can be very rugged and mountainous,  can be goats and donkeys, can be backing on a ferry and climbing out over a stick shift,  can be a two lane highway they use the shoulders of to make four lane or an attendant putting gasoline in a diesel vehicle.......  make sure you get an International Driving License, they are now mandatory in Greece

Edited by bennybear
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Second the recommendation for an International Drivers Lic.  We have been renting cars in Europe every year for many years.  

 

This past fall we had four car rentals in Greece, one in Cyprus.  Every rental agency asked for and  required this.   I cannot remember ever being asked for it in the past.

 

We have never had a problem driving in Greece-mainland or the islands.   The tip about fuel is a good one.  I always get out of the car to see what pump the attendant is using.  We prefer a standard transmission in Greece.

Edited by iancal
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The law in Greece was changed a year or two ago,  there are now hefty fines for both renter and rental agency for not complying with the international driving license.  

 

We've not had problems driving there either,   But then we’ve spent over six months in Greece on dozens of islands so have lots of experiences.   It’s totally different than other parts of Europe,  we call it Greek village driving. And then when you nearly have a head on collision because oncoming drivers expect you to drive in the shoulder it can be disconcerting to say the least.   And the extremely high mountain roads in Crete with no guardrails, well even a Canadian used to high mountain driving can be shocked.  So be cautious and expect the unexpected!   

Edited by bennybear
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Our experience several years ago on a few small island was interesting.  We reserved the car-often from a well know franchise.   We did the paperwork, used our credit card to cover our insurance.  No so in the Ionian Islands though.

 

When we returned the car the contract was ripped up and given back to us.  We paid 25E cash, and the deal was done.  Happened to us last time on Sifnos and on Naxos.   

 

Also, on the islands our experience is that the gas tank is never full.  Usually has gas and the take note of the guage.  Sometimes we buy some gas. Other times (on smaller islands) we do not need to bother because we have not gone far.

 

Never had a issue renting cars. In a few cases the smaller, local agencies have been much better than the big ones in terms of service, flexibility, one ways, etc.  On Kefelonia we picked up the car in Lassi and left it at the ferry terminal parking lot, keys inside, at Poros.

Edited by iancal
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6 minutes ago, iancal said:

  On Kefelonia we picked up the car in Lassi and left it at the ferry terminal parking lot, keys inside, at Poros.

Trusting!   Much more fun backing on the ferry with instructions yelled at you in Greece, and then climbing out over stick as parked at the side🤣

 

then there’s when our battery died, and the agency sent out a mechanic on a moped to fix it.  Things are just different, but work!  Or the flatbed that hauled away the diesel car filled With gas but left us stranded, but the attendant felt so bad he drove us to our hotel.👀. Gotta love all the experiences, never boring!

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OMG. Thanks guys, you managed to convince me against this idea 😁. Tough arguments. And in addition international driving licence, something I never thought about. I have rented cars many times especially in Italy nobody ever asked for this. But who knows, might have changed too. 

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19 minutes ago, bennybear said:

Trusting!   Much more fun backing on the ferry with instructions yelled at you in Greece, and then climbing out over stick as parked at the side🤣

 

then there’s when our battery died, and the agency sent out a mechanic on a moped to fix it.  Things are just different, but work!  Or the flatbed that hauled away the diesel car filled With gas but left us stranded, but the attendant felt so bad he drove us to our hotel.👀. Gotta love all the experiences, never boring!

Happened to us at the ferry terminal in Ostend.   First day with our used VW camper from the UK on our four month Europe trip.

That is the benefit of a standard.  Four of the men pushed us up the deck and the van started just before the up ramp off the ferry!  We learned a long time ago with VW vans always to park the nose down on a hill where possible.

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4 hours ago, Fran2020 said:

OMG. Thanks guys, you managed to convince me against this idea 😁. Tough arguments. And in addition international driving licence, something I never thought about. I have rented cars many times especially in Italy nobody ever asked for this. But who knows, might have changed too. 

Italy also requires an international drivers license,  as long as you aren’t stopped it’s not an issue,  but twice we’ve had spot checks with carabineri  and we are glad we’ve had it as your North American license doesn’t cut it, and they have machine guns! 

 

Don't be scared off,  just be aware it’s different and you need to pay careful attention.

 

 

Edited by bennybear
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4 hours ago, Fran2020 said:

But if you don't have a car - how flexible you are in terms of travelling around? I mean like going to a small village nearby for a dinner? Does Uber work? 

 

Again depends what island, most have very good bus service and taxis, unless they’re on strike.   We choose towns near a beach with good restaurants to choose from.   Some islands have water taxis that work great like Skiathos.   We usually rent for about half the time,  except Crete where we prefer a vehicle due to its size.

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We had no issue traveling through the Ionian Islands.  Ferry to Corfu.  Short flight to Kefelonia (saved a day of bus, ferry), ferry to Zakynthos, and a short flight to Athens.

 

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We flew directly from London to Zakynthos, then a short ferry to Kefalonia.  We also have flown directly to Skiathos from London.  For Crete we have flown into both Chania and Heraklion from London and Rome as well.  

 

We prefer to avoid Athens as we’ve been there numerous times.   Many large cities in Europe have direct flights to the islands but due to Covid things may be very different.   

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We are the same.  We fly from Canada direct to Athens.  Our return is from London or Paris depending on price, airline, etc.   Last Sept we landed in Athens, then took an Olympic flight to Ioannini three hour later. 
 

 Easy to get to either by air inexpensively from Crete or anywhere else we find ourselves.  No use going back to Athens if our last stop is Crete or Cyprus.

 

Edited by iancal
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On 10/1/2020 at 5:43 PM, iancal said:

We are the same.  We fly from Canada direct to Athens.  Our return is from London or Paris depending on price, airline, etc.   Last Sept we landed in Athens, then took an Olympic flight to Ioannini three hour later. 
 

 Easy to get to either by air inexpensively from Crete or anywhere else we find ourselves.  No use going back to Athens if our last stop is Crete or Cyprus.

 

I cannot resist but tell this tale of our one and only Olympic flight (from Athens to Paris Orly) a few years ago.  We boarded our Boeing aircraft and soon after I sat down a large (perhaps 10 feet long) ceiling panel fell off the ceiling and ended up on the heads/shoulders of a few passengers including moi.  The flight attendants quickly lifted the panel off the passengers and about 15 minutes later a mechanic came on the aircraft with a large tool belt and looked at the panel.  With the help of the flight attendants he replaced the panel onto the ceiling and then pulled out a large roll of duct tape and taped the panel into place.  He then left the plane, they closed the doors and we taxied to the runway.  As soon as the pilot went to full thrust for takeoff the vibration knocked that large panel off the ceiling (and onto my shoulder) but we proceeded to take off for Paris.  Once we were at a safe attitude a flight attendant appeared with another roll of duct tape and a few of us helped her get the panel taped back onto the ceiling (where it remained for the rest of the flight).  A nearby passenger wondered (aloud) if Onassis had paid his bills :).

 

Hank

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Sounds about right!  Our first Greek flight many years ago from Athens to Paros, they put the luggage in the back, under a net.    We sat on a very small plane, two seats across, aisle in the middle.  It was no smoking but about half way there the pilot  and copilot closed the curtain and we could smell smoke🤢.  Wanted to kiss the ground! 

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We did five flights on Aegean/Olympic last fall.  All of them were perfect.  On time, good equipment.  Big change from years ago when we did inter islands on Dash 7 or 8's.

 

What surprised us were the air fares. They seemed much lower than in previous years.  In two instances only about 30 percent more expensive and anywhere from 6-10 hours less door to door time.

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4 hours ago, iancal said:

We did five flights on Aegean/Olympic last fall.  All of them were perfect.  On time, good equipment.  Big change from years ago when we did inter islands on Dash 7 or 8's.

 

What surprised us were the air fares. They seemed much lower than in previous years.  In two instances only about 30 percent more expensive and anywhere from 6-10 hours less door to door time.

 

I am sure the Aegean flights have improved but we have only flown under four hours max from London to Crete.  Less from Rome, not sure what air you are discussing or comparing to?   We can make it to the islands in under 13 hours flying with only one stop  from western Canada. 

Edited by bennybear
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We usually fly from Toronto-Athens , and return  home to western Canada from  London or Paris. On Transat.  We have taken Aegean flight from Crete to London in the past.  We often go somewhere for our last two weeks but often do not decide until we are in the middle of our trip.

 

Our Athens-Ioannini flight cost from Athens was on a 727.  About the cost of a cab ride into Athens for one person-30E.  I was quite surprised.   Plus we got credit on Aeroplan.  We had 727's, I recall, for all flights. Corfu-Kefelonia, Zakynthos-Athens, Athens - Larnaca, Larnaca-London.   Aegean equipment, on time, and service was certainly as good as we get on AC, Westjet, etc.

 

There were some low cost airlines that had flights but we found that the larger carriers often had the same prices-as it often is throughout Europe.

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