My friend Allison and I had exactly two weeks to cram in 5 cities in 2 countries that we wanted to visit. Thanks to our shared Pinterest board and we narrowed it down to Istanbul, Fethiye, Santorini, Athens and Meteora. Sadly Mykonos, Cappadocia, Ephesus and Pamukkale did make the cut due the amount of travel time we would lose getting to those destinations.
There isn't a plethora of transportation options to get from the Turkey coast to the Greek islands, but where there's a will, there's a way. Blustar ferries has only three sailings a week from Rhodes island to Santorini and costs around 30 euro. Now how do you get to Rhodes island from Fethiye? You take the Ala Turka ferry which sails out every morning for a whopping 50 euro. If I remember correctly it's about a 1.5 hour ferry ride to Rhodes from Fethiye and then a 12-14 hour ride from Rhodes to Santorini. Can you say TRAVEL DAY?!
Unfortunately for Allison and I the ferry from Fethiye to Rhodes was cancelled that day due to bad conditions. They told us this was the first time this had happened, just our luck. This obstacle ended up costing around $650 CAD each to get a flight from Fethiye to Santorini. We couldn't wait to take the next ferry from Rhodes to Santorini because it left two days later and we would would only have two days in Santorini instead of four. We then had to book THREE flights to get Santorini: Fethiye > Istanbul, Istanbul > Athens, Athens > Santoroni!! Well it was under one booking but we physically took three planes that day and arrived in Santorini the same time as we would have if we had taken the two ferries.
We booked most of our accommodation through Booking.com, which I had never used before. I liked booking through this site and I'm personally using it for any travel bookings I make in the future.
DAY 1 | Flying from Toronto to Istanbul (Red Eye) Accommodation: Slept on the plane Transportion: Air Canada then a private shuttle bus that we booked in advance to bring us to our hostel (15 euro each) Tips: Free booze for international travel...
DAY 2 | Istanbul Accommodation: Metropolis Hostel | $87 CAD for two nights, for two people in a 4 person shared dorm. There's an awesome rooftop patio with a bar if you want to buy booze & food or you can bring your own. Transportion: The Hostel was close enough to everything that we got around the city on foot Tips: We stayed in Old Istanbul and explored all the touristy sites (Mosques, Spice market, parks). If you're a female make sure you cover your legs and don't have exposed shoulders. I was wearing a tank top and shorts and was getting enough disgusted looks that I went and bought pants, even though it was 35 degrees out.
DAY 3 | Istanbul Accommodation: Metropolis Hostel | Transportion: The Hostel was close enough to everything that we got around the city on foot Tips: Walk along the water and take advantage of all the rooftop patios.
Day 4 | Istanbul - Fethiye Accommodation: Ten Apart Hotel | $80 CAD for 2 nights for 2 people in a 2 bedroom (5 beds), 2 bathrooms & a kitchen suite. This was my favourite hotel & the best bargain! Upon a late arrival Allison and I had one day to book paragliding and a boat cruise. The hotel manager was very accommodating and arranged everything for us including transportation. Transportion: Shuttle to Istanbul SAW airport then we took a 1.5 hour plane from Istanbul SAW airport to Dalaman airport with Pegasus for $80 US for the two of us. After getting out at Dalaman airport there's shuttle busses waiting to take people to either Fethiye or Olundiaz. Tips: Hector paragliding & a boat cruise, enough said.
Day 5 | Fethiye Accommodation: Ten Apart Hotel Transportion: We had a driver come get us from our hotel and drive us to Olundiaz where the boat cruise was & the paragliding. After paragliding a bus took us back to Fethiye. Tips: When booking the boat cruise look into which one you're booking. Some of the boats have waterslides off them and are more for the "party crowd". We booked ours through the hotel, but if you just show up on the beach around 10-11am all the boats will be lined up and you can decide which one you want, assuming they're not sold out.
Day 6 | Fethiye to Santorini Accommodation: Anna Pension | $32 CAD for two people for 1 night (1 room, 3 beds and private bathroom). If you're on a budget this is the place to go! It's affordable to get a private room, there's a pool and it's not to far from downtown Fira. Transportion: This was the travel day from hell which you can read about at the beginning of this post. There are ferry op tions to get from Fethiye to Santorini and other Greek islands but since one of the two ferries was cancelled due to bad weather we opted out and book plane tickets for that day, versus waiting two more days to take the ferry. We took a cab from the airport to our hotel. If things haven't changed all the cabs in Santorini charge the same flat rate (30 euro maybe?!)
Tips: We arrived here late at night and left the next morning so no tips here, sorry!
Day 7 | Santorini Accommodation: Villa Happening | $248 CAD for 2 people for 3 nights (1 room, 2 beds & private bathroom). This hotel is in Imerovigli which is a fancy touristy spot where you see plenty of infinity pools off the cliff side. I booked this hotel because I was supposed to have a photoshoot with work here, hence the more fancy location with better landscapes (the photoshoot didn't happen but we kept the booking anyway). A woman and her daughter run this hotel and they're both very very sweet. The airline lost my luggage and the pair were very helpful calling the airline every few hours checking for updates for me. Transportion: We took the public bus from Anna Pension to get to this hotel then toured around mostly by foot. Tips: The hike to Skaros Rock is a must, the photo ops make it worth the climb! Even though Villa Happening doesn't have a pool there are many bars with infinity pools on the cliff side in Imerovigli that are open to the public. They all look like hotels and private suites but if you see one with a bar & a pool and want to use it, just ask. Also the food is ridiculous expensive in Imerovigli, which we learned after our first dining experience on the cliffside, ahah. Allison and I went to a small grocery store and grabbed breakfast foods, booze & snacks so we weren't spending as much eating out. This was the first break in the trip that we could actually do this since we were staying in one city for more than 2 nights.
Day 8 | Santorini Accommodation: Villa Happening Transportation: Transportation was provided when we booked our boat cruise (charter bus picked us up). Tips: We did a boat cruise that brought us to the Volcano, hot springs and then dropped us off just to watch the famous Ohio sunset. The boat cruise was underwhelming compared to the one we did in Fethiye, maybe because I wasn't expecting brown water at the hot springs followed by the smell of sulfar. Also, is it unreasonable to expect to see hot lava if I'm going to a volcano!? LOL. All we saw was some smoke. Don't get me wrong it was still cool to see, it was just hyped up too much by our tour guide. If I were to go again I would go on a boat that took me to an isolated area where I could jump off the boat, relax, eat & drink! Do yourself a favour and got to Ohio to watch the sunset. Get there early and snag a spot at the square, it is 120% worth it despite the thousands of tourists everywhere (just embrace it).
Day 9 | Santorini Accommodation: Villa Happening Transportion: Public transit to downtown Fira. Tips: Downtown Fira is decent spot to get a quick bite to eat and souvenirs for cheap. Catching sunsets on roofs is a thing too by the way.
Day 10 | Santorini - Athens Accommodation: Hotel Tempi | $83 CAD for 2 people for 1 night (1 room, 2 beds & private bathroom). This hotel was meh. Everything was booked up in Athens so options were lacking. Transportion: We flew from Santorini to Athens and then took the subway to our hotel. Tips: No tips here, we got in late and left the next morning.
Day 11 | Athens - Meteora Accommodation: Hotel Antoniadis | $170 CAD for 2 people for 3 nights (1 room, 2 beds & private bathroom). Two words: Rooftop Pool. Transportion: We took the subway to the train station. Check out schedules here. The train from Athens to Meteora is about 4 hours. Once you get to Meteora mostly everything is walking distance from the train station. FYI The train was around 25-30 euros one way per person. Tips: Just a heads up that people do smoke in the trains even though it's technically not allowed. Also podcasts are a great way to take in the views of the Greek country side without getting bored.
Day 12 | Meteora Accommodation: Hotel Antoniadis Transportion: Walked everywhere Tips: If you're into hiking, I'd highly recommend the hike up to the Monastery followed by a sunset tour. The "Visit Meteora" website will come in handy.
Day 13 | Meteora - Athens Accommodation: City Circus Hostel | $74 CAD for 2 people for 1 night (2 beds in a 6 bedroom mixed dorm & private bathroom). This was the trendiest place we stayed and probably the least bang for our buck seeing as we had a shared room. Luckily we were out all day sight seeing and only needed it to sleep & shower, so it wasn't too bad. Transportion: We took the same train that we took to get to Meteora. Tips: I really enjoyed our jam packed site seeing day in Athens. To see: Acropolis, Temple of Zeus and Olympic Stadium. To Eat: Lithos.
Day 14 |Athens - Toronto Accommodation: N/A Transportion: Subway to the airport then Air Canadaaaaaa! Tips: Your vacation isn't over yet, why not take advantage of the free buzz and get a little tipsy on the way home? haha.
Total cost for accommodation for 2 people: $774 CAD ($387 CAD per person)
Transportation Upon Arrival (not including flights from Toronto to Istanbul):
- Flights for 2 from Istanbul to Dalaman (Fethiye): $110 CAD
- Flights for 2 from Dalaman (Fethiye) to Santorini: $1317 CAD
- This was an unexpected cost because our ferry was cancelled. In theory this should have cost us only $100 on ferries each but since we had to book 3 flights for same day travel, we got dinged :(
- Flights for 2 from Santorini to Athens: $283.44 CAD
- Roundtrip train for two from Athens to Meteora: $180 CAD
Total cost for flights for 2 people: $1890.44 ($945.22 CAD per person)
Total cost for accommodation & flights between most cities for 2 people: $2,664.44 CAD ($1,332.22 per person)
Click below to see pictures & more details on each city I travelled to during this trip.
PS.... Dear Turkish Airlines, RyanAir and Aegean Airlines, Please have direct flights from the Turkey Coast to the Greek Islands. Thank you!