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Forums » General & Multi-Country » Sicily & Greek Islands Help

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twilson

Sicily & Greek Islands Help

by twilson »

There are two (okay, more, but one at a time) major holes in our European travels:  Sicily and Greece.  We don't like to go for long trips - 12 days is absolute tops, but 8 - 10 is about ideal.  We have done escourted tours and we have gone out on our own - we can be comfortable either way or a combination.  When I look at tours and/or cruises involving Sicily and the Greek Islands, I am surprised at how few - like none - are exclusively Sicily and Greece!  And that's what we're looking for.  Sure, we'll fly into Rome or Naples or somewhere else in order to make a connection to where we want to get to, but we want the lion's share of the trip to be Sicily and the Greek Islands (and Athens, too).  

If I were to design my own tour, it would include 4 - 5 days exploring Sicily and 4 -5 days cruising key Greek Islands and a solid day (or two) for Athens - this does not include travel days to and from the US.  I know, I know:  both those locations deserve far more ... but for now, those are the parameters.  

By the way, we're looking at this coming spring - 2018.  

Any thoughts, ideas, and recommendations would be most appreciated.

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mushroom

RE: Sicily & Greek Islands Help

by mushroom »

I'm not sure what you mean by "spring", but from May to the end of September there are often seasonal flights out of Italy to some Greek islands (and vice versa) that can make the logistics more efficient.  To find these flights you can either look at the websites of the 3 airports in Sicily (Palermo, Catania & Trapani) and see what their routes/schedules are at the airport, and if there are any flights to Greece. Back that up by looking at the websites of the airports on the Greek islands you want to visit and Athens airport.  You might luck out.

Failing that I would try to utliize Naples airport and, if at all possible, spend enough time there to appreciate what "Neapolis" meant to both Greek & Italian history. In particular, the temples of Paestum and hour+ south of Naples airport are the best preserved Greek temples in all of Europe (including Greece). 

Within Sicily, sites to combine with a trip to Greece are Taormina, Siracusa/Ortygia, Agrigento, Selinute/Segesta. It gets easier to roadtrip that itinerary if you use both the Trapani + Catania airports, but also not hard if you use the Palermo + Catania airports.

If your trip is in the earlier part of Spring (end of March to mid-May) would make sense to begin in Sicily, where everything will be up & running.  The Greek islands have more limited services in early Spring. 

Taking a wild stab at an itinerary, I might fly to Naples and head directly to Paestum.  Catch some sleep & by noon the next day, take the train up Naples. Spend the night so you can see some of the Greek underpinnings of the city, then fly to Trapani, rent a car and spend your first night near Segesta/Selinute.   See those temples in the morning, then head to Agrigento for an overnight, more sightseeing there the next day then on to Siracusa by nightfall. Two nights there and then off to Taormina.  With luck you can get a flight out of Catania airport that doesn't mean you need to switch to get to Greece.  See what you can of Greece in the time remaining, fly home from there. 

 

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mushroom

RE: Sicily & Greek Islands Help

by mushroom »

It appears that Aegean airlines flies non-stop year-round between Catania and Athens. 

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mushroom

RE: Sicily & Greek Islands Help

by mushroom »

One other thought: You might not need an overnight in Agrigento, since many people simply enjoy the setting of the temples in Selinute & Segesta rather than tour them.

So arriving in either Trapani or Palermo airport, if you are not arriving jet lagged, you can see the Temples within a short time after arriving or early the next morning.  It's less than 2 hours from their to Agrigento, and up you how much time you want to spend there.  But while I wouldn't recommend trying to get to Siracusa to sleep, you can probably make some progress in that direction, to a nice agriturismo, then arrive in Siracusa before lunch the next day.  

If you do arrive in Sicily jet lagged, I would recommend getting some rest before taking on Sicily's drivers.  Would be okay to rent a car at the airport and head to an agriturismo quite nearby, but you really do need all your wits about you, so don't be too quick to hit the road until you've had a real sleep.

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twilson

RE: Sicily & Greek Islands Help

by twilson »

Many thanks, Mushroom, for all your thoughts and suggestions. My initial thought is that we might want a bit more "Sicily" than Greece while in Sicily. At the same time, I get it that Greek influences are significant and inescapable. For example, I just can't imagine Sicily without a visit to Palermo.  Or is that not all it's cracked up to be? 

We are just at the beginning of formulating this idea, so there's a long way to go. This forum is so valuable that I have begun the planning process here instead of ending with it!

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mushroom

RE: Sicily & Greek Islands Help

by mushroom »

I spent a week in Palermo and really enjoyed the city, and would be happy to go back, so I certainly feel Palermo is "all it's cracked up to be."  In responding your first query, I was just imagining the trip I would want if I were combining Greece & Sicily in the same trip.

But if you want contrast, then maybe the itinerary for you would be more like Trapani, Palermo, the Baroque towns & maybe Enna or Caltagirone, or small towns near there, and then fly out of Catania.  I've not been to the latter two towns, or the area around it, so there might be better choices for experiencing something the Sicilian interior.

I highly recommend that you also use the Sicily forum on Tripadvisor.  There are residents of Sicily who post there every day, and they are not just good guides to every corner of the island, and really know the details, they are really very flexible in helping people arrange good trips when it comes to budget, time limitations, and what they want to see most (rather than what you "should" see.) 

With 5 days in Sicily, and a commitment to see Palermo, your experience of Palermo could misfire unless you zero in on what you most want to experience there.  I would also recommend a stop by Monreale on your way out of town, so it's going to get really tight.  If possible, fly into Trapani airport.

A provision itinerary might be

Trapani, 1 night

Palermo 2 nights

Somewhere around Enna/Caltigirone 1 night

2 nights Baroque towns

Fly out of Catania

Because you might be arriving jet lagged and because Palermo is such a difficult city for driving, I would recommend using public transport until you get to Palermo.  If you really balk at that idea, then skip Trapani entirely -- which you might want to do anyway if the salt-flats area & Erice doesn't sound interesting to you.  Then you'd avoid needing to see Palermo at warp speed and have a bit extra time to explore the interior near Enna/Caltigirone.

But do toss your ideas around on TripAdvisor. They will point out to you how little time you are giving such a big island, but they will also give you tips about highlights you can accomplish and a realistic sense of driving times between places.

 

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