I went the Greek islands in Mid-September a few years ago before the economic problems and I had a great time. Be sure to check out this book.http://www.amazon.com/Greek-Island-Hopping-Frewin-Poffley/dp... August is the high season though and they would be hotter and a lot more crowded. The Meltemi winds could be blowing so be sure to sure to check out what it will be like in August.I really liked Naxos and it had good beaches like Agios Prokopios but be careful of the roads outside of the main town on that island if you plan on driving . The roads on Paros were really good enough so I rented a car for the day and got to see a lot of that island. Santorini is worth seeing but it is more expensive and two days there is enough to see the highlights so you can spend more time at the less expensive and less crowded islands. I would recommend not spending too much time in Athens unless there is something other than the highlights that you specifically want to see there. In a lot of ways it is pretty much like any other large city. In traveling in the Greek Islands you need to be flexible in case there is a strike or a ferry is cancelled because of the weather so it would be good to plan spending your time in Athens when you return from the islands so that you will not miss your flight if there is a delay in returning from the islands.I went to Italy last year in the spring time and also had a good time but in my research I recall lots of comments about just how hot it can be in the summer and how that is not a real good time to go there. As I recall many of the lower priced hotels may not have air conditioning or if they do they may not work up to US standards. Italy would also seem more challenging to me for a solo traveler.If you go to Ireland be sure to consider using hostels. It was about eight years ago but I went there with my wife and teenage son and we stayed in hostels to save money and the ones we stayed in were great and we met a lot of people in them. One of the big savings in hostels is being able to use their kitchen when you do not feel like eating out after a long day. You need to read the reviews to select good ones since they vary greatly. I would not recommend the ones in urban areas but in the rural areas and small towns there are some really nice ones. We had a rental car which made getting to them easy. If you do rent a car there be sure to check out your credit card coverage. Ireland is one of the few countries where that many credit cards exclude form their insurance coverage. We happened to have a credit card that did not exclude Ireland and we took a copy of the credit card benefits brochure to prove this if needed. If Southern Europe the hotels are so inexpensive, at least in the shoulder season, that we did not try staying in hostels there.
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