Hi - our two teenage children and ourselves plan on visiting Greece on the way to UK in early April and would like some help planning our trip so that we can get a taste of the country and an island, and obviously including Athens.We love hiking/biking/swimming and History! Had thought of staying no less than two nights in each place we stay in and possibly 3 nights on an island, to prevent a mad rush and get a feel of each place. Your suggestion would be most welcome. Thanks
You are probably too early to swim, unless you go to Crete (or are prepared to swim in cold water!)
It's not an island but you might like to consider Nafplio. It's a beautiful town in it's own right, has a huge Venetian fortress and is within striking distance of Mycenae and Ancient Tyrins. They also have a town bike scheme which allows you to hire a bike from one rack and leave it at another.
For an off the beaten track island and great walking I would recommend Andros. You can get to it directly from Rafina which is the closest port to the airport. We've written up our visits there plus some walks.
Have a great trip.
Keep in mind that Greek Easter is April 12 and over the course of that weekend it will be VERY busy everywhere in Greece. All hotels, planes, trains, ferries, long-distance buses and rental cars will most likely be booked up well in advance. So if your travel includes that weekend be sure you've got confirmation for any of the services I've listed, especially your travel back to Athens if you plan to be out on an island until your last day in Greece. In that regard, if you save your days in Athens for the end of your time in Greece you will at least have those days to get back to the mainland if your plans are somehow ruined by a cancellation or mechanical breakdown.
Rick's Greece guidebook focuses on Athens, the Peloponnese peninsula, and just a few islands, a narrow selection that would match your plans well. See an overview of these destinations at http://www.ricksteves.com/europe/greece.
Is it possible to get a boat from Andros to Nafplio?
I hear that Athens can become quiet in the Easter Holiday week? Is this true? Would it be better to be in Athens on the 6 -7 -8 April or on the 9-10-11 considering we fly out on the 12 Easter Sunday.
Lee's point is a good one about travel over Easter. You also need to remember, when deciding your time in Athens, that sites and museums will be closed for the holiday.
A lot of Greeks go back to their home village or island for Easter so Athens can be quieter then. This isn't an entirely bad thing - there's less traffic for example.
On the specific point of boats from Andros to Nafplio: it isn't possible to get a boat. You'd need to go back to Rafina and then either hire a car or go into Athens for a bus. Doing the latter is possible but quite a trek! A third possibility, if funds permit, would be to book a transfer. We were in Nafplio a couple of weeks ago and they were advertising transfers to the airport from their for 180 euros. I imagine the cost from Rafina would be about the same and the journey would take a bit under 3 hours. In comparison the cost for 4 doing it all by public transport would be about 100 euros.
Thanks we're heeding your advice - Athens earlier rather. I don't think we're going to go to an island anymore (spring - cool - lack of atmosphere for the kids etc.) rather head for the Pelopenesse. But, that does leave us with a gap of about 3 days we need to fill. (Athens 2 nights - car to Delphi - ????? - Nafplion - ??? - Athens - UK - back to Athens for 1 night before fly out to Safrica). Any suggestions?
It would be a shame to miss out on the islands entirely. If you have some spare time it would be worth considering a day trip from Athens to Aegina. You can get there by hovercraft in an hour from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, and there are two good sites plus nice places on the harbour to have lunch. It'll give you an idea of what the islands are like and you'll know you have to come back to Greece again ;-)
Delphi is brilliant and I would highly recommend it. If you have a car it is possible to do a circuit of Delphi, Nafpaktos and then across the Rio - Antirio bridge and down via Mycenae to Nafplio. If you overnight in Delphi you can be on the site late afternoon and then early morning before it is full of people from day trips. (Or, of course, if you don't have the time for the circuit you could be one of the people on a day trip from Athens. Still worth while.)
If you do decide to overnight in Delphi it is worth looking at the Hotel Acropole. The hotel itself is nothing special but it has the most incredible views.
Alan, thank you. We're now looking at Paxos or Anti Paxos for about 3 nights thanks to your recommendation. Any thoughts? We'll definately do Delphi on our way round to Nafplion. I may have asked already, but if one had to have a place to stay in Athens with a great view but really reasonable price for 5 of us, any suggestions? Thanks Billy
Have you used Google Maps for directions for that trip from Athens(?) to Delphi to Nafplio? Were you planning to drive?
We were in Nafplio first this fall. By bus it was 2+ hours from Nafplio to Athens, then a taxi transfer to a different bus station for the 3 hour bus ride to Delphi. The buses were not very frequent, so you have to plan that trip carefully and some waiting between buses will be involved. If you go by bus and do Delphi first, you will have to backtrack to Athens for the most efficient timing.
As the Google Maps directions show, you have more options if you drive. Be aware, based on the roads our bus(es) went on, the roads are twisty, often steep and narrow and sometimes lack guardrails.
Are you sure you mean Paxos & Anti Paxos instead of Paros & Antiparos?? Paxos is way up by Corfu, and takes longer to reach even than the Cycladic Islands (you hve to fly to corfu & then get a boat) ... and both are quite small. Anti Paxos has a population of 30. What has made you focus on these? Inquiring minds want to know!