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10 days in France and Greece. Refining Itinerary. Thoughts?

My daughter (15) and I are planning a trip to Paris and Greece. Below is our itinerary and some questions that remain.

Questions:

  1. While I am nervous about driving, I think it will be more efficient if we use a car to explore the Peloponnese. However, let me know if you advise against because it is difficult to drive or just not necessary. Also, I will need an automatic, so if this is problematic please let me know.

  2. Assuming car rental is advisable, is it possible to rent in Ermioni & Porto Heli port and return in Athens?

  3. I don't want to pack our trip with too much sight seeing (my daughter will revolt), but please let me know if there are must sees or places we can visit while on route from one location to another.

  4. If you have suggestions on food markets, amazing places to stay, boat rides, or activities with animals--these are some of the things we enjoy.

Let me know if time frames are ok, or if you recommend more or less time in different locations.

Paris - Greece Itinerary:

March 22-26 (arrive am of 22nd. 4 nights/4 days): Paris

  • March 26: Fly Paris-Athens. Bus/Ferry to Hydra. (suggestions for stops/sights to see on way)

March 26-28 (2 nights/1 full day): Hydra

  • Enjoy just being in Hydra. Walk, beach, donkeys
  • March 28: Travel day. Ferry, car or bus to Nafplio (suggestions for things to see on way)

March 28-April 1 (4 nights/3 days) Nafplio

  • Mycenae/ Epidaurus (Day trip)
  • Delphi (Possible day trip)
  • Suggestions for must-do's
  • April 1: Travel day. Bus/car from Nafplio to Athens (suggestions for things to see on way)

April 1-April 3 (2 nights/1 day): Athens.

  • Fly out of Athens April 3rd am
Posted by
1079 posts

We were in Nafplio for 4 nights with our young adult children. It was hot when we were there so we spent every afternoon at a different beach. If you have a car, I would do Mycenae and Epidaurus on separate days. My kids liked Epidaurus much better. Mycenae requires a lot of imagination or reading of the signs which only half of group of seven was inclined to do.

The same day we went to Mycenae we were to Nemea which while less historically significant was the favorite. It is where the games that became the Olympics were held for a number of years. There is a tunnel to the stadium which my kids loved. They ran the track! Then there is a separate site with some reconstructed columns and a very well done museum.

Another favorite was Palamidi Fortress in town. It is 999 steps up (you can also drive there) and we spent an entire morning there.

I haven't been to Delphi but my impression is it is too far for a day trip.

Posted by
735 posts

If you rent a car in Ermioni and/or Porto Helio and return it to Athens be prepared to pay an exorbitant amount of money for doing so. A bus will be your best option for going to and returning from Nafplio.

You will take the ferry from Athens to Hydra. All you can do is sit back and enjoy the views depending on what type of ferry you are taking. If it's the "normal" ferry you'll have the opportunity to sit on the open deck and take in the views. If it's a Flying Dolphin or other similar "fast" boat you'll just have to hold on and hope the sea is calm. You'll have no opportunity to do anything other than the boat ride.

Forget Delphi from Nafplio. It's a long ride and you'll spend more time on the bus than in Delphi. Besides there are numerous World Class archeological sites nearby.

If you are renting a car to get from Athens to Nafplio you can stop anywhere along the way. Same for return.

Here's THE best website for Nafplio. You'll find yourself overwhelmed with what to do, see and experience:

http://www.visitnafplio.com/

The bus ride from Nafplio back to Athens will not mean you'll have an opportunity to stop along the way. You may stop at the Corinth Canal for a rest break but other than that it's non-stop to Athens. Enjoy the views and then enjoy Athens.

Here's a great site for what to do in Athens:
https://www.athensguide.com/

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you. Would you recommend renting (and returning) a car in Nafplio to explore the area? Or, is it better to take the bus?

Posted by
2414 posts

I would suggest Peloponnese stint FIRST, and do island upon return toAthens area. Fly from Paris AM March 26, get car at airport. Drive to Nafplio, sights along way. After 3-4 nights there, drive back different route, drop car at airport. Bus to PIRAEUS, ferry to Island (be sure you want Hydra ... do u know it really has no beaches?), then final days in Athens.

PELOPS INFO - This is a GEM - http://www.visitnafplio.com/ - noncommercial website by a Sandinavian expat who lives there... click on EVERY link, where to go, eat, walk etc. Here's a photo album by Nafplio-phile "stanbr" showing highlights of this most beautiful Old Town in Greece http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/ - plus nearby sites.

TRANSPORT -- You CAN bus to Nafplio & back, & rent car while there... but do consider driving from airport. It really is THE easiest --just 2 hrs, Greece's most modern multi-lane divided highway 3/4 of way, then on small road thru valley, almost no traffic. No Stress; in 2013 we even did it in a shower, no problemo. You need to stop in local AAA for 20 mins for International Driving Permit. Many of us "vets" use highly reliable great- price agency - http://www.athens-carrental.com/ - order an automatic. A guy meets u @ airport dor, escorts you to car outside & tells where to return it. Last June we had new Hyndai (like a honda accord) automatic, drove like a dream. See this fab online map to plan route - http://tinyurl.com/zekuft9 - click & it gets huuuge, use sideslides to navigate. It shows that intercity highway bypasses Athens entirely, skirts the northern fringe you stay on that road til way after Corinth Canal. Use it to assess my advice for your itinerary:

Day 1 • About 15 mi past Corinth Canal, exit RIGHT (N-W) for ANCIENT NEMEA, just about 3 miles in... A real treat! Ancient stadium, where yr daughter can race from starting-blocks 2400 yrs old! Hero's tunnel.. plus ruins temple columns, small museum... easy to enjoy in 1 hr. Return & cross (under?) highway, go SOUTH to Nafplio, thru citrus orchards & olive groves. Park car free on wide concrete pier @ seafront. Hotel? Agamemnon.if u can get a room... if not, Omorfo Poli is lovely small boutique just off seafront... In late afternoon, wander town & enjoy sunset at cafes on seafront... best sunsets in Greece IMHO.

Day 2 - Drive up BACK of Palamidi for Photo Ops -- your daughter can walk down the 999 steps, & u can wait for her in cafe at foot of stairs (that's what I do). Take elevator in the Cliff (yes!) up to Acronafplia.. the ramparts... & walk around the peninsula point at sealevel -- stunning photos! Don't miss small & good museum in Nafplio main square... and BTW, since Nafplio is a favorite weekend getaway for chic Athenians, it has tons of nice shops -- I always shop there not Athens.

Day 3 - If u want MYCENAE, go EARLY (dozens of tour busses arrrive about 10 am) ... do Museum first, to understand it .. I'm partial to another Iliad-era Fort just outside Nafplio -- TIRYNS - not "restored", huge boulders, awesome,NO crowds. Ask hotel for day of local market (on nearby street), other events, & walks/activities in visitnafplio website

Day 4 - Check out 9 am & instead of backtracking route, drive EAST across "thumb" of peloponnese to EPIDAURUS. En Route, keep eyes peeled to LH side of road -- for Oldest Bridge in World in Continued Use (Mycenaean, 1800 BC) - great photo Op! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkadiko_Bridge. At Epidaurus, acres of rubble, but just spend time in stunning THEATRE! People stand in center, sing to top rows. Afterward, drive up the SEA ROAD... when u get to ISTHMIA, stop & find the Old Bridge over Corinth Canal (great sight; so deep so skinny!). Stop for lunch, then back to aTH. The only key turn in entire trip - turn LEFT for Airport, not right (city traffic!).

Posted by
2414 posts

PS -- If u decide against drive to Nafplio, you can take bus instead. The visitnafplio website tells how Basically, take bus x93 from airport to Kifissou KTEL Bus Terminal(€6, 60 minutes). The Nafplio express bus (reserved seats, upholstered, comfy) goes hourly on the half-hour, takes 2+ hours, €13-14). When u book hotel, u can ask them to reserve an automatic car... give them 2 weeks advance notice, as they are not as commonly available. U can visit all the places I mentioned above, it's just that you would do more backtracking.

PPS: You may have a hydra place in mind... but take a look at AEGINA also ... here's a photo album of a daytrip -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/36264706@N03/sets/72157621604646139/detail/ -- Aegina is not as fancy-schmancy as Hydra, but town may have more going on than Hydra, and it has beaches. ALSO... take a Conventional Ferry to your island (it's only 1 hr to Aegina), because then u can sit on deck & enjoy the seascape... all the huge liners, the freighters, Schooners, ferries etc. If u take a hydrofoil or fast-ferry... no decks, no view.

PPPS: Unless u are well-versed on ancient Greece, I wonder about going to Delphi ... you COULD drive there after Nafplio, but it's another 3 hours... and while it's beautiful, it takes background & prep to D-i-Y or else hiring guide at €60 per hr, 2 hr minimum.

Posted by
1503 posts

I have driven in several European countries, Ireland, Norway and Scotland. On our recent RS tour in Greece, I commented several times that I was very glad I did not have to drive. The Peloponnese roads are very twisty and winding. Just fyi. We went in October and did not feel any of the ancient sites were too crowded.
We loved Hydra!

Posted by
11 posts

@diveloonie aka Tammy Thanks for posting about driving. I have never driven in another country and have been apprehensive. Your post settles it, I will not bother with the car rental.

@ janet Thank you for your detailed post with lots of information. Question, why are you recommending the Peloponnese first? The reason I was planning Hydra (or an island) first is we will be coming off of 4 days in Paris and I thought we could use some down time on an island. Also, I am trying to avoid going back and forth to the airport, so this seemed like a way we can avoid.

Posted by
1507 posts

The island trip complicates things, hence the suggestion to play around with the order. Driving to and from Athens airport would be easier. I don;t know the specifics of Hydra transport, but you could consider getting some beach time near Nafplio instead--it would greatly simplify things.
I had the opposite experience with driving (my husband was driving, but I was navigating and observing). The highway from Athens to Nafplio is thoroughly modern. Once you get close to Nafplio, it becomes rural. I did not visit Delphi, which I think it is too far for a day trip anyway, but there was nothing about the drives to Mycenae or Epidaurus that would give even a non-driver like me pause. Do scope out your options for day trips if you are contemplating this without your own car--I am sure there are buses, but you have limited time and I would prefer convenience.
Coming from the airport also allows for stops at Nemea and Corinth/Arcocorinth.

Posted by
2414 posts

Karen, before you take the "advice" of someone who was on a tour.... please go look at that tour. -- Here's the website link with a map showing their route. - https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/greece-turkey/greece THe RS Tour bus goes through MOUNTAINS to Delphi, crosses to Peloponnese to go throug MOUNTAINS to Lefkadia, Then over a MOUNTAIN pass to Olympia, then down the coast on a winding inland road to the Mani Peninsula, again rocky, hilly, twisty-turny roads, then onward down thru more hills to Monemvasia, then back on a very curvy coastal road to Nafplio & from there to a boat.

The RS Tour does not go for a SINGLE MILE on the modern multi-lane divided highway I described. NONE of the routes I suggested are twisty, hilly or challenging. The whole Argolid area is in a gentle fertile valley. Tammy is speaking about a totallyl different route & different experience. Sigh. I get so tired of people giving advice based on a one-time Erroneous experience.

However, if you'd feel easier by taking the bus, as I've said, it's very easy to do, and you can just notify your hotel to reserve an automatic-shift car for one day for you, to tootle around the area. I just don't want you to think it would be challenging. When you are on the bus, looing out the window at the major highway, and at the quiet, level roads through olive groves, you'll wonder, why in the world was I worried?? Oh I remember, Tammy.

Posted by
11 posts

@janet Thanks for the clarification re driving. That does make me feel better about the driving option.

Posted by
5545 posts

Delphi is too far for a day trip. Visit Mystras instead.

Posted by
187 posts

When in Athens, do not miss the Acropolis museum after your visit to the Acropolis! It has most of the original Caryatids, and the walk up to the entrance is spectacular, with glass floors over an archaeological dig of an ancient ruin. The museum is relatively small but worth an hour or two and whatever they charge to get inside.