Hi everyone. I want to plan my 50th birthday trip in Greece. My husband and I would spend 13 days in Greece. I would like to visit 3 or 4 cities in this timeframe. Thought about Crete for 8 days and Athens for 5. Will Crete be doable in November or will it be shut down for tourists. We are more interested in seeing sites than lounging around in a cafe or beach. Which cities in Crete at this time of year? If Crete is inaccessible, where would you suggest? We would not drive but depend on buses to get from one place to another. Thank you for any help given. Also any special places to stay for a memorable visit.
Crete will certainly be open for business at that time of year. We’ve been in December and there were plenty of places to stay and to eat. If you plan 8 days there you could fly into Iraklion to see Knossos and the excellent museum. You could then take a 2 hour bus journey along the coast to Rethymnon, a nice little Venetian town, for a night and then a further 2 hours to Chania another pretty old town. You can then fly back from Chania.
Having said that I’d probably skip Crete entirely and instead spend 7 days in Athens and go to Nafplio on the Peloponnese for the remainder.
Given the extra two days in Athens you’d have time for a couple of day trips: my choices would be Delphi for one and the island of Aegena for the other. Janet, who regularly posts here, has excellent advice about the site on Aegena.
Nafplio is a beautiful town in itself but also a good base to visit both Mycenae and Epidavrus. These can both be done by local bus. There are also regular buses to Nafplio from Athens which take just under three hours and pass over the Corinth Canal. Blink though and you’ll miss it.
Obviously it’s a personal opinion but while Knossos is an important site it’s one of the least dramatic. I wouldn’t go all the way to Crete to see it if that meant passing up Nafplio.
Napflio and Chania are my favorite small cities in Greece. Beautiful. They do not exist solely for tourism so you will find places to stay and eat open in both.
Thank you for your suggestion of Nafplio. How many days would you allocate to Athens, Nafplio and Chania.? Is there a direct route from Nafplio to Chania?
Nafplio is a lovely city perhaps the prettiest city in Greece. There are several buses a day to Nafplio which is about 2 hours from Athens. The surrounding area is full of antiquities and using a combination of bus and taxis you should have a great time.
Don't miss ancient Nemia and Ancient Corinth as you probably need to change buses in Corinth.
I know you say you want to use the buses but once you get to Nafplio you may want to reconsider and rent a car for a few days. Driving is pretty easy in this rural setting.
Here is what the area is like.
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/
In order to get to Chania you would have to return to Athens airport and fly. Its a 45 minute flight to the island of Crete.
Crete s full of historic sites including Minoen ruins but those sites tend to be in the central area with Heraklion as a good base. You may need to spend a couple of days in Heraklion in the historical center which is pretty interesting. To get to some of the central historical sites you might have to visit a travel agent to see if they offer tours. Again renting a car give greater flexability.
Crete Archeological sites https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645085297380/
Heraklion, Rethymnon and Chania are all working cities so all the services you will be looking for are open for the locals.
You would want to stay in Chania old town where you can spend hours wandering the Venetian era harbour and back alleys.
You could take a taxi to ancient Aptera just 18 km east of Chania there is over 5,000 years of history strewn over a mountain top. Its still an active archeological site.
Rethymnon is an hour away with several buses a day. It too has an old town and the Venetian Fortezza. Its well worth a day trip.
Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632115757899/
Aptera images 38-62 Balos Gramovossa images 79-106
You do have sufficient time to visit Chania, Nafplio and Athens. If it were me I would only do one of Crete or Nafplio plus Athens. Sometimes less destinations will allow you to do more in depth exploring.
I love Crete and would add the site of Phaestos to the list of places to visit. It can be combined with a trip to Gortys. Its another of the Minoan palaces and I find it more interesting that Knossos because little or no reconstruction has been done.
Chania is a lovely town with lots to do and a beautiful Venetian harbour and Aptera is worth a visit for the views over Souda Bay (you will either need a car for that trip or a taxi - no buses!).
I cannot comment on Crete but loved Nafplio. It is tricky to see the surrounding sites without a car, but it is doable. The town itself is worth a couple of days to just explore and relax, plus time for Myceanae and hopefully Epidavros. Athens should be pleasant in November and crowds much less. Plan for a few days there to really explore the sites and museums. Definitely consider a day or overnight trip to Delphi. It is easily reached by public bus or as a tour group daytrip. If you want to stay overnight, the town is easily in walking distance from the sites. The town has great views but is nothing to write home about. There are two sites and a very good museum to visit.
Thank you to every one who answered my question. Here is our proposed itinerary. .
DAY1 : land at airport in early afternoon (arriving from Toronto) and take train from airport to Corinth.
DAY2; morning in Corinth and afternoon bus to Nafplio.
DAY3 to 6: rent a car in Nafplio and explore area ( automatic car not available in Corinth)
DAY7: return car and catch bus to Athens then directly to Delphi.
DAY8: Early afternoon bus to Athens
DAY9 To 13 : Athens
DAY 14: Homeward bound
Does this sound reasonable?
Any suggestions on where to stay (neighbourhood or hotel) in Athens? We don't mind walking or taking transit and are not into the club scene. Would prefer a good night sleep.
Again, thank you for any comments.
Sounds like fun. Two thoughts
a) do you know the train station at Corinth is a way outside the town and that the same is true of the terminal for the Nafplio bus? As far as I know there’s no bus to the centre from either so you’ll need to get taxis. (If I’m wrong about the bus I’d be interested to know )
b) have you considered going Nafplio to Delphi via Patras rather than Athens? You can get to Patras from the Corinth terminal in a bit over an hour and there is a 12.40 bus every weekday from Patras to Delphi. This would give you a circuit rather than backtracking on your route.
You might want to roughly lay out the activities that you're planning in the Nafplio area and Athens. We tend to take pretty high-energy trips, so I was ready to leave Athens after 3 days. I've seen other people say they thought 3 full days in Athens was enough as well. I was happy with 2 full days in the Napflio area. These timings were largely just seeing the sights and eating at sit down restaurants for lunch (mostly) and dinner and walking about the city in the evenings. We tend not to shop or lay on the beach. It depends on your travel style; how much time you want to spend just relaxing. Based on this you may (or may not : ) find room for other things in your schedule. I loved Knossos, even with the controversial restorations, and the accompanying antiquities in the nearby National Archeological Museum in Heraklio which gave it more meaning. Admittedly I'm a history nut so was thrilled with 3000+ year old antiquities. There are a lot of great things to do in the Phaistos area as well (Phaistos site on a high promentory, Agia Triada, Kommos beach, Museum of Ethnology at Vori). Chania was our favorite spot in 17 days in Greece/Crete. There are so many great things to see in Greece - just deciding can be challenging.
Alan makes a good point re Corinth suburban train station ... several of us on an earlier trip found that out the hard way!
We were not going to Corinth but arriving by ferry at Piraeus & going to Nafplio. On previous trips, I had to taxi from Piraeus to the ATHENS Kissifou St KTEL bus terminal (Fastest route: 10 minutes, €12-13) This time I thought we'd be so clever and instead catch a Corinth OASE train right at the seaport. We envisioned stepping off train, then getting a Nafplio KTEL bus right down the street. Surprise! No Street! The stop for "corinth" on the OASE is out in middle of nowhere, NO bus. & we had to taxi to the KTEL Bus connection station on the main modern highway OUTSIDE Corinth, to catch the Nafplio express KTEL (intercity) bus outbound from Athens. And we arrived to do that... only to find that the next bus was completely full of passengers who got on at Athens.... and we had to wait another hour.
You won't be doing this; I gather you plan to Stay the night in the Corinth area .... but do you really want to spend that night in Corinth itself? All reports have it being a very boring "modern" (read: concrete postwar "box-style" buildings) city. This website suggests staying in the "village" surrounding the ruins. http://www.visit-ancient-greece.com/corinth-greece.html Therefore I suggest you buy a train ticket from Airport to ANCIENT Corinth-- which is the last stop, just after Corinth, about 7 mi. s.e. of modern city. Then you can do a short taxi ride straight to whatever village lodgings you have booked; if you Google "walking distance to Corinth Ruins" you'll see 2 or 3 v. well-reviewed options, such as Pegasus Rooms.
This trip-advisor thread is helpful for y our plans - https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g189484-i3299-k6447122-Athens_to_Ancient_Corinth_to_Nafplio_by_bus_Confused-Corinth_Corinthia_Region_Peloponnese.html It points out something important... it can be complicated to get from Modern or Ancient Corinth to Nafplio:
• LOCAL Bus to NAFPLIO -- From Modern Corinth, you get the local bus to Loutraki, that stops at ISTHMIA.... Then get the LOCAL bus to Nafplio that stops right by the OLD BRIDGE. This option Does have the advantage that you can walk out on the Old Bridge, and look straight down at the canal (SO deep! SO skinny!). You can't glimpse it at all from the modern intercity highway as it zooms over. And a caution is added about this local bus to Napflio ... unless you buy a ticket ahead, the bus could be full (all seats are numbered/reserved) when it arrives. (Maybe your hotel could reserve a ticket by phone... in the past this wasn't possible.
• ATHENS outbound KTEL Bus to NAFPLIO -- this one stops at the big KTEL "Bus connection station" on the Modern Highway. You need to take a taxi there. And YES, unless you buy or order tickets in advance, that bus could be full of Athens passengers, as it was in our case in Late May. Again, they say you now can do this by phone, using a charge card, but I would not attempt it myself; I would have a greek-speaking hotel clerk do it the night before & sleep easy.