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2 week Greece itinerary

Hi! My parents, Aunt, cousin and I plan to travel to Greece for two weeks early this October. I need some much needed help with the itinerary! Trip begins in Athens and ends in Santorini. This is what I have in mind at the moment. Athens- 3 nights, Delphi- 1 night, Meteora/ Kalambaka - 2 nights, Nafplio- 1 day, Chania (also visiting Loutro)- 2 nights, HERAKLION- 1 night, Santorini- 3 nights.

1) I was wondering if 3 days/ 3 nights are too many for Athens?

2) Is one day enough for Delphi?

3) Is one day enough for Nafplio?

4) Should I skip Heraklion? Isn't the Palace of Knossos the main attraction there? Considering we would have seen enough of ruins in Athens and Delphi?

Any advice apart from what I have asked would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Thanks in

Posted by
1067 posts

I can't speak to the islands, but you could get away with 2 full days and nights in Athens. You can do Nafplio in one day if using a second to see nearby sites like Mycenae and Epidavrus. Don't know if you are planning that or not.

Posted by
1723 posts

Three nights in Athens equals two days so I would recommend it. One full day is enough for Delphi. One day in Napflio is not enough. It was one of our favorite places in Greece. I would give it three days. I haven't been to Heraklion so I can't comment on that.

Posted by
984 posts

Your plan on the surface appears to be cobbled together with a bunch of must see locations without much understanding of the logistics involved in making it all happen. Having said that, if you are absolutely set on this plan it can work as long as you are prepared to drive by outstanding sites and are willing to put in long days in the car with early mornings and absolute minimum stays in several of your destinations. Some thoughts.
1)First three nights in Athens. OK that works, however Athens is a busy, big, noisy confusing place for a jet lagged traveller. If your return flight home is from Athens then you trip doesn’t end in Santorini. You still have to get back to Athens for your return flight. This means another day in Athens. It is never a good idea to fly back to Athens to catch a connecting flight home the same day. Stuff happens on a vacation and you will want to be in Athens at least a day before your return flight. The Plaka and area around the Acropolis are amazing but best enjoyed when you are acclimatized to Greece and well rested. Three days is a good amount of time for Athens.
2) You plan for Delphi, and Meteora is fine but then your next destination is Nafplio. It is about a 5 hour drive from Meteora to Athens then you have to head south to Nafplio another 2 hours. Then you are planning just the one night in Nafplio. You will have driven right past Ancient Corinth, Ancient Nemia and Mycenae just to get to Nafplio and won’t leave yourself enough time to explore the old town and Kastros.
3) You then plan to get to Chania Crete. That means a two hour drive back to Athens airport, then a flight to Chania. There are three flights a day in early October. The first is 7:50 then 5pm and 10 pm. The bonus is Aegean is having a seat sale and are offering 20 euro fares plus taxes right now.
If you make the 7:50 flight you will have essentially a full day in Chania which isn’t much but you can wander the Venetian Harbour and old town. Chania http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632117917828/
Next morning you will have to rent a car or take the KTEL bus south to Chora Sfakion on the south coast. I estimate that will take you at least three hours. Then you need to catch a ferry or water taxi to Loutro. My best guess is you will be at Loutro by noon. I assume you plan to stay the night in Loutro. October is still busy and you should try getting a hotel reservation before you arrive.
Ferry trip Libyan Sea https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157653434073393
Then ferry back and head to Heraklion. You will need to spend the night in Heraklion because the ferrys to Santorini departs around 9:30am and you won't be able to get back from Loutro that early. Knossos is worthwhile as is the archeological museum in central Heraklion.
We have done every aspect of your trip over the years. Based on our experience I would tweak the plan as follows: Depending on your flight arrival time immediately catch a connecting flight to Santorini. It is a great place to get over jet lag. Or possibly head to Nafplio it too is a place to get over jet lag. Leave Athens at the end of the trip.
Three nights in Santorini is sufficient. One night in Nafplio is not. You need a minimum of three nights there. Drop Crete to get the extra time in Nafplio. Crete is too big. If you want to do Crete consider full week there and drop something else.
oops it looks like I was too long winded I have run out of space. My reply will continue on the next post.

Posted by
984 posts

So here is my suggestion
Arrive. Fly to Santorini. Three nights http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632154800782/
Fly back to Athens and rent a car. Visit Nafplio three nights.
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/
Drive to Delphi or Meteora whichever you want to see first.

Olympia Delphi Meteora https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645469717811/
We arrived in Delphi in mid afternoon, visited the museum and wandered the village. It is high up in the mountain and the views down to the Gulf of Corinth is like a river of olive trees. Get a hotel on a walk up basis and be up early next morning. You will have the site virtually to yourselves. You will have a couple of hours before the tour buses arrive.
By early afternoon leave and drive to Meteora. Plan to arrive in early evening before sunset. The place will be empty and you will have unbelievable photo opportunities. Next morning get up early and beat the tour buses. You will be happy you took your photos the day before because all buses and people get in the way during the day.

We stayed in the village of Kastraki. It is right at the foot of the mountains and much closer than Kalambeka. We actually stayed a second night because it is a long day trying to see all the monasteries that are open.
Then back to Athens for your three nights
Athens http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632121475515/

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you Jikelman, Mary and Stanbr for your replies and very valuable advice!
Stanbr...I Googled two week Greece itinerary and copied one from the internet. lol. Without any understanding of the logistics as you rightly said! After reading your post, here are my concerns which I would appreciate some help with.
1. We wanted to keep Santorini last and relax. Does it make sense to do so or as you said one will have to fly back to Athens so it doesn't?
2. None of us will be driving. How can I tweak the itinerary and travel methods (going to Athens, renting a car and proceeding to Napflio etc.) because of this?
3. Should we skip Crete altogether? I decided to skip Heraklion altogether last night (too many check ins and outs) and decided to give Chania 3 days instead. One day trip to Loutro.
4. Does this make any sense now...Athens 3 nights, Delphi 1 night, Meteora 2 nights, Napflio 2 nights, Chania(with day trip to Lourtro) 3 nights and Santorini 3 nights. Or would you recommend something else?
I want to make use of all 14 days!

Posted by
9 posts

Hi Stanbr!
My aunt and I have tweaked our Itinerary and I wanted your advice!
1. Arrive in Athens and leave for Napflio on the same day. Spend 4-5 nights in Napflio.
2. Napflio to Delphi. 1 night in Delphi
3. Delphi to Meteora. 2 nights in Meteora
4. Meteora to Athens. 3 nights in Athens.
5. Athens to Santorini. 3 nights in Santorini
6. Santorini to Athens and back home

1)Could you please suggest the best mode of transport for us to and from these places since we we wont be driving.
2) Seems like it will take about 7 hours from Napflio to Delphi via Athens by bus! Could we hire a taxi instead? How expensive woul that be?
2)I'd also like Santorini to be the last place so we can relax there before flying back (from Athens)all the way home with a stopover in Istanbul! Athens will involve a a lot of walking etc. and will tire out my parents.
4) I am concerned about mum if she'll be able to take all these bus rides!

Posted by
21041 posts

If you will have separate tickets from Santorini to Athens and from Athens back to the US, that would worry me. There could be an issue with the flight out of Santorini, causing you to miss your international flight, requiring your entire group to buy last-minute replacement one-way tickets home. That would be terribly costly. I would want either to have a single ticket from Santorini home (so the airline has to get you on a later flight, if necessary) or to be in or very near Athens the night before my departure.

Posted by
984 posts

If you are not driving then you have to rely on the local bus. Its called KTEL. You can google it for schedules.
I think you will find it is easy to get to Nafplio on the bus. You have to leave the airport and get to the bus station but a taxi can get you there quickly. Buses leave virtually every hour. Good call on a longer stay in Nafplio. There are KTEL buses from there to the surrounding archeological sites.

That is where the good news stops. You are correct it is going to be a long haul to Delphi from Nafplio without a car. Its even worse news to get from Delphi to Meteora because the bus routing is so complex you are better off just returning to Athens and make your connection to Meteora from there.
I think you might find it better to look into a 4 day classic Bus tour. It will get you to Olympia, Delphi and Meteora. It is expensive but probably well worth the investment for ease of transportation. These tours are done by Chat and Key tours or Dolphin Hellas travel agency in Athens is an excellent trustworthy company.

I can understand wanting to end in Santorini, it is spectacular.

The only warning I have for the 3 days in Athens then three in Santorini is you really have to have one more day available to you in Athens the day before your flight home. Yes you can fly back to Athens and catch your flight home on the same day however last year we watched English, South Africans, Germans, French and Americans scrambling to re book their return flights as we waited out a 4 hour delay on our commuter flight back to Athens.
Stuff happens with flight and ferry delays are possible.
Sounds like you are going to have a great time.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you Acraven and Stanbr for you replies. I will be tweaking my itinerary yet again! :( I am surprised at how difficult it is to get to places in Greece considering the number of tourists who visit! Why can't they just make it easier?!

Posted by
984 posts

Ah rey if it were easier, too many people would come and crowd out us regulars. Getting around is half the fun but you need to really think it through.

Posted by
4534 posts

I'll throw in my comments, hopefully they won't be too much of a monkey wrench.

If you won't be driving, then your itineraries are way to aggressive. You can easily take a bus from Athens to Delphi and back; it's about a 3 hour trip. And one night can work as long as you take a morning bus there and afternoon bus back. But notice that this takes two full days of your trip.

Nafplio is also an easy bus trip to/from Athens. But the same rules apply as above and worse, some of the best sites around Nafplio are not easy to get to without a car. You could arrange for a taxi service to go to Myceanea from Nafplio - that might make more sense though it will be more expensive. A Myceanea visit will eat up the better part of the day there so you'll need at least 2 nights (thus 3 full days).

You won't be able to also fit Meteora in this trip.

There are also tour services that go to these places and take the hassle, planning and unease out of the equation for you. Look into them because without a car, you are pretty limited in sites you can see nearby to those cities (the Delphi site is walkable from the town).

As far as flying home goes, a lot of it depends on the actual flight schedules. Your flight home is the driving factor, a morning flight absolutely means staying overnight at the airport or in Athens. A later afternoon flight leaves you time to fly back to Athens in the morning. How much time to leave is a matter of your risk tolerance as flight delays are not uncommon. And you'll need to be at the Athens airport 2-3 hours in advance.

Posted by
21041 posts

For a group of five people, I wonder whether an affordable (van) taxi option might be found to get to one or two otherwise difficult locations.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks Douglas and Acraven! Satnbr, perhaps you are right. But i just hope we wont end up with motion sickness :/
So, I have edited my itinerary yet again, only for the 256th time.

Stanbr, I have taken your advice and have decided to spend one night in Athens before flying out.

  1. Arrive in Athens and leave for Nafplio immediately by bus/ taxi.
  2. Nafplio- 5 nights Visit the nearby areas by taxi.
  3. Leave for Athens and spend 3 nights there. 1 day will be for a Delphi day tour by taxi or bus tour. What would all of you recommend?
  4. Leave for Meteora by train and spend 2 nights there.
  5. Back to Athens and leave for Santorini on the same day.
  6. Santorini- 3 nights
  7. Leave for Athens and spend 1 night in Athens.
  8. Fly home!
Posted by
984 posts

Hope you wont mind a 26th revision.
In your three days in Athens you intend to do a day trip to Delphi then a two day trip by train to Meteora.
I might respectfully suggest you take your last day in Athens and take the 3 day Delphi Meteora bus tour. Its exactly the same time frame you are considering but you have all your transportation and hotels included with a guide. I suspect it might be less expensive to take public transportation but check out this
http://www.keytours.gr/tours/athens/three_days_trip_to_delphi_and_meteora_from_athens-38.html

Posted by
4534 posts

I agree with Stanbr, consider a tour trip that includes Delphi and Meteora if you really want to see both. Time is limited and critical on your trip - don't waste it traveling 3 hours to Delhpi and then back, and they retrace those steps going to Meteora. Mainland Greece can be a pain to get around without a car and if you won't be renting, you really are best to take an organized tour if you are going more than one place.

Also, with all the taxis and tours you will have to be taking to see sites, is there a reason you don't want to rent a car? You will likely spend more money than just renting a car and are introducing a number of extra hassles in your trip. Outside of Athens, Greece is actually not a bad place to drive and cars can be rented from the airport to avoid the worst central Athens traffic.

Posted by
2856 posts

I totally agree on the desirability of renting a car (and I have done Greece both ways... via KTEL bus AND renting a car with others). You say "we will not be driving" but give no reason. Are none of you licensed? (this really only happens if all 5 of you have spent your whole lives in Manhattan). Are you afraid of driving in Greece (as others point out this is needless fear, we can explain why). Do you think it would be more costly than bus/taxi?? We need to know more, before we spend more time & effort trying to get things to work via public transport! My friends & I have rented cars out of the airport and the drivers have said it really is a "piece of cake" to get to the Peloponnese on Greece's MOST modern divided highway, (in 2013 we did it in a driving rain for first hour, and no problem) .. not a single turn or road-change until way after the Corinth Canal, and in October, traffic on smaller roads will be minimal. Our driver summed it up, a heckuva lot easier than driving where she was from, rural Alabama.

First of all, you will NOT be able to do local sites by taxi anywhere, because taxis seat a maximum of 4 passengers and you are 5. There are NO larger taxi sizes available... whereas you can easily rent a 5-passenger car the szie of a honda accord in Off season for under 40E per day. The Peloponnese-Delphi-Meteora thing is doable by car, impossible by public bus. Yes you could take a 4 day tour, but you are trapped with 25 other people, cannot move on at will, and are not free to spend the time you want at variuous sites . Then - compare the cost of 5 tour bookings, with the cost for a car rental and booking your own choice of hotels or pensions ... and eating on your own in nice small cafes vs. the group thing. In addition, if you have a car it gives flexibility of some in your group want to do things and others just want to hang out in a cafe, or browsing shops. Rentals allow for 2 drivers, to give you a trade-off. So, please, tell us what problems there are about driving, and we'll seek answers.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi Douglas and Janet. Thanks a lot for your advice and your concern:) Very kind of you. Janet, none of us will be driving because we're from India. We drive on the left side of the road and the cars are right hand drive. Opposite of Greece!
Douglas, those who do not want to visit Delphi can stay back in Athens while the others do a day trip. Might be too hectic for some so they have the option of opting out.
Is it difficult travelling to areas close to Nafplio by public bus? Do we have to change buses?

Posted by
2856 posts

Rey, in future it's a good idea to include that fact (India, RH drive) at very beginning, so save time of advisors trying to work out solutions that prove irrelevant. MIght consider in future taking some practice in other.. my husband & I tried it in England, starting on country roads, being very cautious, it worked OK. But then it was not mountainous, which greece is.

As for visiting sites by local bus, yes you CAN visit Mycenae by bus, and also Epidaurus. The problem is, only ONE site per day, because the bus schedules don't permit more. These 2 are in Opposite directions. You get a 9:30 bus to Mycenae for instance, and let's say there is a bus back to Nafplio at about 1. You get there at 1:30, but there are no more busses for day to Epidaurus. Samedeal: We did Epidaurus on a 9:30 bus, the bus back was 1:30, no other site visits possible. You could work it to visit an ancient, and later in the day explore nonsites.. such as walks around town. Your additional problem is, you're going in October. In high season, these sites are open longer, and are supposed to be open longer until end of October. However, you may find that they close at 3 -- to be safe, u need to have your hotel check by PHONE. (YOU should have the phone numbers from internet to provide to hotel clerk). NOTE: a few years back, a couple of Nafplio travel agencies used to offer a day-trip to both these, with a iicensed guide along. Somehow, Nafplio tourism does not have its act together! These day-tours have disappeared.

I do have one inspiration for you -- by Googling "Nafplio-based travel agency" I found a link to Argolidlife -- which gives links to licensed guides in the area. Here is the webpage of one: http://www.argolidalife.gr/επαγγελματικός-κατάλογος/υπηρεσίες/Διζέ-Σμαραγδή The text is in English. She guides people around the city of Nafplio (Nauplion) but ALSO puts together day-trips that could combine for example MYCENAE & the theatre of EPIDAURUS. You might write her direct, and ask what it would cost to rend a van seating 5 tourists + driver + her as licensed guide and see those 2 sites. I am afraid it would be costly ... but that is the difficulty for you, in visiting a country which unlike Italy is not easy to access by train, and which has sites widely separated. This is a reason that many people in your situation go on group tours.

If you decide to skip something it should be Meteora ... very time-consuming to get there and at least in my opinion, unless you are deeply into Greek Orthodox and monasteries, it's mainly about buildings on top of really high, really skinny rock-points. I rented a video from the library about it and enjoyed it a lot, from the comfort of my couch!

Posted by
9 posts

Hi Janet
I had mentioned that none of us would be driving and didn't think it necessary to give any reason for it. Nor did I assume anybody would want to know why we aren't driving!
Thanks for all the Nafplio info. Extremely helpful. Fortunately we will be spending 5 nights there. So one visit a day to a nearby place will suffice I guess.

Haha@ what you said about Meteora! I saw some pictures and really want to see the place! I think my mum would like it as well.
It is astounding how difficult it is to reach places in Greece. Not to mention, one must go back to Athens to go to any place! I would be okay changing buses etc if just my cousin and I were travelling. But now i've to think of my parents. Just the thought of my mum feeling tired is stressing me out a great deal. Had I known it were this way, I would have opted for another destination before being so deep into the planning and execution!

Posted by
2856 posts

Rey, your worries and criticisms point up the reason that I always urge people to consult Guide BOOKS, not just websites. Websites tend to be commercial, or promotions by the destination areas, so they focus on highlights and omit drawbacks. Guidebooks need to be more fact-based or their reputation will suffer -- and they include the downsides, like transportation difficulties. You seem to be blaming Greece for being difficult to navigate ... but if you had done more homework, you would have grasped the reasons -- very mountainous terrain (leading to lack of railways), the fact that it includes more islands than almost any other country in the world, and also a small population (only 13 Million people) that cannot support major transit systems like India with its billions. Depending solely on the internet is risky -- you yourself said "Stanbr...I Googled two week Greece itinerary and copied one from the internet. lol. Without any understanding of the logistics as you rightly said! "

I realize that in India, books in English are at a premium, but now that the "Octopus of Seattle" -- Amazon -- has reached India, you have access to many books in English at less cost. My choice for Greece? Rick Steves' Greece book is good on Athens & parts of the mainland but only covers 1 island out of the 40+ isles that tourists visit. I particularly recommend the ROUGH GUIDE series ... and often you can buy used copies for much less than new. Rough Guide actually PAYS people for traveling & research (a surprising number of guidebooks do not!), and it gives local details & good maps of both areas & cities. For your next trip, I recommend looking at a Rough Guide -- or other guides -- instead of Internet Only. Best wishes on your trip.

Posted by
9 posts

Preview
Hi Janet. Not critising, wondering about the difficulty of accessing places in Greece. Have you been to India? Books in English are not at a premium.
Have planned trips to several other countries based on information from the Internet.
Thanks for your help.

Posted by
2856 posts

Ho ho, some misunderstanding ... when I said, in India books in English are "at a premium," I did not mean they were more costly -- it was my slightly misworded way of saying that books in English may be difficult to obtain. That's why I mentioned Amazon India, because this makes it much easier to get books at a reasonable price and quickly.

Yes, I am aware that probably you have planned other trips successfully for Free, by using only the Internet. This does not mean it is sufficient for planning a Greece trip. We get SO many responses on these travel forums, from people like yourself who have tried internet-only research on Greece, and have encountered the SAME difficulties and misunderstandings about Greece that YOU have experienced --- not realizing distances, not understanding the transportation challenges etc -- that it becomes obvious that Greece is one of those cases where an in-depth Guidebook approach is useful. And when a family group is planning to spend possibly as much as €10,000 - €20,000 on such a trip, it seems odd that the family member in charge of planning is reluctant to spend €10 - 12 on a guidebook.