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2 weeks in Greece late March

Just trying to make the post about our holiday and would appreciate any tips re itinerary and restaurants.
3 nights central Athens near Monastiraki metro. Take the 7:25am ferry to Paros, not booked but will probably get tickets at the airport on our arrival. Stay in Noussa and then get the ferry the following day to Santorini. We did not want a really long day on the boat so we are splitting the journey. Stay 3 nights in Firostefani. Fly back to Athens. Arrive mid day and rent car to go to Delphi. Stay the night and see the site. Late afternoon travel to Nafpaktos and stay the night. On to Olympia for 2 nights. Then travel to Nafplio for 3 nights. Question how difficult is it to do the mountain was opposed to going the quicker route down the coast and across. We fly out of Athens in the early evening so would like to visit Mycenae or Corinth on our way back when we plan to return the car. First visit to Greece.

Posted by
8603 posts

With limited exception most roads in Greece are winding or through hilly/mountainous areas. If you are used to someplace flat like Florida it will be a different experience. There is also the 'ooh and aahh' factor, so plan extra time to get from A to B.

If you are driving back on the day you fly out give yourself PLENTY of cushion. Mapquest, google maps etc., estimates are sure to be overly optimistic. Personally I would give myself a fudge factor of at least +50%

Posted by
2856 posts

Here's a great map for the Pelops, also shows the mainland all the way to athens & Athens airport (click to enlarge; use side slides to navigate) http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg

I"ve been to Olympia, and you do NOT need 2 nights there... If you leave Nafpaktos in AM. it can't be more than 3 hours around the western rim of Pelops to get to Olympia. In April the major sights supposedly begin "summer hours" and Olympia is supposedly then open from 8 am - 7 pm (check when u reach greece -- it changed during economic crisis then changed back). So you could reach Olympia in early afternoon. The big tour bus crowds are gone by 3 ... you could see both the site AND the museum before dark. This would give you extra time in the rest... and I do suggest driving down the coast & spend a nite in lovely Pylos wonderful village planned by the french... lovely piazza/square facing the sea. That would shorten your drive to Nafplio area starting next AM, and ON the WAY to Nafplio, you could go to Mycenae. Again, after lunch the bus crowds are minimal ... Then on the day you return to the Athens area, to avoid backtracking, you could go across the "thumb" of Peloponnese and hit Epidaurus in the AM , then drive up the Coast road. That way you will go right into Isthmus, where you can stop and see the Corinth Canal ... walk out on the Old Bridge, the only way you really can picture it (SO deep! SO Skinny!). You'd have time to go to Ancient Corinth as well, if you haven't had your fill of ruins, but it's less of a must except for fans of St. paul who want to see the platform he preached from. The ruins themselves are not as understandable as other sites. But it's your choice. PS: on route from Pylos heading toward Nafplio, there's Ancient Messine .... has a wall like the Great Wall of China only shorter, but completely overlooked by tourists.

Posted by
14885 posts

I was on a tour bus. Do not underestimate the traffic jams in Athens. The Peloponnese is mountainous. Roads are most (all?) 2-lane, lots of curves (and views . . . and some slow vehicles). Don't expect good signage, especially in English.

Consider splitting your time in Athens and spending your last night/day there.

Posted by
2856 posts

The route I recommended (down to Pylos, then east) has good roads... and English signage before exits to places of interests ... but not waaay before. As a general rule, when an exit is approaching there is FIRST a sign in Greek saying, for instance, Pyrgos, then a few hundred yards, a sign in English, usually White on BRown (for historic), saying Pyrgos, then get ready to turn FAST. US signage caters to distracted drivers; for instance they say "Exit 38 1 mile" then "Exit 38 1/2 mile" Then "Exit 38 1/4 mile". Greek signage tells you ONCE -- shortly before you must exit. Stay alert!

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks very much everyone and especially Janet for all your helpful suggestions. We grew up driving in the Highlands of Scotland and still drive manual, so I am thinking that the driving may not be so different. We now live in Canada and are in our seventies, so I suspect that this might be our last driving holiday in Greece, unless we do a dreaded bus tour. We will still be in Olympia for winter hours, so will not be able to do an evening visit. We are not actually staying in the village of Olympia, but outside and was just going to use the day for a bit of downtime. We have tried to just do 2-3 hours driving max a day.
I think we will go down the coast after Olympia and turn east at Kalo Nero. I have printed all the routes from the Michelin maps and realize how important it is to know the Greek name which comes first and that the English one may just be covered in graffiti. The last day we may end up walking the beach late afternoon near the airport as our flight is not until 20:00. Thanks again for all the help. We always really wanted to see Greece and at last are finally just about there!

Posted by
2856 posts

Hurrah! It's never too late to discover Greece .... I wanted to see it all my life, since my teens, but couldn't make it until my 60s... and since then have chalked up 12 trips, so you do the math. Greece is super for seniors, since there's so much great stuff to gaze at while you're sitting at a seaside cafe resting your tootsies, and nobody will nag you to pay up & leave. Even in March, a fine time to watch a sunset... please discover the long line of lovely canopied cafes along the Nafplio seafront, with cushioned wicker loveseats to sink into, AND, in cooler seasons, plastic side cushions to block the breezes. I've seen sunsets on 24 isles, and this one's the BEST.

A couple more tips:
OLYMPIA - If you go to Museum 1st thing in AM, it's totally deserted, so atmospheric, bus-tour crowds only come in about 10:30. Also, the rubble can be hard to understand; this website- thumbnail photos w. brief explanations - is great to print & take: http://ancient-greece.org/archaeology/olympia.html

NAFPLIO - DO study this website http://www.visitnafplio.com/ & put it on your smart-phone ... This Gorgeous Old Town/area deserves time, you can walk your legs off but Please don't miss this lovely stroll, at the base of Acronafplia - http://www.visitnafplio.com/volta.html -- maybe u won't want to trek all the way to the beach and back but at least go around the point, thru the natural arch... awesome. Also, for Palamidi, you can drive up the BACK way on your way outa town, just give it 20 minutes or so to get to the parapet and gasp at the views. All those aerial views that look as if photo'ed from a helicopter were just from that wall.
DELPHI - Smart not to try a 1-day tour; I did that on my 1st trip, hated it... returned on 10th trip for o'nite, loved it. Look at Hotel PAN,. We walked in, owner suggested main floor back room, we thought ???? but when we entered & went on balcony, hawks were circling BELOW us, & view was down mountain to the sea. stunning. Before that, when u drive uphill toward Delphi, you first pass On yr right the famous Round Temple of Athena(?), it's unfenced open 24/7. You might want to stop on way in, OR on departure, because otherwise, a long walk down/back up to Ruins entrance. THen comes ruin/museum, and small town center is after... Pan is just 200 yards before center crossroads.