I have signed up for the 4/9/18 Greece tour which will start the day after Easter Sunday in Athens. Would it be better to arrive in Athens on Monday rather than Easter Sunday. I'm worried about getting from the airport to Athens during Easter Sunday and also obtaining a hotel reservation the day before the tour starts since it will be a Holiday. I will be flying into Frankfurt on that Sunday however I can stay in Frankfurt for the night if I need to and fly into Athens early the next day when the tour begins.
If you can get a hotel reservation, I would get to Athens on the Sunday.
The transportation system of a city of 4 million does not shut down.
I was considering that tour (Easter Monday start) this year, ended up taking one that started a week later. Anyway, I researched this exact question. Turns out, Easter Sunday is the biggest holiday of the year and at least half of Athens leaves town to enjoy the day with family and roasted lamb. Transportation runs all day, easy to get around. Many of the sights are closed that day - that's the downside. The upside is that there aren't crowds, you can wander and get your bearings, and there are enough restaurants open that you'll have choices. It probably means you won't have trouble getting a hotel room either. I'd go to Athens on Sunday and stay at the tour hotel- saves you a hotel change.
Head for Syntagma Square for the changing of the guard and see the evzones in their holiday uniforms. Take the RS city self-guided tour. Some (all?) of the churches will probably be open.
Thanks Chani, that is exactly the info that I was looking for!
I am also confirmed on the 4/9/18 Greece tour, and plan to arrive on Friday or Saturday. My plan was go to Meteora, but because it is Easter weekend I have changed plans. I now intend to go to a Saturday night church service and enjoy the crowds and culture. During the day I will go to the changing of the guards and do the Rick Steves walking tours. Now I need to decide whether to visit Meteora after the tour, or visit Santorini. I may do Meteora and save Santorini for a future island hopping cruise, any suggestions?
Terry, regarding "island hopping cruise," hold off on a decision about that. Those cruises mislead with their brochures - you think hey, I can see a bunch of islands in a short time, unpack once hooray. What you'd discover is that such cruises (esp the short ones on the huuuge vessels w. 2000+ passengers) are not really island visits... they are an ON-BOARD experience, with VERY short stops on an island, where you may not even get beyond the port town. Those biggies only go to 5 islands (because those are the only ones with deep-enough harbors for monsterships). When ashore you are surrounded by hundreds or thousands of fellow-cruisers, so in a constant crowd of ?N. Americans? Santorini is a particular disappointment for such ships ... to start with, they may only allot from 9 - 3 or 4pm. And they don't go to the pier used by regular ferries (where there are busses & a road to the top), they're anchored way out in the caldera, and passengers must be transferred to the Old Dock via launches (and those who buy the Pricey$$$ ship excursions go to head of line). From that Dock, no busses up to high towns -- you must stand in line for the cable car. Sometimes it takes over an hour just to get to top of Santorini ... then in a few hours you must queue up again for cable car. I've seen cruise passengers in tears, with their walkers, as tour leaders hustle them toward the cable station.
You have a better option for islands. The tour with R Steves Group will familiarize you with Greece and its ways... the good modern intercity busses that go all over the mainland AND in many islands, the metro in Athens, the ticket agencies everywhere. By the time you finish that tour, you'll probably be confident enough to plan your OWN island hopping trip not trapped in a cruise mob. You still can have an agency do the work for you ... there are several highly-regarded Athens-based agencies that are great with working online with N. American visitors ... they could plan a trip to several islands, advise on, and book hotels if that is your wish, arrange domestic flights or ferries as well.
For Meteora after your RS tour, there now are several tours by TRAIN -- a 1-day trip:
also a 2-day: https://www.visitmeteora.travel/en/things-to-do/tours-to-meteora-by-train/two-days-rail-tour-to-meteora-from-athens
just depends on your interest and your budget.
Thank-you, Janet, for the excellent information! I certainly don't want a cruise like you've described. I will research the best way to get between the island, either by plane or ferry. I understand the ferry is usually overnight to Santorini? I would want a minimum of 3 nights on each island I visit, since that would only give at max 2 days to explore and enjoy. I will probably save the islands for a future visit so I can dedicate enough days on each, I have no desire to arrive with hundreds (thousands) of other tourists and then have to rush to see things. Thanks for your help!