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5 1/2 days in Athens, Itinerary help

Hi! My daughter (12 years old) and I will be flying to Athens after a few days in Barcelona in Mid November and I'd like to get some input on whether this mini road trip is a good idea. Our plane lands in the early afternoon on Sunday, Nov. 12th. I was thinking we could rent a car and immediately drive to Nafplio, possibly stopping in Corinth for a little site seeing.

Monday 13th - wake up in Nafplio, visit Epidavros in the morning, Mycenae early afternoon. After Mycenae, we drive straight to Delphi (3-3 1/2 hour drive). I'd like to drive north just so we make a loop around the Gulf of Corinth. I imagine we'd have dinner in Delphi, or somewhere else along the way.

Tuesday 14th - Wake up in Delphi, visit ancient site and museum, return rental car to Athens airport, be back in Athens for late dinner?

Wed/Thurs/Fri (15th-17th) - I think it'd be easy to fill 3 full days in Athens. We fly out at like 6am on Saturday the 18th.

So I guess my question is, is the little road trip a good idea? should we stay in Athens the whole time? Or should we instead plan on only 2 full days in Athens and add an extra day in Nafplio? What would you recommend? I would really appreciate any input. This is my first time doing a trip like this (where I'm in charge of all the planning) and I really don't want to screw it up.


Posted by
2489 posts

I think it is too much and I am not 12. Nafplio itself is a lovely town and climbing up to the fortress was a favorite activity of our group. Your schedule would not allow. I would save for another time.

Consider taking a trip to Delphi instead after you land. Spend the night.

Or drop Delphi and spend two nights in Nafplio .

Posted by
1366 posts

Your plan is doable. Its a lot to do in such a short time. I do like the fact that you are including a stop in Corinth. Most people just stop at the canal and drive on. You can also stop at Ancient Corinth ( Biblical era) and right next door is Acrocorinth a large fortress with 360 degree views over the countryside.

Be sure to find Ancient Nemia. Its just off the highway where you turn south to Nafplio. Instead go north a few KM and you will find the stadium. Nemia had sister games to Olympia and the stadium is still there.

If I were to make a change I might add a day to Nafplio and do 2 nights in Athens.
Here are some images.
Delphi and Meteora

Corinth Area.

Posted by
3317 posts

YOu don't say so, but I'm reading between the lines that your 12 year old is interested in Greek mythology, probably from those Percy Jackson books. However, actual ancient sites are harder to appreciate without more backgrounding, and without a guide she may be disappointed at unexplained ruins. On a "road trip," places mentioned by u & others that she'll most easily appreicate would be the stadium at Ancient Nemea, Palamidi fortress & Nafplio's high Acronafplia ramparts, Epidaurus' amazing theatre.. Nafplio & its small museum (it has the world's only Iliad-era warrior armor!). I seldom disagree with "stanbr," but With your short time-frame, I suggest you not attempt to include Ancient Corinth; for one thing, ancient sites may be doing the off-season 3pm early closing.. and remember it's November & gets dark early. If forced to choose, I'd opt to keep driving over Canal, then stop for Ancient Nemea (less than an hour if u don't do museum), then head S. for Nafplio... You could at least explore Old Town before dark.

Monday 11/l3 looks like a looong day with major Backtracking... to Epidaurus, then BACK To Nafplio (and then there's lunch -- I'm thinking it would be 2 earliest before you got to Mycenae.... an over-reach?? Have you considered ANcient TIRYNS? It's right outside Nafplio, also an Iliad-era fortress, just not as spectacular, and not restored... but same gigantic boulder construction. Can be explored in less than an hour. Even so... I'd be very leery of then heading delphi before dark. How are you at driving in fading light in the mountains? You might do better by another night in Nafplio, then an early start. Also -- carefully check the times/distance from Nafplio - Delphi -- going West vs backtracking to Corinth etc - the latter may actually be faster. And remember, you've never driving in Greece before, when many signs are in a different Alphabet.

If you do go to Delphi, its museum has excellent signage, but the site itself does this need interpretation, unless you've done serious study & have an excellent guidebook & print-outs. There's an excellent local-based licensed guide (these rigorously-educated guides are the only ones allowed to escort tourists onto ancient sites) - However, it isn't cheap of course; 2020 rates were about €60 per hr, 2 hr minimum. A possible alternative (tho haven't personally tested it) would be an audio-guide for your smart phone. this offer combines it with an entry ticket -

That being said, my inclination would be to "play it by ear"... see how it goes... I think you may decide not to rush away from NAfplio, and leave Delphi for a future trip.

Posted by
2489 posts

Mycenae was probably the least favorite site of my group when we went. It is hard to interpret and in lots of places appears to be piles of rocks. It would have been much better with a guide. They liked Nemea much more and Epidavros too.

Janet brings up a good point about the roads to Delphi. We drove there last summer from the airport and were rather shocked by how mountainous it was. There was a ski resort 15 minutes from Delphi! I would not want to drive that in the dark.

Posted by
2 posts

Wow thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies. You've given me so much to think about. By the way, Janet, you nailed it with the Percy Jackson books. She is super into them. Obessed, actually. And thank you for the links to the Delphi guide.

So as of now, we are thinking of saving Nafplio, Corinth, Epidavros and Mycenae for next time. It just seems too rushed. Aside from the main Athens sites, the place we both want to go the most is Delphi. So like Beth recommended, we're leaning towards going straight there after landing.

Anyways, once again I just want to say thank you to everyone who replied. I really appreciate all of the input.

Posted by
2489 posts

We liked being in Delphi a lot. Unfortunately, our flight out of Crete was delayed so we ended up arriving about 3 hours later than we had planned. We got there about 4:30 pm and left about 10 the next morning for Meteora. I would not have minded a bit more time to wander around.

Make sure you get a hotel with a view. It really is pretty splendid.

Posted by
3317 posts

IF you go to Delphi upon landing & y ou get a car, you'll just arrive about 5:30 or so, thus you'll be spending the night. We liked Hotel PAN, with rooms on the scenic downhill site (hawks were circling BELOW our balcony) ... views down mountain, across a valley of Olive Groves out to sunset over the sea. You can meet your guide at the gate at 8:15 AM, and have at least 2 hours b efore tour busses arrive,.., maybe more, since this will be november.

Back in Athens, again, since your daughter has been fed made-up fantasy from Percy, like so many she'll expect to see giant statues around (that may ormay not come to life). to have the reality be exciting, it would be good to use a tour where a licensed Guide can give insights, on the Acropolis, and the Acropolis Museum. The wellregarded Athens-Walks has group tours limited to 15 people (and in November, probably will be fewer). I will be disappointed to find that you have not already discovered on this website, the FREE downloadable audio guides offered by Rick Steves under "Watch Read Listen" (just clilck Greece then Athens). Step by step DIY for the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora (not offered by any other) AND The Nat. ARch. Mluseum... the latter steers you to the Ten Must-See treasures (so you don't get lost in acres of pots). And since your child is a girl, what about the thrill of GOLD? Just 100-200 yards from the Acropolis Museum is the Ilias LaLounis Jewelry Museum in a stunning Mansion - he was the Cartier/Tiffany designer of Greece... famous worldwide, favorite of Jackie Kennedy, many royals -- and you can see designs of THREE ancient civilization plus, if you time it right, craftsman working on gold designs.

Posted by
7634 posts

Trips out of Athens that I recommend.

1) Delphi
2) Temple of Sounion
3) Corinth and the Corinth Canal
4) 3 Island Cruise (Hydra-Poros-Aegina) from Piraeus.