In early May, my family will arrive in Athens and have 6 days to spend in the Peloponesse area before we head to the Cycladic Islands. Please help me decide whether to use any of the 6 days visiting Hydra (or another Soronic Island). If we weren’t headed on to Cyclades, we definitely would include Hydra, but Nafplio, Epidavros, and the Mani Peninsula (and Monemvasia!) look so appealing that I am baffled how to best use our time. We range in age from 21-75 and enjoy unique local experiences. Please, any advice on how to spend these 6 days would be very much appreciated!
Since you’re visiting the Cycladic islands skip Hydra. My understanding is Hydra is a great destination if taking a daytrip from Athens and don’t plan on island hopping.
We loved our time on Hydra, but it was our only island that trip, and we had 2 weeks on the Peloponnese. With your schedule, skip Hydra, and include it next time. Have a great time in the Cyclades.
We took the RS Greece Tour that included Hydra. It was lovely but doesn’t compare to the Cyclades. Our favorite island for the true Greek experience was Naxos. Family friendly, historical, great cuisine…. We were there 6 glorious nights. Besides Athens, our favorite area was the Peloponnese. Nafplio was the highlight! I included Beth’s family trip report below. Her trip was in 2018. Helpful report!
Rick Steves& his outfit promote Hydra mainly because their tours are 99% mainland, and if people before/after the tour want to say "we went to a Greek island," Hydra is doable in a day or an overnight. But if you're going to the Cyclades, Hydra would be a letdown & waste of a day you could enjoy elsewhre. Instead, on arrival, pick up a rental car & go straight to Nafplio ... a better place to get over jet lag than busy Athens. Nafplio is stunningly beautiful and is ideally llocated as base for entire argolid ... maybe even Monamvasia ... I would save the Mani Peninsula for another visit if u have just 6 days... involves too much time in the car.
On day 6 return car to airport & take domestic flight to your farthest island... ferry to the next 1-2, fly or ferry back to do Athens at the LAST. If u want to know why, we've explained it many times on this forum... check out our previous posts by using "search.
Don't want to go on & on here ... y ou can do some research on your own then ask specific questions. Why not get a guide book folks? You're going to spend many thousands on y our trip -- how about splurging $10-12 on a used copy of ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE? You can pull out specific sections of interest (Peloponnese - Athens - Cyclades - History - Food & culture - etc etc) & they become small "pocket guides".
The best (and noncommercial) website for Nafplio & ALL the argolid is http://www.visitnafplio.com -- click on EVERY Link. Amazing.
Thanks to all for the suggestions. You have been most helpful.
Agree with the others. I found the Bradt Guide extremely useful in planning, but it is challenging with so much to choose from.
With ten days, I spent three in Nafplio (visited Epidaurus one day, Mycenae the next, but you could do both in one day). We intended to see Mystras en route to Kardamyli, but we visited on a rainy day from Kardamyli instead. Our other two full days in Kardamyli were spent hiking/swimming and enjoying the village. Then we visited ancient Messene en route to a tiny village near Stemnitsa (a couple more days). We visited monasteries and hiked there. Last, we visited Nemea on our way back to Athens.
I would have liked to see Monemvasia, Arcocorinth, the Pilos area, and the deeper Mani, but I could also easily spend more time in the places we visited. I'll have to return! We were there in late May and sites were gloriously uncrowded. My advice is to map the drives carefully, as you can sometimes stop en route on long drives, and that really maximized our time. I think splitting between Nafplio and somewhere in the Mani makes sense for you, but you should share your goal for the Mani part so people can offer tailored suggestions. It won't be beach weather, so what is the draw for you? A lot of people like to do scenic drives and check out the many tiny churches. For me, it was hiking--the nature is spectacular!
Thanks, Vapadelphia. I appreciate your suggestions. We will keep researching and honing our goals to enable us to ask for more specific advice. Thanks very much.
Definitely skip Hydra, you have so little time in the Peloponnese and there is so much to see there.
I am in Janet's camp. Get to Nafplio as soon as you arrive in Athens. Jet lag can be a factor in driving a car after a transatlantic flight. You might consider hiring a transfer service from Athens airport (see Athens City cab) then rent a car in Nafplio. We actually did do a transcontinental flight then a transatlantic overnight flight that got in at 10:30 am. We rented a car from Athens Car Rental and drove to Nafplio. Its doable but required two rest stops and numerous cups of coffee.
You could spend your whole 6 days in Nafplio. It is a beautiful sea side city with a wonderful old town area. There are several great ancient sites nearby. I can highly recommend Monemvassia. The hotels are in period rooms spread out around the village. There is something magical about sleeping inside a walled village.
On the way to or back from Monemvassia be sure to visit Mystras. It was the last Byzantine city and has several Cathedrals and ruins including a fortress at the top of the mountain.
Also many people drive by Corinth maybe stop at the canal. Corinth has several outstanding ancient sites including Ancient Corinth with ruins from the Roman period. Ancient Nemia had sister games to Olympia and they still have the stadium. Acro Corinth is an amazing Venetian Fortress with 360 degree views and it is right beside Ancient Corinth.
Here are some images.
Corinth Area. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157711755443483
Peloponnese, Mani and Monemvassia. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157711323535897
May I ask whether you recommend a day trip to Monemvasia from Nafplio or spending the night in Monemvasia? And, if spending the night, is one night sufficient? If I had unlimited time, I wouldn’t do a 1 night stop, but with just 6 days, it might be necessary if we want to see it.
Monemvassia is definitely worth an overnight stay. Even our Greek friends love Monemvassia. Go to Monemvassia spend the night and then do Mystras on the way back to Nafplio. This combination will provide an amazing experience.
I would like to change my mind on my first post. Jet lag can be very hard on the body and driving to Nafplio the day you arrive is probably not a great idea. Do you have the flexibility to get out to your first Cyclades island on your arrival day. Cyclades islands such as Santorini, Naxos Paros and Mykonos have airports. If you have 2 hours after your arrival that is sufficient time to catch a connecting flight so you could be on an island beach relaxing.
Getting over jet lag on an island is even better than doing it in Nafplio.
Experienced Greece travellers often suggest you get out to your first island then do the mainland just before your return flight. It is a good idea to be on the mainland the day before your flight. Is it possible to flip and do Nafplio and the Peloponnese last.
Oops I just saw your other post. Since you are looking for a driver and probably a van or two there is no need to switch your plan to avoid jet lag and driving.
We have used a pick up service called City cab several times. They have drivers and vans and will provide this service to Nafplio. They also told me they were introducing a new service where they will meet you at the airport and drive your rental car to Nafplio so the cars/van will be in Nafplio when you are ready to drive. Just search City cab or their old name Athens city cab.
Thanks again, stanbr.
I appreciate your sharing your thoughts. Very helpful.
You are welcome. Have a great time.
I will add another vote to visit Monemvasia. We spent 2 nights, but with limited time one night to enjoy the scenery, gorgeous sunset & special dinner on the beach would be worth the stay! Monemvasia was a top "wow moment" on our tour.