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Athens/Delphi/Corinth Thanksgiving week 2018

My husband and I have business meetings in Europe week before Thanksgiving so we want to visit Greece the week of Thanksgiving. We would like a mix of ancient historical things and relaxing. We are considering the following (but don't plan to do it all - that's where I want your input):

Athens
Delphi and Galadaxi
Corinth/Mycaenae/Nafplion
Aegina

We would rent a car for the non-Athens part and use public transport in Athens. We will be over any jet-lag already with being in Europe the previous week. Thoughts on the order to visit? What to drop? Any and all input is greatly appreciated!

Posted by
2417 posts

Hi BookLady!!

IMHO, I'd skip Galaxidi ... and save Delphi & Aegina until u see how things work out, and how much time u want to spend at Destinations 1 & 3. One thing to consider is that in November many major museums & sites Aside fom Acropolis close at 3pm (to save the cost of a 2nd shift), also sunset will be 5pm or so... so limits your driving & sightseeing, careful planning will be needed. Your choices may also depend on factors you haven't mentioned. Would you be planning to use a group tour? or a Private tour guide? (latter is usually about 60€ per hr, 3 hr minimum). Or are you immersed enough in Greek culture (or willing to do some pre-trip homework), to try a D-I-Y approach? From your screen name, I'd guess so. NOTE: R Steves website has FREE audio downloads for 4 Athens biggies: Acropolis, Agora, Natl Archeological Museum & a pretty-good Central-Athens Walk. When u combine this w. info from his Guidebook OR Rough Guide to Greece, I think you can D-I-Y nicely. My thoughts for a Scenario:

DAY 1 - Choose flight arrving ATH early! 9 AM? Rent car online (remember! u need to stop at AAA & pick up an International Driving Permit; u need that PLUS yr driver lic to rent). by 10 am, en route to Pelop on splendid modern road - this map shows everything! : http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg (click to Enlarge) and This superb album from RS Regular "stanbr" - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/ - shows highlights:
• CORINTH?? Depends: takes min. 2 hrs, signage not great, u decide • NEMEA - great 1 hr stop, a Sacred Games "runner-up" to Nafplio, swell stadium! • MYCENAE - min 2+ hours; only open unti 3; if u do Corinth, must postpone MYcenae • NAFPLIO - check-in to hotel i time to catch sunset @harborside cafe.

DAY 2 - NAFPLIO arch Mus (1 hr); Old Town; Mycenae? Tiryns?
DAY 3 - Depart - E. to • EPIDAURUS (theatre is Main starred item); up E coast road to • ISTHMUS - exit to see Corinth Canal (deep & skinny!!), back on road • RETURN CAR to Airport - Metro/95X express bus or/ $38 Flatfee taxi to Central Ath Hotel
DAY 4 & 5 - Athens Sightseeing .... PLUS option at end of Day 5: taxi to KTEL Liossion Terminal and 17:30 (5:30pm) Bus to Dellphi (2.5 hrs) arrive in dark for hotel & dinner
DAY 6 - 8:30 be at site, then do Museum; Athens-bound bus @ 11am & 3pm.
DAY 7 - More Athens?? You could do quick trip to Aegina, more as a "Greek Ferry Experience" IF (and only IF) the day is sunny AND if the schedule has, at least outbound OR inbound a "conventional" open-deck ferry (NOT a hydrofoil) where u can sit outside for an hour & enjoy the seascape, freighters, cruise ships, yachts etc, and views of Aegina harbor & of Piraeus as u return. Don't try to explore whole island, just wander port town & have meal or beverage at seaside.

Posted by
5 posts

Wow Thank you Janet! I hadn't thought about splitting the non-Athens part. And a huge thank you about winter hours - we will need to plan and think. We both enjoy the planning stage - almost as much as the doing - so definitely want to DIY. Also, we have UK DL since we lived there early 2000s that are still valid (good till you are 70) - do you think that will suffice, or should we still go by AAA? We can definitely do that and there is one close to where we live - just wondered whether we could use them.

Posted by
2417 posts

It's not a question of you valid UK license.... if you are a citizen of US or Canada, you are not a EU citizen... and all people who are non-EU must get an Intl DR Permit. The agencies are not supposed to rent to you without u showing the IDP....they used to be lax, but govt is now cracking down. It wouldn't matter if everything went perfectly, but if you have even a fender-bender & can't show IDP to the police, your insurance can be invalidated... do you really want to chance that??? BTW, don't lowball when you rent, and count on having your CC cover your insurance... with any damage u might have to pay up front, and then nag your CC to get the $ back... Get the full CDW no excess, and just banish worry, a few dollars more for peace of mind. BTW don't leave your driver license at home y ou still need it PLUS the IDP, latter is only a "permit".

Posted by
2417 posts

PS -- about splitting the outside-athens part, don't worry that your hotel will create a problem. They are VERY used to guests going off for overnight tours; you can leave your big bags in their luggage room & just take your o'nite shoulderbag or knapsack.. They may hold your room, or give you equivalent room when u come back for last 1- 2 days.

PPS - when booking homebound flight, if you haven't already, book a SANE departure hour, I like 9 am on. Required to be in line 2 hrs before departure (stupid of course, but required), & its 45-60 minutes by taxi/X95 bus from Central Athenst o airport,, depending on traffic. Thus for a 7 AM departure, you'd have to leave your hotel at 4 AM!!!! which wd pretty much sabotage a festive last-night in Athens. Also, taxi flatrate to airport is €38 DAY, night rate is €55 i think. Day rate based on time you ARRIVE at destnation and begins @ 6am ... so to get this, the earliest to leave hotel, to be safe, would be 5:20 or so.

Posted by
364 posts

I was there 15 years ago and am just starting to plan for a future trip.
We dove to Meteora (1 night), Delphi (1 night), short stop at Corinth, Nafplio (2 nights), day trip to Mycaenae (great!), stopped at Epidarus on way back to Athens. That was a manageable pace. Nafplio was so good that we wish we had stayed there a night or two more. Just relaxing and pretty.

Posted by
4510 posts

I did a very similar trip right around Thanksgiving season a few years ago. My thoughts:

The good news is that most of the sites will be very quiet as it is off-season for tourism. We had some places practically to ourselves (like Delphi and Olympia). Our weather was pretty good, cool days and not much rain, but plan for rain or some cold.

The bad news is that many of the hotels and restaurants shut down and it was harder to find things open in places like Delphi. So plan ahead and book reservations just to be sure you have a place and aren't searching endlessly during your trip. It wasn't a major problem, but I did have to search some as many hotels were going to be closed. In Athens and Nafplio it isn't an issue.

Driving was fine on modern roads pretty well marked. I'm no expert, but I would think a valid EU-issued drivers license would suffice for rentals. But getting an IDP as a backup would be wise. With an American license at the time, the rental agencies were very strict about needing the IDP (a long story).

I highly recommend Delphi - its a magical place. I actually recommend staying in Galixidi, as we did. It's a bit quiet and mostly shut down, but far more charming than the modern crap that is in the town of Delphi. Also nearby to Delphi is the Byzantine monastery of Hosios Loukas. Very much worth a stop if you have time.

Nafplio is a great town and worth several nights with day trips to Myceanae and Epidavros (or visit one traveling to or from Nafplio).

Athens is worth several nights too, and that time of year it can be very pleasant and inexpensive. I do highly recommend the Acropolis Museum and the Archeology Museum, along with the Acropolis and Agora of course.

Depending on how much time you have, you can easily do those with 6 nights. If you have more time, consider making a loop from Athens to Delphi to Olympia to Nafplio to Athens (or reverse). You can make that work with just one night in Olympia (the town is not worth more).

Posted by
5934 posts

We easily drove to Galadaxi and Delphi from the Peloponeassean Pen after staying in Napflion, Sparta and Olympia. Keep the car and complete these parts of your itinerary. I realize you aren't visiting Sparta/Mystras, and Olympia but it is all easier by car.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks everybody for your detailed suggestions. Douglas, thanks for the heads up to book ahead - while we like to be adventurous, we don't mess round with lodging. Evan, thanks for the details of your trip - I think we have similar ideas in mind! Suki, I would love to push on to Olympia (I want to see it all) but since my husband will be doing the lion's share of the driving, I will defer to him on that front. Maybe if we do Delphi last we will feel like we have enough time to add Olympia...

We have booked our flights, we arrive in Athens Sat. afternoon and depart Friday morning. So given those parameters, what would you suggest? Do you think we can "do" Athens in 24 -ish hours? I would love to be able to get the car Sunday afternoon/evening and head for our next destination (either Delphi or the Peloponnese), with the thought being we would drive after things close (~ 3pm in November) on days that we are heading for a next destination. What do you think? Is that too ambitious? Thanks so much!

Posted by
4304 posts

I'd give Athens more than 24-ish hours, I'd give it at least two or three days. There's the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Agora, National Archeological Museum, and much more depending on your interests. Lots of interesting walks, markets, Syntagma Square, etc.

If you have only one full day, visit the Acropolis and then the Acropolis Museum to see the sculptures that used to be on the Parthenon. And maybe the Agora if time allows, keeping in mind the early loss of daylight.

Janet's plan seems very sensible to me (no surprise, she's had lots of experience), given your desire to spend a lot of time moving around. I'd suggest saving Olympia for another trip.. Or come here to this Olympia for a different experience! ;-)

Posted by
2417 posts

Thanks,Dick. Yes, Booklady, it may be good to learn from others' experiences, and I've visited Greece 12 x, importantly on 9 trips I took along "newbies," so I know what works on one's initial trip. Yet despite our protests, you keep trying to "pour a quart into a pint bottle."

NO, you can't get to Olympia on your short time- frame. and NO you must not short-change Athens .... she's been waiting 4,000 years for you, garnering all her treasures to awe you... and you want to give it 24 hours? At least give it 36. And NO it's not a good idea to start a drive to Delphi at 3 pm that takes 3.5 hours ... Can you google Athens sunrise/sunset?? You will see that on Nov. 21, the sun sets at 5:09. Such fun to drive in the dark, in the mountains, on an unlit road with no guard rails. Whee.

As it is, with so many things closed on Mondays, you'll have to strategize carefully. Here are some thoughts, based on when things are open & when it's good to drive:

SATURDAY AFTERNOON -- You'll arrive too late to go up on Acropolis, but I suggest you get a hotel NEAR it, on S. Side is my choice -- Look at Herodion, Phillipos, Airotel Parthenon, Hotel Hera. Before Dark u can stroll over to Temple of Zeus & Hadrians Arch, walk down Lysikrates to Lisykrates Monument, (or to Panathenic Stadium? ) have a nice dinner, ask hotel if any places have music in EARLY evening.

SUNDAY -- 8:30 - 10 ACROPOLIS; taxi to NAT. ARCH MUSEUM 11 - 2. Lunch & feet up! Any time between 4 - 8 go to ACROPOLIS MUSEUM (it's not govt run - open from 8 AM - 20:00 = 8pm daily except Monday)

MONDAY - 8:30- 10 AM... Ancient Agora (use Rick's DIY); Check out of hotel; get car at nearby office, get GOOD directions to Highway!! 11 AM - drive toward Pelopponnese. Jump Off @ Isthmus for Corinth Canal & back on Hiway; Exit to R after 10-12 miles for ANCIENT NEMEA. https://nemeangames.org Get your "Sacred Games" thing on, here... temple ruins, theatre & stadium! The official website says open all days of year, in Nov., 8 am - 6pm. But HAVE your ATHENS HOTEL Call on SUNDAY to Be Sure. Arrive NAFPLIO about 2 pm? Explore old town in Afternoon. Get to seafront cafes in time for sunset.
TUESDAY - Don't miss GOOD small Nafplio museum (45 minutes) ... MYCENAE??? TIRYNS? Enjoy Old Town walks around point of peninsula. Enjoy
WEDNESDAY -- check out, drive E across "thumb" of Pelops to EPIDAURUS ... then up the coastal road to Isthmus back on Big Hiway towards ATHENS. Here's where you could do your Delphi thing == it will be maybe noonish, 1 pm. You can get to Delphi by 4:30 or so, still light. Check into Delphi hotel before dark.
THURSDAY -- Get to site at 8:30, to Museum by 11, leave by 12 back in ATHENS 3:30 or 4. NOTE: Depending on rental agency, You may want to drop Car @ AIrport just to avoid traffic & take Metro or x95 bus to central Athens.

ALTERNATIVE -- If you decide against Delphi, you can return to Athens for Wednesday night and if Thursday is sunny, you could take that AEGINA ferry trip I suggested earlier (on OPEN-DECK ferry) just to have the "Greek Ferry experience." Here's a video from June -- but the sights/sites will be the same. http://www.flickr.com/photos/36264706@N03/sets/72157621604646139/detail/

If this doesn't please, I leave it to someone else, I'm done here.

Posted by
4510 posts

While one could tweak Janet's itinerary for your own interests, it is pretty solid overall. It will certainly fill your time.

Olympia is far enough away that it takes a full overnight and two days of traveling and sightseeing. So unless you have two days, you'll have to skip it. It's a nice site and museum, and Modern Olympics fans love to go there, but it's a bit dull compared to Delphi or Nafplio and the town is of no interest.

I'd pick Mycaenae over Tiryns personally. The Corinth Canal is one you could skip if a gash through the landscape isn't your thing.

Posted by
1 posts

Hello! I am following this thread very carefully as my partner and I are also going to be in Greece for Thanksgiving week! We have never been! Our plan is as follows....please tell me if you think this is seriously flawed!!!

-2 days in Athens
-ferry to Santorini
-3 nights in Santorini
-fly back to Athens mid day and pick up car
-drive to Monemvasia
-2 nights in Monemvasia
-drive to Delphi via Olympia and overnight near Delphi
-morning in Delphi then to Athens airport hotel
-fly home

Is 3 nights in Santorini at that time of year too many?? We live in Lake Tahoe so cold is no big deal and I would prefer iffy weather than big crowds.
It's great reading everyone's advice and thoughts.....
DamaraRosa

Posted by
2417 posts

damara, your santorini allotment says 3 nights ... I am assuming/guessing that you arrive late in day, so this essentially means 2 days. You can spend one day seeing Oia, enjoying the Caldera view and the museum in Fira (closes at 3), and perhaps doing a wine tour. I guess if you are seriously interested in Akrotiri excavation, you could devote a 2nd day to that (be aware that the signage is only adequate, so either a guide or some advance prep is advisable).

About the rest of your itinerary, I'm unclear. Do you mean that you expect to leave Monemvasia in the morning, cross the mountains, or go around by the coast road to Olympia by afternoon before it closes at 3 pm, and reach Delphi (high in the mountains) before dark that same day??? What fun, driving on narrow mountain roads in pitch dark with no lights, no guard rails! Have you consulted any trip-planner website?? try https://www.viamichelin.com/web/Routes -- this one gives routes with estimated times, distance, and maps ... be aware that the times are estimated for experienced drivers, not newcomers to the country. I urge you to reconsider.

Posted by
4510 posts

Janet is right, you cannot drive from Monemvasia to Delphi via Olympia (including a stop to visit) in a day. You'd have to stay overnight in Olympia. If you cannot make that work, you'll need to skip Olympia. You could drive from Monemvasia to Delphi in a day via the eastern routes, but without time to really stop anywhere (maybe Epidauros or Hosios Loukas).

Posted by
5 posts

OP here - we are just back from 3 weeks of travel - 2 for business and our vacation week in Greece. Here is how the Greece part went. We landed in Athens at 1:30pm and picked up our car at Hertz, did a brief stop at the Corinth Canal and then on to Nafplio. Roads were great and we arrived about 5pm in daylight.

Day 1 Epidaurus and Mycenae
Day 2 Nemea, Ancient Corinth, drove west along the Gulf of Corinth, crossed the Rion Antirion Bridge then east to Galaxidi (beautiful scenery)
Day 3 Delphi, drove to Athens and returned rental car
Day 4 Acropolis, Acropolis museum, National Archeology Museum
Day 5 Ancient Agora, Roman Forum and Hadrian's Library. Bought souvenirs at Forget me Not as recommended in the RS guide

My dh's phone says we walked over 20 miles in Athens - after the sites, we did a bit of just walking around in Syntagma Square. We packed light - no checked luggage as we were in 6 different hotels total on this trip. We ate breakfast in the hotels, pretty light lunches (our sweet hotel in Nafplio packed us a lunch both days) and amazing dinners - the salads were incredible.

The only place we had large crowds was at the Acropolis - huge tour groups - but every place else was virtually empty except for the occasional school group.

We had rain on the first day (Epidaurus and Mycenae) as we were driving but it stopped right as we entered both sites. It was very cold in the Peloponnese but quite warm in Athens.

Thanks again for all the help I received on this forum! We had a wonderful trip.

Posted by
2417 posts

I'm SO pleased that your trip worked out well! You "poured a pint into a pint bottle" and everything fitted nicely! Congrats.