Hello, we are planning trip in October with 6 of us (4 kids between 4-11), and wondering about best transportation options. We are planning on arriving in Athens Saturday afternoon and immediately going to Delphi to stay two nights, and then Monday morning returning to Athens to take a ferry to Hydra. With six of us, and relatively young kids, the bus can be a hassle, so we have considered renting a car, but then would have to return to airport and bus/metro to port. Not to mention, it seems we would have to rent a 9 passenger van most likely. Any ideas or suggestions? Trying to keep costs reasonable, but can't decide if private transport would be worth it in this case! Thanks so much!
My first question is ... with young kids, why why are you going to Hydra?? Why??
HYDRA - is plugged constantly by R Steves, the only isle he plugs, probably because it's on some of his group tours, and it's doable day trip... but newbies should be aware of things he does not mention (1) It has NO beaches to speak of, you have to swim off rocks. (2) Chief attraction is pretty harbor usually thronged by daytrippers, with carriages for donkey rides, which can get v. boring for young children mighty fast (3) NO public transport or cars so if you go hiking, you'll have complaints soon from youngest (4) unlike other Saronic isles, few or no ancient sites/landmarks and (5) much longer ferry ride than 2 other islands, AEGINA(Egina) or AGISTRI (Angistri) See map - http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg - which shows Athens, Peloponnese and the entire Saronic Gulf (Click & it gets huuuge - use side sliders to navigate).
AEGINA is a FUN Day Trip -- see these pix -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/36264706@N03/sets/72157621604646139/detail/ And can be even more fun as a 1-2 day stay, if your hope is to give your family an island experience near to Athens. On weekends lots of Athenians flock there, but in midweek, no crowds at all, and there are nice beachside hotels & cafes ... here's one that offers both -- http://www.aeginagreece.com/aegina-island/directory/aegina-listing/aegina-island-spots/beaches/la-palma-marathonas
ANGISTRI - can be reached via direct ferry OR by 10-minute motorboat ride from AEGINA Harbor... this is a tiny island, perfect for just relaxing for a couple of days ... you can rent bikes, and there's a pine forest! The beach right by the Small pier is fine, and here's another cute place that gets great reviews, especially for friendliness to overseas guests: http://www.rosyslittlevillage.com
NOTE --for ANY rides on Saronic Gulf, AVOID the Hydrofoils and buy tix for conventional ferries instead. Hydrofoils have no decks and windows are salt-frosted thus NO view. Instead, the 55 minute conventional ferry ride to Aegina, you can sit on deck for a "mini-cruise," viewing all the watercraft ... giant cargo vessels, luxe cruise ships, sleek speedboats, and tiny sloops! (if u do this outbound u could do hydrofoil inbound -- depends on whether there's a great sunset to view).
WHEELS -- With 6 of you, a rental would be no more than bus, maybe less & certainly more flexible, even if you must do a van. If you say you can't do airport pick-up and Piraeus drop-off that just shows you haven't done your research. Do not despair before doing homework. A well-reviewed rental place - http://www.economycarrentals.com/ - which I've used before does exactly that. What is more -- I did a "dummy booking" just now for pick-up Oct 7 & Pireaus drop-off noon Oct 9 -- and they have a nice Nissan 7 psgr (NOT 9) for $259 for that period, including additional driver (it's a manual shift, but folks that's what Europe is all about).
ITINERARY/SEQUENCE -- it would help us give best advice if you'd provide important details. Example: are you arriving in afternoon from elsewhere in Europe?? OR after a loooong journey from N. America? It MATTERS; in latter case, you'll be exhausted, and in no condition to drive 3.5+ hours into the mountains, last part in the dark. There is another option: go to a modest place near airport, either with a Pool, or near a beach, have pizza take-out dinner & an early night, and get a sprightly early start next AM. I have 3-4 places to suggest but won't list here unless relevant.
Thanks for all the info.
Yes, I admit to being swayed by the guide book for Hydra. We were looking for the island experience without having to rent a car on another island, and for less of a ferry ride. I will take a close look at the two islands you mention, and see what the availability is for accommodations at each location, as it can be tricky to find places for the 6 of us that don't require us to be in separate rooms. We definitely don't want the kids to be bored during their time, so much appreciated to bring to our attention that Hydra isn't ideal for kids.
As for the rental car, I had certainly looked around at a number of places and had seen there were some options to return near the port, but they were incredibly expensive, particularly for the larger cars. I've never heard of the site you mention, but will look it up, if you've had good experiences. I am always leery of places that are so much cheaper than the rest!
Sorry I didn't mention before, as I really was just trying to sort whether there were alternative options to renting a car or taking a bus, but we will be arriving from Azerbaijan, so not the long haul flight from the US, and not the crazy jet lag to deal with, so we should be ok with the 3 hr drive.
Again, thanks for the wealth of information. It is much appreciated, and I'm sure will help us plan a better trip!
I don't see you saying you'll be spending some time in Athens . . . which would be a shame if you don't do so.
You' didn't say where you'll be flying from. If the US then it will be a long flight with at least one layover then immediately taking transportation to Delphi which could be quite an endeavor. If from Europe then more do-able but still a challenge.
You'll then be returning to Athens for a ferry to Hydra which again involves a lot of coordination with getting back to Athens, going to Piraeus then timing a ferry to Hydra.
While it may sound do-able there are a lot of variables that could throw off your entire schedule resulting in disappointment and/or frustration.
Is Delphi a must? Why not stay in Athens and experience one of the world's best sites for archeological/historic areas, Monistiraki & Sygtagma Squares, the Plaka, Central Markets, Anafiotika, Psiri District, Changing of the Guards, Kerimikos Cemetery and so much more.
While Delphi is a wonderful site it takes a lot more to get to and figure out with coordinating how to get there, where to stay and returning to Athens.
Lots more options in Athens and a lot easier to get to Hydra.
However, why Hydra? Have you considered Aegina, one of the most overlooked of the Greek Islands? Wonderful main town on the waterfront with a archeological site right in town, nice waterfront market, lovely neoclassical architecture, one of the best preserved temples in Greece, an abandoned Byzantine Village in the hills, wonderful seaside villages, ancient olive groves and a lot more going for it than Hydra which is still a nice place to visit but more for the upscale, jetsetter types.
A little more research on your part will help with your decision, but it's always good to heed the advice of experienced Greek Travelers.
Check out Matt's Greek Guide for help for anything a stay in Greece:
The bus might be the best option for you with 6 people. Or some kind of personal van tour arrangement. You won't be able to rent your own vehicle for that many people.
Also, know that Delphi the town is not a very interesting place to stay. It is a boring modern town that does have dramatic vistas down to the see, but that is it. Without a car, you'd be unable to even explore the pretty region around there. The ancient site is an easy walk from town and is worth a visit, but one night is all that is needed. Even with kids, the site can easily be seen in a few hours. Does your hotel there have a pool? That would be about the only other thing for kids to do there.
Thanks for comments. We are planning 3 full days in Athens at the end of our trip, so we will definitely be doing the Athens bit. We just wanted to do a little exploring outside of the big city, hence Delphi and an island. Having heard much about Aegina, we are taking a serious look at that, although again, we will need transport to get to some sites, but sounds like there are busses available.
There are rental car options for our size group - a little speedier and not compact, but that way we could explore around Delphi if we find we have extra time.
Thanks all for the help. It is much appreciated.
Check out the Aegina Website for eveything you need to know about Aegina or Matt's Aegina Guide:
It's really a nice island, overlooked because it's so close to the mainland but definitely worth of a few day's stay. You can also combine it with Angistri, just a short ferry ride away for nice beaches, small villages and a real pleasant island to stay.