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Buses vs Driving

Hello,
The following is my itinerary:
Athens 7/9-7/11
Delphi 7/12-7/13
Olympia 7/13-7/14
Napflio 7/14-7/17
Athens 7/17-7/18
We are four people. I am 68, my wife is 64. Two children both 24.
Should we rent a car in Athens and drive to these cities or take buses?

Thank you

Posted by
16883 posts

I also would drive rather than rely upon annoyingly hard-to-confirm bus schedules, even though there probably will the maximum number of buses running in this season. I've driven in other parts of Greece with no problem. In towns where parking is hard to find, you can expect to navigate around cars that are double-parked for an errand to the bank or bakery. Ask your hotel for parking advice, if they don't provide space. The report that other drivers don't stop at stop signs is, I believe, more of an island than a mainland issue, but it doesn't hurt to use caution.

Posted by
4 posts

Definitely Rent a car, but not in Athens. There is no point to rent one in Athens, the transportation system is superb.

Posted by
1022 posts

So you have 9 days right or do you fly on the 18th?

I am going to propose something radical. What time does your flight get into Athens?
If its a direct flight from East US you will likely get in between 9am and 10am. If that is the case I would consider a major rearrange of your trip. I might suggest you load up on coffee rent the car at the airport. Athens Car Rentals ACR met us at arrivals took us to the car did the paperwork and we were off within 20 minutes.

so the 9th 10th and 11th . We drove to Nafplio Its a 2 hour drive on a major highway to Corinth then a nice rolling two lane road to Nafplio. Spend you three nights in Nafplio perhaps add another night. Get over jet lag.

12th and 13th Drive to Olympia have your two nights there.

14th Drive to Delphi. Plan to arrive in the late afternoon. Get a hotel then visit the museum so you can orient yourself to the site the next day.

15th Get to the site early at opening. You will have it basically to yourselves for about two hours before the tour buses arrive. By then you will be way up the mountain near the top and will have a good hour before you start to see crowds. This is a good time to get away. Return your car at Athens Airport and commute into Athens for the 16th 17th and 18th

The reason I suggested this change is because you were planning 5 days in Athens which would require you to commute from the airport and back twice. Splitting time in Athens at the beginning of your trip and at the end is inefficient. Athens is also a terrible place to try get over jet lag. It is big, full of noisy traffic and concrete. It is hot and dusty and very foreign. By leaving Athens to the end of the trip you will be acclimatized to Greece and will be ready to enjoy everything this vibrant city has to offer.
Olympia Delphi Meteora https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645469717811/
Athens http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632121475515/
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/

Have a great time

Posted by
2951 posts

Be sure go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test or membership required. Bring 2 passport photos with you to save a few dollars.

Posted by
2901 posts

Stanbr's itinerary advice is Spot On ... Agree totally, have done Peloponnese first myself, several times, w. 3-4 newcomers, it was Best Plan. It DOES depend on getting one of the only 3 flights I know about (Delta, AA or Canada Air) which are nonstop from N. America. They all leave late afternoon from East Coast, arrive between 9 - 10 AM next morning. If you try to save a few dollars by booking a multiple-stop ticket that involves 1 or more connections in Europe, you will have a super-long journey from California ... and won't arrive until mid-afternoon usually... and will be v. tired. Stanbr is from Western Canada, knows from experience. Since your time in Greece is already so cruelly short, don't make the bargain-hunting mistake -- every hour is precious.

Posted by
1309 posts

Agree with stanbr. Your time is short and since you have to be in Athens to leave it makes more sense to group your days there at the end. His plan makes the most of your time. We often rent a car and drive away on the day we arrive in another country and have had no problems. In checking google maps it seems to be about a 2 hr drive to Nafplio. If you want a break on the way and feel up to it, you can stop in Corinth to see the Corinth Canal and/or the ruins.

Posted by
47 posts

Thank you everyone for great ideas and suggestions. We are 4 people and we will have 4 carry-on bags and maybe a small suitcase. I am trying to convince my wife not to take a suit case. I have the following questions. If you could respond by number, it will be great.

  1. What kind of car should I rent and which car rental company is recommended?
  2. Should I just rent when I arrive at Athens airport or book now?
  3. How would I be able to navigate? Would Waze or GoogleMaps work or do I need printed maps?

Thank you again!

Posted by
3333 posts

If you go to AutoEurope.com or Kemwel.com, you can see what's available and at what prices from many different companies. Their charts also show how many people and how much luggage each type of car holds. Note that when they show one large case, it's bigger than a 20 or 22 incher. We've never had a problem fitting our two 20" cases + a couple of carry-ons into the trunk of cars that were alleged to hold one big an one small.
I have often read that it's better to reserve a car here than to do it over there, and have always done so. Another note: With both the companies mentioned, you prepay and receive a voucher to present to the actual rental company

Do get that IDP. When we were in Greece in 2010, the agent at the rental office did ask for it. This year, no; but why take a chance on something so trivial in terms of cost and effort?

Posted by
1022 posts

I did recommend Athens Car Rental ACR. They are a local company and will go the extra mile for you. On our trip our flight time got changed so we needed the car for an extra 4 hours. They gave us the new return time at no extra cost. Small local companies don't have an airport rental desk. You book ahead (no prepayment) they meet you at arrivals and walk you to the parking lot where the car is waiting. They do the paperwork and credit card impression on the hood of the car do a walk around, give you a map and away you go. They meet you at the departures level for return. I know it sounds a bit sketchy but we have done it several times it works like a charm and is much less expensive than the international big name companies.
I also look for a rental agency that has no deductible on the insurance. Many of the smaller companies offer this.

You should always have a good paper map even if you have a GPS or in our case we just use our Galaxy phones and google maps. The reason you need both is because there are multiple translations of Greek names and the map will give you a good idea of what name to enter on your GPS. There are also multiple places in Greece with the same names. Who would have guessed there are 7 places called Meteora in Greece. The paper map allows you to check that you are going in the right direction.

Posted by
2901 posts

Hi Again non-Savvy --
In advising on cars, It would help if you were more specific about "children." (NOTE: Progeny aged 24 are not "children" they are young adults, size-wise.) We're smart but not mind-readers. 2 young male twins, of basketball-player size, that's a challenge. Female twins, 5' 4" or 5' 6" No problemo. See what I mean? If your 4 people are normal size, You should look at getting a full-size 4 door sedan.... something like a Honda Accord. If 3 are over-size, a premium model such as a Merceds 4-door will have more legroom. You will not have the choice of renting a cross-over model, in many fleets, the choice jumps from Sedan to a biggie with rows of seats, seating 8. Clumsy to drive/park.

As Rosalyn says, often those fleet descriptions will underestimate luggage capacity. In past, renting an Accord-type sedan, we easily fitted in 4 20" rollaboard bags, and a couple of backpacks (daybag size) in the "boot', and the 2 people in the backseat handled the other 2 daybags, either by their feet or in their laps.

I am not sure what you mean by a "suitcase"??? I consider a 20" rollaboard to be a "suitcase." Does your wife mean something large, or is it a garment bag? What I have listed here is the reasonable limit. If she wants something more, ask her whether she's willing to hold it in her lap or on her shins the whole way. If she's taking another large bag in order to have something dressy, tell her that NOBODY dresses up in Greece in hot weather, and especially NO extra shoes. 1 pr STURDY sandals, 1 pr walking shoes, maybe 1 pr lightweight flats. NO heels.

Yes, it's good to rent in advance, and MAndatory if you want automatic-shift (many fewer of these, since 99% of Europeans drive stick-shift, because of higher petrol prices). However, in the 8 trips where I've shared a car rental w. companions, we've never had to pay ahead and get vouchers; we do give them a Credit-card # to hold the reservation, but it's not charge until we show up. Several times we, like stanbr, used ACR at Airport and very satisfied w prices, service and condition of cars.

Posted by
47 posts

Thank you all again. We did get IDPs. I went on Athen's Car Rental ACR website. They offer a choice of Diesel and petrol.
Which one should I get?
Thank you all again!

Posted by
2901 posts

It's up to you; you're a californian thus an experienced driver, you decide.

Posted by
1022 posts

Gas is more expensive than diesel my only concern is how many gas stations have Diesel. I have never actually noticed. Faced with that same question on this years car rental I went with gas simply because we are going to be in some remote areas and I have no idea if there is diesel everywhere.

Posted by
4535 posts

Diesel cars are extremely common throughout Europe. You will have no problems finding petrol of either type.