Has anyone had experience renting a car for these day trips? We would like to do this but don't want to drive inside Athens. The airport is in the other direction, so preferably we would like to rent a car closer to Athens. Do car rental places outside the city (we see some on the highway kind of outside the city) offer you a ride to their pick up location? How does this work? Any insights about driving to Delphi and Meteora are also appreciated.
There are many options to get to the airport. That is the best place to rent a car. You will be on a major 4 to 6 lane highway (toll road) right from the airport to Patras where you will cross and go to Delphi.
We arrived late afternoon. Saw the museum and enjoyed an evening in a Greek village. Next morning got to the site at opening and beat the crowds. We had 3 hours sharing the site with a dozen other people. When the crowds arrived we left and picked up the car and drove to Meteora. It will be around 3 to 4 hours. Get a hotel. We stayed in Kastraki a small village at the foot of the mountains.
Drive up to the Monasteries for a drive through and see the sunset. Great photo opportunities at that time. By staying in Kastraki you have a head start up to the Monasteries next morning, From your drive by the previous night you will have had a chance to pick your top priority Monasteries to visit. You should have time to visit 2 maybe three before the crowds arrive. We counted 30 tour buses in one parking lot. This is the time to get your car and drive 5 hours back to Athens Airport. You are on major 4 lane highways all the way to the airport.
They are toll roads. Its a good idea to have a GPS and a paper map as back up.
Delphi and Meteora https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157698930270992