I am looking to doing a 3-day tour to some of the sights outside of Athens such as Olympia and Delphi when I am there in May. I will be traveling on my own and am overwhelmed by the number of tour companies that do basically the same trip. Does anyone know of a good and reliable tour company that provides a tour like this? Thanks!
The number of "tour companies" is misleading .... there are quite a few companies that package something for you -- but then they end up by signing you up with one of the ONLY THREE COMPANIES that do these Trips. So why not go directly to those 3 companies, so you'll know more about what you are getting. They are called "CHAT Tours" "KEY Tours" and "GO tours". Their itineraries for 2-day, 3-day, 4-day and 5-day tours are much the same .. the longest tours are ones that take in Meteora ... which frankly for a newcomer I would not advise, because it involves almost a day of just bus travel to get there. And the shortest tour -- a 1-day tour to Delphi -- is exhausting & frustrating because it's 3.5 hours each way, with just a tiny bit of time on the site, then the group is forced to go to a restaurant lunch (which YOU pay for) and a souvenir stop -- those 2 are I fear "kickbacks" stops. I hated my delphi trip in '99 , til I took an overnight D-I-Y in 2011 and it was Fabulous!
Some of the tours appear to see a lot but when you look closer, some of the sights are almost "drive-by". You will spend hours & Hours driving in order to cover Argolid sights (Mycenae-Epidaurus) plus Olympia (lonnng drive) plus to Delphi then back. And u only get 1 hour in the most enchanting place of all, Nafplio.
FOr max enjoyment I suggest looking at TWO 2-day tours by CHAT: http://www.chatours.gr/tours.php?exc=8&exccat=1
(1)TOUR #6; 2-days to ARGOLID takes you to Corinth canal, Mycenae, then a full afternoon & overnight in Nafplio, + morning, then to Epidaurus & back to athens... Nafplio is a STUNNING place, this website will tell you all about Nafplio AND the ancient sites in argolid: http://www.visitnafplio.com/visitnafplio.com/Home.html ... having afternoon & am free enables you to go up top of Palamidi if u wish, plus relax at seafront & enjoy best sunset in Greece. Here's a great photo album of Nafplio & Mycenae/Epidaurus hilights: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/ NOTE: for overnite take Tourist accom: it's right in town, the "deluxe" is outside.
(2) TOUR #7: 2-days DELPHI -- as explained above, having the extra time transforms the experience. On day one, the tour guide leads you through the ruins, and then also the Museum-- quite a rush. If you wish you can save the Museum for the morning (it has VERY good signage, and if u print this website http://www.planetware.com/greece/delphi-gr-cen-delphi.htm it tells you ALL; also Great Maps). Instead, in late aft you can walk downhill to the offsite tholos/temple of Artemis? (the round one) Then at sunset it's magic to sit on a Delphi cafe terrace and look down the mountainside to the sea. In the morning at 8 am you can do the museum, or revisit the main site; it is virtually empty until 10:30-11 when day-trip busses arrive.
TOUR NOTE A- Athens hotels are used to guests who come in, then leave for an overnight tour, and return; it happens ALL the time, they are OK with it; if they change your room, they just hold your big bag in luggage room during your absence
TOUR NOTE B -- One frustrating thing about a bus tour is that they may pick you up at 7:30 then spend 45-90 minutes stopping at other hotels. To avoid this, when booking you can simply ask what is the Last (convenient to you) hotel stop, and arrange to be on the pickup list for that location ...at 8:30 or 9, whatever.
TOUR NOTE C -- DO inquire whether the trip is English only or multi-lingual ... in the latter, the guide has much less time to impart interesting info because he/she is so busy repeating her words in French, German etc.
TOUR NOTE D -- I also would recommend the 2-day tours for a "solo" traveler, because it allows more time to find another sympatico traveler or 2 to enjoy your "at leisure" activities and meals with. The 1-day tours are too rushed for that, and the 4-day 8-stop tours involve so much time in bus seats to allow socializing.