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Couples first trip to Greece - Are we squeezing in too much?


My husband and I are taking our first trip to Greece April 22/23 - May 7th. We will fly from in and out of Athens from Southern Oregon and the only thing I have booked so far is our main airfare and our airbnb near the Acropolis for the first part of our trip.

Here is our basic itinerary, we are just starting to figure out the details and wanted some ideas on whether or not we are being a bit crazy on some of it. Also, I just realized last night that we are flying in right during Orthodox Easter celebrations. Any tips for Athens during this time would be greatly appreciated. I’m sure the museums will be closed, I’m hoping we can still get in the guard change at the tomb of the unknown soldier on Sunday, but now need to look into how to best use those days with the holiday.

4/23 - 4/27 - Athens - we plan on doing walking tours, museums, and exploring the neighborhoods a bit and eating a lot.
4/27 - 4/30 - Rent a car and drive up to Delphi and stay the night in Lokron, and then down through the Peloponnese, probably staying near Kardamyli a night. Touching on the highlights
4/30 - 5/1 - Drive back to Athens, return rental car and fly to Crete
5/1 - 5/4 - Explore Crete
5/4 - 5/6 - Fly or Ferry to Santorini - prefer to fly, but need to check into the airlines more.
5/6 - 5/7 - Stay the night in Athens and fly home

Are we doing the Peloponnese a disservice by trying to speed date that portion? I ran it by my cousin who lived in Greece for a few months during school and he thought it sounded okay, but I feel like I need a bit more advice. We want to make the most of our trip and really get a feel for the culture, people, and sights. Any tips on how to make this work are welcome. Or should we scratch the road trip it and spend more time in Crete and Santorini?

We are both active individuals who are looking forward to getting out on some fun hikes and exploring a bit, we think Crete will be a good place for that? Santorini will be a nice place to spoil ourselves with a nice hotel and relax a bit. I'm looking into hotel options with crater and sea views. We are looking forward to trying different restaurants, and lean more towards family owned with casual ambiance. For lodging we are looking into both airbnb and hotels depending on the length of stay, but would like to stay around $100 and under each night. We will each carry a backpack and plan on being flexible.

Posted by
6908 posts

You’re covering some destinations that my husband and I needed our first 2 trips as a couple to visit. We took 10 days for Trip #1, April 2018, landing in Athens on “our” Easter, Hydra island for a day and 2 nights, then making our way thru the Peloponnese over several days, Orthodox Easter in Kalamata, then up thru Olympia and Delphi, then finishing in Athens for last 3 nights. That was more rushed than we usually do anymore, but we drove through, and stayed in, a lot of the Peloponnese. A taste for 3 or 4 days would be worthwhile, unless you did want more time on fabulous Crete.

Trip #2 was all Crete, and 2 whole weeks, September 2019. We needed every bit of that time, starting in Iraklio, then driving east and south, to the southeastern tip at Kato Zakros, then west as far as Hania. If you’re into Minoan sites, there are tons there. If you’re into hiking gorges, that’s a quintessential Cretan experience, and lots of gorges from which to choose.

Posted by
3257 posts

My first comment is -- why didn't you ask some questions first?? Or some research to realize about THE Most important holiday of entire year... when as u say all the key things will be closed! NOOt only museums, but all knds of other things including favorite restaurants. ALso, You could go to services at a church, b ut otherwise you won't be part of the celebration in Athens, as you might b e elsewhere in GReece. What a waste! You can fix it, and build a MUCH better trip & experience but you are going to have to be willing to change, and rethink things.

Here is what all "GReece vets" on these forums would recommend (and not "off the cuff" but based on successful trips we have planned and done ourselves, and planned for others: I'll just sketch out an itinerary -- room-booking can come after yoo have nailed down the logistics.

THIs is based on you flying in late afternoon on April 23 -- if you are arriving by midmorning April 23, bump everyithing a day early. First, cancel your AirBnB & get a room for ONE Night in central ATH... we can advise on that:

APR 23 -- (arr late aftenoon) Take a nap, find somewhere to eat... then Go to any Athens Church @ 10 pm...
APR 24 -- GEt a Flight to CHANIA CREte -- Aegean has seats on THREE Flights (8:05, 13:05 (1:05pm) or 1800 6pm). IT will cost u aout €100 ea for Flex-comfort (basic fare w one bag; 50 min fllight. WHen u book a hotel, you'll write ahead and find out where touroists can celebrate EAster -- you might get invited to somewhere special! CHania will be SO festive, and they 're friendly!
APR 25 - Explore area (musuems will be closed) ...lots of other options
APR 26 - 27- 28 - car rental, explore Crete last night in Heraklion
APR 29 - 9AM FErry to SANTORINI (arr 11 am) -- Ferries are not yet daily so if you wanted to leave crete earlier you would have to fly back to AThens & then change planes & fly to Santorini. (the challeng of traeling off- season)

MAY 1 - AM FLIGht to ATH< rent car, drive to delphi (see part -- close 3 pm? winter hours?)
MAY 2 - Delphi 8-10 am -- Drive partway back, over Corinth Canal to NAFPLIO by 2 pm Night in NAFPLIO
MAY 3 - Nafplio area (Amazing - see
MAY 4 - Drive to Epidaurus en route back to ATH By 1-2 pm, Athens SIghtseeing
MAY 4 - 5 - 6 ATHENS
MAY 7 Fly home

.... you don't have time for Kardamyl or any of that stuff. If you want to do that, you'll have too skip Crete. If this appeals at all, then go book those flights to CHANIA -- No RIsk, because everything is changeable without penalty. If this does not appeal, at least cancel your Athens airbnb & go straight to Delphi on arrival, and then go to Nafplioi & parts ofo Peloponnese .... and What you do NOT WAnt to do is hang around Athens when everything's closed, and every Athenian who can, has left town to go to a village & roast a lamb. You'll feel like the people nobody invited to the party.

Posted by
3996 posts

I don't have any insight into the holiday, but I would choose islands or mainland for a trip of this length with your goals in mind. I don't think you can do both justice in one trip. I would not go all the way to Crete for just a few days.
I did a lot of hiking in the Peloponnese. I think you might be underestimating drive times--it takes along time to get to and from there. It depends on what you mean by highlights of course, but you'd be better served by staying near Nafplio if you want to see archaeological sites, except Messene on the east end.
Can you change the airbnb?

Posted by
6908 posts

The Big Saturday before Orthodox Easter Sunday, we made our way, just 2 or 3 blocks from our apartment in Kalamata, to the plaza outside the main Cathedral in the city. We had our own candles, and it was a big gathering. Five minutes past midnight, everybody was heading home.

Next day, on our way to Archaea Olympia for the night, we passed through a tiny village, where a small restaurant happened to be open, and we had a fabulous roast lamb lunch. We didn’t have a specific plan for any pre-arranged Easter meal, so we maybe just lucked out.

On our drive to Nafplio, after taking the ferry from Hydra island back to the Peloponnese mainland, we first stopped at Nemea. That was a real treat - temple remains, wonderful small museum, and best of all, an olympic-type stadium, in better shape than the one in Olympia, and with a unique tunnel where athletes entered. You can run your own 50 yard dash from the starting blocks!

Posted by
335 posts

You like to hike, you must do the Oia to Thira (or reverse) hike. Spectacular, I think it is around 7 miles+. I'm not sure $100 will get you a cadera view, but maybe in April it will.. As Val mentioned, things are far apart on the Peloponnese. Once you get South of Nafplio or Sparta the roads start to meander and narrow, and you have to do switchbacks. The views are great, but it's tough to do it quickly.