We will have one day to visit Delphi as a day-trip from Athens. Would love some advice about trying to find a tour v. just taking the bus and using a RS guidebook. Suggestions? Thank you!
Since no one has replied I'll try to help. We have never taken a tour but we spent two nights in Delphi in 2012 and one day visiting the sites using RS guidebook which we found sufficient. While we were there we met a few people who had taken an early bus from Athens and had toured the sites and were returning to Athens at 5 or 6pm - can't remember which. You would have to find out how to get to the public bus from your hotel and decide which is more convenient, but for certain, doing it on your own would be less expensive and probably give you more flexibility.
There are many tours that go to Delphi. Some might offer a lunch or might stop at say, the Byzantine Monastery of Hosias Lukas. You'd want to see what they offer and if it would appeal to you. And determine how long you actually get at Delphi. For some people, a couple hours is all they need, while others will want most of the day.
There are two ruins sites (both close together) and an excellent museum. The town itself is about a 5 minute walk from the ruins.
Going on your own by bus would be cheaper and allow you more time at the sites. The bus stops in the town of Delphi. The town is hardly worth mentioning other than there are plenty of places to eat and there are some great views down the mountain to the Gulf of Corinth.
Hi DebbieSue, if time, less stress, and efficiency is important to you and you don't mind spending a few extre $ for convenience, time savings, and good customer service I'd recommend Athens Taxi Tour. You can find them on the web or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
There were 3 of us and after looking at the cost of a package tour and the time we had, it was just as cost effective to hire our own private driver who would customize an itinerary to our desires. Michael (our driver and tour quide) really understood customer service and went above and beyond to make our trip enjoyable. He highly recommended Hosios Loukas like Douglas did and we thought is was even more interesting than Delphi. Anyways, with your own driver the schedule is your own so Michael pick us up at our hotel (big time saver) and drove us the 2.5 hours to Delphi wiht a stop along the way to Hosios Loukas. The nice thing was that Michael told us the history of what we were seeing as we drove along and also had a great DVD he played for us on Delphi so that we had good insight to it when we arrived. Basically, we spent more time at Hosios Loukas because we liked it, which a tour bus would never allow you to do. We also were able to choose when and where to stop and eat vs. a group lunch. It cost 250 Euros, but in hindsight it turned out to be a great deal and made things more enjoyable for the family not having to worry about directions or feeling rushed.
Lastly, we enjoyed our time with Michael so much we hired him to drive us to Nafplio with a stop at Epidavros and Mycenae. This saved us another day in our schedule by combining things.
Enjoy your trip!
Debbie if there are 2 of you, you can do it in a day for €30 r-trip each, plus about €12 taxi each way to/from Liossion KTEL bus station to your Plaka-area hotel. That's €42 each, €84 total, vs the €250 (€83+ each, for 3) for Taxi Tour,admittedly nice but 2x the cost. (Note: in all cases,admissions& food are extra). Here's the deal; first bus is 7:30 and ALWAYS in demand, so u should catch a taxi by 6:15 to reach bus station by 6:45 latest. Comfy cushioned lean-back reserved seats… Arrives 10:30 am. You can save backtracking by getting off BEFORE Delphi "bus station" (really a gift-shop on Main Street). tell bus driver in advance to let you off at "Sanctuary of Athena/ or Athena Pronais" (that's the famous ROUND-ruins, lower down on road from Main ruins) go to front of bus as u near Delphi so he won't forget… Then Walk up road (stunning views down valley to the sea) to Main ruins … museum is right next to it. Check which is less crowded … usually the bus tours are dragged away by guides at about 1 pm, so things thin out dramatically for both museum and sites. TIP #1 -Bring a bag lunch with you, and you can sit up in the ruins and picnic with a view!! TIP: the topmost "sight" is the stadium, but its a truly steep climb and then u a letdown… they won't let people into is, due to a rockslide danger, so u may want to skip it. TIP #2 - At Athens bus station buy return ticket for 18:50 (6:50pm) bus back… it's the last bus, popular & if there are a lot of D-I-Ys on your day, all seats could sell out. #tip #3 - For bus trip up, bring water & a snack u buy the night before because Rest-Stop stuff is €€€ and unexciting. Tip #5 -- this sked may leave u ample time for early meal before return bus… and just across from "station" (a gift shop, actually) is a cute simple cafe Astra with outdoor terrace with that dramatic view down mountain. Tip #6 - Delphi water comes from mountain-top, Thrillingly delicious!! Refillyour bottles! NOTE: yes Rick Guide tells u all u need to know to appreciate; museum items also have good signage. BEST maps & text online to print: http://www.planetware.com/greece/delphi-gr-cen-delphi.htm#DEL -- maps are in text, but u can click & they enlarge for printing out.
The standard Day bus tours are by Key-Chat-Go companies @ €86 each. Same road time… but leave later so arrive not much before 11 … and they drag u away no later than 1:30 for a taverna lunch with 30 other people, which u probably don't want & you pay… THEN instead of giving u more time at Delphi Site, they take you to Arachova village for a RUG SHOP tour (they probably get a kickback for doing both these things). I did such a DElphi day tour 1st visit to Greece, and had Bad experience (uniformed bored "guide" bad bus). in 2011 I took KTEL bus up in late aft., saw museum, stayed o'nite, saw ruins in early AM, took noonish bus back -- totally different experience & wonderful. I suppose if there are 3 of you -- the Athens Taxi tour would be about the same as 3 of you doing a Day-bus with Key/Chat etc … but if 2 .. I say, D-I-Y!
Thanks to all for responding, especially you, Janet--you sound like our kind of traveler!! Thank you for the really detailed and smart advice. We are really excited about seeing Greece, and our son is pumped about seeing Delphi--it's his #1 visitation site...yay excellent social studies teacher!!
I am printing out the details so I won't miss them later. THANK YOU!!!
Looks like you have received some great advice so far. It comes down to if you want to have the trip be stress free but on the tour's schedule or if you like more freedom. The public buses aren't too hard to use in Greece but they can decide to throw curveballs now and then. With only a day you probably wouldn't beat the tour buses (like you would if you stayed the night in Delphi and then visited in the morning) so you might just want to be one of those getting off a tour bus.
In response to Kevin, I note that he works for Rick Steves organization, which of course sells tours. And naturally, he is pro-tour, which is perfectly fine. However the RS org. does not provide a 1-day tour to Delphi, which is a shame, because a RS 1-day tour probably would be more satisfactory than the only 1-day bus tours currently available -- from Key, Chat, and Go. When I recommended a D-I-Y, I based it on experience of trying the trip both on a dY tour and D-I-Y… and finding the latter much the best. Tho I myself took 26 hours as D-I-Y (including overnight) I have also given these directions for a one-day version to a number of other newcomers, who have reported being very happy with it, and not "stressed." If one buys a return ticket (reserved seat) in Athens before boarding, with a schedule that allows more than 8 hours in Delphi before the 6:50 pm bus, where's the stress? Personally, I have taken KTEL intercity busses around the mainland and on Crete in my 11 trips, and have not had a "curve-ball"yet. Of course, I do my homework, and have a careful plan … which is exactly what I provided to Debbie. Whatever you choose, Debbie, I wish for you a wonderful experience.
Hi. Thanks to everyone for the various points of view. I'm wondering about the option of renting a car to do the whole thing as described by others. We are a family of 4 so even 4 bus tickets adds up. Does anyone have experience with this? I can think of a few plusses and minuses but I'm sure there are some I haven't considered. Thanks!
Renting a car makes good sense money-wise for 4 people, and gives you complete flexibility. Best deals if you are comfortable with stick-shift driving -- there is less choice of vehicle and significantly costlier if you need automatic-shift and also, in High Season (late June thru august), agencies can run short of automatics. Also, be sure your driver (if you are from US or canada) has, or gets, an International Driving Permit (just stop by AAA with your driver license, takes 20 minutes, costs $15, no problem). There are many agencies recommended here and on other forums; in the past I and my friends have had great luck (AND good prices) with http://www.budget-athens.gr/?gclid=COKUzp30k58CFdx05QodUkGLfw NOTE (1) : this is not straight "budget" but Budget-Athens. Very helpful, and give advance detail quotes. NOTE (#2): Go to Michelin trip-planner online to get complete route … about 3 -3.5 hours each way. NOTE #3: We have rented at the airport which means we didn't have to find our way out of Central Athens, but it can be done, when you spend time with rental agency and get good directions, marked on your map. If u can get started by 7 am, miss much of rush hour and if it is after 6 pm when u return the after-work rush hour is thinning out.
Ultimately, you should decide what you are most comfortable with. If your family is used to last minute changes in plans or adapts to unexpected issues then a bus or a car can be fun. Personally, for a first timer in Greece and not knowing the lay of the land it was easier just relying on our driver. That said, when we take our next trip I'd probably be just as comfortable taking a bus like Janet (although they were on strike the day we were there). One thing to consider (because its the reason we did not rent a car) is that the rental car offices are closed on Sundays and if you want a full day at Delphi you probably will end up with a 2-3 day rental and about 2-3 hours wasted getting/returning it. Also, parking could be an issue depending on your hotel. Once you are out of Athens the highway is like an interstate in the US but driving in Athens is an adventure. We have video of our driver negotiating the streets and sidewalks to prove it!
With our car hire it was just like having our own rental car (could leave our day bags and Ipad in it while seeing the sights) but we had someone do the driving and stayed with the car when out sightseeing. Worked for us, but depends what your family likes.
Janet and John,
I can't thank you enough for sharing your thoughts and experiences. We are en route moving back to Canada after two years in Senegal so we are up for adventure and crazy driving conditions. That said, you have both raised some excellent points I wouldn't have thought of - despite un-learning many assumptions and learning to think more creativitely over the past two years!
Either or you - or others - have ideas about car rental/necessity in Naxos?
If you are just going to Delphi and only for the day, I'm not sure a rental car is really worth it or the best overall option. It's not a long trip and the busses there and back are easy and convenient. Even it it's a little cheaper than the bus, you have to factor in the time and expense to get to the airport to the rental car (and back), or the hassle of driving out of central Athens, the cost of gas and the "stress" of driving in a foreign/unknown place (though the trip is a relatively easy one).
A car though, would allow you to explore other things, like a stop at Hosius Loukas and/or a drive down the mountain from Delphi to see the olive groves and Gulf of Corinth. But with only a daytrip, that's about all you'd have time for.
Lermanovics, about Naxos, when are you going (month/dates), and have u decided where u want to stay in Naxos??? (asking questions without giving key details doesn't always produce appropriate advice). Naxos has an excellent bus system for the beaches AND for inland towns, so -- depending on WHEN you will be there -- you can readily manage without a car. My fave area for visits in May-June or September is to stay adjacent to Naxos Town at Ag. Giorgios (St. George) beach. That's because you're on a nice sandy beach, uncrowded at that time, u can walk in 10-15 minutes to the town's sights, shops, cafes etc, yet have sea views & quiet nights. You can take the frequent busses out to the outer beaches, I love far end of Plaka beach & Mikra Vigli. In High Season, people may choose to stay at an outer beach & bus IN to port town for nightlife, shops, etc. And if u arrive by ferry,with advance notice, most hotels will pick u up at the quay.
VIsiting when we do, we only rent a car for a day, to zoom all around the islands… to visit the Temple of Dimitri, the hilltop towns, the marble quarry area (there's a quarry-milling place where u can pick up marble squares all over the ground!) , the dramatic landscapes. Cars cost about 30-40€ per day depending on model; automatics are very hard to come by & should contact a dealer ahead & reserve one… otherwise, just stop by any place the night before & arrange rental. But, as I said, if you are renting some villa in a very remote place, maybe u would rent longer. To get the best answer u have to be more specific.
Thanks again Janet. We will be Greece mid-June and are staying near St. George beach as you mentioned. I had been thinking of a car for one day so that sounds like it is workable. Stick shift is fine. Have you been up Mt Zeus? or to the cave?
Nope, lerman, never went up Mt zeus, plenty of other hikes tho…. I like the one straight up from the port to the high monastery looking down on town & sea; check this link for hike #19 == http://www.cycladen.be/NaxosEng.htm The monastery is guarded by 1 elderly nun, she must be 100 by now! Great place for a picnic on the terrace -- it is flanked by many many MULBERRY trees (?? did the Monks make their own silk??) NOTE: this site-maker is a hiking FIEND, only really praises 5-8 mi. Steep hikes, obviously not a retiree like me!! Re Mt Zeus, 11 years a friend & I on a sunny sept day took a bus to Filoti & just wandered along the road, and down into an Olive Grove. She busily sketched ancient tree roots, while I leaned against a tree, read a book, counted the turkeys flocking in the grove, and gazed up at the church atop Mt. Z while bells rang (it was some St.s Day). A peaceful time i remember like yesterday.
Is it possible to purchase rt bus tickets for daytrip to Delphi, in advance? Day before?
We were struggling with the same question - how to travel to Delphi - a favorite destination for my 10-year-old daughter. Although I spent a wonderful three months in the 1990's backpacking around and taking public buses in Europe, having my daughter along this time made me think I wanted it to be more of a sure thing.
I looked into the big tour companies - GO, Key etc and I just couldn't handle the thought of taking one of those huge buses.
We ended up going with a private taxi tour company:
It was a big splurge for us (300 euros total for all three people for the day: 7 am to 5:30 PM) but it was totally worth it. We were picked up by our driver, Spiros at 7 am in the morning. He was right on time. He arrived in a yellow Mercedes-Benz - a beautiful car that was well-maintained. He drove us to Delphi, stopped when my daughter needed to use the restroom, took us on to Delphi and then waited for us outside the museum. When we were done at the site and the museum he drove us into town. I explained that I did not want to eat at a place where there were huge tour groups eating. He drove to a restaurant with a beautiful view and excellent food, negotiated a table with the owners and waited while we had lunch. He then drove us to the monastery, Housias Loukas, which is absolutely beautiful!!!
I have to say the morning Spiros picked us up, I was a bit worried about what I had arranged. I chose the company based on trip advisor reviews and was not sure what that meant about the honesty of the company. What I can say is that my fears were totally unfounded. Spiros was an absolute gentleman. He was kind to my daughter and thoughtful. He taught her a few greek words and was really a great guy all around.
I can't say enough about how wonderful his services were. If we had the money, I would have hired him everyday to take us to the sites that we wanted to see.
I highly recommend Spiros.
If we had gone with GO tours it would have cost us 270 Euros and we would not have seen the monastery or had the personal attention we had.