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Delphi or Mycenae Overnight?

Hello everyone,

We have one extra day/night in Athens before heading to our little island, and we wanted to see one of these two sites. We could do it as a day trip and not have to move hotels, but it seems like a long, stressful day so we're open to doing an overnight. I'd rather take a bus but could be talked into renting a car if there's a good reason to for either trip - we've driven in Greece before.

Given these circumstances, which site would you recommend? I admit that I'm tempted by the idea of staying at Nafplion instead of the apparently modern and not-great town at Delphi, but I don't know if realistically we'd have much time to enjoy the former's charms since we'll need to get back to Athens and get on a ferry by mid-afternoon.

We both love ruins, Greek history (Greek military history especially for my husband), and good food. I feel like Delphi would be my natural choice, but I'm honestly sad about staying somewhere that has mediocre food! Or maybe we should just do a day trip with a tour after all? What would you all recommend?

Posted by
3262 posts

Personally, I found Napflion to be like so many places, lovely, but not particularly special. I loved Delphi and the little town, modern or not, it has tremendous views from it's location on the mountainside. If going to Napflion means you miss the ruins at Delphi, then I'd say just go to Delphi. Absolutely amazing views with wonderful ruins. Eat in a restaurant with a great view down to the sea in Delphi versus just at the sea in Napflio. However, there are people who love Napflion. I had a great view from my hotel room, but I was non-plussed in general compared to the rest of Greece. Just my opinion...

Posted by
6670 posts

I agree with Wray, if you have to choose go to Delphi, and try to make it an overnight. Besides the ruins and excellent museum, the view down the valley to the Gulf is spectacular at dawn and dusk. You'll appreciate the ruins much more in the morning or evening without the day-trip crowds.

I liked Nafplion, and Mycenae was a great experience too. A tough choice, and good reason to "assume you will return." But Delphi would have the edge with me.

Posted by
7721 posts

There is another town, just before Delphi called Archova that has decent hotels and restaurants. It is typically busier come ski season, but we found it very nice and less touristy than Delphi in the warmer months.

We did use the bus, but if you are on a timetable, I would rent a car. My experiences with Greek buses is that they rarely have a schedule that works if you need to be someplace, and timetable are mere suggestions.

Posted by
3363 posts

I would respectfully disagree with Paul, who may be working on the basis of one trip to Greece ... and perhaps he is thinking about local busses in Athens that may get hung up in traffic jams, not the "KTEL" intercity busses, which are modern, air-conditioned, reserved seats and -- during many usages in my 12 trips -- virtually always departed on time.

Your concern needs to be with Day 2 -- you say you need to be back in Athens and "get on a ferry" by mid-afternoon. Working backwards: if you need to catch a 3 PM ferry you need to be in line on your PIraeus Pier by 2:30- 2:40, ticket in hand. If you come from Delphi OR from Nafplio, to either KTEL bus station, there is NO direct bus from either to a ferry pier -- a taxi will take you 25-30 minutes & cost you €20 or so. Thus, you'll have to arrive back at an Athens bus station by 1:45=2pm to allow time to get luggage, stand in taxi line etc. Here are the bus timetables. Delphi only one bus back to Athens would suit you. It's a shorter trp from Nafplio, 2.5 hours, and busses are hourly.

DELPHI: The 11 AM bus would arrive back in Athens 2pm; the schedule says 2.5 hours, but in my experience this one is more like 3
NAFPLIO: Busses back to Athens go 9:30am 11, 12:30.

Having done busses to both, I'd tend to vote for Nafplio. My thoughts on both:
NAFPLIO - THe shorter trip, more frequent busses would give you the entire day to enjoy this beautiful Old Town. Get the 9:30 bus and you'd be there by noon. This outbound journey can be enjoyable for the view (ask for seats on LH side outbound to see Saronic bay). In town, check out its small superb Arch. museum on square, Go up to the top, Acronafplia (there's an elevator built right into a cliffside), enjoy what I consider the BEST sunset in Greece from the waterside promenade ... and have a choice of many tavernas with traditional cuisine. If you wanted some ancient ruins without having to trek to Mycenae, there's Tiryns just outside town. See if you can get a sea-view balcony room at hotel Agamemnon, one of the only Nafplio hotels right on the seafront.

DELPHI - If u choose this, outbound there are 2 busses, 10:30 and 15:00 (3pm) ... I would suggest earlier one, because you'd want to do y our main site-seeing on day #1, having to catch 11 AM bus day #2. The tour-group throngs, fortunately for you, will be clearing out of the site by about 2 pm, so it would not be as crowded. Hotel PAN has great views from its BACK rooms looking down the mountain (a hawk circled BELOW my balcony!). Yes, not much of a dining destinations, but there are some nice outdoor terraces, looking down the mountain at sunset, pleasant for a spaghetti dinner. DO NOT MISS the Delphi WATER! It comes from the top of Mt. Parnassus, and is Nectar of the Gods.

A WISTFUL ALAS -- if only you had 2 days, I could recommend the PERFECT Ruins-plus-Beautfiul Town Trip -- to Nafplio, Mycenae and Epidaurus. Runs Tues-Wed or Wed-Thurs thruout season... The great advantage to this trip is, FREE TIME It takes you to Mycenae then on to NAFPLIO where you have entire afternoon evening & next AM on Your own, to enjoy its beautiful place. Then It goes to Epidaurus en route back to Athens.

Posted by
1398 posts


I agree with Janet about the buses. We do Athens to Nafplio at least once a year and the service is very reliable. The same is true whenever we’ve used the Delphi bus.

It’s a difficult choice (but a nice one!) between the two. It comes down, I think, to how important the site is as opposed to where you are staying. Nafplio is a much nicer town than Delphi but there is much more to see on the site of Delphi itself. Arachova is a more interesting place to stay than Delphi but is twenty minutes away by taxi and so probably not worth it for just one night.

If you decide on Nafplio it’s worth noting that on the way back the bus makes an additional stop at Eleonas metro station. From there you need to change at Monastiraki for the metro to Piraeus but doing this, rather than carrying on to the bus station, will save you around 40 minutes plus a taxi fare.

Have a great trip.


Posted by
3050 posts

Thanks for all the great, detailed info everyone! We've decided to go with Delphi this time.

I'm realizing due to timing we have to rent a car. We missed out on the Acropolis last time due to the heat and us being night owls last June, so we have to cram that in. So here's our basic itinerary:

26 September: Arrive Athens airport at 20:50, Metro to Attalos Hotel.

27 September: Be at Acropolis at 8:00, self-guided Acropolis tour followed by Acropolis museum. Quick lunch at O Kostas, pick up by Swift car rental at Monastriki around 13:00. Arrive Delphi by 16:00, check into hotel, visit site until close at 20:00.

28 September: Visit Delphi museum, return to archelogical sight if we've missed anything, depart by 13:00. Arrive Piraeus by 16:00 for car drop off, get on ferry to Agistri at 16:50.

I know it's a very hectic schedule for 2 days, but it seems like it should be possible and I don't see where I'm obviously shortchanging anything. We just had 3 days in Athens in June, and the hubs really wants to go to Delphi (which means he should be happy to drive us there!)

If I'm nuts for doing the Acropolis the same day we drive to Delphi, we COULD take a early ferry back from Agistri on 3 October, stow our luggage at the Monostriki station, and do it then. Our flight on the 3rd isn't until 21:30.

Would love any input/being told I'm a madwoman/etc. On the plus side we will have 5 days of basically laying on the beach after this.

Posted by
6670 posts

Go for it Sarah! You may be a madwoman but you'll be in Greece and probably blend right in! ;-)

Posted by
3363 posts

Ah Sarah... it all becomes clear. Because u finally give key details, we can all see our wasted effort giving you inappropriate scenarios based on incomplete info :( -- Lesson for Next time, don't worry about providing too much info, we need it, to avoid wasted time on both sides, OK (smiley face). Now, my suggested tweaks:

• Sept 26 - Just reminder re care about pickpockets -- one of us "old hands" (13 trips) got pickpocketed coming up escalator from Monastiraki Metro. NO stuff in pockets! NONE.
• Sep 27 - Do Acropolis & Museum as planned & car pick-up. NOTE! U may choose Swift because it offers to drive u to the intercity hiway on-ramp but there r BAD reviews lately on their vehicles (old +breakdowns) & service Either check STRONGLY or be brave & use another car-hire & get outa town on your own -- from Monastiraki it's Simple! just get a few blocks N to Metaxourgeio Circle, W on Achilles straight to hiway 75 and done! It will take u 3 hrs to Delphi. I suggest don't do ruins in aft, u'll be tired & have "burn-out" . Instead, do Museum (empty!). it's open until 8pm, last admit 7:30. You check into hotel, then do Museum... if u feel like a short walk gradual downhill along the parapet wall, looking down mountainside, very lovely. U can also go downhill to Tholos (round) ruins, no fence, open 24/7 (or save that to AM & do by car on departure).
•Sept 28: be at Ruins gate by 8 or 8:15 -- You can EASILY enjoy whole thing in 2.5 hours, even reading every site-sign... don't bother going up last steep climb to stadium, because not allowed in, due to rockfalls. Even slow, u will have seen it all thoroughly by 11 am, and then get a snack & have relaxed drive to Piraeus -- that INtercity hiway goes straight to port, no driving on city streets.

Posted by
3050 posts

Janet - Sorry, my bad, in my head we had an extra day in Athens and it wasn't until I was plotting this stuff out based on the bus times that were given that I realized we had to do the Acropolis and depart for our overnight on the same day! But I will bookmark this thread for a return to Greece when we will certainly do Mycenae so not all is wasted!

Thanks for your really helpful advice regarding the museum at Delphi, the stadium, etc. Will heed it! And thanks for the advice about Swift. I'll check around with some other car rentals and see what they can offer me. Swift is offering 80 euros for an automatic for two days with all the taxes, insurance, and extra fee for drop-off in Piraeus. (Their automatic is the same price as a manual which is something I haven't experienced in Europe before and means I can drive as well as my husband).

We could drive out of Athens on our own, given that we did fine in Thessoloniki and that I've driven into Prague city center, etc. But my husband gets nervous in rental cars because he's always sure that somehow we'll get dinged and our credit card will be charged for damage, fair or not. It's never happened but he worries nonetheless. So taking a bit of that worry off him seemed like a good idea but if we can get a similar deal from a company with better reviews, we'll do so.