I'm planning our 1st trip to Greece possibly in March, flying into Athens, boat to Hydra and am wondering how traffic is driving around to Delphi etc.? and how the weather is mid-March? thanks, Cheri and with Turkey having things going on in Istanbul do you think it would affect Greece?
We drove from the Athens airport to Delphi and back again in October, so comparably off season. The road was very uncrowded, except for a short stretch, on our return, near Athens. However, there is one unusual Greek driving practice that you might want to be aware of. When the road got busy, people just pulled out and drove on the shoulder.
EACH driver will need an International Driver's Permit for driving in Greece. The rental agency may not ask for it, but if you're ever involved in an "incident" and can't produce one, it will not be a pleasant holiday memory.
Outside of Athens, driving in Greece is pretty easy actually. Roads are well marked in English and pretty smooth. Traffic on rural roads is pretty light. A few things to remember:
Always stay to the right on rural highways, even if the roadway seems wide. The middle is for passing and people will come flying down the center of the highway. Always be alert when rounding corners or hills as there may be cars ahead turning, slowing, animals or other surprises.
Don't drive in Athens. Rental a car at the airport or have the rental service take you to the edge of the city. The beltway is pretty congested and nerve-wracking, but doable and unavoidable.
All drivers MUST have the International Drivers Permit and the rental agencies will likely require it to rent. You get them from AAA.
Turkey is a completely different country. What happens in Turkey stays in Turkey. Greece, however, has its own economic issues that may impact your visit. But March is way too far in advance to predict so just be alert come February for the latest news.
Last March we drove from downtown Athens to Delphi, Thermopolye, Meteora, Olympia, Kardamyli, Monemvasia, Nafplio, Maecenae, Epidavros and back to Athens. Bascially a big loop around the Peloponese.
The driving in downtown Athens was challenging but not much different from driving in New York City. Driving in the Peloponese was straightforward. The roads were a bit curvy and mountainous from Delphi to Meteora and west of Meteora until we turned south when it was nearly all highway.
My question is similar. We usually book our 1-2 week apartments way in advance but want to stay 2 nights in Delphi and then travel on to other areas of Greece. Do you think we would get better prices walking into the hotels the day that we want to stay in April 2016? Or best to book in advance? I like to have most things planned out so we don't spend time trying to find a place to stay especially when tired.
Peggy - hotels generally give good discounts for advanced reservations, but those usually come with strict no-cancelation policies so be very careful about your travel plans if you do that (or book a higher-priced cancelable room). I might also add that there is no redeeming character to the town of Delphi (other than some nice views of the valley and sea below). You might consider staying nearby, like in Galixidi which is about 30 minutes drive down on the coast. Delphi hotels can also book up, the best ones for sure, and school groups are not uncommon, so if you stay, I'd recommend booking in advance.
Booking a Delphi hotel with little advance notice should be OK in March because it's between seasons -- too late for skiing, and early for the big sightseeing rush. My advice would be to use some standard guide books to select hotels that sound promising, write down their telephone #s, and phone from wherever you are in Greece, a few days before. On the last day in May, we got the hotel we wanted, just on a walk-up basis. If you want a little more assurance, a few phone calls while in Greece should work. We liked Hotel PAN a lot ... rooms in the back, look straight down a sheer mountainside to a valley & the sea.
From 2 Delphi experiences, I would suggest a sequence of arriving in Afternoon (if it's spring & a long-ish day), seeing the outdoor (unfenced) Tholos tomb when the light is lovely AND the museum before sunset, then seeing the ruins the next morning ALSO when morning sun gives great shadows, and the sight is almost empty before tours arrive about 10:30-11.