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Driving rental car in Greece

We are planning to be in Greece in late April/early May. We are wondering realistically how long it will take to drive from Nafplio to Olympic Ruins and also from Olympic Ruins to Delphi via the northern route. I've read suggestions to go back to Athens and then north to Delphi, but that seems like a lot of backtracking. Thank you!

Posted by
21843 posts

You will be fine except don't drive in Athens or even close as traffic is awful.

Posted by
1015 posts

I think the big issue is safety on the National highway. It is reportedly a very dangerous route. We traveled from Naphlio to Olympia on the southern coastal route so i don't have any experience with the north route.

After finishing our Olympia visit we drove north and visited on of the Peloponnese castles then next morning drove to Delphi. As I recall it was a very long drive which included much of the national highway route. Frankly other than being long and boring I didn't see any particular problems with the north national highway route. We left around 10am and arrived in Delphi by 4pm. The bridge crossing at Patras was a highlight. That bridge is spectacular. The drive up to Delphi really provided us with some understanding why the place was sacred to the ancients. It took us a fairly long time but we could imagine pilgrims making this trek on foot . Evey minute the ascent simply became more magical.

For sure after Olympia take the northern route and cross at Patras. Be alert for traffic particularly fast cars passing from the rear and you will be fine.

We arrived late afternoon and found a hotel with amazing views down the mountain to the Gulf of Corinth and got up early next morning and essentially had the whole site to ourselves for three hours until the tour bus crowds arrive. In my opinion Delphi is probably one of the best archaeological sites. Afterwards we continued on to Mystras. if you have enough time this is also a great visit.

Here are images of our trip.
Olympia Delphi Meteora

Posted by
2948 posts

If you live outside the EU be sure to bring an International Driving Permit. If you live in No. America you can get one at your local AAA/CAA office, no test or membership required. Bring 2 passport photos with you to save money.

Posted by
4535 posts

The drive from Nafplio to Olympia is about 4 hours. I've driven it via the mountain road (you go through Tripoli) that is very scenic but takes longer. There is a highway route that goes south of Tripoli and then north towards Olympia. That should take you no more than 4 hours.

From Olympia to Delphi, you go through Patras, cross the bridge and then along the north coast. It's a good road with minimal traffic, though it can be twisty. Scenic though. It is about a 4 hour drive. Do not go back through Athens - that would take you a lot longer.

Someone mentioned seeing Mystras after Delphi - they might have meant Meteora. Mystras is near Sparta and nowhere near Delphi.

What is near Delphi and worth a visit is the Byzantine monastery of Osios Loukas. It's a short detour off the highway between Delphi and Athens. A bit hard to find but well worth an hour or so of your time.

Just to reiterate, the International Drivers Permit is required to drive in Greece - most rental agencies will not rent without one.

Posted by
1015 posts

Douglas you are correct my fingers didn't know what i was thinking, I did mean Meteora after Delphi.

Posted by
179 posts

We did the big loop from Athens, Delphi, Meteora, Olympia, Monemvasia, Napflio last March.

Honestly, the hardest driving was from Delphi to Meteora. Mountainous, windy roads. Having said that, it wasn't very difficult.

Posted by
2 posts

I appreciate all of your information and advice! And the heads up about the driving permit is great.
Joe, the loop you mentioned is exactly what we want to do. How long did you take ?
And I loved seeing the pictures that were posted too.
Anyone have a hotel in these places that they would recommend?
Thanks again for your help in planning our trip!

Posted by
2891 posts

Hotel PAN in Delphi, right on main street When we were offered rooms on the main floor at the back of the hotel,, we wondered, (but we were forgetting that the hotel faced UP the mountain, so the rooms in back had the view DOWN). When we stepped out on our balcony, hawks were circling .,.. BELOW us! ... Sheer drop of hundreds of feet, and view down to a vally & out to sea. We wanted to be at the Ancient Site at opening time (8 am?) so Mgr arranged for breakfast at 7. reasonable rates.

Posted by
1015 posts

In Delphi we stayed at Hotel Kastri. The view is much like Janet described.
We did this hotel on a walk up basis in May. It was on the second road higher up in the village ans had on street parking.

For Meteora we also found our hotel on a walk up basis. We stayed in the village of Kastraki nestled at the foot of the monastery mountains. It was a perfect location.
By the way try to time your arrival around supper time. By then all the tour buses have left and you can do the monastery drive essentially alone. Get your photos then because the next day the whole place will be full of tour buses.

For Monemvassia we also got our hotel on a walk up basis. After you pass through the city walls you will come to a couple of shops where they market the hotels. We found Hotel Byzantine which is really several period rooms spread out through the town. You can really step back into the past in Monemvassia.

For Nafplio we have stayed at Pension Elaine high up in the town but with a parking lot just 100 meters away. Our last trip we stayed right on the waterfront promenade at Amphitryon Hotel. We booked this one in advance.

Images of this trip are here
Nafplio and Peloponnese

Posted by
179 posts


If you are going to Delphi and Meteora, I would suggest leaving Athens bright and early, driving to Delphi. Visit Delphi, ave lunch then continue on to Meteora stopping at Thermopylae (King Leonidas and Spartan 300 Memorial) along the way.

We stayed at a small B&B about quarter mile outside of town. Big rooms. Great morning breakfast.

Guesthouse Iridanos
Kalambaka, 42200, Greece
+30 243 2024552

Posted by
179 posts


If I remember correctly, it was about 2 hours to Delphi and about another 3 hours to Meteora.

The long part was actually driving from Meteora to Olympia. It was about 5 hours. We broke it up stopping in a little coast town named Amfilochia.

Leaving Meteora, it was about an hour of mountainous driving before turning onto the highway. Once on the highway, it was smooth and fast. The last hour of driving into Olympia was tiresome as it became a two lane road. I remember it was about 9:00pm at night and I was going probably double the speed limit when ahead of me is a police roadblock. I was clearly caught speeding and was flagged to pull over. When I rolled down my window and spoke english and the cops saw my three kids asleep in the back of our minivan, he just said "go go". I put it in drive and never looked back.

Here is the route we took.,+Greece/Delphi+Archaeological+Museum,+Delphi,+Greece/Kalabaka+422+00,+Greece/Olympia+Archaeological+Museum,+Olympia,+Greece/@38.7274427,21.2237556,8z/am=t/data=!3m1!4b1!4m26!4m25!1m5!1m1!1s0x14a1bd1f067043f1:0x2736354576668ddd!2m2!1d23.7293599!2d37.983917!1m5!1m1!1s0x135f797aa96fe533:0x6b00be44fb12457e!2m2!1d22.4997992!2d38.4803028!1m5!1m1!1s0x135908aaa946f739:0x1c00bd30206ce860!2m2!1d21.6335186!2d39.6993346!1m5!1m1!1s0x14a1bd39ffe1d229:0x1754fdf7c1cda074!2m2!1d21.6294085!2d37.6434582!3e0

Good luck!

Posted by
255 posts

I have done the following route three times, each time adding another temple I wanted to see:
Day 1 Arrive Athens, drive to Delphi, see the museum.
Day 2 See the archeological site. Drive to Olympia. See the museum.
Day 3 See the archeological site, drive to Napflion via Bassae to see the Temple of Apollo Epicurious.
Day 4 Napflion
Day 5 Napflion. See Mycenae and Epidaurus on the way back to Athens.
Day 6-8 Athens. Maybe a boat ride out to Aegina for a day trip.

I have driven it solo, with a van of 7 teachers/students, and with my husband. Yes, it's a lot of driving in a rental car or van but you get to see the real Greece, meet the people, eat the food. I might be doing it again April 2017 with students. This time I want to see the sunset at Suonio.