Please sign in to post.

Family vacation to Greece 2016 no car?

We are planning a very short trip to Greece in June of 2016. Our trip is 3 weeks but we are planning on spending a week in Greece, a week in Italy and a few days in Spain. We are not comfortable driving in any of these places and will be relying solely on public transportation (some flights if necessary). We will have a group of 12 that consists of a couple in their early 20's, couple of women in their early 30s with their 11 year old sons and two couples in their late 40s each with sons in their late teens. We are looking for things to do that will appeal to all. Everyone will be interested in seeing the historical sites and the boys are all interested in the islands. Due to obvious time restraints, we thought we would spend 2 days in Athens and the remaining time seeing one of the Islands.

We need advice on which Island would be best suited for teens but still have an appeal for the adults, also what would be the best for accommodations. Should we stick with Hotels or would a house/apartment rental be better? Is it reasonable to think we can do Athens and the Isles without a car? Are there any other "must sees" for the boys?

I'm sure the answers that I get are based on preference, but I would welcome any thoughts or recommendations. Even if you have recommendations about the other two places (Italy and Spain). Again, we are limited to 5 days in each place and must consider the amount of travel time that it will take. We will be flying into Greece and starting our trip from there. We will use our Eurail Pass for the remainder of the trip until we fly back to the United States.

Posted by
2950 posts

Yes, you're correct. Answers are based on preferences, but they're also best given if we know where you want to go so we don't waste time unnecessarily. You need to do more research. First, decide as a group where you want to go, including one island. You don't have time for more. Save Athens for the end so you aren't backtracking, and so you have those days to return to the mainland in case of an unforseen cancellation or delay that could strand you and prevent you from catching your outward-bound flight.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you Lee, honestly no one has any preferences for what Island we visit. It will be based in convenience and time limitations so as the official "planner" I was thinking whichever Island has the best beaches and is in relative proximity to Athens to allow it to be a day trip should we decide to just rent an apartment in Athens. None of us have ever visited before and we through Greece in as an addition to the trip to allow the boys the chance to view some of the places they've studied about in Athens. It just seemed a shame to go all the way there and not add at least one day trip to an Island.

Posted by
2950 posts

I agree that not visiting an island would be a shame. One very close to Athens that will provide you with unique charm is Hydra. No cars are allowed so it retains some of it's original character. Ferries depart from Piraeus, which can easily be reached from Athens by using the Green Line train from the Monastiraki Metro Station.

Posted by
2898 posts

ISLAND CHOICE I agree Hydra is lovely, but aside from lovely harbor, not much for the teenagers & kids, no beaches to speak of. A day-trip island where you might possibly consider a stay-over is Aegina: also a Saronic Bay island, like Hydra, but WAY closer ... 45 -60 minutes by conventional ferry vs. 2x as much. It has a stunning Temple on a high hill, Temple of Aphaia (best preserved temple in Greece next to the one in Athen's Agora) ... a famous monastery, and several beaches, an interesting port town with a ruin, a museum, winding lanes & small shops, . Here's a photo album of a day-trip there in June -- which shows all the attractions above, PLUS the bounty of spring flowers everywhere. https://www.flickr.com/photos/36264706@N03/sets/72157621604646139/detail/

HOW TO GET THERE/BACK -- Your large group poses challenge; it's 3 taxis @ €20-25each. Better to take the GREEN LINE Metro from Monastiraki Station (near acropolis); 30 minute ride @about €1 fare each, to Piraeus, the seaport. (NOTE - On this line, pickpockets TARGET tourists so do not take passports; and have all money in zippered purses, or moneybelts/neck pouches ... NOT in pockets or knapsacks slung on shoulders; just be alert & you're fine; I"ve travelled on this Metro at least 50 times w.o. incident, but I am a New Yorker subway rider). Anyway, once u get to Piraeus, ticket shops are everywhere and ferries go hourly (I'm just guessing that 1-way fare may be ?€8 ??). Do NOT take a hydrofoil (closed in, no view) take "Regular" ferry & sit on open decks -- a great little "mini-cruise" with views of yachts, liners, water, islands, gulls... maybe even a dolphin!

ON ARRIVAL - Check return sailings, then decide what to do and in what order. Your group may decide to split up & meet later. This website, http://www.greekisland.co.uk/aegina/aegina.htm while it gives some of Aegina's drawbacks, also gives many ideas of what there is to see. YOu could rent 2 cars for 10 of you, and the 20s couple get an ATV. You can easily take a BUS inland to Temple of Aphaia... and from there, you can see the beach village of Ag. Marina. walking down the road, there's a shortcut sign, to get you to Ag. M in minutes. Lunch & beach time!!! Take your swim gear; usually if you have beverages or a bite to eat in one of the many tavernas (cafes) over looking the beach, you can use their restrooms to change ... the Greeks are good about this. Bus or taxi back to main town, to explore its back streets, & shops, waterside cafe snacks, and sunset ride back on a ferry deck.

As noted, this island is VERY convenient to Athens, thus is crowded on weekends with Athenians, but if you choose a Day (or 2-day) trip in mid-week in June, it should be very pleasant ... populated but not overly so (I did a 2-dayer there early june a few years back).

I also have another option, but R. Steves limits character-count, so I'll save it for message #2.

Posted by
2898 posts

DAY TRIP FROM ATHENS - CONTINUED If you wanted an outstanding Daytour for your group, my suggestion would be Nafplio, about 2 hrs 15 minutes on modern expressway 75% of the way (then thru lovely orange groves!) a gorgeous peninsula surrounded by water (you'd think u WERE on an isle); a beautiful town, a FUN town beach, gorgeous castle in bay & huge Fortress on a Gibralter size ROCK behind the town. Considered by Greeks to be the most beaufiful Old Town in the nation. Here's a FAB noncommercial website http://www.visitnafplio.com/visitnafplio.com/Home.html and here are great Nafplio pix by my friend: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/ This online map clearly shows the route from Athens to Nafplio http://www.esperides.gr/images/peloponissos_esperides.jpg (Cllick & it gets huuuge).

LOGISTICS: With a group of your size, public transportation could be very complicated and a "car caravan" equally so. The answer IMHO would be to book a 12-passenger van with driver; here is a major rental site that has such vehicles in its fleet: http://www.achtypistours.gr/buses . I don't know what their rates are, but as comparison, a r-Trip ticket to Naplio is about €25 each. 25x 12 = 300 + cost of 3 taxis to/from bus station (€12 x 3 x 2) = Total €372. A €600 fee would be equiv to €50 per head for a Great Adventure!! You could be picked up at 8 AM, be in Nafplio by 10:30 ... stay until 8:30 (almost sunset) and back at hotel by 11 pm. Something to consider.

YOUR ATHENS LODGING -- For such a huge group, you have left Athens lodgings VERY late; June is a busy month (even despite the Greek upheavals of late). This is a BIG challenge; I dont think you could rent a house for 12 that would be near to the central "Landmarks" area ... one apartment surely will not house all of you ... have you checked Air BNB? Have you googled " CENTRAL Athens GReece Apartments For June xx - xx" And see what comes up??? You have not given Any budget info, so we really cannot advise you. My basic advice: with a big bunch to coordinate you cannot get involved in a lot of local transport & taxis!!! Stick to Neighborhoods WALKABLE to Major landmarks -- Plaka, Makrigianni, (my 2 top choices, but more $$), then Koukaki, Monastiraki, Thissio. Avoid OMNIA!! The rents are tempting but it's baad news at night and even sometimes by day. This large online map http://www.orangesmile.com/destinations/img/athens-map-big.jpg Shows all these areas (except Thissio is off to the left). http://www.booking.com/landmark/gr/acropolis.html?sid=71fb054d34e3520d4a87a9657074d694;dcid=1 -- sorts out hotels that are within about 1/2 - 3/4 mile from Acropolis ... put in your DATES, and see which hotels have any rooms for your week -- you would need at least 1 quad and 4 double rooms. GOOD LUCK!!!

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you Janet. That's a wealth of useful information. For lodging sake I think may be ok. The trip isn't until June of 2016, so we have 14 months to find something. I'm going to research all your suggestions. Budget wise, each group has a different budget to be sure. Our daughter and her boyfriend ( the 20 somethings) are likely to go really budget friendly. Another couple is not likely to be concerned with a budget at all. The rest of us are fairly thrifty but flexible. When visiting Europe in the past my goal has always been to keep lodging and transportation to about €75 p/day for each category (per family). So there's 5 "families", the budget would be €375 per day for lodging and €375 for transportation.

Posted by
2898 posts

Hi Bridges!
... Thanks for reminder that you are 2016 ... having forgotten that, I was really concerned about short time-frame for lodging.
It does seem that you have done this complicated 12-person thing before ... you mean they make YOU do all this ?? shame on them. I hope that if you've gone to all the trouble, you don't get whines from any of them about results!!!

About your budget, I'm not quite clear. Do you say that the €75 per day is to cover lodging for each "group" --i.e. 75E for young couple, 75 for mom/kid, 75 for mom/kid, 75 for couple+19year old, 75 for couple w 19yr old? (the latter category would require 1 double for each adult couple, plus paying 1/2 the room rate for the 2 19-year olds).

ATHENS is your lodging challenge -- In JUne, a double in a distinctly budget hotel will be €70-80 and the best ones go fast ... I booked my june room at Hotel Phaedra back in december. June Rooms in Moderate well-situated hotels near acropolis (Airotel Parthenon, Phillipos, that level) start about 90€, when u can catch specials on Booking.com. You might do better finding 2 large apartments ... but always realizing that unless you are v. close proximity, coordinating joint activity can eat up precious time!

Your big problem, at bottom, is trying to pour a quart of liquid into a pint bottle. 3 countries in 3 weeks is OK for a young couple; for a multi-age group of 12, it can be a nightmare ... nothing is enjoyed because it's all too rushed! If you'd consider limiting it to Greece and Italy with 10 days, you'd do MUCH better. On landing in ATH, you could fly immediately to one of the Islands that Really "say Greece" to everyone... the white building/blue shutter villages and gold-sand beaches ... the Cyclades. Naxos is ideal for your mixed-age group in June... plenty of lodgings right on the sand... safe wandering for the kids... good bus systems to get everywhere. You could spend 4-5 days there (and there are day excursions offered to Mykonos or Santorini), then return to Athens for final 3 days... if not rushed, you could take the big modern ferry (5 hrs) back to Athens. Likewise in Italy, you could fly direct from Athens perhaps to Venice, use Rail (and check up, sometimes Eurail Pass is not always the best buy) to go to Florence, day trips from there (siena? Pisa?), then down to Rome for final 3-4 days then fly home.

Posted by
4780 posts

Bridges,

Janet has given you excellent, detailed information!

I agree with Janet... 3 countries in 3 weeks is too rushed.

A few years ago my mom & I split our 3 week vacation between Greece & Italy.

We traveled to Athens, Santorini & Mykonos.

Visiting an island on a day trip is nice, but in my opinion, it's so much nicer to stay on the island & explore it to your heart's content.

The sunsets we experienced while in Santorini were magnificent!

If you have not visited Italy in the past, flying into Venice then traveling south to Florence & Rome is a great plan.

Keep in mind that a 'Eurail Pass' may not be a good buy because it's usually more economical to buy point-to-point tickets (especially if you purchase in advance)

You may want to refer to this website to decide whether or not a rail pass is good for you: http://www.seat61.com/Railpass-and-Eurail-pass-guide.htm#.VS2sUGaXHJ9

Happy planning!