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Feedback re: four short days in Athens

I’m planning a post-cruise 4-day stay in Athens for three couples. We are all in our late 60’s/early 70’s but fairly active. Our cruise is Celestyal Cruises 7-night Idyllic Aegean, so we will have seen Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos and Milos, as well as a stop in Turkey (Kusadasi). We arrive back on the mainland on Saturday (10/16) and fly back to the US on the following Wednesday. We have booked rooms at a small boutique hotel in the heart of the city just a couple of blocks from Monastiraki Square so we will be centrally located. We want to see the main “must see” sights in Athens of course, but if anyone has suggestions for “off the beaten path” things to do or see in Athens, we are game. Also we are are thinking of adding a possible day trip to sights further out, if it can be managed. I’ve done a ton of reading, but we are torn between seeing Delphi vs Meteora vs the Pelopponese (Corinth/Mycenae/Epidaurus/Nafplio). Those three destinations seem the most highly recommended in my readings. Does anyone have any recent experience with any of these? This is a first trip to Greece for all of us.

Thank you all for any input - it is sincerely appreciated.

Posted by
3261 posts

Sounds like a great trip. I think you would need 2 days to see the Pelopponese.

Posted by
1799 posts

Delphi is probably the best day trip. My son went to Meteora for one night and said that wasn't really enough. We spent four nights in Nafplio. It is not a day trip.

Posted by
1204 posts

You could check out the beach at Porto Rafti over by the airport.

Posted by
8016 posts

Napflion is an important and beautiful small waterfront city surrounded by some of the most significant antiquities in Greece. But two to three nights would be a minimum to do it justice. Can you extend your trip a few more days?
Your hotel in Athens is perfectly located for the street market.

Posted by
2903 posts

Your inquiry is an example of many interesting inquiries that frustrate me in attempts to help. I often recommend a wonderful 2-day tour to the "Nafplio quartet" of memorable sights, which is very reasonable (about €156 per) takes u to all the named sights, and -- importantly! -- gives you lots of free time just to stroll & enjoy the beauties (and sunset) of stunning Old Town Nafplio! Sightseeing PLUS relaxing! CHAT Tour company has such a tour that goes weekly Tues- Wed... which wouldn't work for you, beause u leave on a Wednesday. However KEY Tours offers theirs on Monday, returning to Central Athens 5 pm on a Tuesday. Perfect for you!

One big problem. The website only shows availability on this tour starting August 1.And you don't say WHEN your trip occurs.

So I can't help you until you fill in that vital piece of info (and it's good to remember, for future requests for help, the more details the better!).

Posted by
2930 posts

You have about 3 1/2 days in Athens. There is so much to see in that city, I would think you'd want to just stay put and enjoy the city, especially if you want to see some of the 'off the beaten path' items.

Posted by
786 posts

We absolutely loved Meteora. But it would not be a day trip. Its at least an overnight, and we did two nights to have a full day there. It really deserved even an extra day.

In Athens, these are not too far off the beaten path, but we loved them both a lot and don't see a lot of people writing about them. One is the National Garden, right behind and beside the Parliament Building on Syntagma Square. About the only place to find shade in Athens. Lots of peaceful trails and flowers. And its a pleasant walk through there to the other, the Panathinaikos stadium, which hosted the original (1896) Olympics.

Posted by
3261 posts

We did the 2-day tour janet mentioned and loved the sights. I don't remember which of those companies we used, but the guide wasn't great.

Posted by
1318 posts

I’m with those who would probably spend all the time in Athens. But if you do want so see more of the country I’d rule out Meteora - you don’t see enough in a day - and would lean towards the Peloponnese over Delphi.

The problem with all the day trips is that they are frustrating: you don’t get enough time anywhere, and are tied to somebody else’s timetable. On the other hand they do give you a taste of places and Mycenae and Epidavrus are well worth seeing. As other people have said Nafplio repays a longer visit, but you will get to see it.

One tip: if you go for the day trip don’t take the lunch inclusive option. You lose time eating a not too exciting lunch in a hotel dining room. Get sandwiches before you set off and eat on the bus. You then gain an hour to wander at lunchtime.

In Athens I’d recommend the Keramicos. Not exactly off the beaten track but it always seems fairly quiet. Some nice statues, a good little museum and great views of the Acropolis. It’s a short stroll down a pedestrian walk from Monastiraki.

Posted by
2774 posts

Delphi is the only one of those I can imagine doing with your time frame.
You will likely plan a return trip on the flight home--I know I did!

Posted by
2903 posts

For the CHAT or KEY 2-day trips I mentioned, again my recommendation is because of the ample amount of Free time. In both trips, the bus stops at Corinth Canal (not ancient Corinth) to view this engineering marvel, and take photos as u walk across the Old Bridge. Then it continues on, to Mycenae by late morning, arriving Nafplio for lunch about 1:30 or so . hen the ENTIRE afternoon & evening is on y our own... to stroll Old Town, Go up on Top of Acronafpliia, see the amazing tiny museum -- or go to the cute rocky Town Beach or the "lido"swiming hole... sit at a seafront cafe in a cushy wicker loveseat to watch sunset, then dinner & nightlife. The next am ALSO is free time, taking off around noon to Epidaurus, to et back to Athens before dinner.

Main difference is: CHAT is once weekly, starting Tuesdays, back on Wednesday, while KEY is on Mondays, back on Tuesday. One thing that Key website mentions is a choice between Premium and Tourist housing. THe Premium is in a fawncy hotel but it's way out at the margins of New Town, u must taxi there & back, while the Tourist accoms are at the very resepctable Victoria Hotel, 3 floors (and has an elevator), which is only about 500 yards from the marble-paved central square which is so magical at night. CHAT may have re-instituted such an in-town lodging option, but didn't see it on website, & would advise inquiring specifcally.

Posted by
5 posts

Many thanks to everyone who has responded. Your feedback is very helpful. Janet, I especially appreciate your detail and I did mention our arrival date in Athens in my post (Oct. 16 of this year) but it was kind of tucked in there and not obvious. I’ll be more specific in the future. You had some great suggestions and information, thank you.

Overall, I’m getting the feeling that given our limited time, we may be better off sticking to the sights in/near Athens and doing as valadelphia mentions and start planning our next trip to Greece! Yassas!

Posted by
2903 posts

Now that I've been pointed toward your dates, I do agree that you should spend your short time exploring all that Athens has to offer. October makes a BIG difference, because the days are so much shorter (and you must prepare for perhaps some showers). However, when you return (because you will! Greece is addictive), do consider that 2-day trip... it is especially pleasant when you want to see major sites, but NOT be constantly pushed by a tight schedule.... "free time" on a tour is the secret to enjoyment. Some of my favorite memories are of sitting in a comfy basket chair on the Nafplio seafront, enjoying a glass and viewing the sunset after a day of discoveries, or sitting in the marble-paved main square after dinner, watching children play soccer in the moonlight. Here's a photo album by another RS contributor, "stanbr" , that reveals the beauty of Nafplio -- his photos are SO wonderful I've given up posting my lame efforts. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/ If you'd have time to spend a week in the Peloponnese, the end of the album shows quick glimpses as well of ancient sites like Mycenae, Tiryns, and as far afield as Mystras and Monemvasia.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you again to all who provided feedback on this topic. After discussing amongst ourselves, we are going to stay in Athens and do a few walking tours and sight seeing since we are so centrally located. The longer day trips or multi-day trips will have to go on another itinerary at another time! Efharisto!

Posted by
787 posts

You should make up a written manageable seeming itinerary of one or more major sites per day. When I was in Athens, the Numanistic museum, a museum of old coins, was pleasantly uncrowded and occupied me for over 1-1/2 hours. The National Art Gallery on Vasilissis Sofias avenue in the Pangrati district was closed for renovations in October 2018 but I would probably have liked it. I always try to see major art museums. I wasn't impressed with the small musical instrument museum. I would have been as happy if I had skipped it. I wish I had seen the Athen's history museum but at the time it was a low priority for me. And definitely get the ticket that lets you see multiple different ancient sites rather than paying separately.

Posted by
169 posts

Sounds like your visit will be fun (taste of several different locations). We love Athens and 4 days can be filed to the brim.

One of the museums we really enjoyed was the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture - just north of the National Gardens (huge park) and near the Parliament building (changing of the guard). It's a small private/personal (?) museum that has a brief overview of ancient Greek items then moves through Greek periods to @ 1900. It has artifacts and interesting displays of everyday Greek items (clothing, furniture etc). After so many "ancient" statues and fretworks - this was a great break. We walked through the gardens (south) as we left and ended at the Temple to Zeus (?) and Hadrian's Arch. Was a nice full morning ending with lunch back at the foot of the Acropolis.

If you feel a "day trip" is a must - since you are a group of 6 - you might look for private tour to Delphi... then you control the timing and don't have to pack/change hotels... I did research on Eudomonia Tours for our missed-trip in 2020.. sounded like they might fit your needs - their site looks like they are still up & running.

Have a great trip!