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First trip to Greece, itinerary advice needed

I have visited Greece before (Corfu, Olympia, Nafplio) as port stops on a cruise in 2010, my husband has never been there. I'm just starting to ideate a trip for 2024 and would love some advice and feedback. It is just the two of us.

About us and our travel style:
We love history and context, one of the reasons for selecting Greece as our next destination. We also like to soak in the culture, we do not like one-night stays or quick "just take a photo" stops or cramming a ton of things into a single day, we prefer to take our time. We enjoy hiking and exploring our destinations, and we're big time foodies enjoying great food, wine, and cooking. We also need to build in down time on our destination, I'm not a lay on the beach with a book all day kind of girl, but I do like some time to relax in the sand and float in the sea. While we want to see major sites and attractions, we both hate tourist hordes (crowds make me cranky) so prefer to use places that are not as touristy for a home base whenever possible.

We have 3 weeks for our trip. We are from the Pacific NW and used to a cooler climate. When I had the cruise in 2010, it was in the 90s in Olympia in mid-September which was too much for me. So I'm thinking of starting this trip in mid-October, like arriving around October 18, 2024. This means we would be there the first week of November. Are we going to run into issues with storms coming in or things shutting down? Would it be better to go earlier? We just returned from a trip to Corsica and while the weather was still warm there (for us) it was off-season for the locals and many, many restaurants, tours, and boat excursions were closed for the season. I don't want a repeat of that.

I've been reading the RS Greece guidebook and so far have the following itinerary pieced together:

  1. Fly into Athens
  2. Spend 4 nights in Athens -- Day 1 arrival we'll be tired so will just orient maybe attempt the Athens City Walk. Day 2 Ancient Agora and hike up to the Acropolis. Day 3 Acropolis Museum in the morning then lunch through Psyrri and Central Market Walk then National Archeological Museum in the afternoon. Day 4 day trip to Delphi through an organized tour
  3. Ferry to Hydra and spend 3 nights to just relax. (Rick is very high on Hydra in the book. Thoughts on this location? And is 3 nights too much?)
  4. Ferry to Ermione where we'll pick up a car and drive to Nafplio, stopping at Epidavros on the way. We'll spend 4 nights in Nafplio and use the time to explore the town, relax on the beach, and 1 day for a day trip to Mycenae. Question: I know Nafplio is a cruise stop so I'm worried about it being a bit overrun. While, I really enjoyed this town on our cruise in 2010 that was 13 years ago. Thoughts on using this location as a home base?
  5. Drive to Kardamyli stopping at Sparta and Mystras on the way. Spend 3 nights in Kardamyli just relaxing and exploring the town.
  6. Drive from Kardamyli to Agios Nikolaos to Oitylo to Areopoli to Monemvasia, stopping for lunch along the way. Spend 3 nights in Monemvasia exploring, doing some hiking.
  7. Here is where I'm unsure of what to do next. We will have 4-5 nights left for the trip. I'm thinking of driving to Athens, dropping the car, and catching a flight to one of the islands. Rick is big on Mykonos and Santorini in his book. I'm worried that these will be a little too tourist heavy for us and won't give us the local culture soak time that we like. However, from Mykonos we could day trip to Delos which has a lot of historic value. Maybe Crete would be a better option, although I'm not sure 4 or 5 nights is enough there. I would like a good ending to the trip before we return to the wet, gray that is the PNW in October and November. What would you recommend?

Thanks so much for the help!

Posted by
1526 posts

Firstly, I would not rely only on Rick’s guidebooks. While I use his guidebooks and watch his show, and he is helpful, there are many wonderful places that he omits from his guidebooks. I strongly recommend using Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Fodors, and Michelin Green Guides. And there are so many wonderful Greek islands to choose from.

I would not spend 3 nights on Hydra. I would take those 3 nights and the additional 4 to 5 nights you have and use that to either visit Crete, OR visit 2 islands, such as Santorini and Naxos. And there are so many other islands, such as Paros, Milos, Sifnos, etc.

You do need to do research to determine what will be open on the islands in late October/early NOvember. My guess is that Santorini will still be quite busy. I hope that Janet will respond. She has been to Greece about 20 times, I think, and can give you better advice regarding what will be open on the islands.

I recommend visiting the islands first. That is what we did, and the islands are a wonderful place to get over jet lag. That is where you will relax. End your trip in Athens since you are flying home from Athens.

We visited Nafplio in May 2022, and I think there was only one cruise ship in port. Nafplio didn’t feel overrun with tourists to us. We used it as a base. Spent 5 nights there. It was wonderful.

Posted by
220 posts

Matt Barett Greece was an indispensable resource in planning our trip to Greece:
Our highlights were Athens, Meteora and Sifnos. We went in early September. Not sure how Sifnos might be late October-November but we loved it.

Posted by
1614 posts

Are we going to run into issues with storms coming in or things
shutting down? Would it be better to go earlier?

Yes, 15 days earlier would be much better. Although you will still find quite a few things open until the end of October, the tourist season ends around mid-October when at least half of the accommodations/restaurants/activities close

From early November the weather becomes unpredictable.

2/ If you want to go to Delphi plan to stay there one night. With a day trip you will spend more time on the road than on site.

3/ Same advice as kmkwoo, going to Hydra is a waste of time, it's an island that RS recommends, but mainly to visit from Athens, just to see a "sample" of a Greek island when you don't have enough time to go to other islands.
You could do without it and drive to Nafplio from Athens (2 hours drive).
This will save you 3 nights which you can spend in probably more interesting places

From Nafplio, if you want to enjoy a beautiful, quiet beach in a small village, go to Candia (20km east of Nafplio)

5/Drive to Kardamyli stopping at Sparta and Mystras on the way

Very busy day if you stop in Sparta and Mystra. Just without these stops it's 4 to 4.5 hours of driving.

6/ We enjoy hiking and exploring our destination

I notice that after almost two weeks of traveling you are starting to really match your wishes to your schedule :-))

In my opinion you should start your itinerary from scratch so you could have time to go to a "real" Greek island such as Crete (or another).

Also note that you do not have to go to a Cyclades island. During your itinerary in the Peloponnese, From Neapoli or Gythio you can take a ferry to Kythira island and stay there for a few days. Superb island, beautiful beaches, lots of hikes ( almost 100 km of well-marked hiking trails, in one week we didn't do a third of them), beautiful village, no crowds of tourists.

Posted by
1526 posts

Forgot to add that I used Matt Barrett’s website, too. And Santorini Dave. They are a wealth of information!

Posted by
122 posts

Thank you so much for all of this! I was reading through some other posts in the forum and saw a number of people (including JoLui) touting Kythira so I think will scrap Hydra as you have all recommended and weave that locale in.

And thank you so much for the feedback on the timing, I think I will plan for arriving around September 20, 3 weeks would then have us returning about October 11. Does that timing sound better for avoiding any closures? (Note my husband wants to be home for October 14 for a big concert coming to town so I'm working around that too LOL).

I have a couple of follow-up questions before I start re-tooling the itinerary...

I see recommendations for going straight from the Athens airport to the islands. My plan is to book RT from Portland, OR to Athens, so I would anticipate at least 1 probably 2 connections. I would then purchase separately a flight to whichever island we choose, which saves a ton of $ on airfare vs. all in one itinerary. I am REALLY hesitant to book that for the same day we're getting into Athens. So many times I've had our flight changed or delayed at the last minute and being on a different itinerary I wouldn't be able to adjust the follow-on flight easily. I feel like it would be safer financially and give us more flexibility to have the follow-on flight to the island on a later date. I also don't want to arrive and immediately rent a car and drive to Nafplion when we're going to be so tired from the long trans Atlantic flight. So I think it would be better to do Athens up front (we've never been there and we do want to see the major sites there), and this would also allow us to end the trip on a more relaxing note rather than end it with the busy-ness of Athens. What am I missing?

RS spends a lot of time writing about the Mani Peninsula. With eliminating Hydra, would it be worth it to add some time to explore the peninsula in between our time in Kardamyli and Monemvasia? Or would that time be better spent in Kythira or another island?

And lastly, a totally different area, but has anyone been to Kefalonia? And any feedback on that location vs. other islands?

Posted by
588 posts

Most posters here recommend ending your vacation in Athens because occasionally ferry schedules are disrupted by strikes or weather and you don't want to miss your flight home. Maybe you could divide your Athens days two at the beginning and two at the end?

Posted by
1614 posts

I think I will plan for arriving around September 20, 3 weeks would then have us returning about October 11.

Late September / early October is more suitable in terms of accommodation availability, activities and also weather.

Regarding Athens I would tend to be of the same opinion as Marty. stay in Athens for 2 nights upon arrival and 2 (or 3) nights at the end of your stay. But it also depends on what you want to do first.

An often recommended option is to take a flight to an island as soon as you arrive in Athens.
The downside regarding the Cyclades islands is that it requires you to go to one of the 6 islands with an airport: Syros, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Milos, Santorini while there are 16 other islands that can be visited in the Cyclades that are just as, or even more, interesting.

To go to these other islands you have to take a ferry. This is what I have been doing for many years (over 30 years) Arriving in Athens we stay one night at the port (Piraeus or Rafina ) and take a ferry the next morning.
The first ferries are around 7 or 8 a.m. and we are on the island around noon maximum And taking a traditional ferry (not a highspeed) is one of the best parts of traveling to the Greek islands

Among the closest islands without an airport, Tinos, Kithnos, Serifos, Sifnos, Kimolos can be reached in less than 4 hours

We always return to Athens at least 4 or 5 days before our return flight. 2 days is a reasonable safety margin so as not to be trapped on the island in the event of a strike or bad weather which prevents the ferries from sailing. The other days are a bonus for us, Athens lovers

Regarding Kefalonia:

I've never been there.
It is neighboring Ithaca island which has quite a few stories relating to Greek Mythology. (it was Ulysses' island)

But be careful, Kefalonia is in the far west of Greece, which means almost 4 hours of driving to return to Athens plus 1.5 hours of ferry crossing.

Mani is a splendid region, it reminds me of the landscapes of Yosemite Park with the sea and the beaches as a bonus. I haven't seen everything in Mani but what remains to see is definitely on my wishlist.

In short, I'm sorry to tell you this but you're going to have to make choices if you don't want to double your number of vacation days (and miss the concert on October 14).

But don't worry, you have plenty of time before defining an itinerary. Take your time, consult guides, check islands or towns official websites, not travel agency websites, and don't let yourself be influenced by social networks or YouTubers who most of the time want to sell you something.

Posted by
1317 posts

Which airline are you flying for the transatlantic portion of the flight. Aegean/Olympic are in the Star "Alliance network. If you book all your flights on Star Alliance they are obligated to get you on the next available flight. if you miss your connection.

Many of the transatlantic flights to Athens are arriving around noon so there will be several flights later in the day. To manage your risk there are more flights daily from Athens to Crete than say to Naxos or Paros.
We live on an island in British Colombia so we too have the transcontinental plus transatlantic flight and we have never missed a connection to an island on arrival.
Getting over jet lag on an island is way better than doing it in Athens.

Posted by
4607 posts

However, from Mykonos we could day trip to Delos which has a lot of historic value.

Highly recommend Mykonos & Delos. Both are very historic, beautiful, and laid back.

Your overall plan looks very good from the standpoint of being relaxed, not wasting a lot of time changing locations, and having time to really enjoy the locations.

Posted by
122 posts

I've been sifting through Matt's site and this forum, and I'm very tempted to take a ferry to Sifnos and check that island out and Milos, perhaps even a day trip to Santorini if the ferry allows. However, this is our first trip to Greece and the primary reason it's on our list is for the history, not the beach, although I do want some beach time. And most of the historic sites at the top of my list are in the Peloponnese, with the exception of Delphi. So I think keeping it a bit more focused for this trip would be best and Kythera fits in nicely with the Peloponnese. We can can save other islands for a future trip.

FWIW I'm not concerned about jet lag. We're seasoned travelers, we do these big overseas trips once a year, and have our strategy down. We're typically fine within 1-2 days.

So here's the circuit I'm now thinking, not sure of # of days in each location yet just looking for a pattern at this point.

  1. Athens
  2. Nafplion via car
  3. Monemvasia
  4. Kythera via ferry from Neapoli
  5. Ferry to Gytheio and drive to Aeropoli
  6. Kardamyli
  7. Athens

From a historical context point of view, is there any advantage to seeing the Acropolis Museum and/or National Archeological Museum in Athens first before heading to the Peloponnese?

I am seeing lots of guided day tours from Athens to Delphi so I am still inclined to do that in a day trip (without us doing the actual driving) from Athens rather than spend a night or two there. Especially since driving from there to the Peloponnese would take us right back into Athens.

Question about driving... If we pick up a rental car at the Athens airport, will E94 skirt us around the city enough that we can avoid that nightmare? Or is there a better rental car hub on the outskirts of the city for pickup and dropoff? I did see info about Swift which I will definitely check into once I have a firm itinerary, I just like options. Also are electric cars a thing? We just got back from 2 weeks in Corsica and found that you can only rent electric vehicles there. I am wondering if other European locations are going that route and what the charging infrastructure is.

Looking at the map, the route from Nafplion to Monemvasia would take us right through Sparta and Mystras. From what I'm reading there's not much to see in Sparta but Mystras is very worthwhile. I realize it's about a 3 hour drive, but I believe if we leave early we can stop in that area, have lunch and explore a bit before getting back on the road and continuing to Monemvasia.

Does anyone know which days the ferry runs from Kythera to Gytheio? Both Ferry Hopper and Sea Jets say it runs year-round twice a week but neither say which days of the week and when I look at the calendar I don't see any sailings within the next month. I'm thinking it's not year-round? I did see a lot of reasons on Matt's site to use an agent to book island accommodations so that they can help with navigating ferry schedules. It's sounding like we might need to be flexible on which days we go to and from Kythera though. Is that correct?

The only reason I have a stop at Aeropoli is for the Diros Caves which I see a number of people are saying is a must see. Would it be better to go from Gytheio to Kardamyli and use that as a home base to day trip to the caves? I'm not finding a ton of other reasons to stay in/near Aeropoli.

Are Kalamata and/or Messine reasonable day trips from Kardamyli? I see a lot of people saying that Messine is a very worthwhile stop and I'm wondering if we might be able to work that in since it is not too far from Kardamyli.

I realize I'm missing the important historic site of Olympia on here. It's so far from the rest of the area we're seeing I feel like it's better saved for a future trip. And frankly could be woven into an itinerary with Kefalonia and Ithaka (which yes, JoLui, the Odyssey lore absolutely draws me to).

Posted by
465 posts

I think 3 full days in Hydra is too much. 2 nights should be fine, unless you plan on spending one whole on the beach which are rocky. Also find a hotel with a view, if you can.

Napflio is nice for a few days, but the beach is rocky. 4 days should be about right, if one of those days is a day trip to Mycenae.

3 days in Kardamyli is way too much time. There's not much there. You can explore the town in one hour. 2 days/ nights should be more than enough. The beaches are rocky.

Monemvasia:. 2 nights/3days should be enough, if you spend one of those days hiking. Monenvasia can be walked and seen in half a day. where are you hiking? To the top ?

Visit both Santorini (3 nights) and Mykonos and Delos. (3 days) October and November should have less crowds.

Think about visiting Meteora, North of Delphi. (2-3 nights)

Posted by
1614 posts

"will E94 skirt us around the city enough that we can avoid that

YES. If you definitely want to drive to Neapoli the day your flight arrives, the airport is most convenient and it would be a waste of time to go in traffic jams to Athens to pick up a car.

2mi after the airport just take the exit towards E94 Elefsina-Athina. Then continue on the highway until the Neapoli exit. there are 3 or 4 tolls.

are electric cars a thing?

Not really... . I don't know of any rental company who will rent you an electric car if you want to go to's not Corsica. Even though there are a few charging stations, you could drive for hours without encountering a single one.

route from Nafplion to Monemvasia

If you take the circuit you are now thinking, you can save Mystra for later instead of going there during your trip Nafplio → Monemvasia. For example from Gythio where Mystras is less than an hour's drive.

This would allow you to go from Nafplio to Monamvasia via the road which runs along the coast via Tyros and Leonidio which are beautiful little seaside towns to stop for lunch

Ferries Kythira ↔ Gythio

Note that between Kythira and Gythio there are not ferries every day but only 2 or 3 times a week with Seajets

Between Neapoli and Kythira there is a daily ferry with Triton Ferries

Whichever island you are going to, you must tell the rental agency that you are taking the car on the ferry as there may be an additional charge of a few euros for insurance reasons. When you book a ferry ticket for the car you are asked for the license plate number. Just enter RENT123

Are Kalamata and/or Messina reasonable day trips from Kardamyli?

Yes, it's a 1.5 hour drive from Kardamyli and even less from Kalamata. Messene is definitely worth it and in my opinion, having visited both, much more than Olympia.

Petros Thémélis, who was the chief archaeologist in charge of research at Messene for almost 40 years, died 15 days ago.(the guide/archaeologist with whom we visited Messene was at his funeral)

Posted by
1526 posts

Definitely make time to visit the Byzantine ruins of Mystras. Mystras is spectacular, and very, very different from Mycenae and Epidauros. In fact, Mystras is my favorite of all the ruins we visited. Think monasteries, ancient wall paintings, frescoes, bougainvillea, etc. Just gorgeous and so interesting. Make sure you have the time to visit Upper Town and Lower Town.

Posted by
122 posts

Thanks so much all, I think I'm on a good path.

@JoLui I totally get that the Peloponnese is not like Corsica, but I am seeing more and more rental car companies offering EVs and often at lower rates. When we picked up the car in Corsica I was surprised to learn that you can only rent EVs there now, it was not what I had reserved and that was not mentioned in any resources I used to plan the trip. While it was definitely cheaper, learning to drive an EV without any experience while in a foreign country was daunting, hunting for chargers on our route (none of our hotels had them) was a challenge, and it added a lot of time to the itinerary to charge the car, often an hour or more even at the fast charging stations. So I am asking about this going forward for all of my trips, regardless of country, to make sure we're prepared, just in case. I suspect that it may not be long before EVs dominate the rental market in the EU and more locations only offer those vehicles.

We won't drive straight from the Athens airport to Neapoli. We'll stay a couple of days in Athens then pick up the car and drive to Nafplion, stay there a few days, then on to Monemvasia for a couple days and then to Neapoli where we'll take the ferry to Kythera. My husband is typically the driver and he would not be happy if I had him picking up a car and driving 3 hours or more right after getting off a 15 hour or so flight. LOL I'm not sure how many days we'll spend in each location yet, I will have to plan out what we want to do in each place including any day trips. I am just trying to get the route identified first. I love the feedback about driving down the east coast from Nafplion to Monemvasia and will make sure to note that and save Mystras for a day trip from Gythio or maybe Kardamyli.

You mentioned that ferries from Kythera to Gythio are infrequent, and this is what I've seen online as well. It's described as twice a week. Do you have any intel on which days of the week it has typically operated in the past? I'm not seeing any current schedule for that route on Ferry Hopper or Sea Jets in the next month, it may be closed for the season. It would be helpful to know which days it has operated in the past for planning purposes.

Regarding ferry tickets, Matt seems to advocate on his site using a travel agent to book the hotels and ferry because they can reschedule things easier if you miss the ferry or it's canceled. Do you use an agent for this? Or book everything yourself?

@derek you mentioned that 3 nights in Kardamyli is too much and the beaches are rocky. I am looking at staying there for probably a few days to use it as a home base for day trips to Kalamata, Messine, Diros Caves, Sparta, and Mystras (maybe not all, but some). Is there another town nearby that would serve as a good home base for the region but offer better local beaches?

Posted by
3296 posts

Hate to say it about Certain popular website guys, because they DO offer so much good iformantion

•  Matt Barrett -- his website is an absolute treasure trove... but be aware that he has cozy relationships with certain servicess ... very fond of Fantasy Travel... always recommends using agencies ... ANd because years ago, he recommends his favorite taxi driver named George... there is now a huge FLEET "George the taxi driver" -- and all the drivers swear they're his son, or hsi cousin or his nephew (George would be 90+ by now) ... and they do "tours" altho not licensed to take you into major museums or ancient sites

• RIck Steves -- yes big on Mykonos & Santorini (and Rhodes) because they are on the "standard" cruise shown on his TV series ... ANd he promotes Hydra to the Max, because his in-person tours only do the mainland, and when people ask for an island, he pushes Hydra because you can tack it on from Athens for a daytrip. He has never really done an "island-hopping" program or tour that goes to lesser-known islands -- because they are best for independent travelers, tours can't make money off them.

You could drop the car, fly to CHANIA in CRETE -- the 2nd most beautiful Old Town in Greece (Nafpio is #1) and easily spend 4 days there and little day trips around -- olive farms, ruins, little villages -- gorgeous in fall... then fly back to Athens & go home. And because it's a real place, it's "open" all year round ... A really nice ending to your tour. a top R Steves contributor & Photo ace, "stanbr" has gorgeous pix of Chania & West Crete (his are so great I don't even post mine)

Heres fab map of Crete (click to enlarge)
.. shows roads everywhere & alal around Chania (served by good busses)
Here's a good map of CHania/Hania Old town (click & it gets huge) - best area to stay -- On/off Theotokopoulus st, a no-cars lane rnning from sea along west side, 1 street up from harbour .. highly recommend Hotel Palazzo (NOT a palace, a lovely Venetian mansion, about 12 rooms - ask for balcony on lane)

Posted by
1614 posts

Just like Janet, I would like to warn you about websites which are perfect for getting information but which only survive through the advertising they do. Matt Barrett is one such website. This is how he can continue to keep his website alive.

You don't have to go through a travel agency to book your tickets. It can even be a source of problems if something goes wrong.
And you will probably pay more.

This is also the case with ferryhopper or, they are excellent sources of information to consult ferry timetables and prices but once you have found what you are looking for, go to the ferry company's website. ferry to buy your tickets

Almost all ferry companies now have a webcheckin option on their website which allows you to have your ticket in electronic form (QR code). This is the case for Seajets and Triton ferries. All you have to do is show your ticket (on paper or smartphone) when boarding the ferry

About returning to mainland from Kythira, in May there were 2 ferries per week to Gythio on Wednesdays and Mondays.
Although we had to return to the mainland on a Monday to continue towards Kardamyli, it was more interesting to take the daily Triton ferry going to Neapoli because the Seajets "Aqua Jewels" arrives too late in Gythio (around 7 p.m.) while the Triton ferry arrives around 4 p.m. in Neapoli. So by going via Neapoli we were in Gythio earlier than if we had taken the Seajets ferry direct to Gythio.

From Kythira to Gythio You will find the October 2023 Aqua Jewel timetable here:

Those of Triton ferries between Neapoli and Kythira in October/November 2023 are here:

There may be schedule changes from one year to the next but in general they are minimal

Regarding the first night, if you do not hit the road immediately upon arriving in Athens you can stay the first night in Rafina located 20 minutes from the airport. There is the Avra ​​hotel which has a free shuttle from/to the airport. This is what many travelers do when they can't take a ferry from Rafina or drive on the day they arrive.

The Avra ​​hotel is located at the port of Rafina where there are plenty of tavernas and restaurants. It has reasonably priced rooms (2 to 3 times cheaper than the Sofitel at the airport) with sea views.

This allows you to spend the first night at the hotel, take the free shuttle to the airport the next morning and pick up your rental car.

Posted by
29 posts

This year, the ferry from Kythira to Gythio was on Wednesday and Sunday.

Posted by
122 posts

Thank you so much @janet and @JoLui for this great information. I have never used a travel agent for booking travel to and around Europe, I've just done it myself and have traveled quite a bit. After reading through Matt's site I thought that perhaps Greece was a little more challenging for a DIY'er like me, but what you are saying makes sense. Sounds like I can use Ferry Hopper to find schedules and then book through the actual ferry provider directly. I saw some posts indicating that schedules aren't published until 1 week prior. Is that correct?

@JoLui - to clarify, we would stay in Athens for a couple of days up front -- couple days in the beginning and a couple days in the end, based on advice I'm seeing from you and others on here. We have never been to Athens before and there are sites we want to see there plus at least 1 day trip I would like to do from there, whether that's at the beginning or the end. So for the car rental, my thought was to take a taxi back to the airport and pick it up from there. Unless there is a closer location that wouldn't put us in the center of Athens crazy driving. In looking at the map of rental locations it looks like Hertz (I have a gold account there) has a couple of locations in the Kifissia area and there are several other agencies in the Marousi and Chalandria areas which appear to be outside of the core area and close to E94 just based on the map. Are any of these better options than going back to the airport for a rental but still keeping us out of the traffic mess of Athens?

@jd - thank you so much for the intel on the Gythio ferry schedule! Based on this and based on the times that JoLui mentioned it sounds like it may be more convenient to just return to Neapoli.

Posted by
1614 posts

Ok, I wasn't sure about how many nights you want to spend in Athens when you arrive.
If it's more than one night, going to Rafina is indeed useless.

I saw some posts indicating that schedules aren't published until 1 week prior. Is that correct?

No it is wrong. Schedules are published sometimes a month, sometimes several months in advance depending on the ferry companies.
Those of Triton ferries are published about 1 month in advance, as for Seajets it can be up to 5 months in advance.

Without a car the reservation would be useless, but if you are taking a car on the ferry it is safer to book 2 or 3 weeks in advance.

As for taking the Aqua Jewel to Gythio or the Porfyrousa to Neapoli, it will depend on the schedules of these ferries in relation to the day you want to make this trip. If you want to book a hotel or Airbnb in Khyrira before knowing the ferry schedule, and although the ferry to Gythio will probably be on Wednesdays and Sundays, the only option where you will be sure of having a daily ferry when retrurning on mainland is to take a Triton Ferry to Neapoli

If you rent from Hertz, going by taxi from your hotel to the Hertz office in Chalendri located on Mesogion avenue is not a bad idea.

It will cost you something like €25/30 by taxi to get there from central Athens, you will avoid the traffic mess in the city center and you will be closer to the highway to Nafplio.

In my opinion you can also return it to the same office and take a taxi to your hotel in Athens.
From the airport the taxi will cost you more (40€ flat rate), the metro 18€ for two people, the X95 bus 11€ for 2 people, and these public transport will not drop you off right in front of your hotel.

That being said I don't know Hertz in Athens, I always rent with local rental companies.
For information, with a local company a brand new Ford Puma with inbuilt GPS and Carplay cost me €30/day last May with ferry insurance, and 2nd driver

Posted by
29 posts

JoLui -- "For information, with a local company a brand new Ford Puma with inbuilt GPS and Carplay cost me €30/day last May with ferry insurance, and 2nd driver."

Can you share the rental company you used? I too will be looking to rent a newer car with GPS and Apple Carplay to take around the Peloponnese and ferry to Kythira next June. Thanks!

Posted by
1614 posts

jd: Capital rent a Car

To be sure (and honest) I looked at my travel archives,
The exact price was €32.5/ day including ferry insurance. the 2nd driver which I added later is extra at about 3€/day.

You can insert a coupon code (the code is indicated on the website) to have 10% discount.

Carplay worked fine with an Android phone, the inbuilt GPS was perfect too (better than Google Maps)

It's a rental company recommended by Lonely Planet and by Le Guide du Routard, a a well-known French travel guide.

I also want to clarify that I have no commercial relationship with this company (just in case)

Posted by
2408 posts

I am going to encourage you to reconsider the idea of splitting your Athens time. It is an hour from the airport to central Athens and you will double your time doing that. That was what I planned to do also on our first trip to Greece and I was advised to not do that. I was glad I followed that advice.

Posted by
1614 posts

You mentioned that ferries from Kythera to Gythio are infrequent, and
this is what I've seen online as well. It's described as twice a week.
Do you have any intel on which days of the week it has typically
operated in the past?

Better late than never:

Ferries Kythera → Gythio this year 2023 in September:

Change the date to see other weeks