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Greece/extra days/itinerary input

Getting ready to finalize a few travel arrangements. Stuck on how to adjust days. No need for beach days or party nights. We like sightseeing, walking, relaxing, food of course, and I do love to do road trips/driving. I am thinking about a few spots in the Peloponnese on my TBD days renting a car. Or should I adjust/take away those days and add to Istanbul or Santorini? Any input appreciated. All we really want to do in Santorini is the hike and watch the Sunset which will allow 2 nights for that and one day for the hike. Istanbul, I know is a stretch and will be quite busy, but I am not interested in being in Greece for 3 solid weeks. I'll take away from other days if needed. Just 2 of us going, myself (50yr) and daughter (30yr). I get seasick easily so not going to island hop.

Sept 5- Arrive Athens 1605
Sept 6- Athens
Sept 7- Athens ( I have a full day in Athens at end of trip also)
Sept 8 TBD

Sept 9 TBD
Sept 10-TBD
Sept 11- Flight Athens to Naxos in AM (8-10am flight?)
Sept 12-Naxos
Sept 13-Naxos
Sept 14- Naxos
Sept 15-Ferry Naxos to Santorini in AM arrive afternoon-Hotel in OIA
Sept 16-Santorini-hike thira to Oia
Sept 17-Flight Santorini to Istanbul in AM

Sept 18- Istanbul
Sept 19th-Istanbul
Sept 20th- Istanbul
Sept 21st- Istanbul
Sept 22-Flight Istanbul to Athens Evening (7:20pm flight?)
Sept 23-Athens
Sept 24th- Flight Athens to NYC depart 1735

Posted by
8853 posts

Is there a reason you to have to fly into and out Athens?

It would be much simpler to fly into Athens and home from Istanbul ( or the reverse )

Putting all you Athens/mainland days all at one end or the other of the trip would make things much better, logistically.

Posted by
37 posts

Yes, Our flight is already paid for and rescheduled from 2020 when we had less days. I had to keep the same flight path so no choice to change at all. Has to be Athens arrival and departure. Other than that my other credits are vouchers for $$ so I have flexibility with everything else.

Posted by
451 posts

On our trip we rented a car in Athens and drove to Nafplio where we spent four nights. We loved our time there and used it as a base for day trips to visit historical sites and wineries. Our stay at Aetoma Traditional Guesthouse was great. Akis and Pan were very hospitable and helpful with suggestions and reservations to the various wineries. Highly recommend! Many people on the forum will recommend that you skip Santorini, but in my opinion it is a must and I think you have just the right amount of time there. I can't speak to the amount of days you have allocated to Istanbul as we have not been there. Check out Naxos Discovery Tours Nicolas is one of the best guides we have ever hired and his private tours are fabulous.

Posted by
1795 posts

It takes an hour from the Athens airport to get into the city. I would not do it twice. I would adjust my days to either do it first or last. I think last given your time of departure to NYC.

I agree on Nafplio as a great destination. We spent four nights there when we were in Greece in 2017. Delphi and then Meteora would be another option.

Posted by
359 posts

Nafplio is a good suggestion as a place to spend your TBD days. It is a beautiful town and a great base for visiting major archaeological sites such as Mycene, Epidarius and the Thelos, the beehive Tomb. We also visited a very old church near the tomb, but can’t recall its name. There are other sites nearby. After an overnight flight and a couple of days in very busy Athens Nafplio is a good place to get into a laid back vibe ready for the next leg of your trip.

Lots to see in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi, the Roman Cisterns, the Blue Mosque, the markets, the food to mention a few.

Posted by
1804 posts

Hi Sherry, I suggest a minimum of four nights in Athens that includes a day trip to Hydra. From Athens I would take a direct bus to Nafplio for at least one night before working my way back to Athens to fly to Naxos.

Posted by
3333 posts

Here’s another vote for Napflio, a site with history that spans millenia.
A second vote for Santorini. Don’t let naysayers convince you to skip it. We did a day tour there with a company recommended by our hotel. It was a very efficient way to see the highlights, including the archaelogical site at Akrotiri. Having a knowledgeable guide there is, in my opinion, a big plus. Our tour also included a winery visit with tasting, a stop in Megalochori, lunch at a beach village, and a finale at Oia at sunset. We saw the Red Beach from the bus, but our guide informed us that it was dangerous to visit because of some geological problem . . .maybe erosion of the cliffs above it? Anyway, that was a few years ago and could be that it’s now fixed . . . or not.
You needn’t stay in pricey Oia. The road facing the caldera is lined with hotels in a wide range of prices. We stayed in Firostefani, from where we were easily able to walk to restaurants for dinner and to Fira and back for more sightseeing.
On the car question, I think one is not necessary for Santorini, but useful for Napflio. You can get for example, to Mycenae by bus; but having your own transport is very convenient. Just be sure that your lodgings have parking.

Posted by
1204 posts

The Akrotiri Archaeological Site - Red Beach area is worth your time on Santorini so you could add a night on that island. The little beach town of Porto Rafti is near the airport and a good alternative to backtracking to central Athens for a night before flying home. For my time between Athens and Naxos I'd evaluate either Hydra or Nafplion. We never been to either but planned to visit both during a trip that was cancelled last year due to COVID (it was actually the second time we've had to cancel Nafplion from a trip). Hope this helps.

Posted by
3477 posts

This sounds like a wonderful tour for you and your daughter. Nice that you will have several days in Athens. First of all, looking at your TBD I would also recommend visiting Nafplio as a base. Beautiful Venetian architecture. We spent two nights there on our RS Greece Tour (Sept. 2017) I would recommend Pension Marianna. Lovely accommodation, stunning views, delicious breakfast and just minutes from the center. We enjoyed the Archeological Museum that highlighted artifacts from the prehistoric and Mycenaean era. I suggest to follow up with a day visit to Mycenae, Epidavros and Nemea. I agree with spending several days on Naxos. Our favorite Cyclades Island. We spent 6 nights on St George Beach and didn't want to leave. It was the authentic Greek experience we were looking for. They have wonderful public transportation. One memorable highlight was taking the bus to the quaint village of Apiranthos. We spent a few hours strolling the marble streets and enjoying a delicious lunch outdoors. We also went to Santorini for a few days. I think 3 nights is plenty. We particularly enjoyed a bus tour of the highlights. It included Akrotiri, Red and Black beach, Megalochori, etc. I can't comment on Istanbul since I haven't been there- yet! :)

Posted by
2901 posts

I agree with Mary Pat that you don't need all that Time in Athens ... but I disagree on Hydra. It's an island that Rick Steves is forever promoting, because his tours are chiefly mainland, so he throws in a nearby isle to do before or after his tours. IF you've experienced the towns, the beaches (DO have one swim, please!) & landscapes of Naxos, Hydra is surplus. My suggestions, based on at least 3 successful 3-day trips to Argolid area with newcomers:

Sept 5 - (approx taxi €40 flatrate) into ATH Plaka area by about 1600, choose someplace a quick walk to main clasical sights (someplace like hotel Hera or similar, s. side of Acropolis). Find a restaurant then do an Early night
Sept 6 - Up early 8:15 to Acropolis to beat tour crowds! (use R Steves FREE step-by-step audio tour); then Acropolis Museum by 11 or Start at TOP floor for amazing short video, then descend; lunch on terrace w. Parthenon view! Afternoon, maybe AGORA (again, Rick has a FREE audio guide) then, relax, have dinner, early night for early start.
Sept 7 - 9 am Taxi OR €6 X95 express bus to Airport, pick up rental car, head for Nafplio - this fab giant map (click to enlarge) - shows entire route/ It avoids all Athens, nonstop to past Corinth You can stop briefly just off highway for ANCIENT NEMEA & surrounding vineyards (Harvest time!) Afternoon & evening, explore Nafplio... and the BEST sunsets in Greece IMHO.
Sept 8 & 9 -- Mycenae, Tiryns, Asine , more of Nafplio ... its considered the loveliest Old Town in all of Greecve
Sept 10 -- depart early, drive EAST to EPIDAURUS (2 hours; the theatre is the main thrill) .. then up the seaside road to Isthmus. Jump off to see the Old Bridge & photo Amazing Canal (!) then back to Airport on that "belt road" to return car. U can bus/taxi into central Athens for more sightseeing & dinner, or choose a B & B or hotel near Airport (several have free shuttles to/from, and one is by shore). Main thing is to be able to be at airport for Early Naxos flight - there are only 2-3 per day.
.... SEPT 22 - 23 - 24 ... If you have a handy Plaka hotel Sept 22, you'll have 1 full day plus a morning for ATHENS - the Nat. Arch. Museum is AMAZING (again, Steves has a good FREE audio of Top Ten Sights there) -- There are dozens of fascinating sights & museums, depending on your interests.

NOTE: You mention the constantly-promoted cliff-walk on Santorini .... but Naxos is considered just about the TOP Cycladic Isle for Hikes... here's a link to some of them

Posted by
1795 posts

We went to both Santorini and Naxos and hiked on both. We hike from Oia to Fira on Santorini and to top of Mt Zeus in Naxos. Both were fabulous hikes but the Santorini one is simply the most beautiful hike I have ever done. We liked Naxos overall better than Santorini but the views on Santorini just can’t be beat.

And I agree with the advice to skip Hydra if you are going to other Greek islands.

Posted by
5266 posts

Janet has a good plan, as she often does. But I'd suggest moving that last Athens day to the front end of the trip, and flying from Istanbul to Athens on the 24th in time for your 1735 departure. shows several flights, like Turkish Airlines from 1305 to 1435, that would give you three hours for the connection in ATH, which isn't a big confusing airport.

I'll join the parade for Nafplio as a base to explore places like Mycenae, Epidavros, Nemea, and Corinth with a rental car on your TBD days. And I'd skip Hydra too, since you'll be on Naxos and Santorini. I haven't been to Naxos, which many on this forum recommend, but I'm not sure you need three full days there -- you could shift one of those to Nafplio or Athens.

So my tweaks would be: (1) Add a day in Athens at the start, (2) go to Nafplio for your TBD days plus one more, (3) cut a day from Naxos, (4) fly IST-ATH on the 24th with a good margin to connect with your homeward flight. That said, it looks like a well-thought-through itinerary that will give you a great introduction to Greece and Turkey, a good mix of sightseeing and downtime, and multi-night stays everywhere. Hope you can pull it off!

Posted by
169 posts

My suggestion would be to get to either Nafplio or Santorini on your arrival day. Fly directly to Santorini (normally I see several evening flights). Or bus or transfer to Nafplio (see if rental car could be picked up there).

IE: Arrive Athens - connect to flight to Santorini
Nights of:
Sept 5, 6, 7 : Santorini - 3 nts. Allows for jet lag relax, walks, wine and Akrotiri etc. I agree about Firostefani over Oia - another option might be Imerovigli
Sept 8, 9, 10, 11 : Ferry to Naxos 4 nights (some would say more)
Sept 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: Flt to Istanbul from Naxos (probably have to connect through Athens) - 5 nights
Sept: 17 - 23: Flt to Athens = 6 nights to split between Nafplio (1st) and Athens... timing is up to your interests.
I'd end in Athens as others suggest - so can stay last night in the city and have one last morning there before your afternoon flight home.

Just a thought -
While I enjoyed our one port day in Istanbul and it is certainly worth more than that- I think you could find enough varied things throughout Greece to skip it this trip. You could visit Thessaloniki or Meteora areas - 2 areas that are not mentioned often here. Or explore from a second base in Peloponnese - so much to see & do in that area.

Posted by
2901 posts

Dick & quilter -- your advice about changes in the Turkey dates is well-meant but did you read her first reply?? Sherry said they are stuck with the exact travel dates due to airline.

Posted by
169 posts

Sorry - I read that as the NYC - Athens and return Athens - NYC flights being fixed in stone!

Posted by
2901 posts

Who knoweth?? OP not entirely clear ... if she wants best advice she needs to clarify... I also agree on less time Istanbul (but then, I'm too well-read in history to be a big fan).

Posted by
8853 posts

A thought that came to mind is to spend the night of 5th near the airport and take a morning flight to Istanbul and then work 'backwards', i.e Istanbul to Santorini, to Athens and use the "TBD" days in Nafplio and end in Athens to simplify some logistics and eliminate a flight to Athens on the day the flight back to the US departs.

Just not enough Tums in the world to ease the stomach tension of 'hoping nothing goes wrong' to get to Athens for the flight home.

Posted by
5266 posts

That's a good suggestion from Joe -- start with Istanbul and work back so the last city is Athens.

I took Sherry to mean her flights to and from Athens were fixed, not others. Hopefully she'll have flexibility (now at least) between Sept 5 and 24.

Posted by
37 posts

Wow, lots of good info with all your replies! Thanks for each of your posts and it will definitely help with finalizing my plans. Looks like I will look at Nafplio and surrounding areas as that seems to be popular consensus from everyone. The trip was supposed to be for my 50th and my daughters 30th last year so I thought we deserved adding some extra days since we had to wait a year :)