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Greece in Late Jan/Early Feb

I know from my research so far that the Jan/Feb isn't the "best" time of the year for Greece, however I'm turning 50(!) at that time and my wife and I want to spend my birthday in Greece, plus we're from Central Ohio so to us 50°F and rainy is like spring-like, especially since it will likely be 0°F and snowy at home. We've had great success staying at places found via AirBNB.com so we plan to do that again.

Here's what we've not so firmly decided so far...

Fly into Athens and fly straight to Santorini, spend 2 days/nights there, fly or ferry to another undetermined island and spend 3 days/nights, then fly/ferry to the mainland, rent a car, drive to Athens and spend 4 days/nights there.

My questions so far are:

We don't mind a party but aren't partiers. We love great, authentic foods, great sights, history/architecture/ruins/etc, and really anything non-touristy. With that in mind and considering the time of year and limited ferry availability, what island would be a good choice for between Santorini and Athens?

Will we have trouble catching ferries between Santorini and the yet-to-be-determined island and then on to the mainland?

Thanks!

Todd

Posted by
3135 posts

Keeping in mind that almost all shops, hotels, restaurants, cafes and galleries will be closed for the winter, I recommend you stick to the main villages. For Santorini focus your hotel search on Fira. You will be able to take a bus or rental car to other areas of the island. I recommend either Naxos (Naxos Town) or Paros (Parikia) for your second island. Both are close to Santorini on the same ferry route back to Athens and both have airports, althought flights will be limited and the planes are small because of the size of the runway. http://www.tinyurl.com/n7dwtmc

Be sure to go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test or membership required. Bring 2 passport photos with you to save a few dollars.

Posted by
4535 posts

The islands will be very quiet, to say the least. Book hotels ahead of time as many will be closed. Stick to larger, main islands.

On the mainland, you'll find more open but sites mostly to yourself. Athens is a very pleasant city in the off-season. I'd recommend a trip up to Delphi and a few nights in Nafplio. Both will have some hotels and restaurants open (especially Nafplio, a small city). Nafplio also has lots to see within a few hours drive.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks Lee & Douglas. Based on your responses I'm now thinking:

  1. Fly from Athens to Santorini and stay for 2 days/nights
  2. Fly back to Athens and pick up a rental car
  3. Drive to Nafplio and stay for 3 days/nights or so
  4. Drive to Athens and stay for 4 days/nights seeing the city and using it as a home base for a day trip or two, i.e. to Delphi

Any thoughts on this plan?

Thanks once again.

Posted by
16894 posts

I would be inclined to use the car for Delphi before returning to Athens, although the route is not very direct.

Posted by
4535 posts

Agree with Laura, you'll need the car to visit Delphi. It can be done by public bus but if you already have a car...

Otherwise your plan seems reasonable.

Posted by
7 posts

I'd intended to just rent the car in Athens and keep it the entire time after flying back from Santorini. Am I missing anything?

Thanks for your patience.

Posted by
3363 posts

"Am I missing anything?"

Yes Tod, you're missing the realities of keeping a car in big cities. But I see that you come from a little village (pop. 1700) outside Columbus Ohio. Athens Greece has a population of about 3.75 million in its metropolitan area, and virtually NO street parking in Central area and limited costly off-streat parking. Plus, the traffic can be a nightmare. ONLY rent a car for outside of the city.

In fact, your most time-efficient & easiest approach is to switch your sequence. When you return by air from Santorini, pick up a car at the airport and go immediately to Nafplio (only a bit over 2 hours). The road totally bypasses the city.... modern divided "interstate", (like your familiar rt 70) which goes nonstop until after the Corinth canal. Here's a wonderful online map that makes it crystal clear -- http://www.esperides.gr/images/peloponissos_esperides.jpg (click & it gets huge). It shows the road all the way from the airport to Nafplio. After Nafplio (which by the way, will be more fun than the islands in winter... more going on if the weather's chilly), you should not go back to Athens and THEN to Delphi -- wasted miles & time. You can return to the Corinth Canal by the Coast road (seeing Epidaurus on the way), then on the mainland, turn north at Elefsina to Delphi ... about 1.5-2 hours from the turn. You can get there in late day, get a hotel watch the sunset, and see delphi early in the AM, then return to Athens & drop the car. Do NOT keep the car in central athens ... almost everything you'll want is within easy walking distance; in fact, many major landmarks are on no-cars lanes. This online map - http://www.orangesmile.com/destinations/img/athens-map-big.jpg (again, click & it gets huuge) illustrates this ... the green cross-hatched streets are pedestrian-only.

Posted by
4535 posts

Janet nailed it right on. DON'T have a car in Athens. Her itinerary is perfect. Pick up a car at the airport and drop it off there and avoid the horrific traffic in Athens (I speak from experience). You can take the convenient metro into the city from the airport.

Posted by
3135 posts

Going to Nafplio woud be a much better 2nd destination. I agree with Douglas. Pick up a car at the airport and return it there before venturing into Athens. The Airport Blue Line Metro will take you right to Syntagma Square and Monastiraki Square in the heart of the city. From there you will be within walking distance to lots of hotels, shops and restaurants in the Plaka District as well as the Acropolis/Parthenon.

Posted by
7 posts

Awesome answers and crystal clear. Thank you all!

Posted by
1398 posts

Todd

I agree with pretty much everything other people have said.

One possibility that I would consider, if driving from Nafplio to Delphi, would be to cross from the Peloponnese via the Rio - Anti Rio bridge rather than go back via Corinth. It adds about an hour to the journey time but it creates a circuit and gives you a chance to see a bit more of the country.

The Rio - Anti Rio bridge is quite spectacular in it's own right and you also pass through Nafpaktos which is a nice little town with a pleasant old harbour and fort.

http://www.aecom.com/What+We+Do/Transportation/Practice+Areas/Long-Span+Bridges/_projectsList/Rion-Antirion+Bridge

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g635603-d3549143-i92570759-The_Venetian_Castle_of_Nafpaktos-Naupactus_Aetolia_Acarnania_Region_West_.html#73075717

As I say, just another option.

Alan

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks Alan! A great tip! I think we'll do just that.