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Greece in Oct or Nov?

My husband, niece and I will be traveling to Italy and Greece in late Oct-early Nov. From the comments I've read on Greece in the fall and bus/ferry schedule limitations, should we avoid Greece this trip, and try again in a different month? This is our first time to Greece, and I'd hate to waste our time/money if we cannot get around Greece easily, or if many sites/museums will have limited hours. Any advice? We are just in the early stages of planning our trip, so are very open to changes. Thank you! Delilah

Posted by
2898 posts

You can manage to get around even with fewer transport options, and by planning, you can see the sites & museums, even with shortened hours. Athens will be busy with cultural activities of course. However … the glory of greece IMHO is in the warmer weather, with the 15 hours of sunlight, and the bright blue sky and teal-blue water, and sandy beaches, and greenery & flowers. November gets into the rainy times … and most of the islands you see on calendars will be very sparsely inhabited. I'd advise you to save greece for May-June, or perhaps September (avoid July-August, because the whole of Northern Europe descends on the islands and they're packed to the max then).

Posted by
2950 posts

Another emphatic vote for May, June or September.

Posted by
81 posts

Yep, exactly as I suspected! Thanks for confirming. We will take Greece off this trip, and will spend our time in Italy milling around for 2 weeks. Thanks!

Posted by
16883 posts

I'm sure you won't run out of things to do with two weeks in Italy. Beach-wise, I have enjoyed swimming in shallow or protected areas of the Med in both Italy (Cinque Terre, Sicily) and Greece in October.

Posted by
2788 posts

After doing probably too much research, we decided to go to Greece in late May. Gets too hot after that for us and everything is open as much as they ever are.

Posted by
4535 posts

You didn't say in your post where you would be visiting in Greece and what you'd be doing. If you hope to include islands and beach time, then yes, you might be best to wait until late spring. But I can say with experience that mainland Greece in late fall is delightful. It can be chilly and rain occasionally, but there are few tourists, no stifling heat and you'll get the ancient sites and museums to yourself. And frankly, late October is not that late even for islands. Things start to shut down by late November.

Posted by
81 posts

Douglas - we have not planned an itinerary as of yet, but I really wanted to view ancient ruins, Olympia, Athens, etc., but did not include beach time in that scenario. If you have experience in Greece during the Oct/early November months, then perhaps we should reconsider?

Posted by
4535 posts

You may indeed want to reconsider. The places you mention are fully open but lightly touristed that time of year. Services are mostly still open and available (such as restaurants and hotels). My experience is that smaller towns like Delphi begin to shut down mid-November. Athens is always "open," as are larger places like Nafplio. The weather does get more iffy, but it will be in Italy too.

I certainly wouldn't cross it off your list just because of that time of year.

Posted by
81 posts

Okay - Greece is back on the list! We just want to get the most for our money, and enjoy our trip to the fullest, and if adverse weather or the limitations of activities is in question, then we would opt to spend time in Italy. I think we will just go for it and include both countries. Thanks, Douglas! Any advice on where to stay or eat, would be welcome, as well, altho - I'm sure it's too hard to narrow down both since we do not have an agenda yet.

Posted by
3713 posts

Thanks for the info on Greece in October everyone. We are planning a trip to Greece between 10/11 and 11/4 and I was starting to get a bit concerned, although the part about things being less crowded is very attractive.

I have noticed that ferry and plane schedules are not yet fixed for that time of year and most flights to and from the islands stop around 10/25 for Aegean Airlines. However, an email exchange with Aegean assured me that those schedules will be ready by the end of this month. I have made no reservations yet, so we are very flexible.

The weather can't be any worse than it was the first time I was in Greece. It was in late December and It snowed in Athens, but I had a great time there and on Crete anyway. The Ouzo probably helped.

Posted by
41 posts

I was the US Consul in Thessaloniki for four years and I can say that as long as you stay in Greece south of Thessaly you should be fine weather-wise. Northern Greece has a "continental" weather pattern and we had some serious snow storms and cold. We preferred traveling in the off-season primarily because of the fewer tourists from the northern European countries, who can, in the summer aggregate, be quite annoying (Americans are NOT the world's worst tourists, no matter what you've read). Remember, Greek life continues, regardless of the season, so you will always find "kafeneia" and small restaurants, cafes etc, open. Greeks love being outside at all times...they are gregarious, generally...and during the off-season you will find them much less rushed and more able to spend time chatting with you. A few words of Greek will be a great opener although if you don't look "Greek", they will often simply not believe that you are indeed speaking Greek. If you rent a car, drive VERY carefully,as the Greeks generally do not obey laws that they feel do not apply to them. Stop anywhere for a break...we never had a bad meal in Greece and if you linger, you may discover some interesting and unusual local items of interest. Example: most ancient sites in Greece are not excavated or protected. You can find these on a good geo survey map. They are usually marked with something that looks like "archaia" (in Greek) and you can usually drive to them on narrow dirt roads. Many are supremely evocative, as you will be alone with whatever memories/thoughts an ancient ruin can provide. Most locals are well aware of the history of their area and once the ice is broken (easy in Greece) many will guide or direct you to their own ancient site. Be wary of locals offering "genuine antiquities" just for you. They are not genuine, but if they are well-made and attractive, get one! We bought lots of reproduction vases etc for friends and they are fine...just not "real". If you should come across a genuine potsherd or some other antiquity by accident, be very careful about removing it from Greece. You shouldn't do this, but many people try and some have regretted it when they were stopped and searched by the Antiquities Police. Word to the wise,here.
In sum, the Greeks are Greeks no matter what the weather. Be open to them, understand them and their history, and I believe you will have an enjoyable visit. Just don't try to do too much in one trip. Go back another time.

Posted by
81 posts

Thank you, Don! What excellent advise from somebody in the know!
Question - if you had to choose one island to go to for 3 days, would it be Santorini or Nafplio? So many different opinions on this, and we can only choose one due to time constraints. We want to see the sights, yet really just want to blend in and enjoy Greek life.

Posted by
1316 posts

Delilah

Nafplio isn't an island, but it gets my vote just the same! It's a great little town and from there you can get to Mycenae, Tiryns and Epidavrus. It's also lively all the year round.

I was in Fira in Santorini in March a few years ago and it was dead in the evenings. I was often the only person in the few restaurants that were open. I imagine the same would be true in late October or early November. All of the Greeks leave the town at the end of the working day and, out of season, there aren't enough tourists to make up the difference.

Having said that Santorini is really beautiful so it comes down to your priorities. But if you want sites and Greek life I would (and do!) go for Nafplio every time. We've written up a recent visit there and you might like to have a look.

http://www.greekramblings.org.uk/Nafplio_overview.html

Have a great trip.

Alan

PS I'm sure you'll also get opinions the other way. I think I'm probably in a minority here in not being a great fan of Santorini!

Posted by
41 posts

Hi Delilah...I agree with Alan completely. In fact, I would not recommend spending valuable travel time on Santorini (or Thera). Unless you are interested in the pre-Greek Minoan civilization, remains of which abound on Thera, I found it to be about the same as most of the other "quaint" Greek islands. If my time were limited, I would not bother with going there. As for Nauplio...Alan is dead on. It is a very interesting and pleasant city ( it was the first capitol of modern Greece) and after spending a day, or even an afternoon and evening there, it is just a short drive to the Mycenean sites at Mikine and elsewhere in the Argolid and the southern Peloponessus. You will be surprised how compact Greece is (most Americans are) and how quickly you can get from place to place. For example, you can drive from Mikine to Tripolis to Sparta (nothing to see there) and back to Tripolis (good hotels and modern city) in a day. Then, in another day you can drive from Tripolis to Olympia, see the site of the Games, spend the night, then take the ferryboat (this is the actual Greek word, pronounced just like in English with rolled "r's"! Blew my mind!) across to the port of Delphi, spend a day and night there, then back to Athens. I've done exactly this several times with visiting family during my tour in Thess and always everyone very happy, having seen the"real Greece"! Here's a helpful language tip: after learning to greet folks and say thanks, learn this: "pou einai ta archaia?" Phonetically it is "poo eenay ta arkaya" and means "where are the ancient sites?". Say this to a villager wherever and you will usually be shown some interesting things. Worked for me.
Anyway, all the best and "kalo taxidi"
Don

Posted by
41 posts

OH, and as a PS, Delilah...one idea you might consider would be a trip to Crete, in lieu of the other islands. You can fly from Athens to Iraklio in about 1/2 hour and there are almost commuter-regular flights all day. I don't remember the cost but it was reasonable. Why Crete? Crete is quite different from the rest of Greece. The history is different, it is, was, the center of a highly sophisticated civilization long before the proto-Greeks wandered dwn into Greece and you can see what these Minoans left us in the excellent museum in Iraklio as well as at the ruins of ancient Knossos, about 30 min. from Iraklio by taxi. VERY evocative, at least to me! Crete is in itself a fascinating place...getting around is easy, and there is much that is unusual. For example, theCretans speak a dialect form of Greek which readily identifies one as a Cretan to other Greeks. The food is also unique and the seafood preparations are really delicious. And once you see the Cretan men dance their "pentozali" , you will regard the mainland dances as rather tame. Sitting at the waterfront in Iraklio, eating mussels saganiki and oktapodi, drinking wine...always a great experience!
Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
1316 posts

One slight addition / correction to Don's advice. When he says there's nothing to see at Sparta he's not including Mystra which is the last capital of the Byzantines and a spectacular site. We spent 8 hours there, over two days, in May and still hadn't seen it all. It's about a fifteen minute drive out of Sparta.

While on the subject of sites on the Peloponnese I would also really recommend Corinth. The Roman site, as in Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians, is worth a visit and Acrocorinth, the older higher site is spectacular. Walk up far enough and you can see both ends of the Corinth Canal!

Cheers

Alan

Posted by
41 posts

Alan is of course correct...Mistra is impressive, but in considering Delilah's limited time, I would not recommend a trip to Sparta just for that. I have found that the Byzantine era is virtually unknown to, my guess, 99 out of 100 American tourists and therefore of little sightseeing interest. Overwhelmingly Americans are interested in the remnants of the Classical and Archaic periods exclusively. Personally I find the Byzantine period highly complex and sort of degenerate, and my real interest is in the so-called Bronze age...sites like Mycenae, Tyrns, Gla, Orchomemos, et al, but I was never able to convince many of my compatriots to make specific efforts to visit those locations. Perhaps Delilah is a Byzantine scholar or maybe a member of the Greek Orthodox faith, which would provide sufficient impetus to visit such places (in which case she should go to northern Greece where they abound) but otherwise, my recommendation stays the same. I do think she would enjoy Crete...it is not necessary to be a scholar of anything to be impressed with the ruins at Knossos!

Posted by
81 posts

Don and Alan - extremely helpful advice by you both. I would like to see EVERTHING but know that I have to be reasonable in our limited time. Logistics plays a roll, as well. I would love Corinth, Olympia and Nafplio, and will have to check all the avenues in order to make this work. I don't want to spend my time in a car, train or plane and very little time "in" Greece. I am certain this will not be our only trip here :) Thanks so much. If I have more questions, be sure I will post them here!
Best, Delilah

Posted by
5 posts

Hi, my wife her sister and her two collage age girls want to visit Greece and Italy over Christmas break late Dec-Jan. We have about two weeks and are open to impute. We could go to Rome first then Athens depending on holidays (orthodox Christmas ,new years eve) , transportation deals, and weather. We are planning a home base visit this time so we don't have to keep moving, at least 3 nights in each location using local transportation and not renting a car.
At this time of year do we need the Rome pass? Are the ferries going to Hydra? Long underwear and parkas? This is our first trip to Italy and Greece, we enjoyed the walking tours in Rick's books in our last trip to Europe so we like to rub shoulders and people watch and just soak in the life around us with out the pushing and shoving. Thank you, John