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Greece Itinerary Help?

We are the family with teen boys who like to poke around, look at ruins, eat, museums (but they have a limit), hike. Off the beaten path but of course need to see major sites since this will be the only family trip there. Prefer apartments to fancy hotels. We do like to see things but are not the checklist type: Parthenon CHECK, Acropolis CHECK

We are going in April Probably 12 days and over Easter give or take a day. Do not have tickets yet but will nail that down depending on itinerary.

How to make this all work? Too much? Which places do we need to stay over at and which can be from a base.
We will drive.

  1. Keeping in mind Easter Sunday things will be closed (would it be better to end in Athens and be there for Easter since a lot will be closed in smaller towns? ). Athens 2 Days.

  2. Nafplio and use as a base for a few sites. 2 nights?

  3. A few days Peloponnese. Would like a quiet base to maybe hike and explore around? Maybe Kardamyli or? ______________.

  4. Should we stay overnight in Olympia? ? 1 night?

  5. Maybe a day trip to Spetses or Hydra or Aegina. Although if other things are more interesting, we can skip that

  6. Meteora 1 night

  7. Ancient Messini

  8. Delphi

Any advice on how to fit this all in and what order? Hidden Gems I don't know about that we swear we won't be the obnoxious American and ruin it for you!

Advice for any tours that would be worth booking in advance?
Thank you.

Posted by
4535 posts

Overall not a bad itinerary. How it all comes together specifically will the key: the devil is in the details.

Athens can fill more than 2 days, especially if those are not 2 full days. The museums are pretty top notch, and are filled with things that limit boredom and museum fatigue.

2 Nights in Nafplio is good for seeing the town and surrounding sites. You can see things coming and/or going from town too.

Depending on your schedule, you will likely need a night in Olympia to see the museum and site. If staying somewhere within a couple hours to make a daytrip, or if you can squeeze it in on your way elsewhere, then maybe. The museum is nice but can be walked through in less than an hour. The site is mostly ruins and in many ways there isn't much to see there; so about 1-2 hours for the site.

Meteora could be a night, but you'll need to factor in travel time the day before and after and the time to spend visiting sites. You may find you'll need 2 nights.

Delphi is fine with a night; it's 3 hours back to Athens.

I'd consider Monemvasia if you can make it work, and pick that over Hydra. Mystras (outside Sparta) is a great Byzantine ruined city that would offer a different perspective than all the ancient ruins. The monastery of Hosius Loukas outside Delphi is also a great stop.

It's a lot of driving, but the scenery is nice and roads pretty easy to drive. Be sure to have an International Drivers Permit; it is required by law and many rental agencies do ask to see it. You'd wind up making a large circle, starting and ending in Athens.

Posted by
991 posts

You might want to consider a circle route through the Peloponnese. Drive to Nafplio. Consider stopping at Corinth to see the canal then Ancient Corinth and Ancient Nemia. Nemia had sister games to Olympia.
You probably should consider at least there nights in Nafplio. The boys will probably love exploring the two Venetian fortress. Nafplio probably takes a couple of days just for itself never mind the ancient sites nearby.
I too would recommend Mystras the site takes about 4 hours then drive to Monemvassia. Imagine staying in a period room inside a walled 13th century village.
Now you can head west along the coast . You might do the Mani peninsula from Kardamyli then continue west to visit the villages of Methoni, Koroni and Pylos. There are Venetian castles in all of these places. This stop leaves you with a fairly short drive to Olympia.
Somehow we missed Messini so I am not sure when you will want to incorporate that visit.

From Olympia head north to Delphi and then to Meteora. This trip will need three days one in Delphi and two in Meteora.

Olympia Delphi Meteora https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645469717811/
Peloponnese Battle Castles https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645468134284/

Posted by
2864 posts

I just answered your questions at length on Fodor's ... and in order to get the best advice there and here, when planning Greek travel near Easter, you need to get EXACT dates. On Fodor's you said you were arriving April 8, leaving on April 19; Yiassas noted that Greek Easter is April 16. You need to be in one place the 2 nights before, and not plan on sights being open ON Easter. SHe suggested on Arrival (9-10 AM), going straight to Nafplio Argolid area ... and having your Apr 14-15 up in Kalambaka, then driving back to Athens Easter afternoon.

I also like Stanbr's advice (but then, I ALWAYS do) ... your big decisions will be: what to omit, having only 12 days ... & how to avoid a super-long drive-day from wherever, in Peloponnese, to reach Delphi. Be mindful, tho Greece says longer opening hours begin in April, that is not always so, depending on budget crises; you could confront 3 pm closings and disappointments. Check ahead!

Posted by
40 posts

Really all very helpful advice. Tomorrow I sit down with a calendar and start to make decisions and book flights etc. Dumping Olympia based on advice from the other board.

Not sure I can fit in Monemvassia... but it makes sense to mix it up a bit with teenagers who may get sick of ruins... Suggestions of a great place to stay there would be appreciated.

I think it makes a lot of sense to arrive back in Athens on Easter, so now I am thinking of pushing back a little and arrive on the 6th and leave the 18th. Will look for an apartment or something in Athens. I am a little wary of Air BnB (horror stories of people arriving and not having their apartment). But do want to find apartment.

Posted by
2864 posts

For Athens, last year I helped a family of 4 find a great place, affordable on Website Homeaway ... https://www.homeaway.com ... for fun just now (& because I'm procrastinating on billpaying), I plugged in Athens & the dates checkin Ap 14, Checkout Ap 18 ... I like to specify "any" size & use the filter "Price Low 2 High" -- and jump about 4 pages to level $75 & up per night. For you, best bet is a 1BR w good LR full-double sofabed. On each appealing one I click first on LOCATION and instantly move on if it proves to be more than 8-9 streets away from Acropolis. (NOTE; also shy away from anything described as "central Athens" or "downtown"; they're trying to avoid being specify about a less-desirable location).

Finally, on P 6, a VERY promising candidate -- https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p6861258 -- $85 a night, just 3 corners South of the Acropolis Museum. Headline: "Modern Sunny FLat Under Akropolis!" It's on a Sunny, nice block (I stay very nearby) all facilities, owned by a woman and her niece; their description shows this is a family thing, not a mass operation.. It was about the Only listing with Both a great close-in location and good interiors. And the price is AMAZING. If I were you, I'd JUMP on it.

Posted by
1304 posts

We use airbnb two or three times a year in Athens, and have never had any problem. I don't think you have any need to be nervous.

The economic crisis - dreadful as it has been for Greeks - has meant a lot of people are supplementing their income by letting out places.

As Janet says there are also a lot of places in excellent locations.

Alan

Posted by
40 posts

Thank you Janet. I would book today but arrghh the plane tix prices went up unless we take a flight out at 6;00 a.m. Supposed to come back down mid-week.

Posted by
991 posts

The hotels inside the walled town are actually period rooms spread out over the town. There isn't anything like a hotel in one building. We stayed at Byzantino I may not have that name quite right. We just walked in through the bullet scarred main gate and found the office of two hotels right on the main street. Just big enough for two donkeys to pass each other.
They took us to two different rooms in different parts of the town and gave us the price. Our room had a gun port in the bathroom. We stayed two nights

Posted by
40 posts

Latest itinerary and this time I plugged in all the locations reviewed all the great suggestions and I still think maybe too much because it includes one day of 5.5 hours of driving. My husband loves to drive. Kids not so much. There is so much to see but definitely Easter makes planning a little tricky.

Arrive 4/7 and get car and drive straight to Nafplion

4/8-/4/9 Nafplion (Mycenae, Epidaurus, Nemea). Maybe not enough time to see it all. Got a great house and a good price in a nice area.

4/10 Mystras (stay over here or move on to Mani Peninsula late in day and stay there to get a full day on the 11th on Mani peninsula?)
4/11 Mani Peninsula (seems way too short but seems like the kind of place I want to spend some time)
4/12 Leave mid day for the 5.5 hour drive to Delphi
4/13 Delphi (stay over)
4/14 Meteora
4/15-4/16 Meteora (lot of stuff booked got an ok place for an ok price)
4/16-4/18 Athens
Fly out 4/19

Posted by
21065 posts

Ok, Mystras: I liked it a lot. Something about the fact that the ruins are scattered along a hillside, maybe. You could spend a fair amount of time there. My visit was long ago, and I think there was minimal opportunity to purchase refreshments on site (maybe just near the gate?). If that's still the case and weather is warmish you'll be glad to have at least some bottled water with you.

The nearest city is Sparta. Sounds great, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it's a modern city that's not usually considered an interesting place for a tourist to overnight. So I'd say to move on toward your next destination.

Posted by
2864 posts

IF you're worried about the longish drive... you might consider skipping the Mani Peninsula ... towers on hills, but otherwise it might be a case of "are we there yet?" from the back seat.

Posted by
1304 posts

A second vote for Mystra. We spent a couple of nights there a couple of years ago. The site is really scenic and interesting and the village at the bottom - also called Mystra - is a nice little place with a couple of good tavernas.

We stayed in the Hotel Byzantine which has a pleasant garden with a very small pool. We got them to call a taxi to take us to the upper gate of the site and then walked down. As a previous poster said there are no refreshments on the site, so take water.

I agree with Janet that the Mani isn't worth the extra travel. It has a very interesting history but that isn't particularly reflected in what you see.

If it were me I'd give myself a bit more time in the Nafplio area. One worthwhile stop, on your way down, is the upper fort at Corinth. In April you are likely to have it more or less to yourself and from the top you can see both ends of the canal.

Have a great trip

Alan