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Greece Itinerary Review

We are planning a trip to Greece in April and I would love experienced Greece travelers to take a look and see if there are any pitfalls or if we have forgotten to add in an important stop. Our flights to Athens and home from Santorini are already booked. I think we want to take the ferry to Naxos and Santorini rather than flying, because I will probably have purchased oils, honey, etc., and don't want to deal with packing liquids and paying for checked luggage, unless you think that I should really really consider flying. We will be renting a car after Hydra and plan to drop it off in Athens the night before leaving for Naxos.

0 05-Apr Fri Late flight to ATH Sleep in Athens
1 06-Apr Sat Sleep in Athens
2 07-Apr Sun Sleep in Athens
3 08-Apr Mon Athens to Hydra (2 hrs) Sleep in Hydra
4 09-Apr Tues Hydra to Ermioni (0.5 hrs) Pick up Car (1 hr), Drive to Nafpilo (1.5 hrs) Sleep in Nafpilo
5 10-Apr Wed Sleep in Nafpilo
6 11-Apr Thur Drive to Epidavros (0.5 hrs) Drive to Mycenae (1 hr) Drive to Mystras (1.5 hours) Sleep in Mystras
7 12-Apr Fri Drive to Monemvasia (1.5 hrs), Sleep in Monemvasia
8 13-Apr Sat Drive Mani Peninsula (5.5 hrs) Sleep in Kardamyli
9 14-Apr Sun Walk and hike Kardamyli Drive to Olympia (3 hrs) Sleep in Olympia
10 15-Apr Mon Olympia sites, then Drive to Delphi (3.5 hrs) Sleep in Delphi
11 16-Apr Tues Sanctuary of Apollo and Arch Museum Drive to Meteora (3.5 hrs) Sleep in Meteora
12 17-Apr Wed Monastery & Hiking Drive to Athens (4 hrs) Sleep in Athens
13 18-Apr Thur 7 a.m. Ferry Athens to Naxos (3.5 hrs) Sleep in Naxos
14 19-Apr Fri Sleep in Naxos
15 20-Apr Sat Ferry from Naxos to Santorini (2.5 hrs) Sleep in Santorini
16 21-Apr Sun Sleep in Santorini
17 22-Apr Mon 2:30 p.m. Flight home from Santorini airport (some sightseeing time in early morning).

Posted by
950 posts

Two things stand out. The night you sleep in Athens before departing on a ferry for Naxos, you should sleep in Piraeus (assuming thats where you are leaving from). You will want to be at the ferry (not port, but in front of the actual ferry) by 6:30 latest, and Piraeus can be crowded and sort of convoluted to get in and out of, which will add more time, so stay as close to where you are departing from as you can. Piraeus is not 'nice' but its practical
The other thing is that all transportation done on a ferry will take an additional hour, at least, to get between places. So while the ferry ride may take 2.5 hours, the trip all together could take 3.5-4, accounting for how long it takes to get to the dock, queue for the ferry (assuming you have tickets), get off the ferry, take a bus to your lodging (in the case of Santorini). The ferry process is efficient (ex. we walked directly off our Santorini ferry on to the bus) but its still the herd process of getting through anywhere, whether plane, train or ferry
Otherwise its a heck of a lot of driving without any days to catch your breath, but we travel more like this so I think its certainly doable. You can catch your breath in the car ;)

Posted by
3112 posts

Your 16.5 day itinerary includes 12 different overnight destinations and over 40 hours of travel time. I find that Greece is best enjoyed at a slower pace, so to me your planned pace is a pitfall. I know from my own travel experiences how tempting it is to try to see everything and how difficult it is to make cuts, but a less busy itinerary might provide for a more enjoyable trip.

Posted by
6118 posts

Given you plan Naxos and Santorini, skipping Hydra would seem to make sense and give you one more day somewhere else and eliminate one move.

Posted by
950 posts

I agree with those two, although we moved quickly through Greece and felt the pace was just right, and when we did slow down, we felt it was too slow. That said, 12 different nights in 16.5 days is funny, and not in a good way. I too like the idea of dropping Hydra

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you for the suggestions. If we remove Hydra, what city would you suggest adding the extra day and night back in? We are very much go, go, go, style travelers, out the door by 9 a.m. or earlier if the sites are open, and not back in until 10 or 11 p.m. most nights.

In April, I'm thinking beaches won't be appealing for swimming, although we may wade and have a cocktail facing the water. We just aren't anticipating sitting on the beach for a whole day. We enjoy museums, history, light hiking, etc.

Posted by
2416 posts

Add The "Hydra Time" to Nafplio AND the surroundings... Greeks consider it the country's MOST beautiful Old Town, and it's filled with history...

On Day 3 pick up the car in Athens (get GOOD directions to get to the big highway out of town) ... then you'll have time to stop # Corinth Canal for a look-see (jump off road At "Isthmus", go to old bridge then back on big highway)..... you can actually avoid a back-track and sightsee efficiently by NOT getting back on big highway; instead take COAST road, seeing Epidaurus on the WAY to Nafplio. See map: (click & it gets huuuge - & use side-slides to navigate). A bonus: after Epidaurus, on road going West to Nafplio, keep eyes peeled to N side of road, for the Oldest Still-in-Use Bridge in the world, it's said, a Mycenaean arch

By gettting to Nafplio on day 3, you'll have time to explore more... The Acronafplia, Palamidi, the small & superb museum AND the best Folklore & Crafts museum in Greece. This superb NONcommercial website gives great info on all the historic & scenice hilights of Nafplio/Argolid area - click EVERY link. & don't miss the walk arount the "point" at water's edge OR to stand at TOP of point high above, surrounded by water. Stunning. You could do Mycenae on day 5, and then get an early start to Mystras, thus u could see it in afternoon & you might get to Monemvasia that night. That would make the rest of your drive-a-thon a little less frenetic. I do think you might rethink the Mani Peninsula as long as you are planning to ALSO do Olympia, Delphi AND Meteora. This is like trying to drive from say, Kansas city to Denver to Rocky Mt Park to Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Vegas then San FRansisco, Muir Woods, Carmel ... etc you get the drift. Glazed-over eyes, neck cramp, fingers frozen to wheel.

A last point ... when you say "ferry Naxos to Santorini (2.5 hrs)" ... this really means 5+ hours. Check out of hotel (15-20 mins) get to pier( 20 mins). wait for ferry & Board (30); wait for departure, 2.5 hrs sail (this must be a fast ferry, not Blue Star). Getting off, 15 minutes , GEtting to hotel 30 mins at LEAST (45 if Oia), 20 minutes checking in ... Every single travel day will involve add-on times like these... believe me. Your Itinerary is wonderful but has a feeling of "magic carpet" to swiftly convey you hither & thither ... but such wonders haven't been around in the Aegean for millennia. But only experience convinces.

Posted by
950 posts

Or, you could keep Hydra, and not sleep in Mystras. Stop there en route to Monemvasia, and add that night to Nafplio. We did a very similar trip, and did the drive (in reverse) from Monemvasia to Piraeus in one day, and had plenty of time to stop in Mystras on the way. Our night at Monemvasia started at around 5p, and that was plenty of time to explore the rock (its quite small). Walking around there for 5 hours with dinner was sufficient. So no need to spend a day driving from Mystras to Monemvasia. The drive around the Mani peninsula from Monemvasia will be a long day. That was longer than expected (use via Michelin for times, not Google maps). We found that most of our driving in Greece took longer than expected (especially if you get stuck behind a tour bus. Im looking at you bus-driver on the winding road north of Kardemyli). So you'll want to be up and out the next morning from Monemvasia (we stopped in Githio en route which is a nice port town). And while Janet is right that commuting from place to place will take longer than the commute times you post, I think the commutes are part of the site seeing so its not like they totally detract from the point of the trip; its all part of the fun for us.

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you, everyone, for your kind and helpful suggestions. I think we've settled on the itinerary below. Its still a bit of driving, but as was stated, the drives can be half the fun. Hopefully, we're early enough in the year that there won't be tour buses stacked up along the roads.

0 05-Apr Fri Fly to ATH (3:15 PM to 9:10PM) Pick up Car (1 hr) Sleep nearish to Athens airport
1 06-Apr Sat Drive to Delphi (2.5 hrs) Sanctuary of Apollo and Arch Museum Drive to Meteora (3.5 hrs) Sleep in Meteora
2 07-Apr Sun Monastery & Hiking Monastery & Hiking Meteora Sleep in Meteora
3 08-Apr Mon Drive to Ioannina (1.5 hrs), Ioannia Drive to Olympia (4 hrs) Olympia Sleep in Olympia
4 09-Apr Tues Olympia sites Drive to Kardamyli (3 hrs), Walk Kardamyli Kardamyli Sleep in Kardamyli
5 10-Apr Wed Mani Penninsula (5.5 hrs) Mani Penninsula Drive to Monemvasia (2.5 hrs) Sleep in Monemvasia
6 11-Apr Thur Monemvasia Upper and Lower town walks Drive to Mystras (1.5 hrs), see churches Drive to Nafpilo (1.5 hrs) Sleep in Nafpilo
7 12-Apr Fri Nafpilo Nafpilo Nafpilo Sleep in Nafpilo
8 13-Apr Sat Day trip - Mycenae (1 hr) Nafpilo Nafpilo Sleep in Nafpilo
9 14-Apr Sun Drive to Epidaurus (0.5 hrs) Costal Road Drive (2.5 hr) to Athens Sleep in Athens
10 15-Apr Mon City Walk Ancient Sites Athens Athens
11 16-Apr Tues Ancient Sites Ancient Sites Athens Athens
12 17-Apr Wed Athens Athens Athens Athens/Piraeus
13 18-Apr Thur Athens to Naxos (4.5 hrs) Sleep in Naxos
14 19-Apr Fri Naxos

15 20-Apr Sat Naxos to Santorini (3.5 hrs) Sleep in Santorini
16 21-Apr Sun Santorini Sleep in Santorini
17 22-Apr Mon Santorini Fly to MAN (2:30 PM - 5:00 PM) Home

Posted by
741 posts

Your schedule is very military-like right down to the number of minutes for each day. In Greece I find making a schedule like that is a waste of time. You'll end up staying longer in same places more than you thought or less than you thought. All those archeological sites you want to visit can take more time you thought. You may be overwhelmed by what you are seeing and linger longer than you thought. You'll find ferry times can be a bit frustrating depending on weather, strikes, delays, etc. While the ferry service is good there is always those "oops" days.

Driving in Greece can be an adventure or frustrating depending on roads, mountains, goats or just constantly stopping for the numerous photo ops not to mention time for lunch at a out-of-the-way taverna.

Having a schedule like you posted looks good on paper but in reality may be impossible to meet, especially in a unique country like Greece. It's good to have a plan but the "the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it." That's from a Robert Burns's poem.

When in Greece go with the flow, take your time, enjoy what you are seeing and experiencing. It's more important to have quality than quantity.