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Greece, July 2018

I am a single 34 year old man. My interest is classical antiquity and ancient ruins; one or more archaeology museums; various mounuments; possibly one or more walking tours of parts of Athens or another town; I am reformed or secular according to religion but I feel compeled to at least briefly see the Jewish museum in Athens and one or more old synagogues if open to tourists.

I haven’t figured out how much time to spend in each of various places, and how much l have time to see. I probably would be happy if I just saw a representative sample of sites, avoiding too much duplication or seeing too much of the same sorts of ruins and artifacts in multiple sites and archaeology museums.

I can ask for up to 2 weeks off of work. My guess is I would see,

Athens: (acropolis area, archaeology museums; if time, Benaki museum, if more time, one or more other museums or monuments),

Ancient Delphi and/ or ancient Olympia;

Knossos, and the archaeology museum in Heraclion in Crete;

If I had time, the gorge in south-west Crete; or

possibly the ruins on Santorini or Delos.

When I went to Italy, I stayed in 3 hostels, bought most of my food at grocery stores, and did not rent a car. The whole trip cost me under 3,000 US dollars. My budget guideline is under $3,000 US dollars (less in Euros depending on the exchange rate). I am open to staying in a loging place that is not a hostel, but I am very cheap and I don’t care about fancy amenities but I would still want an air conditioned room in a place not blatently dirty or decrepit, in a non-dangerous neighborhood.

You may give any suggestions you want about what I have time for, logistics or public transportation in greece, sites, and so on. I didn’t buy a guidebook yet. So far I looked at Rick Steves Athens and the peleponese, from 2011, borrowed from the library. He doesn’t have a section on Crete.

Posted by
714 posts

For Crete get the Rough Guide, best guide for the Island and sites. As well as Knossos, go to Phaestos, another Minoan palace but not reconstructed like Knossos. I was in Heraklion two weeks ago and was blown away by the Museum. The previous time I had been there it was under renovation - the work is now done and it is a wonderful museum.

I also spent 5 nights in Athens.The Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens are amazing. I had never been to the National before and was blown away by all the wonderful and beautiful items on display - particularly the Bronzes.

In Athens I stayed at the Hotel Byron in the Plaka, at the foot of the Acropolis. Great location, cheap, ok breakfast, clean, basic with (at least in my room) good air conditioning. Lots of reasonable restaurants in the area but didn’t see any groceries. Close to all major sites, the metro and buses and trams. There are lots of smaller sites in Plaka, and nearby, particularly the Temple of Olympian Zeus. If you stay at the Byron or another Plaka hotel you are within walking distance of all all the main sites - Acropolis, the Agora area, the Roman Forum, Hadrian’s Library, Monistraki Square, etc.

I did a bus tour to the site of ancient Corinth but I understand it can be done by public transport. I found it an interesting site - lots of references to St Paul of course.

Posted by
2903 posts

GUIDEBOOKS - Rick Steves doesn't deal with ANY islands, except Hydra as a day-tour, I think mainly because it's an add-on to his tours. His book has useful step-by-step DIY descriptions in Athens for the Acropolis, Ancient Agora & the Nat. Arch. Museum -- he may have added the Acrop. museum. Importantly, those are also available as FREE AUDIO downloads from his website. For an overall BEST guide that gives enough description of ancient stuff, ROUGH GUIDE -- you can get a used copy online for 7-8$. Doesn't have to be very latest edition becaue u would not be buying it for hotels & restaurants. With care, you can pull out separate sections (Athens, Peloponnese, Crete, etc), and use duct tape to make a spine and instantly u have pocket "guide-ettes" & you can leave the rest of the book at home. Other good "guidette" sections: Language/phrases - History - customs .

BUDGET - Is your $3,000 supposed to cover your AIRFARE?? Cannot help unless you clarify. Also, if you are on a low budget I urge you NOT to go in July -- June is MUCH better both weather-wise & price-wise. Food stays the same but room costs zoom. Late May is even better, price-wise & crowd-wise.

ITINERARY - You need to do more homework before we can help you; there's no room to give you a Greece 101 course on RS forum; there's a word limit (and a time limit for helpers too). Without car rental(s) you have to be very efficient about your itinerary sequence, and curb your ambition. To help you see the distances involved in ancient sites in Peloponnese & Crete, here are 2 excellent maps http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg (Pelops) and http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/Crete-eot.png -- click & they each get huuuuge. (Looking at the latter, you will see there is not "THE" gorge in Crete... there are 10 or more, just that one gets all the promotional ballyhoo.) This ferry route map http://www.greeceathensaegeaninfo.com/ferry-info-greece/greek-islands-ferry-chart.htm shows the ferry network... but cannot convey how time-consuming ferry travel can be, when you only have 2 weeks. If you go May or June, there's a chance to pick up a discount FLIGHT to Crete (45 mins vs 10 hours ferry) that could be same price or less -- here's the link to sign up for e-mail alerts on discount fare opportunities - https://aegeanairlines.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/302/related/1

The fact that you mention Olympia in the Peloponnese but do not mention Nafplio in the Argolid area reveals that you haven't done any research yet. The Argolid has more ancient ruins of Major Interest per sq ft of any area in Greece (Mycenae - Epidaurus - Tiryns - Nemea - Asine for starters), and is only 2.5 hrs from Athens on modern express highway .. KTEL intercity bus costs €13. Get the Rough Guide, and also read this website: http://www.visitnafplio.com/ CLICK EVERY LINK -- including the ones at top, which tell how to get there.

Jewish Museum in Athens is right in Plaka, in a small townhouse; u can go thru it in under an hour. I found it simple, deeply moving, poignant for all faiths (I'm a Quaker. Greece had a large Jewish community, not betrayed by fellow greeks, many fled down the island chains to Rhodes, where finally Nazis closed the door. Alan Furst wrote interesting novel about about a Thessaloniki policeman's efforts to help escapers (Spies of the Balkans).

Posted by
396 posts

We're in the final stages of planning a two week trip that is mostly Athens, Crete and brief time in Napflio and surrounds. We'll go back on a future trip to do the Peloponnese and points north and other islands properly because there simply isn't enough time and feeling rushed kills the enjoyment for us. We definitely had to make some hard decisions about what it was possible to see in two weeks. We made Crete our 'island hop' for the vacation, realizing it is a non-trivial-sized island. I just couldn't come to this part of the world without seeing Knossos and the Heraklion antiquities museum. We're spending 3 1/2 days in Athens to soak up as much as possible there for the same reason. So very roughly our trip is 3.5 days Athens, 1.5 days Napfio and surrounds, 7 days Crete. We're taking the overnight ferry from Chania to Pireaus/Athens to save 1/2 day of travel while sleeping. We're renting a car in Crete and for the side trip to Napflio to optimize our sightseeing time.

re: Crete, I've found Crete more challenging to plan than some past trips. Somewhat it's because of the mountains; travel from point A to point B can take much more time than you would expect. On the other hand the island is so narrow that you can whisk across from North to South on the main highways (Heraklio to Phaestos in about an hour). I found the Lonely Planet guide the most helpful in planning Crete. There are many example driving itineraries (we're renting a car) in the front and throughout the book that helped clear the clutter from my mind and added smaller experiences that were convenient to see along the routes. The sample itineraries enriched the basic outline I had drafted mentally. To simplify things I forced myself to consider only Heraklio and the western half of the island.

Posted by
15069 posts

Hi Mike

I was in Greece for the first time this spring - on my own in Athens and then with an RS tour of the Peloponnese. Greece will be 5-10 degrees hotter than Italy. I don't think there are any parts of AThens that are unsafe, but pickpocketing is a problem, about the same as Rome or Naples (our guide said that outside of Athens, theft is not a problem - but I don't know if that includes the islands). The Athens metro is super-modern and very easy to use. The National Archaeology Museum is worth several hours - it's one of the best. The archaeological finds in the Benaki Museum are not nearly as impressive or extensive or as well labeled and organized. It is more interesting for the rooms focusing on ethnology and modern Greek history. I was sorry I didn't get to the Benaki Islamic Museum. If you have the time, you can visit the Kerameikos Museum and cemetery. Then a few minutes' walk takes you to the Jewish synagogue. I rang the office bell and they sent someone over to open the synagogue for me. Another few minutes' walk to the Islamic Museum. The Jewish Museum is in the center of Athens and well worth a couple hours as it chronicles the history of the Jews in many Greek communities. I found that Greece was less expensive than Italy for daily expenses. There are shops all over where you can get a lot of your foods and fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful. There is a small market next to the Monastiraki metro station (heart of the city) where you can pick up fresh fruit and some veggies - they seemed to sell mostly to commuters on their way home. There are also interesting archaeological finds in the metro station itself. One of my favorite sights was the Ancient Agora. Athens is very walkable, but hilly!

Check your library for the Blue Guides. There's one for mainland Greece and one for the islands. They will give you all the info you could ask for on archaeological sights and that will help you choose where you want to go.

Posted by
16883 posts

FYI, the last couple of editions of Rick's Greece book have covered Mykonos, Delos, and Santorini, and similar chapters appear in the Mediterranean Cruise Ports book. But if choosing just one island, Crete has plenty of variety to keep you busy and will require other resources.

Affordable accommodation is usually easily available in small guesthouses in Greece, but of course with options getting snapped up in high season. Hostels probably won't save as much in comparison as they do in other parts of Europe and you may also wish to check whether they have a party-all-night reputation or impose quiet hours.

Posted by
787 posts

$3,000 US dollars is supposed to cover airplane tickets starting and ending in Detroit, any transportation in Greece, food / water, museums, loging places, and other costs I am not thinking of now. Perhaps Greece will be more expensive than Italy. Maybe I will have to go up to $3,500.

I vaguely remembered that the ancient Olympics were held in Olympia, although there were competitions held in other places, and Delphi has something to do with the Delphi oracle. Both these spots are listed as world heritage sites. But you are right that I need to read one or other guidebooks and do more research. I have to assume that some places are more historically important than other places; there is not time to see everything.

My trip can’t be sooner than June 17. Thats my anniversary date at work, when I could get vacation time again. Just take what I write with a grain of salt; I could change my mind tomorrow or when I read more.

Posted by
2903 posts

Do some research and find what your best price is for RT ticket Detroit-Greece. Then tell us what you have left over. In june, if you really budget, and don't go drinking in clubs, and picnick every lunch, you could do it for about €50-60 per day. Not in July. BTW, when you give your budget, think in Euros... that's what's used for prices of hotels, food, transport. Here's the fast instant currency conversion link - http://www.xe.com/ucc/

Yes, do some homework and come back with some formulated ideas of where u would like to go and why, based on reading not hearsay. We can help you choose among options, but cannot give u a complete Greece Primer. Luckily you have plenty of time to do some digging & develop a great trip!

Posted by
15069 posts

There are lots of world heritage sites. Some are more important in history, but that doesn't mean that they are more interesting to visit.

To avoid the heat, consider waiting until fall to visit. . . October?

Posted by
976 posts

I just came back from Greece for 13 days. I was fortunate to get an unbelievably low price for a flight from Boston with one layover then on to Athens. While I'm not cheap I am economical. For the entire 13 days my cost was under 1,700 euros (around $2,100/US) including airfare. I went in October, off-season so prices for accommodations are much lower. Air fares can be unpredictable but if you check often you can find deals. Obviously the further you have to fly the higher the cost so that can make a big difference on your cost for the trip.

I book everything on my own, flight, rooms, transfers, car rental, etc., shop at markets for breakfast & lunch meals and eat out at night.

Greece is one of the least expensive countries to visit. Obviously one can spend a huge amount on any trip but if you do your homework/research you'll find it's very "inexpensive" to visit Greece.

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2903 posts

Tommy K -- if you tell what your RT airfare to/from Greece was as part of that total it will be FAR more helpful to other readers. A person from UK with a €300 ticket and a person from West Coast US with a €1200 ticket will have a very different picture of what you had to spend on necessities per day. Please oblige us!

Posted by
787 posts

Supposed budget, rough ballpark estimates:
Round trip airfare, June 2017: I just looked this up: United airline, one stop: Detroit to Toronto to Athens: $1,304.46

(Which airlines have you taken from the USA?)

Food, $15 per day, buying from markets or grocery stores: ~ $210; more or less depending on prices in greece, what I buy, whether I try cooked food recipes.
Sites and museums: ~$25 or less per day, ~$350
Hostel spaces or other loging places: ~ $40 x 14, ~ $560 (I know this amount is suspiciously low, but I am a single man traveling alone and my standards are lower than average; in Italy, I picked the nicest hostels I could find. if I had a wife or girlfriend I was traveling with, of course I would get me and her private rooms in hotels or guesthouses or whatever places, but not in hostels)
That is $2,424.46, so far, or ~ $2,450.

3,000-2,450 ~ $550 left for transportation in greece, one or more guided walking tours, shampoo or handsoap, and so on.
Souvineers and guidebooks : outside the budges, less than $100 extra. Realistic amount are $50 or less on guidebooks and $10-25 on a t-shirt or one item for myself.

Posted by
976 posts

I got the ticket with Delta/Air France for 404 euros ($468/US) which was a steal. It was a one-day special with the normal price at the time of around 500-600 euros which is still a good price from Boston to Athens. In addition the cost of a flight from Athens to Chios was with Aegean Airlines 119 euros ($138). Boston is a lot closer to Athens than Detroit so that was a big factor in the cost of the flight and overall trip cost. Still, if one checks regularly or signs up for price drops for tickets you can find very good deals. I bought the ticket 10 months before leaving!

The rest of my cost consisted of accommodations (3 nights Athens, standard hotel room; 10 nights for studio in Chios) at 503 euros ($583), car rental (6 days) 150 euros ($173.95), gas for car 68 euros ($78.86) plus miscellaneous costs for food, alcohol, souvenirs and gifts which got me to the total on my previous post.

My breakfast consisted of baked goods from local bakeries and coffee (coffee free from accommodations along with all condiments, plates, utensils, pots, coffee maker, etc.). Lunches consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, Feta Cheese and Greek Olives along with a glass (or two!) of wine. Some accommodations provide free soap and shampoo. If you get a studio some may provide coffee, sugar, condiments, etc. which saves you money.

Dining out can be either very inexpensive or over-the-top. The highest price I paid for a meal including wine was 19 euros, most were in the 9-13 euros range. Every now and then I got a Gyro and Draft Beer for around 5 euros. One can eat very well in most tavernas at a reasonable cost.

Cost to travel to another country varies by the country, flight, accommodations, food, car rental, etc. We found Italy to be far more expensive than Greece in all catagories.

Posted by
976 posts

As far as costs to museums/archeological sites, most are very inexpensive. You can get the multi-site ticket in Athens for 30 euros which includes the Acropolis, Agora, Kerimikos Cemetery, Hadrian's Library, Hadrian's Arch and Temple to Zeus which is an outstanding deal for what you will see.

Your $25/per day costs for museums/sites may be a bit high because you probably won't be going every day to those areas. There are lots of villages, beaches, walking/hiking areas, in addition to just walking around that don't cost you anything.

I forgot the cost of the National Museum in Athens but was very reasonable. Museums on most islands can be very low, under 5 euros with many at 2 euros. Some sites are free . . . all you got to do is walk/drive to the site and enjoy. Bear in mind when they say "ruins" that's pretty much what you get at the lesser known sites, lots of foundations, a few walls and if you are lucky a column or two. Obviously the major sites like Delphi, Epidavrous, Mycenea, etc. have more substantial "ruins"

I have been fortunate to travel to Greece every October since 2010 and have had a wonderful time at very low costs . . . IF you do your research, don't pay for an over-the-top room where you'll be spending more time outside of it than in it, do more walking than driving (however a car rental is recommended if you really want to see more out-of-the-way and traditional parts of Greece) which can add to the budget but if you go to another country you should see more than the tourist sites and most public transportation won't get you there.

Food, wine, alcohol are very reasonable priced, especially the house wine at tavernas. When I tell people how "inexpensive" Greece is they are amazed at my/our costs.

Posted by
2903 posts

Kaeleku, I agree that late may is better than June, but if you re-read Mike's first Reply Posting, he clearly said that he cannot go until after June 17, which is his work Anniversary entitling him to Vacation time ... that's the Way of the World for us working folks!

As for Mike's budget I also agree €25 per day is high ... only in Athens do you have a ticket that high (AND it gives you entry to 5 additional sights besides Acropolis). I also agree that his budget for food/drink is a bit low, unless he wants to sit in his room @dinnertime eating cheese & cold cuts from the supermarket. And does he never have a beer or a glass o' wine? It sounds quite hermit-ish to me! My own budgeting approach is to rough out a Daily budget, pro-rating some costs over the entire trip -- ie., some days transport will be nil, on others there will be a €30 ferry ticket ... and I've found that €10 per day pro-rated works out. The Budgeteering List I've worked out for a 14-day late-May comes to about €80 daily (aside from one domestic flight at the start) includes • LODGING (in Late May about 35E except 60 Athens) FOOD & DRINK €25 (Bkfst on balcony €3, picnic lunch €3, sunset wine €4. dinner €15 incl glass wine) ADMISSIONS pro-rated, €5; TRANSPORT prorated €10; Misc €5 (beach sunbeds etc). If u factor in that domestic flight @ €90-100 ... daily total would be about €95. If u shared a room, it could be under €80/

Posted by
976 posts

Traveler Jan's response(s) are right on target. I have used her recommendations numerous times and have found that she is a fountain of information.

One of the best reasons to travel to another country is to enjoy the local cuisine and Greece offers some of the best food at very affordable prices anywhere. You don't have to spend a fortune to have a wonderful meal including wine at very reasonable prices. In fact most meals I've had in Greece are way below what I would spend in the USA and still not have the quality and quantities you get in Greece . . . and that includes Athens!

The costs to enter museums, archeological/historic sites are very inexpensive for what you will experience . . . and there are many sites that don't cost anything!

I appreciate Mike L's queries and hope he takes advantage of the advice given here. Italy is a wonderful country with beautiful areas to visit and with archeological/historic sites everywhere. Just remember the Roman's loved Greek culture, especially Emperor Hadrian who wanted to restore Athens to its former glory. They just copied everything the Greeks did and renamed it!

Posted by
787 posts

I am on a strict diet, consisting of mostly fruit, low in sodium. Most cooked foods and food recipes, breads, and so on, are off limits. Sometimes I might try a small portion of some food recipe. I don’t drink alcohol.

Those of you who mentioned visiting Greece in May or October are probably right; the average high temperature in Athens in June is over 86F, in July and August, the average hi is over 92; over 83 in September, but by about October, the average hi is only 74-76. Perhaps I should acquiesce to waiting until at least October to take my trip. I can get my official vacation time from work starting June 17. What’s the worst that would happen to me if I visited Greece in late June? Heat stroke? I was in central Italy in July; I sweated mildly but survived ok in most places I visited, but I forgot to take water with me into the vatican museum and I remember badly needing water and not having any; perhaps I almost had some kind of health attack due to heat and lack of water. My great grandfather with my same last name had a heart attack and died when he was thirty nine (39).

Posted by
2903 posts

If you start w. a couple of days in Athens then skedaddle to some islands, you'll be fine, because you can get a room right on or just off a beach quite cheap (if you avoid $$$$ place like Mykonos/Santorini), and the constant breezes will keep you comfortable ... and by now all rooms are a/c. Last year In Naxos in late Jun, at warmest time of day (about 3 pm) it got up to about 82°F. but late in day it's down to low 70s, and hi 60s at night... always a 10 mph breeze.

One thing to consider for those with limited vacation time, as was my case for so long, is How Much Day do you get for your money? I always consider that in May-June I would get 1.5 days for every calendar day, because sun doesn't go down until 8:45- 8:50, and doesn't get dark until way after 9. By contrast, in October it's DARK by 6 pm. On Naxos in May-June, there's nothing like sitting at a taverna table in the sand, on St. George beach as sun goes down and stars come out.