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Greece Delphi - Meteora - Santorini - Crete - Athens - Trip Report!

Edited:

See below for Report

Posted by
5269 posts

Look here and here for lots of information. Also see if your library has some guidebooks. This forum works best for more specific questions than yours. Yes, you can experience a lot of food, wine, and history on a 16-day trip.

Posted by
2905 posts

Organizing & presenting knowledge, no matter how much we have, requires time. It's frustrating to take the effort, only to find out our suggestions aren't relevant, due to factors you have not shared. So we need to know more specifics. Also, we "vets" are very willing to use experience, to help you make choices... but can't supply "Greece 101" to substitute for at least some homework on your part. So, thoughts:

• What's EXACT Arrival Time on 9/3? That affects options for getting to #1 destination same day.
• Is 9/19 departure day? (if so u cant count it) EXACT take-off time? That affects plans for final night.
• When your wife says "islands" does she mean the "Promoted Pair" so ballyhooed to Americans? Santorini & Mykonos? or has she read about, learned about others just as rewarding (and half as costly). I've often steered people to a do-able itinerary that includes 24-36 hours on Santorini -- just for the Famous View -- but includes other islands that give a more authentic Greek Isle experience.
• Are you (or she) willing to put in some time researching -- online & print resources -- so we can provide intinerary basics, without need to provide details like -- how many miles/hours to get from X to Y and where is the ferry port, best beach, etc.

EXAMPLE of POSSIBLE ITINERARY --
• Day 1 Flight to Chania CRETE (5 nights) - Ferry to SANTORINI (2 nights) - Ferry to NAXOS (4-5 nights) -- Fly to ATH & Drive to NAFPLIO (2 nights) ATHENS (2- 3 nights)

SOME ONLINE RESOURCES: (all maps = click to enlarge)
- Good Map of Greece : http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/greece.gif
- *GREAT Map of Crete: http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/Crete-eot.png
- *
Pelops Map/Nafplio http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg
- Central Athens Map - http://www.orangesmile.com/destinations/img/athens-map-big.jpg
- Online "encyclopedia" - http://www.greektravel.com/
- Best Ferry look-up Sked - http://www.gtp.gr/RoutesForm.asp
- Domestic Air - http://en.aegeanair.com/e-services/e-ticket/
BEST PRINT & "TAKE-ALONG" RESOURCE - Order Copy of ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE on Amazon overnight ... ( 2010-2014 editions are better than latest, u use this for FAB background, not current food & hotel prices) Best "look-up" for history, isles, food,maps, customs etc. TIP: "pull out" just sections you need, staple the spines & take as "pocket guides"

Use these to explore the possibilities of itineraries that contributors may suggest. Then, armed with some knowledge, come back with specific questions, and we'll do our best to get you started. NOTE: if you don't have the time or inclination for homework, then I suggest working with a couple of good GREECE-Based travel agencies. Why Greek? because they know a lot more than US agencies, who focus maingly on cruises & package deals. Also, if a last-minute problem occurs, they're right on the scene to solve things. Two that are noted for working well online with N. American clients are Dolphin-Hellas and Fantasy travel.

Good luck in your plans and for a perfect trip!

Posted by
5648 posts

Although we visited mainland Greece in April 2018, at Eastertime, and ferried to/from Hydra island on that trip, we followed up in September 2019 on just one single island, but a BIG one, Crete. There’s so much to see and do, we stayed for 3 weeks. We had a rental car, and explored north, east, south, and some of the west.

For food, you’re close to the sea, and the fish can’t be beat. Even sardines, which are bigger than you might imagine, and fresh, totally different than what comes in a can. Cretans eat theirs, small bones and all. We picked out the bones, not a big deal. Lamb and other meats are also wonderful, and a true Greek salad should be had as often as possible. Fantastic yogurt with fruit is the mainstay of breakfasts on Crete, with pastries and other specialties. Cretans love their hard, crunchy Dakos. Cheeses and honey are also superb. If you’re feeling adventurous, even snails with garlic are available.

Basically anyone with any land on Crete grows olives, and the olive oil is great there. Wine, too.

For history, Crete is where the Minoan civilization thrived, centuries before Ancient Greeks. There are Minoan sites all over the huge island, in various levels of ruin. Some are partially restored, and many museums are filled with archeological treasures from them. In September, beaches had lots of visitors, and water was still warm enough, even in early October, to get in. Besides the coastal areas, we also enjoyed exploring the interior. In September, we stayed in Tzermiado, in the Lasithi Plateau, and there were not so many tourists - it’s fascinating, but apparently off the radar for most people.

While Rick Steves has an excellent guidebook for other parts of Greece, we relied on the Lonely Planet and The Rough Guide books for our Crete trip. We flew in to Iraklio, the biggest city, rented our car after our Iraklio time, and turned it in in Hania, where we spent the last 3 days before flying hone.

Posted by
1204 posts

Hey bro - if it was me after landing I drive out to the Peloponnese for several days. After that I'd come back and drop the car and head for the islands (2 maybe 3) for a week. Then I'd return to stay in central Athens for 3-4 days. I've only been to Athens and Santorini but have had two trips to the Peloponnese and one island trip cancelled after booking. Enjoy your adventure!

Posted by
1807 posts

You can fly non-stop between Athens and Santorini. You can then take an overnight ferry and sleep in a cabin while enroute to Symi Island and spend a couple nights there before taking a 1h ferry to Rhodes.
I would sleep in Rhodes a couple nights, then rent a car and drive to a resort north of Lindos and use that as a home base. One day I would day trip to Lindos.

Posted by
212 posts

Thanks guys. I am starting my homework now and will come back with questions! I like the big long post! Lots to dwell on! I def wanna see cool towns and scenery. I'm a photographer

Posted by
212 posts

Sat. 04 September 2021: Frankfurt – Athens

09:30 h Frankfurt Frankfurt (FRA)
Terminal 1

13:15 h Athens Athens (ATH)

Leaving:

Sun. 19 September 2021: Athens – Frankfurt

07:00 h Athens Athens (ATH)

Posted by
34 posts

We are going the end of this month. We plan to spend 8 days in Crete, ferry to Santorini for two days then to Athens and the mainland. We struggled between the Peloponnese peninsula and the Epirus region . We decided to see Meteora and the Epirus area. Good luck with your research.

Posted by
1945 posts

So it looks like you have 15 nights, if I counted correctly. There are a number of itineraries you could choose from, but here’s one option (maybe not even the best): 3 nights Santorini, 3 nights Naxos or other island, 4 nights Nafplion, 1 night Delphi, 4 nights Athens at the end.

Posted by
15 posts

Hey Dick, where in Greece are you planning to go? What kinds of information from us are you looking for? I'd like to help as best as I can, but I need more information.

Posted by
787 posts

Rick Steves guide to Greece covers most of what you are likely to want to see, minus most islands. I bought the "Rough guide to Crete". The "Lonely Planet guide to Crete" might be good too. Maybe look at the Rough guide to Greece. I like the Rough Guide series' guides. My Greek Island experience is limited to Crete, but I only gave myself 3 days and 2 nights there. Crete has enough to occupy many travelers for 6 or more days. Santorini looked appealing but I skipped it because there wasn't enough time. Rhodes looks appealing too. I don't care much about beaches but I always look for historical sites, old ruins or fortresses or castles, and archaeology museums. There may be guidebooks just about Greek Islands. You might want to get more than one guidebook, have your wife look through the books you are not looking at, at that moment, have her and you make lists of the towns you guys want to see, discuss what looks appealing and what you can acquiesce to skipping, and post a supposed day-by-day itinerary listing one or 2 major activities per day. You can fly to Athens, Santorini, Rhodes, Heraklion, Chania, and possibly others. See which city you want to start in, and which city you want to take your flights home from. I did not rent a car in Greece. I took 5 long-distance bus trips in Greece, and two ferry trips.

Crete has a lot to do. There never is enough time to do everything that looks appealing in a country. I wish I had seen Olympia in a Western Greece and skipped Crete. But you could focus on Islands. You trip to Greece could overlap with my trip, or it could be totally different from my trip.

Posted by
212 posts

Sept 4th - Drive Delphi

Septh 5th Tour Delphi

Sept 6th Drive to Meteroa

Septh 7th Meteroa - Tour

Sept 8th Drive athens fly santorini

September 9th - Santo

September 10th - Santo

Sept 11 - Ferry to Heraklion

Sept 12 - Heraklion

Sept 13 0 Heraklion

Sept 14 - Samara Gorge

Sept 15 - Chania

Sept 16th Chania

Sept 17th - Fly Athens

Septher 18th Athens

Sept 19th Fly home

Posted by
787 posts

That is a doable itinerary. Your short amount of time in Athens is fine if you feel you will be happy to just see the Parthenon and one or more of the major museums or sets of ruins. If you take the right overnight ferry to and/or from Crete, and if you reserve a cabin with a bed, you will take away your need for one or 2 nights in hotels. By driving to Delphi, you avoid doing what I did - I felt like i was done with the place at about 1pm on my second day there but I had bought a ticket for the bus leaving at 6pm, I had to wait until the bus showed up, at 6pm.

Posted by
212 posts

Yeah my wife has been to Greece already, she said Athens is just a big city besides the big site. Also we'll be renting a car on Crete and flying back to Athens, so saving time there as well.

Posted by
787 posts

In case you have extra time in Heraklion after the archaeological museum and Knossos, I thought the Koules Venetian fortress was worth the approximately 3/4 to 1 hour i was there ; Chania has the maritime museum, split into two locations about 300 yards apart; I thought the display on the battle of Crete was worth my time.

Posted by
1023 posts

Since you are a photographer I thought you might like to see the photography potential of your plan.
I will also make some comments on ways you might want to enrich the plan.
Delphi
since your flight arrives around 1 pm you can pick up your car at the airport. We have used ACR several times. They have a good reputation.
Depending on the route you take to get to Delphi if you drive through Corinth there is a wealth of stuff to see there. You might consider an hour or so at Ancient Nemia or the amazing fortress at Acrocorinth. Both sites will take no more than an hour or so.
Corinth Area. https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157711755443483

Plan to arrive Delphi in late afternoon early evening. the tour buses will be gone by then. Take the opportunity to visit the museum it won't be crowded and it gives you a good understanding when you get to the site. There is a lower site without a gate so you might want to take a stroll through there. Be sire to get a hotel with balconies. The views down the side of the mountain are amazing.
First thing next morning get to the gate I believe it opens at 8. You will have the site virtually to yourselves. The tour buses will arrive in about an hour but by then you will be well up into the site and the crowds will not reach you for another good hour. Plan to finish by noon. Its a fairly long drive to Meteora so plan to arrive there in the early evening. Again the tour buses are gone and you will have the best opportunity for photography without people in the way. Consider staying in Kastraki. Its a small village nestled at the foot of the mountains. You can see several of the Monasteries from your hotel room. Get up early next morning and get to your first Monastery. You probably have time to see a couple of them before the tour buses arrive. At one point we counted 30 full sized tour buses at one Monastery. Competition for space is fierce. We chose to stay a second night in Meteora and got up early the next morning to drive back to Athens. It had rained and everything was misty. Great photo opps.
Delphi and Meteora https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157698930270992

Fly to Santorini. Here is a tip. Find a cliffside bar and make a reservation for about an hour before sunset. You will have an amazing unobstructed view. Behind you the crowds will be 20 deep at the top of the cliff.
You won't have enough time to see all this but 3 nights is about right for Santorini. Its about the max time my wallet can afford.
Santorini https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157632154800782

Sept 11 12 and 13. Heraklion. The ferry from Santorini normally get in around 7:30 to 8 PM. You have time to get to your hotel (we always stay in the centre area as close to the old town and seafront as possible. You can wander around (the center area is full of people walking enjoying the vibe. I suspect you will want to see Knossos and the museum. Get to Knossos first thing in the morning before the crowds and the heat arrives. Do the museum in late afternoon. On the 13 th you have some freedom. I would take that opportunity to sign up for a tour or rent a car and drive south to visit Phastos and Gortyz. Phastos is another Minoan ruin but not reconstructed like Knossos. Also find Gortyz (gortyn) it is fairly close by. It was the capital of Roman Crete. There is a whole city there abandoned in olive groves. It is partially excavated. It is always pretty empty. You will feel as if you have just discovered it .
Castello Heraklion https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157686964935102
Heraklion https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157655935354556
Gortyz https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157666456665788
I have run out of room. I will do a second post.

Posted by
1023 posts

My reply continued.
Sept 14 skip the gorge and go to Chania. You can do it from Heraklion but its going to be a very early day and a very long one from Heraklion. Most excursions to the Gorge start in Chania so get to Chania on the 14th. Find a hotel in the old town harbour area. Be prepared to be amazed. In Chania old town you are stepping back into a 14th century walled city.

Do do the gorge on the 15th.

Recover on the 16th or consider taking a tour to Balos lagoon or perhaps the pink sand beach at Elofinissi.
Theotokopouluo Street https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157632118491316

Chania https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157632117917828
Gramovossa,Balos and Elafonissi https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157698932695812

Athens
Athens https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157632121475515

Have a great time.

Posted by
212 posts

For the gorge. How does that work if we are hiking the gorge and our luggage? Plus we have a car?

ive adjusted my trip by your notes. Chania seems more old school to me.
Sept 11 - Ferry to Heraklion

Sept 12 - Heraklion

Sept 13 Chania - Drive too

Sept 14 - Chania

Sept 15 - Chania - Samaria gorge

Sept 16th Fly Athens or Over night Ferry

Sept 17th - Athens
Septher 18th Athens

Sept 19th Fly home

Posted by
1023 posts

Your best bet for the gorge is to leave the car in Chania and take the bus to the top of the Gorge. You can do it yourself using the KTEL bus service or you can buy an excursion package which will include transportation by charter bus to the top, plus the ferry ride at the end of the hike plus bus transport back to Chania.

You can do the whole thing on your own but you will have to purchase bus and ferry tickets on your own.Here is a trip. Take the ferry that leave the bottom of the gorge at Agia Roumeli that goes to Sougia. Its a small village on the Libyan sea but the bus will be waiting for you to take you back to Chania. There is anther ferry that goes the other direction to Chora Sfakia but its a longer ferry ride and bus ride. You will be in Chania an hour earlier doing it through Sougia. At least it used to be faster I don't know what services are being offered this year.
Its not clear to me where you are flying back to Athens from. Chania has a good airport with direct flights to Athens so you can rest up after the hike and fly the next day.
Here is that ferry trip.
Ferry trip Libyan Sea https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157653434073393

Posted by
212 posts

Thats what i was thinking. But the over night ferry has me going to athens...thats bargain!

Posted by
1023 posts

Well the latest ferry departs Chania at midnight. Thate th eonly one you will be able to catch.

If you have sufficient energy to catch a 6am bus, take a 5 hour hike, ferry back to the bus at another village and do a 2 hour bus transfer which will have you back in Chania by 8 or 8:30, then have sufficient energy to commute to the port and catch a midnight ferry, then by all means save a few bucks.
I guess I am a bit jaded on overnight ferries as I have never been able to sleep on one.

Posted by
1023 posts

Please tell us some details of the trip. Glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by
212 posts

Ill add details as my albums get published.

Sept 4th - Drive Delphi
Sept 5th Tour Delphi
Sept 6th Drive to Meteroa
Sept 7th Meteroa - Tour
Sept 8th Drive Athens fly Santorini
**

So the first leg was flying to Frankfurt to get to Athens.

Well Frankfurt had a strike and we missed our connecting flight. SO we took the 1pm flight got to Athens around 5.

Idiots put our luggage on the flight after. So we drove 2 hours to Delphi, then woke up the next morning around 6 am to drive back to grab our luggage. So we got back to Delphi on Sunday around 10 am. Had lunch then went to Delphi, took a few hours but we were done around 4 pm. It was drizzling on and off, which was nice because Delphi was mostly empty.

Then for the evening, we went to the next town over Arachova, which is actually a ski resort town. Way cuter and more things to do than Delphi

So glad we scheduled this.

Monday we then drove to Meteroa, we got there around 11am, which actually allowed us to hit about 3 monasteries, have lunch and settle into our hotel. We opted to stay in the smaller village of Kastraki.

The next day we decided to do a hike, oh boy was that crazy! We found this website which had a excellant map of the trails. I think we hiked for 5 hours. We ended up hiking to the "Hidden" monastery of the Holy Ghost...which is ONLY reachable via hiking, and we rang the bell on top of the mountain.

Link to trails:

https://meteoratrails.com/

Hiking was more fun and took longer, but it really put into perspective everything.

Photos from these days:

Delphi:
https://link.shutterfly.com/W3iBTynnJjb

Meteroa:

https://link.shutterfly.com/L3wtnn1sLjb

More to come!

Posted by
1801 posts

Sorry you had such a rough start!

We are planning to go to Meteora next June and I was interested in the hiking you did. Which ones of the hikes on the link you provided did you do?

Posted by
1945 posts

Kastraki has my heart! Sorry about the luggage and missed flight, though. That isn’t a fun way to start a trip!

Posted by
212 posts

Sept 11 - Ferry to Heraklion
Sept 12 - Heraklion
Sept 13 Chania - Drive too
Sept 14 - Chania
Sept 15 - Chania - Samaria gorge
Sept 16th Fly Athens or Over night Ferry

Part 2:

We did Heraklion, great town but 2 nights was plenty...Chania and Rethymnon are way cuter.

We hit up.Knossos, Zeus Cave, and some monasteries.

Also hit up Dourakis Winery...great wine and cheap as hell. We hit some country side taverns..some.didnt even have menus..just chefs special.

Balos Lagoon...awesome. Just don't forget the 40 minute drive up a cliff and the additional 49 minute hike on rocky stairs!!

Never made the gorge...was so much to do!

Photos
https://link.shutterfly.com/Y60upVlyNjb

Posted by
212 posts

Part 3.

We did the overnight ferry from Chania to Athens (Piraeus).

What a great option.

You can store your luggage at the bus station in Chania, and its only a 10 Euro ride to the port via Taxi. So we had all day to hang out in Chania and had dinner, the Ferry didnt leave until 10pm. We got a cabin and woke up in athens around 630am. The ferry port is next to the train station (10-15 min walk depending).

We then were able to check into our hotel and go have breakfast and explore!!! We also got our Antigen test knocked out as well.

https://link.shutterfly.com/gCgPVJ8z8jb