Help: 2014 Easter in Greece + 5-week Itinerary in Greece & Beyond

Need help please: I am traveling to Greece and am in the midst of figuring out my itinerary.

  • Arrival in Athens April 20 (~ 10AM); departure from Athens May 27.
  • Total of 36 days (excluding arrival & departure days)

I need help on 3 main issues:

(1) - (Though I usually do not plan anything on arrival/departure dates) I arrive on Easter Sunday and there will be other significant dates/events during my stay (e.g. St George feast, May day, St Constantine feast, etc.). How can I take the most advantage of those cultural events? Where would the best celebrations be held on those days (the idea is to see how I can work an itinerary allowing me to be at the right place at the right time).

(2) - (Admittedly vague/open question) Any itinerary suggestions?
As mentioned, I am in the midst of deciding on an itinerary. A priori and because I don't know better (yet), I am likely to include (not necessarily all and in random order) Athens, Delphi, Meteora, Thessaloniki, Hydra, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Crete (Hania, Iraklion, Knossos, etc.), Nafplion, Monemvasia, Kardamyli, Mani region (Vathia), Zakynthos, Lefkada.

But, what else or are there better alternatives (I know 'better' is relative but I am open for suggestions).

Background: male, 30's traveling with friend, can drive if needed. I generally like covering most of the different facets of the countries I visit (rather than visit a few places only) and I like variety as well as uniqueness (in terms of history, culture, geography, etc). Since it's my first time, I do want to include the must-do/see but, since my time allows it, I also want to include other things and sites (as well as those off the beaten path).

(3) - (Related to # 2 and will affect it) I feel that 5 weeks may a bit too long for Greece alone. I have no problem limiting my time in Greece in order to include other destinations in the area (Bulgaria, Albania, anywhere in the Balkans?) What suggestions in terms of other destinations and itinerary (including time allocation) can you help me with (realizing that it is not an open-jaw ticket)?

I know I am asking for a lot, but I hope I'll find a helping hand out there.

Thank you in advance and looking forward to your responses.

Posted by Diane
1283 posts

Just some quick, off-the-top-of-my-head suggestions:

Think of flying domestic or taking a ferry from Thessaloniki to an island, or vice-versa, thus avoiding a backtrack. Example: SKG to/from HER with Aegean or to/from Samos with SkyExpress.

An island such as Crete can easily occupy at least a week, if not two: min. 4-5 days in Western Crete (incl. the Samaria Gorge), another few days somewhere between Hernossinos and Ag Nik (there are quieter spots than the busy 'party resorts', though that might be fun for a couple of days...), a few days in the east between Sitia and Zakros, and a few days on the southern coast. Crete is a large and diverse island. It's easy to rent a car for part of the time and the standard low-cost local car rental is all-inclusive. It's a great island for hiking.

Start looking more closely at the Peloponnese, Crete, Naxos, Paros, the Dodecanese group of islands, etc., and you will easily find enough to fill your time. If not, think of taking a ferry from Kos or Samos to Turkey for a few days (you will need to buy an entry visa on arrival - easy).

Posted by Diane
1283 posts

As for Easter, my understanding is that the activities are more the days leading up to Saturday midnight, with Sunday (and to some extent Monday) more centered on eating and being with family. Expect a few closures and heavily booked transport options. Many Athens residents head off to family homes, so it may not be a bad day or two to just chill around Athens, IMO.

Posted by Diane
1283 posts

Finally, spin off a couple of threads, inviting specific itinerary suggestions and try these out in the appropriate TA forums as well, i.e.:

'Itinerary help for Crete' + 'Itinerary help for the Cyclades' + 'Itinerary help for the
Peloponnese' + 'Itinerary help for the Dodecanese'. You would need to detail a bit your interests and give a time frame of a week to 10 days for each. Then look more closely at the suggestions, transpo options and build a final itinerary, linking the geographical clusters.