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Help us create our itinerary for March Family Trip!

We will travel with our kids (13, 11, 9) to Greece March 9-20, 2018. We enjoy taking month long Educational Trips with our kids, but our schedule will only allow a short trip this time. We are studying to learn about the culture and history of Greece. We want the trip to explore both the ancient civilization, its influences on the world, and also more modern Greek culture and history. We would like to spend some time in Athens, visit the Meteora Monasteries, and spend some time on 1-2 islands. We know that March is unfortunately too early to do a lot of beach activities, but that's when we can go. We want to balance the accessibility of touristy activities, with the authenticity of non-touristy activities. Obviously we haven't narrowed down our schedule yet, so we would really appreciate opinions from some of you travelers and experts on what would be the ideal schedule for us. We prefer not to change lodging (we do Air BnB) more than 3-4 times. We also like physical activities and enjoy cultural shows with music. My husband and I have been to Athens before, but not as a family, so even the most obvious stuff we will plan to do (the Acropolis). Thank you so much!

Posted by
28 posts

Meteora is a long drive from Athens so, I would plan to drive north and stay in one of the nearby villages while you visit the monasteries. There are a number of good options on the Peloponnese depending on which sights you're interested in exploring.
Staying in Chania on the island of Crete and day tripping into the White mountains would provide opportunities to talk about the progression of dominant cultures across the Mediterranean while experiencing authentic island life and the Cretan people. A day trip to Heraklion would allow a visit to Knossos and the archeological museum.

Posted by
1395 posts

Nafplio on the Peloponnese is well worth a look. Greece’s first capital when it became independent, a beautiful town in its own right and a starting point for visiting Mycenae, Epidavrus and Tiryns.

We visit often and have written up our take

http://www.greekramblings.org.uk/Nafplio_overview.html

Sounds a great trip.

Alan

Posted by
35 posts

This is great information!!!

Dawn, Thank you so much for the suggestions about Meteora. We have decided to rent a car to travel that area, so hoping to stay in a village near there. If you have any other adventurous suggestions for that region, We appreciate it!
Alan, your website is amazing! Just last night we started looking into Napfolio. The website is super helpful; we will check back many times to reference it.

We are also considering staying on Santorini and doing some day trips to other islands. Any suggestions? We've also considered Naxos, for a less touristy island, but we are concerned that in March so much stuff might be closed. So we may need to stay near the more touristy stuff. If anyone has been in March and can give us an idea of what to expect, we appreciate it!

Posted by
3333 posts

Hi runner -- many things to comment upon:
GET a GUIDEBOOK if u care about culture & history. Go to library & browse, & I'll bet you agree with me that The best overall (and I have a looong shelf-full) is ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE ... covers everything, in detail, with concise & insightful culture & history sections. You can get a used copy for 7-9E on Amazon... and if you are spending Thousands on this t rip, why not a few $ to make your trip better. Rough Guide is even laid out so u can pull out sections & make them into little pocket-size Guide-ettes.

NAFPLIO - yes Alan's descripts of Nafpllo are great, even greater is the SUPERB website http://www.visitnafplio.com It is Totally NONcommercial, NOT influenced by advertising or payments -- the work of a terrific Scandinavian expat who has lived there for years, i know her, she's amazing. It covers the town AND the area -- with videos -- click EVERY link! It tells how to get there by car, bus etc, all important sites surrounding, where to eat, shop, etc, and totally unbiased. In addition, here's a terrific photo album by another RS contributor http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/ of Nafplio & surrounding sites. If you must choose between Nafplio & Meteora, and have active kids, Nafplio wins, IMHO ... THREE castles/forts in Nafplio itself... Views around a clifftop AND the waterside path... A museum that has the world's ONLY "Iliad-era" suit of armor... wow. And either coming to/returning from Nafplio a stop at Epidaurus -- amazing 15,000 seat theatre BURIED for 1400 years. Plus, it's SO much closer than Meteora, a consideration with a shorter trip than usual.

If you want Day trips, you can't from Santorini... all islands too far for day trips. But If you stay on Naxos, you can easily Day-trip to Paros & AntiParos, 1 hr away. Don't worry about things being closed down in Naxos -- it has largest permanent population of any Cycladic island. "Hotel strips" along the far-out beaches will be shuttered, but port town will be peppy, plenty of cafes, shops & restaurants open. Only difference: people at the table next to you will be locals -- Naxians LOVe to dine out! You'll get to know Naxians in an Authentic way. BTW, March is "lambing time" at the inland farms ... and sheep-shearing too. Once in Early May at the end of this season, friends and I happened on a farmer shearing, and spent nearly an hour watching his skill. You won't get that in Santorini.

My thoughts re possible scenario -
(1) NAFPLIO FIRST, (unless really Bushed on arrival, then do 1 night in Athens or at little B & B near airport). Rental car from Airport only 1 hour to Corinth Canal - jump off big highway at Isthmia to walk "old bridge" & photo canal (skinnny! Deeep!) About 15 miles after canal, just off big highway, ANCIENT NEMEA is "runner-up" to Olympia as Ancient Games site ... temple , FAB stadium - teens can race from starting blocks of 400 BC (!). On to Nafplio for a couple of days exploring (Mycenae! Tiryns! ) and enroute back to Athens area, drive E. across the Peloponnese "thumb" to Ancient EPIDAURUS, 15,000 seat theatre rediscovered under grass after 1400 years. World-famous acoustics - climb to top row while Dad whispers onstage, fully audible.

(2) ISLANDS NEXT - Back in Athens area, you can catch excellent BLUE STAR ferry 5:30 pm - reserved economy seats (lean-back, very snoozable) inside, but u can stay on deck as long as you like, get light dinner-snacks in cafe, reach naxos about 10:30 pm. OR -- if you go on a Tuesday, there might be an OVRNIGHT ferry (20:40 dep - arr 5:20 AM) to SANTORINI, you could book a cabin for family. (It's too early to show on schedules yet, but the PREVELIS did this run in March 2017). Then u could spend a Day on Santorini, and take a 2 hour ferry to Naxos for a few days,

(3) ATHENS LAST - try for AirBnb walkable to Acropolis - don't get lured by low $ to faraway spot requiring taxi or Metro.

Posted by
35 posts

Janet, THANK YOU for all this incredible information! We are now considering Naxos instead of Santorini. But we are also looking into flying to Santorini. Your input is very helpful
Also really appreciate the information about Nafplio. That sounds amazing! I think my kids would really like to see it, and possibly Monemvasio. Do you think that Monemvasio and Nafplio are very similar?

We would also love input on activities that are cultural (music, traditional dancing). I know that in March those things may not be available. But if you know of anything, we would love to research it.

Also, if you have ideas in Athens of activities we would appreciate it. We have studied so much ancient Greece, and now are focusing on their role in the world in the past 1000 years. We would love to see a site that is helping Syrian refugees, so we can better understand who Greece is now.

I ordered the Rough Guide. We have actually not seen it before! We always get the RS books, plus DK and sometimes Fodor's. This one looks wonderful!
Thanks again for your generosity with your time and information.

Posted by
3333 posts

Glad that my info was helpful, and especially glad u have ordered Rough Guide. About the RS guide: it's quite good on NAFPLIO & OK on Mycenae & Epidaurus, but NOTHING on Nemea (I think it's because his group tours don't cover it so he downplays it). Monemvasia? Nice, but it's a one-night thing, and a far drive since you only have 10-11 days. Don't suddenly get overambitious! His guide also covers ATHENS very well ... it has step-by-step instrux for Acropolis, Agora AND the Nat Arch. Museum AND on his website you can download FREE the same instrux as audio. I think it covers all the Athens activities you will have time for ... there are 3 audio-visuals to look out for that will engage your kids AND enrich their experience:
• ACROPOLIS MUSEUM, top floor - here are the treasures from Parthenon, AND terrific 20-minute video, both photo and animated, giving full history of Acropolis AND Parthenon, really helps everyone to understand its deep national symbolism!
• CYCLADES MUSEUM (Athens) - right across Natlional gardens, worthwhile visit! I think kids under 12 or free. Top floor again, a GREAT video, today's young greeks in costume, acting out the rituals of ancient Greek childhood & young manhood, showing importance of young person's roles ... very interesting.
• NAFPLIO MUSEUM VIDEO - This Small & Superb museum right on main square - first thing is splendid short (20 minute) video that illuminates the ancient history (Mycenae - Iliad era) of the ARgolid, makes everything interesting & vivid.

SANTORINI vs NAXOS - Yes, u can consider flying in to SANTORINI if you spend max. ONE night, IMHO. Where you put isles in your trip depends entirely on timing -- you don't want to waste precious time waiting in the airport, or unnecessary 2x stay in Athens. You could either (1) do Nafplio/Argolid area first as suggested, and time your return to the Airport to catch an timely afternoon flight to Santorini, OR (2) if there's a Santorini flight about 2-3 hours after your US plane arrives, take that, then do Santorini &Naxos, THEN fly back to ATH and take hire car to Nafplio.

SANTORINI STRATEGY - See the famous "caldera view", have sunset dinner, Next AM see OIA, check out museum (45 minutes), then catch 3:30 pm Blue Star regular ferry to Naxos, with open deck for view on departure). If you only have brief island time, do NOT linger on Santorini ... it's not much for kids, frankly; it's become cruise stop &honeymoon haven. For sure, you won't find any cultural stuff ... much of year, even cafe waiters are Balkan.

In my many years of advising, NAXOS has been THE top island choice of families like yours! Here a few photo albums by my wonderful friend Stanbr, whose own teens, after seeing 6 islands voted Naxos tops:
Trip around Naxos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/
Naxos Town: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Naxos Mts. & Villages: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632110674306/

CULTURAL STUFF like Music/Dancing - Nothing in March Geared to Tourists, but going in March to a non-touristy place like Naxos you may encounter authentic local concerts. Also Athens will be v. busy, and in Feb you can check online for activities; Come back wtih queries about this on Trip Advisor Forum - it has actual Athenians posting; RS Forum is totally N. AMerican.

GREECE GUIDES ASSESSMENT - DK is good for strictly Visual overview ... Fodor's good on major destinations, aimed at middle-age/"comfy travel" - not adventure. RS: good on areas his Group Tours cover, ignores rest. Constantly promotes Hydra, only isle his tours visit. Ignores at least 30 other tour-worthy isles. Frankly from books, tours & videos, he seems to like Turkey a lot better than Greece (a viewpoint that I as a student of history and human rights cannot share).
REFUGEES - No local sites to see Greeks helping but they are doing MUCH: I can recommend websites for viewing.