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Help with logistics


I will be traveling to Greece next May flying into Athens. I do not plan on renting a car. The places I want to visit are Hydra, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Nafplio, Olympia, Kardamyli and the Mani Peninsula. I am trying to figure out the best way to lay these out using public transportation. Can anyone recommend the best way to do that? I have around 18-19 days. Thanks in advance.

Posted by
4353 posts

I would go get a Rough Guide or Lonely Planet first--those books tend to offer the most in terms of transport info like that. Bradt is also great for the Peloponnese. Of course you can piece it all together with web research, but I'm old fashioned and I like a one-stop place to get the lay of the land. If I was doing a trip like this, I would definitely want to be able to source the information myself because things can go awry with public transport. I would first decide how much time you want on Crete (you could spend the whole time there), then how long you'll need in Athens, to give you a sense of how much of the rest you will include.
At first glance, I think you will want to scale back a bit, but you should be able to get to a lot on your wish list, as you'll fly or ferry to the islands and work your way back to Athens, then do an overland journey (or vice versa). For example, you could arrive ATH, take a later flight to Heraklion, stay a day and then head to Chania, stay a few days, then ferry to Santorini-Mykonos (I do not know the order here, just giving a rough idea), then return to Athens and hop on a bus to Nafplio. Then insert your Peloponnese bus research here. I cannot really imagine doing it without a car, but I relate because I do not drive myself and fortunately have a travel partner who does. I am sure it is doable, but it may be fairly time consuming, Hydra seems expendable.

Posted by
1808 posts

Get guide books, go to non-commercial websites about Greece, examine a map, look for means of transport..

After that you will realize that your program is unrealistic. In 18/19 days you will never have time to see all the places on your list.

Why do you want to go Hydra? This is a place that could be recommended for people who stay several days in Athens and want to spend a day or two on an island.
If you go to other islands you don't need to add Hydra to your list.

Moreover if you go to Hydra you will have to come back to Athens before to go to another islands because Hydra is an island in the Saronic Gulf which has no ferry connections with the Cyclades islands.

Crete requires at least 5 or 6 full days to see a small part of it.
Either you stay there for about a week, or you take it off your list. (or plan an extra week of vacation)

Santorini and Mykonos are the two best known, most expensive and least authentic islands of the Cyclades and they have been transformed into theme parks for cruise passengers.

If you insist, stay in Santorini for 2 or 3 days to follow the crowds, but eliminate Mykonos. Unless you want to party every night with the world jet set in Mykonos, in the Cyclades you have almost 20 other much more authentic islands with postcard landscapes, white houses, blue domes, turquoise sea and superb beaches without the crowds and half the price.

Nafplio, Olympia, Kardamyli and the Mani Peninsula: Without a car you will be dependent on train and bus schedules and you will not necessarily have them every day at the time that suits you.
In less than one week and starting from Athens, I don't see how you can organize this kind of trip without spending 50% of your vacation on public transport and much of the rest to unpack and pack in order to change accommodation and wait for the next available train/bus

Posted by
3121 posts

18-19 days is nowhere near enough time to visit everyplace on your list. And don't forget that you have to return to Athens for your flight home, so that's one day less for the rest. Using only public transportation means a lot of wasted time which also cuts into your time for exploring. Choose 4 destinations at most. FYI-Crete is huge and it takes a minimum of a week with a rental car just to barely scratch the surface.

Posted by
75 posts

Thanks for all the advice. I will definitely narrow it down and rethink my plans.

Posted by
4353 posts

I think either do Athens and the islands, or slowly do the Peloponnese. It will be challenging, but not impossible! You could also look into some small side tours out of Nafplio perhaps.
Late May in the Peloponnese was pretty amazing.

Posted by
1370 posts

When you start your replanning keep in mind logistics are very important.
You might consider immediately on arrival in Athens find a connecting flight to Crete. You need a minimum of 2 hours to make a connection. Leave Athens to the end of your trip.

To fully explore Crete you could use up your whole 19 days and still not see all of the island.

From Crete take the ferry to Santorini. Spend your time there. Three nights is all my budget can stand. From Santorini take the ferry to Mykonos. (Just my opinion but Mykonos is just as expensive as Santorini but does not offer that spectacular experience) You might want to get a more authentic Greek experience by heading to Naxos or Paros or even Milos rather than Mykonos. All 3 have airports so you can fly back to Athens when you are finished.

When you are finished fly back to Athens. You can take the KTEL bus from Athens and travel to Nafplio. Its about a 2 hour bus trip. Nafplio is lovely and you can easily spend 4 days there. You can visit several of the nearby ancient sites by local bus. Perhaps you can hire a guide with a car to take you around the area.

If you want to explore more of the mainland perhaps consider a 4 day escorted bus tour.

Do Athens last.