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Last minute trip to Athens possible?

We leave in three weeks for a three-week trip to London and France. We were supposed to stay in France for about two weeks but I have just discovered that I have made a major reservation bungle that leaves us with four to five days up in the air. We've always wanted to see Greece so we're thinking that we'd like to spend those days there, possibly in Athens and Nafplio or Hydra. Since it would be a month before we would arrive in Greece, would it be possible to find decent lodgings (around 150 euro a night) in any of those cities at this point? I'm a teacher wrapping up the school year and would appreciate any last minute advice and hotel recommendations. Thank you in advance.

Posted by
1065 posts

Athens takes realistically two to three days to see everything in and around the Acropolis area.
Nafplio is a delightful city perched on the waterfront with its old town and Venetian era fortresses.

So in 5 days I would rent a car from the airport and immediately on arrival drive to Nafplio. The roads are 4 lane divided highway all the way to Corinth. They are toll roads so have some cash with you. You cold stop at Corinth to see the canal then visit Ancient Corinth and then Ancient Nemia. They are both tidy sites that take no more than an hour each. Then you go south to Nafplio on a two lane winding road through wine country. If you don't want to rent a car Nafplio is serviced by KTEL bus hourly from the bus station in Athens.

Naflio is well situated for several ancient sites including Mycenae and Epidavros.

Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/

Spend three nights in Nafplio then return the car to the airport and take the bus or Metro to Central Athens. Be very aware there are pickpockets on the train and in the stations.

Get a hotel within walking distance to the Acropolis probably in the Monestraki or Plaka area and enjoy Athens.
Athens http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632121475515/

Posted by
235 posts

Thank you both! I've never used booking.com before, relying mostly on this website and then double checking with tripadvisor so I'm happy to have another resource. We actually did consider Istanbul as a possible place to visit but Greece has been in our imagination for a long time so we'll save Istanbul for another trip. The details to Napflio are much appreciated. So much history and beauty to see. I'll look into renting a car as driving in Europe would be a first for us. Many thanks.

Posted by
3696 posts

I usually rent a car in Europe, but decided not to on a trip to Greece as we really just wanted to spend 2 nights in Athens and 3 in Nafplio. It was a really wonderful trip. We just took the bus to Nafplio and it worked out great. Nafplio was interesting enough to keep us happy for a few days and we would not have wanted to drive around. There is a lot to see in Athens, but we saw the highlights and felt comfortable moving on. My grandson really enjoyed the Acropolis, but his favorite place was Nafplio. Our hotel in Athens had a rooftop terrace and our first view of the Acropolis was from this terrace... it was evening and the Acropolis was lit up... it was spectacular. Nafplio is beautiful and was a nice relief from the heat and chaos of Athens. You will love it, but there really is no need to rent a car.

Posted by
235 posts

Thank you for your take on driving in Greece. It is reassuring to know that we would be able to get by without a car. We will have been traveling in Europe for two weeks by the time we arrive in Athens so it's good to hear that we could take it easy and use public transportation. Glad to hear that you and your family enjoyed Nafplio so much.

I also meant to say thank you for the wonderful photos of Athens and Nafplio. They were inspiring!

Posted by
1065 posts

I did mention that if you didn't want to rent a car you could take the KTEL bus to Nafplio. We use the buys system extensively while in Greece but I suggested the car rental for two reasons.
The first is you can get the car at the airport. Reliable rental agencies like Athens Car Rental ACR meet you at the airport and walk you to the car in the parking lot, do the paperwork right there and arrange a time and place at the airport for return. To take the bus to Nafplio you first have to commute to the bus station in Athens. So renting gives you an extra hour at a minimum to get going. While you will be tired after a transatlantic flight coffee and Adrenaline will keep you going long enough to stop in Corinth and still get to Nafplio before jet lag sets in.
The second reason fro the car is it gives you flexibility for sightseeing the sites around Nafplio.

Granted you can take taxis and the local bus but you can sure cover more ground at your convenience with a car.

Posted by
2963 posts

The 3rd option -- if don't want to get car @ airport -- is TAXI to bus station (saves 30 mins), bus to Nafplio goes hourly on half-hour. on your 1st day, don't need car exploring around the city. Then rent car (your hotelier can arrange easily) to range farther afield, i.e. Mycenae, Nemea, Epidaurus. At end of stay, busses back to Athens go hourly ON the hour. 13€ one-way.

Posted by
235 posts

Thank you everyone. It's really nice to get great advice from experienced travellers to Greece. As a first timer, I'm going to do all of it and more. We have reservations at Attalos Hotel and will make the day trip to Nafplio on our second day, with another day trip to one of the islands, probably Sifnos or Naxos on the third or fourth day, whichever is easiest to get to. Between the two of us, we have plantar fasciitis and medial knee osteoarthritis so easy seems best for now. Thanks again.

Posted by
2963 posts

Adrienne

NAFPLIO -- if you want to do Nafplio as a DAY trip, do you plan to do it as a BUS trip? If so, I advise you get the EARLIEST bus --
Mon thru FRIits 8 AM (the one to get) then 9:30 (& hourly on half-hour)
Sat: 6:30 then hourly on half-hour
Sun: 7:30 then 9, then 10:30 & then hourly on half hour
---- RETURN each day is 20:00 (8pm) except Sun 8:30
--- Taxi t to Station (called Kifissou Station) from Central Athens hotel = €11 - 12. no tip unless "round up"

At station you must buy ticket at a counter, but for Nafplio, the Counter is in a small room RIGHT BY the Bus, which sits wright at exit door; ask anyone "Naflio bus" and they'll point. TIckets 13E or so, numbered upholstered seats, ask for LH side of bus (view of sea) -- pat L shoulder to mean Left, if guy doesn't have any English. If you find someone sitting in your seat, (sometimes it happens) don't argue point just show your ticket to the driver. Return bus, you buy ticket in Nafplio bus office, not on the bus. If you plan to take LAST bus, it can be crowded, so buy ticket on arrival. Otherwise, just when u are ready to go.. Here's the website about Nafplio if I didn't send it before-- http://www.visitnafplio.com Read it THOROUGhLY ... all the little headings like Nafplio Old Town and Walks and Really useful info (this pulldown menu gives ideas where to eat, explains greek food etc etc). Since you apparently do not have a guidebook I strongly suggest you PRINT OUT Some of this info!!!! As pix show, Nafplio is on a peninsula surrounded by water v beautiful. Streets run up side of cliff, stairstep streets, but main part of town is flat, level easy walking Tons of Cafes to sit & rest your tootsies! The row of cafes along the seafront are the most beautiful views of all. I spend hours there.

ISLAND DAY TRIP - there is NO WAY you can do Day t rip to Naxos or Sifnos -- Toooo far. Do you have a Greek MAP???? I suggest instead a wonderful day dtrip will be to AEGINA... it's just an hour from Piraeus port, has lovely port town, and a gorgeous ancient temple on a high hill at center island. On arrival you could take a taxi to see the temple then have it go on to he Beach village of Ag. Marina... bring your swim duds & you can have a swim, eat at a taverna, and take a bus back to the port late in the day. Here is a great photo album that shows the trip, step by step, wave by wave! http://www.flickr.com/photos/36264706@N03/sets/72157621604646139/detail/
GOING/COMING BACK -- from Hotel Attalos, just walk to Monastiraki Metro station, the Green Line to Piraeus costs E1.5 i think, and takes 30 minutes THe ONLY pickpockets in Athens are on the Metro, so do NOT take passports or big cash, just what you need for the day in a changepurse, and you, milady, put your changepurse in your daybag with hand on zipper. and strongly tell your husband NO WALLET in ANY Pockets (75% of victims are men, who are Sure they'd feel it if someone touched their pockets!!).

FERRY -- very frequent, but NOTE: there are 2 kinds, hydrofoil (you do NOT want; closed in, no deck no views), and REGULAR ferries... stay on deck and enjoy an hour's mini-cruise, seeing vessels from Giant liners to tiny sailboats, plus gulls and... dolphins??

Posted by
235 posts

Janet,
Thank you for taking the time to help a new traveller to Greece. All your advice, down to the all important details like which side of the bus to request is much appreciated. The visitnafplio website is amazing, especially the photos of the food! I've been so busy with deciding where to stay and researching hotels and securing flights that I hadn't had time to even think about Greek food, which I'm sure will be as memorable as the beauty of Nafplio and Aegina. I'm going to enjoy every bit of it and hopefully will have the good fortune to be able to return to Greece again. Many thanks!

Posted by
2963 posts

So happy to be of help, Adrienne! I've been a hillclimber during almost all my trips, but this last one, ole Father Time caught up with me -- and I found some lightweight "trekking poles" to be a godsend. You won't need them though, if you stick to taxi, bus and flat areas, plenty to see without scaling heights, both in Nafplio AND Athens.

ATHENS -- Acropolis is the only ? mark... the path upward IS steep, and its (scarey) open-air lift is only for disabled, w. papers to prove it. Maybe you can look at Acropolis/Parthenon from below, and then enjoy the superb new Acropolis Museum on the pedestrian promenade just south of it. There are escalators, and the top floor is an awesome re-imagination of the top frieze of this world-famous bulding, with some portions in place, and others in Plaster, to remind you that the originals were abducted for the British Museum. And the 2nd floor has a fab glassed-in terrace where you can have a yummy AND moderate-price lunch or snack, looking right up at the Parthenon. I believe R. Steves' book or website has a guide to this .... very rewarding.
IF you DO decide to attempt the Acropolis, avoid crowds by going early or late -- the light is best at those times at that. Arrive at ticket office 8:15, you'll have 90 minutes before throngs pour in. OR go after 5 o-clock (it's open until 7:30- 8), crowds will be sparse too, and buildings turn gold. And if you leave the Acropolis OR Acropolis Museum on the South Side, along that promenade, and it seems like time for a snack or an adult beverage, find my favorite sitting place. This website has Great simple map to enlarge & Print http://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions-/athens-gr-ath-ath.htm#GR107 Leave Promenade on lane along the EAST side of Acropolis to (landmark) Monument of Lysikrates... and next to it, under shady trees, Cafe Diogenes. Comfy basket seats, peaceful settings (most tourists don't even see it). I've even dozed off there (confession).

NAFPLIO -- Just wandering the flower-garlanded streets is fun enough (AND it has very chic shops), but if u want a quickie Museum dose, the impressive Venetian Armory building on the square has a Swell archeology museum you can do in under an hour. All on 1 floor... at the start, It has a Splendid 20-minute video that Totally gives you the Overview of Mycenaean Greece! Then just wander thru the exhibits, and DON'T MISS the actual, for-real ancient Iliad-era suit of Armor .. the Only Existing one in the WORLD. Like every town in GReece, Italy Spain, around 3 or so, things slow down, shops close for the little nappie-poo. THAT is when you head for these seafront cafes. They're roofed w. marquee tenting, open all sides, and divine cushiony loveseats ... order a coffee or a spritz whatever, you can sit there for hours ... I've even dozed off there (wait, I said that!). Have a great time!!

Posted by
235 posts

Thanks again, Helen! There aren't any guidebooks around that can pass on the kind of advice that you are sharing. It would have taken me months (which I don't have) to glean a fraction of all the good stuff that you describe here. I really want to try to make it up to the Acropolis and will bring some trekking poles so thanks for the heads up. If it doesn't work out, I'll be happy to lunch away at the museum you recommend. I'm feeling a lot more confident about this Greek vacation. Many thanks! ps: snoozing under the sun is always good.

Posted by
2963 posts

Quite Welcome Adrienne ... tho the name is Janet ... Helen would be much more Greek of course! A friend of mine, in Athens, a Londoner who retired from teaching Latin & GReek to British schoolgirls, is named Jo Helen. But after a few years in Greece, she became Greek Orthodox, and now goes by Eleni.

And here's a wish for you -- Kalo Taxidi = Bon Voyage/good Trip!
janet

Posted by
235 posts

Oh how funny, Janet! All the wonderful images of Greece you've put out there have me thinking in Greek! We leave for London in two weeks (haven't been there in over 40 years) but now our last minute trip to Athens is what we're really looking forward to. Thank you for the send off!