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Monemvasia or Olympia

We are planning a road trip in August from Athens.
We will spend the first three nights at Náfplio, then we will head to Delphi. Before Delphi, we have one extra night. We are debating between Monemvasia or Olympia:
Nafplio->Monemvasia (overnight) ->Delphi
or
Nafplio->Olympia (overnight) ->Delphi
Does one route offers better scenic and more interesting villages/towns than the other?
We would like to hear any suggestions.

P.S. Our overall driving route:
Athens->Nafplio(3nt)->Monemvais or Olympia (1nt)->Delphi(1nt)->Meteora(2nt)->Athens
We realize that it is a tight schedule.

Thanks!
Yu

Posted by
8829 posts

Well, its definitely two distinct choices. Either the historical site of Olympia, or the stunning visual beauty of Monemvasia.

Did the RS tour of Greece and did the Olympia historic site as a stop between destinations. If it were not for the historic site, it was, as my memory serves, a non-descript drive. The town was, as far as I recall, (Edited to add) "not" anything special.

Monemvasia is a stunning visual natural wonder, and an interesting old town to spend a day and hike to the top.

Really need to decide what you want for that day.

Posted by
4535 posts

Monemvasia is the wrong direction between Nafplio and Delphi. By quite a bit. That pretty well settles it for you.

Olympia isn't much as a town (neither is Delphi), but the ancient site is nice with a good museum. If you have any interest in the Olympics at all, it's cool to be where it all started. Be sure to eat dinner at the Bacchus Tavern just outside town. Amazing food.

The drive to Olympia is pretty if you take the mountain road (74) north and west from Tripoli rather than the main highway. As I recall, it's about a 3-4 hour drive from Nafplio if you do the scenic route. The site can be seen in a couple hours.

From Olympia to Delphi is another 3-4 hour drive over the bridge at Patras and scenic along the coast of the Gulf of Corinth.

Your schedule otherwise is just about right.

Posted by
15035 posts

I think you need to plot your route on a website like google maps or viamichelin.com. You could do a loop Athens-Nafplio-Olympia - Delphi (via Patras)- Athens - clockwise or counterclockwise. Monemvasia is a definite outlier, google says over 3 hours drive from Nafplio to Monemvasia, and then back again to Delphi. .

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks everyone.

Yes we have ploted the route. And we are aware that Monemvasia is out of way (the same for Meteora). However both places look very appealing to us. As for Olympia, it will be cool to be where the game started - but if just for that we are not sure that we want to spend a day out of the schedule. I wish that we would have more time.

And before the road trip, we will spend 6 nights on the islands - 3 nts Naxos and 3 nts Santorini.

So the whole trip plan:
- Athens->Naxos (ferry or fly TBD)
- 3 nts Naxos
- 3 nts Santorini
- Fly from Santorini -> Athens; pick up a rental car at the airport and drive ->Nafplio
- Road trip and back to Athens
At the end, we will spend 3 nights at Athens.

Posted by
4535 posts

Could you add Monemvasia right after Athens before staying in Nafplio? The Athens to Monemvasia drive wouldn't be so bad. But seriously, trying to drive from Monemvasia to Delphi would be a very long drive just for a one night stay there. And you'd really only have a few hours to see the town.

PS - I would not recommend driving after dark in Greece, so you'd lose an entire day sitting in a car.

Posted by
4535 posts

Another possibility is to stay in Nafplio another night and visit Mystras. Mystras is a ruined Byzantine city site just outside Sparta that is like the Greek version of Pompeii (without the volcano). Worth a few hour visit from Nafplio. Not worth staying in Sparta, which is a modern city with no character.