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Nafplio day trips & overall itinerary help

My wife and I are around 30 traveling to Greece for first time 9/05-9/19. We can use help on a couple finer aspects of itinerary beyond the highlights of each area.

Santorini - 3 nights

Hydra - 3 nights

Nafplio - 4 nights

Athens - 4 nights

Day trips

  • Mycenae & Epidaurus

  • We plan to check out Nemea and Corinth on our way to Athens.

  • Meteora day trip


  1. Is a Poros worth visiting when we are on Hydra?

  2. We pick up our car in Ermioni--any spots to stop by on our way to Nafplio?

  3. Is an Olympia day trip worth it from Nafplio? Other recommendations?

  4. Is adding Aegina worth a day trip when we are in Athens?

We like to keep moving but I've learned to not cram too much in. We welcome any tips and recommendations!

Posted by
1652 posts

We were in Greece for 2.5 weeks in May. We visited Santorini, Naxos, Nafplio and Athens. For Santorini, I highly recommend renting a car for a day and driving around the island. The caldera views are stunning but we also really enjoyed our day traveling around the island. We visited the archaeological site of Akrotiri, the Akrotiri lighthouse, Red Beach, and the Black Sand Beach at Perissa.

While in Nafplio, in addition to visiting Mycenae and Epidaurus, we also visited the Byzantine ruins of Mystras, which is one of the highlights for me. It is absolutely stunning! It's a one hour and 45 minute drive from Nafplio to Mystras, but it's well worth it.

Also while in Nafplio, we drove down the Argolis Peninsula to the small resort town of Porto Heli and then on to Ermioni. Both places are lovely. We went for a quick swim at Porto Heli and then had dinner at a fish taverna in Ermioni on the water. Our meal was mediocre but there are quite a few restaurants on the harbor to choose from.

I was on Hydra and Aegina for a day many, many years ago when I was on a group trip. It was a day cruise from Piraeus. I will venture to say that I think 3 nights on Hydra is too long. But as I said, my visit there was a long time ago.

Regarding visiting Aegina as a daytrip from Athens, it all depends on what you want to see in Athens. We spent 4 nights in Athens and skipped many museums and ancient ruins (for personal reasons I prefer not to go into) and we were not bored. We had a guided tour of the Acropolis, visited the Acropolis Museum, and then spent a few days wandering through the Plaka, Athens Flea market, Athens Central market (meat market and fish market, very unique), Monastiraki neighborhood, a lovely park, and saw the changing of the guard. There are plenty of museums and ancient sites we didn't see so there is plenty to keep you busy in Athens. If it were me, I wouldn't give up one of my 3 full days in Athens to go to Aegina, but you might have other interests.

Is the Meteora day trip from Athens as well? If so, you have very little time in Athens.

By the way, have you made your reservations? Is anything changeable? What time of year?

Posted by
17 posts

So helpful, thank you kmkwoo! Lots of stew on. I updated the topic to say we will be there 9/05-9/19. We have flexibility in our reservations. I agree with you on Hydra--we thought about exchanging it for another island. Yes, Meteora day trip from Athens.

Posted by
1652 posts

If you decide to omit Hydra, I can recommend Naxos. It's a beautiful island with lots to see and do. It's very different from Santorini, which we loved as well. Naxos is quieter and more laidback. We took the Blue Star Ferry from Santorini to Naxos, a 2-hour trip. We spent 4 nights in Naxos. If you decide to visit Naxos, I highly recommend renting a car for a day to travel around the island. That was one of the highlights of our trip. If you visit Naxos, however, this means you wouldn't pick up your rental car in Ermioni. Not sure how you would get from Naxos to Ermioni. You would have to research that. We flew from Naxos to Athens, where we picked up our rental car and drove 2 hours to Nafplio.

Since Meteora is a daytrip from Athens, I wouldn't take a day to visit Aegina. Have you researched how long the daytrip is from Athens to Meteora?

Posted by
2554 posts

We did a similar trip in 2018. I started out thinking we would go to both Santorini and Hydra but then realized neither one had the beautiful Greek beaches I had seen in photos. We switched Hydra for Naxos and were very glad we did even though there were so many things to see that we only spent one afternoon at the beach! Another island we considered that you might also want to look at is Paros. You can take the ferry from Santorini to either one and then fly back to Athens.

We went to Meteora this past June and stayed two nights but there was a recent discussion of visiting in one very long day. I would look at Visit Meteora website for some ideas as well as looking for other posts.

Posted by
3023 posts

Santorini deserves two nights since you’ll find this island terribly expensive. If you eat a meal in Fira make it Fanari and order the white eggplant. I thought I hated eggplant until I tried this dish; the lamb souvlaki is another winner with great caldera views too.
If arriving in Hydra in the morning no need to sleep there three nights. If you take a day trip to Poros make it two nights.

Posted by
3335 posts

Hydra shows up so often on this forum because of the R. Steves constant promotion of that island as an add-on to his tours. This is because his tours are chiefly mainland, and people want to say they've seen a Greek isle, and Hydra is do-able as a day trip from Pireaus (altho IMHO of the Saronic Isles & fringes, I find Aegina much closer, more enjoyable ferry ride (open decks rather than closed in hydrofoils. Steves seems to favor Hydra, it "got famous" due to some celebrities like Leonard Cohen & Eurostars (whose posh enclaves are behind walls). However, If you have been to any of the Cyclades islands, Hydra may disappoint. It has a picture-postcard port town, but then... what? Almost no beaches, certainly not ones easily accessible... to swim nearby, one must jump off rocks. And with no vehicles, it's either donkeys or hiking to get around. No dramatic landscapes OR ancient sites of note.

My recommendation would be instead to skip Hydra and do Antiparos for 3 nights..because so small you can appreciate in 3 days, & walkable to gorgeous unspoiled beaches - Here's an album of Antiparos delights -- And from there, it's easy 10-min ferry to do a daytrip to Paros --

However, since you already seem to have locked in your reservations, I guess you'll have to learn from experience... I do urge you to look at a map -- then you'll see why no one does a daytrip to Olympia from Nafplio ... instead, you have right at hand Ancient Nemea, which is a stunning "Sacred Games Site" less than 5 miles off the big highway, on the way back to Athens area.... and you can appreciate it in less than 2 hours. As for Corinth, unless you do some solid prep or have a guide or a good guidebook, the ruins aren't the easiest to interpret, and as a map shows it takes more time to access than Nemea.

Posted by
3023 posts

My sister who’s been to Poros twice said if you want to see Hydra do it as a day trip from Poros. Poros has the beaches and to get to a beach on Hydra requires hiking.

Posted by
17 posts

I knew I should have reached out to the pros earlier.

Okay you all convinced me, I will nix Hydra. I will stay in Naxos, Paros, or Antiparos.

Question: Which of the three make most sense to do 3 nights? Naxos, Nafplio, or Athens. We will have 4 nights for the other two locations.

Thanks so much everyone!! We appreciate it so much :).

Posted by
1172 posts

Naxos, Athens & Nafplio all deserves the time you have.

Each offer a lot to see, do and experience.

Nafplio is one of Greece's loveliest towns and a perfect base to explore nearyby World Class archeological/historic sites.

Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades with something for everyone.

Athens is Athens and it's more than just a place to see the tourist sites.

Tough one to decide on but any of them are worth the extra time.

Posted by
1172 posts

FYI: You can get to Santorini from Athens but to get to Nafplio and/or Hydra requires going back to Piraeus for a ferry to Hydra or Nafplio which means back tracking.

Or: Just spend your time on Nafplio as you can explore some of the Peloponnese from there, including Poros. You can even do a day cruise to Hydra/Spetses from nearby Tolo if you want an island experience.

The Peloponnese offers much more than any island even though the islands are splendid but the Peloponnese gives you more bang for your buck!

Plus it's a lot easier to drive/bus to Nafplio from Athens and also less expensive than a ferry or flight to Santorini.

Posted by
4536 posts

Mystras was pretty exceptional. Not sure where you would fit it in (2 hours from Nafplio).
You don't seem to mind long day trips, but if you want to save Meteora for a future trip, I really liked the Stemnitsa area, where we hiked to a monastery (only one, not quite as dramatic as Meteora, but without the long day trip if you end reworking things a bit).

Posted by
11350 posts

We were lucky to have Greek friends help us plan our trip to Greece. They highly recommended Mystras, a Byzantine town’s remains and also Olympia which we were thrilled to see in person,
Mystras is easy from Napflio but Olympia would be a long drive. There are lots of mountains in Greece so driving can be slower than it would look like on a map. I hope you are able to include both.
Why Hydra, Poros, Agina? There are so many better island choices such as Paros or Naxos. For us, Santorini was a one time visit to see it’s caldera but it is very touristy and jam packed. Couldn’t wait to leave there. After a month in Greece it was the only place that didn’t feel Greek.
Athens needs four nights.

Posted by
1652 posts

Ah, good to know that so many people agree with me about Hydra and Aegina. Because it has been so many years since I was there, my opinion was not based on recent travels there.

Regarding Santorini, I think you should spend 3 nights there, not 2, so that you have a day to rent a car and explore the island. I think you will appreciate Santorini a lot more if you do that. And staying on Santorini doesn't have to break the bank. We stayed at the Blue Dolphin Apartments in Firostefani (at Janet's suggestion) and the cost was about $230 per night for a lovely room with a patio overlooking the caldera. Firostefani is a lovely area to stay in, much quieter and less crowded than Fira and Oia. We didn't eat at super expensive restaurants, either. We had delicious meals at Aktaion and Restaurant Remvi. And a delicious breakfast one morning at To Briki. They also serve lunch and dinner.

Posted by
1172 posts

Aegina is one of the more under rated Greek Islands, probably because it's so close to the mainland.

It has everything one would want in a Greek Island and is just a short boat ride away.

In fact you can even do a day trip from Athens. Leave in the morning, spend several hours wandering, return late afternoon and you'll still have time for a night out in Athens.

On the other hand nothing wrong with 2-3 days there.

As far as costs for a place to stay in Santorini, some may think $230/per night is breaking the bank, well, me anyway!

But in the end do what's best for you.

Posted by
3335 posts

Matt ,you ask for specific usable help at very short notice, BUT give confusing date stats that can bollix up any strategies we create. Example - you give dates 9/5 - 9/19 --- Does this include to/from travel?? the days/nights you are IN Greece?? If u fly Spt 5 you arrive 9/6 ... and unless you do nonstop US-ATH, you dont arrive til mid-aft - & Day #1 is gone.. If yr home flight is 9/19 u cant count that day So --either 15 days or 13 days... which? THEN, you say "Which of 3 to do 3 nights? Naxos, Nafplio, or Athens? We will have 4 nights for the other two locations." That sounds like 3 -4-4 = ELEVEN. I'm confused!. But since you leave in ? 12 days? I"m just going to deal with your logistics NOW -- and that means domestic flights + car rental, and possible lodgings. The sightseeing is up to You.

What I see as (barely) possible: ARRIVE Spt 6 --- Santorini 6-7-8; ANtiparos 9-10-11; NAPLIO 11 - 12- 13 -14 ATHENS 15 - 16 - 17 - 18. YOu are going to have to spend a TON On transport -- about $200+ each to Santorini and aboaut $140 each from Paros to ATH ($90 + big-bag fee). (I xx’d Naxos because its flights are allmost all full) ALso -- big $$ for last-minute car rental - good luck w that. IF you can't get a car from Airport, get a KTEL BUS from KIssifou terminal and rent a car IN Nafplio.

My "Marching Orders" for you ---
SANTORINI - SEPT 6 — only SKY EXPRESS flights available (Level called “ENJOY” gives you 1 22” bag plus handbag) - lfights 12;530, 13:30: 1400, 16;30 .. from $175 - $200 ...u arrive in time to walk the rim path enjoy sunset dinner (Cafe Remvi?)
SANTORINI HOTELS?? — I see 3 in FIROSTEPHANI for nights 6-7-8 that have balcony v view - KAFIERUS VIEW $827 — Manos SMAll world S$1147.. Cliffside Suites $1200 - if that’s too much u should not be doing a last minute trip to GReece. Staying in Firostephani avoids crowds, walkable to Fira/busses to Oia

ANTIPAROS _ SEPT 9 (morning ferry to PAROS, then little ferry-hop toANTIPAROS ) -With this late booking u may have to do twinbeds-together… but you’ll get nice lodgings at about $100 a night - Mike’s place, near the tiny pier, is great a tiny beach right outside door, another a 15 minute walk to my FAVE beach - Psaralikii - … Eleftheria Studios is just 700 feet uphill from that beach. you can do a DAY trip to PAROS lilke this — or just have a great boat adventure, Capt Ben's Lazy Day.
Here r Antiparos pix by this forum's B EST photog, Stanbr -

TO NAFPLIO - Sept 12 — A Sky Express from PAROS Airport (it’s just a $5 cab ride fromo the ANtiparos ferry) — only flighdt is about 10:30o AM. Leave ATH w car… 12?30? — it’s onoly a 2.5 hr drive to NAFPLIO >. but u may want to stoo @ ANCIENT NEMEA en route

NAFPLIO 12-13 14 15 - No time to tell you what to do/see in & arround Nafplio - this superb NONcommercial website does it all - Click EVERY link!!! Use to find rooms in Old TOwn - 2 places with balconies w sea view that I see available and could recommend - Espero royal Stay & Nafplio Place -- about $100/$120 per night.

ATHENS - spt 16-17- 18 Again- can only deal w logistics -- Sightseeing is up to you. Use this filter - accoms nearest Acropolis - I like it for Athens, because it now ALSO lists apts in VERY good locations just South & east of Acropolis for as few as 3 nights, at lower prices than nearby hotels.

Posted by
2554 posts

To the question of 3 or 4 days for Naxos, Nafplio, and Athens-

They all deserve 4 nights as someone said but that of course doesn’t help if you don’t have that much time.

We spent 4 nights on Naxos and wished we had 5 so I would definitely give Naxos 4 nights.

We spent 4 nights on Nafplio and we’re happy with that but it was in high 90s when we were there so we spent a lot of time at beach. With cooler weather, we could seen what we saw with 3 nights. Of course, it also depends on how many day trips you want to make. We went to Mycanae, Epidaurus, Nemea, and a winery. If you want more day trips than that, you would need 4 nights.

We had 3 nights for Athens and saw the major sites in that time. We would have enjoyed one more night but was glad we had given Naxos and Nafplio 4 nights instead.