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Naxos/Pelopponese/Athens - please comment on my itinerary

Long time lurker, first time poster. This forum has been so helpful in guiding my planning for a first trip to Greece. My husband and I are looking to visit next year. Based on advice from this forum, we are looking at the last week in May through the first week in June – about two weeks.

Here is what we are looking forward to for this trip:

  • Visiting ancient sites and learning about the history of the region
  • Balancing out the historical and cultural aspects with other fun activities.
  • Some time near the beach or water – more for the views and some swimming rather than spending days sunbathing.
  • Good food and wine, slow down a little and enjoy the surroundings.

Here is my first cut of the itinerary. Domestic flight times are not posted for 2020 yet so I estimated based on current flight times. We are flying from the East Coast of the US.

Naxos- 4 nights (Stay in St. George beach area, Sunday - Wednesday)

  • 12:30 flight to Naxos from Athens; Afternoon at hotel fighting jet lag.
  • Private boat trip
  • Rent a car or hire a guide to explore villages
  • Visit beaches, Naxos Town

Depart Naxos on Thursday 10:25 am. Arrive Athens 11:10 am

Peloponnese – 5 nights (Base in Nafplio, Thursday - Monday)

  • fly to Athens, pick up car, stop at Corinth Canal on way to Nafplio, late afternoon/evening enjoy Nafplio
  • Visit Mycenea, Ancient Nemea and wineries, Epidaurus (too much for one day?)
  • Kayaking half day, Explore Nafplio, Palamidi castle
  • Cooking class
  • Mystras (do this from Nafplio or should we overnight near Mystras?)
  • Would like to see Ancient Messene or Monemvasia but I don’t think we have time.

Depart for Delphi Tuesday

Delphi - 1 night (Tuesday overnight in Delphi)

  • Arrive Delphi in afternoon – visit museum in late afternoon/evening
  • Wednesday Visit Delphi first thing in morning Drive to Athens, drop off car

Athens – 3 nights (Wednesday – dinner Athens; Thursday, Friday - exploring)

  • Acropolis (early morning or late afternoon)
  • National Archeological
  • Museum Ancient Agora Explore Plaka, eat some good food before we head home.

Saturday – depart for US.

How does the above itinerary look in terms of order, time allotment and logistics? If you have any alternate recommendations, I would love to hear them. If we moved the trip up by a week so that we were there the last two weeks in May, would that cause any issues related to weather, crowds, hotels open, etc?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Posted by
1524 posts

ATL Girl - Wouldn't it be easier to do Athens, Peloponnese region of Greece, and include an island closer to Athens instead of Naxos. It would be more convenient to boat to an island nearby Athens then flying to Naxos. You're flying into Athens then immediately catch a flight to Naxos then once you are done there , get back on a plane again to go back to Athens to rent a car to drive to peloponnese. The first 5 days will be tiring for you.

Fly into Athens:

Athens - 3 nights

Santorini, Hydra or Tinos - 3 Nights (Choose 1)

(Athens) Nafplion - 5 Nights

Delphi - 1 Night

Athens - 2 nights

Fly Home

Posted by
2764 posts

I visited the Peloponnese and Athens in late May. Weather was gorgeous, crowds nonexistent in Peloponnese--only the Acropolis was crowded. We had some sites practically to ourselves!
While it is theoretically possible to visit Mystras and Messene from Nafplio, a lot depends on how early you like to get up and how long you wish to drive in one day. I found Google Maps estimates reliable. I chose three bases in the Peloponnese to see all I wanted to see with minimal driving (visiting Mystras and Messini while I was on the west end). I skipped Monemvasia. So, my suggestion is to look at drives times and take your own personal characteristic into consideration (for comparison: we do NOT get up early, we do not like long drives, and we like to have plenty of down time on a trip). Mystras and Messene are remarkable, but if you think you will come back one day (we certainly intend to!), you could save them. There is just so much to see in the area.
I had planned to visit Epidaurus and Mycenae on the same day, but the was our first full day and we had to sleep off the overnight flight. I was glad we did separate days because we spent hours at both and then also had more time each day to enjoy Nafplio in the evening. There is a mountain route you can take to link the two without backtracking (if you like mountain driving!).
We made a quick pitstop at Nemea on the way back to Athens, and we did have time to see the temples and museum and walk through the athletes tunnel, plus we ate lunch. Since you plan to explore the wine area (saw many signs for that), you may wish to have longer.
I would also consider visiting a closer island or just getting your coast time on the mainland--the Peloponnese has some cute seaside towns and marvelous beaches as well. But the is just a personal preference for doing more in a concentrated area and depends on if you think you will be back of course.

Posted by
2893 posts

Rjean --- you advocate choosing islands closer to Athens than Naxos --- and then suggest two about as far (Hydra/Tinos) one that is the farthest of all the Cycladic isles, Santorini -- and MUCh more hectic (besieged by Multiple Monster Cruise ships 5 x a week).

I think the itinerary works very well. Matter of fact, just returned from a trip almost exactly like this one --I've visited many times, but my 2 companions were newbies. End of May, 2 weeks in june.... They landed in ATH am on AA nonstop, took that 12:40 flight to Naxos to meet me ... 5 days (on 1, they took the MV Alexander day- excursion to Santorini, while I lolled at the beach). Next, an AM flight to ATH airport, rental car to Nafplio ... stopping on way at NEMEA for an hour. In Nafplio area 4 days, we explored ruins, castles, enjoyed; didn't attempt delphi. Next AM we drove to Epidaurus, then up the COAST road to Isthmus for quick look at Corinth Canal, then returned car to ATH airport. Spent next 4 days in AThens. We saw a lot, had some great food, did not feel rushed.

I think your choice of last week may/1st week june is very good. In the past, I've advocated 1st 2 weeks in June, but given the earlier-occurring heat (we had 2 3-day stretches with temps over 90F), I think slightly earlier now is better. Everything will be open, things will be lively but not crowded, only difference is that water will be a tad more "brisk" but still very swimmable.

Only suggestion would be to "play it by ear" a little during your Argolid time; don't knock yourself out for Mystras/Monemvasia ... there's so much to explore in/around Nafplio besides y our list; check super noncommercial website http://www.visitnafplio.com

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks everyone. I will keep Mystras on the “maybe” list of things to do while we are in Nafplio, if we find ourselves feeling ready for a new adventure one day. We don’t mind driving or getting up early for a great experience or to avoid crowds.

Janet- is 3 full days in Naxos with the trip? I’d really like to spend time on an island, and Naxos most appealed to me. I’d consider swapping out Naxos for an island that was closer to Athens. The Saronic islands didn’t jump out at me as places to go on my first visit though. I’d appreciate any personal recommendations of mainland areas that would give us the same feel, or an island that is a short boat ride away.

Thanks everyone, I think this itinerary is getting close to finished.

Posted by
2764 posts

RE mainland beaches. I did not make it this far, but Gialova has a gorgeous beach, plus there are some castles in the area, and that would allow you to see Mystras/Messene en route.
We enjoyed Kalamitsi beach near Kardamyli. Further south there are some nice beaches as well, though some may be a tad chilly unless late May.
Check out the Nafplio website, as if memory serves it also describes beaches in the vicinity.
With all that coastline, it is just a matter of picking the right town for you.

Posted by
2893 posts

If I were you, I'd drop Mystras in favor of 4 nights in Naxos... just because it's an island that "ticks all the boxes" -- great sandy beaches, dramatic inland mountain landscapes, small hillside villages, a fascinating port town, ancient ruins, and great locally-produced meat, veggies & fruits, and tavernas that serve them up deliciously. The Saronic islands don't come close, IMHO. You'll have plenty of classical landmarks in the Nafplio area to satisfy you. And yes, if you had a 3rd week, I'd say add Mystras and stuff in the West of Peloponnese -- but why not save that for your next trip? When you get greedy, you shortchange your experience by rushing around just to mark something off a checklist.

Case in point: on one of those hot June days, at 6:30 pm in Nafplio we sat down in fab upholstered loveseats under a shady canopy at the Nafplio seafront, to have an adult beverage and enjoy the view as the sun neared the mountains across the Bay of Argos. The sky grew rosier ... our mood mellowed. Couples wandered by, children in strollers. Sunset approached. I said, we should leave; remember, we planned to go to (Taverna X, an excellent dining spot). No, said one friend. Let's just stay here, order a pizza, have another glass, and keep the vibe. So we stayed until full dark, with the most gorgeous sunset of our trip ... a magical moment that happened because -- as you said above -- We were wise enough to "slow down a little and enjoy the surroundings."