Need Feedback on 5-week Itinerary

Hi everyone,
I finished a draft 5-week itinerary in Greece (arrive Apr20; depart May27). I need your constructive critique please especially from those with experience on feasibility/practicality andr any tips. I also have a few questions afterwards.
From Canada travelling with buddy; will rent car most of the trip (have GPS but need Europe map).

Day 1 (20/4): AM & PM arrivals in Athens – no plans (Night in Athens)

D 2 (21/4): Early car to Hosios Loukas Monastery to visit then to Arahova (N in Arahova)

D 3 (22/4): Car day trip to Delphi; back @ ~ 6pm to Arahova for start of St George Feast (N in Arahova)

D 4-5 (23-24/4): Leisure days in Arahova for St G. F. (Nights in Arahova)

D 6 (25/4): End of St G. F.; leave @ ~ 4pm to Pelio region (N in Pelio – town undecided yet)

D 7 (26/4): Leisure day in Pelio (Night in Pelio)

D 8 (27/4): Day in Pelio; evening car to Meteora (N in Kalambaka)

D 9-10 (28-29/4): Tour Meteora (Ns in Kalambaka)

D 11-14 (30/4-3/5): Early car to Thessaloniki (Ns in Thessaloniki) with possible visit to Mt Athos

D 15-17 (4-6/5): Early car to Lefkada (Ns in Lefkada Town)

D 18 (7/5): Early car to Olympia (stop for ~ 5 hrs) then car to Kardamyli (N in Kardamyli)

D 19-22 (8-11/5): From Kardamyli base, car day trips to Vathia & Mystras (latter go/return via Langada Pass) and 2 leisure days in Kardamyli (Ns in Kardamyli)

D 23 (12/5): Early car to Monemvasia (stop for x hrs) then car to Nafplio (N in Nafplio)

D 24 (13/5): Leisure in Nafplio (N in Nafplio)

D 25 (14/5): Day in Nafplio then evening car to Athens and drop car (N in Athens)

D 26-30 (15-19/5): Early ferry to Santorini (dep. 7am arr.12:15pm) tour Santorini (N in Fira)

D 31-33 (20-22/5): Ferry to Mykonos (dep 12pm arr. 2:30pm) tour Mykonos (Ns in Mykonos town/Hora)

D 34-37 (23-26/5): Early Ferry to Athens; time in Athens (Ns in Athens)

D 38 (27/5): AM departure from Athens

Aside from your feedback, etc., I have these questions:

Pelio region: Where to stay what to do/see during 1.5-2 days (not thinking of beach – as it’s late April – likely seeking to visit mountain village(s), hiking, nature, etc)

Meteora: In 2 days (with 1 monastery closed on Monday and 2 on Tuesday), how likely is it to visit all 6 monasteries (or which to visit)? Are 2 days enough? Which ones are must-visit in your opinion?

Mount Athos: Heard special permission required to enter (2 males). How difficult is getting permission? Can it be granted on the spot? Are monasteries open for visitors? Which to visit ? Anything else aside from the monasteries? For those who had visited, in your opnion, was it worth it?

Lefkada: around 2.5 days in Lefkas with car. Unsure if weather will permit beach time (sunbathing/swimming) any thoughts? I found suggested routes for inspiration (link here) but like to hear from you.

• There may be 1 day too many planned for each of Kardamyli and Thessaloniki. These 2 days can be allocated elsewhere (e.g. Pelio, Meteora, Lefkas, Santorini, maybe add a day trip to Hydra from Athens or Nafplio). What do you think and, which stay would you extend and why?

• From your view/experience what destination would you eliminate, extend, replace with another, etc?

• Any recommendations on getting Europe map on GPS?

• Any recommendation on Athens local car-rental companies (reliable and competitive prices). I have major ones.

• Know of any special events/celebrations in the areas I am visiting? The plan is open for minor adjustments if worthy.

Note: I am fully aware that it is all subjective and relative including experience. I still want your opinion.

I know I am asking for a lot; thank you so much in advance.

Posted by Abe
Rick Steves' Europe
334 posts

Some of the places you mentioned aren't covered in our guidebooks so we may not have any personal experience at those places, so you'll need to find information in another guidebook like Lonely Planet.

First, Thessaloniki is really not worth visiting, but if you do you don't need to be there longer than a day. Its a bug stuffy port city with nothing to do. Second, the drive from Thessaloniki to Lefkada is long and windy. Additionally you are doing Meteora before Thessaloniki and then back tracking past there again to Lefkada. Logistically it would make more sense to do Meteora on the way to Lefkada to break up that long route.

As for hotels, we unfortunately don't have any good suggestions for the places you requested so definitely look in another guidebook. For the Peloponnese you can find all of those recommendations in Rick's Greece guidebook. Check at your local library for a copy.

Also, since you have quite a few of other questions, you might consider the consultation service that we have as well. If you are interested you can contact us at 425-771-8303 ext 298. Here is a link to our website with more info on that service. http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-help/plan-your-trip-with-our-expert-consultants

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
7416 posts

Although Thessaloniki is a modern, dusty port city, with metro lines being constructed through the middle of it, my friend Abe was forgetting about the fantastic Archeological Museum there. The Turkish Consulate is also a small museum for the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal Attaturk (not well sign-posted, so follow the directions in Lonely Planet, if you're interested). I did not have time to visit the Museum of Byzantine Culture, but it came highly recommended to me by one of our tour guides. I think you will be glad to spend a couple of nights there.