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Need feedback on draft Peloponnese itinerary 6 nights 6 days please!

Hello! I'm hoping I can get some feedback on a itinerary I put together for my mother, aunt, and myself. I am feeling overwhelmed because I have a gut feeling my itinerary is too crammed and will be spending most of my time on the road and rushing from place to place. I want to visit historical sights as well as take some time to spend in town with locals. Or perhaps fit in an activity like wine tasting or something cultural. This is our first trip to Greece!

Day 1- Arrive in Athens Airport (travelling from San Francisco) at 10:20am. Rent a car and head to Delphi. Estimated arrival in Delphi about 3-4pm. Relax and leisure stroll in town and overnight in Delphi.

Day 2- Morning visit to the ruins. Have lunch and then drive to Olympia. If arriving to Olympia early enough to do so, we might visit either visit the ruins or visit a winery. Check in hotel and overnight in Olympia.

Day 3- Morning visit to the ruins in Olympia if not visited the day prior. Lunch and drive to Kardamyli. Stroll around Kardamyli. Check in hotel and overnight in Kardamyli.

Day 4- Drive to the Mani Peninsula and back to Kardamyli. Overnight in Kardamyli agin.

Day 5- Early departure drive to Monemvasia in hopes to arrive before noon. Spend the day in Monemvasia. Late afternoon/early evening drive to Nafplion. Overnight in Nafplion.

Day 6- Spend the day in Nafplion. I've read suggestions to visit Epridavos and Mycanae but I think I will skip those. Will have seen enough ruins by then and will have 3 days in Athens to see more ruins. Overnight in Nafplion again.

Day 7- Spend a slow morning in Nafplion. Depart for a drive to Nemea wine region to visit one or two wineries. My mother and aunt will do some wine tasting...I will buy a bottle or two to enjoy back in Athens. Lunch in Nemea. Then late afternoon/early evening drive to Athens. Overnight in Athens.

Day 8- Overnight in Athens

Day 9- Overnight in Athens

Day 10- Overnight in Athens

Day 11- Return home to San Francisco.

Does this trip seem feasible? Is it too rushed? Is there a stop that maybe I can remove from the itinerary...for example, maybe skipping either Monemvasia or Kardamyli?

Our Athens portion of the trip, we cannot revise as our accommodation is already booked and paid for. The reason we chose to visit Athens at the end of our trip is so that we can be more leisurely after having been on a road trip for 6 days.

Thank you in advance for any feedback!!! We are super excited! :-)

Posted by
4535 posts

I've done a very similar trip a few years ago. Here are my thoughts based on my experiences:

First and foremost, make sure all drivers have an International Drivers Permit. It is required by law in Greece and at least at that time, all rental agencies required it to rent. Don't make my mistake and not have one. You get them from AAA in the U.S.

Be prepared for jet lag and a drive to Delphi. Coming from San Francisco and how much rest you get on the plane, you could be pretty wiped out.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, charming about Delphi the town. Plan to spend time at the ruins or even stop at Hosius Loukas Monastery along the way (good way to break up the drive if you are tired). We actually stayed in Galixidi, which is about 30 minutes beyond Delphi along the coast and very charming. But for one night Delphi will be fine. The ruins and museum need a few hours to see completely.

There is also nothing charming about Olympia the town but the restaurant outside of town (Bachus Tavern I believe) is really good for dinner. The ruins and museum take a few hours (the museum is good but the ruins are not as impressive as Delphi).

Have not been to Kardamyli. Not sure how you would spend your time with two nights there and personally would consider spending one night in Monemvasia. Monemvasia is not easy to get to and your plan to make it a daytrip and then on to Nafplio seems too tight. I did not make it there but it is high on my list for a return visit.

Two nights in Nafplio is good and it's a great town. Driving and parking in the old town is not easy/impossible so make sure you have good directions for your hotel. It's a great place to hang out for a day or two. Mycenae is interesting if you like Ancient Greek history and the museum is pretty good. But the ruins are fairly unspectacular so I can see skipping that. I would recommend stopping at Epidavros on your way to Athens. It's along a more scenic route and only takes an hour to see the theater and then just move along. It's impressive and not like anything else you will see in Greece.

I'm a rare one that rather likes Athens. You'll have time to see the very good museums (though some need an update) and the many ruins beyond just the Acropolis and Agora.

Posted by
2901 posts

Sounds like a wonderful trip, and you are an angel for planning/enabling a memorable time with your mom & aunt (I'm guessing they are sisters, great to travel with a sister, she'll tell it like it is). In general, pretty good thinking on this, I'd suggest a few tweaks but first need to know couple of things: (1) What time of year?? you say nothing about this -- if it's any time between early may and early October, where's the Beach experience? I have a true eden of a beach to suggest. (2) What's up with the sister, age-wise or fitness-wise, i.e, walking & energy. (3) Any nature-interests?

For planning here's my FAVORITE Pelops map http://www.esperides.gr/images/peloponissos_esperides.jpg -- shows the whole thing, from Athens on out!! click & it gets huuuuuuge. Shows all roads PLUS terrain (helps in choosing routes). And this is my NEW fave site for whole Pelop. area!!! http://www.picturesque-peloponnese.com/index.html

If you wanted to relax more on the trip, (AND it's not in cold weather), I'd suggest dropping Monemvasia, because from my experienced friends, it seems the big deal is to stay overnight there, and that's not in your schedule. (I've been to the Peloponnese 5x havent made it there yet). Also hmmm.... about Mani peninsula. Here it's just a matter of choices ... to each his own. Here's my tweak (IF your trip is in May, June, or Sept/early Oct):
• DAY 3 AFTERNOON -- Drive down coast; before PILOS, is Gialova, a seaside "secret Eden"just 3 blocks long 4 hotels. Try Hotel Zoe http://www.zoeresort.com (don't be scared, not actually a resort just a nice family-run hotel, ask for awning balcony rooms in original building facing beach). Relax, Swim, nap on beach & in palm grove. dinner, early night
• DAY 4 -- As ZOE website shows its just a walk (or 10 min drive) from Gialova Lagoon, Greece's foremost bird/wildlife sanctuary, and a beach named among Europes most beautiful (and NO tavernas!). Voidokilia, nearby as many medieval castles & forts as in the whole Mani. And sunset is superb PILOS' seaside terrace (designed by the French!)
• DAY 5 -- On the road u could stop at Ancient Messine -- http://www.picturesque-peloponnese.com/ithome.html -- right on the way. admission only a couple of Euros. NO need to trudge thru all the ruins, just Glom the stunning WALL (30 feet hi, miles & miles long!), then light lunch at Ithome Taverna In Mavormati, amazing views of site & area. Onward. Nafplio by late afternoon time to check in & rest AND enjoy Greeces BEST sunset IMHO, in a waterside Nafplio taverna.
• DAY 6 -- agree re "famous" ruins. If u want Iliad-era fort w. NO crowds, Tiryns is just 6 km outside Nafplio & u can even see some of its might in drive-by. Re Palamidi Fortress In Nafplio, u can DRIVE up back way, take fotos, gasp at view, drive down... no steps involved. Also see Nafplio from above, via elevator (in the rock!!) to Acronafplia at peninsula's point.

Posted by
975 posts

Janet:
You are a treasure trove of into on everything Greece! HOW DO YOU FIND these wonderful websites? From my time in Nafplio (from your suggestions) I had one of the best times in all my travels to Greece from your recommendations on where to stay and where to go and see.

I think lizcarr may find that flying from San Francisco to Athens then immediately renting a vehicle and driving to Delphi will be a strenuous and stressful trip. I fly from Boston to Athens and that is a long flight even with a short layover. I can't even think about driving a rental in a country where you may not know where exactly you are going and arrive wide-eyed and bushy tailed. I think it may be better to stay in Athens for at least a night to catch your breath and rest up before hitting the road. LIzcarr is really pushing what he/she wants to see and may not realize the time it takes to drive from place to place. I think they should slow down and concentrate on one area. Delphi & Metereo may be a better option than Delphi & Olympia. Or just head straight to Nafplio and experience one of Greece's most lovely towns and waterfronts. From there you can go to Mycenea, Epidavrous, Tyrns and may be even a day cruise to Hydra. One thing I have learned the hard way is to not rush from place to place in a short amount of time. It's better to slow down and appreciate what you are experiencing. Quality is more important than quantity. The Mani Peninsula offers a different perspective on what Greece is all about. It's not the white-washed houses, narrow lanes and beaches, but centuries-old villages in the hills & mountains with a more "Mani" Experience and architecture. Still Greek but definately not the Cyclades!

As for Athens . . . many people think it's not worth staying for very long or even a return trip. WRONG! It's one of Europe's best bargains with World Class archeological sites & museums, the Central Markets, Anafiotika, Plaka, Syntagma Square, Athinas St., Kerameikos (ancient pottery making and cemetery), tavernas and so much more. Every time we go to Greece we make sure to stay in Athens on our arrival for two days before heading out to other parts of Greece then return for two more days before heading for home. Athens is Old World, offers great food/alcohol, courteous people, fantastic sites and even with Greece struggling with it's econoic crisis still treats tourists as guests rather than "foreigners".

And as I type this we are ready to depart for Athens early October for another trip to Athens, some Greek Islands then a return for Athens again. The more I go to Greece the more I realize what a wonderful bargain it is compared to other parts of the Mediterranean, let alone Europe.

I may be bias because I am Greek-American but we have also traveled to other parts of Europe and while other countries offer a lot of wonderful experiences Greece keeps calling me back!

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you, Douglas, Janet & Tommy, for all the detailed feedback and suggestions! This is my first time turning to a forum for help...this is unbelievably helpful! Starting to feel a little less overwhelmed. :-) I'm going to rearrange a few things on the itinerary and consider maybe dropping at least one stop. It seems that everyone agrees that Epidavros is definitely worth the visit so I might put that back on the itinerary. We may decide to start in Nafplion first instead of Delphi. I know it will be a long drive but I think I can handle it. I've done something similar in Ireland, driving a stick shift on the other side of the road! Oh those narrow, windy roads! haha

Janet, to answer some of your questions, we are visiting mid-October. My mother is in her early 60s, my aunt in her early 50s, and I'm in my early 30s. My aunt and I could probably handle some good hikes but my mother have a bit of difficulty. She walks fine but steep, long inclines would be very tiring for her. She can do it...but she would end up stopping often for a quick break. I would rather her not spend her time huffing and puffing and not being able to enjoy the sites. I told her about the 999 steps to the fortress in Nafplion and she is not confident she could handle that hike.

Thank you all again so much. Your help is truly appreciated!!

Posted by
1856 posts

Hi Liz,

The drive to Napflio from Athens airport is actually a little less driving time than going to Delphi and mostly highway. A very easy drive. Re: Palamidi fortress, you can drive up there to a parking lot. I'm not sure how fast the lot fills up but if you go early it shouldn't be a problem and your mom won't have to walk. There are beautiful views from there. My husband and I spent a few nights in Napflio and absolutely loved it. This will give you a little time to recoup after your long flight. Definitely see Epidaurus. Enjoy.

Posted by
2901 posts

I trust that you mean Mid-October 2016 ... NOT leaving 2 weeks from now???

DATE AFFECT That late start may affect a lot of things ... you WILL be able to take a dip in the (warm) sea on a sunny Noonday (some fine beaches right by Nafplio), but swims won't be a focus. Your days will be markedly shorter ... sunsets at 6:30 instead of 9 and u will have to plan so as not to drive in the dark. Also, some sites may close at 3 pm tho they're supposed to have summer hrs until November. Check, and check again.

DRIVING -- As to renting a car just off the plane, you CAN do it (certainly to Nafplio) .. you're a mere girl! Just grab an espresso at the airport to drink while handling the paperwork. If you want an automatic shift, best to reserve in advance (I have always had good prices and good experience with http://www.budget-athens.gr/?gclid=COKUzp30k58CFdx05QodUkGLfw ). Remember you need an Int'l Driving permit (stop by AAA & get it in 10 minutes for $15). Get full CDW coverage even tho your credit card promises coverage;( it is a hassle to contact them with a 10 hr time difference!!). Buy a good map in ATH airport bookshop (ROAD Edition) even if u do get a GPS, because u need to cross-reference to be sure, at least off highway (because there may be duplicate names in adjoining prefectures -- Sorta like "Springfield" in the USA). Have mom or auntie ride shotgun with the map.

DESTINATIONS -- YES, it's good to start w. Nafplio ... that highway is a dream, look at that map -- you are Nonstop no traffic lights, n the most modern highway in Greece for 75% of t rip, can't get lost even if tired. With that early start, lyou can even hop off the highway for 20 minutes at "Isthmia" just so u can get out and stand on the "Old BRidge" to experience the Corinth Canal (SO deep! SO skinny!). You might want to re-think going to Olympia ... you really CAN play it by ear in Mid-October ... make a list of hotels, use a cellphone & call a night ahead to a hotel if you wish. Delphi you can access over the RIO bridge or back over the Corinth Canal. As for new destinations, some votes here for Meteora -- but I say, unless you're a devoted Orthodox or a climber, just rent a video for this one. Your mother's knees will thank you.

RE KNEES: I HIGHLY recommend a FABULOUS lightweight adjustable trekking pole -- shorter, for women -- It's all in one piece then amazingly instantly folds down to less than 12 inches!! You can tuck it in your daybag! Miracle! Got it for $27 on Amazon: Earthtrekgear. Your mom will adore it, and use it everywhere ...
**************
Rethink itinerary and we'll help you fine-tune. Again -- I HOPE this is not for a departure in 2 weeks - if so, respond ASAP, or send me a PM for more help than I can keyboard here.

Posted by
11 posts

Oh yes I am leaving in a few weeks! It was a spur of the moment, last minute trip we decided to book. My mother and I were chatting a couple weeks ago and she said she always wanted to go to Greece...I said, "well let's just go!" after seeing that flights and hotels were very affordable for October.

I am going to spend tonight and tomorrow studying the feedback received, alter my itinerary, and post it in the forum. We've decided that we will definitely start in Nafplio instead of Delphi. I discussed with my mom about possibly dropping Olympia or Delphi but she really feels like she SHOULD visit the ruins in both places as it is important in Greek history, regardless of how impressive or unimpressive it looks. I personally would like to drop a stop or two because I like to spend quality time versus try to see as much as I can. But I want to make momma happy so.... ;-)

Maybe I'll skip either Kardamyli or Monemvaisa? But I feel like there might be much more there to offer than Olympia and Delphi.

Posted by
975 posts

Driving to Nafplio or Delphi after flying from San Francisco to Athens is do-able. I was just going by how we feel after a long flight from Boston which is a lot closer to Greece. Nafplio will be about 2+ hours from the airport. The first part will be on a major highway with good signage. After you take the exit for Nafplio the road becomes a two lane (coming and going) through very lovely rural areas. Nafplio is a great place to base yourself and you'll love it and the area with many world-class archeological sites.

Check out this superb website for the Nafplio Area:

http://www.visitnafplio.com/

We always travel to Greece in October, a lot less tourists, unbelievably low prices for accommodations and still very nice weather. Mostly sunny, mild-to-warm, just a little rain but never any wash outs. Not sure if we are lucky or not but if you research weather for Greece you'll get a good idea of what averages are for any time of the year.

We're headed to Greece the first week of October!

Posted by
2901 posts

Liz I saw your post of last evening ... only 2 weeks til departure, lots to figure out! See my PM ...

Posted by
1813 posts

At first read, the getting off the plane and hitting the road sounded overly ambitious, but I was remembering the traffic trying to get out of Athens. My memory of the airport area ( 2 years ago) traffic was much less congestion, so I'd say " go for it." And starting in Nafplio is an easier drive. If wine is an interest, there is a great wine shop in Nafplio where the owner might be willing to give you an individual tasting. Then you would know if it was worth it to make a drive to a vineyard.

I loved all the ruins and I love Athens. See if you can download any of the Rick Steve podcasts. I found Mycene fascinating because here was this very advanced society that just vanished. I also loved Olympia - there was a walkway for the statues of the victors and then a walkway that was a hall of shame- for those who cheated. Athletic doping isn't a modern problem. If you can paint the picture, it all comes alive.

I think morning is better in Monemvasia, as you want to miss any cruise ships, although I don't know how many are still sailing in early Oct. Also, I think Delphi is more magical in the early evening and that's doable if you're staying in Delphi. Also, make sure you stop at the roadway cake shops along your drive - they are full of delicious goodies.

If you stick with this itinerary, see if you can grab a RS Greece & Pelopanesse guide book to fill in the blanks.

You're in for an amazing trip!

Posted by
11 posts

Patty, I like your idea of individual tastings at a wine shop in Nafplio before heading to a vineyard. My aunt suggested we skip "wine country" as we live only an hour from the famous Napa Valley. But I don't think we should skip it just for that reason. Napa Valley has not been producing wine nearly as long as the 4000 years in Greece. =) Did you happen to visit any vineyards? If so, any that you recommend?

Posted by
1813 posts

I love Greece- did I say that enough? However, my comments about wine tasting ahead of visitng a vineyard is because I did not see that as their strongest suit. We did carry home a bottle or two, but within your time frame, that is not necessarily the best place for your time. Especially when you come from from one of the finest wine regions.

Posted by
975 posts

Speaking of wine . . . we didn't go to any vineyards but we did buy/drink a lot of the local wine. You can find very good wine in many markets at super low prices. It won't be top-of-the-line wine but very drinkable. It's mostly sold in plastic liter bottles with a screw-on cap, but don't let that deter you. At restaurants we always buy the "house wine" . . . good and cheap!

Posted by
179 posts

Having done a very similar trip last March, I suggest (like the other posters) only one night in Kardamyli and the second night in Monemvasia. Especially that time of year.

Don't underestimate the amount of driving. We went Athens, Delphi, Meteora, Olympia, Kardamyli, Monemvasia, Naplio, Athens and it was a LOT of driving. Kardamyli if I remember was a cross between back roads and highway.