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Olympia, Delphi, Nafplio and Peloponnese

Janet I hope you respond to this. :)

After visiting Santorini and Naxos, we will arrive in Athens on July 9. We are six people. We need to see Athens first because my brother and his wife who are visiting the islands with us will be flying on July 12 from Athens. The rest of us are flying out of Athens on July 18 at 12 pm so we have to be back to Athens on July 17 after visiting the places listed in the title. Any help with the following is greatly appreciated:

  1. Are those places doable in 5 days?
  2. If yes, in what sequence and how many nights in which place?
  3. Any recommendations for hotels
  4. My preference would be not to take bus tours. I would prefer to take buses or drive. (buses first option). Any recommendations?

Thank you

Posted by
16893 posts

See for some timing ideas, matching Rick's Athens & Peloponnese guidebook (which is where his hotel recommendations and other details are). You don't need more than one night in either Delphi or Olympia. Our tours sleep in Lagkadia instead of Olympia, but you should do whatever's simplest. Public buses in Greece work fine if they're a budget requirement and when your timing is more relaxed. For this trip, a rental car will be faster and ready when you are.

Posted by
48 posts

Thank you, Laura. I have his Greece guidebook as well. So I will look into it as well. Sometimes I get advice here that is different and in some cases better.

Posted by
3259 posts

Since there are 4 of you, I agree that Laura of RS is right; 4 bus tickets same as car ... just be sure that 2 in y our party get those International Driving permits, then you can trade-off driving. Rick's guide probably follows the itinerary of his group tours... however you shouldn't get ambitious & try to cover all that bus tours cover ... because there's a paid driver for those, so the tourists don't get tired! I have never tried to do these 3 at once. But here are my comments AND my fave online map (click & it gets huuge)

• SEQUENCE - I would say Delphi - Olympia - Nafplio... maybe Laura has better thoughts.

DELPHI -- Start By NOON - takes 3.5 hours to Dellphi. Check in hotel (I loved PAN - back rooms look down mountain to sea). Walk the Rimside path to Museum by 5pm -- NOBODY will be there! then downhill to Tholos tomb before sunset (Drive the latter if you are tired.) Dinner & early night - get to Ruins site by 8 AM, you'll have it to yourself for 2 hours ... DO some homework (good guidebook) to interpret what you see, or hire local guide for 2 hrs --when tour-bus mobs arrive, you leave...
OLYMPIA -- I guess the way would be to go down to shore, & over the Rio bridge and the expressway around the west rim of Pelops to Olympia. I got a very budget hotel, Hercules, you may find a better one, the main street is just Hotel Row. Get to the Site at 8 AM. Best tip I got -- go to museum FIRST!! Nobody's there, you can focus. By 9:30 the bus mobs pour into Museum, then you go out to the ruins, plenty of room to rove ... by Noon, you're ready to leave.
NAFPLIO -- I would use as a route planner ... several (mountainous) routes to reach Tripoli, then it's smooth to Nafplio, Probably by 5 pm? Wonderful sunsets, they'll make you forget Santorini totally
-- Next 2 days... your choice of NEmea, Mycenae, Tiryns, Nafplio old town of course -- and swims! I like the tiny cove of Asine/Kastraki instead of CRowdy Tolo beach... only one taverna there, and Super for a seafood dinner. On the day you head BAK to Athens, go across the "thumb" of the Pelops hand, to see Epidaurus on the way, then go up the seaside road to Isthmus, stop to take pix of the Canal, then get on the Big Intercity highway again to Athens area. If you want to avoid city's hellacious traffic, y ou can drop car at airport & 4 of you can taxi for 38E to your hotel.

Posted by
48 posts

Great suggestions and and ideas Janet. I am going to print yours and Laura's responses and use them like a guide with Rick's. :). I was also inclined towards renting a car. My concern was and is navigating Athen's traffic in and out of the city. I am thinking of booking a hotel at the airport on our return. Can you pick up a car at one place and return to another like here? Additional charges? Suggestions of rental companies?

Thank you once again!

Posted by
1987 posts

Should you get to Nafplio, consider the Hotel Aetoma. Nice room, great breakfast, and wonderful hosts. We were quite happy there.
We considered a car for our Athens-Nafplio-Athens excursion but decided on the bus. I researched the car option only briefly, but got the impression in Athens there were some rental agencies would deliver the car to your door, or meet at a "remote" location to avoid driving in the city. Again, my research wasn't thorough but that's my recollection. Others can provide better info. Good luck, and I hope you get to is a beautiful place.

Posted by
4535 posts

Janet's itinerary is pretty workable and I've done this myself. But this has to be done by car - it will be all but impossible to do it by bus. You can rent a car from the airport, which is out of the city center. Traffic on the Athens beltway can be heavy and a little crazy, but just be calm and cautious and always be aware that motorcycles and scooters are wizzing down between traffic lanes.

The best route, and very scenic, from Delphi to Olympia is along the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth and across the bridge at Patras. It's something like a 5 hour drive, so you'll need to leave by noonish and may not have time to see any of the Olympia site until the next morning. Eat at Tavern Bacchus outside of Olympia - it's in the RS guidebook and really one of the best meals we had in Greece.

Getting from Olympia to Nafplio is another roughly 5 hour drive, but you can easily see the Olympia sites in the morning and then head out. The most direct looking route is over the mountains and is scenic but just a two lane, twisty road. It takes longer than the south route by highway that appears to go out of the way (and backtracks west from Olympia).

From Nafplio back to Athens I recommend going east, visiting Epidavros for an hour or so, then up the coast to the Corinth Canal crossing.

Posted by
1274 posts

I always get in trouble when I ask this question but here goes. Is Olympia a must see for you? It is so far away and requires about 5 hours to get to and 5 hours to get back from it eats up a tremendous amount of your 5 days. If its not a bucket list destination I think you can have a very nice plan by dropping Olympia and substituting Ancient Nemia. It too had Panhelenic games, the stadium is still there, it has a small but excellent museum and a partially restored temple. It is ideally situated for the drive to Nafplio or from Nafplio to Patras to get you to Delphi. Check out Janets plan for Nafplio and settle in there for 2 or 3 nights and use it as a base for the nearby ancient sites. This plan will give you a lot to see but at a leisurely pace.

We rent the car from the airport and return it there. You are on a major highway (tolls) all the way to Corinth and since the economic crisis there just are not as many locals who can afford to operate a car so traffic is lighter than it used to be.
Here is what you will see in the Nafplio area.
Olympia Delphi Meteora

Nafplio and Peloponnese

Posted by
48 posts

This is how I have made hotel reservations as follows:
Delphi - 7/12, 1 Night
Olypmpia - 1/13, 1 night
Napflio - 1/14-1/17 3 nights..Leave on July 17 for Athens and flight out on July 18.

I am not crazy about the 5 hour drives - from Delphi to Olympia and then from Olympia to Napflio.
I have done curvy mountainous drives on route 1 (two lanes) from LA to San Francisco which is very scenic but tiring (takes around 11 hours). And I did it when I was was a young man. Now I am in my mid 60s. :) I am sure sights and scenery are different in Greece. I will bite the bullet and do the drives if I want to see Olympia. My logic to see Olympia is the same as for people who come to L.A and want to see Hollywood. There is nothing there but you gotta see it. :)

Any recommendations on car rental companies?

Posted by
4535 posts

I wouldn't worry about the drives. You'll enjoy the scenery and roads have light traffic outside of Athens.

If renting from the airport, I'm not sure there is much of a difference in agencies. Look for the best price for the type of vehicle you need. Drivers will need an IDP.

Posted by
159 posts

Stan, I do not think that Olympia is a must-see. I do, however, think that either Olympia OR Delphi is a must-choose option. They're both great and it'd be fun to have a poll but I prefer Delphi to Olympia anyway. Only problem is you don't save a lot of driving time by doing one over the other.