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Please help us plan our 15 day itinerary

Day 1 : Fly into athens afternoon,
Day2 : Athens
Day 3 : Travel to Naxos
Day 4 : Naxos
Day 5 : Naxos
Day 6 : Naxos , Late night ferry to Santorini
Day 7 : Santorini
Day 8 : Santorini
Day 9 : Santorini
Day 10:Santorini, late night ferry to Athens
Day 11: Delphi / meteora
Day 12 : Meteora
Day 13 Nafplio, back in athens by evening
Day 14 Athens.. EASTER
Day 15 : Fly back home.

After all the discussions below, we decided to go with this NEW itinerary, please advice . Does the time allotted for each sound sufficient? Would you recommend a different place instead? and why ? Thanks.

Posted by
21301 posts

Dates for trip?

I would not spend my last night in Greece on Mykonos with a flight out of Athens the next day. Just too risky. I would not want to buy last-minute one-way tickects home in the (admittedly unlikely) event the Mykonos-Athens flight was canceled.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks, I was trying to space out the flight in case of delays .. is it normal for flights to get cancelled ? that could mess up a lot of things. Thanks for the input, will make the flight the day before then. Updated itinerary.

Posted by
21301 posts

What time of year is your trip?

I am not an expert on Greece, but we have some people on the forum who are. It helps them to know when folks are making their trips, because transportation schedules and tourist loads are very different month by month. Please give them that information so they're in a better position to help you. They may also benefit from knowing the ages of your son and his friend.

Posted by
91 posts

It seems you are travelling almost every day. Is that what you intended ? ie is your trip about the journey rather than the places? You're going from Athens to Kefalonia to Zakynthos in 2 days? Why?

You will have a few hours only in each place, in my opinion not long enough to enjoy. Please don't bother to come to Crete for 1 day, it needs a minimum of 2 weeks to even scratch the surface! Even with 2 nights in Crete, (assuming you travel by ferry) you will only really get 1 day in Heraklion, only enough for a brief walk around, a quick look at Knossos, maybe a run round the archaeological museum.

Posted by
27 posts

Its our first trip and we found these places very interesting . My son wants to visit Zakynthos and since the kefalonia seemed like a 15 minute ferry ride per online (but I cant seem to find any way of booking these ). Should I add a day to kefalonia or zakynthos? (those are a must see for us). We could probably remove hydra (though we would ideally love to visit both hydra and delphi . ). Santorini is a must for us again . What would u suggest ?

Also day 14 is Easter April 8th , so should i not be travelling that day ? what if I had my own rental car ? Would that still be diffcult ? Could I travel to athens on that day ?

As much as I would love to spend 2 weeks in Crete , it would practically never happen for us. If I were spend lesser time there , how many days do u think I need at the least. How about mykonos instead ? I read those are the two most rated islands .

Posted by
2898 posts

If you would quiz your son's 14 year old friend just a bit, you probably will find out that he saw a picture on a calendar of "shipwreck Beach" -- a dramatic (and lprobably photoshopped) aerial view of a curved beach, blinding white, with cliff sides and a submerged "wreck". You should know that the beach is not sand, but white pebbles/rocks (true sand in the Med/Aegean is NOT white, but golden) ... and that the beach is never seen this way -- it's seen from crowded Excursion boats that pull up, hordes pour off, then return. Many people go to places based on what they thumb thru, on their I-phones. That's NOT how to plan a trip.

Also, why Hydra? Because of R Steves promotion? It's mainly promoted because it's a one-day trip for people who don't have time to see an island otherwise. It has a picturesque harbor, no cars, donkey carts to ride, and pistachio nuts to buy. The inland, you can walk around, lots of people have homes there, behind hi walls. Lovely views.

Why Kefalonia? Before beach weather, what attracts you to it?

You need to do MUCH more reading, very quickly becuse your itinerary is unrealistic, not to say impossible. Dellphi is a 3.5 hour drive, and should NOT be done in the evening, it ends in steep winding mountain raods. You cannot do Delphi in the AM, get to Meteora and do it in PM (another long drive, plus, in spring monasteries close at least by 2;30 - 3).

This whole thing is just not do-able. A do-able thing would be, upon landing, immediately get a domestic flight to an island -- Santorini, Naxos, Paros, you pick. The way you've planned, you start Day 2 with ambitious fast-fast sightseeing agenda, and with teenagers, jet-lagged, that just wont happen; you & I both know they won't be underway before 11. If you go first to an island, you wake up next AM in a beautiful place, low key, easy to explore etc. Then after 3 days, go to another island for 3-4 days, both Naxos and Paros have lots of hiking opportlunities, stuff to see & do. THEN back to Athens for One Night.

Nexd AM, Get car and go mid-day to Delphi, see it lin late afternoon, early AM next day, then off to Meteora for the night. See monasteries next AM, then in afternoon, Back toward Athens -- but you then could veer off and go over the Corinth Canal -- lots to do/see within a 2 hr drive -- some examples:
• NEMEA - an "Olympic style" restored Games venue... with stuning stadium where teens could race from ancient start-line ...
• MYCENAE or TIRYNS, ancient fort/castles • NAFPLIO - gorgeous old town with Huuuuge Fortress PALAMIDI in back, kids could climb its 999 steps • EPIDAURUS, a magical huge (15,000 seats!) ancient amphitheatre with perfect acoustics

Point is, lots to see & do in alternatives to beach going because, surprise, Spring break is NOT swim-season in Greece (unlike the US). And if you rethink the sequence, you'll spend less time in wearying & costly transit, more time enjoying adventures.

Posted by
27 posts

True, we saw the picture online . But its really difficult to convince him of anything and we are kind of really not set on any place in partiucular just want to visit some beautiful locations and do hiking aned nature activities ,so dont want to deny him. We would love to see the melissoni cave , it features in most of the top beautiful places in the world lists . Do you not think kefalonia and Zakynthos are worth visiting ? Plus zakynthos seem to have some good beach actvities, so the beach would be absolutely not even useable ? My kids would be disappointed, people earlier did tell me it wouldnt be that bad.
Also on the same note, we planned on packing some summer clothes and layer towards the evenings , does that approach sound good clothingwise? or should we pack mostly just cold weather clothes ?

Love all your input , thanks .

Posted by
27 posts

We could probably skip hydra then . And do just delphi / meteora , thanks for the input about travel. We plan on driving and doing our own hiking without hiring anyone, would that be an easy task ?

Also is feasible to take a flight on easter ?

Posted by
1782 posts

You should get a map of Zakynthos. My son (mid twenties) was very set on going there too as part of our two week trip to Greece. It turns out you really can't drive to ship wreck beach. And I then figured out how difficult it was to go to islands in different island groups and nixed it altogether.

We are going to Greece in late May to early June for two weeks with our young adult children. I had intended to go earlier in May but found out from a Turkish friend of mine that the water would not be warm enough to swim at all until mid May. We moved our trip back a few weeks for that reason. Our friends went to Santorini in April. They had jackets on a lot of the time (we saw their pictures). High online it saysaverage is 60 in March and 65 in April in Santorini. Average high in March in Athens is 61 and 68 in April.

I think you need to remember that moving anywhere eats up about a half day. You are going to spend more time traveling than anything else. I know how tempting it is to try to do everything. But you are trying to go to five islands plus Delphi and Meteora as well as Athens in two weeks. We will be there the same length of time. We are going to two islands (Santorini and Naxos), Nafplio, and Athens.

Beth

Posted by
2898 posts

trvlfrk, you really need to get a Guide Book -- pretty online photos & promotional websites do NOT fully inform you ... if you're using those alone, you are totally flying blind. Did u even check the temps for Easter time?? I'm used to swimming in CT, and even I cannot get in the water until mid-may. Beaches in April are just to Look at. You need to rethink the whole thing, and you cannot do it based on your I-phone.

As for Kefalonia/ Zakynthos, have you looked at a map?? These are isolated from all other isles; transport time will be substantial. I'll bet that little Friend has not looked at a map either. If his family is paying for all 3 of you, then maybe go along with his no-info whim, but otherwise, you need to say no. If you cannot bring yourself to "deny" this boy something that will be so time-consuming... then a Reality Meeting is in Order. Sit the boys down with a MAP ... And Ferry schedule (gtp.gr) and Aegeqn Air website http://en.aegeanair.com/e-services/e-ticket/ and bus website http://www.athensguide.com/practicalinfo/busschedulesA.htm Show them what's involved. Explain that NO swimming is available (even pools in greece are unheated), so that Adventure is the priority. This website - http://www.visitnafplio.com (NONcommercial and accurate) - can show you some of the fortress/ruins/games site highlights I described just over the Corinth Canal. Click on ALL the links. The Canal itself is amazing (SOO deep, SOO skinny!).

As for the islands to choose, others agree with me that NAXOS has much more to offer those teens than Mykonos. Hate to say it, but Mykonos is mainly Famous for being Famous. It became a Party Island, then cruise ships started going there, and then travel agents & cruises ballyhooed it. It's very expensive, has streets full of luxe shops (Cartier, Hermes, etc) and outside of beach months, what have you got? Naxos has fascinating Port Town, with maze-like flagtone lanes that wind up to the top where there's a fab Medieval Fortress/castle with cannon-windows, etc. There's an amazing giant archway out on a causeway ... local bus route goes thru hillsides w. hairpin turns, you'll see mountains made of Marble. In Mykonos, cocktail bars, little churches, cruise ship crowds. Your choice.

But go to the library today! Look at Eyewitness Guide to Greece, Rough Guide, Lonely PLanet. Put the phone away til later. I DO want you all to have a good trip and not waste time & money through misinformation, that's why I'm urging research so much. I wish you good luck! And don't let teenagers run the show; we all know their prefrontal cortexes - the part of the brain that provides judgment -- isn't fully formed until age 23 or later.

Posted by
975 posts

Don't get fooled by glossy travel magazines and websites. They are only pushing over-the-top, touristy, expensive and crowded Greek Island and/or mainland destinations.

There are numerous Greek Islands/parts of the mainland to visit, many of them don't get the hordes of tourists and rip-off prices.

Research is one of the most important things one can do when planning a trip anywhere, domestic or international.

Don't rely on travel agents or travel magazines to tell you where to go.

Forums like this and others, plus objective websites can provide you with information you won't get from travel agents/glossy magazines.

We can help with finding places that can give you a more "Greek" experience than a tourist experience. We can advise where to go, when to go, how much to spend and how to avoid getting ripped off.

We can tell you where to shop, eat, visit and all those out-of-the-way Greek Villages, archeological/historic sites that are just as important and spectacular as Delphi, Olympia, Akrotiri, etc. but with a less crowds, lower costs and a truer impression of what travel to Greece is all about.

Don't get me wrong, Delphi, Olympia, Akrotiri and other well-known sites are wonderful places but there are many other sites all over Greece, mainland and islands that no one hears about that can give you a wonderful ancient Greece experience with maybe a more personal touch than the over-the-top touristed sites.

You owe it to yourself to do as much research as possible before making decisions based on what you want and not what a travel agency wants.

Posted by
27 posts

I am a little lost right now. I think I need to do more research on zakynthos / kefalonia. I did know that it was a boat ride to get to shipwreck beach and melissani cave , now looks like about 2 days would be sufficient to do both . Still feel it would a trip well worth it. We just need to decide whether we really want to spend that much in airfare just for that small a trip. We might just skip it., need to decide on that.Thanks for all the tips, I will be reading more. I normally plan my international travels pretty well, just by reading online, but I might need to get a book or something this time. Any suggestions on what book I should get?

Posted by
2898 posts

ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE ... you don't need to have the 2017 edition, the 2014 is fine... because u are not getting a guide book fo the latest restaurant & hotel prices, you are getting it for the Overview. Some guides are very limited in the # of destinations, only the most famous ones ... Fodors and Frommers skip a lot of islands. Others frankly cant be trusted, they don't pay their contributors. Rough GUide actually pays people to GO to the places and report. You can get one on Amazon used for $7-10. If you are going to spend Many Thousands of $$ for this trip, why hesitate to spend $7-10 for a guide???

Greece is more complicated than other countries. In Italy, France, Spain, you can get on a train and just go. Greece has no trains to speak of. In Italy you can "base" in a city and each day go 20 miles in a different direction and return in time for dinner. In Greece in the islands, and in many places on the mainland, if you go 20 miles in one direction, you'll fall into the water & drown. And boats don't work like cars, or busses, or trains ... sometimes they are delayed, sometimes a storm keeps them in port. You can't get them every 2 hours, as you can get a train in England or Italy. Sometimes it's 2 days. So yes, you need a good guidebook, and you need to stop thinking about the Greece of Calendar photos taken in High Season (July-August). You're going in the Off-off season (except for the burst of activity around Easter Weekend). BTW, don't count on moving on GReek Easter Sunday April 8 unless you have a car. ALL transport is stopped for the Resurrection.

You can get a guide in 2 days Amazon prime, or at the library. Pick up an armful of guides at your main library and browse them all. then come back after some quick Cramming. As an online help, here's a good Greek Map (click to enlarge) http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/greece.gif and here's my fave map of the Athens/Attiki area and the ENTIRE Peloponnese - http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg (click and it gets huuuuge, you see every road, and every hill and valley).

Posted by
396 posts

I still feel like I 'owe' my younger daughter a great view of the Alps; it was her only request of a family trip to Germany in 2006 and I didn't get it right. So I understand your dilemma. IMO Janet's advice about reviewing the itinerary with your son so that he understands the pros and cons of visiting that area is spot on. I also found Greece is a difficult place to plan a trip to even after many years of planning vacations. So many enticing experiences and sights, seemingly close together, but complicated by geography and transportation. In the end, after pouring over several guidebooks, I ended up 'cheating' by pulling together suggested itineraries from various guidebooks and threads on this forum. That was the breakthrough that got me unstuck and finally allowed me to pull together an itinerary I was happy with. I realize that's a kind of 'duh' moment, because guidebooks are peppered with sample itineraries for that reason, but I think it didn't occur to me because I've never been stymied before by a trip plan. Good luck!

Posted by
8 posts

Hi! I'm going in May. Did originally plan for April but changed it due to the fact (well 1 fact) that Shipwreck and Melissani Cave are closed in April. I found out about these places from online photos too. NOTHING wrong with that. But I did do a lot of research on the areas. YouTube is your friend. Go on their and see what others are saying.
Oops. you must have changed your places as I was reading the comments. I am all for Athens, Metoera and Santorini. Those and Zakynthos are on my list. Just remeber to have fun and take it all in. Ask your son to find new places to visit in these areas. They might find something that would be worth losing Shipwreck for. BTW. Meteora has a lot of hiking. Wish I was able to do more than a day there. Good luck!

Posted by
27 posts

I agree with you on Zakynthos, but changed our mind since the beach seems to be the only reason for the long travel in another direction. We ended up convincing my son that it wasnt worth the detour, he didnt seem to disapointed but we will make it up to him . Thanks for the tips about hiking in meteora , having been able to read much abt that place. Maybe will do that, we LOOOVE to hike in scenic places and I have high hopes from meteora. If needed, we will just cancel the next location and stay back another day there

Posted by
2898 posts

Oh ---- I was looking all over for he new Itinerary ---- and then realized you hadn't added it to the bottom of the thread, you'd gone back to the TOP and changed the whole thing. A much better list. Suggestion --- In Santorini, without swimming, not much doing, those boys will get restless, surrounded by cruise ladies shopping for jewelry ... why not lop off a day and add it to something else, like Nafplio. I am a little puzzled by the sequence Delphi-Meteora-Nafplio ... again I must ask, have you looked at a map??? doesnt' make sense logistically. they are the 2 farthest-apart places on the mainland. My suggestion:

Day 9: Santorini, and late night ferry to Athens?? (do you mean an overnight ferry? are you sure it runs? ) This would mean you'd get a cabin, and arrive in early morning Day 10.
Day 10: POssible 1-day train excursion to Meteora? (5 hrs each way)
Day 11: Drive to Delphi AM, see ruin, drive to Nafplio by evening.
Day 12: Explore Nafplio, Palamidi, Acronafplia, etc.
Day 13: Epidaurus & Corinth Canal en rout back to Athens (Easter evening services)
Day 14: Athens - Easter Sunday (arrange beforehand w hotel for where u can have dinner
.... If you do not drive, you cannot do all 3 of these, you'll have to skip either Meteora or Delphi. YOu can take a bus to/from Nafplio 2.5 hrs each way, but not satisfying as a 1-day trip.

Posted by
8 posts

I have a Greek coworker who has been to Zakynthos and Kefalonia last yr. She was able to take almost a month off so she had more time, but the feedback I got, was that it was worth it. But I'm sure you guys would be fine taking it out. I took out Mykonos from our trip and added another day to Athens just to go to Meteora. If you add any days to any spot, add it there. you love to do hiking. and from what I researched, that is a great area for it. Go on YouTube and see some of the videos. Some people show the hikes and give you tips on what to do. Hate to agree with Janet. But taking 1 day off Santorini wouldn't be a bad move. (add it to Meteora;)

Posted by
1782 posts

I would consider flying to Santorini on your first day rather than spending a day first in Athens. Add the day to Athens at the end so you don't waste time going to and from Athens twice.

I agree with others about taking a day off Santorini. From Santonrini ferry to Naxos. There is a late afternoon ferry from Santorini to Naxos.

It is an eight hour ferry ride to Santorini from Athens. I recall when I checked that the overnight ferries don't start until June so that eats up a whole day.

From Naxos, it is a shorter ferry ride back to Athens (five hours) or again consider flying. I think there is an early evening flight as well as an evening ferry. One advantage of flying is that there are more options for renting a car at the airport than the port.

You have to drive if you are going to go to Delphi, Meteora and Nafplio. And even then you need to add the day taken off to Santorini to Nafplio.

In Santorini, if you like to hike, there is a beautiful trail from Fira to Oia along the caldera's edge.

Beth

Posted by
27 posts

Day 1 : Fly into athens afternoon,
Day2 : Athens,
Day 3 : Travel to Naxos
Day 4 : Naxos
Day 5 : Naxos, late night ferry to Santorini
Day 6 : Santorini
Day 7 : Santorini
Day 8 : Santorini,OVERNIGHT night ferry to Athens BOOKED.
Day 9 : Delphi.meteora
Day 10: Delphi /meteora
Day 11: Delphi / meteora
Day 12 : .... GOOD FRIDAY
Day 13 , return to Athens by evening
Day 14 Athens.. EASTER
Day 15 : Fly back home.

Thanks for all the input. Yes Janet , its an overnight ferry of 11 hrs , I just booked it as a cabin with beds . The company is Zante ferries , will be picking up the tickets on the day of travel.
I went ahead and changed the itinerary accordingly and took one day of naxos and one day of Sntorini as recommended. And planning a 3 day trip to delphi and meteora . The rest of the trip is not concrete yet .We plan on drivng for most of the trip , renting car it at the port and drop off before next trip. I did read something against driving in Athens with traffic, is that recommended ? Is public transport more convenient there , dont want to spend most time in traffic and end up frustrated.

My trip only involves a day and a half at athens , what would u recommend to cover on those days ? we will be back on the 7th evening to stay put in Athens for Easter . We plan on visiting a church there to experience Easter and hopefully breakfast and lunch wont be an issue. Will plan with my hotel for dinner plans, we plan on walking around athens and enjoy some leisure time . Will any sight seeing to be possible that day ?

Also about Good Friday, how does that impact our plans ?

I agree on not splitting athens in the begnning and the end but we wont be seeng athens towards the end . We love the idea of the overnight ferry from santorini with convenient all night travel with beds.The ferry from naxos would be shorter but take away time from our trip. Wish there was more overnight travel options available.

Excited abt the meteora hikes , I will be checking those youtube videos thanks for that tip.

I thought nafplio would be a good choice once we are done with meteora, is that out of way ? What would be a good trip instead ?
Thanks :)

I plan on taking some packaged food like mac and cheese , peanut butter and jelly and some other to make sure I have something handy and for kids if needed. Not sure, if these are available there , and would it be pricier or should i carry these from here ? My kids can be picky if they are offered new foods at every meal.
Also will be able to find uncooked Rice, tortilla and such there in case we plan on DIY meal sometime ? Any recommendations of things I SHOULD be carrying and would not find there ?

Posted by
2898 posts

Regarding Meteora - Nafplio, I think I suggested before, to look at a map. I think i'm done here.

Posted by
1782 posts

I looked on line and the distance between Meteora and Nafplio driving seems to be over 10 hours. We are going to Nafplio and not Meteora. It would seem like you really can't easily do both.

Maybe spend a little more time in Athens instead.

beth

Posted by
21301 posts

I haven't been to Greece recently, but one thing that was widely available back in the 1980s and 1990s (and I'm sure it hasn't changed) was chicken kebabs. If your kids are OK with relatively plain chicken, that will be an option. I think I remember being served rice, too. I suspect that hamburgers are also pretty widespread in the larger cities. Though I've never looked for one in Europe, there are "hamburguesas" or some such on menus in Spain.

Tortillas may be tough. Peanut butter I'm sure is available somewhere in Athens, but I imagine you don't want to spend an hour or more of your vacation time trying to find it, so I think that's a take-with-you item. Remember that it must go in your checked bag.

Posted by
27 posts

Sorry Janet. , about asking you the same questions over again. I think you were helpful with all the precise info you provided.
The amount of planning going into this trip is seriously crazy, but I guess the excitement beats it all :)

And thanks for the info on the food.