My family, 2 adults and three museum and adventure loving boys ages 11,13, and 14, will be in Greece for 9 full days at the end of May. Flying into Athens and rushing to a family wedding on the Isle of Hydra. We are budget conscious and looking for an authentic experience. Willing to drive. We will want to see Delphi and spend a few days in Athens for sure. 2 days in Hydra are already spoken for. Should we drive to the high points of the Peloponnese/mani peninsula or fly to Rhodes and stay put for a few days. Any thoughts?
Well if you are budget conscious then flying won't be cheap. A car rental for a few days probably won't cost much more than one air ticket. After the wedding get to the airport and rent the car fro there. We have used ACR Athens Car rental several times and are happy with them. Hope you can drive a stick shift although they do have some Automatics but they get booked up fast.
Here is what I would do. Drive to Corinth. The kids will probably want to see the canal. You will have to park and walk on the pedestrian bridge. If you want you can take the hike along the side of the canal. That hike has what appears to be a military pillbox an abandoned rail crossing and what appears to be gouges in the rock where they dragged boats across the land before the canal was built.
Heasd west to Ancient Corinth its a good antiquity site but if you look up from there you will notice the fortress on the top of the mountain. Thats Acrocorinth and the kids will love wandering around up there. I am particularly fond of drive in fortresses as the road goes up to the first gate.
A bit further down the road you will come to Ancient Nemia. It was a sister city to Olympia and still has its stadium the kids can walk through the athletes tunnel and run a race for the original starting blocks.
It is in to sites close to each other. The second site has a partially restored Temple and an excellent museum.
Continue east and cross the Gulf at Patras the bridge is amazing and then head up into the mountains to Delphi. Plan to arrive late afternoon early evening. In May the village won't be full so you can wander around and find a hotel with a view down the mountainside. You will see a forest of olive trees looking like a green river flowing all the way to the Gulf. You will have time to visit the museum and see what was found at the site. There is a lower site that has no gate so you might want to wander down there that afternoon evening.
Next morning get to the gate at opening. You will have the whole site virtually to yourselves before the bus tours arrive. By then you will be up in the top of the site and it will be another hour before the crowds get to you. Thats a good time to leave probably around noon.
I would drive south through the rolling hills of Nemia and its famous wine grapes. I would head to Nafplio. It is a beautiful sea side city with a wonderful Venetian old town. It also has an island fortress and a huge 14th century fortress looming over the city. The kids will love wandering around another Venetian Fortress. Nafplio makes an excellent base for day trips to Mycaenea, Tiyrns (birthplace of Heracles) and the famous amphitheater at Epidarus. With such a short time available to you I think this would be an excellent plan and minimizes the time in the car.
Return the car to the airport. Leave Athens to the end of the trip.
Here is what I am suggesting
Delphi and Meteora https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157698930270992
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/
Corinth area sights https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157711755443483
Have a great time.
Two days in Hydra and two days in Athens. Delphi is three hours north of Athens so whether in a car or on a tour bus (what we did to avoid the car rental bit) it is a full day trip. 5 of 9 days gone. "Staying put" could be in Rhodes or, in Napflio on the Peloponnese. Napflio is closer and easy to get to by car or bus.
Two possible approach: Fly into Athens - move on directly to Hydra from Piraeus. Return to Athens for two days/three nights, including a one-day trip to Delphi and one and a half days of touring the Archeological Museum and the Acropolis. Leave Athens by car on day six and drive to Napflio where you can rest and do local tours by car of Myceane and Epidavros (each quite nearby). Return to Athens for the flight home.
OR, since there is a ferry to Hydra from Ermioni on the Peloponnese, you could fly into Athens, rent a car and drive to Ermioni and park the car there, and head to Hydra via the 30 minute ferry ride. Return to Ermioni and the car after the wedding and head to Napflio to rest. You can drive to Mycaene and Epidavros easily from Napflio. Head further west if you have time/energy. Head back to Athens and spend your Athens time at the end of the trip including the side trip to Delphi.