Hi everyone. I posted here a month or so ago but believe I have my itinerary pinned down a bit more. My husband and I will be traveling to Greece next October for a special holiday. We are flying into Athens and immediately departing for Santorini for 4 nights. Question is how to best travel the rest of the itinerary. We would like to spend time in Napflio (take some day trips), Monemvasia and Athens. What is the best way to route these destinations. We would also like to hire a private car to drive us from Athens to the Peloponnese...between Athens and Napflio and/or Napflio and Monemvasia and then back to Athens for the end of our trip and flight home. Any and all suggestions welcome. We have saved for this special trip and don't want to take buses or particuarly interested in renting a car. We both want to enjoy the scenery and stop whenever thus the want of a private driver. Thank you ...y'all are the best!
You need a car in Napflion to visit the nearby antiquities, Mycenae, Epidavros,Tiryns, etc. It is not a difficult drive from Athens airport to Napflion. Of course, a driver could also take you there, driving past the olive groves.Whether self drive or with a driver service, visit Mystras when you leave Napflion to head south. The driving in this area was easier than in other oarts of Greece.
We use a private transfer service in Athens. City cab. Their drivers speak English and in our experience are very reliable. While we just use them to transfer to Athens and back to the airport, I understand they will take you to wherever you want to go. If you want to rent a car but are jet lagged they will drive the car to your destination ( you too). Not sure of the cost but I can vouch for their reliability.
I would suggest you fly to Santorini as soon as you land in Athens. You need two hours to connect. You will probably have to fly back to Athens. In ;late September this year the weather was still warm and sunny all the way into early October so chances are you will have nice weather.
To be frank I am not sure you will need 4 nights in Santorini 3 is all I can afford.
For fun here are images of the areas you are planning to visit.
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/
Stan...thank you! The pics look fantastic. Curious where you stayed? Did you base in Nafplion for the trip to the Peloponnese?
Athens to Nafplio could not be easier--it was no different from driving in the US, two hours on a modern highway, then some rural unexciting roads. All of the day trips we took from Nafplio were simple as well. (I don't know about Monemvasia, but google maps or viamichelin will tell you about that drive). If you can afford the splurge, I am sure you can find drivers, but I think it would be easier to just go when you wish to. I just wanted to reassure you--I am a nervous passenger, and this was no big deal. My husband never complained about the driving preventing him from enjoying the views (he quite enjoyed the upgrade we got form the rental agency). If you both really hate driving, I get it.
We did this exact trip but backwards and with some additions.
We arrived Athens, immediately drove to Nafplion with a quick stop at the Corinth Canal. Used Nafplion as a base to see Epidavros, Nemea and Mycenae. Then, we drove (down the coast and through the mountains) to Monemvassia, where we stayed a night "on the rock." (a must do!) From there, we drove to Kardamyli . We then visited Kalamata, Mystras, and Messene. From there, we drove back to Athens and flew to Santorini and visited there and Naxos ending with 2 nights in Athens.
Go to Santorini (I recommend flying if you can. You don't mention how many days you have total)
Then upon return you can base yourself in Nafplion
I would recommend saving Athens for the end for at least 2 nights.
As for driving, I agree that the driving was very easy (we picked up the car at the airport) However, if you don't wish to drive, I can recommend "George the Famous Taxi Driver" who can arrange a private driver for you for your mainland time
Have a wonderful time.
I agree that 4 nights in Santorini may be more than you need. Read about the things you want to do to determine how much time you think this will take. We were there for 3 nights/2.5 days and it was more than enough (and we went everywhere). But everyone has different tastes.
Getting to Monemvasia and back to Athens will be an out and back. The road is very easy - a main highway - which you will depart from to get to Nafplio (either en route to or returning from Monemvasia). Mystras is right off the highway near Sparta so you should read about it to see if you're interested. The Peloponnese is beautiful.
Sorry I have been busy and just saw your question. We were in Crete and Naxos first then flew to Athens and rented the car from Athens Car Rentals ACR. First day we drove all the way to Monemvassia its over 300 km and we did most of the drive in a spectacular rain and lightening storm. We did not have a reservation but stopped at Byzantino hotel office where they had one room left. This is right in the old town with period rooms spread out over the town. Very romantic. Monemvassia is amazing. You are staying inside the walls of a medieval town.
From there we drove through the mountains to Kardameli for two nights. We visited Ancient Messini which is a brilliant site and very few people around. We left Kardameli and drove to the Mani. First stop was Diross caves ( legend suggests this is the site of the mythical River Styks. We continued south and visited the mostly abandoned village of Vathey and next day did Mystras before spending the last two nights in Nafplio. There were spectacular views everywhere we went.
We stopped at Ancient Coirinth and Acrocorinth and had a hike along the Corinth Canal, next day on the day back to Athens before your return flight.
Here are images of our visit to the Mani.