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Seeking itinerary feedback-14 days for mainland Greece

My wife and I will be flying from St. Louis to Athens, arriving Saturday, Oct. 15 (at 9:30 a.m.). We have two weeks, flying back out of Athens Saturday, Oct. 29. I'll give some background on us and our interests: We're in our late 20s/early 30s and both of us are avid photographers, love history and ancient sites, as well as hiking and the outdoors.

We will be renting a car to tour the Peloponnese, as well as visit Delphi and Meteora, before ending with a few days in Athens.

I've read Rick Steve's latest book as well as the Bradt Guide to the Peloponnese, and I've read through a lot of forum posts, and have gotten some great tips, particularly from Janet and StanBR (whose photos have been terrific).

We're getting an AirBnB rental for our days in Athens, but other accommodations we're leaving until later.

We'll basically make a large loop through the Peloponnese, up to Delphi and Meteora and back to Athens. One of the big questions is whether it would be better to head from the airport up to Meteora, or down to Nafplio.

We're hoping to do four nights in Nafplio (doing trips to Epidavros and Mycenae, possibly Nemea, and Corinth on the way from or to Athens, depending on how we structure the trip).

We'll have four nights in Athens (one of the Athens days we may do a day trip to Aegina or Hydra). We plan to do one night in Delphi and two nights in Meteora.

Other stops planned (or under serious consideration): One night in Mystras. One night in Olympia. We also are considering two nights in Dimitsana or Kardamyli to get a day of hiking in and a change of pace from the ancient sites. We've also heard from a friend (and read in the Bradt Guide) that Ancient Messene might be worth a visit after Mystras, but we will be visiting a lot of ancient sites, so we may leave it out.

Here's how it could play out doing a clockwise loop:
Saturday, 15-Oct: Arrive, rent car, drive to Corinth and on to Nafplio
Sunday, 16-Oct: Tour Epidavros
Monday, 17-Oct: Nafplio sites, chilling out
Tuesday, 18-Oct: Nafplio - Mycenae, Nemea
Wednesday, 19-Oct: Drive to Mystras early, tour site. Drive to Dimitsana
Thursday, 20-Oct: Hike/tour Dimitsana/Stemnitsa, visiting monasteries
Friday, 21-Oct: Drive to Olympia
Saturday, 22-Oct: Tour Olympia, drive to Delphi
Sunday, 23-Oct: Tour Delphi, leave for Meteora
Monday, 24-Oct: Tour Meteora
Tuesday, 25-Oct: Leave for Athens, return car
Wednesday, 26-Oct: ATH
Thursday, 27-Oct: ATH (maybe a day trip to Aegina or Hydra)
Friday, 28-Oct: ATH
Saturday, 29-Oct: fly home

The counter-clockwise option would mean an immediate drive to Meteora and doing everything in reverse, before heading to Athens for the final days.

Any advice about the trip would be much appreciated.

Posted by
786 posts

I think your first plan makes the most sense, starting in Nafplio and doing the circle route and ending in Meteora.
Of course I am assuming you will be doing a transatlantic flight and will be jet lagged. The 2 hour drive to Nafplio is Ok after that flight. The 5 hours to Meteora is not.
Just a couple of comments.On your drive to Nafplio you might stop at Nemia. It is a very compact site and the chances are adrenaline will kick in during that stop. We did a 24 hour tranatlantic trip (west coast) and with the help of coffee we did that stop and finished in Nafplio.
October 16 should be your chill out day in Nafplio. Just relax wander the back alleys perhaps drive up to Palimidi fortress.
October 17 you can probably do Epidavros and Mycenae. This suggestion buys you a free day to use someplace else on the trip.
For sure you are going to find some things along the way where you wish you had an extra day. On our first trip we only did half of our plan because we just had to hang around a couple of places where we had planned to stay just one night but ended up staying two.
Have fun.

Posted by
26 posts

Sounds like a great trip. We were there in June for 10 days. Do not miss Nafplio. It was our favorite town on the whole trip. While Kardamyli is cute, we thought it was overrated and too remote. Do NOT stay at Kalamitsi (hotel) per Rick's recommendation. We found it overpriced, accommodations VERY basic, and the manager was the only rude person we encountered in all of Greece! If you continue down Mani peninsula, Limeni is beautiful (we stayed in Gerolimenas which is beautiful but eerily barren). Enjoy. Having lived in Europe and traveled extensively, the Greeks were perhaps the kindest most welcoming people we have ever encountered. Oh and we also did Santorini which was our other favorite (although we didn't expect it, since we don't like touristy spots). Enjoy!

Posted by
2513 posts

Jason, the OP left on Oct 15, and right now they're back in Athens ... but they'll enjoy comparing their Pelopponnese experience to yours -- I wouldn't be surprised if they ALSO voted Nafplio the favorite stop (everybody is surprised by its beauty). But what I'm sure they'll have in common with you: encounters with the amazing, endearing friendliness & hospitality of ordinary Greek people. On my first trip to Greece, I was jampacked full of Ancient History lore, but my biggest discovery was the Greeks of today ...and 11 trips later, that's what draws me back each time.

Posted by
4572 posts

@ Janet -- Hear hear! We met some amazingly friendly helpful hospitable Greeks, not connected with the tourist industry, but just exhibiting the quality of philoxenia, love of strangers, which is so ingrained in Greek culture. The opposite of xenophobia which we all know about.