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September Honeymoon Itinerary.

My husband and I are leaving for our honeymoon in less than a month - and we still need to figure out the last week of our trip! There are so many wonderful things to do in Greece, I am paralyzed with all of the options. We are in our early 30's and are looking for a good mix of history, romance, as well as getting slightly off the beaten track without missing must-sees!

Here is what we have so far:

  • Monday, Sept 4th: Arrive Athens from Newark, rent car, head straight to Delphi for overnight.
  • Tuesday, Sept 5th: Visit Delphi in the morning, drive to Corinth via Patras (possibly spend the afternoon at Achaia Clauss winery) and overnight in Xylokastro outside of Corinth
  • Wednesday, Sept 6th: Spend the morning seeing Corinth and then drive to Nafplio for overnight
  • Thursday, Sept 7th: Nafplio, again!
  • Friday, Sept 8th: Mystras/Sparta for the day with an overnight in Gythio
  • Saturday, Sept 9th: Explore the Mani and overnight at Tainaron Blue Resort
  • Sunday, Sept 10th until Friday afternoon, Sept 15th: TBD
  • Friday night until Monday, Sept 18th for 5:30pm departure: Athens

With my 5 days in the middle, I have a few decisions to make and here are the questions that I am considering while making them:

  • Question 1: As of now, we are considering between spending the bulk of our time on Folegandros or Naxos. I personally have been looking for authenticity, beauty, and romance. Folegandros seems to have the wow factor for me, but I'm also making general assumptions based on photos. My husband seems to be more drawn to Naxos for the mix of beaches, relaxation, and more sites. Would Naxos make an ideal honeymoon destination?
  • Question 2: We want to fly out of Athens when returning from the Pelopnnesus to ease the process of dropping off the rental car, but are open to ferrying back. Obviously, for Folegandros, this would mean flying to Santorini to spend a night or two, before heading to there. Is it worth splitting islands with such a short time frame? Our Naxos option could potentially mean flying into Naxos, ferry to Santorini, and then fly back to Athens.
  • Question 3: Do we spend an extra night on the Peloponnesus to see Monemvasia, before heading back to Athens for a flight to an island. This would give us T-F on an island.
  • Question 3b: If we are keeping Monemvasia, is it worth considering an island overnight on Friday as well and leaving for Athens early Saturday? I don't want to give Athens the short end of the stick, but I want enough breathing room for everything! Athens will always be our gateway to Greece since we are traveling from the US.

Thank you in advance for reading my long narrative!

Posted by
2513 posts

I'm hoping /guessing you have not locked in unrefundable hotel reservations -- and since you don't seem to crave that $$antorini cliff balcony, you should have little trouble booking stuff for Sept. Thus I'm going to suggest "splitting" your itinerary, to minimize transit time, maximize enjoyment time. What I propose: Island time in the MIDDLE, and put your Nafplio/Peloponnese at end, just before Athens. Simplifies and allows "breathing room" & Flexibility. Which Isle?? Based on my experience in both, I suggest Naxos. Foley has a Stunning "chora" (high town) and pix of it are gorgeous! but that's mainly IT. Not easy to get to the beaches & they are so-so. Foley is fine for 2-3 days, but.... for variety, dramatic island landscapes, historic ruins, and lively evenings, Naxos really is IT.

My thoughts on Itinerary options (based on 12 trips to Greece, 9 of them with newcomers along)
MON 9/4 - Your Plan OK; I'm guessing your EWR flite arr mid-aft, so you'll get to Delphi around Sunset?? (Hotel Pan in Delphi has great down-mountain views from back-room balconies!)
TUES - 9/5 - Museum & Ruins; get started by 8; bus tours arr 10:30. Have lunch, then start thinking -- ISLAND! What are your options? Late day/evening flights sold out; there's a 6 AM flight Wed BUT my fave b & B by the airport is also sold out, alas. I see 2 options to reach Naxos w. minimal effort /fuss:
(1) Instead of Airport, drop car PIREAUS, get 5:30 BLUE STAR ferry (reserve seat €38), enjoy sunset on board, arrive 10:45 PM.
(2) ORRR... get 19:05 (7:05pm) flight to MYKONOS @ €86, arrive 7:50, stay w. my friend Angela @ Angela's rooms in a darling whitewashed building w. roses & a seaview @ €74 per double http://www.angelasrooms.com On Wednesday, there's a choice about 4-5 ferries (1 hour) to Naxos ... so you can explore Mykonos town for a few hours & then skedaddle. I highly recommend this choice -- and if it appeals -- I URGE you to book the Aegean/Olympic flight Immediately before it fills up!!!
WED 9/6 -- to?? MAYBE Sept 9or 10? Flights are almost sold out from NAXOS back to ATHENS (45 mins vs 5+ hrs on ferry). Aim would be to start your Peloponnese adventure early Monday. So you could (A) do BLUE STAR Naxos-Pireaus 6pm-11:45 sunday, stay 1 night in central ATh & get rental car Monday AM OR (B) Sunday Sp 10 take Aegean 18:35-19:20 (6:35-7:20pm) @99E, stay overnite at cute budget hotel Peris, free pick-up & drop off back @airport for rental car early Monday AM.

Spt 10 - Sept 15 late -- Pelopponese!! My fave planning map!! http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg(click & it gets huuuge) My own Opinion re allotment of time Suggest skipping corinth -- and arrange to see EPIDAURUS on way TO Nafplio (take Coast road), and then NEMEA as you drive BACK to Athens area. I.E,

MON - At Isthmia, jump off Big Hi-way to see & photo Corinth Canal, then down coast & In to EPIDAURUS. Nafplio by mid-afternoon for town exploration, unbeatable sunset from seafront cafes.
TUES - If u want to do Mycenae go 8 am, avoid bus tours. Then More of Nafplio: Museum! Acronafplia! Palamidi (drive up back way) ... and how about a swim below a ruin, @ Asine?

WED -- THURS Off to Mystras etc --- up to you; I'm not a fan of driving all day just to tick items off a list, for me it would be either Gythio or Monemvasia for a night not both... plus most people who explore the Mani have a full Week-plus for the pelops.
FRIDAY -- Back to Tripoli area by NOON, to tour Ancient NEMEA before 3, and then THE great wine area, to visit a vineyard & take back some vino to sip on your Athens balcony http://peloponnesewineroads.com/wine-roads/korinthia-wine-roads/
SAT-SUn-MON -- Athens!

-- Great PIX courtesy of "stanbr"
- Naxos Hilites: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/
- Nafplio - http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for your reply, Janet!

Yes! We are arriving to Athens in the afternoon and should be at our hotel in Delphi (Nidimus) before sundown barring any horrible weird delays (which is always possible of course). Part of the reason for this itinerary is that my husband is the one who cares about seeing particular historic sites and his one must-see request is Mycenae. Also, he prefers to see Corinth and doesn't mind if we never find the time for Epidavros this trip. I figured this way, we could hit both Corinth and Mycenae on the way to Nafplio from Delphi without backtracking. Since we'll have a car, if we have enough time for Epidavros, we can always head that way after we've hit the other places. I love the idea of swimming beneath a ruin while in Nafplio! Is Asine the beach next to Tolo?

I realize that the Mani is a somewhat unconventional choice, but I love taking pictures and something about the remote beauty of it really is calling to me! Plus, another husband request was Sparta, so I figured it paired well with Mystras and Gythio on the way down to Tainaron Blue. I do realize we are missing a lot of typical things from this Pelop. itinerary - specifically Olympia! I have already plotted out future trips that include seeing Olympia en route to Ionian islands and up to Meteora! How I wish I had a whole year in Greece!

I have considered Mykonos, but mostly because Delos seems to be an interesting side trip. While we do want for there to be enough suitable night life in this part of the trip for there to be enough tavernas open, we don't really care for crazy night life. I think if we are going to use another island as a travel buffer, I'd rather get at least one sunset over the caldera in Santorini. Milos has also grabbed my attention! So many beautiful areas to consider! Hence my planning struggle!

Also, thank you for the link to the wine routes! I have found information regarding Nemea as a wine region, but hadn't found anything specific enough to be helpful.

Posted by
4 posts

Additionally, thank you for the photos from stanbr! That is SO helpful as a visual person and is definitely making me consider saving Folegandros for another Cyclades trip :D

Posted by
2513 posts

Many considerations.... I can see you have given it thought. The key thing is, reality checks along the way...

DELPHI- CORINTH -- I can see where you want to do that drive via patras, but I urge you also to check first with the BEST website for europe planning https://www.viamichelin.com/web/Routes -- I think you will find that the Fastest route to Ancient Corinth is backtracking to Elefsina & across the Corinth canal , 125 mi, 3 hours vs the Rio Bridge/Patras route 150 miles almost an hour more ... because the roads to bridge/Patras and Patras-Corinth are much slower (and some have been under construction as well).

CORINTH - Make sure your guy has GOOD D-I-Y prep, because signage is NOT the best; (most people just care about the stone that St. Paul stood on) Also, Acro-Corinth has great view but worth the climb? Only tumbledown Byantine ruins. Meh.

MYCENAE - If u plan for late afternoon, take your smartphone and TELEPHONE ahead. Yes, major sites are supposed to stay open until 7 "in season," but in past budget-crunch years, they may suddenly slam shut at 3 pm. Why? Because that saves having a 2nd shift (Ist shift 8-3). On my first trip, arrived at 3:05 at the NAT. ARCH MUSEUM (!!) in athens & they were locking up!! Call ahead!

ASINE -- YES, it's a "secret cove" just on the way to Tolo ... I found it on my own, getting off a bus & walking down a shady lane 200 yards. A small semi-sandy beach and darling Stony cove (bring water shoes BTW; $7 at CVS) ... you can look across water to Tolo. One cute taverna (u can change in their restroom), and afterward have a drink on their terrace at sunset, maybe even a fish dinner. Twice, with travel pals, we've done a "ruin-a-thon": Mycenae-Tiryns-Epidaurus, and at 4 pm we plunked ourselves at Asine to veg out. BTW - If your man doesn't want Epidaurus, tell him that on the road from Ep - Nafplio, he will miss seeing The OLDEST BRIDGE in the WORLD in CONTINUOUS USE .. since Iliad era - http://www.ermioni.info/kazarma -- I have pic of me in the arch.

PELOPONNESE MISCELLANY - SPARTA - hate to tell husband, but there's No There There (as Gertrude Stein would say). boring concrete city nothing to see. Spartans didn't do Major Temples, or Statues... what they were good at was Slavery. Yes, there are priceless artifacts, but these are buried Deep under modern buildings & todays' Sparta-burgers refuse to give up property to excavate. Same problem in Argos (the oldest-continuously inhabited town in Europe). So.. Famous names, but towns are meh.

MANI - certainly remote, but dont devote endless time to driving you may find you'll just get The Bends from sitting in a car so long. That resort looks very posh (but good lord, with that view -- dark rooms with teeeeny wndows!). your call... I just hope it's sunny during your visit so you dont have to stay inside. This is more my speed in Western Peloponnese -- Hotel Zoe, just 10 km north of Pylos on the sea -- website currently offline, but https://www.booking.com/hotel/gr/zoe-resort.html gives an idea ... incredible beach, totally outside tourist mainstream ... near amazing wildlife habitat and stunning Navarino bay.

MYKONOS -I only suggested it as offering the Fastest-easiest & most economical link to NAXOS for someone doing bookings a bit late. I did NOT suggest it as "buffer island" or a must-see OR for "crazy night life" because -- I hate to tell you, there is none in September except after midnight in 2-3 Mykonos Town clubs. That dancing-on-tables is High Season Hype. As for your other "buffer island" ideas... santorini airfare will cost you €150-300+ per person... and if you flew to Milos, it's waaay far from Naxos (look at maps) and the only ferry in Sept is the tiny Seajet2, which in windy weather (frequent) can be urpsie-ville. Just sayin'.

YEs stanbr's pix. are FAB - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/ has MANY Greek albums!

Posted by
4 posts

I do think we are going to nix the night in Xylokastro in favor of an additional night in Nafplio. With the winery link that you sent, the longer route with a stop at Achaia Clauss loses some of it's appeal, and this way, there will be less moving around. The additional motivation for going through Patras was doing lunch in Galaxidi, but I'm sure we can find a great place to eat via the shorter route you suggested. It seems like Epidavros really is worth the trip - especially for me seeing that bridge - and the husband just told me he would be happy as long as he still gets to see the Corinth Canal, so Corinth ruins are now being relegated to the "if we have time" list.

Trust me - I know the Spartan ruins are, well, Spartan! I have heard Mystras is worth devoting some time to, however, so I'm hoping it is a full day between Sparta, Mystras, and maybe even the Olive Oil museum in town. Perhaps it would make more sense to go down to Monemvasia for the day instead and make a short stop in Sparta on the way back to Athens.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good weather on the Mani, too! However, we had a brief trip to Mexico last year and stayed at a similar type place - very remote but gorgeous property in a unique setting, and even though it stormed for part of the night, it was our favorite part of the trip! It was just... cool. (I will admit that it was nice when the weather cleared up the next morning so we could use the pool!)

Buffer island is the wrong word for Mykonos ... I just meant if we are going to ferry from Naxos to use a different airport, I would much rather couple it with a night in Santorini. Also, I realize Milos - Naxos via ferry isn't very convenient. I just mentioned it in an "if getting to Naxos is too inconvenient, Milos has also piqued my interest to do instead!" The whole country has piqued my interest! I already love it and I haven't been yet :D

Posted by
2513 posts

Sounds like u are getting your ducks in a row. Regarding Mykonos, hope we weren't confused -- you said "I just meant if we are going to ferry from Naxos to use a different airport, I would much rather couple it with a night in Santorini. " I was not trying for that -- I thought you wanted to REACH Naxos ... and since flights to Naxos were sold out, there WAS a flight to Mykonos @ €86, for next-day ferry to Naxos. Yes there were ALSO flights to Santorini -- but it was about 2x as much - €165/€145. If u are not price-sensitive, you could do that... with arrival 6 pm, with taxi you could get checked in and get over to the rim path for 7:45 sunset. But that all was mainly looking at hitting the island(s) sept 5 or 6 ... later, you might get luckier w. flights. Be aware tho that flights to Naxos are few, and Small planes (38 psgr) so if you see a flight u like, book it pronto. Good night, and good luck!

Posted by
14235 posts

I only know the Pelopponese from my RS tour, 3 months ago. The only reason we went into Sparta was to have lunch - nothing to see or do there. Mystras was interesting - to visit the churches, but if we hadn't had a local guide, I don't think I'd have gotten much out of it.

My favorite place was Kardamyli, a quiet, picturesque village on the sea. I liked Nafplio better than Monemvasia - it's a little different from other Greek towns and more to see and do than Monemvasia.

Be sure to take swimming shoes - all the beaches are pebbly.