We will be spending the last 4 nights and 4 days of our Greece trip in this region after Athens and Santorini. We enjoy some ruins ( but not too many), hiking, art, monasteries, photographing sights, the beach and browsing around beautiful towns with leisurely outdoor meals. We are renting a car. Initially we were going to spend 4 nights in Napflio as a base to see other sights in addition to Mycennae which is close, until I realized the driving distance from Napflio to some of the sights we would like to see is kind of far. Monemvasia, Kardamyli, Mystras, Olympia and the ferry to Hydra from the Pelopennese are all Atleast 2-4 hrs. drive. We are rethinking our plan to obviously cut out some sights and would like to know which ones others recommend as must see for this region for first trip here. Should we spend 2 nights in Napflio and 2 nights in another area? Thank you for your input.
This itinerary is too ambitious. The locations are too far apart. If you're doing Santorini, then, while we loved Hydra, skip it. I would add Epidavros as a trip from Napflio. I'd suggest 2 nights Napflio and 2 night Kardamilyi.
Thanks for your help.
Agree that trying to see certain things as a daytrip from Nafplio is not feasible. If you want to see Olympia, you'll want a night there or somewhere nearby. It has a very nice museum and the site is full of ruins. It's not as dramatic as Delphi but worth it if you love the Olympic Games or have not been to Delphi.
Monemvasia would be worth a night and fits well your interests.
Mystras is a different kind of Greek ruins: Byzantine rather than Ancient and very dramatic. Plus it has a monastery and several intact Byzantine churches. This can be a few-hour stop on the way to or from Monemvasia.
I too would skip Hydra if you are already seeing an island.
Myceanea and Epidavros are easy stops/trips from Nafplio. Myceanea might be worth a few hours and has a decent museum; Epidavros can be an hour stop on the way to/from Athens.
Drivers in Greece must legally have an International Drivers Permit along with your state issued license.
If you are dead-set on Olympia as devoted classics student, for the artifacts from the temple of Zeus in the Museum, then u need to make that looong drive & stay a night. But if you want a "sacred Games" experience that's less-known , I nominate ANCIENT NEMEA right near Nafplio! Look at this map http://greeklandscapes.com/images/maps/greecemap/gr_tc_01.jpg (my fave online map has disappeared, so you'll have to double-zoom this one). Find where a Red Road to Nafplio goes South from the Big Green Highway 65. Going NORTH at same point, just about 5 miles is Ancient NEMEA. At 1 time it was "runner-up" to Olympia, then forgotten & buried until after WW II. Fortunately, UC Berkeley took on excavation restoration & its Wonderful. Temple columns, fascinating ruins, a small lovely museum AND a splendid stadium w. restored athlete tunnel, race start-line. You can enjoy it all in an hour either en route to Nafplio or on return trip.
In addition to x'ing Olympia, I agree you have far too much on your plate for only 4 days, you need to x Hydra (over-promoted for its donkeys & harbor). Also Kardamyli... maybe even save Monemvasia/Mystras for trip #2. Let's look at a realistic day-by-day itinerary.
DAY #1 (start in AM) - drive from ATH (if u get car at airport, u can avoid city traffic) -- in 2 hours you'll be over the Corinth Canal. Stop for an hour at NEMEA, lunch in Nemea village & Visit a winery right on main street & pick up some wonderful Nemean red!.
Arr Nafplio afternoon, check in , browse in old town, sunset at seafront cafes, leisurely dinner & evening on square.
DAY #2 - AM early, drive up back of Palamidi for stunning view, (1 hr) back to explore Old Town, FAB small Arch. Museum (1 hour), up to top of Acronafplia, then -- off to a beach! Either walk around peninsula to town's pebbly beach or drive 15 mins to Sandy Tolo, or charming cove-beach Kastraki ... latter has a small taverna for changing, and lunch, or dinner at sunset.
DAY #3 - You can either go to Mycenae or Tiryns (it's much nearer, gives u idea of Iliad-era fortress, without all the crowds; your choice) and then find another beach (my choice) OR skip the above & instead drive to Mystra, then to Monemvasia and stay overnight at latter (Note that would make for much longer drive=time on day 4
DAY #4 - if Still in Nafplio, leisurely breakfast, then drive lovely road to Epidaurus. Skip most of the jumble ruins, just thrill to the incomparable 15,000 seat amphitheatre (best acoustics in world) ... then head back toward mainland on coastal Road. When u get to Isthmia, hop off so you can get a good look at the Corinth Canal (sooo deep soo skinny), there are cafes with view of the "sinking bridge" where u can lunch). Then back on road to get to Athens area late in day.
... Maybe I'm wrong and there's anoher day in there that I haven't counted; it would give you more options.
Art and monasteries? The church and monastery of Osios Lukas (Hosios Loukas) should be on your itinerary. The interior of the 11th c. church is very beautiful, with lovely mosaics. As I recall, it's on the road to Delphi from Athens.
Thank you everyone for your suggestions, especially about NEMEA which we did not know about. What about Kardamyli? Is that worth visiting along with Mystras or is Monemvasia better to pair with Mystras? Thanks again.
PHyllis if u look at a map, you'll see Mystras is just above Monemvasia on the 2nd "finger" of the Peloponnese "hand." Kardymyl is waay further on. Above, Doug correctly calls it a good few-hour stop on way to Monemvasia. We are trying keep your your itinerary do-able so you will not be rushed or exhausted, and will have time to enjoy it. Kardymyl works more someone who's taking 10 days or so to go all around the Peloponnese.
Just to clarify, Osios Lukas is near Delphi, not near the Peloponnese. If you were going to Delphi, that would be a worthwhile stop. But it is not feasible otherwise. Mystras would be the best place to see Byzantine art and churches on the Peloponnese.
Thanks once again for your input.
I am late on this thread but we have done essentially what you are planning. If I might make a suggestion after Nafplio drive to Sparti to see Mystras. This stop will take at least 4 hours. Then continue on to Monemvassia and spend the night in one of the period rooms inside the city walls. You could take the coastal route back to Nafplio for your last night there so you are just a short two hour drive back to Athens (Airport) if this is the end of your trip. You can do Nemia on the way to Nafplio or you can visit it on the return. It really only takes an hour but it indeed is a very nice site.
Here are images of this area.
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/
Thanks for these beautiful photos!