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Thessaloniki Area or Pelion Peninsula

I am having a hard time deciding between these 2 areas, We will be spending a week in Crete before this part of our trip so beaches aren't an absolute must.

One itinerary I am thinking of is driving from Athens to Delphi. Spending a few hours in Delphi then driving towards Thessalonki and staying outside of the city as a home base to explore Thessaloniki and doing a day trip to Meteora. We would love to explore the small towns and villages in the area.

The second option is driving from Athens to Cherofto and exploring this area. We love exploring towns, markets and local food.

Since this will be our first trip to Greece, we are open to anything, with 4 to 5 days before we spend 2 days in Athens. Thanks so much.

Posted by
186 posts

It depends on what you want out of your time--Thes/niki is a big city with museums, sites, restaurants, and shopping. The Pelion peninsula is more scenic with beaches, small villages, and stunning views.

Since this is your first trip to Greece, you might not realize that driving distances are not the same as in flat, multi-lane highway places elsewhere. What appears to be 50 miles on paper could take 2-3 hours because of switchbacks, narrow roads, elevation changes, etc. It will be an exhausting day to drive from Athens to Delphi, sight see, then continue to Thes/niki. Why not stay the day there and take your time, dine, relax, sleep, then drive the next morning? Likewise, doing a day trip to Meteora from Thes/niki would be too much with barely any time to see the stunning sites. It would make more sense to drive to Delphi, sight see and stay the night; continue to Meteora for a full day of sightseeing, stay the night, then end in Thes/niki for a few days to enjoy the fine dining, museums, and other highlights before returning to Athens. This will give you a more relaxed and fulfilling experience of the country.

Posted by
24 posts

We were in Athens, Delphi, Meteora, and Thessaloniki last year. Driving between all of these sites is LONG and sometimes surprisingly boring (e.g., Delphi - Meteora). All of these places are fantastic, and it is a matter of personal taste. But we were blown away by Thessaloniki, which is never mentioned by R. Steves in his book and rarely by most posters on this site, and want to return. You will, however, waste 2 days driving roundtrip from Athens. If you do go, we'd recommend stopping by the tomb of Philip II and the associated museum in Vergina. Also, it's a good idea to stay right in the middle of Thessaloniki (we stayed in the City Hotel - great!), which will enable you to walk to nearly everything of interest. Thessaloniki has a high-tech, youthful vibe, full of packed restaurants and bars, but also has stunning remnants from the Roman and Byzantine eras, and of course from Ottoman Greece. Many are surprisingly well preserved and even operational (e.g., the Byzantine churches, many which date from the 4th century).