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Where to go with a mom who doesn't like to climb a lot of stairs or hills

Hello fellow travelers!
I am taking my mom to Greece next year. We have 9 days on the ground. We have never been to Greece and I'm overwhelmed by the amount of islands we can visit! The fly in the ointment is that my mom is a spritely 75 year old but she does not like walking up hills or climbing a lot of stairs. From my research, it looks like Santorini and Mykonos are out. I was thinking we could visit one seaside town or island that is more level/flat for 3-4 days and then do Athens with maybe a day trip or 2 for the remainder before we fly out. Does anyone have any suggestions? I was looking at Chania and Nafplio. My mom can shop til she drops, so it would be great if the town had a lot of shops. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
3551 posts

Greece may be very difficult choice for your request. Even the hotels on lobby floors have a stair or 2. And lotsa gd restaurants can be on second floor.
U could try to get a book for the disabled to narrow down the choices but i would select another location. Have u thought about portugal? More flat beach towns and lisbon is a joy for shopping with many key flat areas and 2 fantastic museums. The carriage and gulbekian.
Gd luck

Posted by
3035 posts

The main villages of Naxos (Naxos Town) and Paros (Parikia) have plenty of places to stay with no steps or hills to climb. Many other islands do as well.

Posted by
3866 posts

I hate to burst your bubble, but walking in Athens, Chania and Nafplio will be a challenge, and that's in the towns themselves. There are few lodgings with elevators, so if that is a requirement, be very diligent in your search for places to stay.

There may not be hills in some locations, but the slopes will likely seem like hills for someone from the very flat Chicago. There will also be stairs, lots of stairs, as well as cobblestones.

We were in all three cities about a year ago. I have never been anyplace where I have noticed so many obviously tourist women with fresh injuries to limbs as in Greece. All I could think was that they didn't prepare physically for the trip or wear the right kind of shoes for the terrain.

I have bad knees and I get shots before my trips, but I still wear light weight high-topped hiking boots. They were mandatory for Greece. I also go slowly and take one step at a time, both up and down, on doctor's orders.

Whatever ruins you visit will have slopes, stairs and rugged terrain. That was what we found at the Acropolis, Delphi, Mycenae and the Palace of Knossos.

I understand there is an elevator up to the Acropolis. It is not at the main entrance, so you will need to research that. On top, the walking is very challenging. However, the Acropolis Museum is near but not on the Acropolis and is pretty accessible with an elevator up to the lovely cafe.

I don't remember an elevator at the National Archeological Museum (a must-see in my opinion). I do remember lots of stairs, both inside and outside.

Athens is not very flat. Nafplio and Chania are pretty flat close to the water. The cool places to go are often in pedestrian only areas, so forget door-to-door taxis.

I'm not much of a shopper, but I suspect the best real (as opposed to tourist) shopping is in Athens. What I saw in Chania seemed to mostly be tourist kitsch. Nafplio was somewhere in between.

I think that with careful planning and preparation, you and your mom could do this trip. But you really need to research thoroughly so as to avoid any shocks or disappointments.

Posted by
1350 posts


I would have thought Nafplio is a good bet. Most of the main part of the old town is flat and well paved and there are a lot of nice places to sit, and wonderful views.

If your mother can deal with a gentle slope there is also a wonderful walk round the headland, with great sea views. We've written that up here, and there are a couple of photos that will give you some idea of the path.

I don't know what your budget is like but the Ippolitti Hotel is very comfortable and central and has an elevator

We also like the Nafplia which is cheaper but about five minutes walk from the old town

Hope you both have a great trip.


Posted by
308 posts

Thank you, everyone for your suggestions! My mom did fine in Venice with all the bridges and didn't have any trouble with the cobblestone in Rome, so not everything has to be as flat as a board :)))
Alan, thanks for the link. The pictures look gorgeous!!!

Posted by
5893 posts

The central part of Nafplion is flat and quite walkable. We stayed in the Amphitryon Hotel, on the east end of town with excellent views, which has an elevator. There were a few steps up to the front door, and a few along the second-floor hallway, but I think they have other floors without steps.

The elevator up the Acropolis is on the north side, and my understanding is that it's only for people in wheelchairs, less mobile than your mom. My wife has trouble with stairs and we weren't sure she could make it up the steps and ramps, but she did fine. The footing on top is uneven. But of course what's up there is well worth the climb and care you have to take.

The Acropolis Museum would be ADA-compliant if Greece had an ADA (far from it!). There's an elevator in the National Archeological Museum, inconveniently at the back end of the courtyard. If you turn left from the entrance lobby and work your way around the building chronologically, you'll find the elevator outside Gallery 19 on the balcony above the courtyard. The café and restrooms and main gift shop are below, on the opposite end of the courtyard. Not very convenient but at least it's there.

As I recall, you can see the Mycenae citadel without significant steps, though the sloping walkways are steep. I saw a guy in a wheelchair up there, with help from hard-working friends. Epidavros is also pretty accessible, unless you want to climb to the upper tiers of the theater.

Greece will be more of a challenge than some other countries, but you'll see things there that you won't see anywhere else! And they can really use your $$ right now! Have fun!

Posted by
3142 posts

Hurray for you, Jackie! If your mom managed OK in Venice, she can manage in Greece, with some of the precautions already noted. I've visited Greece 12 times since '99, never get enough, tho now past 80 (good health & lucky genes) On 9 trips I've taken along 3-4 "Newbies" so have made multiple trips uphill to landmarks, so can speak from experience (BTW, it helps us if you say exactly when you'll come. Advice differs markedly for trips in May/June (my pref) and July/August (hot-crowded-tiring-costly). And does "9 days on the ground" mean you are coming to Greece from Elsewhere in Europe? That can affect what time of day u arrive at ATH airport, which can also alter our advice.

MY SUPER TIP for ELDERKNEES !! -- Go on Amazon for Earthtrek Folding Hiking Trekking Pole (Shorter version). Just for women! adjustable 38" - 42.5". VERY Lightweight, strong, 5 segments, folds instantly down to under 12", fits into a daybag. $27. I got 2, loooove them, takes ALL the stress out of climbs or pathways, hikes --- these transformed my 2015 trip!

Possible sequence: 3-4 days Argolid, 3 days Athens, 2-3 days an Island.

ARGOLID AREA -- Since there are so many sights (AND fine beaches) in this Pelopponese area so accessible to Athens, I highly recommend spending at least 3-4 days there. For efficient use of your time, I would suggest doing this on arrival. If your plane arrives 9 or 10 in AM, head straight there; if in afternoon, I can suggest a B & B (with pool) by airport where you can get over jet lage and then travel next AM. You'd have the option of Car rental @airport/return it there ... OR take a KTEL intercity bus (2.5 hrs, €13 one-way, reserved comfy seats). Then just rent a car 1-2 days IN Nafplio for sightseeing outside town. Comments:

NAFPLIO Old town -- gorgeous, very flat. If you're renting a car, you can drive it UP a ramp drive to a high parking square where, there's an elevator right in the rock cliff (Yes!!), takes you up to the Acronafplia ramparts. With a car or taxi, can also DRIVE up the back way to PALAMIDI, for its stunning views. DONT MISS the small superb archeological museum, AND Folk Museum. Ippolito a good hotel also look at Omorfo Poli.. For Swims, 10 minute drive or local-bus ride outside town is TOLO resort village, sandy beach, the "feel" of an island. In fact, Nafplio itself, on peninsula, feels like an island.. As for area sights:
• MYCENAE -- Frankly a LOT of steep climbing; has a museum, but its great treasures are in the Nat. Arch. Museum in Athen
• TIRYNS - an easier option 5 mins outside Nafplio another massive Iliad-era fortress, much less climbing, no crowds.
• EPIDAURUS - Just stick to the theatre, not much walking/climbing -- and you'll never see a more thrilling ancient arena!!

ATHENS -- Key tip: stay CLOSE to Acropolis, minimize walking & when u get tired, you'll be close to your hotel. Schedule a NAP! SOUTH side of Acropolis, mostly no-car lanes, with a lovely promenade. 3 good hotels near Acrop entrance, AND Museum: Airotel Parthenon, Hotel Phillipos, Hotel Herodion. Your mom WILL have to climb up to Acrop but it is Do-able.

If an island is a MUST, you can get to a nearby island, Aegina, 1 hour from Piraeus harbor (go weekdays, Athenians crowd it up on weekends). Nice port town, a stunning temple mid-island, a couple of good beaches, w. hotels for a 1 night stay. Others have suggested my favorite Island NAXOS and it's possible, but would require tight scheduling: fly on arrival (1 flight per day), and either fly back or 5+ hour ferry trip. You need to tell us more, so we don't toil away at scenarios that prove inappropriate.