My husband and I are planning to visit Greece the first week in December. We know its not the ideal time as far as weather, but it is how our schedule works out. Does anyone have any tips/advice for traveling Greece in the off-season? Will we able to get out and explore? Is it worth making the trip to Hydra at that time of year? Our proposed itinerary includes 3 nights in Nafplio, 1 night near Olympia, 2 night in Hydra, and 2 nights in Athens. Any advice is appreciated! Thanks!
Stacy We're always in Greece in December - we'll be in Athens and Nafplio from mid December this year - and really like it as a time of year to be there. As you say the drawback is that the weather is less reliable. It would be unusual if it was very cold in early December but it could be wet. Generally though you'll probably get at least a couple of days when it is sunny and warm enough to eat lunch out. There shouldn't be a problem getting to Hydra although, if it's windy, you might find the hydrofoils aren't running and you need to get a ferry (which takes longer.) One thought about your itinerary. How set are you on Olympia? It's a fair distance from Nafplio and Athens so unless you are very keen it might not be worth it for one night. Have a great trip. Alan
I've been in all of those places (except Hydra) in early December. You'll have most places and sites to yourselves, which is really nice. The weather was great when I was there, but there were a few nights that got pretty chilly and there was some rain. Olympia is very doable in that timeframe. One night is all that is needed. The site and museum can be fully explored in a half day or 6 hours. It's a few hour drive to/from Nafplio. The scenic mountain route is longer but worth it. Don't miss having dinner at the Bacchus Tavern just outside Olympia - one of the best! Keep in mind that to rent a car and drive in Greece you must have an International Drivers Permit.
The mainland and saronic gulf islands will be much less tourity, but still relatively active and normal life. I would be concerned if you wanted to do the "islands", mainly because services dwindle during the winter months.
Thank you for your responses! It is reassuring to know the weather shouldn't be too bad. Sounds similar to our fall weather which I love! We are still trying to finalize our itinerary and decide if Olympia is worth the trip. I LOVE the modern-day Olympics so I am more motivated to go than my husband. It sounds like the scenic drive there might make it more worth it. It would just be hard for me to go all the way to Greece and not visit Olympia. We may just make Nafplio our home base and decide when we get there whether we want to make the trip out there.
Rick Steves describes the Greek mainland as rusty and ramshackle, and says Athens is not as beautiful as other European capitals. Greece is all about the islands, beach and sun. Makes me wonder why you're going there in December. The ferries don't operate in winter.
I can't agree with Sean that 'Greece is all about the islands, beach and sun.' It's also the starting point of a lot of our history, with some amazing sites a lot of which are in spectacular settings. It's also about the people who are incredibly welcoming and hospitable. It's obviously a matter of opinion but I'm happy to visit at any time of the year. Alan PS The ferries do run throughout the year although they can be a little less regular to small islands and are more prone to be delayed by weather.
I can see where that opinion arises when you only rely on guidebooks and internet information instead of actual experience. If the ferries don't run, how do the locals get around? Swim?
There are just soooo many things wrong about that earlier post. While Athens is not as beautiful as city as Paris or Vienna, for example, the Acropolis IS an amazing site for anyone interested in world culture, history and architecture. And the Plaka district is very charming in the off season when it is not horrifically hot and packed with tourists. The Greek countryside is incredibly scenic and filled with charming small towns and villages. Nafplio is a wonderfully charming town and you'll do well to make it your base. Depending on how much time you have there, it makes for a great base to explore the rest of the Peloponnese. I'm sure the islands are delightful and hope myself to visit someday. But Greece is one of my favorite destinations in Europe, and that is just visiting the mainland.