2 weeks in May: Greece? Greece+Turkey? Croatia?

I'm starting to think about a short trip next spring. When we go to Europe we usually try to go for 3-4 weeks, but that's not in the cards this time. We think the best we'll be able to manage is 2 weeks. It'll probably be the last 2 weeks in May. I assume the weather is generally nice at that time of year, and it's before the worst of the crowds start. We don't like crowds. Prefer to be away from cruise ship ports. Not big on wild partying and nightlife. Like quiet places, ancient ruins, all the usual stuff

We haven't been to that end of Europe before, but loved Italy (heh, well who doesn't?) and other Mediterranean areas.

I was thinking maybe Greece (just a day for Athens, maybe another day for the Pelopenicantspellthatdamn Peninsula, then off to the Greek Islands). But Turkey is so close....and I'd be tempted to try and do some Turkey (Can't miss Ephesis and then Istanbul too), but I worry that with 2 weeks that might be unrealistic. Then again, Croatia and Slovenia sound lovely ("like Italy 20 years ago") and may be more realistic for just 2 weeks.

Ack. I've never hard such a hard time deciding on a trip.

Thoughts?

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
433 posts

David -- please be realistic. Do Greece OR turkey. Turkey looks "so close" but in USA terms -- y ou know, big highways, fast cars, plenty of planes. In Greece it's ferries. It only works if you have Flying Carpet or can Walk on Water. That hasn't happened in the Med for 2000 years or so he he.

Just a day for Athens! For the place where Western Civ was born! Sounds like brainwashing by Rick S the noted Athens-hater. Then, 1 Day for Peloponnese! Then the Islands (probably you, like most USA newbies, are hypnotized by the 2 most over-promoted islands in the world, Santorini & Mykonos, both of which have lost almost all "greekness").

Whoa. Stop. Do you want to experience GREECE as IT was, 20 years ago?... or at least, not Santo-Myko-Cruise Hell. Proposal: on arrival day, fly to Milos (3 days) - Sifnos (3 days) - Santorini (2 days MAX!) then o'nite ferry to Athens(3 days) + a 2-day CHAT (good!) tour to Nafplio & the Pelops ancient sites (Mycenae & Epidaurus)... back to Athens for 1 night before flying home. For more relaxing, do just Milos OR Sifnos, for 5 days or so. Bliss.

But FIRST, get a Good guidebook (Browse Barnes/Noble or use Library -- older editions OK)!! Trying to get all info on internet is like trying to drink from a fire hose. My recommends: ROUGH GUIDE/Greece and EYEWITNESS: Greek Islands. Latter is great visual overview, former is CANDID w. details. Also check this good website for Isles: candid, visual, well-organized (it's by a young Greek schoolmaster who loves travel & fun) http://www.greek-islands.us/

Scope out an itinerary on a calendar. Realize that each island-hop "eats up" half a day. Realize that late May's lovely (my fave time) but ferries are less frequent then. Go and "lurk" on Trip Advisor Greece Forum (More experts, fewer Newbies than here). Decide on priorities. THEN ask specific questions.

My advice would be exactly the same, for Turkey or the Balkans. Homework!

Posted by Carolyn
Lehi, UT
126 posts

did two weeks greek islands and two weeks slo/cro. loved them both. wouldnt try to add more in either case. unless you do symi/rhodes/turkey? havent been to turkey but wouldnt plan to spend less than two full weeks there myself. oh the decisions!

Posted by Paul
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada
54 posts

Two weeks in Slovenia & Croatia would be excellent with enough time to explore the Julian Alps (Bled, Kranjska Gora, Lake Bohinj) and caves in the north (Postonja and Skocjan) and some key sites along the coast (Plitvice, Trogir, Krka, Dubrovinik). The weather would be warm but not hot and there certainly would not be crowds. You can plan a very manageable itinerary if you fly into Lubljana, rent a car to get down to Dubrovnik and then fly back from there.

This summer my wife and kids and I will explore Greece and Turkey but will have 4 weeks to do it. With just two, I would suggest 2 days in Athens, 3 around Nafplion, 3 on one of the Greek Islands, 3 around Selcuk near Ephesus and the remainder in Istanbul. This requires only 5 accommodation reservations, two ferry rides (one over night), and a flight from Kusadasi to Itsanbul. It gives just a taste but should be manageable.

Once we get back in August, I can certainly give you a better comparison between the two options.

Posted by Sharon
Atlanta
2664 posts

Hi David,

You can't make a bad choice with any of the options you're considering!

For Turkey, with 2 weeks you could consider Istanbul, (6 nights), Ephesus, (sleep in Selcuk-2 nights) and Cappadocia (4 nights.) Fly between Istanbul and Izmir and then maybe Izmir and Nevsehir, Turkey for visiting Cappadocia.

When we went to Croatia and Slovenia we started in Budapest (4 nights), trained to Ljubljana (4 nights--daytrip to Lake Bled), then flew from Zagreb to Dubrovnik (4 nights.)

Greece is next on our list but I'm sure it would be great as well!!

Enjoy considering the options and planning the trip! This is the fun stage!

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
916 posts

Whether you pick Greece or Croatia, you won't be able to see everything in 2 weeks, and you'll want to return. So you need to do your research and just pick whatever seems most appealing for your first trip. Here are two more options:

If you pick Greece, I'd definitely fly into Athens and then directly to an island. Since you're interested in Turkey, you could fly to Samos, spend a couple of days there, taking a day-trip to Ephesus, then island-hop by ferry down the Dodecanese to a couple of little islands (Patmos? Lipsi? Leros?), spending a couple of days on each, then fly back to Athens for a couple days, then home. You'd see the "real" Greece and definitely no crowds. It'll be very inexpensive and beautiful and relaxing. Save the Pelopeneswhatever peninsula for your next trip.

If you pick Croatia, you might fly into Dubrovnik, spend maybe 4 days there including a day trip to Montenegro, then work your way north by car or bus, with a stop on Korcula island for a few days, Plitvice, and fly home from Split.

Everyone has their personal travel style, so if you like to "hit and run", spending one or two nights in each place, you could fit a lot more into either of these itineraries. We like to travel slower, and really soak in the atmosphere, so we stay at least 3 nights in each place.

If you love Italy, you will LOVE Greece & Croatia.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.

Our decision has now become even more complicated: yesterday we went to Rick's free travel class (at his Edmonds HQ - we're local) on Slovenia & Croatia. Great presentation, it looks v-e-r-y tempting. We bought the 2010 Croatia & Slovenia book, which is not exactly a commitment, but is an indication that we're very tempted.

I'm looking at a hypothetical itinerary that roughly mirrors the suggested one in the book and done on Rick's "Best of the Adriatic in 14 Days" tour, with a few tweaks to adjust things to our tastes.

Then again, Greece still sounds really good. So does Turkey. Dang.

The good news is that we're in no great hurry - this trip will be either May or September of 2011, so we've still got time to figure it out.

Thanks again for the input. I'll be back with more specific questions when things become a little more clear.