hi, i just got back from traveling in the UK/Ireland for 2 weeks and am starting to plan for my next trip!! i am thinking of going to Italy and Greece, my question is, tour group or no tour group. when i was in the uk and ireland i was mostly on my own. i did 2 short tours (a 1 day tour and a 3 day tour). can i do both countries in the span of 2-3 weeks?? what are the must sees for a history geek like me. i am thinking either early spring (march/april) or fall (september/october) if only because getting time off in the summer can be difficult. i am not planning on traveling again for 2-3 years so i can save up. what guide books should i get? any help would be awesome. thanks!
March and April are too early weather-wise for Greece if you want to enjoy the islands. September would be much better. The water will be warm and the huge summer crowds will have left. Greece is a great country for DIY travellers. I think tours are too limiting. Rough Guide, Let's Go and Lonely Planet are excellent guidebooks for younger travellers. Fodor's and Frommer's are excellent for general information. T. Cook's "Greek Island Hopping" is just about the best island reference guidebook. 2-3 weeks just isn't enough time for 2 countries if you want to relax and get into the rhythm of life there. If that's all the time you have stick with one country.
Stephanie, if you're an ancient history geek, 2 weeks is not enough time for both Greece and Italy. If possible, save up time as well as money, even for one country. That being said, where you go depends on your specific interests: history in Italy goes from prehistoric to post-modern; Greece's main periods are ancient and Byzantine. I find it easier to move around quickly in Italy than in Greece. As for timing, September/October would be better than early spring (rainy and cold in Italy). Post again with more info on your interests, and if you decide on Italy, post in the "To the Boot" forum.
you may want to read about both countries before you start planning. 2-3 weeks for italy along is good, but probably not with greece. you may come back and wish you had another 2 weeks - there is too much to see in those countries.
I agree that 2-3 weeks would fill one or the other, not both. But you could probably squeeze in Athens only onto a 3 week trip to Italy. See if you could get an open jaw flight to avoid backtracking. Even 3-4 days in Athens would get you all the ancient sites/museums it has to offer and a daytrip up to Delphi (lots of bus tours for that). Come back later for the islands or other parts. Italy for 2-3 weeks and your love of history should include Rome, Florence, Siena and Pompeii. Plus some daytrips around Rome. With more time you could spread out some from that, but the transpotation costs would be lower. I vote for early fall. The weather for both months there is delightful.
Stephanie, As you're a self-professed "history geek", my suggestion would be to consider tours of either area (perhaps in different years). I usually combine a RS tour along with some travel on my own, and I find that I learn far more of the history while on tours (sometimes almost to the point of "information overload"). I was in Greece a few years ago, took the Athens & Pelopponese tour and then visited a couple of the Islands on my own after the tour. I thought it was an excellent tour and would highly recommend it. I've also taken a couple of tours in Italy, including Sicily in September of this year. Those were also outstanding! Regarding Guidebooks, check your local Library or book stores for Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, Let's Go or Rough Guides. RS offers most Guidebooks in E-book format, if you have an iPad, Kindle or other reader. With the E-books, be sure to check which version you're getting, as newer versions are not released as quickly as the print books. Good luck with your planning!
1) 2-3 weeks is barely enough for one country, depending on what you want to see.
We have been to Italy twice, both times in early spring. It was cool to warm weather and mostly pleasant. We were there for 17 days and then 19 days and went to different cities each time with the exception of repeating Rome for a few days. We just returned from 28 days in Greece, visiting some islands and driving through the Pelopponese for 13 days and ending with 3 days in Athens. We really could have used a few more days. Agree that you should research both countries and decide what you want to see and do in each, then pick one and visit the other another time. 2) We have never used a tour group. After researching as above, it's easy to research a little more to make your own arrangements so you're on your own schedule and free to add or subtract as you choose. 3) In addition to the guide books mentioned, you could check this site for the tours which might give you a good starting point.
thank you for all the feedback. i think i will jsut to itialy for this one. 3 weeks is as much is i will be able to take off. i work full time at a hospital it is more what my department can handle over what my PTO allows. i will point any additional questions to 'the boot' section.