So my boyfriend and I are thinking about 10 days in Greece at the beginning of May 2013. We are thinking about this.... Fly into Athens Drive up to mt Olympus spend nt at base and hike during the day Day trip to Meteora and Delphi Day trip to Olympia and day around Kalamata/Monevasia 1/2 day Athens 4-5 nts in islands:Mykonos/Paros/Santorini Thoughts? Would change anything? Is it easy to drive around Greece?
Well with only 4 or 5 days for the islands you are going to have to pick one , maybe two islands. It takes time to travel between them, ferry between Mykonos and Paros isn't too bad, but from either to Santorini is a bit of long haul. I have been to Mykonos and Paros, enjoyed them , but I would just fly from Athens to Santorini with your schedule( and of course having not been to Santorini it looks amazing and four days there would be lovely in my opinion), especially after alot of the busyiness of the beginning of your trip!
Your idea of tghree islands in four to five nights seems too much unless you enjoy spending a few hours almost every day on a ferry and then racing around to see a few sights. Last year we spent four nights on Santorini and it felt about right. There are ruins, beaches, and of course the beautiful scenery. We did not go to the volcano which might interest you. Agree that after your hectic first few days you might want to fly to Santorini and actually enjoy being there.
When you're visiting a Greek island, it's always advisable to arrive back in Athens at least a day before your flight home. So rather than doing your island visit(s) last, I'd do them first. You could fly into Athens and directly to an island (probably Santorini). Spend at least 3 nights there, then ferry back to Athens (stopping at Paros for 2 nights if you'd like). Once you've arrived in Athens, you'll be rested and ready to explore the mainland.
First of all, trying to fit 3 islands into 4-5 nights won't allow you to do anything but barely scratch the surface of them. With so few nights stick with one island, two at most. Fly straight out to save time, 30 minutes by air vs. 8 hours by ferry. Check Aegean Airlines for 'saver' fares. For me the most important reason for heading straight for an island and saving the mainland for the end is to avoid the stress of scrambling back to Athens at the last minute for your flight home. If there's a delay or cancellation you'll be SOL. Driving is easy, road signs are in Greek and phonetic English. Be sure to go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test or membership required. Take 2 passport photos with you to save some money.
Use the Matt Barrett website. Rick highly recommends him and I used his site to help plan my trip to Greece a few years ago. Regarding your suggested route, that is very similar to what we did and it worked out fine for us. The only difference is we were on a cruise so we did not have to worry about the ferry system which I understand can be very confusing and frustrating.