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Greece 3-weeks in spring trip plan

Thanks for all the tips from regular posters to other queries. Having read those, I have additional questions. My husband and I are in our early 60s, active (he's a VERY active cyclist, runner, hiker, etc, so I often "hole up" in a village while he treks), avid travelers. Neither of us has ever been to Greece. We are planning a trip of just under 3 weeks for spring 2010. We prefer staying in one or two places and relaxing, soaking up atmosphere, and doing day trips rather than non-stop touring. However, that said, we frequently get enticed into over-planning because of all the wonderful sites we could visit! Our intent for Greece is to spend some time in Athens, then go to one (at most, two) islands. Having read your posts, I realize we should allow a few days back in Athens at the end of the trip, to ensure catching our plane, so we would probably divide up the Athens time. Náfplio also sounds very interesting, almost a "don't miss," so we are considering adding that. From your tips, the Hotel Phaedra sounds great.

We were considering three different islands: Náxos, Folégandhros, or Santoríni. My dream would be a quiet fishing village with wonderful beaches and outstanding little cafés and restaurants, friendly people, picturesque scenery. We are not into nightlife. From what I've read, I'm leaning toward Náxos, with maybe a shorter trip to one of the others.

Okay, for my questions:
If we decide to go to Náfplio, how much time do we need to allow so it won't be rushed?

Given what I've said, does Náxos sound like a good choice for us? Any specific recommendations for accommodations there?

We were originally planning this trip to start the last week of April and go till mid-May. Then I read in some travel guides that it doesn't really get warm till May, even then cool for swimming, which I want to do! We could, w/ some inconvenience, push the trip back 1-3 weeks at most. Thoughts?

Posted by
1260 posts

Sue Ann

Nafplio is a great choice. It has an extensive Venetian castle, and a beautiful walkway round the headland.

You can also visit Mycenae, Epidavrus and Tiryns by local transport. Some details here

If you wanted to do all three of these in a fairly relaxed way then I think a minimum of four nights. You could easily spend longer in Nafplio, just wandering about. Conversely it is possible to do it all a lot quicker, especially if you hire a car, but you said you wanted to take your time.

The sea is certainly cooler for swimming in May than September - it hasn't had the summer to warm up - but Nafplio is very sheltered and is certainly swimmable in May. Very keen (well, mad, to be frank!) people swim there at Christmas!

I don't know if you know this site, which gives a lot of detail about walking on various islands and so might be of interest to your husband

We particularly like Chora on Andros which has great walking, a couple of very quiet beaches, and a lovely old town (although no fishing boats.)

Have a great trip

Posted by
31325 posts

Sue Ann,

I'm also considering heading to Greece this year, beginning with Rick's "Greece & the Peloponese" tour.

One website that I've found really helpful is This One. I also plan on visiting a few of the islands, but haven't decided which ones yet. I'm still doing "number crunching" and planning on transportation links. However, Santorini is definite stop as I'm a Photographer and can't miss the sights there!

I'm close to your age, so looking at similar places and "travel experience" (although I travel solo these days).

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
2630 posts

Sue Ann, 3 weeks is GREAT! Thoughts:

  1. TIMING -- Do inconvenience, it is VITAL to push your tripinto May. Believe me! 7 of my 8 trips have been Mid-may to early June; weather is IDEAL You NW types will be able to swim, even if water's a bit "brisk." U sound like early-retirees so can fly midweek. We arrive Wed May 12; I advise u to go then or a bit later. Be AWARE. big 3-day weekend, Pentecost, is May 22-23-24 & traffic & transport will Jam-up on fri 5/22 & Mon 5/24) ... it's like Mem day or 4th of J weekend. Athenians flock to islands and nearby beaches. Lodgings will be sufficient but heavily booked. You solve it by being in place by Friday 5/22, and staying until Tues 5/25 ... & book lodgings far ahead. We plan to be in Naxos for that period.

  2. NAFPLIO -- Why not land May 10-12, rent car & drive straight to Nafplio? Great way to relax, get used to Greece. My fave hotel is Leto, high above town, Pension Eleni next door good too. Don't miss FREE Audio walking guide; get at Cultural Info Ctr, next to Fire Sta. 3 days will be plenty; a day for town, a day for Mycenae-Tiryns-Epidaurus, a day for swim at Asine or Tolo.

  3. ISLES - Santo for 36 hours then Naxos, Folegandros too quiet off-season. U can do a day-excursion to Delos/Mykonos & to Small Cyclades. Naxos ideal for hikers. BTW, about your dream "quiet fishing village, wonderful beaches, outstanding little cafés and restaurants, friendly people, picturesque scenery." GET REAL. No place with all that would ever STAY small And with no visitors, how would it have "outstanding restaurants"?? Naxos is closest to your ideal... large local pop., not tourist dependent, plenty of villages in interior to explore. Check this slideshow:

  4. ATHENS - Do it last; allow 3 days. Hotel Phaedra(21 rooms) alas fully booked May 12 on by 2 college groups. HOwever, we have booked Hotel Metropolis, same rate sked; check website & TA Reviews (good reviews).

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks to all for your suggestions. We will push the trip back. Alas, we are NOT retirees, but we do have some flexibility in our jobs (both of us have very wonderful & challenging jobs, which is part of the necessity for some real "down time" instead of fast-paced touring--probably also just our preference). If we can't push the timing back as much as is preferable, I'm wondering about going to Athens first, leaving Náfplio for later, so the water will be warmer. It sounds like both Andros & Náxos have good hiking options. How do beaches & swimming on Andros, Náxos, & in Náfplio compare, in terms of good beaches and warm enough to swim in May? Of course, Janet, I get that my ideal place would already be swamped with other eager tourists!! Still, one can dream. :-) I'm wondering if Andros AND Náxos would be a good combination . . . Everyone keeps pushing Santoríni, but I am waiting to be convinced it's for us. (We assume we can come back and see different or more of the same another trip!) What do you like most about Santoríni?

Posted by
1816 posts

Regarding the suggestion to drive directly to Nafplio after flying into Athens -- I can't imagine doing that after a long flight from Seattle. What we've found an ideal entry to Greece is to fly from Athens directly to an island.

We've been to both Santorini (spectacular but expensive) and Naxos, but if you're still open to island suggestions, I highly recommend the island of Lesvos,a fairly large island near Turkey. On our first trip (3 weeks) we spent time at 4 different resorts on the islands, ending up at our favorite, Votsala Hotel north of Mytilene. Our last trip (10 days) we just stayed at Votsala. It's really fun and very inexpensive. There are free water toys (kayaks, paddle boats). The owner leads optional walking trips and excursions, so you get to know other guests. You can take a day trip to Pergamon in Turkey. Good food at little tavernas about a block down the beach. Check out the Votsala website or go to Trip Advisor and look at reviews. You could spend 10-14 days at Votsala, then fly back to Athens and go to Nafplio for four days, then back to Athens for a couple of days before your flight home.

Sounds like fun to me!

Posted by
33 posts

We now have a tentative itinerary. I have had a lot of help from Janet--Thanks, Janet! I also appreciate the suggestions others have made.

Our plans now are to go in mid-May (May 11-30):
Tues: Arrive Athens Airport and stay in Athens for 4 days, including museums, Acropolis, etc.
Sun: Ferry to Andhros or Sifnos or Amorgos (undecided which one)and spend 3 full days.
Thurs: Ferry to Naxos spending 4 days.

Tues: Ferry or flight to Athens; continue to Nafplio [if flight, take bus X93 to Intercity KTEL bus station for bus to Nafplio; if ferry, take suburban train to Corinth & bus from Corinth to Nafplio] Spend 3+ days in Nafplio
Sat: Bus to airport; stay in hotel near airport
Sun: Flight from Athens to Seattle

Questions: How does the timing sound?
It sounds like we can't get accurate ferry schedules until much closer to May, so our island choices might be somewhat dependent on the frequency of connections at that time of year. Any tips?

Posted by
2630 posts

Did you try posting your itinerary, with dates, on Trip Advisor? More people there who can respond with personal knowledge of Andros Milos Sifnos etc

Posted by
33 posts

Yes, Janet, I have posted a query on Trip Advisor also, so I hope to hear from lots of different people with their assessments of the island choices. I know yours! :-) Thanks!