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Greece and Turkey

I'm considering signing up for the 13 days in Turkey tour and then going on to Greece afterward, though the most time we can likely be away is 3 weeks. In the Back Door to Europe Rick poses the question of To Greece or Not to Greece and states "I question the sanity of investing a lot of effort, money and stress just to spend a couple of days in huge, polluted Athens and take a quick trip to an island - especially given that 500 years before Christ, southern Italy was called "Magna Graecia" (Greater Greece)." I have traveled to southern Italy before.

How about 1 week in Greece? I'm not really all that interested in going to some touristy, "party" island but am very much interested in historic sites. I would consider going to a more off the path island if one merits a visit. Besides Athens, where else should I consider putting on the itinerary?

Posted by
2701 posts

When you're trying to make an informed decision on where to go, giving too much weight to the advice of someone who clearly doesn't favor Greece is counter-intuitive. What would help is to know where your Turkey tour ends up. That will go a long way to determine which island to visit. And if you can arrange so that you leave for home from Athens you can perhaps go to a Greek island with an airport so you can fly to Athens to save time instead of using the ferry system.

Santorini may be a party island, but along with the spectacular clifftop views of the caldera it also has an amazing archaeological site, Akrotiri, and well as the ruins of Ancient Thera on the mountain above Kamari Beach. Do a google search to see.

Yes, Mykonos is also a party island, but the World Heritage island of Delos, birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, is just a short daytrip excursion boat ride away.

Posted by
1015 posts

If you do wish to visit Delos you can also get there from Naxos. Naxos has great beaches, a beautiful and interesting old town, a few historic sights, and a great liquor, Kitron. As the previous poster mentioned, it does matter where you're coming from as to which Greek island. If possible, I'd vote for Santorini &/or Naxos, with a visit to Delos.

Posted by
2701 posts

FYI-You can also get to Delos from Paros, and it's a shorter boatride in the open sea than if you were departing from Naxos. If you stay on Paros you can also take a daytrip to Antiparos on the frequent daily local shuttle boat.

Posted by
30010 posts

Matt,

I believe the Turkey in 13 days tour ends in Kusadasi. I'm not sure what transportation links are possible from there to Greece?

One thing you might consider is to travel directly to one of the islands at the end of the tour and spend a few days there. Have a look at Matt Barrett's excellent Greece Travel website to get some idea of which of the islands might appeal to you the most. Although Santorini is somewhat touristy, it's definitely one that I'd recommend, and while there you could visit the historic site of Akrotiri. Santorini is also a good choice as it has an airport, which will make it easy to get back to Athens.

After the island visit, return to Athens and spend the remainder of your time there. The Archeological Museum is certainly worth a visit, along (of course) with the Acropolis, Parthenon, etc. While there you could also take day trips to nearby locations. If you'd rather not spend much time in Athens you might consider staying in Nafplion, which (IMO) is an incredibly beautiful city. It was at one time the capitol of Greece.

There are LOTS of possibilities. You'll have to decide which works best for your situation.

Good luck with your planning and happy travels!

Posted by
2701 posts

If it's true that your tour ends in Kusadasi then you have easy access to Samos, the nearest Greek island. From there you can fly or ferry all the way back to Athens.

Posted by
2149 posts

Just keep in mind that -- if you worship at the shrine of Rick -- he does not think that much of Greece, compared with Turkey, which he loooves. (altho most worthwhile ruins & buildings in Turkey were created BY the Greeks). Remember, his is just one man's opinion. His Guidebook is mainly for Athens (tho his Acropolis & Nat. museum D-I-Y chapter is very useful), and also the Nafplio area on the Pelopponese .. Hydra, the only isle he seems to suggest, has little history; its main virtue is a quickie ferry from Athens. He is not the person to consult for a deeper understanding of Greece. I suggest browsing an easy-to-consult and very pictorial & NONcommercial online guide to the Greek Isles -- http://www.greek-islands.us ... it's by a youngish Greek who loves both beaches AND ruins, museums AND nightlife, landscapes AND food. And (because he's a schoolmaster), it's well-organized, easy to navigate.

Posted by
6 posts

Rick does indeed love Turkey as a destination, but he's hardly alone. Almost everyone I've known who has visited Turkey found it to be an amazing destination.

As for a week in Greece, how does an itinerary that includes Athens, Delphi, Nafplio (and Mycenae), and Santorini sound?

Posted by
2149 posts

Matt -- for a week in Greece, you have suggested an impossibility unless you have a Flying Carpet (and you are not from the Land of Sinbad) or can walk on water, and that, again, has not been done in the Near East for Milennia, if ever. Seriously, you need to drop at least 1, maybe 2 from that list. And that's if your flight back is Day 22.

Option I: Day 14: ferry to Samos, fly to ATH, transfer to flight to Santorini.... a full day IF u are lucky. Day 15-16, Santorini. Day 17 fly to ATH, rent car, drive to Nafplio. Eve 17 Day 18- 19 Nafplio & area. Day 20 return to ATH, aft visit sits Day 21 Continue ATH sightseeing.

Option II Day 14:to ATH airport as above, rent car drive to Delphi. Day 15 AM- Delphi, and PM, drive to Nafplio. Day 16-17-18 Nafplio area. Day 19 AM: return to ATH. Days 20-21. Athens sightseeing.

Posted by
8890 posts

Instead of Greece, how about Bulgaria or Budapest?

In June we are on a return trip to Bulgaria. We will be moving from Sofia east towards the Turkish border and then across to Istanbul. You might think about doing the same thing in reverse. This is a return trip to Bulgaria because the four days we spent there a few years ago just want enough.

After a few days in Istanbul we have a direct flight to Budapest which is less than $300. After a week in Budapest it is home to the states. `

Posted by
30010 posts

Matt,

"As for a week in Greece, how does an itinerary that includes Athens, Delphi, Nafplio (and Mycenae), and Santorini sound?"

That sounds FAR too ambitious and exhausting (IMO). It may be theoretically feasible, but you'll spend much of your time looking through a windshield or other window, rather than actually seeing each place.

Keep in mind that you'll need to allow for transportation times between locations as well. Were you planning to go directly from Kusadasi to Santorini and then finish your trip in Athens and area? I'd have to spend some time working with your Itinerary in order to determine which places might be possible in a one week time frame.

Hopefully Lee or one of the others will have some good suggestions.

Cheers!

Posted by
2525 posts

We took the Turkey tour which ends in Kusadasi. After the tour, it was an easy ferry connection to Samos where we enjoyed a couple of days and then a short flight to Athens to see that city. We liked Greece and had a good time, but loved Turkey and want to see more. Guess we must have consumed the RS's Kool-Aid. Delicious!

Posted by
6 posts

Ken, we may be able to stretch it to 10 days, or drop one (Delphi?)

Posted by
1727 posts

Matt, I would stretch it to 10 days AND drop Delphi. Greece isn't the kind of place you should rush through, checking sights off a list. It's a lifestyle, an experience to be savored. A quick, hectic trip will likely leave you agreeing with Rick!

The more time you can take, the better. So I would recommend Janet's option #1, but stretch everything a bit. Give yourself some time to breathe ... to sit outside a taverna enjoying the scenery and watching the old men flipping their worry beads.

I'm not sure if you can get from Kusadasi to Samos to the Samos airport to Athens to Santorini in one day, but if you could, you'd be exhausted. Maybe just plan to spend your first night on Samos. Samos is easy to drive around, so rent a car for the day. There is at least one car-rental agency right at the port. See if they'll let you drop the car at the airport the next morning and save a long taxi ride. Then spend the day leisurely exploring the island. There are picturesque little hill-top villages, and some ruins (the Ireon, a World Heritage site), and lots of beaches, of course. Spend the night either in the port town of Vathy (if you have to return the car there) or Pythagorio (if they allow you to return the car at the airport).

Next day, get an early flight into Athens and arrive in Santorini at a decent hour.

After three nights on Santorini, fly back to Athens and drive to Nafplio, and spend three nights there. Then back to Athens for your last two nights.

Athens is huge and polluted, but book a hotel with a rooftop bar, and salute the Acropolis at sunset with your final ouzo. If Greece has captured your heart like it did mine, you'll soon be planning another visit.

Posted by
30010 posts

Matt,

Yes, definitely add a few days to provide more time in Greece if possible. My suggestions would be somewhat the same as suggested by Charlene in the last reply. If you're able to commit a full day for a day trip to Delphi, it should be possible. It would probably be easier with a rental car, but note that each driver will require the compulsory I.D.P. for driving in Greece. I'd suggest allowing about two days for Athens, in order to see both the Archeological Museum as well as the other sights.

Do you have access to the RS Athens & Pelopponese Guidebook? That has lots of good information and would be a valuable resource in planning that part of your trip. Your local Library should have a copy.

I've never had the impression that Rick wasn't overly fond of Greece. His Greece tour is awesome, and I'd highly recommend it. I haven't been to Turkey yet, but I have chatted with the Turkey Guides on several occasions and they're an incredibly nice group!

Cheers!

Posted by
1999 posts

Hi, I would suggest you pick up a Greek art history book, pick two of your favorite places, go and just absorb. You could spend weeks in Greece and not get it all. I particularly suggest you notice the landscape behind the magnificent structures to aid your decision on where to visit. Check out the Acropolis before your flight out of Athens. The problem with Greece is there is so much to see that you need to limit yourself. To me, comparing Greece and Turkey is comparing apples and oranges, but that is just me. I studied art history in college many years ago. I like Rick Steves a lot, but I have found his art/history tastes are not mine…as mine might not be yours so get some art history books. Wray