Hey y'all! I'm a college student planning a trip to Greece and possibly Turkey in April. As I look at Rick's suggested route in the Europe book a lot of the trip seems to depend on having a car. I'm not old enough to rent and I'm traveling on a budget! Anyway, has anyone done a trip to Greece/Turkey without a car and what did you see/how did you get there?
Shannon I can't speak about Turkey but we travel around Greece all the time without a car. There is a good bus service across the country, although very little in the way of trains. Also, of course, a large part of the country is made up of islands and so you can travel by ferry. Internal flights are also relatively cheap if you want to get say from Athens to Crete. The downside of not having a car is that getting everywhere takes longer, but the benefit is that you are much more immersed in the culture. To give an idea of bus frequency this is the bus timetable for buses from Athens onto the Peloponnese http://www.hri.org/infoxenios/GNTO/ktel.html This is a good site for checking ferry times http://www.gtp.gr/ If you come back and give us more idea of your interests - sites? partying? beaches? - then I'm sure people will have ideas about good places to go. Have a great trip. Alan PS Easter Sunday in Greece is on 20th April next year. Public transport will be very crowded around that time.
Alan, In the 20 minutes since posting this I've come up with Athens/Santorini/Mykonos/Paros/Hydra/maybe a short trip to Mycenae. I know doing all of those aren't practical--I think I'll be able to leave my University in Brussels the 11th (maybe the 12th) and I'll probably fly and return the 27th, so it's just over two weeks. I think I'll avoid Crete because it sounds like a couple of days there just doesn't do it justice! As far as specific things I love seeing historical sites, but it's also spring break so I would love to also hang on the beach, meet other young people, etc! Thanks for the heads up on Easter--I totally forgot about that! I guess my question to others then would be: is it worth going to Turkey for part of the trip, or is that something that I should save for another trip when I've got more time? Thanks for your help, Alan! Shannon
Turkey has a comprehensive and inexpensive bus network - you can get to most places on the bus. Pick up a Lonely Planet Turkey book for your planning. By the way, Turkish Air offers very inexpensive flights to Istanbul. If they don't fly out of ABQ, check out the closest location. It's easy to island hop from Bodrum, Turkey to Rhodes or Cos islands in Greece. Also really easy to fly from Istanbul to Athens.
Most of what you have listed are islands, so having a car is not necessary. I'd trim down the islands, for example Hydra isn't that necessary if you are going to the others. I do highly recommend Delphi, especially since you like historical sights. It is an easy 2 hour bus trip from Athens and there are many tour companies that make the trek from Athens. Myceanae is not easy to get to without a car or a tour group. Istanbul would be an easy destination in Turkey if you are already in Greece. It will come down to how much time you have.
Hi Shannon! From the "y'all" I'm guessing you're from Southern US and you probably think Greece/Turkey are like Florida in April. No-no-no. More like Virginia Beach. It is TOTALLY too cold to swim! I'm used to swimming in New England and even I cannot swim in Greek isles until at least May 10. There will be sunny days (and showery days), and airtemp will get up in the 70s, so you can catch some rays on a beach, but no one ventures into the sea. (PS: Pools are not heated, either). I travel in greece annually on a budget & mostly without a car (tho sometimes rent one for a Day). Your time-frame and student budget during Greek Easter, (which is a BIGGER deal than Xmas in the US!) It is a challenge. Will you be traveling with a friend u can share room costs with?? More details, please! My advice: Skip Hydra. Land in Airport 4/11 or 4/12, immediately catch "bargain flight" to Santorini on Aegean (sign up for promotional fare alerts!) the earliest in AM (5:30) may be only 50-60€. Stay 2 days. Then ferry to Paros or Naxos for 3 days, then back to mainland Good Friday (4/18). If u want to be in Athens for Easter u may have to book cheap hotel MONTHs ahead. . Then U can do KTEL (intercity) bus to Nafplio in Peloponnese. Local busses can get u to many ancient sites there for 3-4 days.. Important consideration: Have definite strategy for April 25-26-27-28, when many things/sights are closed. Some people book into hotels that have Easter festivities for guests ... but not student budget places. If u stay at Athens Backpackers, u could link up w. fellow students to do stuff. For Good Hostels In Santo & Athens, book NOW.
Thinking again about your challenge (student budget/Easter/no car), perhaps you SHOULD think about combining Greece & Turkey, because Turkey doesn't stop everything for a week to eat lamb and dance around. How about this: Same start (fly to Santorini on bargain flight, then Naxos or Paros for 3-4 days). Then find a way to get over to the Island of Samos, right off the Turkey Coast (you may have to go to Syros or Mykonos & pick up a midnight ferry). From Samos, there are daily 45-minute ferries http://www.feribot.net/index.php to the famous EPHESUS site on the Turkey coast (of course it's a Greek ruin, most of the great Ancient sites in Turkey were built by Greeks). You can get busses from anywhere on the Greek coast to Istanbul... Here's a good website for planning Turkey travel via public transit: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/trans/index.html
... For ancient sites in Greece Turkey, the best site maps are on PlanetWare. If you want info on cheap lodgings and sightseeing, post more info, maybe on a new thread whether u have a travel-mate, what your daily budget is for lodgings etc.
Tourists have been exploring Greece and Turkey for decades without the need for a car. These countries have excellent bus systems, and for island hopping in Greece there are lots of ferry options, although in April they won't be quite as plentiful as later in the season. Keep in mind that in 2014 Greek Easter is April 20, and travel from April 18 to April 22 will be very busy. Be sure to have hotel, bus, ferry and plane reservations confirmed if you plan to be in Greece over that long weekend.
Hi Shannon, I am usually someone who has a car in most countries, but decided not to rent one for a trip a few years ago to Turkey/Greece and it worked out great. What we did is fly into Istanbul, stayed 6 days without a car, took a boat cruise, but mostly just hung out in Istanbul. From there we flew to Athens, spent a few days, took a bus to Nafplio (loved it), flew back to Istanbul.. one more day there and flew back to US. We did not do any islands, but in April I am not sure I would anyway.