After much tweaking and planning, we've come up with our new itinerary: Arrive in Istanbul (4 nts.), fly to Athens (3 nts), drive to Napflio (3 nts), drive to Delphi (2 nts), fly to Santorini (3 nts), fly back to Athens for 1 nt, return home. Please tell me what you think. Also, what possible daytrips are there from IST? Thanks so much!
OK. My two cents. I would chop a nt off Athens and a day off Santorini and give Napflio 4 nts. We loved Napflio and the Peloponnese. You can day trip to Mycenae, Epidaurus and Corinth from Napflio. Napflio is a very charming place. Totally loved it there. Mary
1) Four nights in Istanbul will give you three and a half days there. That's barely enough time to see the sights and experience Istanbul, IMO. We spent seven nights there and still didn't see everything we would have liked. We did take two 'day trips' while there. We took a ferry ride through the Bosphorus, see RS Istanbul book, got off at the end and saw the Black Sea before returning to Istanbul. Another day we took a ferry to Princes Island. Each of these took about a half day. 2) If we were doing this trip we would probably fly to Santorini before visiting mainland Greece. A beautiful island between two mainland visits seems nice. 3) After arriving in Athens why not get a car and go directly to Nafplio. It's easy to get the car and return it at the airport and take a taxi to your hotel. Then you can spend five nights in Athens at the end of your trip or cut it to four nights and have an extra night for Nafplio. We did as you describe above once and vowed never again. That last day seemed wasted.
I agree, it's better to drive immediately to Nafplio and leave all your time in Athens for the end. Just don't attempt to drive inside of Central Athens.
Thank you for all your replies. Carol--so it'll be Istanbul->fly to ATH to pick up car->drive to Naplfio->drive to Delphi-> fly RT ATH to Santorini-> do ATH as the final leg? Lee-is driving around ATH airport doable or should we let them drop us off outside ATH? (I read in RS book how Swift/Avanti car rental can do just that). Thanks again everyone!
I think driving at ATH isn't any problem. The National Highway is right there so you can bypass Athens, go to Nafplio then return your car and get on the Metro when you're ready to go into Athens.
NC - either the route you suggest or Istanbul, Santorini (unfortunately, probably change planes in Athens), Napflio, Delphi, Athens. Guess you would have to check the plane schedules to see which are the best logistics. Regardless, you're sure to have a great time.
Forgot to mention - we picked up our car in Piraeus as we arrived on the mainland from Hydra but we returned it to Athens airport. However, some car rental companies are not actually in the airport but a short drive away. We didn't have to drive through Athens as the agency was off the highway. They had a free shuttle to the airport where we took the metro to Athens. We were later told we should have used a taxi as there's a lot of pickpocketing on the metro, but we had no problem. We did use a taxi when we left Athens as we had an early flight and didn't want to walk through dark streets to the metro station.
After coordinating flight sched, here's how our trip's flowing: Istanbul-Santorini-Napflio-Delphi-Athens. We've decided to add 2 nts. in Hydra. How do we fit that in our itinerary? Would it be easier to go when we are in Naplfio? Leaving our car (for 2 nts) in Ermioni and taking freedom boat? Or is Piraeus our best bet? Our trip's in late May.
IF you can rent a car from a company with an office in Nafplio that won't charge too much for a one-way drop-off (after visiting Delphi), and IF there is a ferry from Ermioni to Hydra when you need it then yes, that makes the most sense. After Hydra you can take a ferry back to Piraeus for your exploration of Athens. Be sure to go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test or membership required, for $20 plus a photo fee if you don't bring 2 passport photos with you.
Yes, if u were in USA, and renting from Hertz/Avis, it would be easy to drive from Nafplio to the port, off car, ferry to Hydra. Alas, it's not USA, and Greece -off fees are horrendous. One friend paid €250 for a week's rental in March, and €200 for -off fee! That's because there aren't fleets of cars moving back & forth; a company must send a 2nd car, with 2 drivers in it, to pick up the vehicle that u have left in another city. Therefore, it makes most sense for you to return car to Airport, and get an express bus X96 to piraeus (about 70 minutes outside of rush hour). Then just catch the very next ferry available to Hydra. BTW, look for conventional ferry, NOT hydrofoil. H-foils are closed in/no view, while regular ferries have seats on open deck to enjoy the views of Saronic bay en route.
Regarding rental cars and drop off fees. Last Sept. we rented a car for 14 days picking up in Piraeus and dropping off at Athens airport for less than $400. We used economycarrentals.com. It may have been less expensive if we picked up and dropped off at the same place but it was not worth the extra trouble and time. We usually check with three rental companies and economycarrentals has always had the lowest cost. They are a wholesaler so we don't know which rental commpany we are actually getting until we get the confirmation. We have had local rental agencies the four times we have used them. Their cars have been clean and we've never had a problem so far.
Carol, when I wrote about the substantial drop-off fees, I was referring to the drop-off of a car in a different city altogether from the pick-up. Picking up at airport and dropping off at Piraeus Ferry is still within the Athens area, so does not incur a major add-on fee. NC wants to get the car at Airport or in Athens, and drop off somewhere in the Peloponnese.
I came across Ermioni's tourist info online and found Pop's car rental where they have locations in both Athens AND Ermioni charging 35 EU for 1-way drop off. Quite reasonable considering all the time we'll save. As far as ferries go, the Flying Dolphin sails 06:40-17:30/7 days. Thank you everyone for your great advice.
Oh wow! Now it comes back to me, about 3 years ago, someone posted about Pop's on Trip advisor & I totally forgot to make a note of it ... this will go into my "tips" file pronto. Thanks! Thinking back, I do remember that its a good idea to make advance arrangement AND call ahead a couple of days because Pops car supply is somewhat limited.
I stand corrected. Also I forgot to mention that we always opt for the smallest car available, which might also have something to do with the price difference.