We are taking our first RS tour to Greece in October. I have been reading the RS guidebook, but curious what others who have taken this tour did in their free time?
what others who have taken this tour did in their free time?
My wife and I wandered around and enjoyed being in Greece. Some times it was going to/doing things included and others it was finding a little cafe having a carafe of wine, a salad, a loaf of bread and watching the world go by.
Have very happy memories of our trip
Just took this awesome tour in September. Loved it!
In Athens, I arrived early and besides walking around and orienting myself, I took a food tour with Culinary Backstreets - very, very good tour. Then on the free afternoon after the tour started, I took a cooking class at The Greek Kitchen. So much fun.
In Delphi, we just had a few hours and I walked around the town. In Lagakadia, same thing, a short time to walk around before the group dinner. In Kardamyli, I hiked up to Agia Sofia and then had a beach day with lunch at Ritsa Beach. In Monemvasia, my free afternoon was spent eating and reading on my awesome patio with a view. In Nafplio, another beach afternoon. (I would have hiked up to the fortress, just not enough time). And, of course, on Hydra, a wonderful beach day. If you don't like swimming or sunning or relaxing at the beach, you can just walk around the towns, shop, eat, drink. Lots to see. But one of the reasons I picked this tour was for the many beach opportunities. I would recommend water shoes. I got a great pair of Aleader water shoes (recommended from someone on this forum). They are great just as shoes too and very light for your carry-on luggage.
We did so many things together as a group as part of the tour too. You will not be disappointed!
We got to Athens a day early and did the sites on our acropolis ticket that we wouldn't do as a group. We did a lot of walking around during free time. In Kardamyli we visited Old Kardamyli and then hiked up into the hills. In Monemvasia we walked around the old town exploring everything. In Nafplio we went to the little museum which was very good and then took the taxi up to the fortress, looked around this huge place, and walked back down the steps.
We arrived in Athens 2 days before the tour began. On Sunday we went to watch the changing of the guard at 11:00 am. We arrived about 45 mins. prior and had an excellent view. It was amazing! We enjoy museums and went to the Benaki Museum and Museum of Cycladic Art. We visited the Temple of Olympian Zeus, & National Garden. The following morning we hired private guide Salvador Levy for a Jewish Walking Tour that lasted almost 4 hours. It was a special introduction to Athens. We walked the Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio. We visited the Synagogue, museum and the Holocaust Memorial. We learned that 87% of the Greek Jewry was lost in the Concentration camps.
Our down time was spent hiking trails, as well as relaxing at outdoor restaurants, enjoying the views, eating yogurt, Greek Salads and fresh Seafood. Even after a year and a half, a day doesn't go by that we don't think about this special country. You will love it!
Our guide always made suggestions and more than once she organized an optional activity like a hike. Some went to the beach. You need closed swimming shoes . . . pebbly beaches everywhere on the tour. Some visited additional sights. Some just walked around exploring the towns and/or shopping for presents and souvenirs. I don't remember any options that required planning in advance.
Aside from free time on the tour, you should arrive at least one day, preferably two, before the tour. It's more strenuous than most and you won't want to start it with jetlag and/or a poor night's sleep. There is a lot to see in Athens pre- or post-tour. I spent 4 days in Athens before the tour and flew home right after breakfast on the final morning. I wanted to do the reverse - for me it's a short flight to Athens and no time change, but hotel prices spiked from April to May. Things I did in Athens that weren't on the tour: Ancient Agora (my favorite ancient site), RS self-guided walking tours, changing of the guard on Sunday morning, the Jewish Museum, Keramikos, Benaki Museum (could have skipped it). I also went to the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeology Museum and the Acropolis on my own. I was glad to have done that since the tour didn't spend enough time at either museum for my taste. In hindsight, I might have skipped the Acropolis (the tour spent enough time IMO) and probably the Benaki Museum.
RS used two hotels, the Hera and the Acropolis Select. They are a long block from each other, the Hera is closer to the Acropolis metro station. My tour used the Select and I stayed at the Hera. I personally preferred the Hera. Both were very good.
Did anyone go to Corinth before or after the Tour? There are several companies who do day trips that include the canal and ancient Corinth and some add a winery visit. Any recommendations would be appreciated. We will be on the tour May 2019.
We did this tour in 2015. We arrived in Athens a day early and explored the Plaka neighborhood, Monistariki Square, and climbed Filopappou hill at sunset for an amazing view (much easier than it sounds..there's a pretty easy path). You'll have free time in Athens at the beginning AND at the end of the tour.
During the tour, we took time to eat by the water whenever possible and went to the beach at every opportunity. We swam in the Ionian Sea, the Agean Ocean, and the Mediterranean, in ONE trip :)
The people are warm and welcoming, the food is fantastic, and the views amazing!