Please sign in to post.

Trip to Greece May 2016

My wife and I spent 15 nights in Greece in May. It was our first time to Greece and we had a great time. The weather was mostly good; highs 70 to low 80s and only two days of on and off rain . The people were very friendly, the food great and the sites and views awesome. We split our time between Athens, Crete, Santorini and Nafplio.

We stayed our first three and last night at the St. Thomas B&B not far from the Athens airport. Janet, the owner, picked us up at the airport. We liked this location because we could get away from hectic Athens at the end of the day (we are not big city people). Janet and her husband. Aris, took us to/from the local metro stop the two days we took the 30 minute ride into Athens (1.40 Euros each way). In Athens we visited the Acropolis Museum, the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus/Arch of Hadrian, Library of Hadrian, Syntagma Square and War Museum of Athens. I did have a minor problem, I lost my wallet (probably to a pickpocket) between Ancient Agora and a food counter north of the flea market. Fortunately, it only had 30 Euros and two metro tickets. Everything else was in a money belt .We enjoyed our time, but two days was enough for us. The only thing we missed that I wanted to see was the National Archaeological Museum.

From Athens, we flew to Heraklion, Crete on Aegean Airlines. We were very impressed with their service and would highly recommend flying with them. At the Heraklion Airport, we picked up our rental car from Sixt. We were also impressed with Sixt. We stayed four nights at the Lato Boutique Hotel. We had a room with a balcony that overlooked the harbor. Nice room, good service and huge buffet breakfast. We would definitely stay again there. Our first day we drove west two hours to Chania, we spent 5 hours there walking around, eating lunch and going through the Folklore Museum. The wife really liked it as she does various hand crafts. We enjoyed walking around the town and the views of the harbor. On our way back to Heraklion, we stopped at Margarites which is famous for their pottery. It’s a picturesque hill town with at least a dozen pottery shops. We were there around 4:00 on a Saturday and we almost had the town to ourselves. We went to most of the shops and bought many items. We really enjoyed our time there. The second day, it was raining so we went to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which is first class. In the afternoon, we went to Knossos, a 3500 year old Minoan palace on the outskirts of Heraklion. We paid for a guide (I think it was 10 Euros a person) and there were six total in the group. The hour long tour was well worth the money. Our third day, we drove east to Aghios Nikolaos. We decided to take the the 4.5 hour round trip boat ride to Spinalonga Island The weather was beautiful and the cruise very enjoyable, one of our trip highlights. Spinalonga is an interesting island to tour and you do get a chance to swim in the Mediterranean which was fun. We ate twice at Ippokambos Restaurant in Heraklion. Very good fish and large portions.

From Crete, we took the ferry to Santorini Island. We were booked on the Hellenic Seaways ferry (bought tickets in Heraklion), but it was canceled the morning we were to leave. Fortunately, the Seajet ferry hadn’t left so we were put on it. Not sure if this common, but neither boat would have been half full. It took about two hours to get to Santorini. The ride was pleasant, but there is little to see along the way.

continued below....

Posted by
40 posts


In Santorini, we stayed three nights at the Blue Dolphins Hotel in Firostefani. This was by far the most expensive place we stayed, but considering where we were, it was worth the money. Both our balcony and breakfast area had awesome views of the caldera. We would recommend staying here for the views and the great room plus you are just far enough from Fira to be away from the cruise crowds. The first day, we took a five hour cruise on a Spiridakos catamaran. The cost was 150 Euros per person and included hotel pickup/drop-off, buffet lunch and drinks. There were 10-12 plus crew on board. The weather was perfect and cruise very relaxing. There is time to swim in the Mediterranean in clear water and the hot springs. Probably would pass next time on the hot springs as the water is murky with a rocky bottom in the shallow water. The second day we took an all day Nostotravel bus tour of the island. We visited the excavations of Akrotiri (included guide), Black Beach, walking through Megalochori village, a stop at the highest point on the island, Santo wines with wine tasting and Oia village. The tour lasted from 11:30 to 9:00 with hotel pickup/drop-off. I believe the cost was 43 Euros not including meals and Akrotiri entrance fee. Akrotiri city was destroyed in the Theran volcano 3500 years ago and was buried in volcanic ash. Only about 3% of the city has been excavated. It was probably my favorite ancient site we visited in Greece.

From Santorini, we flew to Athens again on Aegean Airlines and rented a car from Sixt at the Athens airport. We then drove two hours to Nafplio. We stayed four nights at the Aetoma Hotel. Great location, room and breakfast. The first day it rained off and on and we stayed in Nafplio; visited the archaeological, military, folklore and worry bead museums (yes we bought worry beads) and the extensive farmers market. The second day we drove to Tiryns ancient sight, just outside Nafplio. Worth a quick stop, but lacking information signs. Then we headed to Epidavros. The theater is certainly impressive, but I also enjoyed the other ruins there. We then took a leisurely drive to Porto Cheli and had a nice dinner near the harbor. Our third day, we started at the Palamidi Fortress above Nafplio. We cheated and drove up instead of climbing the near 1000 stairs. The overall layout of the fortress is large and the views are fabulous. We then drove west into the mountains and had lunch in the small village of Karya. That was the only place we went where they didn’t speak some English. But they did have English on the menu and we pointed to what we wanted. The last stop was Paralio Astros on the other side of the bay from Nafplio. It was a nice seaside town, but virtually empty. Their main tourist season starts in July.

On our last day, we drove from Nafplio back to St. Thomas B&B. We made stops at Mycenea, Ancient Corinth and Corinth Canal. All three were worth stopping at and spending time.

Overall, prices for everything were reasonable. Most entrance fees to museums and sites are at least double of what’s printed in travel books. Evidence of the economic crisis is everywhere; unfinished buildings and empty storefronts. Driving was similar to other parts of Europe (I will post separate report on driving). As has been mentioned before on this forum, there were no problems getting cash from ATMs. Even though I lost my wallet, we felt everywhere we went. We would very much like to go back and see other islands, the rest of the Peloponnese and parts of the Greece mainland such as Delphi and Meteora.

Posted by
115 posts

Brian, thank you for such a thoughtful review. We are seriously looking at Greece for our next family trip to Europe. Like you we don't always enjoy staying in the city so I particularly appreciated the St. Thomas B&B recommendation. I've already bookmarked it as a possible option!