My husband and I just got back from a 3-week first time to Greece trip last week, so I wanted to give a quick report on our itinerary and how things worked out. We flew from DFW with a layover at JFK and onwards to Athens. We travelled in September 2013.
Sept 8: Arrive in Athens and stayed the night at Plaka Hotel, great location, good view of Acropolis from hotel rooftop.
Sept 9: Rent a car from Avis and drove to Delphi, about a 2 1/2 hour drive, easy drive. We stayed one night at Pitho Rooms, awesome owner, super friendly. Found a guide at the archeaological site, no advance reservation needed, private tour for 2, 60 euros.
Sept 10: Drove from Delphi to Meteora, again easy drive, about 4-4 1/2 hours. Able to see one Monastery the day we arrived, and a few others the next morning. Stayed one night at Pyrgos Adrachti, wonderful place, again friendly and helpful owner, great view. The road to get to the place is a bit small and steep, but manageable.
Sept 11: Drove to Igoumenitsa to catch ferry to Corfu. Some hairpin turns up and down mountains, but roads opened up and the National Road with toll and tunnels was great, new, modern, and not busy. We got to Igoumenitsa, turned in the car, and caught the ferry with 2 minutes to spare. I knew the ferries were fairly frequent, so we didn't try to get there by a certain time, but was just lucky and caught one as it was about to leave. Ferry ride was 90 minutes.
The road signs are in Greek first, then followed by a second sign in English 10 meters or so down the road. It would be helpful to recognize your destination in Greek so that you have extra time to make your turn/exit.
Sept 12-13: Corfu. Stayed at Bella Venezia. Great location, but the A/C was a bit weak for the heat and humidity during the day. Cute town, lots of shops, adorable small streets with cafes, restaurants.
Sept 14: Flew from Corfu to Mykonos on Olympic Air with a layover in Athens.
Sept 14-16: Mykonos. Stayed at Cavo Tagoo. Very nice, Cyclades style with a Vegas touch (and Vegas prices). We would stay there again. They had a shuttle that takes you to town and will pick you up from there as well. The wait was not long, but not sure how high season would be.
Sept 16-20: Took ferry from Mykonos to Santorini, almost 3 hours. We stayed in Oia at Atrina Traditional Houses in the Xenonas House. Very well decorated cave house with all the conveniences and lots of storage. Friendly staff, everyone from the owner, housekeeping, bell, etc. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. We took a wine tour with Santorini Wine Tours and a photo tour with Olaf of Santorini Photo Tours. Highly recommend both.
Sept 20: Ferry to Heraklion, about 2 1/2 hours. Stayed for a night at Lato Boutique Hotel. Easy walking distance from port with luggage. Their hotel rooftop restaurant, Herb Garden, was also divine.
Sept 21: Rental car delivered at hotel and drove to Knossos. This time we got a manual transmission, we both learned to drive a manual 20 years ago. It is like riding a bike and you never forget, but not quite.
Knossos was a quick 15 minute drive from the hotel and we got a guide at the front for a private tour. Definitely recommend a private or small group tour. The guides try to maneuver you to be in the shade (which is scarce), and much easier to find a shade for a small group than a very large one. We wrapped up our tour around noon, and drove to Elafonissi.
The drive from Heraklion to Elafonissi would be about 4-4 1/2 hours if we did not stop for lunch, but we stopped at a beach along the way for lunch. This drive was more difficult especially with the manual. There was a section of road that was closed and you were detoured along a route that was very narrow with plenty of snaky turns and oncoming cars. At times, we weren't sure if we were going the right way, but the people in oncoming cars were all in beachwear and shirtless, so that was comforting. We just followed the signs to Elafonissi and made it. We stayed at Glykeria Rooms, very basic, but did the job. The taverna they owned served homemade Crete comfort food.
Sept 22-24: Drove to Chania, about 2 hours. We stayed at Alcanea Boutique Hotel, again highly recommend. We stayed in their smallest room (least expensive) and it was still very nice. We took a private walking tour with Dr. Alexandra Ariotti, an archeaologist. She was superb, knowledgable, engaging, an entertaining tour. We took an overnight ferry to Athens, leaving Chania at 21:00 and arriving in Athens at 06:00.
Sept 25: Back in Athens for 2 nights. We took 2 walking group tours with Athens Walking Tours: the city, Acropolis and Acropolis museum tour, and the food tour. The food tour was great, wish we did it the very first day to get our bearings and be able to go back to the places. They keep the max to 8 for the food tour. The other tour was good as well, but larger about 14 and it was just a bit long (it was a total of 5 hours). Overall, highly recommend the company. We stayed at New Hotel this time. Great modern, creative vibe.
Sept 27: Fly home
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