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Trip Report Greece Trip Report--Santorini, Crete, Athens

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Just returned a couple of weeks ago from our trip to Greece, and wanted to get started on this trip report, hope to provide useful information to anyone planning a trip. I'll post it in parts as I have time to work on this.
Took the Delta direct overnight flight from JFK to Athens, then took flight from Athens to Santorini. Did it this way since we would have to come back to Athens to fly home anyway, and could leave Athens portion until the end rather than simply come back, waste that last night and fly home. Flight to Athens was good, on time, getting us in well ahead of our next flight. Arrived at around 9:25 am, and by 10 am we were through immigration, got our luggage and then rechecked it for next flight. Santorini flight was on Aegean, and was able to check in online before we left home, so already had our boarding passes. Process was quick and easy, but then had a few hours to kill for our next flight, always the worst part after that long overnight flight. Flight to Santorini was easy, right on time and no problems. Got bags, met our pre-arranged ride and then it was off to our hotel in Oia. Stayed at the Kirini Suites, which was absolutely amazing. Decided on Oia because I had heard it was much quieter and laid back than Fira or other places, and we could not have been happier with our choice. Lovely town, great place to just walk around and soak it all in.

Got to hotel by around 3 pm, so just freshened up a bit and then set out to explore the town a little. The main stip in Oia is lovely. It's a pedestrian area, and we checked out the shops and took in the view. Stopped for lunch at Meltini, just off the main pedestrian strip on a little side street. Very nice and cozy place serving Greek "tapas" or mezzes. Was like eating in someone's home. Got a bunch of dishes to share and really enjoyed it.

After that, walked around the town a bit and then headed back to hotel. After these overnight flights, the DW can only make it so far before having to call it a night, so after she packed it in, I went back out to walk around to keep myself awake. Just got the lay of the land a bit, stopped for some gelato.

Next day, did more exploring in Oia, looking at the shops. Then headed to end of town to head down the nearly 300 steps to Ammoudi Bay to look around and for some lunch. It was blazing hot, but was not too bad a walk down the steps and it was lots of fun and great views along the way. Once down there, walked around the point to where people were swimming, we just went to look, then back to one of the restaurants on the water, Ammoudi Fish Restaurant. Had a lovely lunch right by the water (some tzatziki, saganaki, mussels, great bread), resting and getting the energy to walk back up the steps. Staff was friendly and food was excellent. Then back to the steps up to Oia. There were donkeys there by that point, and some people did take them, but we did the walk--was good exercise and made us feel a little less guilty for all the food we ate!

It was so hot and there was no relief in the form of any clouds in the sky so by the time we got back up the steps we were pretty tired and wet, so walked around a little more, then back to the hotel to take a nice refreshing dip in the pool. Rested a bit, then went out at dinner time back into town. Had that big lunch and did not want such a huge dinner, so just stopped off at Pitogryos, which I head read about, and had a nice gyro. Food was good, nice small inexpensive dinner, followed by some gelato at Lolita's, which was also very good. It was a nice fully day of exploring and walking around, called it a night early and went to rest up for the next day. More to follow.

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    Justine--stairs EVERYWHERE since Oia (as well as the other towns) are built at the edge of the Caldera on the cliffs, so the hotel had stairs, the town. Certainly a good workout and helped us burn off all the great food we were stuffing ourselves with!

    Next day in Santorini we went on a catamaran cruise with Santorini Sailing. They picked us up, brought us to marina, then headed off for 5 hour trip. It was really great. There were 6 of us on the boat in total, a nice small group, very friendly and plenty of room to move about and relax. The crew was fantastic, made sure we had whatever we needed. They took us to several great swimming areas where we were able to spend about a half hour or so in the water each time, cooked a great lunch for us. Trip finished up at about 3, then they took us back to the hotel. After getting ourselves together, then headed back into town in Oia for some dinner. Ate at Skala, on the main strip in town. Restaurant had a nice terrace like all of the places do to take in the view and catch the sunset. Food was good, not as good as other places we ate. After dinner, walked over to the end of the town where everyone gathers to watch the famous Santorini sunsets. If you don't like crowds, don't go. Wall to wall people. Unfortunately, it was very hot these days and a bit humid, so at the time of sunset it was a bit hazy and sun went down behind the haze and we did not get the colors that they are famous for. Still lovely, but not like some of the pictures we have seen. A leisurely evening again strolling around Oia (it's a really small town, but we just really enjoyed walking around, taking in the sights).

    The following day we set out to explore Fira. Had heard that the hike between Fira and Oia along the caldera was a must do. We decided to do that on the way back to Oia, so we took a bus to Fira (got it right on main road by hotel), trip was about 20 minutes. Fira is bigger and more crowded that Oia. The cruise ships put in right outside Fira, so the crowds from the ship come up and hit Fira. Was a nice town, again lots of shops, great views. Not as "quaint" as Oia, but very nice. After spending some time seeing the town and doing some shopping to buy some goodies to ship home for everyone we needed to get gifts for, we set out on our walk back to Oia. Again, it was VERY hot, but we were determined not to let that stop us.

    First stop was Imerovgili, an uphill walk from Fira, probably about 30 minutes or so until we were there. It was lunch time, so decided to stop at one of the places to get a bite to eat. We had decided to take a detour and climb down to Skaros Rock, a little peninsula jutting out from the town (MORE steps), and found a restaurant right opposite the pathway. Ate at a place called Mezzo, and had some really delicious salads and great bread. Then headed out to Skaros rock, and around the back to see the beautiful church built onto the side of the cliff. That detour took a half hour to 45 minutes, then headed off on the path back to Oia again. The sights and views are just amazing, as you walk right along the caldera rim, high on the cliffs above the water. There are a few mountains to go up and over along the way, and it really is a great hike. Took us about 4 hours total, with our stops for lunch and Skaros rock. Got back to the hotel at about 4, and the only thing that kept us going the last mile or 2 was the thought of jumping in the pool as soon as we got back to the hotel. A pool has never felt so good! Relaxed by the pool for a bit talking to 2 couples we had met at the hotel, comparing notes about what we had all been up to and telling one of them about our hike, since they planned on doing it the next day.

    After some relaxation time by the pool and freshening up, it was time to head out to do our next favorite activity--eat! Had seen a restaurant the day before that we wanted to try, called Pelekanos, again on the main strip in Oia. They also had a nice terrace, and we had a great table for a view of the sunset (again a bit hazy, but nice). Food was very good, and service was extremely friendly, we really enjoyed it. Watched the sun go gown, strolled around the town a bit more, then it was time to head back to hotel. We were leaving for Crete the next afternoon so had to get our stuff together. Still had one more almost full day in Santorini, which I'll describe in my next installment soon.

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    Our last day in Santorini, we were taking a ferry to Crete later that evening so had almost the full day to explore. Since we had seen the towns nearby, we rented a car for the last day. First drove down to Akrotiri, very interesting archeological site. After buying tickets, we went over to the area where you could join a tour. They take groups of 6, and there were 2 people there right before us and 2 more joined shortly thereafter so off we went. Our guide was excellent, really did a very good job of explaining the history of the place and the excavations, what they had found, etc. The site has a roof, which was helpful since it was so hot outside (pretty warm in there too but at least out of the blazing sun for a bit). Tour was about an hour and i thought it was very much worth it (I believe it was 10 euro per person).

    After the tour, we then drove over to Ancient Thira, one of the highest or the highest points of the island. Drive up the hill was interesting to say the least, road snaked back and forth up the hill, much of which had no guardrails. After getting to parking area, had to get out and climb again. Up the steps and up to the top of the mountain to check out the remains of the ancient village. No tour necessary here, they have signs at different spots to explain what you are looking at. And amazing views. We enjoyed it. Afterwards, stopped in Fira on way back to grab some lunch. Had a very good gyro at Lucky's Souvlaki. Someone at the hotel mentioned to us it was really good and I recommend it. Small place, has a counter with some stools, or just take it to go and eat while walking around the town.

    Then back to hotel to gather our things and then it was off to the marina for our 5:30 ferry to Crete. Boat was running a bit late, but not too bad, and pretty soon we were off. It's just under 2 hours to crete. Very comfortable ride, and can hardly feel the boat moving, we took the High Speed IV. So don't worry about any seasickness, the water was smooth and the ride was good.

    Ferry arrives in Heraklion port, the capitol of Crete. We were staying out in Elounda, which is further east, about 15 minutes north of Agios Nikolaos. Car ride was about an hour and 20 minutes, so did not get to hotel until around 9:30 or 10. Stayed at the Blue Palace, which really was excellent. We usually like staying at smaller luxury type hotels, and this was a bit larger, a resort hotel, on the beach, with a spa and a bunch of restaurants. But the hotel is laid out so that the rooms are grouped in several smaller buildings as you go down the hill towards the water, with the main reception area up at the top (the levels are connected by a funicular type thing, or you can walk). Really enjoyed the hotel. Room was very nice, the facilities were excellent.

    Hotel has several restaurants. We only ate at one, the Blue Door, a Greek taverna type place. Went there for lunch one day, it was good but nothing special. Breakfast was excellent, nice full buffet and it was included in our rate. We also had a half-board thing that included dinner but we really did not do that, except for one night where we really weren't very hungry. That free dinner was in the same place as the breakfast and was a buffet thing, with different themes every night. Good for families, or if you really want to take advantage of the value if you get it included in your rate. But food was as you would expect--average at best. Again, we only did that one night because we had gone out for a very large lunch and just were not very hungry.

    Got in that first night at around 10 pm so just got settled in and got ready for our next few days.

    More to follow!

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    We spent 4 nights and 3 full days in Crete. Because of the size of the island and because we were a bit out of the way at hour hotel, I had arranged a rental car for the time in Crete. I did everything online and by email and set it up in advance, and they said they would deliver to the hotel. Worked out great, they showed up right on time the next morning with the car, an almost brand new car, very nice and off we went. First day, drove out to Knossos to see that site. I had read that you could get a guide right there, and after buying tickets, there were guides there offering their services. They take groups of 8 so we waited a few minutes for them to wrangle up a few more people. Cost was also 10 euro per person. We always find that when visiting sites like this a guide really adds a lot for us, telling us about the history of the Minoan civilization, and what we are seeing, so for us it was well worth it. Individual choice, so certainly can go ahead on your own. This was fully outdoors, and another hot day. But the site was very interesting, just amazing what they have been able to excavate and what good shape some of it is still in. Many of the artifacts there are copies, with the originals being in the museum in Heraklion, which is just a few miles away. The tour was about an hour, and we really enjoyed our visit to Knossos.

    Afterwards, we drove over to Heraklion to get some lunch and walk around the city a bit. It's a pretty busy city compared to where we had been the few previous days. There is a nice pedestrian area around the square in the middle of the city, lots of shops and restaurants. We ended up eating at a place called Izmir Kebap, right in the middle of the pedestrian square, looked pretty busy and food smelled very good. It was excellent. Had a gyro, and DW had some good baked feta, we got some tzatziki and some pita. Very good lunch and very reasonable. After walking around the city for a bit, we decided to head back to our hotel and take advantage of being on the beach. So we went back and enjoyed swimming in the Aegean for a bit. Weather was hot and sunny the entire time we were there so it was really nice to be able to get in the water and cool off.

    After relaxing a bit, it was time to decide on dinner. There were 2 or 3 restaurants in Elounda (the town about a 5-10) minute drive from our hotel) that I had read about that were on my list to try. One was fully booked but the other had a table so we made a reservation for later that evening. Restaurant was called Ferryman Taverna and it was right on the water in the center of town where there was a little pedestrian area and a whole row of restaurants. The food was absolutely amazing, one of the best or the best meal we had our entire trip. Was actually so good we went back a couple of nights later. Service was very friendly and we really enjoyed ourselves. Highly recommend this restaurant. After dinner, we walked around the town a bit (a very small town, just a street or two of shops), but it was nice, lots of people milling about.

    Next morning, it was off to Spinalonga Island (leper island). You can get there from a few places. There are boats that go there from Ag Nikolaos and Elounda. But luckily for us, the island was actually right off the beach from our hotel, and about 200 yards from the hotel was the little "village" of Plaka, where you can also grab a boat. Just a short 5 minute boat ride later, we were there. It's a very interesting place. Was an important fortress that changed hands over the centuries. Then in about 1902, they turned it into a leper colony. You can walk around the island and go into the buildings. They have displays up explaining the history of the island, its military use, and use as a leper colony. It was a leper colony until 1957 and they have displays of some of the medical equipment and other things. Very interesting. You can spend as much time there as you would like. We walked all around the island, spent about an hour or so. Then back on the boat (they go about every half hour).

    Next, it was off to Agios Nikolaos, a really nice town on the water about a 20 minute drive from the hotel. It is a lovely town, with a nice lake in the middle with stores and restaurants all around, a nice pedestrian street or two. Again, just enjoyed strolling around, looking at the stores, just enjoying the scenery. There was a restaurant i had read about that I wanted to try, it was about a 10 minute walk from the town center, on the main seaside road, called Piata. Food was outstanding. Shared a bunch of appetizers again so we could try several things. Highly recommend! Walked back into town to get the car and drive back to hotel, where we went back out to the beach for an hour or two to enjoy the water again.

    We were going to eat at one of the restaurants at the hotel that night, but we were still so stuffed from lunch, that this is the night we just went up to the main dining room and got a little nibble later that night from the buffet that was included in our room rate. Just some salad and fruit, but that's all we wanted at that point.

    More to follow!
    Happy to answer any questions anyone has if you are planning a trip to any of these places.

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    Last day in Crete. Original plan was to drive out to the west side of the island and explore Chania a bit. But it was our last day there, and we had been going full speed, doing a lot of walking, hiking and we decided we did not want to spend our last day by being in the car for at least 5-6 hours (about a 2-3 hour drive each way). So, we decided to take a rest day. It was Sunday after all! I read about a place called Amazonas Animal park, not far from our hotel, where you can interact with and feed monkeys. So we went to check it out. They have a lot of exotic birds (colorful parrots, even a tucan). They had an area with a lot of fairly large monkeys, and after checking the place out a bit, they were ready to take us into the monkey area. They sell you small bags of popcorn if you want, and you go in and they give you instructions to hold onto the bag as the monkeys obviously do whatever they can to get it all at once. It was fun. You put some popcorn in your hand and they just come up and grab it away. They were also successful at grabbing the bags from a couple of people. In the next area, they have lemurs, and they were much more tame. Got to sit down and interact with them, they just come right up and say hello. We are very big animal lovers and try not to go to places that take advantage or don't treat the animals well. This place is a real conservation place, really go out of their way on the preservation side, taking care of the animals (they focus on the exotic birds). Was a nice way to spend a little time, were not there long.

    We decided to really relax and made spa appointments back at the hotel, and spent some time there and in the water. Very relaxing day, and there certainly were plenty of other people taking advantage of the beach, pool, etc. When we go to Europe, we generally are on the go all the time, and never take time to relax like this. It was nice to be in a resort setting and actually slowing down enough to enjoy it. Crete is obviously a big vacation/beach destination for Europeans and a lot of Israelis as it's so close, and you can always tell the Americans from the people from other countries. They go to really relax, enjoy the beach, etc. and the Americans are running around seeing all the sights. We did plenty of that and it was nice to just enjoy the natural surroundings bit. Especially since we had a couple of days in Athens coming up, which we knew would be hectic, I'm glad we took this day a bit more slowly.

    Our last night, we went back to the Ferryman Taverna, another great meal. They remembered us from the other day and welcomed us back, brought out a few complimentary items for us to enjoy. Lovely way to end our last day in Crete.

    More to come about our 2 days in Athens.

    After another nice stroll around Elounda, back to the hotel to pack up to leave the next morning and head to the airport to catch our flight to Athens.

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    Next morning, it was off to Heraklion airport for our flight to Athens. A bit chaotic at the airport, most of which was people on line to check in for all the international flights. Luckily, the area for the domestic flights on Aegean was better, once we fought our way through the crowds to get there. Flight was easy and uneventful and we arrived in Athens and got to our hotel by about 1 pm. After dumping our bags, it was time to go out and explore. I had read about a pie shop called Ariston that was very close to our hotel, and we found our way there to pick up some wonderful homemade pies. A real local bakery, looked like it had been there for more than 100 years and the pies were probably the best we've had.

    After finishing the pies, we set out to explore some of Athens. We had a tour booked the following day, so we wanted to hit some of the things that were not going to be included in our tour. Our hotel was right across from Syntagma Square and Parliament so walked from there, through the Monastiraki area and all its shops and restaurants over to the Ancient Agora. They sell a ticket book that includes tickets for 7 different sites, including the Acropolis. Since we needed the Acropolis ticket for the next day, we bought the combined ticket and used one for the agora. It's amazing that these ancient ruins are just right there in the middle of the city, reminded me of Rome in that sense. Spent some time walking through the Agora, which was very nice, very well preserved buildings, and walked up the hill to check out the large temple.

    Afterwards, we walked from there through the Plaka neighborhood, past the Acropolis and the museum, and found our way past the Arch of Hadrian and the temple of Zeus (just looked in from the outside, we went in there the next day). We then walked back towards Parliament on our way to the old Panathenaic stadium. On the way past Parliament, it was time for the changing of the guard so we stopped for a few minutes to watch that. Fun to watch, the uniforms and the high-stepping show was nice. We then basically had an escort and private show with the guards as we walked from there over to the stadium. The stadium was amazing. As we learned, it dates back to about 330 BC, and then was the site of the original Olympic games in 1896. Prior to the first Olympics, they had redone the stadium completely in marble and it is just beautiful. You can go in, climb up in the stands, up to the top, on the field, etc. Some great views from the top of the Acropolis.

    Afterwards, headed back to the hotel to rest and freshen up a bit and cool off. We had looked into some restaurants and had some recommendations, but didn't want such formal and big meals, so decided to just grab a casual dinner at one of the many places over in the Monastiraki area. Ate outside near the pedestrian walk just watching and taking it in, eating some nice gyros and feta. Then we checked out the area some more, with all of its shops and vendors in the square. Just loved walking through that area. Reminded me a bit of the shuk in Jerusalem, the narrow streets lined with shops and vendors, it was a lot of fun just to check it all out. Then back to the hotel to rest up for our walking tour the next day.

    Had arranged a private 4 hour walking tour through PK Travel Greece. Had read about them online and the recommendations were excellent on tripadvisor, and they were very responsive by email during the process and recommended the best tour for first time visitors. The guide met us at the hotel and was right on time and off we went. Walked from hotel, through the Plaka and over to the Acropolis area. While going up the Acropolis, saw the old theater of Dionysus, and the guide gave us great information about the history, what the theatre had been used for, etc. Then climbed up to the top of the Acropolis to check out the Parthenon and other buildings. It was a little crowded, but not so bad since we were there first thing in the morning. It is just amazing to see those buildings up close. Absolutely beautiful. The entry gateway, the temple of Athene Nike and the Erechthion. Guide was fantastic, explaining everything and giving us a real sense of the place, the history, how it was built and the restoration that was ongoing.

    After spending some time up on the Acropolis, we then headed over to the New Acropolis Museum. I had heard good things about the museum and we enjoyed it very much. It was very helpful having the guide there, explaining what we were seeing, connecting it all back to the Acropolis. Had we been there on our own, we would have looked around but would have had no idea what we were seeing. Our tour ended after the museum, it was about 12 so we went to grab some quick lunch.

    After lunch (some more pies and a nice souvlaki), we headed out to see some more of Athens. Went into the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which I understand is the larges of all the temples. Only a portion of it is still there, but you really get a great sense of just how big and impressive it must have been. Afterwards, spent some more time just walking around the city, some of the main shopping streets. We were pretty exhausted and hot, so went back to the hotel to just rest up a little.

    A bit later we went out to grab a quick dinner, again just something small and casual, wanted some good gyros since it was our last night. Asked the concierge in the hotel who had the best gyros in the neighborhood and he sent us to one of the places over in the Monastiraki area right near where we had eaten the night before. It was a nice meal, nothing fancy, just a nice gryos plate.

    After dinner, checked out the evening scene again with all the people milling about the square, the shops, etc. Stopped to pick up some gifts for people back home. Then it was back to the hotel to pack up, was hard to believe our 10 days was over already.

    Flight home on Delta was uneventful (long but uneventful).

    Before going on the trip, I had been following all the news about the crisis in Greece all summer. The banking issues, whether we would have problems getting money, transportation issues, etc. People told us to just cancel and go somewhere else. I had spoken to people who had been there over the summer, and they all said they had no problems. We left the first weekend in September, and by then they had agreed to the deal with Europe, the banks were back open and I figured all would be fine. We encountered no problems at all. I'm sure it may be different for people living in Athens, but even everyone we encountered were nothing but friendly and could not have been nicer. Hotels, restaurants, stores were all crowded and it was business as usual. It is an amazing country, certainly wish we could have seen more and very much looking forward to going back someday.

    I hope some of this information is helpful, I got so much information here in planning my trip I just wanted to pass this along to try to help others plan theirs.

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    YOur trip sounds rewarding -- a nice mix of sightseeing, relaxation and GOOD food. Without having lot of background, good choice to book a guide for Acropolis & Museum, a luxury to have one all to yourself, but for budgeteers, the Athens Walking Tours also can be enjoyable.

    For the Athens-browsing you did on your own, an interesting insight: it really wasn't the case that all those ruins just existed undisturbed in the middle of Athens all those years! Over the centuries, they became overgrown with grass and trees, and then people moved in and built many hundreds of ramshackle houses. After World War I Greece wanted to excavate -- they knew the Ancient Agora was under there, just not accessible -- but couldn't afford it because of huge cost of buying the 24 acres & the houses demolishing. John D Rockefeller stepped, paid for the purchase, teardown & excavations, latter done by AMerican School in Athens -- http://www.agathe.gr/overview/the_excavations.html He then underwrote the authentic replication that beautiful columned building, the Stoa of Attalos, to house all those artifacts found at the site. Afterwards many other US groups -- foundations, like FOrd, Mellon, plus US universities, Natl. Endowment for humanities etc -- have funded the continuing work. This private funding reflects America's recognition of our debt to Ancient Greek society, in founding our own values.

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    Thank you for your very detailed, well written report. It appears you researched and planned well, and enjoyed a variety of activities.


    So many places to visit but Greece is definitely on the list. I will keep your report for future reference.

    kay

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    Almesq, we're really enjoying your TR! Thanks for sharing so many details. The Greek Isles are on our list of places to explore.

    We'll await your ongoing adventures in Athens!

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    Thanks for sharing you trip with us.
    By the way you made a good call not doing Chania on that last day. While Chania can easily fill two days the drive from th3e east to west and return simply is not a good use of time.

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    Great trip report - we will be following in some of your footsteps this summer so really appreciated the insights. We also are planning on staying on Crete and spending part of the time in Elounda - definitely want to visit Spinalonga island, and thanks for the restaurant recommendations. It sounds like you had no trouble driving around Crete so that is nice to know. We have also booked a tour with PK travel so also good to hear that that went well. Might I ask what hotel you stayed at in Athens? We are still debating that decision. thanks

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    Laura--sorry for the late reply, have actually bee traveling too much lately for work and did not see your post. In Athens, stayed at the Grande Bretagne, right across from Parliament and Syntagma Square. Great classic hotel, and reasonably priced compared to such hotels in other European cities. Smallish rooms as would be expected, but very nice and very well located. And breakfast in the rooftop restaurant with views of the Acropolis was fantastic!
    Enjoy the trip, happy to answer any other questions as you plan.

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    Did you need an international drivers license to drive in Greece?

    Laura, here is your answer from an official source, assuming you hold a US drivers license:

    "Tourists and temporary residents who will stay in Greece for fewer than 185 days and plan to drive must carry a valid U.S. license as well as an international driver's permit (IDP). Failure to have both documents may result in police detention or other problems. Fines for drivers without complete documentation are high. The U.S. Department of State has designated two organizations to issue IDPs to those who hold valid U.S. driver's licenses: AAA and the National Automobile Club. Issuance of an IDP is quick and inexpensive, but must generally be done before a traveler leaves the United States."

    Above quote is from the US State Department Passports & International Travel page, Travel & Transportation section:
    https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/greece.html

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    Yes, I did have the international driver's permit from AAA. The rental agency took down my license info, etc. from my actual license, not the permit. But as Heimdall says, if you get stopped and don't have one, it could be a problem. It's easy and inexpensive to get, so no reason to take the chance.

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    Sometimes it’s possible to rent a car, ATV or scooter just by showing your passport and a current drivers license. No problem.
    BUT....................
    If you get in an accident and don’t have the IDP you'll be in serious trouble with the Greek Police. Greek Law requires it and if you can't produce it you could possibly be detained until you come up with the cash to pay for any _and all_ damages to the vehicles involved regardless of whose fault it is and whether or not the damages were pre-existing (especially if the other car belongs to a local seizing the opportunity to play the system!)
    AND...................
    Your insurance, including what your credit card supposedly provides, will be invalidated because technically you will have been driving illegally.
    And in that regard I also encourage you to take out the local insurance offered when you pick up the car, as much coverage as you can get. Don't rely on the automatic insurance your credit card claims to provide you. You'll be in a foreign country and there won't be a claims adjuster handy.
    Just as important: Don't take "No Problem" as a substitute for indicating on the rental acceptance form every little scratch, dent, tear, stain, crack and missing part on the vehicle, inside and out and underneath. Take photos to back up your inspection. If the rental agent resists signing off on all that you've indicated walk away and find another agency.

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