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2 Weeks in Greece in early October for group of 6

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Feb 25th, 2014, 12:29 PM
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2 Weeks in Greece in early October for group of 6

Hello,

My husband and I along with two other couples in our mid-40s will be visiting Greece for 18 days in October 2014; two of which will be travel days and possibly 1 jet lag day upon arrival to Greece. My husband and I travel frequently, but this will be our first trip to Greece and we would like to see and enjoy the highlights of Greece without jumping around too much…don’t like to pack and unpack several times on a vacation.

From what I hear and read, a trip to Greece is not complete without a visit to Santorini so I definitely want to include that into my itinerary. We will be flying from Texas to Athens and staying in the Vouliagmeni area for 7 nights and then I was hoping to stay in Santorini for 4 nights and then back to Athens(same location) for an additional 4 nights before flying back to the US. However, there are a number of places that are not located in Athens that we would like to visit so I’m curious to know if one day trips would suffice and allow us time without feeling exhausted. In my research I’ve seen there are plenty 1-2 day trips from Athens that are available and they visit a lot of places in that one day, but I’m curious to know if that is sufficient time to appreciate what we are seeing. Once we visit a particular place, we like to learn and enjoy as much as possible so that there’s no need to go back. We like to have several days within a 2 week vacation to just chill and enjoy our surroundings with no planned tours, etc. We are not beach people per say, but we do love to go to the beach just to see the beautiful ocean/sea...we're not too much into museums but do enjoy the history, we love to try different food and we love beautiful sceneries. We love to relax on vacation but at the same time hit the highlights and get off the beaten path at times…balance is very important. We plan to stay in Santorini for 4 nights in between our Athens stay but have not booked the hotel yet so I’m curious to know if we should just stay 2 nights in Santorini and maybe just stay in the Peloponnese area for the other two nights. We want to be near the airport for our departure day.

Here are some of the things we would like to visit/do while in Athens and I solicit any advice to help determine if this is possible and enjoyable allowing us time to explore, relax and sometimes get off of the beaten path: Meteora (Kalambaka) Corinth, Delphi, Peloponnese area, would like a good one day island tour(s). We will also visit several places in Athens, but I’m just looking for advice on how to maneuver to the other places around Athens. Again, we like to have tour free days as well.

Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated…sorry to be so long, just wanted to include as much info as possible.

Thanks so much!
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Feb 25th, 2014, 02:18 PM
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15 nights in Greece sounds wonderful, that will give you enough time to see some of the highlights.

In my opinion Santorini is a must see, i think you would enjoy spending 4 nights there. The weather would be pretty mild, not too hot, and there will be less tourists around ( but enough cruises ).
I wouldn't go all the way to Santorini just for 2 nights.

Is there a particular reason why you have chosen Vouliagmeni for your Athens stay? It is a very nice and quiet southern suburb, but not too close to the center of Athens.
The red metro line is now going all the way to Ellinikon (near to the old airport's East Terminal, so reaching the center should be faster now.).

You would need 3 full days to see the Acropolis, the Agora, the Temple of Zeus, and all the wonderful world museums of Athens, such as the New Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, the biggest one of it's kind in the world. Also the Plaka, Koloaki, perhaps the old posh suburb of Kifisia, the possibilities are numerous.

Day trips from Athens are :

the Argolid ( Mycenae, Epidavros and Nafplio)

Delphi

One day cruise to 3 islands of the Saronic Golf, suually Aegina, Poros and Hydra/

For Meteora you would need an overnight, due to the long distance from Athens ( 360 km one way)

All the above are being offered as organized tours with an experienced guide. ( not the one day cruise)

The best way to see all that would be with a rental car, that would give you the flexibility to see what you want.
However you should take into cosnideration that including Meteora, Delphi and the Peloponnese would be quite time consuming, and you would have to move between places to see it all ( with overnights in different cities)
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Feb 25th, 2014, 03:01 PM
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One thing I noticed is that you are staying in Athens twice when you wanted to reduce moving around as well as packing and unpacking. You will be doing airport-Athen-airport trip twice as well as checking in/out of Athens twice. Look closely how your initial trip to Athens is coordinated. If you are starting from DFW, you are likely to be arriving in Athens around 9am. I presume you are staying in an apartment like entity in Vouliagmeni? If so, think carefully how you flow from the airport to check-in. Apartments usually have late afternoon check-in and if they don't provide an option to check-in earlier, you have to find a way to deal with your luggage until later in the day if your arrival is early. If this is the case, it really does not benefit heading to Athens to deal with the jet lag. You could just as well proceed to Santorini on the same day. If you have done this, Then you can eliminate one airport-Athens-airport trip as well as one check-in/out cycle.

The places you mentioned are highly visited destinations where you would run into group tour buses. Santorini would still be in the cruise seasons are mobbed by cruise tours during the day. If you want to escape highly beaten paths, you could head north to Naxos, etc. which do not get cruise passengers but on a main ferry trunk route with easy return back to Athens by boat or by plane.
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Feb 26th, 2014, 07:49 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions...our travel dates are Oct 2-18

We are staying in the Vouligameni area because we're fans of Starwood Properties and although they do have a couple near the center, we prefer more seclusion and quietness while at our hotel so we choose the Westin. We don't mind driving to the center, although after reading some of the posts, I'm not sure if it's a good idea to rent a car or just take the metro bus (still researching our options so any suggestions would be appreciated). We like to drive and explore but still not sure about how easy it is to manuever through Athens and the surrounding areas (not sure about road signs). We do like to walk so we can drive the car to one location and walk around.

Sounds like we should do an overnight to Meteora and a day trip to Delphi but leave the Pelopennese area out for this trip, although it would have been nice to visit Corinth. Do the organized one day/overnight tours allow you enough time to explore the monsatires in Meteora and Delphi or is it best to drive ourselves and have the flexibility with each? Thanks for the info on the one day island tours.

Hi Greg, we will be staying at the Westin so we normally don't have a problem with early check in. You do bring up a valid point about being in/out of Athens twice. My purpose for staying in Athens for 7 nights upon arrival is so that we can relax after the long flight and familiarize ourselves with the area and began touring after about a day or so. It seems to be more to do in Athens so we would rather be busier at the top of the vacation and then slow it down towards the end. Once we return from Santorini then we can just enjoy the remaining 4 days casually exploring. You made a valid point on the packing and unpacking in Athens...guess I really didn't see it that way so thanks for bringing that up. I was more concerned about packing and unpacking moving from island to island which I didn't want to do but in actuality I'll be doing the same thing, but in Athens. I've heard that when you take the ferry to Santorini the view is breathtaking, so I wanted to use the ferry as oppose to flying into Santorini (tossing the idea of taking the ferry there and flying back to Athens). Would that be a hassle getting from the airport to the Piraeus port upon arrival to Athens or is there a chance for delays at the port? When you say head to Naxos, are you suggesting leaving Santorini out completely or staying two nights there and proceed to Naxo for the other two nights?

Thanks again!
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Feb 26th, 2014, 08:41 AM
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We've stayed at The Westin in Vouliagmeni many times, but only for a day or two to recover from jet lag. I think you'll regret spending seven days there. The hotel can be quite a hike from Athens, at least 45 minutes into the center of town, depending on time of day/night.

The hotel has a gorgeous setting, nestled between two spits of sand on the Athens Riveria, but the beaches are small, with lots of chairs close together. There's also a medium-sized pool, although it's sometimes cold.

Food is so-so. We've had excellent buffet breakfasts, but room service, and options for lunch and dinner, have been only mediocre. We sometimes splurge by going next door to NOBU, which has excellent food, and a beautiful perch overlooking the water, especially at sunset.

Now about the rooms: We've always gone with deluxe rooms, and although they are very comfortable, they don't have much of a "wow" factor. And depending where your room is, it can be a lot of up and down, either in the elevator or bunches of stairs to get to the beach/pool.

To sum up, there are many better options in Athens itself if you're going to spend that kind of money. We really love The Ava Hotel and Suites, in the heart of the Plaka. For the same or less than you'd spend at The Westin, you can have a large suite with views of both the Acropolis and Hadrian's Arch. And you'll be within walking distance of most of the sites you'll want to see.

More later, but good luck with the planning!
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Feb 26th, 2014, 08:45 AM
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Lastly, don't count on early check-in. Has never happened for us, even though it's supposed to according to our Starwood account.

Also, I would never ever recommend driving in Athens. Total nightmare!
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Feb 26th, 2014, 11:38 AM
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Thanks WWK. I have to say that I'm getting a really good can not pass hotel rate at the Westin ($95 per night including all taxes-daughter works for Starwood). That is another reason why I considered that area on top of the seclusion. I was thinking it was about 20 minutes from the center by car and that it wouldn't be too much trouble...that's giving me something to think about. Is that 45 minutes by car or by a metro bus. If by metro, are the routes easy enough to understand? I also thought it would be good to do the hop on/hop off buses. We did those in various cities in Spain and found it very helpful. I do remember reading something about it not being a good idea to drive in Athens but it's okay in the surrounding areas. I don't want to waste money on a car if I really don't need it...which brings up another question-should I rent the car at the airport or find another location. I don't mind driving the car into the center, parking it and walking everywhere, but if parking is a problem, that may be useless because we'll be wasting time..guess it won't be so bad if that's just for one day...still debating.

Thanks again!
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Feb 26th, 2014, 12:18 PM
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Hi again! That's 45 min. by car from The Westin into Athens. It's sometimes taken us longer, but this was in the summer months. No idea if that's a standard amount of time all year long, but I don't think you'll ever get into Athens in 20 min., from The Westin, regardless. There's often a lot of traffic into and out of Athens!

There is a shuttle bus offered by The Westin. I don't know if it operates in October or not. We didn't find it useful because it didn't match up well with our schedule.

No doubt you got an unbelievable rate (!) for The Westin, but I still think 7 days there- if you really want to see much of Athens etc.,- is a mistake. I'd rather pay a little more and stay right in the heart of things, but of course it's your call. Take a look at ATHENS GATE, which is a very nice 3-star, well-located for seeing Athens.

Can't give advice on car rental, since we've always walked everywhere or taken metro/cabs. I do know that parking is very hard in Athens, because our Greek friends constantly complain about it!

Good luck!
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Feb 26th, 2014, 03:08 PM
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I would definitely not recommend to drive with a car into the center of Athens, where parking is very diffecult, next to impossible.
Personally i was driving to my office at Syntagma Square but i had space secured in a parking house....
This will cost between about 18 Euros per day.

Using public transportation is much faster, especially now that the red line goes to Ellinikon.

The whole complex of 3 hotels ( Arion, Aphrodite and Nafsika got sold to Jermyn Street Real Estate Fund IV LP, a couple of months ago, and even though we do not know anything about their plans yet, i think it is very possible that all 3 hotels will be completely renovated and upgrated in the near future.

Nobu is an excellent choice and so is also the nearby Ithaki ( a fish restaurant) with a terrific view over the bay of Kavouri.

More choices for shopping, nightlife, nice restaurants and cafes you will find in Glyfada which is not far away.
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Feb 26th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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clausar,

Ithaki was one of our favorite restaurants during our stay in Vouliagmeni. Can't believe I forgot to mention it!
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Feb 26th, 2014, 04:23 PM
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The meals at Ithaki and Nobu will definitely cost more than 1 night at the hotel
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Feb 26th, 2014, 10:28 PM
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You don't mind driving the car into the (Athens) center, because you are envisioning it would be like driving a car into the center of Dallas or Houston? Do you use public transits at home? Here is the metro route map http://www.ametro.gr/files/pdf/AM_At...ec_2013_en.pdf. See the red line from Helliniko (Ellinikon in Greek)? It is line #2. If you get on at Helliniko, the metro only goes one way - to the center of Athens. You will probably be getting off at Syntagma or Acropoli. By the way, a metro is a train, not a bus.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 11:20 AM
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Clausar....thanks for the tip on driving. Needless to say we won't be driving in Athens. And to answer your question Greg, I don't use public transit. We actually just implemented a new metro rail here in Austin a couple of years ago but I have yet to try it out. I'll need to familiarize myself with the metro in Athens that's for sure. So with the metro, we can basically get to all the main highlights excluding Delphi, Meteora, Olympic Stadium, correct?

Thanks again!
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Feb 27th, 2014, 11:32 AM
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All major museums and archaeological sites, churches etc are all located between the triangle Syntagma Square- Acropolis -Thisseion, that can be easily reached with the metro.

Meteora are located 400 km from Athens, Delphi 130 km and Nafplio in the Argolid 170 km.
If you want to visit the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio for the marvellous sunset, the distance is 50 km.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 11:43 AM
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So is the Temple of Poseidon within the metro system or should we book through a tour guide? If we wanted to explore outside the center of Athens, is that easily accessible with a rental car or not recommended at all? We like to drive and stop at our leisure to enjoy the area. I'm thinking we need to have an organized tour of Delphi and Meteora..correct me if I'm wrong.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 12:25 PM
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Sounion is too far away from Athens in a rural area, best way to visit is with a rental car.

You can also drive to Delphi and further to Meteora and back to Athens in 3 days.
You would need of course a bigger car for 6 persons plus luggage.

Organized tours can be booked on line and on the spot, i am not sure if there will be a pick up point near to your hotel, they depart around Syntagma Square early in the morning.

Have a look at Key Tours, GO Tours or Chat Tours, they are all offering tours and excursions of good quality.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 12:34 PM
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Thanks so much Clausar...you have been a BIG help!

Have a great day!
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Mar 30th, 2014, 12:16 PM
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Having arrived in Santorini twice by ship,I highly recommend this over flying there. There is nothing in the world like the view of those tiny white houses so far up above your ship.I also recommend the day tour which takes you out to the volcano, to the hot spring, to the smaller island, and ends in Oia where the sunset crowd is a bit thick,(have a tripod ready). This is a vigorous day with lots of walking up steps, and more steps.

Having said that, I must add that I am planning a trip to Greece in October 2014 for 4 of us senior women. we hope to see the sights of Athens, then travel to Napflio and take tours from there to nearby sights. Our travel agent has advised that not as many tours will be offered in October as earlier, e.g. September. Am still trying to find an easy way to visit Monemvasia, by ship from Athens, or by bus from Athens or by tour from Napflio. Would love to have a night or two in that fascinating place. Any comments from those of you who have commented above will be appreciated. Leonye
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Mar 30th, 2014, 01:53 PM
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Leonye

I am afraid that getting from Nafplio to Monemvasia is not easy at all. There are no direct busses and catching the bus that is doing the Athens - Monemvasia route would be difficult even to locals.

To my knowledge there are no boats from Piraeus to Monemvasia either, your options would be either a rental car or a bus from Athens straight to Monemvasia.

Here you will find the timetable for that route, as an indication. ( you will have to check again when you will be in Greece in case of any changes.)

http://ktel-lakonias.gr/?q=el/node/80
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Mar 30th, 2014, 02:44 PM
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I think you are making a huge mistake staying so far out of Athens proper. You will end up spending about 90 minutes each day on public transport or driving in a city where driving for a novice in Athens would be extremely stressful. Please reconsider your hotel and book closer. You don't need seclusion, you will be out and about each day exploring Athens.

You should consider the cost of a car or commuting into Athens each day and add that amount to the cost of a hotel closer to the city centre.

Something else to consider is that it's important you share this information with your friends. I know it's just me, but I'd be furious if I got there and realised I was 45 mins out of Athens and was stuck at a beach resort and that all the fabulous history that Athens offers was going to be a pain in the neck to get to.
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