7-8 days in greece -- am I crazy?

Jun 28th, 2019, 12:57 PM
  #1  
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7-8 days in greece -- am I crazy?

Hi Fodors forum! My wife and I are planning our first trip to Greece in the heat of the summer (yes, sigh, August...) and laying out an itinerary. I've read a bunch of trip reports and advice on this forum and it's been incredibly helpful in assembling what I think might make sense for us, but I wonder if it's too much. I'd love any and all advice.

First, some quick high-level background: As travelers, we're high-velocity -- we're very OK moving from place to place. We're not particularly interested in beaches/parties, and are not huge hikers. We tend to be pretty interested in history and would ideally like to get a diverse set of points of Greek history -- mycenaean, greek, cycladean, byzantine, etc. In the future we're super-interested in doing trips to the north (Meteora/Thessaloniki/etc) and to Crete, but I suspect both of those trips are sufficiently big to merit their own future trips.

Anyways, here's my current idea of an itinerary.
Day 1 (Tuesday): Arrive in ATH at 9-10am. Day 1 in Athens, see the highlights (overnight: Athens)
Day 2: Daytrip to Delphi, possibly with short stops in Hosios Loukas or Chalkis (we're Jewish and interested in Jewish heritage). Overnight: Athens
Day 3: AM in Athens. 3pm Ferry to Mykonos. Late afternoon wandering mykonos old town/etc. Overnight: Mykonos
Day 4: Morning trip to Delos, returning at 1pm. Pick up bags, afternoon ferry to Santorini. Overnight: Santorini
Day 5: Santorini. Hang out, exhale, walk to Oia in the late afternoon. Overnight: Santorini
Day 6: Super-early flight back to Athens (I think we land at 8am or so). Pick up car, drive to Nafplio. Stop by Corinth, Mycenae, Nemea en route. Overnight: Nafplio
Day 7: Nafplio, and possibly Epidaurus and/or Mystras depending on how much energy we have. Drive back to Athens at night, return the car there. Overnight: Athens
Day 8: Morning in Athens. 2pm flight out of ATH.

Thoughts? I know this is packing in a *ton* but we do like to travel aggressively. The only fixed point is that we have to be in Santorini for Day 5.

Thanks for any advice/feedback!

Last edited by hammerzeit; Jun 28th, 2019 at 12:57 PM. Reason: word choice
hammerzeit is offline  
Jun 28th, 2019, 01:23 PM
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You may be high-velocity, but the transportation might not catch up with you.
For example, day 3 3pm ferry to Mykonos. I presume you are looking at Seajet Rafina-Mykonos route. What are you going to do if that ferry is cancelled? What are you going to do if other companies also cancel or delay the ferries? Because of the uncertainties, it is risky to plan an itinerary where you cannot absorb a one day delay easily.
Day 4 also looks doutful. There may or may not be a return boat from Delos to get you back to Mykonos at 1pm.
You will probably save more time by bunching all your mainland visit in one segment. You are arriving early in Athens. You can easily fly to Mykonos or Santorinia on the same day. Reduce you inter-island ferry trip to Mykonos-Santorini only.
greg is offline  
Jun 28th, 2019, 01:26 PM
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One red flag might be Mystras--at two hours from Nafplio, that might be too much for one day. Plus, the site is extraordinary and I'd want a couple hours there at least.
Nemea and Epidaurus were not very time-consuming, but I spent a good bit of time at Mycenae. So, you might rework the order a bit but otherwise looks doable at a glance (but makes me tired, I'm a sloth, hee). You might add a quick peek at Tiryns, which we just happened upon as we were departing Nafplio.
yorkshire is offline  
Jun 28th, 2019, 01:35 PM
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You plan to see the highlights of Athens on your arrival day? Are you flying from another Wuropean destination? If not, you will be jet lagged and Athens deserves so much more. I see you allocate one half day more later in the trip, still not enough time considering lines at historic sites.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jun 28th, 2019, 02:10 PM
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Thanks for the quick feedback, all! One big thing I'm hearing here is to be prepared to cancel/skip Mykonos if needed, either because we're too fried after a redeye or if the ferries get screwed up because of weather. Big takeaway there is to keep our hotel bookings refundable/cancellable.

greg -- that's a fair point. My thinking had been that if the 3pm Rafina ferry is cancelled, there are three more that day. If all the ferries are cancelled, then we'd either have to hop a flight or overnight in Athens, skip Mykonos and go straight to Santorini. Does it happen frequently in the summer that all the ferries are cancelled? Similarly if the Delos excursion doesn't happen, then we'd just cut that part of the trip and go straight to Santorini (there are worse things, I suspect . I wish I could rearrange the dates but for various reasons it's strongly preferable for us to be in Santorini on Saturday (day 5).

HappyTrvlr -- we're arriving straight off a redeye, yeah. That's something we've done before and gone straight to a day full of activities without it hurting us too much -- if this time it was different and we're too fried I think we'd probably audible and just eliminate the Mykonos/Delos leg from our trip. Definitely keeping our hotel in Mykonos cancelable for exactly this reason!
hammerzeit is offline  
Jun 28th, 2019, 04:00 PM
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Also, planning a hike to OIA in the afternoon of an August day (in a summer heading for hottest-on-record temps), you had also better slot in a ambulance to the hospital for heat stroke.
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 28th, 2019, 06:25 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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I travel hard. I can't imagine seeing everything you are describing in the time frames you suggest. You cannot see the highlights of Athens in a single day (although you can, of course, see a few very selected things). A daytrip to Delphi will take most of the day; I can't imagine fitting anything else in, certainly not Hosios Loukas. I don't think I would have been able to see Corinth, Mycenae, and Nemea on the same day, particularly if you want any time in charming Nafplio itself (unless you simply mean to see the Corinthian Canal, not Corinth or Akrocorinth, in which case it might be possible. Mystras can easily take a full day, and unlike yorkshire, I thought Epidaurus worthy of a long stop.

If you haven't already seen it, you might find some useful information in my trip report:
With Gratitude for a Glorious Solo Month in Greece

Good luck!

Last edited by kja; Jun 28th, 2019 at 06:35 PM.
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Jun 28th, 2019, 11:23 PM
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The idea that ferries might be cancelled is much exaggerated. It does occasionally happen, but not often enough to plan your trip around it—just have a Plan B. In August there are about eight ferries every day between Mykonos and Santorini, including large car carrying catamarans and at least one even larger conventional vessel. What is more likely to happen is the small taxi boats that take people from Mykonos to Delos are cancelled due to wind. The first time I visited Delos I had to wait two days to get there.

Remember that every time you move from one location to another you can chalk off that day as lost, because you will spend most of your time checking in and out of hotels, waiting at airports/ferry ports and actual travel. There are few things worse than waiting at the ferry ports in the heat of an August day. Forget about air-conditioned terminals—you will be lined up outside in something resembling a cattle pen, with a tin roof for shade.
Heimdall is offline  
Jun 30th, 2019, 07:02 AM
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Thanks, all! I'm hearing that perhaps this *is* a bit a crazy after all... I'll regroup and see about simplifying. Thanks!

kja I read you trip report in great depth, gave me a lot of good ideas. If you had to cut one thing from the itinerary above, what would it be? It feels like Mykonos/Delos is skippable but not sure.
hammerzeit is offline  
Jun 30th, 2019, 08:17 AM
  #10  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by hammerzeit View Post
kja I read you trip report in great depth, gave me a lot of good ideas. If you had to cut one thing from the itinerary above, what would it be? It feels like Mykonos/Delos is skippable but not sure.
I'm glad my TR proved useful!
I don't know how to advise you about what to skip -- I think you really need to decide your priorities, remembering that the more times you move, the greater the proportion of your time you spend in transit instead of actually seeing the places between which you are flitting. FWIW, I thought Delos magnificent, so it would NOT have made a skippable list for me; YMMV. Good luck with your decisions!
kja is offline  
Jun 30th, 2019, 10:38 AM
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I did the day cruise from Naxos to Delos/Mykonos and found Delos to be one of Greece's best and possibly least visited of its archeological sites. I believe it's a World Heritage site and rightly so. It's filled with amazing "ruins" and has a great museum. It truly is a must if you are a history of Ancient Greece.

Mykonos Town on the other hand while visually stunning was over-the-top touristy with three huge cruise ships spewing out hundreds if not thousands of tourists at the same time. The waterfront and back streets were packed and you couldn't walk a straight line and this was early October. While it was only a couple hours it was more than enough for me. Maybe other parts of the island are quieter.

I loved going to Delos and put up with Mykonos only because I had no other choice.
crazyh is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 10:03 AM
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Alright, I think I've reflected on this more and I think the travel time:reward ratio just isn't there for Mykonos/Delos, especially given time at Delphi. It'd be a ton of ferry time instead of flying, for the same price, and my understanding is the fast ferries are not such a necessary experience anyways.

So, here's my updated itinerary:
  • Day 1: Arrive in Athens @ 10am Tuesday. Drive to Nafplio, stopping at Corinth/Acrocorinth & Mycenae. Crash in Nafplio.
  • Day 2: Morning in Nafplio. After lunch, spend the afternoon in Nemea (or punt if we're too jetlagged).
  • Day 3: Morning excursion to Mystras. Afternoon: Drive to Galatas, stopping in Epidavros along the way. Overnight in Poros.
  • Day 4: Ferry to Athens, morning in Athens. 2pm flight to Santorini. Maybe visit Akrotiri or winery if time on Friday.
  • Day 5: Chill in the morning. Sunset cruise in the afternoon/evening (took the advice here and I'll punt on the hike from Fira to Oia)
  • Day 6: Fly back first thing in the AM. Spend the full day in Athens.
  • Day 7: Daytrip to Delphi, with a brief stop in Chalkis.
  • Day 8: Morning in Athens -- flight back leaves at 2pm so go to the airport around 1130-12pm.
Further thoughts? We have 2 days(well, half a day then 1.5 days) in Athens. Is that too much time there, should I reallocate more time to the Peloponnese or elsewhere? Santorini is kind of logistically annoying but I do think we're pretty locked in to being there on Day 5/flying back first thing Day 6.
Also, I kind of feel like should try to see/do something else in the Mystras area as part of that excursions, but I'm not sure what. Kalamata? Messene?
hammerzeit is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 10:49 AM
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If you’te Interested in antiquities as you mentioned in your post, then Akrotiri on Santorini is a must see. Some of the frescoes were moved to National Archeological Museum in Athens but there is a lot to see at this large site. We only returned to Santorini because Akrotiri had been reopened after the 2005 roof collapse that killed tourists. It was closed on our first visit.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 11:52 AM
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I believe at Arcocorinth you have a lengthy walk to the site. I would put Nemea on the first day--it is small and close to the highway. Granted we were in a bit of a rush, but we were there about an hour, and we ate lunch there!
If you have mapped the drive times, I assume all of this is possible, but it still looks like a lot. You probably get up a lot earlier than me!
yorkshire is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 06:27 PM
  #15  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by hammerzeit View Post
  • Day 1: Arrive in Athens @ 10am Tuesday. Drive to Nafplio, stopping at Corinth/Acrocorinth & Mycenae. Crash in Nafplio.
  • Day 2: Morning in Nafplio. After lunch, spend the afternoon in Nemea (or punt if we're too jetlagged).
  • Day 3: Morning excursion to Mystras. Afternoon: Drive to Galatas, stopping in Epidavros along the way. Overnight in Poros.
  • Day 4: Ferry to Athens, morning in Athens. 2pm flight to Santorini. Maybe visit Akrotiri or winery if time on Friday.
  • Day 5: Chill in the morning. Sunset cruise in the afternoon/evening (took the advice here and I'll punt on the hike from Fira to Oia)
  • Day 6: Fly back first thing in the AM. Spend the full day in Athens.
  • Day 7: Daytrip to Delphi, with a brief stop in Chalkis.
  • Day 8: Morning in Athens -- flight back leaves at 2pm so go to the airport around 1130-12pm.
Further thoughts? We have 2 days(well, half a day then 1.5 days) in Athens. Is that too much time there, should I reallocate more time to the Peloponnese or elsewhere? Santorini is kind of logistically annoying but I do think we're pretty locked in to being there on Day 5/flying back first thing Day 6.
Also, I kind of feel like should try to see/do something else in the Mystras area as part of that excursions, but I'm not sure what. Kalamata? Messene?
OK, first of all, please do not try to rent a car upon your arrival in Athens! Although many people are not aware of it, there is mounting evidence that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- to yourself and others -- as driving drunk, and nothing you can do will prevent the microsleeps (which you might not even notice) that are the apparent culprit. Seriously -- NOT a good idea, no matter your other constraints and no matter your prior experience!

Other notes:
  • Mystras is huge; I don't think you can visit it in just a half day. Trrying to visit it AND Epidarous on the same day would be a stretch, IMO.
  • A day trip to Delphi could easily take the full day. Are you sure you would have time for Chalkis? I wouldn't.
  • 2.5 days in Athens would not have been enough time for me. Whether it will be enough or too much for you depends on what you want to see, with what depth, and at what pace -- and ONLY you can decide that.
  • I enjoyed Kalamata, but for reasons that you can better meet in other places closer to your planned itinerary. Messene is another huge site; I don't see how you would fit it into a day that also includes the vast Mystras.
I must admit that I don't understand how you are planning how much time the places you want to visit will take or how long it will take to get from place to place, nor do I understand your routing. It made MUCH more sense to go straight through to Santorini at the start of your trip. But maybe I'm missing something....
kja is offline  
Jul 10th, 2019, 05:20 AM
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kja Thanks, good advice on renting a car. Will figure something out on that front. And yeah, it would definitely in retrospect make more sense to go straight through to Santorini at the beginning, but unfortunately I got locked into a hotel there already so kind of have to engineer around that
hammerzeit is offline  
Jul 10th, 2019, 05:34 PM
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kja
 
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Originally Posted by hammerzeit View Post
unfortunately I got locked into a hotel there
Look up "sunk cost."
kja is offline  
Jul 11th, 2019, 05:23 AM
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Hammerzeit, i wish you luck in working out a good trip, just want to say how frustrating it is for us regular contributors when people -- in advance of asking our opinions/advice -- go ahead and lock themselves into a nonrefundable hotel booking, and then ask us to help with itinerary. We see what could be improved, but it's not possible. Sigh.
travelerjan is offline  
Jul 11th, 2019, 05:35 AM
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Some above posts seem to suggest you are making a huge mistake. I disagree! While IMO it is preferable to put islands first, as long as you spend the last night in Athens (to insure not missing your flight home) you will be fine. As for not driving the morning after your overnight flight, I agree with that too, but you could spend the first day in Athens and drive to Nafplio the next day. You will have a great time!
Heimdall is offline  
Jul 11th, 2019, 06:18 AM
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The island trip in the middle is what it is, I don't see that as a problem,. This issue I have is I cannot imagine doing the drives and visiting the sites you have identified within your time frame. You gotta eat, too!
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