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Athens, Santorini, Paros and Meteora - impossible dream?!

Athens, Santorini, Paros and Meteora - impossible dream?!

Old Dec 30th, 2018, 01:13 PM
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Athens, Santorini, Paros and Meteora - impossible dream?!

We are flying into and out of Athens for 12 days in September (arrive Sat. 11:00 AM & depart Wed. 2:00 PM) and would like to cover all of the above - is this too much? We are using miles so the flights are set. It will be just my BF and I, early 40's, and our priorities are good food (first & foremost), historical and religious sites, culture, and relaxation, in that order. My BF is really into the ancient sites, while I'm more into the religious (I'd love to visit Patmos but I've given up on that, sadly). We'd like to build in some downtime on Santorini or Paros, sitting at a taverna on the beach eating seafood, etc. but once we hit mainland we are ready for a full itinerary. We're only interested in the monasteries in Meteora, not the scrambling/hiking tours that I know are popular, and we'd love to not have to drive, but I think if we want to visit Delphi on the way to Meteora we'll have to, the only train itineraries I could find are only for Meteora and back.
Right now I have the following rough outline but not sure about the short time in Athens. I know it's ultimately up to us what we like and don't, but I love hearing from people who've been there and getting their thoughts, it's always been so helpful:
Sat - arrive 11:00 , flight to Santorini (thinking Ikies for the hotel?)
Sun - Santorini - relax, visit winery or two
Mon - Satnorini - visit Akrotiri
Tues - transfer to Paros (no idea for hotel yet!)
Wed - Paros
Thurs - Paros
Fri - transfer to Athens, visit National Archaeological Museum (Hilton Athens w/ points)
Sat - Acropolis Museum, Acropolis
Sun/Mon/Tues - drive to Delphi, Meteora and back to Athens, stay by airport (no hotel yet)
Wed - fly home
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Old Dec 30th, 2018, 01:46 PM
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I won't say it's impossible, but I'm not sure I'd want to try it! Delphi and it's extraordinary museum can take the better part of a day. Meteora's monasteries can easily take a full day. And I, personally, wouldn't want to drive after dark. Whether you can make it work depends, I think, on how comfortable you are with skimming when you visit these magnificent sites.

Have you seen my (long) trip report? You might find some useful information in it:
With Gratitude for a Glorious Solo Month in Greece
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Old Dec 30th, 2018, 03:37 PM
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Hi kja - thanks for the quick reply, and yes, I am halfway through your trip report now!
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Old Dec 31st, 2018, 12:07 AM
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Were it me I would go to Meteora before the last day’s sightseeing in Athens. I don’t know if this will be helpful, but there are Aegean/Olympic nonstop flights from Paros to Thessaloniki, which will put you nearer to Meteora than Athens. Some of the fights are very cheap, which will save you money as well as time:
https://en.aegeanair.com/
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Old Dec 31st, 2018, 11:49 AM
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Thanks Heimdall! I looked into that too, but I can't find the schedule for the train from Thessaloniki to Kalambaka yet so I'm not sure if we could make that work. I think I may just need to extend Santorini and skip Paros, which isn't what I want, but I just can't seem to make it work.
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Old Jan 1st, 2019, 12:06 AM
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Hi Hodie,

It may be you can't find a train schedule because there isn't a train on that route. In Greece, unlike some countries, KTEL bus service is much more efficient than trains. KTEL are regional companies that use modern, well-maintained buses. It took me less than a minute with a Google search to find the KTEL Trikala timetable for that route, and there are several buses each day. The page even explains how to get from the airport to the bus station:
from/to THESSALONIKI :: ???? ???????? ??

EDIT: Ignore all the question marks in the above link.

It's up to you to decide whether a flight from Paros to Thessaloniki is more efficient than going back through Athens, but it seems to me it would be better to go straight to Meteora and save Athens for last. You could take the train back to Athens after your Meteora visit.

Last edited by Heimdall; Jan 1st, 2019 at 12:38 AM.
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Old Jan 1st, 2019, 08:25 AM
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Thanks again! Yes, I found that very quickly, and good to know about the bus vs train in Greece. I am leaning towards just renting a car now, even though we were really trying to not have to drive this time. In your opinion (and I know, just your opinion) should I just skip Paros? We are really coming to Greece for the history (and food), less so for the beaches and relaxation.
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Old Jan 1st, 2019, 09:06 AM
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Well, if you go to Paros you can visit the little known archeological site at Despotiko, which is in an early stage of excavation. Yannos Kourayos, the excavation director, expects what still lies underground may rival that of Delos. You can reach Despotiko by boat from Agios Georgios at the south of Antiparos and see the sea caves at the same time.
Captain Sargos Antiparos | Boat trips to Despotiko | Call us 6973794876

Paros has the most beautiful Byzantine cathedral in the Cyclades, Ekatontapyliani or Church of 100 Doors, built on the site of an ancient Greek temple. I’m a little biased because Paros and Antiparos are my favourite islands. Santorini is a “must see” for the views, but Paros is more relaxed and not blighted by cruise ships.

Last edited by Heimdall; Jan 1st, 2019 at 09:15 AM.
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Old Jan 1st, 2019, 09:49 AM
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Friday: Paros dp 9.40 or 12.25 - Thessaloniki ar 11.00 or 13.30. Kalambaka: buses at 15.15 and 17.30; trains at 16.17 and 18.37 (3 hrs journey)
Saturday: monasteries. Bus to Lamia. Lamia dp by bus 19.00 up to Delphi.
Sunday: visit Delphi, dp 16.00 or 18.00 by bus to Athens
bus: winter timetables. Check again before you leave
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Old Jan 1st, 2019, 11:14 AM
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Neckervd has put together a good potential itinerary.
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Old Jan 1st, 2019, 06:38 PM
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You both just made my day!
Heimdall - Despotiko looks amazing, something we would love to see.
neckervd - Thank you for putting together! I need to look into further but it definitely looks workable.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2019, 12:48 AM
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To whet your appetite:
Drone Video of Despotiko

https://www.archaeology.wiki/blog/20...-on-despotiko/

Despotiko still isn't open as a Ministry of Culture archaeological site, so there is no admission charge, but you will have to pay Captain Sargos to take you there in his boat. I have exchanged emails with Yannos, the excavation director, and everyone is welcome to visit. If you are lucky there may even be archaeologists at work while you are there, but the main digs take place earlier in the summer. The excavations are expected to continue for many years, and eventually Despotiko will be an open museum similar to Delos.

Last edited by Heimdall; Jan 2nd, 2019 at 12:57 AM.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2019, 03:27 AM
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Alternative:
Paros dp Thursday 18.15 - ATH ar 18.55, dp 20.09 - Proastakios - Athens railway station ar 20.51
sleep close to railway station.
Athens dp Friday 8.20 by direct train to Kalambaka ar 13.18
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