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chrizninja83 Nov 13th, 2012 04:52 PM

Greece for a month!
Hi - I am new to the forum and need some travel advice. My wife and I have talked for years about just quitting our jobs and pursuing our dream of travel. Now that we have enough money saved up, we are doing just that! We are starting in SE Asia and making our way back west. We are visiting Greece for a month (out of a 6 month journey) and wanted to know what you guys think of the following itinerary. We've done some research but was curious to know "how long to stay" in each place or if there is something "we simply can't miss" on our first visit to Greece

1) Arriving in Athens from Rome by plane
2) Athens for 3 days (based on research and other forums saying it's sort of "boring"
3) Ferry from Rafina to Mykonos
4) Mykonos for 6 days
5) Ferry to Naxos, Naxos for 4 days
6) Ferry to Paros, Paros for 4 days
7) Ferry to Ios, Ios for 3 days
8) Ferry to Santorini, Santorini for 10 days

We are trying to minimize travel time on ferries, but want to catch at least some decent beaches and food. We will be travelling Greece the entire month of June. Any suggestions?

Is Crete, Corfu, or Rhodes worth the extra travel?

parosblue Nov 13th, 2012 07:33 PM

Hi chrizninja - how lucky you are! As far as your plan for Greece, you have lots of time to visit several locations. Yet, picking 2-3 places as base of operation and then taking trips in the surrounding area would be a nice way to get a feel for the region. My husband and I go for 4-5 weeks and we select no more than 3 places each trip. Also, you are shortchanging Athens and the mainland. First of all, Athens is definitely not boring, and there are so many wonderful areas to visit within a short distance. It would be helpful to tell us a little more about what you want to do while there. Are you interested in the historic sites and museums, as well as food and beaches? Personally, I also think you have too much time set aside for Santorini. It is a breathtaking place, but there are nicer beaches and interesting things to do elsewhere. You might spend more time on Paros and visit Antiparos. Crete is wonderful and needs 5-7 days because it is so big. Rhodes is also a very interesting island with its medieval castle and the beach at Lindos is one of my favorites. You can take a boat up to Symi, where you'll discover the idyllic Venetian town. There are multiple itineraries for your chunk of time. Greece has areas within the mainland and in island groups that are very distinct. You'll want to organize the trip so you are in a logical pattern for transportation. Best practice is to read lots of books and decide what you really want to explore to help narrow the scope. Then tell the forum some more of your hopes for your visit.

Heimdall Nov 14th, 2012 01:10 AM

You are indeed lucky to have a month to spend in Greece. I have been to all the islands on your list, save Ios, more than once, Paros and Naxos many times. They are all great, and have their own individual charms, but you will be getting much the same experience on each.

The islands should be part of your trip, but you will be shortchanging yourselves by omitting sights on the mainland. There is far more to see in the Peloponnese, especially the Argolid area around Nafplion, than all the Greek Islands put together. The Peloponnese has beaches better than those on the islands, especially in Lakonia and Messenia.

Other sights worth seeing on the mainland are Delphi and Meteora. Just last month my daughter spent a couple of nights in Kalambaka, near Meteora, and exclaimed on the beauty of that area. My daughter, btw, is doing something similar to you: taking a mid-career break and travelling overland from London to Cape Town.

I suppose Athens may be boring to someone not interested in history or ancient sites, but it has much more than that. Athens is a vibrant city, with culture, nightlife, and fine restaurants. Just a couple of metro stops from the tourist haunt of Plaka is the fashionable district of Kolonaki, where well-heeled Athenians prefer to go. One of my most memorable evenings in Athens was strolling up Apostolou Pavlou and stopping for a cappuccino freddo in a sidewalk cafe overlooking the Acropolis as the sun was setting. Later I had a wonderful meal in a nearby restaurant called Stavlos in the Thissio district.

What I would recommend is to spend two weeks on the mainland and two weeks on the islands. That way you will get a well-rounded experience of Greece. :-)

Heimdall Nov 14th, 2012 01:42 AM

Oh, and if you are interested in food, check out this Athens tour:!athens-food-tour. This tour, and others on the website, are run by Athenians who can take you to parts of Athens most tourists miss. :-)

Odin Nov 14th, 2012 03:13 AM

I would also recommend spending more time on the mainland. We spent time in Pelion after visiting Meteora (Meteora monasteries are in a stunning location). Pelion is not mentioned very much, it is a unique area of Greece, very lush and green with cliffs down to the sea, beautiful beaches (Damouchari, Milopotamos for example), perched villages with interesting architecture.

clausar Nov 14th, 2012 07:13 AM

If you were to follow your original itinerary, you would only see Athens and 4 Cycladic islands, not Greece......

Greece is very diverse, there are lots to see and do, and every area is different..

Most people on this side, know only the Argolis area and Athens on the Mainland and Santorini/Paros/Naxos/Crete from the islands, while Greece is much more....

Heimdall's and Odin's recommendations are excellent, having a car would give you the possibility to explore Mainland Greece which is fabulous.

chrizninja83 Nov 14th, 2012 10:59 AM

Thanks so much for the replies!

It sounds like the mainland has a LOT more to offer than I originally thought.

Heimdall - We are trying to avoid renting a car but it sounds like that is the only option if I want to spend a few weeks on the mainland. Are there buses that go to these destinations you mentioned, Delphi and Meteora and Nafplion?

I did some quick searches on those 3 areas and they look absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for that recommendation on the food tour too.

clausar Nov 14th, 2012 11:13 AM

Even though you can reach even the tiniest village of Greece by bus, the connections are not always convenient, and not all cities are connected to each other....

Yes you can visit Nafplio, Delphi and Meteora with a public bus, however you will have to go via Athens from Meteora to Nafplio, or you will have to change several buses to get from Nafplio to Delphi or vv.

I think a rental car is the best solution, to see these main attractions and even more that are on the way, at your own pace...

There are wonderful seaside villages everywhere, or nice places for lunch on your way, where you could never stop otherwise....

Since you have plenty of time, you could do a great tour of Mainland Greece including, Pelion mountain, Meteora, Delphi, Olympia, Napflio and back to Athens...... :)

Driving a car in Greece is easy and the roads are in good shape.... :)

michaelq Nov 14th, 2012 11:36 AM

I'm so jealous, looks like you're living the life!

Heimdall Nov 14th, 2012 11:42 AM

If you don't want to rent a car, consider taking one of the tours offered by the Greek companies , , or

Actually one of the plus points of touring the mainland is: you aren't tied to ferry schedules, and don't have to worry about cancellations due to weather or strikes. If you take one of the above tours you will still be regulated by someone else's timetable, and that's not for everyone. With a car you can come and go as you please, stopping to see something of interest whenever you wish. If your driver's license is from outside the EU (US for example) you will need in International Driver's Permit (IDP) at the very reasonable cost of $15 in any AAA office.

Confession time: I do a lot of driving at home, but have never rented a car in Greece. Last September I took the express bus from Athens to Kalamata, and spent some time in the southern Peloponnese. The bus ride was quick and pleasant — I would do it again. I had the advantage of friends who picked me up at Kalamata and drove me around, but had they not, a car would have been advantageous. One day they drove me up to the huge archaeological site of Ancient Messini, and there were only about six other visitors on the entire site! That's quite a change from the well worn tourist trail in Athens and on some of the islands. :-)

chrizninja83 Nov 14th, 2012 01:43 PM

Sounds like the bus routes would definitely limit us on the mainland, but we are just very feaful of driving in a foreign country (unjustifiably so) that we've never been to. I'm going to look into the tour companies and see what options are available there. You guys have more than helpful and it is greatly appreciated!

Ifnotnow_when Nov 14th, 2012 03:00 PM

Several years ago we spent 3 weeks in Greece. We were in Nafplio in an apt. for 2 weeks and did day trips (and 2 overnights) to different sights. We then went to Athens and spent 2 nights, went to Santorini for 3 nights and back to Athens for 2 more nights. There are so many amazing sights to see in Greece. Santorini was beautiful, but after 2 days I was ready to leave. With a month to visit I would suggest you spend some time on the Peloponise Penisula, Athens, Delphi, and a couple days on Santorini and a couple days on maybe another island or so. By the way, driving was not that difficult. There are more mountains then I expected which means you have some interesting roads and fellow drivers, but we only got lost once, and for us that's a record. Greece has such an amazing collection of history that it is mind boggling. Take advantage of all you can.

Ifnotnow_when Nov 14th, 2012 03:05 PM

By the way, Nafplio is a wonderful small town with a fort, beaches, and tons of restaurants. Stay in the old part of town.

chrizninja83 Nov 14th, 2012 04:01 PM

It sounds like it's a toss up between Peloponnese or the Meteora area. Which is preferred?

We will probably rent a car and take advantage of more mainland Greece, but want to maximize our time out on the islands. We currently live in the gloom capital of the world (Seattle) and beaches/sunshine is what we seek the most.

clausar Nov 14th, 2012 04:45 PM

The Peloponnese is a huge Penninsula, while Meteora are monasteries build on the top of huge rocks.....

The Meteora area could be combined with the Pelion mountain, which is on the way and it is one of the nicest mountains of Greece, with quaint villages and nice boutique hotels everywhere, but it also has to offer some very nice beaches.

Mainland Greece has many great beaches, especially the West coast ( Kyllini) and the South Peloponnese ( Voidokoilia, Elafonisos are amongst the nicest beaches of Greece).

This is a part of Greece that one should explore, personally i don't see any meaning in visiting a bunch of Cycladic islands, that all more or less look the same.

Spend some relaxing days on 2- 3 of the islands ( Paros or Naxos and Santorini would be ideal as combination) and dedicate the rest of the days to the amazing Mainland.

Since you have plenty of time, Meteora and the Peloponnese are doable with a car.
Start with studying the map first to see where all these places and islands are located. Looks for all the places that have been mentioned here plus a few more on the Mainland such as :

Olympia, Delphi, Galaxidi, Nafpaktos, Kalogria Beach, Epidavros, Monemvasia, Elafonisos, Kalamata, Kardamili, Dirou Caves, Gythio, Mystras .

These could be the highlights of a Mainland Greece tour :)

chrizninja83 Nov 14th, 2012 04:59 PM

Wow, thanks clausar! This is all overwhelming right now. A month sounds like a long time, but we want to stay put in a few places (hence the first go at a list of having 10 nights in Santorini)

What do you think about flying into Thessaloniki and making our way south to Meteora, Pelion, then Athens and ending with the Peloponnese?

Is there a ferry or airport from somewhere in the Peloponnese to the Cycladic islands?

parosblue Nov 14th, 2012 08:10 PM

It's great that you are taking ideas from the forum. I have always wanted to drive from Thessaloniki to the Peloponnese. It would be a great road trip. I think the mainland has so much to offer - villages, beaches, historical sights, mountain vistas - and we have not found driving a problem. I have also taken a bus in various places - you just have to be more patient and flexible. A couple of places to emphasize - Delphi feels spiritual, and Naufplion with its surrounding area is a must.You do not want to miss the Cyclades though - the islands may have similar qualities - yet they are magical and there is a reason why some folks (myself included) get addicted to them. I was also looking at ferries from the Peloponnese - not so easy by the looks of it - more limited destinations, but others with more experience should answer that question. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about some of our favorite months in Greece:
#1: Athens w/daytrip to Delphi (5 days), take flight to Rhodes (5), take flight to Crete (7), ferry to Santorini (3), ferry to Paros (7), ferry back to Athens (3).
#2: Athens with day trip to Delphi (5 days), take car to Nauplion area (6), back to Athens with day trip to Sounion (3), fly to Santorini (3), ferry to Paros (7), ferry to Mykonos (4), ferry to Athens (2).
Enjoy the planning!
Both of these routes are great trips. But currently we like to go to fewer places so we can nestle in a bit.

joannyc Nov 14th, 2012 08:52 PM

Meteora was wonderful! We very much enjoyed our Ike there!

joannyc Nov 14th, 2012 08:54 PM

Not sure how that happened...lke = time

clausar Nov 14th, 2012 10:10 PM

The idea of flying to Thessaloniki and from there towards south is actually a very good one...

Thessaloniki is another nice city with many interesting places nearby, that are ideal for day trips.....

You can plan your trip to end in Nafplio, from there Athens is only 150 km away... since there no ferries to the Cyclades from the Peloponnese. ( there are connections only to nearby islands such as Poros, Hydra Spetses and also Kythira/Crete in the south).

From Delphi you could continue to Olympia, via Galaxidi and Nafpaktos, cross the Rio- Antirrio bridge and continue to Olympia, one of the nicest archaeological sites of Greece.

From Olympia you would take the mountainous scenic road to Nafplio, from which Piraeus is only 2,5 hours away. :)

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