Greece for a month!

Old Nov 15th, 2012, 09:46 AM
  #21  
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Based on the input from this forum, we have changed our list to the following. We want to make sure we have enough time to properly get the best Greece experience so we may end up doing Greece in 40 days.

1) Fly into Santorini from Rome
2) Ferry down to Crete
3) Flight to Thessaloniki
4) Drive to Meteora (not sure how long to stay or if it's just a days visit to see monasteries)
5) Drive to Pelion (how many days?)
6) Drive to Delphi
7) Drive to Galaxidi
8) Drive to Nafpaktos
9) Drive to Olympia
10) Drive to Lakonia
11) Drive to Navplion
12) Drive to Athens
13) Fly out from Athens

We really want to experience the islands, but also want less crowded beaches. We are thinking to do Santorini in early June, Crete for the rest of June to soak up the beaches, and then head to the mainland for half of July to see the sights there. Is 40 days enough time for all of this?
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 11:13 AM
  #22  
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Also, how long would you guys spend in Crete? It looks to have a number of great beaches (which is our number 1 priority). Is 2 weeks on Crete good?
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 11:19 AM
  #23  
 
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You now have an excellent itinerary! Just in case you don't get enough beach time in Crete, have a look at this beach in Lakonia: http://images.world66.com/el/af/on/e...ia_galleryfull

Frankly in June you won't have crowded beaches anywhere — that doesn't occur until July and August. I don't have much of a feel for how long a driving trip would take, but think I would leave more than two weeks for the mainland. Since the mainland has beautiful beaches as well, it would be nice to break up your driving tour to give you some time to relax in between sightseeing days.
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 11:34 AM
  #24  
 
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Having a look at your itinerary here are some thoughts :

1 overnight in Meteora ( Kalambaka) should be enough.

You would arrive early enough from Thessaloniki and would have the whole next day at disposal.
You should take a look at the opening hours of the monasteries, not all of them are open every day, but you will certainly be able to visit some of them.

Pelion: 2 nights should be enough
Main city is Volos, but i think you should overnight in one of the beautiful villages of Pelion, like Makrinitsa or Portaria.

Galaxidi and Nafpaktos are on your way from Delphi to Olympia, you can see them as you pass by.
( have spent several great weekends in Galaxidi )

Olympia : 1-2 overnights should be fine. There are many nice sandy beaches in the area.

From Olympia i would continue to Messinia to see Pylos, Methoni, Koroni and Finikounda, there are venetian and byzantine castles to see, great beaches, especially Voidokilia !!! When in the area i love to stay in Finikounda.

From Messinia you will continue via Kalamata to the Messinian Mani ( Kardamili and Stoupa are nice sea side villages on your way) and then to the Lakonian Mani, where you can visit the Dirou Caves and overnight in Githio, which has some great sandy beaches.

From Gitio you can either visit Monemvasia as a day trip or even spend a few veeeery relaxing days in Elafonisi, which has an amazing caribbean like beach, or continue towards Nafplio with a stop to see the byzantine Mistras.

Crete is a huge island, it does have many great beaches... but to give you an idea of how big the island is... the distance from west to east is about 350 km.

Crete is actually much more than just beaches, it is an island full of history with so many things to do and see....
Having 2 weeks to spend on the island would give you plenty of time to see more than the average visitor.....
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 12:35 PM
  #25  
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All of these replies have been absolutely inspiring. I spent the night with my wife exploring how amazing the mainland of Greece really is. We were both hell bent on doing the island trek but the more and more research I did I found them all to kind of be the same experience. It sounds like Crete is well worth a 2 week visit. We are most definitely going to do Greece for at least 40 days to have flexibility.

Have any of you guys had an experience driving on Crete? sounds like we will need a car on the island to explore everything, or just rent one a few days while there since we have a few weeks there.



clausar - thank you SO much for the thoughtful recommendations. These are going into my research and just looking at photos of these places you mentioned give me goosebumps!
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 01:20 PM
  #26  
 
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Having a car in Crete i think is essential, due to the size of the island.
Driving on Crete is not different than driving anywhere in Greece... i have been exploring Crete by car several times, but i think after so many times, that i have been there, i still haven't seen everything.....
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 01:26 PM
  #27  
 
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I certainly agree with clausar in his recommendations for Messenia. I visited many of those seaside villages myself in September 2011. Here are just a few of the photos I took while there: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heimdal...7627739427148/
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 01:52 PM
  #28  
 
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Great photos Heimdall
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 01:57 PM
  #29  
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Gorgeous photos Heimdall! The photos just take you back in time to where all these smart phones and computers are absolutely irrelevant and you can just get lost in the beauty. I will definitely give that area a visit as it looks amazing.

Now that I'm well informed of the mainland and what it has to offer, would you guys recommend any other islands besides Crete and Santorini?

Elafonisi sounds divine. How long a stay is warranted here?
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 02:13 PM
  #30  
 
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chrizninja83

Elafonisos is a tiny island in South Peloponnese, while Elafonisi is a similar beach plus an even tinier island on Crete. ( in the south west part of Crete, near Palaiochora)

Elafonisos is the perfect place to relax, do nothing but enjoy the amazing water and eat great food and fresh fish at a nearby taverna
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 07:05 PM
  #31  
 
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You will be glad to have a chunk of time in Crete and I definitely agree that you need to rent a car. There is so much to see and do there - lots of amazing beaches and interesting sites. Be sure to stay at least part of the time on the south coast. We love the Plakias area as a base. At the same time, it would be a pity if you did not build in a few days to visit another island on your trip to get a sense of a more typical Cycladic island, like Paros or Naxos. Your mainland tour, Santorini, Crete, plus a third island would present a more ideal itinerary.
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 07:33 PM
  #32  
 
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1)I need to point out that hiring a car in one part of Greece (Thessaloniki) and drop it on another (Athens) is less common than on other countries and usually there are large fees for doing so. It might be a bit easier to do so on for those particular cities as starting/ending point, but I would look very closely on that before planning anything else! Maybe other members could advice on that one?
2) As I replied on your identical thread in other website forum, as this is part of a 6 months long trip , your stamina levels might be low... It is a personal thing, but very fast paced trips work only for quick get-aways, not when traveling week after week! I think moving destination every couple of days trying to take everything in, will leave you knackered and does not leave space to really get a feel of a place. Experiencing and creating memories of where you've been, is more important that ticking places of a list. Just my opinion!
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 10:36 PM
  #33  
 
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Last time i checked the surcharge of picking up a car in Athens and dropping it off in Thessaloniki ( or vice versa) was 150 Euros..

This amount would be very high for a short rental, but for a rental of a longer period, it would pay off ( instead of renting a car in every city)

Of course on Crete or other islands, it makes more sense to rent a car on the spot.
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Old Nov 15th, 2012, 11:44 PM
  #34  
 
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I agree that a car gives you the ability to see more places at a faster pace but buses are pretty good in Greece. We have travelled extensively with them, albeit some time ago. It does force you to slow down a bit. At times, we rented a car just for a few days, eg. at Ionnina, Volos, Chania, and drove locally.

We don't enjoy driving (and parking!) in an unfamiliar place, with rules and a language we don't understand, on the other side of the road and we're happy to enjoy the pleasure of going more slowly.
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Old Nov 16th, 2012, 12:35 AM
  #35  
 
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I have rented a car in almost every country i have been to, without regretting it.
On the contrary the flexibility of stopping where i want when i want, is what motivates me not to chose public transportation.

I have been to many great places that i wouldn't have seen if i had used a bus !!

Driving is Greece, and especially in the countryside is fun, there are many scenic roads and personally after having driven in many different countries, i don't see a problem in parking, or paying attention to any rules. ( there are no special rules that only apply to Greece)..
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Old Nov 16th, 2012, 01:37 AM
  #36  
 
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I didn't notice the time of year this trip is to take place, but if you want to see great beaches, in Pelion go to Milopotamos and/or Damouchari or the beach at Ayios Ioannis (google some images, also some scenes of Mamma Mia were filmed in the area). The beaches are white pebbles with water that is very clear, beautiful for swimming.

As for driving, cannot agree more, a rental car is recommended, note that some areas of Pelion are mountainous. Without a car, we would never have stumbled upon Galaxidi during a trip to Delphi or other small towns.
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Old Nov 16th, 2012, 08:20 AM
  #37  
 
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Here is an introduction of Greece from an aerial perspective, of both the islands and the Mainland.
I found it on you tube and it's amazing... Many of you will recognize islands and places you visited
Length is 54 minutes....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhVMd...ure=watch-vrec
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Old Nov 16th, 2012, 08:24 AM
  #38  
 
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and the same in english, in 5 parts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJK19...AF0C3B4884BCF4
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Old Nov 20th, 2012, 01:56 PM
  #39  
 
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Just got back from Rhodes (day trip to Marmaris), Athens, and London (spent extra 6 days there due to hurricane). I love Rhodes, Crete and Corfu. I would never spend much time in Santorini, Mykonos, and Cyclades unlike some on this forum. I think the larger islands offer more history, culture, dining options and other things to do after the main tourist season is over. Corfu, Rhodes and Crete are open year round. They don't close up when the cruise lines leave and you will actually have a peaceful, relaxing vacation away from the hordes of tourists.
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