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Trip Report Greece in end October

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We are a family with two girls of 8 and 10 years old and have just returned from a fantastic trip to Greece. We were there end October and were pleasantly surprised with the hot and mostly dry weather..
Our trip was 3 nights in Athens (flight in late night) and 2 nights each in Nafplio, Naxos and Santorini. Usually, I pour through fodors forum and read guidebooks before planning a trip/booking hotels, but this time I didn't get a chance to do much research..so there were some things we should have done differently in Santorini..but all in all it was a fantastic trip.

Thanks so much to all for the great advise and to travelerjan and emmagus who swayed me to opt for Nafplio/Naxos over Delphi/Mateora..

Athens -

Plaka hotel - perfectly located, 3 mins walk to Roman Agora, 5 mins to the parliament and 10-15 mins to Acropolis/Acropolis museum. Clean standard rooms. Lovely staff and great breakfast. Recommended.

We started off with a private tour of the Acropolis and Ancient Agora with Aristotle. Thanks Ruby twins for the fabulous trip report, and the link for guide - (http://bit.ly/2pkdKq9).
We met him near the Acropolis station, at 8.30am. He had pre-bought the combo tickets and we started with the theatres on the slopes, and then climbed up to the Acropolis. The stories he told were fabulous and kept the kids interested right throughout.. After a quick break for ice-cream at Da Vinci located in the Plaka close to the Hadrian’s library (fabulous ice creams!!) we headed to the Ancient Agora which is mostly in ruins but was made to come to life with all of Aristotole’s stories!
We finished our tour with him around 2.30-3pm and headed of to locate the restaurants recommended by him, Kuzina or Attalos, close to the Agora. We chose Attalos and had a fabulous meal! (recommended!)

Headed to Acropolis museum afterwards (open till 8pm on Fridays). after having a look around our selves, we joined a free tour which gave some background to some of the highlights. After some cake and coffee in cafe with fabulous views of the Acropolis we went for quick walk near the hotel for some shopping (Korres was my destination) and grabbed a quick dinner from a restaurant close by.

Next day was exploring the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s library and then a trip to the Archaeological museum (well worth a visit! with lots of artefacts from Myceane) and of course with a stop at Da vince’s for ice-cream! We also managed to catch the change of guards in front of the parliament which was fun for the kids.
We called Mani Mani and Kuzina for Dinner reservations around 5pm, but both were full - however, as Kuzina was only a short walk away, around 7.30pm we decided to try our luck and were shown to a indoor table without any questions. Superb dinner!, one of the best we had in Greece.

Last morning in Athens, after a lovely breakfast at the hotel and popping up to the roof terrace to see the fabulous views of the city and Acropolis, we walked to the Car rental, Hertz and picked up a car. Most of the roads were closed due to a Marathon taking place till 2pm.. It took us about an hour to get out of Athens, but finally we were on our war to Nafplio!

more later..

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    Nafplio - 2 nights

    The plan was to stop in Corintha or Namea on our way to Nafplio and to explore Myceane and Epidurous the day after..However, as we got off to a late start, we decided to head directly to Mycenae..
    The drive was easy and straight forward, keep change for the tolls, luckily I had read about it on the forum and had plenty with us. Olive groves and lovely scenery. We got to Mycenea around 11.30am. It was hot and the sun was blazing..

    We decided to explore the small museum on site first and then to explore the ruins. There was a audio guide available at the museum which provided some information on the history of Myceane and the artefacts, but we wished that there was a little more information provided at the site itself. The lion gates were impressive and when you get to the top, the views are amazing.. The artefacts seen in the archeological museum from Mycenaea added much to what is now left in Mycenaea. (mostly piles of rock from the foundations..)The girls enjoyed the site as there were lots of climbing and exploring to do. After an Ice-cream from the truck in the car park and a quick stop at the Treasury of Atreus, we headed to Nafplio.

    Our next 2 nights were at Pension Omarfi Poli - absolutely loved the hotel. gorgeous room with a little attic area for the girl’s beds. The owners were lovely. The location was perfect, we parked the car in the port parking which was 2 mins walk away and it was about 5 mins to the syntagma square. The breakfast served in the breakfast cafe was nice. And there were no steps to get to the hotel as it was in the lower part of the old city..

    We checked in to the hotel and decided to explore Nafplio.. We walked along the water and saw the fortress Bourtzi across the water..looking really pretty in the afternoon sunlight and then decided to find the Greek donut place I had read about. Pergamonto - What a delicious find this was! We had a serving of traditional donuts with greek honey, cinnamon and walnuts with some vanilla and mastic ice-cream. We returned the following day for more!

    We explored the pretty streets and the square area..lots of locals about and kids playing the square area..peeking at the shops..I do love shopping but it was again mostly touristy nic nacs similar to what is found in Plaka in Athens..so didn't really fancy getting anything..a few lovely shops had already closed for the season..

    After change and some time relaxing in the hotel, we asked for a recommendation for Dinner and went to Aiolos Tavern, which was 2 mins walk from the hotel. We had a fabulous meal with fresh orange juice and was offered delicious orange cake and apples with honey for dessert to finish off the meal. It is popular for a reason and there were people waiting for table when we left the restaurant.

    We loved the vibe in Nafplio… with our limited time in Greece, so.. glad we picked Nafplio over a long drive to Delphi & Meteora.

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    Thanks tripplanner and tomarkot.
    We always pick hotels which are easy walking distance to the sights as its easier with the kids and Plaka Hotel location was brilliant.So were all the others actually, except in Santorini - more on that later..

    The crowds in Athens were not bad - didn't see many group tours, it was mostly independent travellers..By the time we got up to the Acropolis it was past 9.30, so it was moderately crowded - but didn't detract from the experience.
    Nafplio, on Sunday it was happening and added to the atmosphere, but the Monday was quiet. I suppose that was due to local weekend visitors. some of shops were closed for the season or had limited hours..
    Naxos was pretty much shut down which was a real pity as Hotel Grotta was fully booked and we did see plenty of travellers, but much quieter than in summer I suppose. We did have a beach to ourselves! Santorini was busy, similar to Athens - but we didn't have to get to the sunset points early for a good spot or feel overcrowded (except in the commercial streets)

    We really did enjoy having quieter crowds and lovely warm weather (not being 40 degrees)..but early October may have been better in terms of the villages being more active..

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    The following day, we had a leisurely breakfast and then headed off to Epidaurus, about a 30min drive away. Pretty drive between orange groves and olive groves and were among the first to arrive there, around 10.30am. The ancient theatre is amazing and the girls had a lots of fun testing out if they could hear each other..One standing in the middle and the other sitting in the very last row. Lots of climbing and running around..and great views from the top row seats.. We then went to explore the sanctuary ruins and the baths and the other building ruins.. Very limited information throughout and we wished there was more.. it was lovely and sunny and we walked around for about an hour. We then headed to the small museum to have a quick peak at the medical tools and some of the sculptures found at the site and by then a lots more people had arrived. After one last look at the ancient theatre and some more photographs we were ready to leave..

    We had been told by the hotel that there is a nice beach near the old Epidaurus village, so we decided to head there which was a 15min drive away. The small epidaurus theatre ruins are also located there but we gave it a miss. We had some lovely orange juice and fried calamari for lunch at a portside tavern. Delicious!
    The beach was nothing much, but the girls wanted to take a dip in the sea. We had spotted a board with “sunken city beach” when driving through the village and after googling it up, though that it may be an interesting place to take a dip. So we drove to the other side of the village to the spot..
    A tiny pebbly beach with clear water and a board pointing to the area where the sunken city is..another family was already there with snorkelling gear and swimming shoes.. The girls had swimming goggles and were good swimmers, so DH braved the cold water with them and swam there..they found some remains of stone buildings and lots of colourful fish.(luckily no sea urchins)

    There is a lovely taverna by the beach that hires out sunbeds and umbrellas and a good spot for lunch but we decided to drive back to Nafplio..On our drive back, the skies opened up and it started to pour. So we decided to relax for a while in the hotel and catch up with some reading and school homework.
    Later in afternoon, the rain reduced and the girls (and I ) wanted to return to Pergamonto for donuts..Afterwards, we explored the little alleys, shops and the pretty churches..walking past the very popular Hotel Byron (gosh, what a lot of steps to get there! and also away from the Port parking lot), up to the castle walls to enjoy the views over the old city. Dinner was again at Aiolos Tavern, another lovely dinner with fabulous fresh orange juice and wine..(The orange juice in Nafplio was so..delicious!!)turned out to be one of our favourite restaurants of the trip..

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    Thanks for the information, nikidi. I'm a bit surprised that a city such as some places in Nafplio would only operate in peak season; I've only read about there being off-season on the islands.

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    Glad you enjoyed Nafplio ... I hope you got to walk the path around the base of the "point" ... amazing vistas ... but of course weather may have limited your strolls there. Congrats on finding Aiolos, I never miss dining there when I'm in Nafplio. First time I found it, had a mushroom casserole that I've never had anywhere else, plus very delicious rosé wine, rarely found in Greece.

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    Hi Trippqanner - it could be that some of the shops take the Monday off after a busy weekend.. to my disappointment, an independent jewellery store which had some beautiful pcs in the shop window , down the road of Aiolos tavern was shut both n Monday and Tuesday as per the notice on their door..Nafplio was quieter on the Monday, but definitely not shutdown like Naxos was.

    Travelerjan, no unfortunately we didn't get a chance to do that walk, although I had noted it down..it was too wet and gloomy..or to visit the beaches you suggested..could have definitely done with a few more days in Nafplio..

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    Last morning in Nafplio and mostly a travel day

    We had an early breakfast in order to explore the Palamidi fortress before we head back to Athens. We drove up and explored most of the bastions spread through out. We had the place to our selves..The kids enjoyed running around and exploring the bastion with the rooms remaining..and the views from the top to all sides were stunning! The girls and I decided to climb down the stairs to town while DH drives back to check out of the hotel. With lots of photo taking on the way down, we did past many who were doing the climb up..

    The rest of the day was pretty much a travel day. It was an easy drive to the Athens airport, 45 min flight on olympic plane was exciting for the girls and we were in beautiful Naxos by around 4pm. The van from Hotel Grotta picked us and another couple to take us to Chora. The girl who checked us in was lovely, she pointed out the main sights on a map and recommended some restraints and booked us a car for the next day. The view from the breakfast room were stunning..

    Hotel Grotta is located about a 8 minute walk from the harbour, at the very edge of town,(opposite side from the St George's beach) overlooking the old part of Chora and the temple of Apolla - with stunning views towards the sea and town. Lovely modern rooms, friendly staff and owner and an absolutely delicious spread for breakfast! Highly recommended.

    After a little break, we walked to Zas Travel on the Harbourfront and booked our ferry tkts to Santorini..and then watched a Blue star ferry come in to the harbour.. there was a movie being filmed on the causeway to the Temple of Apollo and so was out of bounds. We took a leisurely stroll down the waterfront and found our war to the square and stopped at Scirocco for Dinner. Dinner was fine - however, wasn't a favourite..but the orange pie we shared afterwards was fabulous! Walked back to Hotel Grotta - getting lost in the dark, as google maps seem to point us to all sorts of tiny alleys with dead ends..but found a local to point us in the correct direction..
    We were looking forward to exploring the villages of Naxos the following day.

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    Glad u made it to Naxos so smoothly .. it really does pay to fly (at off-season prices). I've stayed at Hotel Grotta and hosts indeed are lovely ... only reason I switched over to St. George is that I go during beach season, and Grotta is a far piece to walk & I'm usually not driving. When I stay at St. George and want a day at the far out beaches like Plaka, I catch a bus.

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    finally getting around to posting the rest of the report…

    First morning at Grotta - what a spread for breakfast..all sorts different local savoury and sweet pastries, pies and cakes were enjoyed with the fabulous views from the breakfast room. It was a cloudy day with rain predicted..

    Our car was dropped off at 9.30am, a tiny fiat panda..old but everything worked fine! our plan for the day was to visit some of the villages and then head to a beach..

    Our first stop was Halki,
    The town seemed quiet and peaceful. We walked in between pretty houses to the square and found the citron distillery. It was closed for the season but the lady who was there let us sample the green lemon liqiuor, which didn't go down that well..everything else was pretty much shut down..we walked back to the car and headed to Apíranthos.

    The views on the drive were stunning. mountains and valleys and olive groves..little churches on top of hills..we passed by the village of Filoti and decided to stop there on the way back. There was a road just after the village with a sign for Mount Zas..stunning views of the mountains across to the sea..we got out of the car to enjoy the scenery and had a snack..it had started to drizzle by then..so we backtracked on to the main road and continued on to Apíranthos.

    We put on our rain coats and decided to brave the rain. It was a pretty village paved in white marble, the village wraps scenically around the slopes of a mountain. But again the whole place was deserted, except for a group of kids on a school trip, who had unfortunately finished off all the pancakes in the only cafe that was open in town..

    Visiting the villages during summer would be a better experience..it was a little too quiet and had nothing to keep the kids interested when we visited. No shops or cafes opened..although Filoti looked busier than the others when we drove by..by then the rain had seized and sun was out..and the kids had had enough of walking around in villages..so the next destination typed into google maps was ’Plaka Beach’.

    It was an easy drive to the beach..There was just one couple having a picnic on the beach. A beautiful sandy beach with lots of sea shells. we strolled along the beach for a few minutes. The water was full of seaweed and so was the edge of the beach..Kids were not too keen to get in the water due to the seaweed plus we were not sure if the sea was safe to bathe in at this time of the year.. So we decided to head to Agia Prokopios beach hoping that there would be a few more people around.
    We ended up near a small beach..a few locals were around and there was a tavern open across the road.. We checked with a couple who was walking by, if this is the correct beach, and it turned out to be Agia Anna, which she said has warmer water than Agia Prokopios and that the water was safe for the kids. It was beautiful blue calm water and a lovely beach and as we could park just next to the beach, it seemed the perfect spot to take a dip.

    The water was icy cold. The kids and DH went for a dip first and convinced me that the water was not too cold ..they lied as I later found out when I joined them, but the sun warmed us..We had the beach and the water to our selves and it really was one of the highlights of our trip..People were stacking away sunbeams and cleaning out the cafes lining the beach..so obviously we were visiting just after season ended..
    Afterwards, DH popped into the tavern for some fried cuttlefish which we enjoyed by the beach..we were back at hotel Grotta around 4.30pm.
    Dinner that night was at a lovely restaurant called Metaxi Mas, a few minutes walk fro Grotta. Lovely food with outdoor seating near a courtyard full of bougainvillea flowers. recommended!

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    Lovely report, which I enjoyed reading very much. Thank you!

    The autocorrect on your computer made me chuckle a couple of times, and this is not a criticism — far from it! I particularly enjoyed: "People were stacking away sunbeams..." Presumably saving them for next summer? :-)

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    After enjoying another scrumptious breakfast buffet at Hotel Grotta, we had the morning to explore the town of Chora before our ferry to Santorini at 12.40pm.
    We fist walked to the Portara of the Temple of Apollo. The view of the town of Chora in the morning light was fabulous. Then we explored the tiny alleys in the old town.We found a gem of a shop owned by a British expat which had lovely local made souvenirs..hand made sculptures, paintings and hand printed scarves. The girls picked up two silver fish sculptures for their room and I found a very pretty scarf for myself. Then we found the Archeological Museum, which held an impressive collection of Cycladic figurines and some interesting pottery. After heading back to Grotta to refresh ourselves and check out, a van from the hotel dropped us off at the pier and it was smooth sailing to Santorini.

    The excitement in the ferry when approaching Santorini was catching. We went to the outdoor decks to admire the the stunning beauty of the Red cliffs with the white towns dotted along the edge..The afternoon sun made the scenery look surreal. A taxi arranged by our hotel picked us up from the port - which was great to avoid the chaos after getting out of the ferry. A10 minute ride and we were at our hotel, Kameras Apartments which was at the edge of Fira. This place was our SPLURGE of the trip..
    The views of the Caldera could not have been any better from our room. The room was fine, decorated simply, the inner room with the double bed and the outer room with sofas converted to beds for the kids..An oldish spacious toilet with an old jacuzzi , a shared balcony had a private hot tub (with cold water) on our side of the balcony with a breakfast table where they served breakfast. Although our room didn't have the view on to the left side of the hotel, almost all other rooms had a view of a large plot of land with a dilapidated warehouse..which detracted from the beautiful views of the caldera. we wouldn't return here even if the room and breakfast had been fabulous, which it wasn't.

    As sunset time was getting closer, so we decided to walk to Fira town to enjoy the streets and views there..It was a 2 minute walk to the main street lined with rows of tacky souvenir shops - we spotted a few pretty churches with the blue roofs..the further we walked the better the scenery and the atmosphere was..it wasn't too crowded..plenty of spaces to stop along the wall to enjoy the sunset views..We walked to the edge of firastefani (we found out later when we visited Firastefani the next day) and enjoyed the view of Fira town in the setting sun..After clicking loads of photos, we headed back to the hotel for an early night. The water was way too cold in the hot tub to get in- had some takeaway pizza (the kids had had enough of greek food by then) for dinner which was unexpectedly really good..
    We inquired about renting a car from the hotel - they quoted 40$ for a day but we found that it was much cheaper online and booked a car to be dropped of next morning for 30$/day. (motorinn.gr)

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    The next morning turnout to be lovely and sunny. breakfast was brought to the balcony. Very limited selection, a bread basket some lovely greek yogurt with pre-packed honey and jam sachets, instant coffee and cereal. However, the views were breathtaking so we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast..The car was dropped off on time and it was new and clean! Having our flight out of Santorini the next day at 8pm, we had booked it for 2 days to be dropped off at the Airport parking lot.

    First stop today was the ancient site of ancient Thira. We drove up the mountain to the car park and explored the site which was much larger than expected an even had remains of a small theatre. Similar to Mycenaean, it was just the foundations that was left - but we enjoyed a couple of hours of walking around in the sun.

    Then we headed to the black beach we saw from Ancient Thira, Kamari beach. Whilst I enjoyed a lovely cold coffee at a cafe - DH and the girls had a dip in the sea. A lot more people were sunbathing and a few swimming here. The waves were not so gentle due to increasing winds (a storm was expected the next day) and it has been a while since the girls had experienced waves and salty water in their eyes..so they decided to cut there swim short and we headed to explore one more town before heading to Oia for Sunset.

    We opted for Emporio. We followed the signs for "Traditional Village” and walked around. Not sure whether it was so quiet because it was mid day or because it was off season. We enjoyed a stroll admiring beautiful buildings and churches but did not come across a single person in the village. A little too quiet again..So off we went to Oia to find the perfect sunset-gazing spot…

    Oia, we thought was prettier than Fira - but still with hoards of stores lining the main street. We explored a few side streets finding some of the iconic blue topped churches and after lots of photo clicking walked to the old castle to view the sunset. We were early, so it wasn't too crowded. The views of the windmills and white buildings were absolutely gorgeous! The girls wanted some ice-cream and so we walked the tiny pathways towards the windmills and found some delicious ice-cream at a tiny cafe. Back at the old castle view point, we watched the prettily decorated donkeys coming up from amoudibay..It had really got crowded by then and we found a spot to sit and watch the sunset while the girls enjoyed their ice-cream..when the sun dipped into the clouds, we headed back popping into a few shops buying some local snacks to take back..
    Dinner that night was at Roka Kafeneio Ouzeri, a beautiful outdoor setting and fabulous food. Recommended!!

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    Our last day in Santorini and Greece. We woke up to strong winds and a cloudy day. It was impossible to have breakfast in the balcony so we had to have it in the room.
    We decided to visit Pyrgos in the morning and come back to the hotel to check out afterwards. Pyros was beautiful..Lots ore people about and surprisingly a few small tour groups as well. There was a church festival that was happening with a small procession of children and parents. The houses , the tiny churches and the views of the surrounding area was all so pretty. We were really glad we visited Pyrgos. We headed back to the hotel to refresh ourselves and check out.

    We then headed to Firostefani to explore the town. We came across the trail between Oia and Fira and walked along it to the edge of Fira town where we had walked to, on the first day when exploring Fira.
    We much preferred Firostefani to Fira, quieter and prettier and would make an excellent base to explore Santorini. (If only I had researched a bit more for this part of the trip.)
    The girls wanted crepes for late lunch and we googled for a Creperie.. and found “Creme De La Crepe” . We drove to Fira, parked at our hotel and walked there. What a find this place was, the most amazing crepes ever! It was absolutely worth the extra trek and we walked to a square nearby to devour the delicious crepes..
    We had a quick stop to see the three bells of Fira and then drove to Amoudi Bay. We decided to drive down to the bay as it was still quite sunny and we didn't wan to get too hot and tired before our flight tonight..After exploring the amoudi bay,we grabbed some dinner and drove to the airport for our flight.

    We parked our car in the parking area on side of the road leading to the Airport and left the car key inside as agreed with the rental company..we were very nervous about doing that and took a few photos as proof of parking. We had to spend an hour or so in a very chaotic crowded Santorini airport for our flight back home. Santorini was a lovely ending to the trip but I would have preferred to stay in Firostefani or Imorgvil or even Oia instead of Fira..

    All in all, we had a fabulous trip to Greece and look forward to going back to explore some of the other areas we missed out on..

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