Greece in May

Jan 1st, 2019, 11:11 AM
  #1  
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Greece in May

I am in the planning stages of a trip to Greece May 6 through May 17 2019. Flight arrives in Athens Tuesday May 7 at 2 pm and departs Athens Friday May 17 at 11 am. My best friend and I are in our late 50s and travel together a lot. On this trip we want to explore, sightsee, eat good food, relax at a cafe and spend a day at the beach. We plan on spending 2 full days in Athens and then thought maybe 3 days in Mykonos , Paros or Naxos. We also want to see the monasteries at Meteora . I have a friend who lives in Kastoria and she would like us to meet her in Thessaloniki and probably stay a night or two. We plan on renting a car if we do this and with a road trip we can stop other places along the way. Originally we also wanted to visit Nafplio and The Peloponnese. So after reading several guide books and forums I realize we just canít do all of this in 11 days! There is just so much to do and see that I am now totally confused on how to plan this trip. I am looking for some advice and help on planning an itinerary for this trip. I am
open to all suggestions- even eliminating things on my list. Thanks!
msmars is offline  
Jan 1st, 2019, 12:39 PM
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You really have only 9 days... cannot count departure day OR arrival day since it will take you until at least 3 pm even to leave airport bldg. What you have outlined is really impossible.... both meeting your Kastoria friend and, really, even going to Meteora. Go to ROME2 RIO, a wonderful website that provides all options of getting from 1 place to another. Kastoria is way up near the Albanian border... not convenient to anything. Your Kastoria Friend can get to THessaloniki by bus in 2.5 hours, but it will cost her 30$ 1-way. it would take YOU over half a days' drive, on unfamiliar roads, to reach THessaloniki -- and what do you want to see there?? It's a BIG city (concrete bldgs, lots of traffic, good food, but not tops for only Greece trip). And if you go to Thessaloniki JUST to see her, essentially you can't do much else beyond that, and Athens. How good a friend is she? Is she retired and able to travel at will? Then you might invite her to come to athens & pop for her bus or train fare. it would take her nearly a day https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Kastoria/Athens. But look at it this way .... you are spending $1400 airfare just to get to Greece. If she wants to see you, maybe she could spend some time/effort toward a reunion. With your very limited time, you MUST be practical. Here are some thoughts (based on my 12 trips to Greece, with "newbies" along on 9 of them, both using partial car rental and public intercity transit):

• DO Athens last. Why? (1) you must be there the final night anyway (2) going into Athens 2x wastes precious hours you do not have. (3) you're more adept at "doing" a big city after being in Greece awhile, (4) the landmarks will mean much more than if seen on day 1.
• ARRIVAL DAY -- Rental car by 3 pm, drive to Nafplio in 2.5 hours on the most Modern highway in Greece (multi-lane/divided -- not a single turn until way after the Corinth Canal).. this map shows entire route from Airport & shows how easy it is (click & it gets huugge) http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/pel...eloponnesa.jpg And because it's May, it will be light until after 8 pm -- you can be at seafront cafe for Glorious Sunset (better than Santorini's IMHO).
• DAYS 2-3-4- -- Enjoy Nafplio, Palamidi etc visit Ancient sites nearby, AND a choice of lovely beaches! This website http://www.visitnafplio.com tells ALL you need to know; check EVERY link!
• DAY 6 - Leave 8 AM, take different route back, going E. to Epidaurus, then up Coast Road, Stop At ISTHMUS to see Corinth Canal, then get on that nice big highway back to Airport to turn in car 3 pm. Take X95 express bus to Central Athens hotel.
• DAY 7-8-9 Athens Sightseeing (maybe your friend from N. Greece could join you at this point).
• DAY 10 - There's a 1-day TRAIN excursion to Meteora if you really Must see monastaries balanced on pinnacles
• Day 11 -- Leave Central Ath by 8 AM to be at check-in line by 9 for y our homebound flight.
travelerjan is online now  
Jan 1st, 2019, 04:30 PM
  #3  
kja
 
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I understand your desire to see all these places -- they are wonderful! (Including, IMO, Thessaloniki, though I understand why it doesn't make most first-time-to-Greece itineraries.) But you are right, you can not see them all in the time you have, so you'll have to choose your riches. 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

May is a delightful time to visit Greece. Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Jan 1st, 2019, 08:13 PM
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To fit in Friend, Beach, Food, Sightseeing, I suggest taking a flight/train on arrival to Thessaloniki and winding your way back using public transport to Athens for a couple of days prior to departure. You'd have to keep moving but is possible.
dreamon is online now  
Jan 1st, 2019, 10:31 PM
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Ask your friend if he/she will have a car and if it's possible to spare a couple of days after Thessaloniki to explore Chalkidiki with you or even better maybe the Paralia Katerinis area. You have nature, beaches and some culture there especially having the flexibility of a car and you can then continue to Meteora and finish with Athens. Save Cyclades for a future trip. A way to think about it is that Cyclades is always an easy trip to combine with Athens, Northern Greece or meeting a friend is not .
mariha2912 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2019, 03:19 AM
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I would skip beach time in May, for my tastes, it is not warm enough for a dip in the sea & therefore pointless being on the beach (for me). Halkidiki has spectacular beaches but little culture or nice scenery IMO, at least I found this to be the case in Sithonia which is supposed to be the less developed peninsulas of Halkidiki.

I would suggest Athens with Peloponnese (Nafplio etc) or Athens with Northern Greece (Meteora, maybe Pelion for amazing nature, Metsovo, Ioannina, even down to Delphi is possible by car, can your friend in Kastoria meet you in Kalambaka? etc) or Athens with Cyclades. If staying on the mainland, I would see Athens first then pick up a rental car, drive around Northern Greece or Peloponnese then drop car rental back at the airport for flight back home. I wouldn't drop off rental car then start messing about with getting buses into central Athens only to have to get out to the airport again.
Odin is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 06:21 PM
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Thanks for all the good info travelerjan! I have decided to invite my friend to join us in Athens or Nafplio if she can. As much as I want to see her, there is just too much I want to see and this might be my only visit to Greece ( although I hope not ). Nafplio was on my list of must see and the website you recommended - with all the links- totally convinced me I have to go there! I also like your idea about Athens at the end of the trip but we coming in from Boston with a layover in France - about 13 hours of travel- driving 2.5 hours after that might not be smart. We might do Meteora as a day trip from Athens or eliminate it completely. A few days on one of the islands would be nice - maybe we can extend our trip a day or two. Mykonos, Paros or Naxos - which do you recommend?
msmars is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 06:25 PM
  #8  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by msmars View Post
about 13 hours of travel- driving 2.5 hours after that might not be smart.
You are right -- driving AT ALL would be extremely unwise until you've had at least a day or two to recover from jet lag.
kja is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 06:42 PM
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Agree, but you could perhaps take a bus to your first destination and pick up a car near there.
dreamon is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 06:46 PM
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Either Paros or Naxos will give you a more Greek experience .
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 08:39 PM
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I recommend Naxos !! Been there twice - once in mid May and once in sept , and going there again late May this year !!

Mykonos is ok but a bit too commercialized for us ( been there 4 times now as it’s easy to fly into from other cities in Europe so usually spend at least a few nights there , but it’s not my fave )
justineparis is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 09:06 PM
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I agree to not drive upon arrival after an international flight.

I thought Meteora was a highlight of my trip so wouldn't recommend skipping it.
joannyc is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 06:33 AM
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If you don't want to drive, take a taxi (40€?? -- 45 minutes) or X93 express bus (€6? - 70 mins) from front of airport building to the Kifissou St. KTEL Bus terminal (KTEL = intercity bus). NOTE: before leaving airport use its restrooms - the bus terminal, altho very respectable, has the restrooms you would expect. Nafplio express bus (€13.50 - 2.5 hrs) leaves hourly on half-hour; tickets are sold NOT in ticket-office room but un small room right beside the Nafplio bus, which is at exit door of terminal). Ask for seats on LH side, for best view of sea as you go. Busses are modern, spick & span, upholstered seats w seatrest, A/C, used by whole spectrum of society (because train network in greece is VERY limited). Enjoyable trip. Easy to rent car for a day or more in Nafplio... if u need automatic, after u book a hotel, write the hotelier &have him set it up.
travelerjan is online now  
Jan 6th, 2019, 11:12 AM
  #14  
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Thank you! I just finished reading your trip report. Wow! What a great trip you had! Lots of useful information there too. My friend and I have finally come up with a travel plan. We did some compromising and I feel it’s not as challenging as what we originally planned.

Tuesday- Arrive Athens 2 pm/ check in and do some exploring
Wednesday- Athens / Acropolis / Parthenon/ museum
Thursday- Athens / Train day trip to Meteora
Friday - Athens / Lycabettus Hill/ late afternoon ferry or flight to Naxos
Saturday- Naxos / beach / bikes/ explore
Sunday - Naxo/ day trip to Mykonos and Delos
Monday - Morning ferry or flight to Athens- rent car head to Nafplio
Tuesday - Nafplio/ castles
Wedensday- Nafplio / Epidaurus / caves
Thursday- Nafplio
Friday- early morning drive to Athens - flight home at 12:15

I haven’t decided yet on ferry or flight to Naxos and then back to Athens or ferry one way and flight another way.It’s a 40 minute flight vs a 5 hour flight but I do realize getting to the airport and all that adds time to that 40 minutes.

The tour from Naxos to Delos / Mykonos is only offered Tuesday and Thursday from Naxos - days we aren’t there ( unless I can find another tour but I have looked and I can’t find one ) ( from Mykonos tours are available daily) , so I was wondering how easy it is to take the short ferry ride to Mykonos and then either book a tour to Delos or do it ourselves. I definitely want to take a guided tour of Delos. Do they offer guided tours at Delos or am I better off booking a tour ahead of time?
msmars is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 11:23 AM
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There is so little time for the islands that I would suggest skipping them. And to relegate spectacular Meteora to a very long day trip by train is such a shame. There is so much to do and see on the mainland. You could see Delphi. Or skip Nafplio etc and allocate a bit more time to seeing the islands.
Odin is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 11:39 AM
  #16  
kja
 
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If the trip report you mean was mine, then thanks for the kind words! I did, indeed, have a great trip.

I tend to agree with Odin -- I would find a day trip to Meteora extremely frustrating, as it would give me so very little time there and would take a long time to get there and back.

Delos is magnificent and I seriously doubt that you could get there and visit it by trying to go from Naxos to Mykonos and find another way from there -- but I trust that others with greater expertise will comment.

Honestly, with this itinerary, your time in Athens is very short, your time in Meteora will be extremely brief and part of an extremely long day trip, your time on Naxos is very short, you probably can't see Delos, and your time in Nafplio will be short. Maybe that's what you want, but I think Odin's idea of skipping either Naxos or Nafplio is well worth considering.

Good luck!

Last edited by kja; Jan 6th, 2019 at 12:11 PM.
kja is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 12:11 PM
  #17  
kja
 
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Skipping Meteora this trip, and adding that time to one of your other destinations, is also an option to consider.
kja is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 01:24 PM
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There are two tour boats from Naxos to Delos/Mykonos: Alexander and Naxos Star. Naxos Star does the trip on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays starting on April 26th in 2019. Alexander does the trip on Mondays and Wednesdays starting on May 10th in 2019. Alexander also does the trip on Sundays, but not starting until June 10th. That early in the season it is very possible they will cancel if not enough people sign up on a given day, so book as soon as possible and keep your fingers crossed.

These two boats do the trip from both Naxos and Paros, leaving Naxos first and then stopping to pick up passengers at Paros about 45 minutes later. You should book the trip at Naxos, but below are the schedules from a Paros tour agency which are clearer than any I can find from Naxos:
https://polostoursparos.com/daily-cr...delos-mykonos/

Theoretically it would be possible to take a ferry from Naxos to Mykonos and catch the taxi boat to Delos from there, but I doubt you would have enough time on Delos to make it worthwhile. What I suggest, if you are determined to see Delos, is forget Naxos and go to Mykonos instead. You haven't allowed much time for Naxos anyway. Mykonos is very pleasant in May, and not crowded at all except where the cruise ship passengers disembark, and you can easily avoid that area. You can arrange a private tour of Delos when on Mykonos, or just join the group tour that assembles near the dock on Delos every day at 10 am. Here is my Flickr album of Delos, with a few photos of Mykonos included:
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 01:35 PM
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Incidentally, the above photos were taken in early June. As you can see, there weren't many people about that early in the season, even on Mykonos. I took the 9 am boat from Mykonos Old Harbour, and had Delos almost to myself for the first hour. You can see Orca, one of the Delos tour boats, in one of the photos.
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 05:11 AM
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How about trying an island that you can access from Nafplio area (Hydra or Spetses) rather than Naxos, to prevent the extra travel? It would not be the same, but that whole area from Nafplio to Tolo, Ermioni, Porto Heli and Spetses (do-able as a day trip or an overnight) is lovely and you could tick the box that you had been to an island, if you feel you need that. Then you are more or less confining your trip to the Greek mainland and it gives you a bit more time to fit in Meteora in a more relaxed way, with an overnight.

If you have your heart set on visiting Delos, I agree with Heimdall that a more do-able way of achieving that is just to go to Mykonos, and omit Naxos from this trip. Definitely get a guided tour of Delos if you go, you do need quite a bit of imagination to reconstruct what you see and I found the guide was invaluable.
littlejane is offline  

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