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Greece outside of the tourist season - what to expect?

Greece outside of the tourist season - what to expect?

Old Aug 15th, 2021, 10:09 AM
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Greece outside of the tourist season - what to expect?

I'm in the early stages of thinking about a trip for later this year, probably over the last week or two in November and / or the first week of December. Where we go - or whether or not we even go anywhere - will be dependent on which places are open to Americans, the epidemiological situation at the time, safety protocols, etc., which I understand we just won't know yet. In any case, Greece is a place we've wanted to visit for years. If we do end up going, we would be looking at Athens, Delphi, Nafplio and nearby archaeological sites, and probably one island. Santorini comes to mind. Pandemic aside, I'm curious as to what Greece is typically like during this time of year. I know it is off season but wonder if things are relatively open outside of Athens, especially on the islands.. Archeological sites? Restautants? Shops? Thanks.
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Old Aug 15th, 2021, 10:49 AM
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Your plan to concentrate on the mainland is a good one. Museums and archaeological sites will be open, but sites will be on winter hours. Obviously daylight hours will be shorter. Were I to visit Greece in winter, I would do the same as you, visiting Athens, Delphi, Nafplio, etc, and maybe skipping the islands.

Santorini without summer crowds sounds idyllic. Shops that sell tourist tat will be closed, but those that supply the needs of locals will be open. There are always hotels and restaurants open in winter, especially hotels with heating, and restaurants that have indoor tables. That would be a good time to meet and converse with locals, who have more time to relax off season. Weather will be changeable, so bring clothes you can wear in layers.
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Old Aug 15th, 2021, 12:05 PM
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If you are intrested in archeology and Middle Ages buildings, there is stuff for more than one week. Athens and Heraklion would be good bases.
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Old Aug 16th, 2021, 12:44 PM
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@Heimdall, thank you for the confirmation.

@neckervd, thank you for your suggestion of Heraklion. I hadn't thought of Crete given its size but will do more research. If we make the trip we will have 2-3 weeks.
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Old Aug 16th, 2021, 03:18 PM
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The only off-season trip to Greece we've made was in early to mid October one year. We visited two islands and it was fairly quiet. Restaurants had few customers and some shops and restaurants had closed for the season. The weather was still great (warm, not hot) so it puzzles me why the season on the islands is so short.
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Old Aug 16th, 2021, 10:52 PM
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The weather was still great (warm, not hot) so it puzzles me why the season on the islands is so short.”

Families with school aged children need to be home in time for the school year. Some British families take a short holiday in late October during the half-term school break. Many European nations, including Greece, traditionally take their summer holidays in August, while Scandinavian countries like July, which is known as “Norwegian month” on Antiparos.

Late September and October is a favourite time for empty nesters and older singles. People who run businesses on the islands would love to have a longer season.
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Old Aug 17th, 2021, 09:58 AM
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Heimdall, from mid- May to Early June on Naxos, there's also a "mini-boom" of Scandinavians, specifically on Ag. Giorgios beach next to the port town, because of it shallow sandy beach perfect for little ones. This boomlet is almost entirely Scandinavian parents of PRE-schoolers -- people who just can't bear the NOrthern cold any longer, and don't think kiddies need silly things like bathing suits. Many an afternoon I've lolled on a sunlounger watching blonde toddlers waddle around with sandpails, falling (safely) into 6 inches of water.
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Old Aug 17th, 2021, 09:59 AM
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Yo TP, once visited Santorini off-season. The hotel rates were so low then that I thought I'd misheard the quotes. Excellent value. Was there for a few days. Some blustery weather, but when the sun appeared it felt great. Agree with Necker about Heraklion, it was no probs off-season, a real delight. Cannot recall a single logistical hurdle.

For decades, whenever folks asked 'Which trip was the best?', I used to trot out off-season Folegandros.
We also loved shoulder-season Patmos, but our situation was more palatable coz of a superb cafe right outside of our rental door, plus a mini-grocery attached to the building.
Hope it works out for you.
I am done. the Dalaras
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Old Aug 17th, 2021, 12:14 PM
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Travelerjan, Swedish schools break up for the summer a little earlier than those in Norway, and yes, families with preschoolers can travel any time they like. With the cost of living so much lower in Greece than in Norway and Sweden, many Scandinavians take extended holidays there, often for a month or even longer.

One year I stayed a little later in September than usual on Antiparos, and was surprised at how many grey haired people (apart from myself) were there. For some reason young families with preschoolers seem to prefer June, while older empty nesters prefer late September.
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Old Aug 17th, 2021, 02:52 PM
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Heimdall, talking with young mothers on that Naxos beach in Late may - early June, they told me that they visit at that time because the kiddies are bouncing off the walls after being indoors during their looong winters -- altho with this awful climate change getting worse each year, you & I may be seeking the Northland instead!
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Old Aug 17th, 2021, 05:40 PM
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@Zebec, thank you for your first-hand account of off-season Santorini and the second on Heraklion. Will look into Folegandros as well.
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Old Aug 18th, 2021, 03:52 PM
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My original thinking had me focus on the Nafplio area of the Peloponnese and taking day trips to the surrounding archaeological sites, but the more I research the Peloponnese, the more I'm interested in spending more time. Our only obstacle is that we are non-drivers. I understand that there are buses but I have not looked into schedules during this time; I also understand that some travel require multiple connections. An idea is a loop starting and ending in Athens and taking in Delphi, Olympia, Messini, Mystras, Sparta, and Nafplio. What is the availability of taxis to go some of these longer trips? How much would a point to point taxi from, say, Delphi to Olympia run? I expect it to be expensive but thinking it may be doable with four passengers. Thanks.
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Old Aug 19th, 2021, 05:39 AM
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I go to Greece every year in October, usually the first half.

I find it a wonderful time to be just about anywhere in Greece as it's the low or off season, still nice weather, lower prices for accommodations and less tourists.

The Peloponnese would be a wonderful place to explore. It has everything Greece has to offer and more. Unlike islands you don't have to island hop.

Unfortunately a car would be the best way to explore the area. While buses are available they don't go everywhere or fit into a schedule. There are places in the Peloponnese that are inaccessible to buses and some of these are the best of what the Peloponnese has. Buses may work but they need planning, flexibility and patience and control of frustration!

The Mani would be a spectacular adventure but again taxi/buses would be an issue.

Nafplio would be ideal as it's one of Greece's nicest towns and a great place to explore nearby world-class archeological sites. If you want an island experience there are day cruises to Hydra/Spetses from Pegasus Tours (if they are still operating) Bus are fairly good and go to main areas but not everywhere.

As far as Delphi to Olympia by bus or taxi I would think it would be outrageously expensive by taxi and a pain by bus.

When you say you are "non-drivers" does that mean you have never driven a car or have concerns about driving in Greece?

I've driven on many islands and parts of the mainland and for the most part it's easy, the roads are good and off season will find less traffic, especially in more rural areas.

If driving is an issue than maybe a combination of islands which will be easier to get around in with buses/taxis.

Last edited by crazyh; Aug 19th, 2021 at 05:42 AM.
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Old Aug 19th, 2021, 08:33 AM
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We were on Santorini in mid-September, for 5 nights. Almost every day was bright and sunny and gorgeous.
We had one day towards the end where it was very windy and rainy.
Really made us glad we weren't staying later into the month. It's a huge difference when you lose the sun.
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Old Aug 19th, 2021, 10:13 AM
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@crazyh, thank you. Appreciate your feedback. Sounds like it makes sense for us to stick to Nafplio and the surrounding areas. We have never driven and are unlicensed.

@MoBro, given that we will book closer if we go, we should have a better sense of weather. We would be going in late November, early December, when the Mediterranean is known to be windy and wet, so perhaps it may not be a good idea to get to an island, at least one in the Cyclades.
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Old Aug 20th, 2021, 01:02 AM
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"We would be going in late November, early December, when the Mediterranean is known to be windy and wet, so perhaps it may not be a good idea to get to an island, at least one in the Cyclades"
That's completely right! Go only to Islands if your main interest is archeology and medieval sites. If so, visit Heraklion/Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Rethymnon.and Chania in Crete and Rhodos city, Yalisos, Kamiros and Lindos in Rhodos. Nauplia, Mycenae, Epidavros and Co can be visited in a long day trip from Athens.
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Old Aug 20th, 2021, 02:16 AM
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About the only archaeological sites in the Cyclades worth going out of your way for are Akrotiri and Ancient Thera on Santorini, and Delos from Mykonos. Keep your eyes and ears open for the site on Despotiko, near Paros, which is under excavation. There is no entry fee at present, but you will have to pay Captain Sargos to take you there by boat from Antiparos. Eventually the site will become an open air museum similar to Delos.

I’m not sure how often the shuttle boats from Mykonos to Delos run in winter, and there won’t be excursions from other islands that time of year either. Captain Sargos lives year round on Antiparos, so he might be available to take you to Despotiko off season. Bottom line — stay on the mainland or go to Crete for archeological sites when travelling off season.

Last edited by Heimdall; Aug 20th, 2021 at 02:30 AM.
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Old Aug 20th, 2021, 10:59 AM
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Those interested in archaeology may find the following to be of some interest, OK in a limited way for an off-day during covid.

We were once stuck, all frustrated on the outskirts of Oia during an evening when buses going back towards the center were packed and thus not even stopping at the normal designated points. Nearby, we came across a travel agency manager who'd actually been an archaeologist-with-a-Masters, til recent layoffs born of the Greek economic crisis. That kind fellow helped us out of our jam by arranging for a taxi.
While waiting for the taxi, he regaled us with tales of having once been working on an archaeological site on Amorgos. Apparently one morn there, an unexpected boat suddenly arrived at the shore. A couple disembarked and immediately made themselves useful, sweating and getting just as dirty as any of the dig crew. Everyone was impressed with the work ethic on display.

"Nobody, none of us, worked as hard as that husband!" the grinning former-archaeologist remenisced for us, while staring into the middle-distance.

The couple had been Mr and Mrs Tom Hanks, who at the end of the day, invited the entire about-to-be-laid-off crew over for a feast at their private retreat on Antiparos.
I am done. the dig
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Old Sep 4th, 2021, 07:25 AM
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Coming back to this after having done more reading and research. I've also contacted several taxi companies on potential transfers between places as alternatives to public buses should we decide to go this route. We would likely use taxis instead of buses on routes that require multiple transfers. With that, I've come up with a possible itinerary, as follows:

Athens, 3-4 nights
Bus to Delphi, 2 nights (possible visit to Mount Parnassus)
Taxi to Olympia, 1 night
Taxi to Kardamyli, 3 nights (base for day trips, possibly Messene, Mystras, Sparta, and the Mani)
Bus or taxi to Nafplio, 3-4 nights (base for day trips to Mycenae, Epidaurius, and possible Nemea and / or Tiryns, time for Nafplio itself too)
Bus to Athens
Island stop followed final 1-2 nights in Athens

1. What do you think of the distribution of nights? Am I over- or underallocating anywhere?
2. Does it make sense to stop in Messene from Olympia to Kardamyli or would we be better off doing a day trip from Kardamyli instead?
3. Would it be easier to visit Mystras and Sparta from Kardamyli or would it make more sense to visit on the way to Nafplio, which would argue for taking a taxi?
4. We still very much want to visit Santorini but am debating whether or not it would make sense giving the time of year (late-November). Assuming there is hotel availability at this time of year, this may be one leg in which we leave open until we get closer so we have a better sense of the situation on the island and the weather. Alternatively, we've also thought of substituting Santorini for Hydra, which we could reach from either Nafplio or Athens.

We probably won't make a final decision for another 6-7 weeks, both on whether or not we travel as well as where we go. Assuming Japan and SE Asia are off the table this year, other destinations we're actively considering are a Sicily and Malta combo and Morocco.

Thanks again for your help.

Last edited by tripplanner001; Sep 4th, 2021 at 08:05 AM.
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Old Sep 4th, 2021, 09:11 AM
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Trip-Planner, I have read your re-thinking, & must ask -- is there a truly compelling reason that you cannot go just a few weeks earlier?? The weather in late October would be SO much more do-able. Is this late-November insistence based on job requirements? I tend not to think so, because from the sound of it, you're not tied to a job schedule. Or is it just because this is "the time of year we Always Travel". It really does create problems with rain, shorter daylight, site hours, closed facilities, bus schedules etc.

I myself am unlicensed, as you put (partly because of being a N Yorker for 35 yrs), but also a budgeteer. In my 13 Greece visits, I've taken along travel companions 9 times, & on those trips shared in car rentals but on 4 trips was solo, & managed to get many places using combo of bus & taxi. In this posting I'll just "cut & paste" my Delphi advice, which just today was re-posted by soneone, on another forum:

The intercity (KTEL) bus trip to Delphi is excellent, inexpensive, on modern busses with airconditioning, and comfortable upholstered lean-back seating -- nice passengers, a mix of tourists & Greeks, don't know how you'd do better. A taxi from a Plaka hotel to the bus station is about 12, and a 1-way ticket is about 15; trip takes about 3 hours, with a rest stop ;midway. I'm puzzled by one person's mention of a 4.5 hour number (if it came from a tour company that is because such busses often stop at 5-6 Athens hotels even before they leave town!! ugh). This site - https://www.athensguide.com/practica...schedulesB.htm gives the usual timetable hasn't changed in years.

My first visit to Delphi (on my first trip to Greece in '99) was a horrendous day- tour group experience ... a dozen years later, on the last day of May, I took a bus with a friend, same timing as you plan, and it was PERFECT. A 2pm bus departure arrives about 5:15 or so ... it can stop at the ruins site, but u stay on for about 1 km to the turnaround in center of town. Get off and walk a few 100 metres to a modest hotel; we stayed at PAN... the rooms in back == on the main floor - had a view down mountainside to the sea, with hawks circling BELOW the balcony where I stood!.

All tour-buses were gone, our landlord advised us that the museum was still open til 8 pm (NOTE: these were summer hours) , so we strolled along the parapet for a km to the site and enjoyed the museum almost empty. Dinner was outside on a patio right by parapet walls looking at sunset & sea, drinking water that was Nectar of the Gods (piped direct from snow melt atop Mt Parnassus!).

Next AM our landlord gave us early breakfast, we walked to the site, entered 8:15, had 2.5 hushed hours before the invasion of tour groups, by that time we were hi up on the site, so still on our own. Walked down the road to the Pronaia,filled our water bottles at the famous spring. We caught a 1:30 bus back to Athens... no rush no fuss no crowds.
To get the most from the site, advance prep is very rewarding. Tour Groups often get a very simplistic "gods & goddesses" version. Here are the resources I recommend for ADVANCE PREP & PRINT to TAKE:
Printable Maps! (Museum, Sacred Precinct, Wider area) http://www.planetware.com/map/delphi-map-gr-del.htm

Sacred Destinations - Delphi, Greece Ads, but good info; see menu on side
http://www.ancient-greece.org/archae...chaeology.html

Dr J's Delphi Dr. J's Illustrated Sacred Way at Delphi
NOTE: click items in SIDE MENU for complete photos & explanatory text. SUPER!
Wikipedia entry, succinct & surprisingly good --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi

........... Thoughts on some of your other destinations, on another postin

Last edited by travelerjan; Sep 4th, 2021 at 09:15 AM.
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