Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Help planning 1 month itin for greek mainland

Help planning 1 month itin for greek mainland

Old Mar 18th, 2016, 12:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 6
Help planning 1 month itin for greek mainland

My wife and I are planning a 5 month europe trip, focused on Greece and eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Albania). We are budget travelers who will be renting a car, staying as much as possible at airbnb, preparing our own meals etc). The only thing currently planned is that we land in Athens mid May, plan on a 1 month road trip, then a 2 month excursion into Bulgaria and eastern europe (Schengen requirement) and then back to the greek islands for two months. Currently we are an open book with largely blank pages so would appreciate any advice on the one month mainland stay. The goal is to find (maybe several) airbnb home bases from which we can do day trips by car to see as much of the mainland (beach focus as well as history) as possible. Any help is appreciated.
steveandlori is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2016, 04:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,923
the "HOme base" strategy works well in Northern Italy, and peopel hwo have been there tend to want to transfer the strategy to Greece. It doesn't work well in Greece. In Tuscany, you can get an apartment or villa. Every day you drive off 40 miles in a diffrent direction, have a totally different experience, then can drive back before dark. Not so in Greece. Mountains get in the way, and often, if you drive 30-40 miles you will drown.

In the Peloponnese it DOES work well using Nafplio as a base for 4-5 days You anc drive around to more ancient sites within 15 miles than you'd believe possible. Nemea, Mycenae, Tiryns, Assine, Epidaurus -- not to forget Nafplio itself, which is worth 2 days alone, to explore all its culture architecture and history . http://www.visitnafplio.com

However, when you want to go beyond the Argolid (that area), you'll need to pull up sticks and move .... Monemvasia & Mystra, then on to the Mani Peninsula & Galixidi & Kardymili... and don'e forget Ancient Messine. I love a stay 2days at my secret eden -- Hotel Zoe on the sea at Gialova, above Pylos. From here you can drive (1/2 day) up west coast to Olympia. From there, perhaps you'd want to takthe spectacular bridge Rio-Antirro over to the mainland and then up to Delphi. Where you go from there is up to you ... if you want to explore the North, and lots of mountains, there are plenty to see. Just be aware that in Greece you cannot rent a car in one place (ie Athens or ATH airport), and drop it off far away i.e. Thessaloniki. You will be charged a drop-off fee that will exceed dthe ocst of your rental! that's ecause Greece does not have a big network of fleet cars moving in different directions. So to retrieve your car in Thessaloniki, most agncies would hav to send ANOTHER car (with TWO employees) to fetch it.

I would advise you to do some guide-book research -- ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE, BLUE GUIDE are 2 that cover areas beyond the well-trodden paths. Have a wonderful time planning, it sounds like a dream trip. I would however advise you to do the Islands before JULY-AUG -- that is when giant jumbo jets land on all the island and disgorge massive mobs of EU holiday-makers. the crowding will make the island experience not as lovely as you are dreaming of. I am not sure why you have to leave Greece aftr 1 month... I thought you could do 2 months on Schengen. Early May to End of June is ideal time in Greece, both weather-wise & crowd-wise. Then escape to the balkans in July-Aug & return to GReece afterwards.
travelerjan is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2016, 01:56 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 895
I feel the home-base plan could work if you decide on quality over quantity, accepting you can not see it all, focusing one say 3-5 areas and explore in depth. It does not fit all travelers though, most people try to cover a whole country in a few weeks, thing that is not possible. Typical example: Trying to see Nafplio and surroundings, Olympia, Delphi, Meteora, Athens, maybe one island in 10 days. What you get?Tons of hours driving among places, a quick visit on archeological sites and attractions, a dinner, a sleep, then moving on to next place. Not enough time to explore what is there to see and do on each area. Alternative plan, say to Delphi I am familiar with : Spend 4-6 nights, explore around. One day for archeological site and museums. Half day hiking either up to the mountain either down to the sea (If you are into hiking of course). One day visiting the Angelos and Eva Sikelianos museum, roaming around town. One day driving to the mountain villages, visiting say thge Corykian cave and the winery on Souvala and/or the Ski center and/or eating/walking scenic villages such as Agoriani. One day going to Itea/Galaxidi for exploration and swim maybe stopping to check Chrisso village and its Daradimos folclore museum on the way. One day driving to Hosios Loukas monastery through Arachova, explore Distomo, continue for a swim in Antikyrra, lunch in Desfina, swimin Itea, come to Delphi. One day to explore the ruins of Amfissa castle, roam around the Charmaina neighborhood, visit the small archeological museum, drink some ouzo on the old cafeneion where Theo Aggelopoulos "Thiasos"- "The Travelling Players" was partly filmed. Maybe arrange a visit to one of last traditional tannery's surviving in Greece. Then keep going on the mountian villages for a lunch. Then... Tons of options.....without driving more than a couple of hours per day, often way less than that.
mariha2912 is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2016, 11:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,923
THank you Mariha! I don't know what OP will decide, but I just now bookmarked YOUR response for my Delphi folder -- permission in advance to quote you (with credit) for queries on "what is there to do around Delphi?"
travelerjan is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2016, 11:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 895
Of course TJ, no problem.
among other resources for some ideas...
mariha2912 is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2016, 01:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 6
thank you both for your advice. I am trying to assimilate as quickly as possible. To perhaps clarify. we do NOT want to be on the go daily. The idea of 4 one week stays is totally arbitrary.. so perhaps the goal should be restated as one or more home base stays which allow us to explore the immediate (20-40km) area with day trips. Ideally, we like to settle in and enjoy a city and it's beaches while taking a day trip every few days. (the beach is critical)but my wife gets easily bored so every few days we'd venture out again. We have done this strategy in central and south America and it works well for us.. hopefully we can find a good fit in Greece. Also keep in mind that after a month, we head up into eastern europe for two months before returning for two months on the greek islands. Please keep your advice coming.
steveandlori is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2016, 12:58 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 895
It is not very clear to me if you plan to hire a car for duration of the stay or hire sporadically, this is crucial on how to connect dots.
Cities+beach is not as easy as small towns+beach on mainland. Athens has some decent beach suburbs 40-90 minutes away of the very city center on public transport but most other large cities require quite a trek to reach decent beaches.
Talking of areas with smaller towns and sightseen around, there are many options, depending of specifics.
Argolis is one of them, not only Nafplio/Tolo but plenty of less known beach areas/villages to explore with a car.
Plenty of other areas of Peloponnese, such as Messinia, say using Finikouda as a base, or Ilia around Zaharo area and so on... Further north I always like to suggest Lefkas as a unique case of an island connected to mainland on a small bridge, plenty to explore around, some interesting trips require more than 20 or 40 kms though. Or maybe Parga town on mainland further north...
mariha2912 is offline  
Old Mar 24th, 2016, 05:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 6
I am sorry my post was not clear. I am using a couple of forums and trying to assimilate all the advice I get. First of all to clarify, I plan/hope to rent a single car for the entire trip. I am getting advice that it might not be doable but the sites I am looking at seem to imply that I can rent in Athens and drop in Thessaloniki without an issue other than the drop charge which is included, so that is my plan/hope. From what I am gathering, the best route is to leave Athens and head south to the Peloponnese (Nafplio, Gytheio etc)then on to the west coast and Olympia, then north to Delphi, Larissa, Halkidiki and Thessaloniki where we would catch a train to Bulgaria. I need to start at a high level then bore down to the best base cities. Does this route make sense? Again to repeat the goal. Find a few (2,3,4) base cities that have accommodations on a nice beach where we can mostly buy and cook our own food (no more than $50 per night). For each base, we would plan on a 1-2 week stay allowing plenty of days to enjoy the beach but providing several opportunities for day trips during our stay. The route above seems to be sensible but I'd like some opinions please.
steveandlori is offline  
Old Mar 25th, 2016, 01:12 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 895
This route makes sense, but if you want to be based near a beach most of the time(I see you envision a "great beach", does this mean a long sandy one, an organised one or what exactly?), you should allow for some one or two night stays in between to take some of those places in and ease the driving too.
mariha2912 is offline  
Old Mar 25th, 2016, 03:26 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 288
First of all, you have one whole month. This is a great chance to see most of the highlights of the Greek Mainland without a rush. So don't be afraid, whatever the Itinerary it will be laid back. So, as a Greek I suggest you this Itinerary:

1. ATHENS 5 days
Epidauros Theater
Ancient Mycenae
2. NAUPLION 3 days
3. MONEMVASIA 3 days
Simos beach, Elafonisos
4. AREOPOLIS 4 days
Vatheia village
Diros caves
5. PYLOS 4 days
Ancient Messene
Methoni Castle
Voidokilia beach
Ancient Olympia
6. GALAXIDI 4 days
Ancient Delphi
Hosios Loukas Monastery
7. KALAMBAKA 2 days
Meteora Monasteries
Mount Olympus
Royal Tombs of Aigai
Ancient Pella

This Itinerary is strictly only highlights. If it's too rushed for you, Google the destinations and exclude some if you want. But take a look to all of them, you may find some interesting destinations you didn't know.
PetrosB3 is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2016, 11:42 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 6
Thanks very much for the itinerary. I will google it and check it out. Since I am "assuming" some of these locations are within easy driving distance of each other and since honestly, we do not want to be constantly mobile, are there 'base cities' from which we could stay which would allow us to do day trips to the other cities? Also, one more question if you don't mind.. we will be renting a car and driving a lot and out during the day in the heat of the day. It has been many many years since I lived in Greece (Crete) and frankly I can't remember the weather in May/June. Do you think it is advisable or mandatory that the places we rent to stay have A/C?
steveandlori is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2016, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 8,136
I just wanted to chime in that we had only 5-6 days in Greece week before last, but that we very much enjoyed our time in Delphi and Nafplio. We also found prices outside of Athens quite good!
annw is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2016, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,923
Steve, please stop assuming, and start researching -- an excellent trip planner site is http://www.viamichelin.com/web/Routes -- if u put in a place and next destination will give you Distance in KM, Fastest route, recommended route TIME, cost (in gas AND tolls), plus a complete online MAP route AND a Text route giving every single turn in the road. Your definition of "easy driving distance" may be based on US experience of relatively flat landscape and modern big road (2 lanes ea way). This is Balkan & S.E. Europe NOT Germany of the Autobahns.

YOu have a hugely ambitious To-See list, yet you keep bringing up this "Base" concept; maybe you think if you keep repeating this wish, it will come true.
travelerjan is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2016, 12:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 6
Traverlerjan - Thank you for you suggestion. I have been, from the start, using google maps to route plan, check distances etc (I have not focused much on tolls). I have traveled central and south America (Andes switchbacks) a lot and do not expect the autobahn or US highways so I am relying on Google's estimated travel times to judge feasibility. I don't mean to sound disrespectful as I do appreciate all feedback but you are the first person on two forums that has suggested the concept of base cities is not pragmatic. The areas to explore have been suggested by others and they seem to largely focus on the Peloponnese which several have suggested as feasible for our desirable mode of exploration. I have been playing a lot with google maps, looking at the driving distances between the following cities that others have suggested and realized they are reasonably close to each other. Kalamata, Nafplio, Gytheio, Pilos, Olympia, Galaxidi,) The cities seem reasonably close (within a couple of hours driving) so my question is this: Is is possible or feasible to book accommodations in only ONE city and do day trips to the others. If we allow for 2 days in Athens and 3 in or around Thessaloniki, that still leaves us with 3 weeks to explore. I have no problems driving 1-2 hours to reach and explore a destination so I have been coming to a conclusion that instead of consistently moving every few days, a single base might be feasible. Can you give me your opinion on this and if you believe it is feasible, identify the area that would be most conducive to fanning out on day trips to the other cities.
steveandlori is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Mar 22nd, 2015 05:52 AM
Feb 26th, 2008 12:40 AM
Feb 23rd, 2005 08:38 AM
Oct 20th, 2002 06:00 PM
Jun 19th, 2002 07:52 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information