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Help with Peloponnese and Greece itinerary

Help with Peloponnese and Greece itinerary

Old May 27th, 2021, 01:09 PM
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Help with Peloponnese and Greece itinerary

DH and I have tickets to fly JFK to Athens September 14, returning September 30. This is my fourth trip to Greece, and DH's third but the last time we were there was in 2002. We have 15 nights on the ground and so far have booked the first 3 nights and last 3 nights at an apartment in Athens. Before anyone says something about the amount of time spent in Athens, we love Athens and never feel like we have enough time there. We also plan on taking a day trip to Hydra, where we have never been, and possibly to Delphi, where we were once but I don't have much memory of.

From Athens, we want to go to the Peloponnese as we are very interested in ruins and archeological sites and from what I have been reading, the Peloponnese is chock full of these sites. I think we want to go to Olympia, Corinth, Mycenae and also visit Nafplio, which I understand is a beautiful little town. I also read that there is a pretty good wine region in the Peloponnese. I figure 6 nights exploring the region but not sure what order makes the most sense, or if there are one or two places we could stay and do day trips driving to the sites, rather than moving around every night. Suggestions?

From the Peloponnese, I am hoping we can fly to Santorini, rather than going back to Athens and flying from there, so ending up in a place with an airport and decent flights is important. We plan on spending 3 nights in Santorini, even though we have been there twice and are not crazy about the cruise ship tourists crowding on the island, but hoping that the cruise itineraries have been reduced due to Covid, and this may be the last time ever we can see Santorini without the hoards of tourists. I would love to see Akrotiri again as we were there in 1993 and I'm sure there has been much more excavated since then. I'm also planning the stay to overlap with friends of ours who will be there at the same time. After Santorini, fly back to Athens for our last three nights. What do you think? Any suggestions (other than trying to talk us out of 6 nights in Athens)? Thanks for any advice you give.
ETA: looks like there is no airport and we will have to go back to Athens.

Last edited by laurieco; May 27th, 2021 at 01:33 PM.
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Old May 27th, 2021, 02:01 PM
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Yeah it would have been nice if Kalamata offered that flight, but I guess not.
For Olympia, I would want a closer stay, and I would want to squeeze in ancient Messene. So, you could break that six nights up, but six nights in Nafplio would also be pretty great. In addition to Corinth/arcocorinth and Mycenae, there is Epidaurus and the wine region of Nemea (with the really cool archaeological site at Nemea, which could maybe sub for Olympia). I would also try to see Mystras. Drives can be long, so sometimes I tried to see places en route.
The Bradt Guide to the Peloponnese is really helpful. I was so astonished by the Peloponnese that I sometimes urge people to skip the islands, but in addition to meeting friends, you have a great rationale for going, so I guess you can just plan a fifth trip!
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Old May 27th, 2021, 02:53 PM
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Thanks yorkshire, I do think we will have to spend at least one night close to Olympia to visit that site as it is farther from the other sites. I think I have this romantic vision of seeing the site of the original Olympic games and have my heart set on seeing it.

I've been checking driving times between Nafplio and the other sites and it does look like driving from there is quite doable, but with only 5 more nights in the region, we will have to pick very carefully which sites to see. I have the Lonely Planet Greece but a book that focuses on the Peloponnese is a good idea. Rick Steves has a book that seems to focus on the region and it is newer than the Bradt guide, so I need to decide whether to buy that one or the Bradt. I may get the Rick Steves Kindle version since his ebooks have a searchable index, and then maybe get the Bradt in paperback book form, which I prefer for travel guides (but not for other books!). Reading travel guides when planning a trip is one of the things I love to do and it really helps build the excitement.

I was checking drive times between Nafplio and Athens airport and it's really not that bad, less than 3 hours. There are plenty of flights between Athens and Santorini so if we book an early afternoon flight and leave Nafplio early in the morning, it should be okay.

And you are correct, this will not be our last visit to Greece. Greece is my favorite European country and I have been to Europe dozens of times, starting with a trip with my parents back in 1970. I turned 14 in Paris on that trip and have been back to Paris more than a dozen times. I never ever go somewhere thinking this will be the only time I go. If I like a place, I always plan on going back and usually do, multiple times. So whatever we don't have time for this trip, will be visited on the next trip to Greece.
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Old May 27th, 2021, 03:12 PM
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I'm the same way--racked up seven trips to Italy, and then finally made it to Greece just before the pandemic. I'll be returning when I can. I like hearing your passion for Athens, which I did not have enough time to see properly but figured I'd be passing though again.
The drive to Nafplio is a breeze, and we were generally impressed with the roads--either highways or country roads, both pleasant.
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Old May 27th, 2021, 03:33 PM
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That's great to know that the drive was a breeze and that the roads are good. The only driving we did in Greece was on Crete, from Chania to Heraklion. I'm feeling better about this trip already. After not travelling for 17 months, I was hesitant but feeling better by the minute.

When you go back, do not just fly in and out of Athens. It's not everyone's cup of tea but Athens is really a fabulous city. You will be walking somewhere and just come upon a ruin, out of nowhere it seems. There are a lot of archeological sites and the Acropolis Museum and the National Archeological Museum are terrific and worth several hours each. And walking around Plaka (yeah, I know it's touristy but who cares) is fun, and sitting at an outside restaurant sipping some wine, it's the best. And the Acropolis, what can I say. It was my favorite site until I went to Machu Picchu, which edged the Acropolis out. And I've been around the block a few times, have been to Angkor Wat, Borobudur and loads of other places, and the Acropolis still is the most amazing site.
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Old May 28th, 2021, 06:51 AM
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I doubt you will be able to find a flight from Kalamata to Santorini unless one of the charter airlines from Northern Europe makes a stop there and goes on to the island. None of the domestic airlines has flights from there to Santorini or even to Athens, as far as I know. Kalamata hosts a unit from the Hellenic Air Force, and in summer there are international charter flights.

Since you will be in that area, donít miss the huge Ancient Messene archeological site near Kalamata. Itís very impressive, but gets few visitors.
https://greeking.me/blog/visiting-pe...site-in-greece
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Old May 28th, 2021, 09:21 AM
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Thanks Heimdall. That site looks amazing. With 6 nights in the area, we should be able to see it.

I think what we will do is leave Nafplio early morning and drive to Athens airport for an early afternoon flight to Santorini. Not sure if we will go to the airport to rent a car and drive to Olympia, that way we can return it to the airport when flying to Santorini. I guess it depends on how much more it costs to drop off at a different location than picking up the car. I have a four day weekend and two guidebooks so I'll be doing my research this weekend.
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Old May 28th, 2021, 12:33 PM
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We did spend the night in Olympia as it is far for a day trip and enjoyed our time there.
We loved staying in Napflion but it is not a “ a little town.” The historic section gives more of a small town feel and I recommend that you stay there where there are many hotels and good dining options. My Greek friends call it one of two prettiest small cities in Greece, the other being Chania.
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Old May 28th, 2021, 06:06 PM
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My mind substituted "history" in your title and I thought of this.
Now that I realize you didn't say history, this still may be of interest.
Coursera has some great, free, online courses. You may enjoy watching some before your trip.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 02:06 PM
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I've put together my itinerary for the most part and all hotels are refundable. Please let me know if the Peloponnese portion makes sense. I'm trying to figure out the best order to drive this. The six nights in Athens and three in Santorini are non-negotiable so I would appreciate people not telling me to change those.

Sept. 15-18: 3 nights Athens
Sept 18: rent car and drive to Delphi, 1 night
Sept 19: drive to Olympia 1 night
Sept 20: drive to Ancient Messene 1 night
Sept 21-24: drive to Nafplio 3 nights I am currently booked at a pension for 4 nights in Nafplio, from Sept 20-24, but thought it may be too far to drive to Messene for a day trip. What do you think? We plan on doing some day trips from Nafplio, to Ancient Corinth and Epidavros, possibly to Nemea and visit the sites and a winery or two. Should I cut the first night off of Nafplio and stay in Messene instead?
Sept 24: drive to Athens in the morning, drop the rental car off back at the airport and fly to Santorini (we are booked on a 13:30 flight) 3 nights in Oia
Sept 27: fly back to Athens, 3 nights
Sept 30: ATH to JFK

I realize that we are not going to see everything but I'm hoping to at least see the main sites in the Peloponnese. I looked at maps and input various combinations into Rome2Rio to try and come up with a plan that makes sense, and one where we won't have to drive more than 3.5 to 4 hours to reach our next destination. I appreciate any advice you can give for a better plan. Thanks.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 04:42 PM
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Having done that counter-clockwise thing, but partly without a car (it invloved friends in greece etc), I would suggest rather than driving all the way from Olympia to near Messine, stop beforehand. Go down the Coast from Ollympia, and stop to see Nestor's Palace.... then just 10 miles before Pylos, take a tiny right turn for 100 yards at a b end in the road and you are in GIALOVA, my secret Eden. It's a small strip of tavernas and only 2 hotels i think, on the Most Divine Beach in the Peloponnese. Email now to see if Hotel ZOE has a room for 1 night .... their website has the label Zoe Resorts, but it is NOT -- it is afamiy-run hotel, right smack-dab on the sand witha small grove of short palms shading their basket=chairs... with japanese lanterns at night, lighting up tables. Spend the afternoon in turquoise blue water, watch a sunset, reinvigorate. The next morning, up early, and off to Messine to see it at 9 am -- and then drive straitght thru on good road thru Tripoli to Naflio. You'll thank me.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 03:24 AM
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Originally Posted by travelerjan View Post
Having done that counter-clockwise thing, but partly without a car (it invloved friends in greece etc), I would suggest rather than driving all the way from Olympia to near Messine, stop beforehand. Go down the Coast from Ollympia, and stop to see Nestor's Palace.... then just 10 miles before Pylos, take a tiny right turn for 100 yards at a b end in the road and you are in GIALOVA, my secret Eden. It's a small strip of tavernas and only 2 hotels i think, on the Most Divine Beach in the Peloponnese. Email now to see if Hotel ZOE has a room for 1 night .... their website has the label Zoe Resorts, but it is NOT -- it is afamiy-run hotel, right smack-dab on the sand witha small grove of short palms shading their basket=chairs... with japanese lanterns at night, lighting up tables. Spend the afternoon in turquoise blue water, watch a sunset, reinvigorate. The next morning, up early, and off to Messine to see it at 9 am -- and then drive straitght thru on good road thru Tripoli to Naflio. You'll thank me.
I appreciate your suggestion but in all honesty, we donít want to take a day to go to a beach. We are not big beach people and with limited time, we want to see what we are coming to Greece for. Besides, weíll have 3 days on Santorini to look at beautiful sunsets. Iím more interested in whether my planned route makes sense from a logistical standpoint.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 07:11 AM
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Looks pretty good, I just wonder if you could combine the stay for Olympia and Messene?
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by laurieco View Post
I appreciate your suggestion but in all honesty, we donít want to take a day to go to a beach. We are not big beach people and with limited time, we want to see what we are coming to Greece for. Besides, weíll have 3 days on Santorini to look at beautiful sunsets. Iím more interested in whether my planned route makes sense from a logistical standpoint.
I understand your sentiment completely but traveljanís post inspired me to look up that area and consider it for a future trip so all is not lost!
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 08:13 AM
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Perhaps I will go on a future trip too, but this trip is the first to the Peloponnese so I want to get in the major archeological sites.




ETA to get out of the gray box.
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 06:21 AM
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I was not suggesting "a day at the beach" but just the fact that you'll have to spend the night somewhere after you leave Olympia and before you reach Nafplio ... and there's not much around Ancient Asine which is a hop& a skip from Gialova/Pylos. Also, listen: Olympia can be best experienced late in day & early in day... when large tours not there. I arrived Olympia around 5 pm, my hotelier gave me a Great tip -- the bus tours go first to the site, then to the museum... in order to see the museum serenely, go 1st thing. I did, and had it to myself! V. moving experience ... when I left, huge lines were forming outside, of bus-people. I then went to the site, which DID have a lot of people as well, but it's so large it didn't feel crowded. Then left by bus (changed to anotehr bus, then a taxi -- quite a journey but not relevant here). lf you leave Olympia say 11 - 12, you drive down the coast, hit Nestor's Palace around 2? leave around 3:30... and THEN you stop late afenoon at Gialova beach (or Pylos, lovely square but not as good for late-day dip). That's what I meant, a strategic stop, not a "day at the beach."

Then early next AM, you head out for 20 mn drive to Messine... LOTS to see, do your prep/homework in order to appreciate; I was lucky, have a Brit expat friend who lived nearby, trained in archeology, who showed me through ... there's also a wonderful taverna high high up, overlooking site, whre u can have a cold brew and enjoy vista. I think it's a couple of hours to Nafplio, great time to arrive, mid afternoon, enjoy walking thru old town, relax at seafront for BEST sunsets in Greece IMHO, and Ive seen sunsets in at least 20 islands. Have a great trip.
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 06:29 AM
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>>Spend the afternoon in turquoise blue water, watch a sunset, reinvigorate.<<

Forgive me for thinking you meant that we should spend a day at the beach. Your suggestion to stop there does have merit however and I will give it some thought, but I would not want to get there much before evening. I will look into it though.



Edited to get out of the gray box
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 09:17 AM
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We had an itinerary planned like yours which I sent to my friends in Greece. Their comment was that we had not included Byzantine Mystras! We did easily visit Mystras and highly recommend that you include it too.
Napflion is a favorite of ours.
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 01:18 PM
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Damn gray box



I had a look at Gialova and Pylos and they do look lovely. And I did want to go to Mystras but I don't know how I will fit everything in! This is why it is my fourth trip to Greece and not likely to be my last! I will go back to the drawing board from Olympia, put the places into Rome2Rio and see if they are doable without rushing or trying to pack too much in to one or two days. The other thing we can do is cut out Delphi, but we were there in either 1993 or 2003, I'm not even sure any more and don't have too many memories of it. Stopping for the night at Delphi will also shorten the amount of driving time going from Athens to Olympia. For whatever reason, DH didn't seem too excited about going back to Delphi but sometimes it's hard to tell with him. Also, Delphi is one of the most important sites so I think a return visit is in order. And DH does not want to drive for hours and hours to get somewhere. He will be doing the driving since I'll be taking Valium in case we end up on any narrow mountain roads that have hairpin turns and little to no guardrails. If I don't, I'll be convinced we are going to die!
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 01:27 PM
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I needed valium for the drive in and out of Kardamyli (I'm the wuss that grips the handle on the car roof), but I don't see any standout parts of your drive to worry about. The highways were outstanding.
Messene to Nafplio is about two hours, I know the plan might change still, so if you leave early enough, you could probably swing by Mystras (It's near Sparta) with out adding too much more driving time, maybe an hour or so. You would need a couple hours for Mystras though. Of course you don't have to squeeze everything in, but if it does work out, great.
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