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

How best to do ATH, a sidetrip & Santorini in 9 nights - HELP?

How best to do ATH, a sidetrip & Santorini in 9 nights - HELP?

Dec 21st, 2006, 04:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
How best to do ATH, a sidetrip & Santorini in 9 nights - HELP?

We are planning a trip to Greece the first week of May, 2007. Our time is limited, so I am trying to sort thru all of the research and figure how best to allocate our time.

We are a 40-ish couple who loves the hustle and bustle of big cities, exploring small quaint towns, and we enjoy day hiking, seeing ruins and interesting architecture. Photography is a great passion, so beautiful scenery is tops on the list! We tend NOT to spend all day in museums, we are not beach people, or nightclub goers.

Of course, we want to spend at least a day or 2 in Athens, but would also like to spend a few days in Santorini.
I am trying to figure out, if we have only 9 nights (I could maybe stretch it to 10) will we have time to visit either Nafplio (via Mycenae) or Delphi and spend one night at either place?
We have not booked our flights yet, so Iím not even sure what time we will arrive, but, so far I'm thinking:

Day 1: arrive ATH

Day 2: explore Athens and overnight in Athens.
It seems a lot of people think a full day is enough to see the major attractions, so I was thinking the next day was when we could do a day trip (or overnight)

Day 3: Iím leaning towards renting a car and driving to Nafplio (stoping at Mycenae on the way) spending the night in Nafplio
drive to Delphi instead and overnight there.
I realize itís one town or the other, we canít fit in both.
Hereís where I would also like suggestions, keeping in mind that we are interested in beautiful scenery, interesting towns and ruinsÖwhich would you pick?

Day 4: drive back to Athens and overnight there

Day 5: fly to Santorini
Day 6: Santorini
Day 7: Santorini
Day 8: Santorini

Day 9: fly from Santorini back to Athens in the morning and have the afternoon to explore a bit more of Athens

Day 10: fly home

Here are just a few of the questions I have so far:

Is renting a car and driving to either of those places too much of a hassle? We have driven in many foreign countries, in traffic and on mountainous hairpin roads, so we have an idea of what to expect. But is it just more trouble than itís worth? And if we do rent a car, do we rent from the airport? That sounds like a lot of back and forth to the airport. We would just like to have that extra freedom to explore.

Is a day trip possible from Santorini to Naxos, and would we even have enough time to scratch the surface there?
What about a day trip from Santorini to other islands? We would like to see a bit more of Greece if we could.
Or should we just have a nice leisurely 3-1/2 days to explore Santorini?

We looked into the possibility of doing Santorini first and the mainland portion last, but after looking at the flight options we just didnít feel comfortable trying to catch the flight to Santorini the same day.

Also, if we rented a car, can you tell me estimated drive times to any of the places I mentioned??

Right now Aegean has the 19Euros fare, but Iíve noticed the prices are going up on some flights around those dates, so Iím trying to hurry and get at least that airfare purchased. Itís just so hard to book the in-country flight when you donít have the other days cemented yet.

Thanks so much for any of your expertise and time!

Happy travels,
luv2globetrot is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 06:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,698
I think your projected itinerary is fine, especially if you rent a car for your out-of-town excursion. Of course you can rent a car in central Athens, just be VERY sure of your route out to the National Highway, and take it easy. If you're not a confident driver in high-stress situations it might be a good idea to go out to the airport if just to eliminate that problem. I can't recommend Nafplio over Delphi, but someone else will no doubt address that issue.

As far as going to Naxos from Santorini, if you catch the first boat out in the morning (7:30, I think) you'll probably have about 5 hours until you'll need to be back at the port for the return to Santorini. I did this one year and if I remember correctly the return boat left Naxos about 3:30. The trip takes about 2 hours in each direction. That's enough time to have a look around the main village with time for a nice lunch, but not much else. The only other island option would be Ios, which is actually closer to Santorini and on the same ferry route (only an hour away). In May it won't yet be overrun with backpackers, but there's not a lot to see or do there.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 08:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 431

I am in the middle of planning a very similar trip - about a week after you! I too had many of the same questions, and finally came up with an itinerary I think works. I obviously haven't been yet, so can't offer real advice, but what I have planned may help you.

We have 10 nights and finally decided on placing Santorini in the middle of the trip. Any other way I did it, I found that I had situations that I wasn't comfortable with (connecting flights, picking up cars in Athens, "wasted" days.)

Day 1: Arrive in Athens 3:00pm. Get our bearings and have our first Greek Dinner.
Day 2: Site see in Athens
Day 3: Site see in Athens (I don't think a day is enough for us!)
Day 4: Fly to Santorini (we got in on those 19EUR fares with Aegean!). Arrive at noon and spend the rest of the day getting to know our immediate surroundings. We are planning on staying in Oia.
Day 5: Explore Santorini
Day 6: Explore Santorini
Day 7: Fly back to Athens and pick up car at the airport, drive to Nafplio.
Day 8: Explore sites around Nafplio with car
Day 9: Explore sites around Nafplio with car
Day 10: Take our time driving back to the Athens airport, stopping at sites along the way. Drop car at Athens airport and spend the night there.
Day 11: Early flight home

Hopefully this gives you some ideas! The more I researched Nafplio, the more time I wanted to put there. I figure 3 nights gives us time to enjoy the town itself, as well as exploring the surrounding area and sites.
saltymuffin is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 08:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
Thanks brotherleelove2004, especially for the Naxos ferry advice! That's something I think we'll play by ear. Is it true that we could go without prior hotel reservations and just book a hotel on Santorini when we get there (having a few in mind)??

I LIKE your idea!! I especially like putting Santorini in the middle and then picking up the rental car on the way back from Santorini and heading straight to Nafplio, then staying at the airport the night before our departure. But the flights I'm looking at to get back home don't leave ATH til noon or 3pm. That might be wasted time since I doubt there's much to do around the airport.

Then my dilema becomes how many days in each area? I'm sure we would like to have an extra day in Athens, but at the expense of a day in Santorini....I can't decide...AHHH, the torture
How did you decide on how much time in each place???
luv2globetrot is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 09:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,439
You might want to think about doing less and enjoying more while in Greece. There is so much to see that in 10 days you will realize that a monrh just begins to scratch the surface. Transportation in Greece takes much more time than one would think, so staying in one or two places provides you with a much more efficient use of time.
Naxos is a wonderful Island but as Brotherlee points out you will spend about 4 hours on the ferry for three hours of touring Naxos. We have been to Naxos 7 times and have found something new to see every time. I would suggest you don't even think about Naxos unless you are willing to devote sufficient time to really experience it.

Santorini is a must see, as it is magnificent. We have been there three times and loved it. Stop and enjoy all it has to offer. You can easily spend a whole day sipping wine, olives and bread on your balcony watching ferrys and cruise ships jockying for position in the caldera.
However a trip to Naphlion is also quite delightful. Naphlion is a two and a half hour drive from Athens. Do not even think about renting a car in Athens. From the airport to Naphlion is primarily freeway driving( actually mostly toll roads) most of the way. Once there, you can visit many antiquities including three Venetian era fortresses in the town as well as enjoying the neoclassical buildings. You can easily spend three days in Naphlion and take hundreds of great pictures before you even think about heading out to Tierns Mycene and Ephaduras.
Remeber do less enjoy more.
stanbr is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 09:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,698
In May it's no problem finding a room without a reservation. If you know which ones you're interested in you can also call them from Athens before your arrival on Santorini. Santorini's island code is 22860. You can buy an inexpensive OTE phone card at any magazine kiosk on the street and use it in one of the public card phones located all over the city.

Why not just play it all by ear? Start in Athens and see where the wind blows you!
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 06:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
Thank you all so much for the info and advice.
I'm now thinking of this updated itinerary:

Day 1: arrive ATH
Day 2: explore Athens
Day 3: explore Athens
Day 4: Fly to Santorini
Day 5: explore Santorini
Day 6: explore Santorini
Day 7: explore Santorini
Day 8: catch 7:25 am flight back to ATH, arrive ATH at 8:10, pick up rental car at the airport then drive towards Nafplio, stopping at sites along the way and spending the night in Nafplio
Day 9: explore Nafplio
Day 10: drive back to Athens airport and catch a 3pm flight home

I took out a day in Santorini, to gain an extra day in Athens and since our flight home doesn't leave til 3pm we get to spend an extra night outside of Athens (either in Nafplio or somwhere on the way back to Athens) .

Sound better???
luv2globetrot is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 431
Your new itinerary sounds really good. It seems to give you so much more "usable" time than you had, and there seems to be a lot less moving around. I always try to limit/eliminate 1 night stays.

I really like the idea of spending your last night in Nafplio, then driving to the airport the day of the flight. You'd probably want to leave fairly early (10:00am?) as you need to leave time to drop the car, check in, and not have a frantic drive. For you, it works much better than a night at the airport (which isn't cheap). We really had no choice as we have that early morning flight.

I too went back and forth on how much time in Nafplio vs Santorini - I was pretty sure that 2 days in Athens would be fine. But waffled on the other locations, at one time I also had a day trip to Delphi packed in there! We'll have to compare notes after the trips since you are spending one more day in Santorini, and I have one more in Nafplio!
saltymuffin is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 07:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
Sounds great!! I'll be sure to post a trip report and it will be interesting to compare... and have ideas for the next trip, right??
So, I guess I'm off to go book those flights on Aegean.
Thanks again for everyone's help!

Happy Travels
luv2globetrot is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,660
hi Lisa,

What a great trip! I think your last itinerary sounds perfect!! I think you're timing is really good, too.

Santorini is so beautiful, and Nafplion is so charming. You will love both places. We stopped at Epidauros on our drive back to athens from Nafplion and it was worth the trip. It has one of those outdoor ancient theaters with amazing acoustics... If you drop a penny in the center of the stage, the very highest seats can hear it perfectly!

Athens is definitely doable in 2 days, and you won't feel rushed. You'll have for afternoon naps, too, if you're recovering from jet lag. Don't miss the redone National Archaelogical Museum, shopping in the Plaka, and the subway station under Syntagma Square.

You might consider doing a late afternoon drive to Cape Sounion to see the sunset. the drive is beautiful, along the coast, and the setting at the ruins is gorgeous. Unfortunately, i don't know how to tell you to do this with public transportation (we had a friend drive us), but if you can figure out a way to get there, you won't be disappointed.

Have a great trip!
dina4 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 02:01 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 337
Thanks dina4!! Appreciate your suggestions!!
luv2globetrot is offline  
Dec 24th, 2006, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 558
If you pick up a rental car at AQthens airport, I suggest you avboid Avis. I had a very bad experience a few years ago which involved faulty breaks, a couple of days in hospital, car hire staff who left a lot to be desired and a long legal battle to get things sorted out!
Also, dr4iving from Nafplio to the airport should be avoided on a Sunday if possible as the traffic is very heavy as weekenders return to the city. Traffic is heavy the other way on Fridays.
Carolina is offline  
Dec 29th, 2006, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 5
2 days Athens

2 days Nafplio:
drive to Nafplio (it's easy to do on national road) - stay at Aetoma Hotel. Ask for the room on the top floor.

drive back to Athens, and take afternoon flight to Santorini (if you insist on going there...I would choose Naxos over Santorini), or preferably, just keep your car and take the boat with your car from Athens to Naxos or Paros.

You could take a day trip from Naxos to Santorini. You could take a side trip to Tinos. good luck!
mikeantonios is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 05:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1

I'm also planning a trip to Greece in May 2007. Tell me about the 19 EUR Aegean flight from Athens to Santorini. Thanks!
ResaC is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 06:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,698
It's something you book online if there are still tickets available on your chosen days of travel. Total cost per flight is about 40 Euro.

brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,369
There is a public bus that goes to Cape Sounion. I don't have the details as I abandoned that part of my guidebook in Greece, but you can look it up in Lonely Planet. Just be careful not to miss the bus back, it left PRECISELY on time! (At 8:00). The drive out was interesting - you get to see the coast and some villages - the sunset was beautiful, and the food in the restaurant below the temple was quite good.
thursdaysd is offline  

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 -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:13 PM.