Last-minute trip to Athens and environs?

Sep 10th, 2017, 08:21 AM
  #1  
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Last-minute trip to Athens and environs?

My husband and I are going to England for 2 1/2 weeks to visit the grandbabies. (Well, OK. The kids too.) To give them a little break mid trip, we thought we might hop over to Greece for a few days (late September), arriving on a Monday afternoon and returning to London on Friday or Saturday (depending on flight schedules). We're looking for help coming up with an itinerary.

On our list of must-sees:
Athens (would stay in the Plaka district)
Corinth
One island - I want to have that lovely "Greek Isle" experience! (not Santorini, but one where we can spend a day or even stay overnight)

We're young seniors. We enjoy walking but not strenuous hiking. More into history and nature than nightlife or shopping. Love to experience the local color. Like to do stuff on our own, but we also enjoy the occasional guided day trip excursion.

Any tips would be most welcome, especially if we need to book anything ahead of time. Thank you so much!
rckimmo is offline  
Sep 10th, 2017, 08:48 AM
  #2  
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Actually, my husband just said Corinth would be great, but if there is another place that's recommended instead, we're totally open!
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Sep 10th, 2017, 09:01 AM
  #3  
 
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Have you considered Nafplio? It is a short distance from Athens and you drive through Corinth. You can see our pics here

https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]
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Sep 10th, 2017, 09:25 AM
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Jamikins has a good suggestion with Nafplio. The Saronic Gulf Islands, e.g. Aegina, are close enough for a day trip from Athens. Any other island would take too much time to reach by ferry.

Flights from Athens take less than an hour no matter which island you choose. You could, for example, take an early morning flight to Santorini and a late flight back to Athens the next day.

Your plan to arrive in Greece on Monday afternoon would give you only three full days if you return to the UK on Friday, and four if you wait until Saturday.
Heimdall is online now  
Sep 10th, 2017, 09:34 AM
  #5  
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Nafplio looks fun, Jamikins! Great suggestion!

And thank you, Heimdall, for mentioning Aegina. Looks wonderful as well! You're right about the timing. We probably do need to stay through Saturday in order to do justice to our time in the Athens area.
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Sep 10th, 2017, 10:26 AM
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Aegina is an Easy day trip -- just take GReenline to Piraeus and get soonest REGULAR ferry (not hydrofoil -- the latter are closed in, no deck/no view). On arrival, port town is interesting, save it for end of day... the Big Item is the FAB temple ruin on high hill in mid-island. 3 choices, hire a car, take a bus, or hire a taxi. If you take t axi, u can have him wait while you look around, take pix etc for 20 minutes or so, then move on. If u take the bus, then you can start off on road to Ay. Marina beach town, and then keep eye out on RH side for a "short cut" sign & scramble downhill and voila! in the village. If its warm, u can even have a swim, lunch, then head back to port. (if u hire a car, a better beach is Marathona). Back in port, interesting back streets to explore, than have a sunset drink at seaside cafe & ferry back -- if its dark, i'll let u take a hydrofoil. Here's agreat stepby step photo album of a day trip -- shows the interesting seascape, the many vessels, etc.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/362647...646139/detail/
travelerjan is online now  
Sep 10th, 2017, 10:37 AM
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As for the other option, Nafplio -also an easy trip. Taxi to the Intercity KTEL bus terminal - Kifissou station (about €13), Nafplio bus goes at 8, then 9:30, then hourly on half-hour. fare is €13.50 one way. Takes 2.5 hours, but much of journey is scenic & interesting (seats are resrved so ask for LEFTHAND side, for sea view). Return bus sked varies, later on weeknds, weekdays last bus is 20:30 http://www.athensguide.com/practical...schedulesA.htm

Nafplio is a full-day Delight! This website explains all, click on every link - http://www.visitnafplio.com - espeically WALKS, and the best walk of all, around the "point" - http://www.visitnafplio.com/volta.html ... you can check the small SUPERB museum on the main (marble-paved) square, and above all, enjoy the BEST sunset in greece, from the cushiony loveseats in the cafe tents along the seafront.... and still have time to make the last bus. Here's an album of Nafplio highlights in late spring - Fall will be just as lovely! https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...7632094108982/
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Sep 10th, 2017, 02:05 PM
  #8  
kja
 
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Athens + Nafplio + an island in 5 days sounds extremely ambitious to me, but of course, it really depends on what you want to see and experience. If that's your time frame, I would strongly encourage you to think through your priorities in advance. You might find some ideas in my trip report, which is long, but searchable:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-greece.cfm
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Sep 10th, 2017, 03:32 PM
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kja, I think they were thinking either/or, for day trip.
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Sep 10th, 2017, 04:05 PM
  #10  
kja
 
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@ travelerjan: Probably, but I'll leave it for the OP to decide whether my comment has merit.
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Sep 11th, 2017, 07:54 AM
  #11  
 
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With your time frame I would spend a minimum of 2 days in Athens . . . three would be better because it's just a wonderful city filled with World-Class Archeological Sites and Museums.

There are the Central Markets, Anafiotika, Psiri District, Changing of the Guards, Plaka, Monistiraki Square plus all the other touristy, less touristy and non-touristy areas of the city.

If you have the time I would do a day trip to the island of Aegina, one of Greece's nicest islands with a pretty waterfront, seaside market, archeological site right in town, one of Greece's best preserved temple, an abandoned Byzantine Village in the hills, seaside villages, hiking, ancient olive groves, and great food.

Every time you make a move it takes time and time is money, especially with 5 days or less to spend.

Check out Matt's Athens Guide and Aegina Guide for more info:
http://www.athensguide.com/
http://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/aegina/
crazyh is offline  
Sep 12th, 2017, 05:38 AM
  #12  
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Thanks to each of you for the wonderful recommendations! I booked our air and hotel. We arrive at Athens Airport 25 Sept. in the early evening and fly back to London the evening of 30 Sept. That gives us almost 5 full days.

travelerjan & crazyh: Aegina it is! Thank you for your detailed reply!

jamikins & travelerjan: Nafplio looks charming and quintessentially Greek! In retrospect, I wish now that we'd booked one night in Nafplio, but we might still try to do it as a day trip. Is it worth going for just a day? If not, we'll pick another spot for a day trip.

Here's what we're thinking:

Day 1 Athens
Day 2 Aegina
Day 3 TBD (Nafplio? or??)
Day 4 Athens
Day 5 Athens OR Athens > Corinth > Airport? (our flight departs at 9 p.m.)

What tweaks would you suggest?
rckimmo is offline  
Sep 12th, 2017, 07:51 AM
  #13  
 
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I still think you need more time in Athens rather than hop-scotching for a day here or a day there.

I think 4 days in Athens and a day trip to Aegina would be your best option.

Again . . . every time you make a major move it eats up time. Travel to Nafplio will take at least 2 hours each way and you'll want to spend time just wandering around the Old Town, the back side with it's lovely pebble beach, Palamidi and Bourtzi Castles, shopping, eating, and taking in the sites.

Still . . . if you want more options to see as much as possible in your time frame I would do base myself in Athens and do:

Athens: 3 days
Aegina: 1 day for a day trip
Nafplio: 1 day for a day trip

In the end quality is more important than quantity.

If you don't see everything you want on this trip to Greece . . . there's always another trip to Greece to consider.

Once you get the "Greek Bug" you'll want to return . . . again and again!
crazyh is offline  
Sep 12th, 2017, 08:12 AM
  #14  
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CrazyH - Yes, there's ALWAYS another trip in the future! We take our grandkids on a special trip when they turn 13. We've taken them by turn to Dublin, Rome/Sorrento, and Paris. Four down, five to go! Someone will pick Greece, I hope! If not, we can return on our own on a between-grandchildren trips. With our son and family living permanently outside of London, we get to Europe at least once a year.

You make a valid point about hopping around. After spending a couple of days in Athens and a day on Aegina, we can always make a decision about how to spend days 4 and 5. Whether we do a more local day trip or spend more time in Athens, we're always willing to be flexible!

Thank you so much for your input. Points well taken!
rckimmo is offline  
Sep 12th, 2017, 08:15 AM
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I told you in my 2nd post exactly how to do it for a day; did you read it??? -- and yes it IS worth it, especially if you get the 8 AM bus outbound, and the 20:30 (8:30pm) bus back to Athens. A wonderful day out... and a sampling that will lure you back there on your NEXT trip to greece.

BTW, Corinth isn't worth a rushed trip... hard to get to ancient site efficiently and it isn't that well-signaged for D-I-Y. Instead, use time to explore beyond the Big 3 - Acropolis & Acropolis Musuem and Nat. Archeological Museum, (all MUST-DO'S). This website -- altho outdated on entrance fees, lists many overlooked gems: http://www.athensinfoguide.com/open.htm I've been to Athens 20+ times in 12 Greece trips, always find new stuff!! Some faves:

•MUSEUM of CYCLADIC ART - if not going to Naxos, a MUST! Stunning coll. of msterious prehist "Minoan figurines"- good top-floor video explains anc. Greek customs rituals using today's youngsters in costume

• MELINA MERCOURI FOUNDATION - main floor photoramic exhibit is thrilling visual review of this brilliant actress/politician's life. Awesome!

• ILIAS LALOUNIS JEWELRY MUSEUM - Near Acrop. Museum this mansion showcases creations of Greece's "Cartier-Tiffany" world-famous artisan.

• MUSICAL INST. MUSEUM - if either of u is musical, super review of major Greek instruments from ancient to mod, w. audio demons -- I treasure my CD of Mandolin faves, play it annually at my "Greek Night" gyro-fest!

•HELLENIC CHILDRENS MUS - FAB! spot for cards, Posters! Prizewinning kids art from National contest. 9yr Olds "My Hometown" painting of athens is framed in my dining room.

• JEWISH MUSEUM - Townhouse; subdued & poignant record of Greece's long tradition of Jewish citizenry & vain efforts to stave off Nazi roundups.
travelerjan is online now  
Sep 12th, 2017, 04:54 PM
  #16  
kja
 
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It really depends on what YOU want to see and experience. Nafplio is a delight, but a day trip to Nafplio would not have been enough for me; YMMV. And 3 days in Athens were not enough for me, but that time frame suits many travelers.
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Sep 12th, 2017, 05:39 PM
  #17  
 
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kja, a MONTH is not enough ... but 5 days is what they have right now, so let us work with that! On my first trip to Nafplio I stayed only 3 days .... but since then, I've been back about 7 times. So it will all work out.
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Sep 12th, 2017, 05:55 PM
  #18  
kja
 
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@ travelerjan: Agreed -- but I believe I have the right to provide the input that I would want if I were the traveler, and I would want to hear what people think of the time allotments I propose. Maybe we can agree to let whoever wants to respond provide his/her own opinions?
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Sep 12th, 2017, 06:48 PM
  #19  
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You're all giving me great input. Nothing is set in stone. We have transportation and a place to sleep. The rest will fall into place, now that we have some of your tried-and-true travel tips to mull over!

We're grateful for the suggestions and are more than able to sift through and consider what will work and what won't. And since we're flexible, we can make last-minute decisions while in Greece. If we decide we want to concentrate on Athens and just do Aegina, it's nice to know we can do that. But if we feel like taking a day trip elsewhere, we love having that option too. I just appreciate all the suggestions!

travelerjan, I did indeed read about how to do beautiful Nafplio in one day! Your itinerary is awesome! Even though it sounds fun, it also sounds ambitious. Rather than spend 5 hours in transit, I'm thinking we'd rather come back to Greece again--as you have!--and perhaps spend several days in the Nafplio area.

With Corinth being closer to our home base, it remains a viable destination for one of our day trips. Not ruling out Nafplio. Just setting it aside till we're in Athens. I'm just so excited to be going to Greece. It's long been on my bucket list. This travel bug thing is awesome!

Kim
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Sep 12th, 2017, 06:53 PM
  #20  
kja
 
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If you want to get out of Athens, you might consider visiting the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio. Some people do that "en route" to the airport, as the airport is on that side of Athens....
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