possible spring trip to Greece

Old Jan 16th, 2023, 05:21 PM
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possible spring trip to Greece

Greetings Fodorites. We're strongly considering Greece as one of our short-listed options for a May trip. Given that this would be our first trip to Greece and our interest in history and archaeological sites, we would concentrate on the mainland with a side trip to one island - that being Santorini.

Before I go any further, I want to say a very special thank you to yestravel and KarenWoo for their fantastic trip reports. We just reread the reports in the past few days as we continued our research and zeroed in on our interests, and the reports were very helpful to us.

What we're thinking in terms of overnight stays are as follows:

Athens, 4 nights
Nafplion, 3 nights, stopping in Corinth along the way and visiting Mycenae, Epidaurus, Tiryns, and Nemea from Nafplion
Kalamata, 3 nights, stopping in Sparta and Mystras along the way and visiting the Pylos, Methoni, and the Mani Peninsula from Kalamata
Olympia, 2 nights, stopping at Messene along the way
Delphi, 2 nights
Cape Sounion, 1 night
Santorini, 4 nights

What do you think of this distribution? Should we add and / or cut back time anywhere?

Any must-see archaeological sites on the Peloponnese I'm leaving out?

Do you have suggestions on places to stop between Olympia and Delphi, and also Delphi and Athens?

Thank you for your help.

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Old Jan 16th, 2023, 11:58 PM
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Ancient Messene is fantastic. It’s a huge archeological site, off the radar for most international visitors. The day I was there in mid September were only about a dozen other visitors, and I had to wait for someone to walk into the stadium to give some perspective of size for my photographs. After our visit we stopped for lunch at a little taverna in the village overlooking the site, and got an overhead view. I don’t remember the name of the taverna, but if you can find it, it’s worth a stop.
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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 04:41 AM
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That would be the Ithomi Tavern above Messene. Yum.

The Bradt guide to the Peloponnese will be immensely helpful in your planning.
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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 04:48 AM
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Toward the end of this Flickr album are photos of Ancient Messene, including from the taverna FTOttawa named:
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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 06:33 AM
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Take a day away from Santorini and move it to Napflion, so much to see there.
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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 07:37 AM
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As you mention Mystras, you may be interested in medieval places too. In this case, you could add Monemvasia castle, Koroni, Ossios Loukas, Dafni monastery and Dafni monastery.
Cape Sounion can easily be done as a day trip from Athens,
The most famous archeological site in the Cycladid Islands is of course Delos which can be visited from Mykonos.
If you really want to enjoy the caldera and the stunning position of Santorini, reach or leve this Island by slow ferry.
Spend you last night before a transatlantic flight at Athens. Local flights or ferrries may be affected by bad weather conditions or strikes.

Taking into account all the mentioned points, I would get something like:

Flight into Mykonos (with plane change at either Athens or any other European airport).
Visit of Delos.
Fast ferry from Nykonos to Naxos plus slow ferry from Naxos to Santonrini.
Fllight from Santorini to Athens airport and car rental.
Motorway A6/A8 to Elefsis (may be with a detour via Dafni) - Korinthos .......
resp. Motorway A6/ A1 to Kastro - Livadia - Delphi (may be with a detour via Ossios Loukas Monastery)........
Last nights in Athens.
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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 10:13 AM
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tripplanner001, thank you so much for your kind words. I am happy to know that my trip report and that Yestravel's report (whom we had dinner with in Nafplion) were of help to you in planning your trip.

Regarding what to change, if anything, you could take happyTrvlr's advice and take one night from Santorini and add it to Nafplion. Obviously, you know that we spent 3 nights on Santorini, so perhaps there is something you want to do on Santorini that we did not do that warrants an extra night. Or maybe you want a slow and relaxing end to your trip. If you weren't continuing on to Kalamata and visiting Mystras along the way, I would say an extra night in Nafplion is a necessity.

Many, many, many years ago I visited Cape Sounion as a daytrip from Athens. So I don't think it's necessary to spend a night there unless you will be arriving late from Delphi.
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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 10:30 AM
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Thank you to everyone for your very helpful information so far.

Heimdall and FTOttawa, appreciate your validation of Messene as well as the dining suggestion. We'll make note.

HappyTrvlr and KarenWoo, thank you for the feedback on distribution. What we're running into is the availability of accommodation options, so we will see what we will be able to arrange. I have holds on refundable accommodations but a lot of places are already fully booked. My thoughts on 4 nights on Santorini are to end our trip more leisurely but also allow additional time to enjoy the times on the island when the cruise ships are not in port. I could also take out the night at Cape Sounion and add it to Nafplion; the thinking here is something other than the bustle of Athens but also being relatively close to the airport.

neckervd, I will take a look at some of the places you've mentioned. The medieval places are of interest; some of the photos of Mystras and other places reminds me of what I saw in Georgia and in Armenia, which I enjoyed. Afraid I won't have time for a second island on this trip unless we keep 4 nights in Santorini and visit a smaller island as a day trip on one of the days. Would Delos be too far to fit this bill?

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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 11:25 AM
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Trip planner, it sounds as though you have already had the very intelligent idea of checking how many cruise ships are in port during the days you plan to be in Santorini. If it’s possible to choose a stretch of days with minimal visits, that’s a huge plus. Though I have to say the cruise crowds thinned out pretty quickly once we were hiking from Firostefani to Oia, and again at the top of the hill at Ancient Thira. If you keep your plan of four nights/three full days in Santorini, do consider the latter.
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 12:55 AM
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if you want to visit Delos in May, you must spend the night before at Mykomos town.
You can reach Mykonos by plane from Athens dp 19.10 or 20.35;
by slow ferry from Rafina (close to Athens) dp 17.30 - Mykonos ar 22.10;
by catamaran from Santorinii dp 13.35 - Mykonos ar 17.05
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 01:36 AM
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Further to what neckervd wrote, day trips to Delos from Paros and Naxos are available, but don’t start until late May or early June when sufficient numbers of passengers make the trips viable. Both times I’ve been to Delos have been while staying on Mykonos, where trips from there start around the beginning of April, as I recall.
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 09:06 AM
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FTOttawa, it seems like cruise ships are unavoidable these days but we're making an active effort to at least have times when the ships are not in port.

neckervd and Heimdall, thank you. Given our limited time, we don't expect to overnight on more than one island so we will save Delos for a subsequent visit.
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 09:38 AM
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Tripplanner001, you canít see everything, so keep Delos in mind for your next trip to Greece. Even if you spent a night on Mykonos there is no guarantee you would get to Delos, as the small boats are sometimes cancelled in strong wind, and Mykonos is known as the windy isle. I was even more impressed with Delphi, so keep that in your itinerary.
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Old Jan 19th, 2023, 05:10 PM
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Heimdall, youíre right. We could spend our entire time on the mainland or just as well our entire time island hopping. Given limited time and our interest in ruins, weíre erring on the side of a mainland trip plus one island so we can get a taste. Weíre leaving out pretty much all of central and northern Greece in the process as well as the countless islands. But thatís what return trips are for.
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 09:30 AM
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3 nights in Santorini is sufficient. And I do love Santorini but you should find thatís enough time.
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Old Jan 21st, 2023, 07:39 PM
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You’ve already gotten plenty of advice around maybe shortening Santorini by a night and I would agree. We spent 3 nights in Santorini and it was more than sufficient. One day we hiked from Imerovigli to Oia; one day we took a boat tour out to the volcano for a hike which then stopped at Thirassia before cruising back to port around sunset; one day we took the bus to explore Akrotiri. We had leisurely days and didn’t pack them full yet also felt like we saw/did all we wanted to. The views around the caldera around sunset are stunning and deserve time spent just soaking them in.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2023, 03:44 PM
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balthy and CaKnk, thank you.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2023, 04:56 PM
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Glad you took a night away from Santorini. Napflion is worth more time than Santorini.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 09:51 AM
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Thank you once again for your generous feedback. The mainland portion of my trip now looks as follows:

Athens, 4 nights
Athens to Delphi, 2 nights, stopping in Thebes and Hosios Loukas Monastery
Full day for Delphi
Delphi to Olympia, 2 nights, stopping in Nafpaktos and at Rio-Antirrio Bridge
Full day for Olympia
Olympia to Kalamata, 3 nights, stopping at Messene
Day trip to Pylos, Methoni, and Nestor Palace
Day trip to Mani villages and Dyros Caves
Kalamata to Nafplion, 4 nights, stopping in Sparta and Mystras
Full day for Nafplion
Day trip to Mycenae, Nemea, and Arcocorinth
Day trip to Epidaurus and Tiryns

Any worthwhile ancient or Byzantine sites I've overlooked? Things we may want to consider doing differently?
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Old Feb 23rd, 2023, 11:24 AM
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Your trip looks great! Have fun! Here is some feedback on what we liked:
- Nemea was one of the highlights of our Greece trip. There was virtually no one there, we really like the museum, and you are able to walk among the ruins.
- When we were in Nafplio, we enjoyed the archeological museum and the Peloponnesian folklore museum. We spent 3 hours exploring Palamidi fortress (there are a lot of hidden spots to explore!).
- We did a kayak tour that started in the port of old Epidavros that included a stop to snorkel above some sunken ruins. It was our favorite part of the trip! We stopped at Epidaurus ruins afterwards and sadly didn't have much time before they closed, but the kayak trip was worth it and the guide fantastic! I believe they do kayak trips out of Nafplio around the port there, too.
- If you find you need to relax in Nafplio, go to the ruins of ancient asine (there isn't a lot left, unfortunately) and then relax on the beach that is just below the ruins. Several euros will get you a couple lounger chairs under an umbrella and a beverage. There was almost no one there and we spent hours there! We had a similar looking itinerary in Nafplio and ended up cutting out a few ruins since we were feeling maxed out on ruins (for example, we skipped Tiryns but saw Mycenae). The relaxation was just what we needed to recharge.
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