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marketsquare Apr 4th, 2007 01:50 PM

Seeking advice for Athens, Mainland, Crete trip

I’m a first time poster who has used great advice from this forum for past trips. Looking for comments on a first time trip to Greece in late September.

We are sisters who typically try to do too much but hope to slow it down a bit this time. We like historical sites, museums, people-watching, scenic drives, scenic walks, some shopping, memorable/interesting hotels and restaurants. Have enjoyed driving everything from autobahns to the Amalfi coast road. Here’s what we have so far, would appreciate comments as to pace, hotels, things we’re missing, etc.

Day 1-4: Arrive Athens from US, 4 nights AVA Hotel. Acropolis, Agora, Plaka sights, museums, etc. Go to Hydra or Aegina one day if we tire of city things.

Day 5-6: To airport for rental car; to Meteora, 2 nights Kalambaka or Kastraki (need hotel suggestions, E60-100 range). Monasteries, drive around area.

Day 7: To Delphi, tour Delphi site, museum, etc. 1 night at Hotel Varonos.

Day 8-9: Finish at Delphi in morning if needed. To Nafplion crossing at Patra and following along Corinth Sea coast road; 2 nights at Hotel Aetoma. Mycenae, Epidauros, general area.

Day 10-13: To Athens airport, fly to Chania (Crete) late afternoon. Get rental car, 4 nights Pandora Suites. Concentrate mostly in Western Crete but also visit Knossos (day trip).

Day 14: Fly to Athens mid-day, back to AVA Hotel for 1 night.

Day 15: Fly back to US around noon.

Wondering if we are on the right track with these specific thoughts:

1. Missing Olympia but felt Meteora would provide a different type of experience (mountains, different historical period) and didn’t want to squeeze both in. Should we reconsider? Or skip both and go to Delphi, Nafplion and Monemvasia area instead? Somewhere else?

2. Were tempted to fit in another island like Santorini but want to be realistic with our time. We know Crete is big with lots to do; we thought Athens, part of the Mainland, and one island would be fine. We are not sit-on-the-beach people. Are we missing out?

3. Is it OK to stay all 4 nights in Chania and do day trips around Western Crete? Would really prefer not to relocate and Pandora Suites looks good. Any specific not-to-miss day trips?

4. Like the idea of a scenic hike but not keen on a whole day at the Samarian Gorge, especially 10-11 km. Is there another scenic but shorter “hike” someone can suggest?

5. Is 4 nights in Athens way out of line? Would a day at Hydra or Aegina be duplicating the seaside town experience we will have at Nafplion and Chania? Should we cut a day and add to Mainland?

6. Does anyone have experience with “regular” apartments at AVA Hotel? I fear its high praise is about the larger “executive” apartments with 2 rooms and a balcony/view which is too much for us at E260. We investigated other Plaka hotels but like the idea of a small fridge for drinks & snacks and a couch/chair area.

Looking forward to any other comments/suggestions, thanks for your time. Sorry this is so long.

Lina Apr 4th, 2007 07:07 PM

I can't help you with mainland Greece, but I'll try to answer some of your other questions. I went to Crete, Santorini, and Athens with a few girlfriends last October. Chania is definitely a great place to stay and take day trips, which is what we did. After the first day or being hopelessly lost (Chania is a big city with terrible signage!), we got our bearings and maneuvered quite well. The Samaria Gorge was closed so we hiked the Imbros Gorge. It was beautiful and took most of the day.

Re Pandora Suites: we checked in and checked out in 15 minutes. The place was very clean but a little too spartan for us. We saw a double room with a balcony that looked nice, but we had booked the 2BR apartment and it had almost no windows and no place to sit together and talk. We moved to Casa Delfino and were SO glad we did. We had a large 2BR apartment there, with a large sitting area. In addition, it is located directly in the old town vs. a residential street, and was super convenient for walking to restaurants.

You may like to read my trip report:;tid=34893899. If you have any questions, post them at the end of the report. I'm checking the forums pretty regularly now but may lose track of where I've replied.

You will love Greece! September will be a great time to go.

Jackie Apr 5th, 2007 06:19 PM

I was in Greece last Sept. For part of the tour, went to Meteora and Delphi. Seeing the monasteries sitting atop rocks was quite a sight and worth the trip. But one night was enough for me. We went into 2 monasteries. They were pretty dark and oppressive. I would take a day from Kalambaka and add it to Delphi/Pelopenesse area. Delphi was jaw dropping beautiful. Soaking up the scenery and relaxing there is worth 2 nights. The whole area is gorgeous and well worth any exra time you can find.

I spent 7 nights in chania and loved it. My favorite day trip from there was to GramVousa and the hike up to the fort. I went into Pandora Suites to check it out. Good location; looked very nice inside with good views from the public areas. There were no empty rooms to check out tho.

dgg Apr 7th, 2007 03:19 AM

Your itinerary sounds good and September is a wonderful time to visit Greece. Just a may want to consider picking up your rental car immediately upon arrival in Athens and drive directly to your first mainland destination. Delphi is something like 2 - 3 hours from Athens. Stay in Athens at the end or your trip. Two nights is fine for Athens. If you want to slow down, do it in Napflion, Santorini or Crete.

Meteora is magnificent and worth the long drive. I haven't been to Crete yet, but the general consensus is 4 nights minimum and Chania is supposed to be THE place to stay. We're going in July and are staying 6 nights, but splitting that between Akrotiri peninsula and Plakias to be near beaches for the kids. TravelerJan, a regular poster on Crete frequently recommends Imbros Gorge, which is a shorter hike. I personally cannot comment, but look back on previous Crete posts.

Santorini is truly beautiful and worth two nights if you can manage it by cutting back on your time in Athens. You won't regret it.

HappyTrvlr Apr 7th, 2007 08:10 AM

For a shorter version of the Samaria Gorge: Take bus or drive to Chora Skafion, take ferry to end of Samaria Gorge and walk in as far as you want to before heading back to ferry to Chora Skafion. Also,consider stopping off in Loutro for the night at Hotel Porto Loutro.

sheila Apr 7th, 2007 10:47 AM

Do NOT do what Hapytrvlr says unless you want to be hated by all the people who walked down:)

Te path is very narrow in some places at theottom and the hot and weary flok don't like being shoved out of the way by those fresh as a daisy just off the boat.

I posted a long message on this earlier but Fodors swallowed it so this is an abbreviated version:-

It is perfectly Ok to spend 4 nights in Chania and do day trips around Western Crete.

I have always liked the look of Pandora. It has the advantage of overlooking the harbour but being far enough above it not to have noise issues. I tried to book once, but it was very early in the season and I couldn't geta reply so we went elsewhere, down on the harbour itself. lovely place, but right above a cafe so you didn't need to want to get to sleep early.

Day trips- too many for 4 days0 Paleochora, Alafonnissi, the Aktrotiri and Souda, Samaria, Rethymnon, Knossos.

There's a long gorge that goes straight due south of Chania, the name of which is escaping me, (I think it might be Therisso)but there's a little village at the top of it, and you COULD get a bus up and walk back. Alternatively you can go to Gouverneto Monastery on the Akrotiri and walk down to Katholika below it. That takes an hour or so and is very nice. You can even swim form the rocks at the bottom, if the mood takes you.

Hope this helps.

littlebigshot Apr 7th, 2007 03:32 PM

Your itinerary sounds good to me. I wouldn't go any faster.

If you're seriously interested in ancient Greece, the Olympia site and museum would be a higher priority than Meteora.

I believe there's now a combined ticket for the major Athens sites and their museums (though I believe the National Archeological Museum isn't included.) Sounds like you might be interested in that.

The Heraklion museum is closed for renovation but should be open by September. It's an essential part of the visits to the Cretan sites.

The Samria gorge is one of the great travel experiences and shouldn't be missed. It's actually not that hard, since if you do it north to south it's gently down hill almost all the way (steep down hill at first.) The paths can be rocky though so you need good shoes. The main problem is the heat, since there's progressively less shade as you go into it. Start as early as possible, right when the site opens, even if it means getting up in Hania at the crack of dawn and taking a taxi to the trailhead. Take water.

Aegina and Hydra are quite different. If you're interested in seeing the famous classical temple on Aegina, go there, if you want a nice place to sit around, go to Hydra. Sounio and Mycenae are also possible day trips, especially if you're interested in ancient Greece.

Four nights in Athens is not at all too much -- one day for the whole Acropolis context and maybe the Agora with their museums, one for National Archeological museum, one for either a day trip or some of the other Athens sites or Museums. That would be a lot!

Personally I think Nauplio, though atmospheric and set in spectacular countryside, isn't as rewarding as most of the other places you mention. The main reason to stay there in my opinion is because it's convient to the theatre at Epidaurus, which is essential.

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