Greece is an amazing country. It offers one of a kind combination of ancient ruins and natural beauty. At one time, we were exploring ruins which were 3000 years old and only a few minutes later we were driving along beautiful coast. The contrast itself makes for a wonderful experience. We found great food everywhere with lots of veggie friendly choices as well. The people are welcoming and cheerful making every moment even more special.
We were travelling in a group and to fit the trip in our schedules, we had to plan the trip in the shoulder season about a week before Easter. Now, the weather would be pleasant but there might still be a chill in the morning and the evening. Also, the sea would be more icy than welcoming. These factors played in our itinerary limiting our time on the islands and increasing the time on the mainland. And we were glad that we did plan this way as the drive through the countryside in the mainland was awesome experience all by itself.
We give here close-up of our carefully crafted itinerary.
Day 1: Athens
- Arrive in Athens and spend time at hotel getting over the flight weariness.
- Go for a long lunch at a local café with a view of Acropolis.
- We visited the Syntagma square and enjoyed the change of guards which happens every hour
- Go to Mount Lycabettus and take the round-trip cable ride to the top. The view of Athens is great as it includes the Acropolis as well.
- In the night, we went to the top of our hotel to get a beautiful view of the Acropolis illuminated.
Day 2: Athens
- Go early to visit the Acropolis in the morning to avoid the tour group crowds. Alternatively, you might go late in the evening to the same effect. Spent the morning exploring the slopes (Theater of Dionysos and Odeon of Herdes) and the Parthenon.
- Visit the Temple of Zeus and Adrian arch (as seen from the Acropolis). Panathenaic stadium (which hosted first Modern Olympic games) is right behind
- If you have time left in the day, visit Ancient Agora.
- In the evening, roam around the streets Plaka and shop for your favorite picks of olive products
Day 3: Santorini
- Take the early morning flight to Santorini. It was a prudent decision to go by flight over ferry which saved lots of time
- In the morning explore the trio towns of Fira, Firostefani and Imerovigli (depending on where you are staying)
- We rented a car to drive to southern Santorini. We visited the traditional village of Megalochori, Akrotiri ancient site and the red beach.
- We were back at our hotel to enjoy the sunset. Do remember to stay at a hotel located on Caldera with unhindered view of the sea
Day 4: Santorini
- We took a 6 hrs. morning cruise from Old port of Fira to visit the Volcano island, the hot springs (which weren’t that hot) and Thirassia island. It was fun but would be even better in the summer.
- The evening was spent exploring streets of Fira for souvenir shopping and later we stayed back for the sunset at the Church.
Day 5: Santorini
- This day was ear-marked for treks. We took the trail from Fira to Imerovigli and then we saw the Skaros rock which seemed to be inviting us. We hiked across the rock to the little hidden church on the other side. It was a picture-perfect setting and the view of the Caldera was unparalleled.
- We dropped the plan to hike till Oia and took the bus instead. Really, it was the best saved for the last. The town is so beautiful and the best views are from the Byzantine castle which happens to be at the northern tip of the Santorini island. Yes, it was as gorgeous as the pictures we had seen.
Day 6: Peloponnese
- Take the flight back to Athens and rent a car to drive to Nafplio.
- Get off the expressway at Corinth to enjoy the sites:
- Isthmus of Corinth
- Ancient Corinth
- Theater of Epidavros and the ruins
- We found few beaches and several byzantine churches sprinkled along the way
Day 7: Peloponnese
- We started the day with a heavy breakfast and then drove up to Palamidi castle. Alternatively, you could climb the 600 odd steps to the top. Built by Venentian at the highest point in this port town, the castle has great views of the Nafplio town. But the castle itself was the star of the show. It is picturesque and gave us ample photo opportunity in the perfect setting.
- Rest of the day was spent visiting the Arvanitia beach, Promenade, Bourtzi castle and Nafplio port.
- In the evening, strolling the streets of the old Venetian town was the perfect end to the day. The houses and shops have a quaint charm and the evening lights heighten their beauty.
Day 8: Peloponnese
- We started the day visiting the Mycenaean ruins of Tiryns. This was a hill fort in the Bronze age and still has walls and tunnels which are over 3000 years old. We were amazed how such gigantic rocks were placed so neatly at that time. Further we visited a Tholos (beehive tomb) which was hidden in an Orange grove.
- The next stop was another hidden gem. Agia Triada byzantine church in the little village of Merbaka. The church was one of kind with intricate carving on all the walls.
- After a heavy lunch at a Pizza bar in Nafplio, we spent the rest of the day driving along the coast. We took the route towards Leonidio but returned midway to reach back at the promenade for the sunset. The drive was lovely. The churches and the small towns sprinkled along the route were beautiful. And, we enjoyed stopping at all small beaches on our way, each better than the last.
Day 9: Athens
- Have a leisurely breakfast. Visit the port or the beach before driving back to Athens for return flight.
- If you have time, take a detour through Athens city or choose your own site on the way to visit.
- Go back to the airport to return the car and fly home with amazing memories of this wonderful country.
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