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Driving All Over Greece

USA
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Driving All Over Greece

A friend and I plan on driving ourselves around in May following this route: Athens-Corinth-Mycenae-Epidaurus-Tripoli-Sparta-Olympia-Delphi-Meteora-Athens. We've never been to Greece and need lots of help from you guys.

1. Time. We have a maximum of 5-6 days to spend, is there enough time to go to all those places?

2. Cost. Are we better off renting hotels on walk-in basis than joining a tour?

3. Navigation. What are the roads like in Greece as compared to U.S.? Has anyone used a GPS system in Greece? I have a GPS receiver but could not find any accurate maps of Greece.

4. Is there a car ferry from Patra that will get me close to Delphi?

Thanks all.

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: Driving All Over Greece

My friend and I did almost the exact itinerary last May, with the exception of Sparta. We stayed in Nauplio (after visiting Mycenae and Epidaurus), Olympia ( only stopped in Tripoli for rental car repair!) Delphi and Meteora. We stayed one night in each. Delphi was the most rushed, as we visited the Olympia site in the morning, then drove to Delphi, arriving late afternoon, visited the site the next morning, then headed for Meteora. The problem is there is so much to see along the way, the distance isn't that much in kilometres (miles) but between the winding roads and beautiful scenery... I don't know about a ferry from Patra to close to Delphi, we took the ferry across at Rion, unloading at Antirion. (I believe the bridge is now open)

We did not book any of our hotels on the mainland, and had no troubles in May finding a room. Everywhere we stayed was 50 euro and under. (note: spoke with the owner of Kronio hotel in Olympia, and we had not gone in to inquire about rates, as from info on 'net, it was out of our budget range. He told us if we'd come into ask, it would have been somewhat less)

As far as navigation goes, sometimes the signs aren't very helpful but the people are! (didn't have a GPS)

The roads are not like North America, very winding, and narrow. The drivers are very aggressive, but I wished people in Calgary drove more like the Greeks!!! The toll highways and freeways are wide and quite straight, but they drive REALLY fast! Stay to the right except to pass!

Hope some of this helps, I envy you your trip, I have to wait for next year to get back there! Enjoy!

Athens, Greece
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2. Re: Driving All Over Greece

Hello Zion1!

1. 5 - 6 days is tight for this journey because there are many places to visit and really nice scenery across this trip. Also, keep in mind that you'll have to start driving from early morning, so as to visit some archaelogical places during the morning and then drive to some other destination to have a late lunch, relax an spend the night. If i was you, i would skip Corinth and Sparta and visit Nafplio. I would try to follow a programme somewhat like this:

Day 1:Leave Athens early morning. Visit Corinth Canal, Mycenae, Epidaurus. Drive to Nafplio. Spend the night at Nafplion.

Day 2: Leave Nafplio early morning, go to Olimpia via Tripoli. Visit Olympia. Drive to Patra. Spend the night at Patra.

Day 3: Leave Patra, visit Delphi. Spend the night at Delphi. Easy day.

Day 4: Leave Delphi, drive towards Meteora. Spend the night at Kalambaka. Long distance driving.

Day 5: See Meteora all morning, see Kalambaka, start returning to Athens.

2. Joining a tour always has the advantage of someone other hassling his mind about programme or hotel renting etc, but i think taking your trip by yourselves is gonna be far more adventurous and unforgettable. Harder but better choice! May is not a high season so renting hotels on the road is a posibillity.

3. Athens - Nafplio and Meteora - Athens are trips on toll highways. Avoid night driving and use right lane if you are not familiar with this two trips. There are some GPS stores in Athens but it is possible to do the trip without it. Many local people speak English and there are not any big distances without at least some villages to identify your course.

4. 6 months now, you don't have to take a ferry from Patra to go to Delphi. A newly built cable bridge ( Rio - Antirio bridge ) connects the two sides on a 3 minytes driving distance ( awesome bridge! ).

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Driving All Over Greece

Greekola, if I had been drinking, it would have come out my nose!

I was in Istanbul in Jan., and I came home wishing Calgarians would drive more like Turks! But most people think Calgary drivers are great, they're so slow, and cautious, and not paying attention, ...

USA
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4. Re: Driving All Over Greece

Greekkola & nick_arch thank you so much for responding, guys like you really make this forum worthing coming in.

This trip sounds more interesting the closer I'm to it. Winding roads and "creative" drivers I can deal with, at least we won't be falling asleep at the wheel. I may have to get a GPS in Athens as Nick said, the peace of mind makes driving less stressful. Where in Athens could I rent one?

Also, where could I rent an automatic in Athens for cheap? My buddy can't drive a manual (shame). I've checked all the American rental companies (Avis, Hertz, Budget), none had good pricings.

Greekkola, would you still have contact info for that hotel in Olympia by any chance?

Old Forge, New York
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5. Re: Driving All Over Greece

Zion, Grekkola and Nick Arch are on the money as far as "alot of driving". however I might reverse the trip, because in my mind Meteora and Delphi are absolute "must sees" on the mainland. If you head out of Athens at the crack of dawn and go north to Kalambaka (Meteora)..you can get a head start on seeing this incredible wonder of man and earth, plus it looks great at night lit up.stay overnight, then head to Delphi..which can be done in a few hours unless you really like ruins "in depth"..it is another unbelievable place. Nauplion is fabulous, get into town at night,

its got a great vibe. The shopping district just off the main square has great shops with things that are better gifts than most of the mass tourist kitch. If you do go to Sparta, Mistras

is not to be missed. The roads are manageable, Greeks along the way will go out of their way to help you find your way, a good place to eat, or accomodations. I think its always easier to end my trip closer to Athens. Nauplion makes a great base to see alot. You can always do more next time! Try a Greek Travel Agency for an automatic. Have a blast!

Athens, Greece
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6. Re: Driving All Over Greece

Hello, Johnieb. I think reversing the trip is a really good idea, as to "eat" the big driving distance on day 1 and take a tremendous kick start with Meteora! Well done!

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: Driving All Over Greece

Hi Zion1. The person from Kronio Hotel is named Takis.

(you said you've never been to Greece, thought I'd mention that the hotels-the ones we stayed in anyhow- are much simpler than in North America. Lots more character, though, not like staying in a chain motel)

Regarding the automatic rental, I have to say, I am glad that I was the driver, and not the navigator for our trip!!! Much less stressful! My friend doesn't drive standard, and we couldn't find automatic rentals for a reasonable price. Personally, I don't think I'd want to drive an automatic there, once you're off the freeways, you'd be spending a lot of time on your brakes, slowing down and speeding up...

I have to agree with the others, that the idea of reversing the route is a great idea, for the reasons indicated, as well as allowing you time to get accustomed to the driving on the freeway, before you get onto the mountain roads.

Calgary, Canada
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8. Re: Driving All Over Greece

Sorry, the website for Kronio Hotel in Olympia is

http://www.hotel-kronio.com/

Athens, Greece
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9. Re: Driving All Over Greece

Just re - positioning this thread.

USA
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10. Re: Driving All Over Greece

What kind of rental cars do you guys recommend for driving in the mountainous roads of Pelopennese? I reserved an automatic Smart Car with 0.7 liter engine (it's the only automatic I could find), is it capable of handling the occational steep hills?