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Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

Kuala Lumpur...
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Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

Hi all

We've decided to spend 3 or 4 days in either Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni as a base to visit Nafplio, Epidavrus, {Mycenae}, Spetses, Hydra (all day trips) in mid-late May. I've read that it may be easier to take a ferry to visit Spetses and Hydra from Piraeus but the ferry crossing would take 2 or more hours and if I'm going to be around Nafplio anyway, I would rather spend a better part of the 2 hours in a car than a ferry.

I'm also reluctant to pack and re-pack too many times because we are traveling with 2 young children (age 2 and 1 by then), so would prefer to really just be in one base.

My question is, which place is scenic, relaxing and offers good atmosphere/ambience, has nice children's playgrounds, perhaps a good picnic spot and isn't too far to drive from Athens? I am thinking of perhaps basing myself in either Ermioni or Porto Heli or one of the resorts close to these two so that we can catch early morning ferries to Spetses/Hydra without too early a start than if we were based in Nafplion. Have the roads from Athens to Ermioni/Porto Heli improved in the last year?

We are going to be there mid-late May. Any advice really appreciated as I've been scouring the net and the forums and am still undecided. Thanks!

Stavanger, Norway
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1. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

Porto Heli: Upmarket town for Greek Tourists, nice but a bit soul-less.

Ermioni: Cute, peaceful little town, can't rememeber seing any playgrounds, but as I don't have kids I might not have noticed. But I'm sure the pine forest is a nice playground and picnic spot ( visitnafplio.com/visitnafplio.com/Epidavros/… )

Tolo: Quite touristy beach town, with a lovely beach, but you might be too early for swimming anyway (I never swim before June...) (visitnafplio.com/visitnafplio.com/Region/Ent…)

Nafplio, bigger than the others, and in a class of its own when it comes to atmosphere/ambience. Big playground in the park, and also a car free town square where toddlers and bigger children play both in the day and evening. Picnic spots in and below Acronafplia Castle. (visitnafplio.com/visitnafplio.com/Nafplio/Na…)

You could check if Pegasus Cruises has started the Day trips to Hydra and Spetses in May, in that case the boat leaves from Tolo (http://www.pegasus-cruises.gr/)

London, United...
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2. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

Any of these towns will be fine, and there will be playgrounds or at least plenty of open spaces in all of them. The problem with using Ermioni or Porto Heli as a base to explore the Argolis area is that you'll have to drive that horrible stretch of bendy road twice a day every time you go anywhere, which the kids might not enjoy, and I doubt you will either.

Mycenae, Spetses and Hydra are all likely to be a challenge with such young kids too, but I imagine you're aware of that and willing to suffer accordingly ;-)

Certainly the resorts that are most easily accessible from Athens and most conveniently located for Epidaurus and Mycenae are Nafplio and Tolo, or any of the little villages in their vicinity.

Halifax, United...
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3. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

I personally would choose Nafplion or Tolo as a base. There is a playground suitable for young children in both places.

Pegasus cruises also do a day trip to both Hydra and Spetses on the same day - and as you have limited time it might be a good option.

There is a new road down to the Porto Heli area which is a lot quicker than the old route but quite boring with not much to see.

Kuala Lumpur...
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4. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

Thanks all. I emailed Pegasus two days ago but have yet to receive a reply. Possibly too early in the season. If they do offer a boat ride from Tolo to Spetses/Hydra during our stay, that would be fantastic. Has anyone done this trip and knows how long the boat ride is from Tolo?

ginamc, is this new road to Porto Heli much less treacherous than the bendy stretch referred to by Tinsey? Is there a map or perhaps new directional signboards on the road that I can follow? I don't mind a boring road as long as it's safe and gets us to our destination safely and quickly.

Tinsey, we might give Mycenae and Spetses a miss if we are feeling a bit lazy about hauling kids around. But I'm really fascinated by the pictures of Hydra and would love to just traipse around the town, grab a bite to eat and leave. Is Hydra not stroller friendly?

Malianna, so you think Ermioni is more picturesque and charming than Porto Heli?

In the end, we might end up with three nights in Nafplion and one in either Ermioni or Porto Heli if Pegasus doesn't work out.

Philadelphia
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5. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

Nafplio is miles more picturesque than Hydra, taken all in all ... did you look at that VISIT Nafplio Site?? and here's our TA stanbr's terrific slideshow of Nafplio in May travel.webshots.com/slideshow/551991579dJbWvh .. what does Hydra have that Nafplio doesn't? Donkeys.

If you still are booking flights I would advise LATE may, because then water at Tolo Beach will be swimmable. Here's a place I found for another couple with young children... it is not at the crowded part of Tolo beach, but at the far end. Family units, bungalows, balconies/patios wit h sea view, just off beach, a 15 minute drive in to Nafplio -- a huge free parking area all along the Nafplio sea front. If the Hydra excursion does go in May, it would be right from Tolo.

minoanhotels.com/bungalows--houses/phaistos-…

PS you can skip Mycenae & see another Iliad-era fortress just minutes away Tiryns ... 4-5 Km outside Nafplio ... Looming, huge stones, a great ruin, no tour busses. No signage tho, you'd have to do some internet browsing, there are wonderful sites with photos, map, text.

Stavanger, Norway
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6. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

"Has anyone done this trip and knows how long the boat ride is from Tolo?"

Yes, I've done it twice, but I'm not good at remembering times/hours and stuff like that :-)

I think the boat departed 8:30 - 9:00 from Tolo, and we were back in the evening, before dark (september). You'll have something like 3 hours to spend in Hydra and 2 in Spetses, which is enough to see both of them (well, the "capitals" that is.)

"Malianna, so you think Ermioni is more picturesque and charming than Porto Heli?"

In my opinion yes. Ermini is also more cute and laid-back, and the fact that it is build on a narrow headland that has a lovely pine forest at the tip makes Ermioni very special. But in all fairness I must add that I've just spend a few hours in Porto Heli, but a weekend in Ermioni, maybe Porto Heli is that kind of town that becomes lovely when you get to know it a little bit better.

PS: I support Travelerjan's suggestion, see Tyrins instead of Mykines. And in May you'll have the place more or less to yourselves.

Edited: 3:00 am, February 14, 2011
London, United...
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7. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

One way to help you make your mind up about a place is to go to Flickr or Panoramio or similar and pore through other travellers' photos. Not just the generic views that come up when you google a place name, but the ones showing what walking round is like etc.

Hydra is built on a slope. There is a flat walkway around the port area where you can use a stroller, but there is very little shade (and that's another issue to consider with young kids, even as early as May). If you want to traipse round the town, you will have to put up with uneven paved surfaces, steps, lots of climbing up and eventually the same amount of climbing down. At the very least you will need patience and strollers that are sturdy, rather than the lightweight travel types. These are a couple of photos showing you what to expect when you move away from the port area: http://tinyurl.com/5whkvql and http://tinyurl.com/6c4a7sl

This is what the waterfront walk is like: http://tinyurl.com/63xofv9

Hydra is visually stunning, there is no doubt about it. But it will be a challenge with two very small kids in tow, and you should also be aware that it's quite expensive (as is Spetses) so bring extra cash with you. Also hats, sunscreen and water for both you and the kids.

Halifax, United...
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8. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

"Has anyone done this trip and knows how long the boat ride is from Tolo?" - We did this trip many years ago so I can’t remember exact times. Like Malianna I do remember having lots of time to spend looking around the towns and time for a lunch in Hydra.

I agree with Tinsey about Hydra – I remember a climb that seemingly lasted forever. My kids were 7 & 11 at the time and they were getting tired. It is however a lovely place to visit. We visited Spetses a few years ago for a festival and I remember the prices in the taverna’s being very expensive – but I wasn’t sure if this was because of the festival. The meal that we had was about 15 euros more than it would have cost in Tolo.

The new road to Porto Heli is a lot straighter than the old one. We got on it by accident but I do seem to remember a signpost. We were following the Sat Nav which took us for a detour around the car park at Epidavrus – almost as if it thought that we couldn’t turn right and had to go left onto the road.

I have only ever had short visits to Porto Heli and Ermini but I personally think Ermini is a much prettier place.

In Mid to late May the sea will be cold as it hasn’t had a chance to warm up. Once you are in you soon get used to the chill and it can be a pleasant way to cool down from the heat of the sun.

9. Re: Base in Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli or Ermioni

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