How does a 14-day road trip through continental Greece sound to you? We think it's a perfect idea. Don't just focus on the islands (even though they are beautiful), but look for exotic and interesting places hidden on the mainland. We'd like to give you ideas for a 14-day trip through continental Greece, so you can see things you wouldn't see anywhere else.
If you want to travel at your own pace, it is best to rent a car. Greece has excellent infrastructure so it is a good idea to rent a car. If you rent a smaller car, you won't be stressed looking for parking or driving on very narrow and winding roads. (Greece has few multi-lane highways; most main roads are two-lane in opposite directions and separated by a double white line.) So hire small and drive big!
There are plenty of roads to take during your road trip, and plenty of towns to visit. We've created a simple plan that you can mould into your own.
Here's our suggestion for a 14-day road trip to mainland Greece:
Athens: 2 days of art and history
Where better to start than in the birthplace of Western Civilization? Athens is the capital of Greece. It has 3,500 years of history that is still alive today and can be seen and felt in the city's culture, art and philosophy, so you will undoubtedly find plenty of interesting things to do and see here.
- The Acropolis is a universal symbol of classical civilization and the city's most important site, situated on a 156-high hill with an almost flat top and rocky sides. Democracy, philosophy, theatre and freedom of speech were born on this hill, so you must visit it.
- Have lunch at an archaeological museum (the new Acropolis Museum). Sounds strange, but the food there is delicious. Try it.
- The central market Agora is known as the liveliest place in Greece. Fresh food, meat and vegetables, crowds and energy will change your attitude towards shopping. You can also find good food at reasonable prices in restaurants here.
- In the evening you should walk through Plaka, the oldest neighbourhood in Athens, filled with shops, restaurants and nice little ouzeries (a kind of Greek tavern serving ouzo, a Greek liquor).
Tip: On the way to Nafplion, you can stop and visit Corinth, one of the most charming cities in Greece, known for the best-preserved old towns you can find anywhere.
Nafplion: 2 days of food and sightseeing.
First, we have to cover the food, because a road trip makes you hungry. Stop by Café 3Sixty, a perfect place if you want to eat special dishes made from fresh, local ingredients and choose from a wine list consisting only of local wines. When you're done eating, head to Antica Gelateria di Roma, the only real gelato shop. Again, only natural and local ingredients. It's an authentic experience.
Ok, now that your stomach is full, take an easy walk on the sandy Karathona Beach. Enjoy the rest of the day. The next day, head to Komboloi Museum to see tiny wooden skulls and prayer beads. You can also buy a worry bead (komboloi) at the shop below the museum.
Kalamata: 3 days of relaxing on the beach and dancing.
Kalamata is a town on the coastal plain of Antassi Beach, which has been named one of the cleanest beaches in the EU by Blue Flag. Here's a tip: If you're only planning a short stop in town, you´re not planning right. Kalamata town can be a bit tricky to find your way around, so read the street maps and take your time. You don't have to worry about accommodation, as there are plenty of hotels and rooms to rent and plenty of outdoor activities. Food. If you love olives, this is the place to eat them - the town is famous for its delicious olives.
Kalamata is also known for the Kalamata International Dance Festival, which takes place every year in July. During the festival, you can participate in workshops and enjoy performances of contemporary dance.
Patra: the 1-day party
Patra is a port city in western Greece where entertainment, history and culture combine to create a destination full of interesting discoveries. Start your exploration from Aghiou Nikolau, the most famous pedestrian street from where 192 steps separate you from the old town, where you can admire a medieval castle dating back to the sixth century. But Patra is known for something other than history. It has the most diverse food and nightlife scene in the Peloponnese, due to the presence of 20,000 university students. Do you really need another reason to stop and party here?
Kalambaka: 2 days full of monasteries.
This is a beautiful and modern city located at the foot of the Meteora peaks and is known for the Meteora Monasteries. This is a complex of six monasteries built on natural sandstone pillars. You will need at least a day to see all the monasteries of Meteora, so we recommend you stay at least two nights in Kalambaka.
The next day you can go climbing on Doupiani Rock, the main landmark of Kastraki. The way up is full of trails of all levels of difficulty. Choose yours and enjoy the hike.
Tip: You can spend one day in Kalambaka and one in Kastraki Village, which is only two kilometres away. It is an unspoiled village where there are no new buildings. You will find several houses with rooms for rent and many traditional taverns. From here you can also reach the monasteries; just follow the marked footpath.
Delphi: 2 days full of history
Delphi is the second most popular archaeological site in Greece. Many people go to Delphi, but few know that in ancient times this was the place where heaven and earth met, the place where a man was closest to God. It will take you about three to four hours to visit the Temple of Apollo, the Stadium and the Oracle of Delphi.
The next day, visit the Archeological Museum of Delphi, located in the new part of the city. If you are a fan of Greek mythology, you should not miss it.
Head back to Athens, return your rental car and make your way home. Have a good trip, everyone!