Athens in November
October 2, 2014 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I will be traveling to Athens, Greece for 5 days in about a month, and need some suggestions!

Most of the travel guides to Athens/Greece I've seen are all about the summer months. This will be my first time traveling there, and I'd like to take advantage of the off-season travel as much as possible. I'll be with a friend, and we are two early-30s women (if this is relevant).

This is hopefully the first of at least two trips to Greece, so I'd like to keep it simple and interesting, getting the flavor of the place without running myself ragged. My friend is fine with just staying in Athens for the whole time, but I've heard that aside from the major historical sites it doesn't have too much to offer. Can anyone say otherwise?

Right now I'm leaning towards taking 2 days in Athens, then heading out for a 3 day tour of Delphi and Meteora. Not being beaches, I'd hope they wouldn't suffer for being seen at the start of November. Is this plausible? If yes, would you suggest renting a car or joining a tour?

Are there any other suggestions for what to take in during the start of the off-season?

posted by Curiosity Delay to Travel & Transportation around Athens, Greece (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
See the Acropolis, see the Acropolis museum, and the archaeological museum, and you've really gotten the most flavor possible from the historical sites. We did like one of the other sites in Athens, the Roman Agora (I think?) because it was open--you can walk all over the place, touch the stones, sit on the crumbling walls, and get a sense of how moving through some of those spaces might have felt.

We were in the Evangelismos (spelling?) district, and got around just fine almost entirely via public transportation and cabs, which are price-fixed, which is a great thing for tourists.

For me, sitting in cafes, eating like locals, and people-watching were some of the best experiences. We drank plenty of ouzo, ate plenty of salty food.

If you like coffee, make sure you get a frappe, it's basically the national coffee drink.

If I were there for only 5 days, I'd stay in Athens the whole time. The extra experiences gained by traveling more wouldn't add up enough (for me) to validate the hassle of travel and expense of seeing more ruined sites that don't have the grandeur and overall importance of the Acropolis.

We were there this summer for two weeks, and the week we spent outside of Athens on various islands was more about being on islands, swimming in the ocean, drinking beer by the ocean, with occasional forays to ancient churches or forts. But the plaza culture was much more appealing to me.
posted by turntraitor at 8:57 AM on October 2, 2014

Right now I'm leaning towards taking 2 days in Athens, then heading out for a 3 day tour of Delphi and Meteora.

Doable, but a good bit of driving for a three day vacation - check out the driving times in google maps, they look realistic. Depending on your flight schedules/jet lag etc, it might be easier for you to join a tour - but if both of you drive it probably won't be a big deal. Arachova, near Delfi is a popular winter vacation spot. Likewise check out Lake Plastira on the way up to Meteora.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:59 AM on October 2, 2014

Best answer: That's a really tight schedule, but not impossible if you rent a car and leave at the crack of dawn for Kalambaka and Delphi. Agreed that you must see the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum and the archeological museum. I would also put the Benaki museum high on your list if you have a few extra hours. Go up to Lycabettus/Lykavittos hill one night if the weather's nice, and walk around Monastiraki (the ancient commercial area below the Acropolis). There used to be a corny but entertaining "Acropolis sound and light show" pretty much every night, but I don't know if they do that anymore. This is pretty much Athens in a snapshot.

Since you are on such a tight schedule, be extra sure that Meteora and Delphi are going to be open on the days you're planning to go. There is also the issue of short workers' strikes, which happen every so often and may end up ruining your plans with such a tight schedule. It would really suck to drive all the way to Delphi and need to see it on that day, only to discover that everyone's gone on strike. Also, rushing around and exhausting yourself the way you're planning to is anathema to the Greek character and should be avoided just on that basis.
posted by Leatherstocking at 10:00 AM on October 2, 2014

Best answer: I went in later November over Thanksgiving (about ten years ago.) We did that loop over eight days, so doing it in five seems tight to me. The drive back from Meteora to Athens in particular was a bit of a slog of nothing-ness. If you want a day trip from Athens, I'd suggest taking a quick island tour. You can hit up two or three islands in a day and it's a nice change of pace from the city.
posted by smackfu at 10:16 AM on October 2, 2014

Not sure how your route might appear on a map but I've traveled between the sites you mention and much of it involved hair-raising bends around and over mountainous terrain.
posted by Morrigan at 10:19 AM on October 2, 2014

Response by poster: Hmmm, maybe the trip is not the greatest idea then. Sounds like we'd be wise to stay in-and-around Athens! Would a day trip to Hydra be worthwhile, considering the weather and time?

For 5 days in Athens, what else would be good to see/do in the off-season?

Thanks for your answers!! These are great.
posted by Curiosity Delay at 10:27 AM on October 2, 2014

Here are my suggestions from a few years back. I'm still thinking about that octopus I had at Cafe Avissinia.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:54 AM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Would a day trip to Hydra be worthwhile, considering the weather and time?

You could take the flying dolphin from Piraeus, but make sure you book in advance - boats are not very big, convenient times (e.g. early Saturday departure /late Sunday arrival) get booked early.

It is also possible to get a car and drive down there, and then visit Hydra and Spetses by crossing over on a local ferry or water taxi. It's much closer to Athens than Delfi or Meteora, and you could also see other interesting places in the area e.g. Nafplio, Epidavros or Poros.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:07 PM on October 2, 2014

Response by poster: Just as a follow up: thanks for all the advice! We ended up taking it pretty slowly. 2 full days in Athens, and 1 to Hydra, which was reached via Flying Dolphin. The Acropolis in the off season was a major highlight, along with the Acropolis museum.

The trip to Hydra wasn't nearly as onerous as I thought it would be, and the pace of life there (especially in November) was so quiet and peaceful that it really did make a nice break from Athens. Overall, it was a fantastic trip and I'm glad we did Athens so thoroughly--next time I might bypass it in favor of touring inland, the Peloponnese, or the islands.

Thanks again for all the suggestions!
posted by Curiosity Delay at 12:06 PM on November 6, 2014

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