Greece Itinerary: Athens and the Peloponnese

By Rick Steves

So much to see, so little time. How to choose? To help you get started, I've listed my top picks for where to go in Greece, my plan for your best two-week trip to Athens and the Peloponnese, and tips on when to go.

Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographic proximity into account, here are my recommended priorities.

  • 2–3 days: Athens
  • 5 days, add: Hydra
  • 7 days, add: Delphi
  • 10 days, add: Nafplio, Epidavros, Mycenae
  • 12 days, add: Olympia, Monemvasia
  • 14 days, add: Kardamyli and the Mani Peninsula, and slow down
  • More time: Head to Mykonos and/or Santorini, two of Greece's best islands

Athens and the Peloponnese in Two Weeks

Outside of Athens, this region is best visited by car. If you'd rather get around by bus, you'll see less in virtually the same amount of time (or you can add more days to your itinerary to see it all).

Best Trip by Car

Day 1:  Arrive Athens (sleep in Athens)

Day 2:  Athens (sleep in Athens)

Day 3:  Athens (sleep in Athens)

Day 4:  Boat to Hydra (sleep on Hydra)

Day 5:  Hydra (sleep on Hydra)

Day 6:  Boat back to Athens, pick up rental car, drive to Delphi (sleep in Delphi)

Day 7:  Sightsee Delphi, drive to Olympia (sleep in Olympia)

Day 8: Sightsee Olympia, drive to Kardamyli (sleep in Kardamyli)

Day 9:  Relax in Kardamyli (sleep in Kardamyli)

Day 10:  Mani Peninsula loop drive, on to Monemvasia (sleep in Monemvasia)

Day 11:  Monemvasia (sleep in Monemvasia)

Day 12:  See Mycenae en route to Nafplio (sleep in Nafplio)

Day 13:  Nafplio, side-trip to Epidavros (sleep in Nafplio)

Day 14:  Return to Athens, drop off rental car (sleep in Athens)

Day 15:  Fly home, or continue to Mykonos and/or Santorini by plane or boat

Best Trip by Bus

Day 1:  Arrive Athens (sleep in Athens)

Day 2:  Athens (sleep in Athens)

Day 3:  Athens (sleep in Athens)

Day 4:  Morning in Athens, afternoon bus to Delphi (sleep in Delphi)

Day 5:  Sightsee Delphi (sleep in Delphi)

Day 6:  Morning bus to Athens, then boat to Hydra (sleep on Hydra)

Day 7:  Hydra (sleep on Hydra)

Day 8:  Morning boat back to Athens, then bus to Olympia (sleep in Olympia)

Day 9:  Sightsee Olympia (sleep in Olympia)

Day 10:  Morning bus to Nafplio (sleep in Nafplio)

Day 11:  Day trip to Mycenae (sleep in Nafplio)

Day 12:  Day trip to Epidavros (sleep in Nafplio)

Day 13:  Bus to Athens (sleep in Athens)

Day 14:  Fly home, or continue to Mykonos and/or Santorini by plane or boat

Bus Notes: Research and consider your bus connections carefully (usually easier to do on site than online); these can be limited and complicated, especially on the Peloponnese.

Two nights in Delphi offer a fine escape from big-city Athens, but if you have limited time, you can see Delphi either as a day trip on Day 4 (return to Athens to spend the night) or as a single overnight (bus from Athens to Delphi on the morning of Day 4, afternoon sightseeing and overnight in Delphi, then bus to Athens and boat to Hydra on Day 5).

The bus itinerary leaves out the hardest-to-reach destinations: Kardamyli/Mani Peninsula (best by car or with a hired local driver) and Monemvasia.

If you've seen enough ancient sites, you could skip Olympia (which is time-consuming to reach by bus), and instead visit Monemvasia (reachable by bus, with an extra transfer and more travel time than Olympia) or enjoy more beach time on Hydra.

The easiest connection from Hydra to the Peloponnese is via Athens, but adventurous travelers might want to tackle the cheaper and shorter, though more complicated, boat-taxi-bus connection to Nafplio instead.

With an extra week and a bunch of patience, you could include all of the recommended destinations.

When to Go

The "summer" and "winter" seasons can vary, but summer is roughly Easter through October, when Athens can be crowded.

Peak Season: In summer, Athens is packed with tourists, and hotel prices can be correspondingly high. July and August are the hottest months.

Shoulder Season: Late spring and fall are pleasant, with comfortable weather, no rain, and lighter crowds (except during holiday weekends).

Winter Season: Weather from late October through mid-March is colder. Though rain is rare in Athens, this is the time for it. Some sights close for lunch, tourist information offices keep shorter hours, and some tourist activities vanish altogether. Hotel rates are soft; look for bargains.