I am a huge fan of road trips. Let’s start with that statement! I really enjoy the different scenes and images and emotions that a road trip can offer you. And another plus is that you plan your own and unique route based on your needs and most importantly, on your mood!!
If are you thinking to have a road trip to Greece, I have attempted to drive through the majority of the mainland in Greece in 11 days! It was a fantastic experience, and I recommend to anyone that likes an adventure to select a route and make it happen!! Also, I have created a FB page (here) that you can find information about planning and getting ideas for your trip.
Update: Due to Coronavirus, there will be many changes this summer. We wrote an article (more information here!) where we explain the current measures and situation, and we will update it as often as possible!
So, before recommending some routes, let us provide with some tips that will help to prepare for the road trip.
- Renting a car is quite easy in Greece, and usually, most of the companies provide unlimited km.
- Decide how many hours do you want to drive a very time. You could also have 1 or 2 rest days, just to relax!
- When I design the route, I just make three categories based on the time I have. The 1st category is if you have a limited time to spend, the 2nd if you have a little bit more and the 3rd in case that we have plenty of time and we want to go a little bit off track!
I selected the best routes, I recommend places and beaches, and I also have included some maps with the specific routes!
Peloponnese is one fantastic place, with many contrasts. It has a beautiful mainland with mountains, rivers, waterfall, gorges and even ski centres! But also has an amazing coast with lovely beaches and great history!
1rdcategory: Epidavros theatre – Nafplio – Mycenae and Tiryns – Mystras –Areopoli- Methoni- Archaia Olympia
2nd category: Kardamyli – Koroni – Temple of Apollo Epicurus at Bassae – Voidokilia- Monemvasia – Ancient Messini
3rd category: Ermioni – Porto Cheli – Pylos – Cave Dirou – Cape Tainaro – Mani in Lakonia – Neda – Polylimnio Waterfalls – Gerolimenas
Find below the map with the places on our 1st category. Feel free to add some other areas that we recommend so you will make your own itinerary!
– Epidaurus Theatre: Among the monuments of the Sanctuary is the striking Theatre of Epidaurus, which is renowned for its perfect architectural proportions and exemplary acoustics! The Theatre, together with the Temples of Artemis and Asklepios, the Tholos, the Enkoimeterion and the Propylaia, comprise a coherent assembly of monuments that illustrate the significance and power of the healing gods of the Hellenic and Roman worlds. Not far from Epidaurus is Ermioni village and Porto Cheli.
– Nafplio: A picturesque city, with great history and a beautiful old town.
– Mycenae and Tiryns: The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns, which are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites are spectacular ruins of the two most significant cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century B.C.!
– Mystras: Another site that belongs to Unesco World Heritage sites. It was built as a fortress in 1249 by King William and was recovered by the Byzantines and later conquered by the Turks and the Venetians. It was abandoned in 1832, leaving fascinating medieval ruins standing within a gorgeous location!
– Areopoli – There are many picturesque villages in Lakoniki Mani, but I have selected Aeropoli as a starting point, and you can expand the list of the villages if you have time!
-Kardamyli: This is one of my favourite picturesque villages in Peloponnese with charm and great atmosphere. During our road trip, we also visited the magnificent house of British writer Leigh Fermor’s.
– Methoni: I added this small town as you have to visit this part of Peloponnese. Pylos is also a quaint town, and of course, Voidokilia beach is another excellent option!
– Archaia Olympia: This is the place where the first Olympic games took place from 776 BC! A must seen attraction!
You can find the 1st part of our road trip here and our first stop was Peloponnese, where we stayed three nights in Nafplio, Gerolimenas and Pylos. Peloponnese is an extraordinary place with small hidden treasures, like the village of Kardamyli, Limeni, Koroni etc.
Central Greece and Northern Greece
Here we would recommend a route from Athens which covers the main highlights of central and Northern Greece.
1st category: Delphi, Pelion, Plastira Lake, Meteora, Metsovo, Parga
2nd category: Arachova Village, Nikopolis, Ioannina (old town), Sivota (beautiful beaches), Acherontas river
3rd category: Pelion villages, Nekromanteion Acheron, Nafpaktos, Missolonghi, Lefkas island (amazing beaches!)
Please find the map with all the 1st category places. This route is around 16.5 hours. I think the minimum duration for that route can be five days. You can stay at Arachova or Portaria the 1st day and then Lake Plastira – Meteora – Parga.
– Delphi: Delphi is an amazing and unique site, which during ancient years, it was a widespread belief that it was the centre of the world! It was the home of the oracle of the ancient Delphi, and it is located on vertical cliffs facing mountains and beautiful olive groves.
– Pelion: Here you will find hidden villages and deserted and beautiful beaches in a not so widely known corner of Greece. If you have limited time, you can stay at Portaria village (20′ minutes from Volos). But if you have some extra time, then don’t miss some other beautiful villages, like Tsakarada, Kissos, Mouresi, Milies and stunning beaches that you can find in our article here!
– Plastira Lake: The scenery at this lake is just majestic, with the whole mountain scene, the green valley and the impressive lake making it a serene setting for outdoor adventures, like hiking, horse riding, canoe kayak, camping are only some of the offering activities in this magic place! You can enjoy the view from the observatory point, visit Neochori -the most developed village, which also offers panoramic views of Lake Plastira. Also, we check the village Kalyvia Pezoulas, which widely known as the “beach”!
– Meteora: The unique and stunning rocks of Meteora, which embrace Kalambaka town, are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s located about 25 km from the city of Trikala, and according to geologists, these” weird” tectonic formations were created 30 million years ago when the sea which covered the area, began to decline. The way that these rocks stand for thousands of years creates a magical landscape. This was the reason that led the monks to find the “right” isolated place for their monasteries!
– Metsovo: Metsovo is a small traditional village with a lot of authentic character. It is a year-round destination that offers gorgeous surroundings – even more so in the winter, when majestic white snow blankets the village! If you pass by, don’t forget to visit the famous winery Katogi Averof and try the local cuisine!
– Parga: It is a small town which it is built in a small peninsula overlooking Paxos, Antipaxos and Cape Aktion and the turquoise waters embrace the town. Its unique beauty, the amazing crystal waters, the forests and the traditional houses give the visitor the feeling that it’s an island!! If you have some spare time, visit the remarkable beaches in Syvota!
West and North Greece
This route will begin from Thessaloniki, but obviously, you can add any other starting point that you like. Or you add this route to any other road trip route that has already selected, like the Central Greece road trip route.
1st category: Thessaloniki, Vergina, Kastoria, Prespa National Park (Agios Germanos), Edessa waterfalls+old town, Pozar Thermal baths
2nd category: Nymfaio village, Florina, Vineyards in Naousa or Florina
3rd category: Agios Nikolaos Park in Naousa, Agios Athanasios village
The main route (category 1) includes some of the most beautiful mainland places in Greece. Vergina is an absolute must-see and one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece! The tomb of King Philippe the Second, the father of Alexander the Great, was found there, as well as the gold urn with his bones.
– Prespes National Park – Admittedly, one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe with hardly any tourists or boats – just the local fisherman fishing! Autumn and spring is probably the best season to visit this stunning national park.
– Kastoria – A beautiful town with traditional houses and a peaceful lake to surround the small town. Don’t’ forget to visit the Proistorikos Limneos Dispilio, which is a prehistoric settlement and the oldest known fishing village in Europe!
– Edessa – On the way to Edessa the city with the amazing waterfalls, there are the Macedonian tombs in Palatitsia, the tombs of ancient Mieza and the Aristotle School.
– Pozar Thermal Baths – It is a unique place 40km outside Edessa, and it has 48 individual baths, six indoor pools, the outdoor pool hammam, jacuzzi and spa!
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include a road trip on an island! Crete is a unique and large island where you can visit gorges, mountains, traditional villages and amazing beaches! So, the itinerary that we recommend starts from Heraklion and includes:
1st Category: Heraklion – Elounda (Spinalonga) – Ierapetra – Phaestos Palace – Sfakia Chora – Chania
2nd category: Sitia – Zakros – Matala – Agia Galini – Hora Sfakia – Samaria Gorge – Elafonisi – Balos beach
3rd category: Zakros Gorge – Chryssi island – Gortyn site – Loutro village – Gavdos island – Kedrodasos
– Heraklion – This is not the most beautiful city in Greece, but it has plenty to offer. I think one night or even 2 is enough to stay here. You can visit the Palace of Knossos, and the Archaeological Museum walk around the Venetian Walls.
– Elounda: This area has some large and luxurious hotels. But it is not only about that. I strongly recommend if you have time a short visit to Spinalonga island, which has a significant history. Originally, Spinalonga was not an island, but during the Venetian occupation, the island was carved out of the coast for defence purposes, and a fort was built there. The island has also been used as a leper colony. You can also visit Kolokytha beach and have dinner in Voulismeni Lake in Agios Nikolaos.
– Ierapetra: I would recommend to wander through the city and discover where Napoleon was hosted and learn more about the local craftsmanship and try some local Cretan food next to the sea! From this town, you can get small boats to Chryssi island, which a small island with white sand and turquoise coloured sea! It is like a Caribbean beach (without palm trees!).
– Phaestos Palace: You can stay at Agia Galini and visit Phaistos Palance, where the Phaistos Disc was found!
– Plakias: From here you can take a boat to Preveli beach, one of the most beaches in Greece! There is a river that forms a large lake 1.5km long before it flows into the sea! You can walk along the river, under the shade of palm trees and other trees!
– Sfakia Hora: the White Mountains surround hora Sfakion, and from here you can take a boat to Loutro village (where no cars are allowed) and to Gavdos island. Also, if you a fan of hiking then don’t miss the Samaria Gorge! The hike begins from the south of Omalos, and it ends in the coastal village of Agia Roumeli. You can always choose to do the so-called ‘lazy way’ by starting to hike from Agia Roumeli. The only way out of Agia Roumeli is by taking the boat to Sougia or Hora Sfakion, which are served by bus and taxi.
– Chania: This is a picturesque port town, and it is highly recommended to wander around the narrow alleys and the old harbour. Note that is can be quite busy during high season. You can find our dedicated post about the best things to do in Chania here and the best hotels in Chania here.
– Rethymnon – A coastal town with an old harbour, traditional fortress, and plenty of museums. Stay for a night or 2, or even base yourselves here to explore the north of the island.
Roadtrip in Greece can offer you unique experiences. You can drink your coffee in an isolated village, and the same afternoon you can swim at an extraordinary beach. Just pick up a route, close your eyes and imagine …….
How does your paradise look like??