Greece in April
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Jan 14, 2013 10:31 PM Last Post By: anogatzea
Oct 8, 2012 1:02 AM
Greece in AprilReturned from holidays yesterday and already planning the next one!
After much thought and a change of direction (originally planned Slovenia and Croatia), we have been thinking of visiting Greece in April 2013 for 3-4 weeks. We like to keep fairly busy and don't enjoy running around in the heat. We also need to work within school holiday time as I'm travelling with my teenage daughter.
However, I am concerned from reading other posts that Greece may have limited offerings at that time of year with regard to transport, hotels, restaurants, galleries and shops. Is it true that tourist infrastructure closes down substantially at that time? I've been to Greece in May before but not that early (we'd be arriving very late March really). We would be travelling by bus and ferry, with most likely a focus primarily on the north and Sporades islands although that's up for discussion. Prefer to stay at least three nights in each place we visit.
I've also read up on posts with regard to protests and strikes and it seems that the consensus is that safety is not an issue. However, even strikes can be frustrating and disappointing when on holiday and short on time so wondering whether avoiding Athens would have any benefit. I'd love to have a crystal ball!
Your comments on our plans would be really appreciated. Thanks!
Oct 8, 2012 1:59 AM
This bothers some tourists because what they want is the full tourist infrastructure and the busy tourist atmosphere. Weather, of course, also makes the standard holiday focus on a beach break not a very good idea.
Transport, accom, restaurants always follow this maxim. How many hotels and restaurants does one person need? Transport from just about anywhere to anywhere is frequent enough to be able to plan around. Only a minimum of flexibility on your part is required -- one ferry a day rather than 3-4 a day, etc.
"Galleries and shops" selling tourist/souvenir stuff will be a more likely practical issue: shops (and esp. in the well-known tourist resort areas) simply will not be open until the season begins. The larger the center, the more likely something will be open. Also, once places open for Easter, they're likely to stay open.
Oct 8, 2012 2:51 AM
2Thanks, BthDth, for your comments.
I understand your comment about supply and demand but suspect it is not that simple. I have had people comment to me that they would travel to 'xyz' place if only the planes/ferries were available at that time of year. The lack of transport can sometimes compress the tourist season (e.g. flying into Dubrovnik outside of the summer months).
We always prefer to travel off season when it is quieter and this is part of the appeal of travelling in April. However, it is still nice to have a choice of places to eat, etc. Of course, the locals eat out, shop, and get around so obviously not everything closes up. It sounds like it may be best to not book accommodation in advance to allow us the flexibility to work around reduced ferry schedules, etc. It suits us to be fluid in our plans anyway.
Oct 8, 2012 4:30 AM
High-season inter-island ferries don't run, because the locals aren't interested in them and there aren't enough tourists to cover running costs. Frequency of ferries are reduced because of less traffic. On very small islands the locals might go to Athens for the winter and there may be only 1 ferry a week.
Piraeus-island ferries to islands with largish permanent populations are still at least 1 daily ... etc etc. Getting to and from mainland is the domestic priority, not hopping from Santorini to Rhodes or Mykonos.
My comment about "How many hotels and restaurants does one person need?" had more to do with people who want and expect the ambiance of a full-running resort. I look at the maths: especially if you stay somewhere for only 2-3 days, how many meals does a person eat in that time? Even if there is only one restaurant, you can eat something different evey day and still not get through their menu.
It's a trade-off between choice and flexibility, and what in practice a person really needs. Anyway, for many places you're likely to get to there'll be more than one restaurant or cafe open. I've been to Greece often enough, even in winter, and the rooms/restaurants/cafes thing just isn't an issue.
Oct 8, 2012 6:27 AM
4As you like to keep busy, I suggest you avoid the Sporades islands at that time of year. Try as I may, I can't imagine how you would fill your days.The mainland would certianly be better and there would be enough to keep you occupied in the northern mainland of Thessaly and Macedonia,
For me, the Peloponnese would be even better as the weather would almost certainly be better and you would have no problem filling your days. Getting around by bus is reasonably easy too as long as you plan your visit carefully e.g. not try to get from Nafplio to Olympia in one day.
Bear in mind, that transport services are always designed with locals in mind and not for visitors and that is where supply and demand enter the equation.
Oct 8, 2012 1:18 PM
5Unless you focus on some sea-side resort , mainland is a year-around destination, and actually busy season in places such as the mountain villages of Delphi/Arahova, Pelion, Zagoria etc is the winter time... On my opinion, what attracts most visitors to the islands, is sea-sun-outdoor activities, and unless you have a specific interest to visit the smaller islands, March/April might be very boring there. "Keep fairly busy" is not very clear to me as to your interests, so not easy to advice on an itinerary or other trivial, but mainland has something to suit everyone more or less. A car would give maximum flexibility but as far as you realize the limitations of public transport and you are fine with it, I think you can have a very enjoyable trip for 3-4 weeks without ever setting a foot on an island.
Oct 9, 2012 2:23 AM
6Thanks for the advice everyone.
When I said 'keep busy', for us that means lots of walking (up to 10-12km hikes), exploring villages and countryside, occasional museums and art galleries. While I'm always willing to stick my nose into shops, it's not such a priority for us.
I have previously travelled a fair bit in Greece but it was all a very long time ago and my daughter has never been there. My husband and I always thought the best of Greece was the mainland (absolutely loved Epirus and Pelion) but my daughter has her heart set on seeing the classic white villages of the Greek islands so would like to fit both in.
I'd tentatively planned about two weeks on the mainland (e.g. Pelion, Delphi, Nafplion) and one week on a couple of islands. Stunning as it is Santorini has less appeal nowadays for me but it may be worth taking her there because it is unique. I'd thought the Sporades may be a good alternative to the Cyclades but take your point about there not being much to do if it's too cold to swim.
I'm sure that no matter what the plan ends up being we'll have a great time. Not having too fixed an itinerary will be good.
Oct 9, 2012 4:35 AM
7You won't really find white villages in the Sporades except on Skyros which is only accessible by sea from Kymi in Evia. The closest place to a white village elsewhere is Skopelos Town.
The place to find them is the Cyclades group which prompts me to suggest that Naxos would be the perfect place to spend a few days as it has everything that you're looking for. It's also only a couple of hours from Santorini .
Jan 14, 2013 10:31 PM
8If you're interested in the north, you might consider the Pelion - the Pagasitic Gulf being almost entirely enclosed by land is much warmer to swim in than the Aegean at that time of year. Also because tourists are mainly "home grown" - Athenians with holiday homes etc - nothing much closes down out of season. Check out these guys www.oliverscottage.gr. They do walking and stuff and boat trips
(5 star Hotel)
From US$318.73 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$107.32 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$73.56 per night