Although traveling to Greece tops many travelers’ bucket lists, until recently, it’s been a pricey journey, which has made it a challenge for anyone on a budget. Right now, tourism within Greece is at historically low rates due to the country’s tough financial times and the Euro being at an all time low, nearly one to one with the US Dollar, so what better excuse do you need to plan your adventure, explore ancient ruins dating back to the beginning of civilization and experience a bit of the laid back vibe that this Mediterranean culture is know for.
When planning your travels focus on the month of October, being a shoulder season, you can count on even further reduced rates from airfare to hotels and activities and the weather is still warm enough in Greece at that time to spend most of your time outdoors, sight seeing, exploring local finds and even taking an afternoon dip in the sea. Turkish Airlines is offering tons of great fall specials from the East Coast of the US to Europe, Athens included for around $900 round trip.
Two days is all you need to see the historical sites and cultural hot spots in Athens, so I recommend staying in the city’s historical center at The King George, A Luxury Collection property, just a few blocks away from The Acropolis, The Agora, the Acropolis Museum and the lively neighborhood of Plaka. October rates at The King George are about 1/3 less than they are in the high season, so you can experience their absolute luxury for a significant discount. If you’re celebrating a special occasion or just wanting an elegant date night out, head to the Microlimano Marina in the Port of Pireaus for a sunset meal at Michelin starred Varoulko Seaside, one of the top restaurants in all of Greece.
After Athens, head north to Central Greece for that authentic Greek experience, strolling through quaint coastal towns, lingering over multi-course seaside meals (many that cost the same as your groceries back home), and exploring more ancient historical sites.
Make your home base for a in the town of Edipsos, at the Hotel Thermae Sylla, the top luxury hotel and spa in the area, that boasts October rates for a mere $120 per night for 2 people, *(including a phenomenal breakfast buffet). Enjoy the good life for a few days and nights, practice sunrise yoga out on the pier of the resort, tour the coastline by boat for next to nothing, try out the local thermal mud treatment at Thermae Sylla’s Spa and be sure to spend a few hours each afternoon feasting on the harvests of the sea at local establishments like Taverna Stella in Lichada, my personal favorite.
Rise early your forth morning at Thermae Sylla, have a hearty breakfast and take the first ferry across the Euvian Gulf to the mainland. First visiting the historic battlefield of Thermopylae, along with their small but very informative museum on site, and leave feeling like you’ve just experienced the battle where Leonidis and his famous 300 Spartans went face to face with the thousands of Persians. Early morning history lessons can only be topped by late morning pampering at Galini Wellness Spa, one of the largest spas in the region, and hands down my top pic, with a huge thermal and salt baths, experienced therapists and a great variety of treatments at an even better value. My little tip…book Anastasia for any massage treatments as she makes my top 10 list of massage therapists in the world.
Spend your afternoon leisurely touring the nearby, award winning winery of Domaine Hatzmichalis, enjoy a tasting as well as a traditional Greek countryside lunch with wine pairings, or even create your own wine blends, which I found to be a great activity if you’re with a large group. After finishing with your winemaking have local guide, Dimitris Mantellos, take you across the mainland about an hour and a half drive to Galaxidi, a picturesque town along the Gulf of Corinth.
Check in to the ever so charming Galaxa Mansion, a quaint historical inn with sea views from nearly every guest room and a rooftop terrace with incomparable 360 degree views of Galaxidi. After catching sunset from the rooftop terrace, set out on foot to explore the town and stumble upon yet another amazing and affordable seaside meal. October stays here start well under $100 per night.
For your last and final day enjoying Central Greece, get an early start at the ancient ruins of Delphi, just up the mountain about 20 minutes from Galaxidi. The natural setting of Delphi is magnificent on it’s own, but after touring the ruins of this ancient settlement you’ll quickly understand why it was this town that was chosen as the center of the ancient world. Looking out over the mountains, as they turn in to green hills that roll into the sea, it’s nothing short of breathtaking. The Delphi museum is also quite impressive, with a massive collection of well-preserved artifacts, certainly deserving of a visit directly after you leave the archaeological site. Allow for one final lingering lunch back in Galixidi in the afternoon, at Zygos Café, then a post meal stroll, taking pictures of the quaint buildings and the pebbled beaches around town.