Visit Greece with a van… amazing roadtrip!

Categories Europe, Greece, Vanlife
Superbe nuit étoilée sur la plage à Aliki lors d'un road trip en Grèce en van.

Greece, is a big travel destination… and perfect for vanlifers!
Discover our 5 weeks road trip in Greece with a van (1 week on a Greek island).

1 month in Greece with a van

Despite our fears of the high season, we loved Greece. It’s so big, that there’s always a place where there is no one!
You will find in this article our travel blog:

1/ Our roadtrip’s stages in Greece with a van.
2/ What you should know to prepare your travel in Greece.

Itinerary
(mid july – end august)

1/ Roadtrip’s stages in Greece

We tried to note down here all our interest points: where we slept with the van, activities, restaurants…

1.1/ D1 – Arrival in Greece from Macedonia

Here we are, just arrived in Greece. We drove a bit from Macedonia, so we decide to stop close to the border.
At Polycastro, close to a river. The place is quite calm, except a goats’ flock came to visit us!

>> Here, our Macedonian roadtrip’s itinerary.

1st Slepping Spot – Greece with a van:

In front of a river, approx. 100m from a secondary road.

1st night in Greece with a van, in Polycastro, close to the Macedonian border.

1.2/ D2 to 4 – Chill and natural spa in Aliki

1st very nice surprise of our roadtrip in Greece with a van. We’re parked on the beach (but with a hard enough soil not to get stuck in the sand). The beach is nice and not too much people. We see many people coming from behind the beach… covered with mud! So we decide to act like a local and go there too, to enjoy a nice mud bath (good for your skin). Then you go into the sea, and finish in a over salty bath (all natural)… we literaly float in it!

Hard to leave this place… we spend a few day there, between grilled fish and natural spa.

Mud bath and over salty water!!! A natural spa on the Greek coast!

2cd Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

Perfect spot in front of the sea. There are beach showers and a small bar. We’re not alone here (but OK). So during the day, we’re parked like a normal car, and when the night is coming, we turn to have a full sea view! See the main article’s picture.

1.3/ D5 – Platamonas castle and view on Mount Olympus

On our way south, we stop to Platamonas castle. Only 2 € the entrance, the ruins are nice (not the most incredible of Europe, but worth the trip).

Platamonas castle in central Macedonia and its nice view on Olympe Mount.

Views are great. On the coast, but also on Mount Olympus, the highest Greek summit with its 2917 meters. We wanted to hike it, but with almost 40°C, we decide to avoid too long trek (it needs 7h to go, with almost 1000 m of height difference).

Nice coast view from Platamonas Castle, during our roadtrip in Greece with a van.

Then we take the car to “Pélion” (small region east ot Thessaly). We find a very nice spot!

3rd Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

Great place with sea view. However, try to go there from the inside Pelion, and not from the west coast. The road is ok for the first kilometers, and then it’s really narrow and sloping. We had to make a u-turn, once almost arrived.

Our great spot with our van in Pelion, east region of Thessaly in Greece.

1.4/ D6 to 9 – Pelion, between sea and moutains

We wake up in this idyllic setting. With shade, in front of the sea, with a clear blue water... We stay 3,4 days in the Pelion. We go discovering abroad… with the van, but also by foot.

Be alone on a wonderful greek beach in august...it's possible!

Pelion region is great and not too touristic, we found great spots where we were totally alone. Wonderful beaches, small restaurants for seafood lovers… yum… delicious! Calamari and squid dry on the seafront… it’s traditional in Greece.

Wonderful beach with nobody, at Lefokastro in Pélion in Greece with a van.

Around Affisios and Lefokastro

We are on paradise. During 4 days, we stay 2 days without moving the van. By foot, a nice restaurant (Kalma) is perfect to try calamari, fish or just eat like a greek! More south, wonderful beaches with… nobody (yes, we walked almost 1h to get there).

Wonderful beach with nobody, at Lefokastro in Pélion in Greece with a van.

Somewhere else in Pelion

The 2 other days, we go visiting the other side of Pelion. First, Damouchari, Fakistra and Mylopotamos beaches! These 3 spots are priceless. Damouchari is a small natural harbour close to Agios Loanis (a scene of the “Mama Mia” movie has been filmed here). From here we can join the Fafistra beach by foot (2,3 km to go, 1h15 approx.) !

Best beach in Thessaly, Greece, in the Pelion!

A bit more South, we enjoy the very nice Mylopotamos beach too. It’s also amazing and is a bit alike Fakistra. But with a natural arch that  joins 2 parts of the beach! But there are more people here.

Amazing beaches in Pelion, during our road trip in Greece with a van.

Let’s change from beaches, decide to visit the Makrinitsa village, apparently one of the most typical of Pelion. Traditional architecture (stone house called “archontika”) and a superb view, the “Balcony of Pelion“, on Volos and the coast.

In short, this region alone could deserve a whole holiday in Greece. However, the roads are narrow and winding, not always very nice with a van (I can’t even imagine with a camping-car).

4th Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

During those 4 days, we keep the same spot. We feel very good here and have met some nice people!

Our spot to sleep on the beach in Pelion with our van in Greece.

1.5/ D10 & 11 – Wonderful Meteora

We take the road to Meteora, just above the small town of Kalambaka. These are geological formations in northern Greece, in Thessaly, in the Pénée Valley. Like giant menhirs, but dominated by orthodox Christian monasteries, the “monasteries suspended in the sky”. There are about ten (monasteries), but only six can be visited: the Great Meteor, Varlaam, Agios Nikolaos, Agios Stefanos, Aghia Triada and Roussanou. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

Triada monastery in the Meteora site in Greece with a van.

How to visitMeteora monasteries?

Monasteries open at 9am, but the site is never closed. We go there at 7am. There is nobody, we’re alone facing this crazy spectacle at sunrise… Landscapes seem to come from a fantasy movie. It’s really something we LOVED in Greece.

Useful info:

  • There is no entrance fee for the site.
  • 3€ per pers. per monastery.
  • The monasteries’ visit times vary. Roughly it is from 9 to 17h in summer and 9-15h in winter, but they each have 1 or 2 days of closing per week.
  • Dog are ok here but not IN monasteries.
  • How to dress:
    • Women: knee skirt or dress and cover the shoulders.
    • Men: trousers, no shorts.
    • Nevertheless, we saw some people in shorts, and nuns can lend long skirts if really necessary.

Should not miss in Greece: wonderful view on the Varlaamn monastery in Meteora.

We decide to visit 2 monasteries: Varlaam and Roussanou. Around 8.30am, people begin to arrive, thankfully, we are at the beginning of the queue for Varlaam Monastery so we don’t have to wait. And for Roussanou, a lot less people. Between the 2 visits we have our dog with us, but we visit the 1st monastery together (dog in the car). And we visit Roussanou one after the other because it was too hot to let Huaca in the van.

Visit meteroa during your holidays in Greece is a must. Here, Roussanou monastery.

5th Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

Very nice spot 5 minutes from Meteora site. A kind of picnic area with grass, BBQ and basketball hoop. There are 3 other vehicle with us.

Our sleeping spot on a picnic area very close to the Meteora site in Greece.

1.6/ D12 – Portaikos Bridge in Pyli

Short stop at Pyli to discover its famous stone bridge from the Ottoman era, the 2nd largest of Thessaly. It sits above the Portaikos River.

Discover Portaikos bride in Pyli, close to Trikala in Greece.

We go for a walk in the small town of Pyli, but the tour is quick. Not far, the Agios Vissarion monastery. Interesting even if after the Meteora, they all look less wouaouh.

6th Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

We stay at the parking deck. We can bath in the river and there is a tap to refill water! Many people during the day but very quiet in the evening.

1.7 / D13 & 14 – Beach before Athens

After a few days away from the coast and before visiting Athens, we decide to have a seaside break. We stay 2 days in Arkitsa. Pleasant spots under the trees, facing the sea. There are many motorhomes here, the place seems to be known. Maybe some people set their camp for a moment.

We find a nice place in the shade. Beach showers are not far away. The beach is nice, without being the most beautiful that we have seen in Greece. But perfect as a stopover before visiting the capital. 2 days of lazing and grilling fish at the edge of the water.

7th Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

Under the trees, facing the sea, with beach showers and restaurants not far.

1.8 / D15 to 18 – Visit Athens in 3 days

We stay 3 days in the capital. 1 day and a half in the center, and the rest a bit outside.

Visit the acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens

The 1st day, we arrive at the entrance to the Acropolis half and hour before the opening (weekdays). We are almost the first. At the opening, it was always reasonable. For a small hour, we enjoy this beautiful site… with very few people. Then, there are too many people for us. Moreover, even though we understand that it’s forbidden to pose for a photo in front of a temple (because they are sacred), hearing a security guard screaming “no posing” every 20 minutes … it’s quite unpleasant. They should inform at the entrance.

In short, it’s a shame because this site and its history deserves the full interest, but personally it’s not our most beautiful memory of Greece. (For information, from April 1 – October 31: € 20, and from November 1 – March 31: € 10. More info on what is supposed to be their official website but be carful, it’ll certainly hurt your eyes, it is really old).

There are many other museums to visit in Athens, but having our dog waiting for us, we made the choice to visit inly the acropolis.
(Enjoy the picture, we were shouted for it).

Visit the acropolis during your holidays in Athens, Greece.

City center’s districts

In the center, we won’t miss some very lively (and touristics) districts, such as:

  • Plaka: the oldest area also named “Neighborhood of the Gods” because it’s near to the Acropolis and many archaeological sites.. Souvenir shops, and other touristic places, it still worth the trip. Its narrow streets and architecture are very nice.
  • Anafiotika: very small, but at he foot of the Acropolis. With very nice white and blue houses.
  • Monastiraki: and its same name place. Archaeological sites, byzantine church, mosque … a beautiful melting pot with vendors everywhere, a bit like the souk. Not far, the central market …

Monastiraki place, at the foot of the Acropolis and in the ceter of Athens.

  • Psyri: a little more north, our favorite arear in the center. Also with a lot of people, but we prefer the atmoshpere a bit different. Bars, restaurants, second hand goods dealers, and street art. Bellow, the Little Kook bar… totaly crazy.

Little Kook bar decoration in Athens, totaly crazy.

Out of the city center

On the North-East, we first visit Exarcheia district, supposed to be very young and festive, Ithink we was there at the wrong time. But it was still a nice walk with a lot of street art.

Trompe l’œil and street art in the Exarcheia area in Athens.

More south, just before Kolonaki quarter, the Mount Lycabette worth the trip for sunset with its very nice view on Athens (you’ll have to walk a little). We decide to enjoy the beginning of the night with an open air cinema (Sine Dexamene, just at the foot of the hill) very typical greek atmosphere.

Live like a greek during your travel and enjoy a open air cinema in Athens.

Then, we arrive on the Syntagma place, and the Parliament. We are there for the changing of the guard. Typical costumes and funny gait… it’s  nice to see! Close to here, the National Garden and the Zappeion (nice building).

Changing of the guard on Syntagma place, close to the greek parliament in Athens.

North-West side

We walk around Technopolis and we’re really getting out of touristic Athens. The streets are quieter, certainly less typical, but we find nice things to do and it’s nice to avoid the crowd.

But to be honest, we mostly have 2 memories here: 1 nice bar with a real skate ramp in it, and a really nice greek lady (who doesn’t speak english) who brought us food because we were sitting on the floor… (which also mean that we look like hobo…). So we ate a good home made dish, here, in the street (we read that in Greece, it’s rude to refuse hospitality)!

Nice bar with a skate ramp in the Technopolis district of Athens.

To end the day, we go more west. In Thissia neighbourhood and the Filopappou hill, or the “muses hill“, that offers (as Lycabette) a nice view on Athens and the Acropolis.

After 3 days in Athens, we went 5 days on a paradise greek island, Naxos.
>> Find here our 5 days trip with a van on Naxos island, and all useful info.

8th Slepping Spot – Greece with a van:

After we read bad comments on internet (broken vehicles, overpriced and poorly maintained campings …), we decided to take an Airbnb, a little out of the city but with a parking space. 25 € per night, 3km walk from the Saint-Nicolas church at the foot of the Acropolis site through the Garden of Parliament.

1.9 / D19 to 22 – Peloponnese discovery

We just come back from Naxos and decide to finish our journey in Greece with a van in the same mood. That is to say: crazy landscapes, perfect beaches and farniente. We go to a beautiful spot recommended by friends, not far from Molai (the nearest big town).

The road to reach the place is not easy, quite winding with a lot of turns, but the spot is worth it. By the way, we stay there for 3 days.

9th Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

Large beach with cristal blue water. There are beach showers, WC, and a snack. We feel really good here even if we are 6 or 7 on the spot.

Great spot in South Peloponnese to discover Greece with a van.

1.10 / D23 to 25 – South-West Peloponnese

A spot we saw on Park4night app. Close to Finikouda and the Golden Sun hotel. The place is really nice for a van and ok to access. We’re parked on a hill above a nice beach. 

Surprisingly, we are alone whereas it’s high season… we spend 2 days here. Between the beach and our spot…with a BBQ, slackline and fresh wine rosé.

10th Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

It’s calm, with a nice view, and there are beach showers… on the beach!

During our roadtrip in Greece with a van, we found great spots, as here, above the hill.

1.11 / D26 to 30 – Hippie land in Peloponnese

After these 2 nights alone, total change!!! 1h and a half further north in Elia, above Kalo Nero. Do not hesitate to shop before arriving, there is not much in the area there except for a mini market.

The spot is …. atypical! This is a large private lot but the owner agrees that people come to squat this space. A dirt road, parallel to the sea (about 100m or less from the beach) with plenty of spaces to park. And already… a lot of people. Some seem to live there year-round. There are 2 or 3 “hygiene” points with drinking water and beach shower (soap accepted).

Naturist beach (one part only) in Elia, a great spot for a van in Peloponnese in Greece.

At the very beginning, a few bars for a drink. We find a great spot where to stop, not far from a Greek couple with whom we will spend a lot of time. The beach is good, beware, one part is partly nudist (great to try).

Kiriakos, a greek friend we met in Elia during our road trip with the van in Peloponnese.

Kiriakos, our new friend, takes us one afternoon to Neda Falls. It is only about 30 km, but it takes almost 1h, 1h30 to get there. The end of the road to the parking (2, or 3km) is really bad (because of work), thankfully we didn’t go with the van. But the place is worth it, better to go early because very quickly, people arrive!

Neda waterfalls, nice place with very clear water, perfect to get fresh air in Greece during summer.

There are also some activities within the community (children’s show, small concerts …), we spend 3 days very nice to share rums (from our island) and Ouzo! Great way to finish our trip in Greece!

11th Sleeping Spot – Greece with a van:

Beautiful hippie spot for some days in Peloponnese, in Greece with a van.

1.12 / D30 – Ferry from Patras to Italy

It’s the end, we take a 32 hours ferry from Patras to Venice…!
>> Here our article about Venice with a van!

2/ Useful info: travel in Greece

Here all our useful info to prepare a road trip in Greece with a van!

2.1/ How are roads in Greece?

In general, roads are quite OK in Greece. A big part of the red is free but be careful, some parts are not (eg:from Meteora to Athens). And when we were there in august 2018, there were a lot of works on this section and Waze (GPS mobile phone apps) wasn’t updated.

Just for info, you’ll certainly see this kind of pretty little greek chapels on the road (tribute to a road accident), and also stork nests at the top of telephone posts!

How are the roads in Greece, and what are these little chapels and stork nests.

2.2/ Hygiene: shower and drinkable water

In the summer, hygiene and water were not a problem for us. We found water easily to recharge our small reserves and quiet spots for the camping shower (with bio degradable soap of course). Not to mention the numerous beach showers.

2.3/ Find spots for the van in Greece

Hormis sur l’île de Naxos où nous avons cherché nos spots par nos propres moyens, en Grèce, l’application Park4Night nous a beaucoup servi. Néanmoins, ça n’a pas été difficile de trouver des endroits sympas lorsqu’il n’y avait pas de propositions par l’application. Les locaux ont l’air d’avoir l’habitude des vans/camping-car (dans le bon sens), donc en restant discret et respectueux, pas beaucoup de souci à se faire.

Except on the Naos island where we looked for our spots on our own, in Greece, the Park4Night application was perfect. Nevertheless, it was not difficult to find cool places when there were no proposals on the application. The locals seem to be used to vans / campers (in a good way), so by remaining discreet and respectful, you should not have much trouble.

2.5/ Money and budget in Greece

They use Euro, like in France. Life is a bit cheaper if you avoid touristic places.

Greek flag flying in the wind of Acropolis in Athens, perfect holidays in Greece.

Et voilà, on espère que cet article sur la Grèce en van vous sera utile.
N’hésitez pas à nous laisser un petit message si c’est le cas, ça fait toujours plaisir ! Et surtout… très bonnes vacances !

We hope that this article about Greece with a van will be useful for you.
Do not hesitate to write us a message if yes, it’s always nice! And above all … very good holidays!

Musical bonus

You want to really get into the Greek mood?
Romain kept his ears open during our trip to prepare this 100% local playlist (our Youtube channel) to enjoy the flow on Greek roads with your van!

Road trip with a van in Balkans – Here, all our itineraries inBalkans!

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