Travelling overland from Italy to Greece is a lengthy and expensive trip. If time is of the essence, take the ferry from Venice to Patras, thereby spoiling yourself with a mini-cruise into the bargain. Even a short stay in Venice can be exhausting, with so much to see, but a couple of days crossing the Adriatic will boost your energy levels. Many ships leave from Venice port - large cruise liners as well as ferries head off in all directions. There is a frequent service to Patras, indeed some 40 ships ply this route during the summer season.
The ferries are large, holding up to 1600 people and their vehicles. Everyone uses them: locals, holiday-makers and long distance lorry drivers, all chatting in different languages as they explore their 'home' for the next two days. The ferries are equipped with all mod cons: shops, restaurants, bars, discos, casinos and swimming pools, so there's plenty to keep you occupIed if relaxing on a sun deck, gazing out to sea, begins to pall. There is also a choice of cabins, inside, outside, for two passengers or four, with or without shower facilities - and all fully air-conditioned.
In fact the cheapest method is to camp on deck, and very pleasant too if the weather is balmy. If not, the campers move inside to corridors and lounges. This is a straightforward journey, stopping twice, once at Corfu and again at Igoumenitsa, the start of a motorway running all the way to Turkey. Patras itself has a long and distinguished history. Built on the slopes of Mount Panachaikon, its old town is charming, full of neo - classical buildings, churches, monuments, narrow lanes and steps. Greece's third city and second largest port after Piraeus, Patras is large, lively and a good base for exploring.
WHEN TO GO
April to October
TIME IT TAKES
About thirty-six hours
Venice in all her glory.
Sunbathing on deck in the middle of the Adriatic.
Patras Carnival - the largest of its kind in Greece, it starts on January 17th and continues until the Monday before Lent.
Patras International Festival of the Arts, which takes place each July/August.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
The Corinth Canal, not far from Patras, connects the Gulf of Corinth to the Aegean Sea. Completed in 1893, the 6.3 km (4 mi) long canal saves 11000 vessels per year the 400 km (250 mi) journey round the Peloponnese Peninsula. If you take the train from Patras to Athens, you will see it beneath you. Or you can continue your journey on water and sail down the canal.