Planning a Greece itinerary? It sounds like the perfect Mediterranean escape to me!
Greece is a travel destination that offers blue skies, sunny climes, and charming culture all year round.
This article features a Greece travel itinerary to suit every taste. There is something for you here, whether you want to simply lounge around on the pristine beaches of idyllic islands, or you are eager for adventure and exploration.
Greece Itinerary Highlights
- Visiting Athens, the birthplace of modern civilisation
- Sampling mouthwatering Greek delicacies and learning how to make them
- Visiting mysterious cliff-top monasteries and traversing along scenic hiking trails in Meteora and Central Greece.
- Lounging on the pristine sandy beaches, and wandering through the narrow streets of quaint old towns on beautiful Greek islands.
- Discovering forgotten Byzantine settlements in Lakonia and the Peloponnese
- Falling in love with the charming neighbourhoods of Thessaloniki
- Conquering scenic hiking trails through Zagorahoria, and Northern Greece
When to Travel to Greece
Many people associate Greece with being a summer travel destination. However, the country is a wonderful year-round destination. The best time for you to travel will vary depending on your specific interests.
Spring (March to May)
Spring and Autumn are the shoulder seasons for travelling in Greece. The temperatures are warm and pleasant. They typically range between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius during this time.
Weather conditions in Spring are perfect for hiking in Greece. Travelling to Greek cities at this time gives you the chance to experience their historical and archaeological highlights without the crowds.
Summer (June to August)
Summer in Greece is swelteringly hot. Temperatures often soar as high as 35-40 degrees Celsius in July and August.
The conditions may be perfect for Greek island hopping and lazing on paradisical beaches. However, hiking and extended outdoor exploration can be unbearable in the heat and humidity.
Most people tend to plan their Greece vacations for July and August. Consequently, everywhere is more crowded and you should try and reserve your hotels, tours, and ferry tickets in advance where you can.
Autumn (September to November)
Conditions in Greece in Autumn are similar to the Spring months. Temperatures linger around the late twenties (in terms of degrees Celsius) and the humidity subsides.
Shops, restaurants, and businesses around many of the islands close for the season at the end of September. However, in many places, the waters remain pleasant enough for swimming well into October.
Winter (December to February)
Winters in Greece can become bitter cold. Snow is not unheard of in Central and Northern Greece, and boats from the islands to the mainland run at a much more limited schedule. You can expect temperatures of 10 degrees and below if you are visiting Athens in winter.
Greece Travel Itinerary Budget
Beautiful Greece is generally a very affordable country to travel in. However, establishing an appropriate budget for your trip depends on where you are travelling to.
For example, Santorini and Mykonos are quite pricey. Conversely, Athens and mainland Greece typically do not break the bank.
Opting to travel outside the peak summer months will save you some money. Prices skyrocket during July and August. Come September, you will find that they have dropped by more than 50%.
Getting Around Greece
Public transport in Greece is both affordable and reliable. It is also possible to rent a car. Driving in Greece is not as daunting as you may imagine.
Renting a Car in Greece
Opting to embark on your 10 day Greece itinerary with your own transport gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility. There are many charming villages, towns, and monasteries around the country that are tricky to get to unless you have a car.
Anyone between the ages of 21 and 70 can rent a car in Greece. Driving in Greece is not as intimidating as it may sound.
If you are an EU citizen, you must present an EU license. Non EU citizens need to display both their driving license and an International Driving Permit.
Various reputable rental companies operate in Greece. Sixt, Avis, and Hertz have branches across the country. Most offer pickup from major Greek airports.
Explore Greece by Rail
OSE is the Greek rail network that manages the national trains. You can purchase tickets online, or in person at the train station.
Major renovation efforts have taken place in recent years to improve the service offering of Greek trains. Most services are clean, comfortable, fast, and efficient.
Explore Greece by Bus
KTEL buses are an intercity bus network that connects most major towns and cities in Greece. Small, regional operators service the routes to smaller villages.
KTEL buses are modern and comfortable. However, confusingly, there is not one centralised website to book tickets and review timetables from.
Instead, each region has its own KTEL website. For instance, KTEL Attikis services the Athens region.
Meanwhile, KTEL Chalkidikis services Halkidiki, and KTEL Macedonia covers Thessaloniki. If in doubt, your hotel can advise you where to search for tickets.
Ferries in Greece and the Islands
There are more than 6,000 Greek islands, split across several different Greek island groups. Only a small handful of Greek islands have their own airports.
If you want to go island hopping in Greece, it typically makes sense to fly into Athens first for the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, and the Saronic islands. If you are going to be visiting the Ionian, you can fly into Corfu.
Skiathos island is serviced by a lot of European charter flights for travel to the Sporades during the summer months. You will need to depart from different ports and use different ferry operators depending on which area you are travelling to.
Most boats bound for the Saronic islands and the Cyclades depart from Athens’ Piraeus port. Sporades-bound boats depart from Agios Konstantinos and Volos ports.
Meanwhile, Igoumenitsa is the main departure point for Kerkyra and the Ionian. You can use ferryscanner to check routes and fares for ferries in Greece.
Greece Itineraries for Every Travel Style
Two different Greece itineraries have been drafted below which offer something to suit everyone.
Each proposed Greece itinerary lasts 10 days. However, you have the option to chop and change as you see fit.
- Greece for Culture Vultures (Athens, Meteora, Delphi, Thessaloniki)
- Athens & the Cyclades (Athens, Santorini, Koufonisia, Mykonos)
10 Day Greece Itinerary:
Greece for Culture Vultures
Best time to travel: Autumn and Spring
Greece has plenty to offer those with an interest in world cultures and history. Indeed, this gorgeous Mediterranean country is widely regarded as being the birthplace of civilisation. The cities and settlements here are among the oldest in the world.
In Athens, travellers can walk in the footsteps of Socrates and Aristotle as they meander through the Ancient Agora, and past the sunbleached ruins of temples and shrines that are thousands of years old.
Days One to Four: Athens
It makes sense to start your Greece itinerary in Athens. After all, the country’s main international airport is situated here, making the city a convenient entrypoint for most visitors.
Athens is far from being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. However, it certainly has its charm.
Behind the gritty outer exterior, Athens boasts a plethora of quirky neighbourhoods, cute tavernas, and quirky coffee shops. You just have to know where to look.
The Greek capital is teeming with history. Its ramshackle streets date back over 5000 years. This makes it one of the oldest cities in the world.
Things to do in Athens
I’ve spent the last three and a half years living here in Athens. This Athens itinerary helps you cross off all of the most important sites in the city. Additionally, it enables you to beneath the surface and explore some of the more “off the beaten path” areas.
Some of Athens’ main highlights are summarised below.
- Admire the Cycladic architecture of Anafiotika
- Visit the Acropolis
- Do a victory lap around the Panathenaic stadium
- Hike to the top of Lycabettus hill
- Sip tsipouo and ouzo in the tavernas of Plaka
- Venture off the beaten path
Get a Sampler of Island Life in Anafiotika
Anafiotika is one of the most charming spots in Athens. The best part? Very few people actually know about it.
Anafiotika is a charming little village whose houses are decorated in quintessential Greek island style. Envisage quaint whitewashed structures with blue roofs. The neighbourhood cascades down the slopes of Acropolis hill.
To get to Anafiotika, you can follow an unsuspecting path that leads upwards from Plaka. The area was created in the 18th century by residents of the Greek island Anafi who relocated to Athens.
They designed their houses in a style reminiscent of their island homes. As such, the architectural style here is more reminiscent of the Cyclades than what you may expect to see in the Greek capital.
Be a Tourist at the Acropolis
The Acropolis is visible from virtually all corners of Athens. It sits perched precariously atop a craggy, rocky hilltop from where it watches protectively over the city.
This is one of the most important historical monuments in Greece and the western world. Indeed, the Acropolis was almost designated as being one of the “new” seven wonders of the world.
The shimmering marble structure of the Parthenon is a magnificent remnant of the grand city of Pericles that was constructed at the site thousands of years ago. The site is more expansive than many realise.
The Parthenon may be the Acropolis’ “piece de resistance”. However, there are also numerous other important buildings in the area that should not be missed.
This includes the Temple of Athena Nike, the sanctuaries of Pandroseion and Erechtheion, and the well-preserved Herodes Atticus Roman Amphitheatre. Admission to the Acropolis also includes entry to the worthwhile Acropolis museum.
You should dedicate at least a couple of hours to exploring the ruins and the exhibitions. It is advisable to purchase your tickets online in advance, to save time queuing on arrival.
Do a Victory Lap at the Panathenaic Stadium
Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaro) is the world’s only marble stadium. Dating way back to 566 BC, it was renovated in the 18th century. Later it became the location of the first modern Olympic games.
Today, musical and sporting events are often hosted at the Panathenaic Stadium. Admission to the stadium and its adjoining Olympic history museum is €4.
The latter displays Olympic torches and memorabilia from across the globe. You will often see people jogging around the track in the morning
Hike up Lycabettus Hill
Enjoy a pleasant, leisurely stroll through the woodlands and fragrant flower gardens as you ascend the hill. The quaint, whitewashed Orthodox church of Agios Georgios awaits at the top and contains several interesting icons and frescoes inside.
From up here, you have excellent panoramas across Athens and over to the Acropolis. The views are particularly special when the sun begins to set.
At this time, the historical monuments of Athens are illuminated with beautiful twinkling lights. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to Piraeus and the islands of Hydra, Agistri, etc.
Sip Tsipouro in Charming Plaka
Picturesque Plaka is one of the oldest parts of Athens. This is the heart of the city’s tourist district, sure. However, Plaka is so charming that it is quickly forgiven. Even Athenians often come here for an evening tipple or a spot of lunch.
Plaka boasts a labyrinth-like network of winding alleyways, crumbling Greco-Roman ruins, and eccentric markets and boutiques. Look out for the Roman Agora, the Bathhouse of the Winds, and the Ancient Agora while you’re here.
Grab Food in Plaka
Try to avoid the tourist trap restaurants on the steps of Plaka and nearby Thissio where toots are trying to lure visitors inside. Psaras Fisherman’s Tavern (Erechtheos 16) is one of the oldest restaurants in Athens.
It serves up fresh, mouthwatering seafood dishes with fish sourced from the nearby Aegean. To Kafeneio (Epicharmou 1) is another local favourite.
It has somehow escaped the attention of most visitors to Athens, despite being so centrally located. Sample the marinated country sausages and the meze specialties from Northern Greece.
Venture Off the Beaten Path
Athenian districts like artsy Pagrati and chic Kifissia are far more charming and personable than the central areas of Syntagma and Monastiraki. Each Athens neighbourhood has its own personality and town centre.
For instance, Exarchia and Metaxourgeio are known for their street art and emerging creative scenes. Meanwhile, underrated Kypseli is where a lot of foreign immigrants move to in Athens, and thus is home to vibrant international markets and eclectic stores.
You may wish to consider taking a walking tour of these parts of the city with a local. That way, you can really get beneath the surface of what the Greek capital has to offer and discover places that you may not have otherwise considered.
Where to Stay in Athens
However, venturing a little further afield gives a better insight into local life and culture. This guide on where to stay in Athens discusses the various Athenian neighbourhoods and gives a runthrough of the best possible options.
Day Five: Delphi
Legend has it that Zeus sent two eagles on a quest to find the central point of the universe. They flew to Delphi, and so, the city was built here.
There are several notable sites and ruins at Delphi. These include the temple of Apollo, an ancient amphitheater, and a fascinating museum displaying various artifacts recovered from the region.
Delphi is easily accessible by bus from Athens. It also places you just a short drive away from the next stop on this cultural 10 day Greece itinerary: Meteora.
Days Six and Seven: Meteora
The monasteries at Meteora are a breathtaking sight to behold. The name translates to meaning “suspended in the air”. Quite a fitting name.
This is the second-largest monastic community in Europe. It is second only to Mount Athos in Halkidiki.
The first monks arrived here around the 14th century and crafted 24 stunning Orthodox monasteries on the edges of the craggy cliffs. Today, only six of the original structures remain.
However, it is possible to venture inside, and their interiors are every bit as breathtaking as the exteriors. The scenic hiking trails that wind between the sites, and the stunning natural scenery make Meteora a highlight of any 10-day Greece itinerary.
Many beautiful hotels are located in nearby Kalambaka. Most of these offer impressive views over the monasteries for sunrise and sunset.
The various monasteries of Meteora are open at different times. You can check the specifics with your hotel.
Keep in mind that conservative dress is required for entering most monasteries. This means keeping your legs and shoulders covered.
Days Eight to Ten: Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is a city of remarkable history, sumptuous cuisine, and incredible sea views. This is Greece’s second city.
The streets and promenades of Thessaloniki are always teeming with life and activity. During the days of the Ottoman Empire, Thessaloniki was a city of major importance.
Start your Thessaloniki itinerary by stopping by the White Tower. This is the city’s most notable landmark.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll alongside the seafront as you enjoy the views over the Thermaic Gulf. When the sun sets, check out the vibrant tavernas and restaurants at the Ladadika district.
For drinks, head to the upscale bars that overlook the sunken gardens of Agios Ioannis. Ano Poli is one of the oldest parts of town and consists of quaint, colourful, Ottoman-era houses, many of which have been converted into charming stores, guesthouses, and eateries.
Thessaloniki airport offers onward flight routes to numerous destinations across Europe. Alternatively, you can find a cheap flight back to Athens with a Greek domestic airline for your return flight onwards.
Greece Itinerary 2:
Ancient Civilisations & Beautiful Islands
Best time to travel: Shoulder season months (May, June and September)
The Greek islands are a paradise on earth. With translucent cerulean waters and miles upon miles of pristine sandy white beaches, it is not hard to understand why so many people love them. The islands are the main reason that many people pen Greece into their travel bucket lists in the first place.
This 10 day Greece itinerary takes you to some of the most beloved Greek island destinations. From the romantic sunsets of Santorini to the glamorous beaches of Mykonos, and the secluded paradise of Koufonisia.
Days One and Two: Athens
A 10 day Greece itinerary that combines visiting the mainland and the islands is perfect. Such a trip enables you to see all sides of what this Mediterranean oasis has to offer.
Spend two days in Athens. This is enough to get a taster of the city’s culture and heritage.
From there, head on to the islands that the country is best known for. From Athens, fly or take the ferry to Santorini.
Days Three to Five: Santorini
Santorini’s reputation precedes it. The Greek isle is instantly recognisable around the world.
It is characterised by its iconic white Cycladic buildings that cascade down cliff faces, its multicoloured cliffs, and its volcanic sand beaches. Santorini is likely the main image that springs to mind at any mention of travelling to Greece.
There may be a lot of hype around Santorini but this is for good reason. Santorini, with its dazzling sunsets and panoramas, is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in Southern Europe.
Things to do in Santorini
You will not be short of things to do in Santorini. A selection of the island highlights is discussed below.
- Conquer the Fira to Oia hike
- Navigate through the labyrinth-like streets of old Fira
- Visit the Akrotiri ruins
- Spend an afternoon in Ammoudi Bay
- Explore the ruins of old Byzantine castles
- Laze on the Red and Black sand beaches
Hike from Fira to Oia
The walk from Fira to Oia is an absolute must on this 10-day Greece itinerary. The 10km volcanic trail is one of the best hikes in Greece. It leads you through stunning volcanic landscapes that look like something from another worldly plane.
Along the route, you pass through the beautiful villages of Fira, Imerovigli, Oia, and Firostefani. The long-distance can be broken up with stops along the way.
Drink locally sourced wine in the tavernas of Imerovigli and take photographs as you admire the views over the caldera. The views are particularly magical as you approach golden hour and sunset.
Browse the Quaint Streets of Fira
The quaint streets of Fira are filled with elegant boutique stores that showcase the creations of local designers. They are the perfect choice for treating yourself to a little retail therapy and purchasing one-of-a-kind pieces that you cannot find elsewhere.
Visit the Akrotiri Ruins
The ancient city of Akrotiri dates back to 1630 BC. This bronze age settlement was sadly destroyed by a volcanic eruption on Santorini.
What remains of the site is somewhat similar to Pompeii. However, Akrotiri predates the Italian ruins. Akrotiri is rumored to have inspired Plato’s story of the lost city of Atlantis.
Enjoy an Afternoon in Ammoudi Bay
Ammoudi Bay is a charming port filled with red cliffs and whitewashed tavernas. The eateries here serve excellent seafood dishes, and even Santorini residents come here for dinner.
Ammoudi is relatively off the beaten path as far as Santorini travel goes. It is situated 300 steps below Oia. You can board boats bound for Thirassia from the port here.
Meandering along the seafront promenade is charming. However, the highlight of Ammoudi is the secluded swimming spots and rock pools that are tucked away from view.
A weathered path leads you towards Agios Nikolaos rock. This is a favourite among locals for cliff jumping and swimming.
Explore the Byzantine Castle Ruins
The Byzantine castle in Oia was constructed centuries ago. It was built at a time when pirates were a real threat in Greece and locals needed to fortify their defenses.
Exploring the ruins themselves is interesting. However, the panoramas and viewpoints across the island and the sea from up here are second to none.
Visit the Beaches
Santorini is not renowned for its beaches. There are in fact many Greek islands and travel destinations with more beautiful coastlines than Santorini.
That said, the island does boast some unique seaside destinations. The Perissa black sand beach is a nice place to relax and grab lunch.
So too, is Red Beach. The latter was awarded its name on account of the unusual red shade of the volcanic rock here.
Where to Base Yourself in Santorini
Fira and Oia are the most popular towns in Santorini. The best place to stay depends somewhat on your personal preferences. Oia is the classic town that you see in most photographs and postcards of Santorini.
Arguably this is the most picturesque spot and is home to the most famous sunset in the world. however, Fira is the main town of Santorini.
Fira is filled with plentiful bars, restaurants, and entertainment options. Yet the sunset here doesn’t quite compare.
Days Six and Seven: Koufonisia
The appeal of Santorini and Mykonos is indisputable. However, so too is the draw of venturing off the beaten track to quiet Cycladic islands that escape the eyes of most tourists.
The small island of Koufonisia is one such place. It is a perfect spot to escape the crowds.
The island is less than 4km in length. Yet the paradisiacal beaches, inspiring landscapes, and chic hangouts here have won Koufonisia the title of being the “Mykonos of the Mini Cyclades”.
Koufonisia has been attracting trendy Greek locals for several decades. Yet like a lot of the best places to visit in Greece, it remains relatively undiscovered on a more global scale.
Don’t expect beaches lined with taverns, bars, and nightlife here. Koufonisia is the place to escape from all of the buzzes of modern life.
Here you can enjoy secluded coastlines and stretches of sand that you have virtually all to yourself. This is particularly the case if you are travelling during the shoulder season.
Swim and snorkel off the shores of the white sand Pori beach. By nightfall, enjoy home-cooked Greek dishes lovingly prepared in local tavernas that offer views out across to the nearby uninhabited islands.
Days Eight to Ten: Mykonos
The Greek island of Mykonos is synonymous with glitz, glamour, and the idea of living the good life. You could envisage Mykonos as having the elegance of the south of France, with the same party-hard spirit as Ibiza.
That said, you don’t have to be a night owl to appreciate the appeal of the island. The island has some of the most beautiful scenery in the Cyclades and so, Mykonos caters to everyone.
Some of the best activities to enjoy on the glamorous isle of Mykonos are listed below.
Head to Chora to Check Out the Windmills
The windmills at Chora are perhaps the most recognised landmark of Mykonos. They were used for centuries to refine grain, using the high winds that blow across the island.
Though there were originally dozens of windmills, now only seven remain. Some of these have been renovated into quirky residential homes.
Kato Myloi are the most famous windmills in Chora. They are situated atop a hill that offers incredible views over the sea. The hill is well worth the walk, and this spot is one of the best places on the island to watch the sunset.
Enjoy Dinner and Cocktail Hour at Little Venice
Little Venice consists of colourful, stilted houses that emerge from the sea. Once upon a time, this was a popular hangout spot for pirates!
Today, the stilted houses have been renovated into chic upscale cocktail bars and eateries. Little Venice is one of the best places to enjoy gourmet food with a view during your 10-day Greece itinerary.
Visit Delos, Birthplace of Apollo and Artemis
A day trip to the mysterious island of Delos is one of the most fascinating historical attractions that you could incorporate into your Greece itinerary. This small UNESCO-protected island is considered as being one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Greece!
According to Greek mythology, Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The island was deemed sacred ground, and no mortal was ever permitted to be born or die on the island.
Ruined temples, sculpture guardians, and colonnaded promenades around the island are remarkably well-preserved. Boats depart daily from Mykonos to Delos.
Stroll Around Mykonos Town Centre and the Old Port
Mykonos’ town centre is comprised of maze-like narrow alleyways and quaint cobbled streets. Enjoy getting lost among the colourful buildings, and browsing through the various boutique stores that are scattered around the town centre.
For dinner and drinks, head to Matogianni. This is the place to see and be seen in Mykonos.
Trendy town centre aside, the old port also brings in its share of charm. This area is filled with beautiful churches and cute coffee shops where locals sip strong Greek coffee and play backgammon. It is a lovely place to walk, take photos and people watch – especially as the sun sets behind the fishing boats.
Go Organic Wine Tasting
Mykonos is home to dozens of vineyards that offer tours and tastings to visitors. You can sample exquisite organic local wines along with fresh, homemade Greek delicacies.
Kopanisti and ladotyri cheeses, charcuterie boards, cold cuts, and horiatiki (Greek salad) are all popular accompaniments. Various tour operators offer Mykonos wine tasting excursions.
You can also reach out directly to the vineyards that interest you and organise an independent tasting. If you enquire at your hotel/accommodation, your concierge may be able to assist you in organising a private transfer between the wineries.
Extensions for Your Greece Travel Itinerary
These Greece itineraries have been created with the idea of fitting as much as possible into your vacation time off work without having to hurry from A to B.
There are so many stunning places to visit in Greece that it is hard to just shortlist a few. However, if you have a little longer to spend in this Mediterranean paradise, additional destinations that you could consider are detailed below.
Arachova is a worthy destination to add to your cultural Greece itinerary. This is particularly the case if you are travelling to Greece during the winter. The small mountain village is a popular romantic getaway for Greeks during the Christmas period.
Arachova is famed for its reputation as a ski resort. However, it also boasts fascinating archaeological sites, beautiful nature, and the chance to have a more “local” travel experience. It doesn’t get any cozier than snuggling up by the fire in a log cabin in the Greek mountains.
Nafplio is the former capital of Greece and arguably one of the most underrated travel destinations across the entire country. It is possible to visit Nafplio on a day trip from Athens. The charming old town, with its cocktail bars and charming tavernas effortlessly captures the hearts of those who visit.
The island of Crete is filled with enough scenery, history, and culture to warrant an entire two-week itinerary all of its own. On a limited schedule though, 3-4 days in Heraklion is well worth incorporating into your Greece travel itinerary.
Heraklion’s charismatic harbour boasts plenty of charming guesthouses overlooking the Mediterranean. Using Heraklion as a base, it’s possible to access some of Crete’s most important sites within a few days. This includes the fort at Knossos and the picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos.
The Saronic Gulf Islands
Explore the quaint port and narrow shopping streets of Hydra – an adorable island where cars do not exist and people get around by horses and donkeys. Alternatively, revel in the rugged natural beauty of Spetses.
Situated on the western coast of the country, the Ionian island of Lefkada is connected to mainland Greece by several bridges. If you are seeking R&R during your Hellenic travels, there are plenty of Lefkada beaches that you can sink your toes into.
Porto Katsiki, Milos, Kathisma, Agiofili, and Egremni are but a few coastal areas that are beloved among locals. Lefkada also makes a good jumping-off point for taking boats out to the islands of Itaka or Kefalonia for a day.
Do you have any questions about these Greece itineraries? I live in Athens and will be happy to answer any questions that you may have about planning your trip to Greece.
Feel free to reach out by email or drop me a comment below if you need anything. Safe travels! Geia sou! Melissa