Athens Santorini Mykonos are the most popular destinations in Greece for good reason. Their iconic landscapes and historic sites make them some of the most photographed places in the world.
This itinerary ensures you make the absolute most out of your visit to these two islands and one of the worlds great cities. It covers how to get around, where to stay, top things to see and do and even where to eat and drink. Just adjust the amount of days in each place to suit your needs and your time-frame.
PLANNING A TRIP TO GREECE?
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When to visit Greece
The best times to visit Greece are April-June and September-October. The weather is mild and most places have few crowds. High season is late June to early September, and prices will reflect that as will the crowds, the number of cruise ships and accommodation availability.
Summer is still great, especially for beach time and in some of the lesser-known spots. The water is warm, there are blue skies every day and a fun holiday atmosphere.
Easter is an especially wonderful time to visit Greece as it becomes very festive with parades, parties, and on many islands bonfires, fireworks and other activities and traditions. There are many festivals throughout the year that can vary from place to place and can be quite fascinating to witness.
Best beach and swimming weather: June to September
Best sightseeing weather: March to June and September/October
Athens 2 or 3 days
Athens is the capital of Greece and home to some of the most iconic and important historical sites and monuments in the world.
It’s one of the oldest cities in the world and considered one of the most fascinating. You could easily spend a month in Athens and only scratch the surface so be sure to allow at least a few days here, and always make sure your last night in Greece is back on the mainland before your flight home, even if its at an airport hotel or close by.
There are several ways to get to Athens which cover air, sea, rail, driving and even on foot!
Apart from the many things you can do in Athens including great shopping, incredible food, and all the ancient sites there is also great nightlife with a plethora of bars, tavernas, and clubs to choose from. There are a lot of new hotels and rooftop restaurants many with incredible Acropolis views.
How to get to Athens
Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos, commonly initialised as AIA, is the largest international airport in Greece. It is usually serviced by Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Qatar and Air China are the best choices for people flying from Asia, the Middle East or Oceania and budget airline Scoot also now fly into Athens. Aegean Airlines codeshares with Etihad.
From the US & Canada, choices include American, Delta, United, and Air Canada and most European carriers have several flights a day in summer including Turkish Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, and Ryan Air.
To get to the city centre you can catch the Metro, a Taxi or the bus or, our book a private transfers. Only 2Euro more than a cab!
You can also arrive by Ferry from some towns in Turkey, Albania, Italy and Croatia.
It’s also possible to now arrive by train. You can either catch the Eurostar to Bari in Europe and then a ferry across to Greece or travel down through Greece via Paris, Munich, Belgrade & Thessaloniki. More information is available here.
Arriving overland is also a fun and fascinating way to arrive. Albania, FYROM, Bulgaria and Turkey and it can be a lot of fun and incredibly interesting to arrive by car or bus and to continue to explore Greece by road.
For further reading check out our comprehensive article on Driving in Greece.
Where to stay in Athens
* We recommend hotels and apartments on Booking.com in Greece instead of Airbnb’s and Vrbos. Greek hotels are not like everywhere else – they all include amazing big breakfasts, many have kitchenettes and the Greek service and hospitality is legendary. This is all part of the full ‘Greek Experience’ that people miss out on if they self-cater. Plus, no cleaning or cooking! Most rooms are fully refundable, which in recent years has been very important. (please book via our links to help support this site)
For couples: Zillers Hotel has only 10 rooms and amazing Acropolis views from some rooms and the lovely rooftop bar and restaurant and it’s right on Mitropolous dining street, or The Foundry Suites in Psiri are uber-cool – once an industrial foundry and also with a lovely rooftop bar and garden with amazing views.
We also love Athenian Residences in Psyri ( our favourite neighbourhood) which have a very romantic vibe, and a swimming pool!
Solo: I love to stay at Ergon House when I’m on my own. It’s across from Zillers and part of the famous Ergon food emporiums. They have even let me use my room until my 6 pm International flight at no extra charge!
Where to eat in Athens
Breakfast: If you are staying in a hotel breakfast ( and usually a very delicious one) is likely to be included in your hotel tariff. Otherwise, the Brunch Factory does incredible meals for breakfast and lunch.
Lunch: Nikitas in Psiri for cheap and cheerful homecooked meals or Kostas for amazing Gyros. Cafe Melina is one of the prettiest spots in the Plaka or Gyros Pou Gyrevis for fantastic Gyros near the Acropolis Museum.
Dinner: Maiandros or Athinaikon in Monastiraki/Syntagma. We also love Yiasemi in Plaka ( the much-photographed steps) or Lithos Taverna in Psiri does my favourite Moussaka. And book yourself at least one night at an amazing Michelin Starred and/or Rooftop restaurant, for a truly unforgettable night!
Drinks: enjoy Sunset drinks at the Grand Bretagne Rooftop bar, 360 Cocktail Bar, A fo Athens Roof top bar ( be sure to book this as its small) MS Roof Garden or Thea Terrace. The Clumsies is one of Europes most famous bars as is Brettos. We also love to catch some jazz at The Speakeasy or a quite drink at Drunk Sinatra.
If it’s lively nightlife you are after the whole of Kolokotroni Street and Agias Irinis Square is where you find the best of Athens bar and club scene.
Further reading: 11 of the Best Rooftop Restaurants in Athens
Things to do in Athens
- wander down Ermou Pedestrian Street
- Visit Syntagma Square and see Parliament House and the Changing of the Greek Presidential Guard – the Evzones
- wander through Plaka and the many cafes, shops and galleries
- stop by the Monastiraki flea market
- walk into the Athens Central Food Market
- Visit the Acropolis either as early or as late as possible. Read our Full Guide on how to do this and the Acropolis Museum.
- Visit the Acropolis Museum
- Catch the Red Hop on Hop off bus to visit various ancient sites and points of interest
- Stroll through the National Gardens and see the Temple of Zeus
- have coffee or a drink in the Plaka
- Take in an open air concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus
- Spend time before, during or instead of a concert in the lively area of Psiri including a visit to the colourful and very kooky Little Kook!
- If you are spending 3 or 4 days in Athens ( or longer) you could do one of the many amazing day trips that are possible. These include visiting ancient sites like Delphi and Cape Sounion, extraordinary marvels like Meteora, the fascinating Peloponnese peninsula – archaeology, mythology, wineries!, or even a trip out to the beautiful Saronic Islands. Read all about our suggested day trips.
It is essential to be on the mainland, in or near Athens, at least one night before your international flight home. This gives you a decent buffer in case ferries or flights are delayed or canceled due to weather, strikes, or other issues.
We recommend you either do a few days in Athens at the beginning of your trip and one on the last night (see the end of the article for more about this) or leave all of Athens until the end, which is what we do. This saves on transfers and also allows you to do most of your shopping and not drag everything around the islands.
Santorini – 2 to 4 days
Santorini is a bucket list destination for most people and for good reason.
Despite the cruise ships and the crowds, it remains one of those places that not only meets your expectations but probably exceeds it. The views truly are the stuff of legends and it is little wonder it is so popular with honeymooners.
It can get a bit crazy when the cruise ships come in each day so a room with a pool and terrace makes for a great escape for an afternoon siesta and sundowners. When you re-emerge for dinner most of the tourists will have floated away!
We love to stay in Oia which is considered the most picturesque village, although a lot of people also enjoyed Imerovigli which is about a 20 minute walk along the nice flat footpath that runs along the Caldera seam.
There are a surprising amount of things to do on Santorini with beaches, wineries, hot springs, great shopping and some of the worlds most iconic and photographed sunsets.
How to get to Santorini
You can travel from Athens to Santorini by ferry or by plane. Return to Athens from Meteora either on your overnight tour, by driving or by train.
There are also many ferries each day, year round.
Most service either the Western or Eastern Cyclades Islands and on to Athens whilst some come from Crete. Book ferry tickets HERE.
NEED TRANSport FOR Santorini?
Book Ferry tickets HERE
Book Hire Car HERE
Book Airport Shuttle Bus HERE
Book Private Airport Pickup HERE
Book Helicopter transfers for Santorini HERE
Where to stay in Santorini :
Imerovigli is also a great choice. Its north of Fira and one of the highest points of the island so the views are quite spectacular. It’s very popular with couples and has lots of upscale hotels and restaurants including Kasimatis by La Perla which is adults only and Altana Cliffside Villas where you get your own plunge pool. Canaves Oia Epitome is one of the most iconic luxury hotels in Europe and is incredibly romantic. Aspa Villas are great value for money and most rooms have hot tubs.
For families and groups: White Harmony Suites have 2 bedroom suites or Theoxenia Boutique Hotel have quad rooms and are not far from, dare I say it, McDonald’s. Doukas Caldera Suites are also hard to beat ( with with 2 sofa beds), or Altemar Suites have 1 and 2 bedroom suites that can sleep up to 4 and have jacuzzis on the terrace with great views.
If you want to be right near a beach then Crystal Blue in Kamari is great or Damma Luxury Villas have a wonderful 4 bedroom beachfront villa that can sleep 8. Tristhenia Hotel or Anezina Villas in Perissa will be the most budget friendly of all.
Solo: Kivotos in Imerovigli for a splurge or Abelonas Retreat on a tight budget. For something a bit different stay at Pyrgos 1870 winery or in the authentic medieval village of Pyrgos at Aroma Cavas Apartments or Skyfall Suites (adults only).
Where to eat in Santorini
Lunch: Lefkes Taverna in Oia is hard to beat for food or service. It often books out well in advance. Some of the Wineries such as Santos are great for lunch but be sure to book head there too. Other spots we love are Aeolos Taverna in Akrotiri or Akro Beach Bar at Black Beach.
Dinner: Santorini Mou in Oia or Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna in Ammoudi Bay are wonderful. For stunning clifftop views check out Lycabettus, Lauda and Strogoli for special occassions and Melitini, Thalami and Pelekanos for traditional meals.
You also MUST book a sunset dinner cruise on the Caldera for one of the nights.
Things to do in Santorini
- check into your hotel and explore your local area. If cruise ships are in you may want to rest up and explore at night when it is less crowded and cooler.
- explore the maze of streets in Oia including Panagia Platsani Church
- visit famous Atlantis Books for a unique bookshop experience
- check out the many upmarket boutiques and jewellery shops in Oia
- walk down to Oia Castle
- a half day tour of the island
- tour the world renowned wineries with a sommelier
- do wine tasting AND a cooking class
- swim at Black Beach, Red Beach and Kamari Beaches
- visit authentic Pyrgos village and see what Santorini is like for long time locals
- do a sunset fishing trip with dinner and drinks
- attend a ‘traditional’ Greek wedding!
- have a professional photographic session done – hard to beat the backdrop
- or do a ‘Flying Dress’ photography session – the hottest thing on Instagram!
Mykonos – 3 days
How to get to Mykonos
Mykonos has a small international airport with numerous commercial and charter flights during the tourist season, mostly from Athens and Thessaloniki but also from numerous European countries and also the Middle East.
There is a fairly new Port for the Ferries and regular connections with Athens ( all 3 ports) and the other Cyclades islands, especially those in the east. There are also seasonal connections with Rhodes, Lesvos and other Dodacannese and Northern Aegean islands.
Mykonos is probably one of the best-connected islands of them all.
TIP : Both the port and the airport can be quite nuts in summer and there can be long waits for taxis and buses. It REALLY pays to have a private transfer waiting for you!
NEED TRANSFERS FOR MYKONOS?
Book Ferry tickets HERE
Book Hire Car HERE
Book Airport Shuttle Bus HERE
Book Private Airport Pickup HERE
Book helicopter transfers for Mykonos HERE
*TIP The public bus on Mykonos is quite good and it’s based out of Mykonos Town. There is also a water-taxi that services the southern beaches.
Further reading: How to Get around Mykonos
Where to stay in Mykonos
It can be confusing trying to work out where to stay on Mykonos. Some of the most popular attractions are spread across the island and transport can be challenging.
If you’re looking for a home base that will allow you to easily explore other parts of the island without your own vehicle, Mykonos Town may be perfect.
Ornos is also a popular choice especially for families as it has a wide, usually calm, beach.
Mykonos Drops is also a beautiful mid-range hotel that has a very high standard of finishes and service at a great price point.
For families and groups: Villa Kampani is right on the Old Harbour and can sleep 8 people in stunning, sophisticated luxury or, if you want to stay right on Nammos beach and live like the rich and famous patrons then Villa Santa Katerina is the perfect luxury option for you. Sleeping 12 people with an infinity pool and spectacular views over the whole bay this would be a vacation to remember!
Where to eat and drink in mYkonos
Breakfast: Breakfast is always included in hotel tariffs ( amazing ones too!). If you have chosen an Airbnb you will have to budget to self-cater or go out & many places will not open before 10am. The Liberty Breakfast Room is fantastic as is Cosmo Cafe and El Burro.
Lunch: Lunch by the beach is part of the reason people love Mykonos. Being able to swim, sunbathe, ride on a jetski and then wander into the taverna or have food bought to your sunbed is Mykonos 101.
If it’s just a meal you are after then Alesta View has amazing views across the island or Kastro’s in Mykonos Town is an institution. For cheap and cheerful eats To Maereio and Amades Eat Local are great or grab a Souvlaki at Sakis, Souvlaki Story or Lounda Pikantiki.
There is also a great sushi place at Super Paradise called Lyo and a fried chicken place near the airport called Airfast Chicken.
Our all-time favourite place to have lunch on Mykonos is Kiki’s Tavern in the north of the island near Agios Sostis Beach. Great food, great views, great service and good prices. This is a MUST DO!
Beachclubs such as Scorpios, Nammos, Jackie O’s and Super Paradise are the stuff of legends and are famous ( or infamous) worldwide. These are places where you come for lunch and a swim and leave at sunrise. There are international DJ’s and crazy beach parties in summer at all of them. If you want a sunbed you will need to book in advance.
Dinner: When the sun goes down lots of the beachfront restaurants become lovely places to sit under the stars. We love Yialo Yialo and Avli Tou Thodori in Platis Gialos or Nikolas Seafood Tavern on Agia Anna Beach. Hippie Fish on Agios Ioannis Beach is world-famous and has amazing sunsets too ( book this very early!).
In Ornos Appaggio and Kostantis are fantastic while in Mykonos Town D’Angelo and Captains are institutions. It’s also worth the drive up to Limnios Tavern not just for the food but also the amazing views.
Vegans must check out Koukoumi Vegan Restaurant in the hills above Kalo Livadi Beach.
Drinks: There’s no shortage of bars on the most famous party island in Greece. In Mykonos Town Katerinas, Scarpa Bar, Galleraki, Bao’s, Negrita and Caprice are the ones you’ve all seen in photos lined up alone Little Venice in the colourful waterfront huts. These are also some of the most expensive bars but one drink wont hurt, right?
Nearby Notorious and 54 Cocktail & Sunset Lounge are worth a look. Elsewhere on the island Pasaji and 180 Sunset Bar are great too.
Late into the night places like Queen of Mykonos and Astra kick on well into daylight while Void, Scandinavian Bar and Addiction are full on nightclubs.
Things to do in Mykonos
- Visit the sacred neighbouring island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo
- Hang out at Little Venice
- Take photos with the iconic windmills
- Spend the day celebrity spotting at the world-famous beachclubs ( see above)
- Do a cruise around Delos and Rhenia islands
- Cruise the stunning Southern Beaches with swimming and lunch
- Do a Mykonian Cooking Class – one of the best in Greece!
- Join a sunset cruise for a truly unforgettable evening
- Visit a local farm and enjoy a traditional BBQ
- Shop all the high-end brands in Mykonos Town
- hire watersports equipment at the many great beaches
- join a guided hike for some of the best views in the country
- join a half-day tour to see all the Mykonos highlights
Your last night in Greece
We always recommend spending your last night in Greece where your flight home departs from. So if that’s from Athens then spend the last night there. Either add one last night on and spend it in one of the airport hotels or surrounds ( there are a surprising number of choices here) or do all your Athens days together at the end, which is what we often do.
Every year ferries are cancelled and flights are delayed due to bad weather, especially the Meltemi wind, or industrial strikes. Don’t get caught out!
The Athenian Riviera
Don’t forget Travel Insurance!
It’s important to make sure you are covered for medical expenses ( some countries may include this in health insurance) but also for lost baggage, flight and ferry delays and cancellations, theft, and emergencies, including something that happens back home while you are away, and you need to get back urgently.
This can save you tens of thousands of dollars, or even more.