For many people visiting Italy and Greece is a dream come true but it can be a long way to go and often a once in a lifetime trip. If you have never been to either country but have limited vacation time to use then how can you maximise your Italy and Greece itinerary to make the most of your trip?
This 3-week itinerary for Greece and Italy trip covers many of the main highlights for each country as well as a few hidden gems as well.
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When to visit Italy and Greece
The best times to visit the Mediterranean are April-June and September-October. The weather is mild and the crowds are generally low.
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.
Despite being busy 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.
Orthodox 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.
In Italy Carnivale in Venice ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter so it occurs usually in February and March while the La Biennial di Venezia, Europe’s premier arts showcase, starts in May.
Christmas in both countries is very special as are the many religious holidays and celebrations.
Best beach and swimming weather: June to September
Best sightseeing weather: March to June and September/October
DAY 1- Athens
Athens is the capital of Greece and home to some of the most iconic and important historical sites and monuments in the world.
There are several ways to get to Athens which cover air, sea, rail, driving and even on foot. Once you’ve arrived it’s easy enough to get into the city centre and having a private driver waiting for you is our favourite way to do it!
With two days in Athens you can see and do a lot and if you can increase it to three or four days you will not be disappointed – there are so many amazing day trips you can do.
Spend your first day in the Athens exploring the ancient centre. Everything is very compact and its easy to get around, in fact most things can be seen easily 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 restaurants many with incredible rooftop views, especially of the Acropolis.
The Acropolis Museum is world-class and needs to be enjoyed either before or after you visit the Acropolis so it’s the perfect activity for your second day. Make sure you read our complete guide for lots of great tips including how to beat the crowds!
Where to stay in Athens
For couples : Zillers Hotel has only 10 rooms and some have amazing Acropolis views. There is a lovely rooftop bar and restaurant and it’s right on Mitropolous dining street. Also check out The Foundry Suites in Psiri which is a very cool converted former Foundry with lots of retro elements.
Solo: I love to stay at Ergon House when I’m on my own. Its across from Zillers and part of the famous Ergon House food emporiums. They have a small business centre and very helpful and attentive staff.
Things to do in Athens on Day One
DAY 2 – Athens
Things to do in Athens on Day Two
- 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
- 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 aptly named Little Kook!
DAY 3 – Meteora
he word “Meteora,” means “hovering in the air” which shows just how otherworldly they are.
Located around 360kms north of Athens close to the city of Kalambaka in Greece, near the Pineois river and the Pindus Mountains Meteora. You can visit as a day trip or try and spend at least one night if you can as there is a lot to see and do in the area.
The complex is made up of twenty-four Eastern Orthodox monasteries that were built on giant sandstone rock pillars between the 14th and 16th centuries. Six of them are still in use today and can be visited by the public.
This UNESCO world heritage site is truly one of the most remarkable and visually beautiful places you will visit anywhere in the world. Even if you only have 1 night to spare on your trip to Greece you will not regret the effort to visit Meteora.
How to get to Meteora from Athens
There are a couple of ways to get to Meteora: either by signing up for one of the numerous guided Meteora tours from Athens, by using the train and the bus, hiring a private driver or driving yourself and staying a night or two in the city of Kalambaka or the village of Kastraki, and visiting the monasteries at your own pace.
On our last visit, we actually flew from Athens to the lovely town on Ioannina where we hired a car and drove to Kastraki which took about
It takes about 4 hours to drive from Athens or you can catch a train and bus which takes about 90 minutes. It’s a beautiful drive and is surprisingly easy with a modern, well-kept road and little traffic. We highly recommend this as there is a lot to do and see in the area!
Further reading: Driving in Greece
Where to stay in Meteora
Doupiani Hotel, Kastraki – great for all types of travellers and one of the closet hotels to the Monasteries as well as having incredible views of them. In fact it is feasible to walk to two of the monasteries from the hotel with not too much effort.
Things to do in Meteora
- Its all about the Monasteries although the area is very pretty and home to a number of lovely things to see and do. Read our complete guide to Meteora, including how to visit each Monastery and what they each represent.
Day 4 – Santorini
Santorini is a bucket list destination for most people for good reason. It is one of those places that not only meets your expectations but probably exceeds it.
We love to stay in Oia which is considered the most picturesque village, although a lot of people also enjoy Imerovigli which is about a 20-minute walk along the nice flat footpath that runs along the Caldera seam. For a truly authentic Greek experience consider staying in the interior village of Pyrgos.
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 to Santorini by ferry or by plane from Athens. 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.
TIP: Both the port and the airport can be very busy in summer and there can be long waits for the cablecar, taxis and donkeys. It pays to have a private transfer waiting for you!
Where to stay in Santorini
Things to do in Santorini on Day One
- 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
Day 5 – Santorini
More cool things to do in Santorini
- 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
- attend a ‘traditional’ Greek wedding!
- have a professional photographic session done – hard to beat the backdrop!
Day 6 – Naxos
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades Islands and is famous for its lush and fertile valleys, its picturesque, whitewashed villages and towns and beautiful beaches.
Despite being such a large island it has a small local population and there is a surprisingly wide array of things to see and do. It’s a very laid back destination and its easy to see why Naxos is so popular, especially with families.
It’s also a very affordable island and represents great value for money for all types of travellers.
How to get to Naxos
Most people travel to Naxos from Sanotirini by ferry which takes about 2 hours. There are several ferries each day, year-round. The main town of Chora is also the main port.
It is possible to fly but you will need to connect with another flight back at Athens airport.
Where to stay in Naxos
For couples : Antony Suites are gorgeous, right near St.George beach and are Adults Only
Solo: Mystique of Naxos is right near the beach in the Chora and has stunning rooms and a great little rooftop pool and sundeck. You can walk to everything and it’s very affordbale too!
Things to do in Naxos
Day 7 – Naxos
Things to do in Naxos on your second day
- Hire a car and venture out to other parts of the island;
- Visit some of the other wonderful beaches on the island
- see the port and the tiny island Church at Panagia Myrtidiotissa
- visit the Cedar Forest of Alyko
- see the remains of one of the famous Kouros Satues in Melanes
- learn about the famous Naxian food on a half day cooking class in a local taverna
- If you don’t want to rent a car a fantastic alternate activity is a boat trip around the Small Cyclades Islands.
Day 8 – Paros
For many people Paros is the perfect Greek island. It’s not too big nor too small, and there are things to see and do that suit everyone. It’s also a busy ferry stop from Athens to the other popular Cyclades islands being only 30 minutes from Naxos or 60 from Mykonos.
It’s also got a great little neighbour right next door called Anti-Paros which is a wonderful destination in itself.
We like to stay in Naoussa on Paros which many say is like a small, cheaper version of Mykonos with a lively mix of tavernas, bars, and nightclubs as well as lovely whitewashed alleys full of great cafes, bars, beautiful artisan stores and boutiques and gelati shops.
The port town of Parikia is also nice and a little more affordable than Naoussa.
Spend your first day on Paros exploring your local town or villages, swimming at the beach and enjoying a long, lazy dinner as the sun goes down.
There’s plenty of time to take in the sights exploring the many things to do on Paros over the next day. Hire a car for at least a day and do a full loop of the island – there’s many wonderful surprises!
How to get to Paros
You can also travel to Paros by ferry from Naxos which takes about 30 minutes.
There are many ferries each day, year-round. The port town is called Parikia and that, or Naoussa are the best options to base yourself.
Where to stay in Paros
For families and groups: Paliomylos Hotel and Spa is where we chose to stay for special birthday celebrations with 38 family and friends and have since returned several times. Chrys and the team are amazing!
Solo: Parian Village Beach Hotel is right across from the beach near the port town of Parikia and have great value single rooms with beautiful sea views and a nice pool.
Further reading: Where to stay on Paros
Things to do in Paros on your first day
- Explore the villages of Naoussa or Parikia depending on where you are staying.
- Naoussa: don’t miss the Venetian Fort, the old fishing port, Kapopoulos Fine Arts Gallery, the ducks at the Harbour Bridge and the Church of the Virgin Mary ( Panayia).
- Parakia: The Church of 100 doors ( and its museum), the Frankish Castle, the Archaic Temple of Athena, the myriad of shops and cafes in the back alleys and the Port.
Day 9 – Paros
Things to do in Paros on your second day
- Hire a car and do a loop of the island taking in various villages and beaches along the way
- visit Moraitis Winery in Naoussa
- spend a few hours at Paros Park – an historic nature reserve with a lovely beach and beach club
- stop for a coffee in Piso Livadi fishing port
- take a marble carving lesson using famous Parian marble
- visit the Medieval village of Lefkas
- do a day trip to neighbouring Anti-paros
- sail the stunning Small Cyclades islands ( this is our personal favourite!)
Day 10 – Lavrio
Lavrio is a town south of Athens on the Greek Mainland. The word Lavrion comes from ‘Lavra’ which means alley or paths and the area is thought to have been inhabited since Neolithic times.
It is a much prettier (and smaller) port than Pireaus and is also closer to the airport which is about 35 minutes’ drive away. Stopping here for a night will give you a feel for the area called the ‘Athenian Riviera” and it’s a very pleasant way to end your time in Greece.
There are not as many ferry connections to Lavrio as there are to Pireaus but there are regular connections from Paros, Mykonos,Syros and Tilos – something only seasoned travellers seem to know about!
The main point of interest in Lavrio is the fishing village itself, the Mineralogical Museum and nearby Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio, a 15-minute drive away.
How to get to Lavrio
You can travel to Lavrio by ferry from Paros which takes about 3 hours but you may need to connect on Syros or Mykonos. Timetables for this route are often not released until Spring so keep an eye on schedules HERE.
If a ferry is not running at the time you require you can fly to Athens from Paros and catch a taxi to Lavrio.
Where to stay in Lavrio
Cape Sounio, Grecotel Exclusive Resort is a sprawling resort on the beachfront and is a great choice for all travellers.
Day 10 – Rome
The ‘Eternal’ city is one of the most iconic cities in the world and a place that’s sure to capture a piece of your heart.
As the capital of Italy, it has the busiest airport in the country and Rome is where many people visit before moving on to explore other areas.
There is a lot to see and do in Rome and many people will tell you even a week is not enough, but the main attractions are very close together and you can see many highlights in a short time ourselves.
Of course you cannot miss a visit to the Pantheon, the Colosseum or St. Peters Basilica and the Vatican – all in close proximity to each other and all incredible.
The Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum and the various Piazza’s are also world-famous and wonderfully trattorias, wine bars, high-end boutiques and beautiful gardens are all not to be missed.
Transport Infrastructure in Italy is good and with few islands, it is easy to get from one place to another quickly.
How to get to Rome from Athens
The easiest way to get to Italy from Greece is to fly. Lavrio is close to Athens airport and within a few short hours, you can be on the ground in Rome.
There are regular daily flights between Athens and Rome with Aegean Airlines and Air Italia, sometimes more in Summer. Other airlines servicing the route usually include Easyjet, RyanAir and Lufthansa.
It is also possible to get to Italy from Greece by sea with regular ferries between Patras and the Ionian Islands and Brindisi and Bari in Italy. You would then need to drive or catch the train to Rome.
If you would prefer not to organise everything yourself in Italy check out this very popular 5 day – Best of Italy tour!
Where to stay in Rome
For couples : It’s hard to beat J.K. Place Roma with its central proximity to the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon and its incredible roof top bar. Casa del Moro is a very romantic loft with beautiful views from the room balcony and is a very affordable option too.
For families and groups: Hotel Cosmopolita is in a great location near the Trevi Fountain and they have quad rooms.
Solo: Apollo Rooms Colosseo is a fairly new establishment with friendly owners and quiet rooms. As the name suggests it is quite close to the Colosseum and well located to see most of the highlights of room on foot or by public transport.
Things to do in Rome on your first day
- Walk down the Spanish Steps. Take in the view at the top and wander down slowly exploring Pincio, Piazza Del Popolo and Santa Maria del Popolo Church
- Stop for a coffee or Spritz at the garden of Hotel du Russie, one of Rome’s best-kept secrets
- Stroll down Via Condotti and see all the high-end fashion brands
- Finish at the Pantheon, one of the most incredible buildings in Europe with the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome
- do a Foodie Cycling tour with a local Chef
- participate in a Pasta and Tiramisu lovers workshop
Things to do in Rome on your second day
- Start the day with coffee at one of the many cafes on the Borgo Pio
- Beat the crowds and take in an early small-group tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Be sure to add a tour of St Peter’s Basilica as well!
- If time permits and you are up to it climbing the dome will reward you with incredible views
- Walk around St.Peter’s Square. If you are lucky you may get a wave from the Pope!
- Walk back over the Tiber River and over to Palazzo Navona which has so much to see and do
- Take a VIP tour of the Colosseum, Palatine and the Roman Forum
- do a magical Rome-by-night e-bike tour
- explore the creepy hidden Bone Crypts of Ancient Rome
Express entry - Vatican/Sistine Chapel/St Peters
Dont queue with the crowds. Book these tickets in advance for faster than skip-the-line entry!
Day 12 – Amalfi Coast
The stunning Amalfi Coast is located in southern Italy’s Campania region and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located south of Naples the Amalfi Coast starts just behind Sorrento and continues for 60 kilometres (37 miles) along the coast including the towns of Positano, Ravello, Praiano, Amalfi, Minori and Cetara.
The region is bordered by the dramatic Lattari Mountains on one side and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea on the other.
It is one of the most popular and most photographed destinations in Europe where people come from all over the world to experience the classic ‘la dolce vita’ atmosphere.
How to get to the Amalfi Coast from Rome
The Amalfi Coast does not have an airport, a large port, nor a train station so it is a little tricky to get to. This is probably a good things or visitor numbers would be out of control!
Most people make their way to Naples, either by train or plane and then on to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
You can get the fast train from Rome to Naples very easily but then you do have to change to a local train to get down to Sorrento and then catch a taxi, a bus or book a private driver from there.
The Amalfi Coast is very beautiful but with one narrow coastal road in summer it can be very congested and difficult to get around. There are also a lot of stairs!
Some people choose to stay in Sorrento and explore the coast on day trips. Sorrento is a lovely town and relatively flat with good transport connections to the islands as well as Pompeii and other attractions.
Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast
For couples: Buca Di Bacco has an amazing, much-photographed restaurant with lovely rooms with views over the iconic town. It is located next to much-coveted Le Sirenuse but is much more affordable. Il San Pietro di Positano is our pick for a splurge and is truly a dream to stay at.
For families and groups: Groups should check out Residence Villa Yiara which is a gorgeous family-run hotel with incredible views and budget-friendly prices. Villa Celentano Apartments Hotel is also a great option as they have well-priced rooms with kitchenettes.
Solo: Hotel Dimora Fornillo is a modest small hotel with spacious rooms and beautiful patios that overlook the sea. There is a path right down to the sea and breakfast is included.
Fun things to do on the Amalfi Coast
- Explore the coastline on a luxury cruise
- A private tour of Pompeii and incredible Herculaneum – some say even better than Pompeii
- Join a private walking tour of the hidden alleys high up in Ravello
- Visit the beautiful,cool and lush Mills Nature Reserve – cool and lush
- Head over to the island of Capri for the day
- A private Wine Tour to Irpinia
- attend a ceramics workshop with a local potter
Tour the Amalfi Coast with a private driver and car
Day 15 – 18 : Florence
Florence is the capital of Tuscany and thought by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Famous for its magnificent Duomo, the Statue of David, the ancient Ponte Vecchio bridge and heaving with works by Michelangelo and other artists it is also the gateway to the beautiful green hills of Tuscany and the many wineries, villages and sun-baked olive groves that call it home.
The Duomo of Santa Maria dell’Assunta in Florence is a perfect example of Roman-Pisan Gothic architecture and is completely made of white marble. It’s designed in the shape of a Latin cross with an interior constructed of black, white, and grey marble.
Lucca is just one hour from Florence so it is really worth a day trip to this charming town, and then head to nearby Pisa as well.
Pisa of course is famous for the leaning Tower of Pisa, the huge cathedral, and the Baptistery. Don’t forget the obligatory selfie holding up the tower!
Other day trips from Tuscany that are worth mentioning are visiting the towns of Sienna or region of Chianti or even a visit to Cinque Terre.
How to get to Florence
Florence is well connected with the rest of Italy and Europe and is easy to get to by air or on the ground.
Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola is the International Airport and is located just 4kms from the city centre. The airport is usually serviced by some of Europe’s best-known airlines including Alitalia, Lufthansa, British Airways and KLM.
Florence is also a key stop on the Italian Rail network. It has good connections with Rome, which is only 90 minutes away and the main cities in the north.
It is also possible to arrive by road. Eurolines has the most extensive bus network and is generally reliable and well priced. If driving then the main road artery, the A1, links the north and south of the country running right past Florence.
To get from the Amalfi Coast to Florence you can either reverse your trip back to Rome and continue from there ( train is the most enjoyable) or fly from Naples.
Where to stay in Florence
For couples: Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is hard to beat and offer the impeccable standards of service and luxury that this brand is famous for. We also love San Firenze Suites and Spa with their wonderful Duomo views or beautiful Palazzo Castri 1874 with their lovely gardens. For a great budget option check out BandB Firenze 8 Cittadella 8.
For families and groups: Families love staying at Residenza d’Epoca Torre dei Lari which is a sprawling villa just out of the busy part of town but still an easy walk to everything. It has beautiful views over the hills and the city and a swimming pool as well!
Solo: Il Diospero B&B have modest rooms in their family palazzo and friendly home cooked meals and personal service. Hotel David is also worth a look with its great views, excellent service and a pretty garden to use as well.
Cool things to do in Florence
- Uffizi Gallery – VIP priority access!
- Enjoy the original Florentine Steak experience – heaps of fun!
- Join a small group walking tour – an Introduction to Florence
- A private day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and Chianti
- Take a balloon ride over breathtaking Tuscany
- See Florence from the rooftops – get the best,hidden photo locations!
- Do a Chainti Wine and Food Safari
- A full day private tour to Cinque Terre
- do a wonderful Tuscan cooking class and learn to make Italian like Mama!
- go truffle hunting in the Chianti Hills
Day 18 -21 : Venice
Be sure to plan your arrival in Venice on a Vaporetto – a water bus, which is a great way to get a feel for the city and an exhilarating way to start. The boat will lead you down the Grand Canal towards your hotel, or somewhere near it and you will be speechless as you see the city around you.
After you have settled into your hotel head to Piazza San Marco and St Mark’s Square which is one of the most famous squares in the world. The Piazza houses remarkable buildings like St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace.
Head to Rialto Bridge, the oldest and most magical of Venice’s bridges and then simply stroll through the narrow streets around the area, with its many small canals, trattorias, wine bars, small shops and much more.
Be sure to visit Doge’s Palace with its exquisite rooms and decoration, its prison and the famous Bridge of Sighs. Then head to the most important religious edifice in Venice, the Basilica di San Marco.
After the Basilica, explore the Campanile. This structure is one of the most photographed in Venice and the Cathedral’s bell tower and is the symbol of the city.
Cross the Ponte di Rialto to reach the Rialto Market, one of the best in Venice and bustling with vendors selling produce and handicrafts. Some of the best tomatoes you will ever see, or smell!
If you are an art lover then the Gallerie dell’Accademia focuses on pre-nineteenth century art and is one of the largest in the world. Also be sure to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Punta della Dogana.
The next day take a water bus to the Sestiere Cannaregio, which is located north of the Grand Canal. Get off at “Ferrovia” cross the Ponte delle Guglie and walk to the Jewish Ghetto, a fascinating and somewhat sobering area where the Jews were forced to live during the Venetian Republic.
We also recommend exploring Cannaregio with its charming little canals, pretty houses and churches. It is one of the most authentic areas in Venice and very charming. Fondamenta della Misericordia is also worth checking out especially in the evening when it can get very lively.
Of course no trip to Venice is complete without a Gondola ride which are especially romantic as the sunsets of course.
How to get to Venice
Venice is a series of small islands but it is very well connected to the mainland and other nearby islands. Being one of Europes most popular cities it is relatively easy to get to.
It is possible to fly from Florence to Venice but you will likely connect in Rome. Most people do the trip either by train or car.
Venice’s central train station, Venezia Santa Lucia railway station, connects the city with numerous countries and other Italian towns. Many people fly into Rome or Milan and catch the train to Venice from there. It is the easiest and most comfortable way of getting around Italy and a style of travel we highly recommend.
Only a small part of Venice is accessible to motor vehicles so you have to leave your car in a parking garage such as Garage San Marco or
Garage Autorimessa Comunale , in Piazzale Roma.
Where to stay in Venice
For couples: The Gritti Palace hotel is considered one of the best in the world for good reason and it is also one of the most photographed, with its central location right on the Grand Canal. For something cheaper, Hotel Antiche Figure is a small boutique hotel in a wonderful canal location with a small restaurant and bar and excellent service.
For families and groups: Aqua Apartments are great for families as they have small kitchenettes where you can keep supplies and self-cater. Hotel Olimpia is also great for groups with its lovely canal outlook, small trattoria and beautiful gardens.
Solo: Charming House IQs have beautiful, designer suites in a converted Palazzo in a quiet spot near the Grand Canal. No crimson bedspreads here!
Cool Things to do in Venice
Best of Venice Tour – St. Marks Square, St. Marks Basilica & Campanile & more
Do a Doge’s Palace: Secret itinerariares Tour
Visit the islands of Burano, Murano and Torcello by boat
Sail, swim and cook in the Venetian Lagoon
Take a private class with a renowned glass artist
Relax in the cool gardens of Giardini della Biennale
Create a Carnivale mask with a master mask maker
With this Italy and Greece itinerary, you will spend 3 glorious weeks exploring two of the most interesting and most beautiful countries on the planet.
Of course, you can adjust it for a slower pace simply by extending a few places by a day or two – perhaps the Cinque Terra in Italy or Crete in Greece?
We guarantee you will have the trip of a lifetime and will cover some of the very best highlights for both countries that are on offer, and more.
Salute & Yamas!