As discerning travellers realise there is more to Greece than just Santorini and Mykonos, other islands are now firmly on people’s radar. The magical island of Milos and the perennial favourite, Naxos, are a great combination with Santorini and will ensure a diverse and satisfying vacation. This Milos Santorini Naxos and Athens itinerary covers everything you need to make this trip a reality, including time frames, transport, activities, dining suggestions, and lots more!


Whether you’ve been before or it’s your first time it can be hard to process all the information out there. Be sure to check out our complete Planning Guide as well as our FREE 13-page downloadable itinerary.

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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. 

 important travel essentials for Greece 

Basic Facts about Greece

 Greece is actually known as Hellas with its official name being the Hellenic Republic “Helliniki Dimokratia”. It consists of 132,000 sq kilometres of land including 227 inhabited islands. The population is just over 10 million people.

The religion is East Orthodoxy ( Christian) , they drive on the right-hand side of the road and the calling code is +30.

What to see and do in Greece

Greece has many incredible destinations and is considered home to some of the most beautiful and interesting sites in the world. There are 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with another 16 under consideration.

There are 6 island groups – the Cyclades, the Dodacannese, the Saronic islands, the Sporades Islands, the Northern Aegean islands, the Ionian Islands, and Crete, so island hopping in the Greek Islands might be popular but it does require some research, as most of these groups do not connect with each other by ferry or flights.

There are also some incredible things to see on the mainland including Athens – ancient sites like Delphi and Olympia as well as places of considerable natural beauty and wonder such as Meteora and Mt Athos. The northern city of Thessaloniki is also wonderful with some incredible sites and attractions close by. It’s also very affordable too.

The Peloponnese peninsula is becoming more popular and is thought by many to be the ‘real Greece’. It is one of our favourite parts of Greece, in fact anywhere really.

How to get around the Greek Islands

The train and bus network is not as modern or efficient as those in say, France or Italy but the Ferry network is probably the most extensive and effective in the world.

In Athens taxi drivers, like many cities, can be a bit hit and miss so it pays to have the details of a trusted one. For private transfers, we use and recommend CATTaxi and if you use the Promo code “GTS” when you book through this link you will receive a further 10% off. If you do catch a taxi make sure the meter is on!

For port and ferry transfers you can book via this article too.

For Ferries we use Ferryhopper and we invariably hire a car at each destination even if it’s just for a day or two.

Greek Culture

The Culture in Greece is rich and varied and is over 6000 years old.

There are a number of things that make it so unique including the world-famous Greek Hospitality but there’s also the unique architecture, food, dancing, music and more. The Greek Language is one of the oldest in the world and it always pays to know a few key phrases for your trip.

We have a lot of resources including a whole page on the Greek Culture as well as a Recipe page, and an article full of reading suggestions, one with our recommended Greek Playlist and another about movies set in Greece as well.

If you’re a history buff then be sure to check out this article on Greek Mythology and where to see the most amazing archeological sites.

Further reading: Frequently Asked Questions about Greece


This article focuses on an itinerary that ticks the most boxes for the most people with these four destinations and can usually be done between May and November.

Why this sequence?

We always recommend doing Athens at the end, if possible. This ensures you are back on the mainland well before your international flight home and allows for ferry or flight delays or cancellations. Athens is also best for shopping so do it at the end and don’t lug everything around the islands with you.

The ferry connections between Milos and Naxos are limited and are usually the smallest (and least enjoyable) Superjets. The options in and out of Santorini are better, hence why we have it in the middle for this itinerary.

Our recommended minimum duration would be:

Milos – 3/4 days

Santorini – 3 days

Naxos – 3 ( 4 or 5 is better)

Athens – 3 nights (although you could spend a month or more)


Looking for famous beach clubs and parties? Swap out Naxos for Mykonos.

Looking for off-beat islands with no airports? Swap Santorini and Naxos for Sifnos and Folegandros.

Not interested in the beach but love culture? Go to Syros or Hydra.

Visiting in the off-season? (November to April): stick to the Mainland.

Further reading: Island Hopping in the Cyclades

milos santorini


Book a flight in to Milos at least 2 hours after your arrival in Athens. The island is serviced by Olympic/Aegean Airlines and Sky Express, both Greek owned and both good, although the former is bigger and will have more flights.


Milos is fast becoming one of the most sought after destinations in the Mediterranean.

With its extraordinary and very unique geology and topography visitors are in for an assault on the senses with vividly coloured cliffs and beaches from the mining and volcanic activity, which bring with them hot springs and incredible landscapes.

Add to that the unique colourful fishing villages, over 70 stunning beaches, a thriving food and wine scene and wonderful boutique hotels and small resorts, it really leaves people speechless.

Due to its many beaches and geology it is especially popular with outdoor enthusiastics and people who love the beach. It has some lovely tavernas and cafes but not a lot of nightlife nor shopping so if you want something more lively Paros is probably a better fit.


How to get arond Milos

It is really important to hire a car on Milos. Things are very spread out but the driving is easy and there is not much traffic nor hazardous roads. Because of mining, there are large parts of the island that are off-limits and you will likely be told not to take your car off sealed roads.

You can also rent an ATV’s but a little air-conditioned car is a better idea in summer when people find them very hot and very dusty.

There is a bus but it is slow and not terribly reliable. There are also a few taxis but they can be hard to find in peak periods.

One final option is to do a tour of the island. These are new services to Milos and are filling a good gap in the market. See the main attractions and villages as well as a farm and a winery and finish with a traditional lunch in Pollonia, all from the comfort of a 7 seat SUV!

Where to stay in Milos 

For couples: we love Unique Suites Milos and cannot recommend them highly enough. Right across from the beach ( with a private beach section with huge bean bags) the suites are modern and very spacious. Alternatively, Delmar Apartments and Suites or Captain Zeppos Boutique Suites are highly recommended, and White Pebble Suites is a new, luxury addition to the island in 2022 and is also the topic of a recent Podcast episode. 

For families and groups:

Solo: It’s hard to beat the value or location of Hotel Adamas which is located right in front of the main pier at the port. The rooms are well-appointed, modern, and have great sunset views. A lovely budget alternative is The White Suites which are a few blocks back from the harbour in a very central spot.

    where to stay on milos

    Where to eat in Milos

    Breakfast: There are several good cafes near the port. Milors is one of the oldest and make great waffles and pancakes as well as coffee. Further out of town is Ice Monkey who sell a great range of sandwiches and subs that you can take to the beach with you too.

    In Pollonia be sure to visit is Kovotos ton Gefseon ( Arc of Flavours) and known across the islands as having some of the best cakes and pastries on the islands, the chocolate pie especially. They do coffee as well as sit down snacks and you can visit for dessert, not just breakfast.

    Lunch: Considered by many as the best of the seafood tavernas to line the waterfront bay at Pollonia Gialos is a lovely spot to sit and watch the goings on at the small harbour in Pollonia. 

    In Mandrakia you will find Medusa Taverna, the only taverna in this tiny village but a very good one. With the traditional hanging octopus, sometimes in a screened box to protect it from insects and wind, you can’t miss Medusa and you won’t regret lunch here either. Very well priced in a truly unique and very special setting.


    The legend of O’Hamos has spread across all of Greece, if not too many other parts of the world. Operating for over 30 years, this family established one of the first paddock-to-plate models in Greece, with everything at the restaurant grown by them, including the meat, cheese, fruit, and vegetables. You may need to queue during busy periods, but it’s a spacious taverna with a big garden, and the wait times are not usually long.

    In Adamas don’t miss Mikras Apoplous right on the waterfront and one of the best seafood restaurants in the Cyclades islands. With a chilled cabinet of fresh seafood to choose from, including lobster and fish, you will be amazed at the value you get for your money here. Not to mention the incredible views, especially at sunset!

    In Plaka, you will also find a couple of great bars. Utopia Caffe is the place to be seen and the place to see incredible sunset views, as good as anywhere in Greece!

    Things to do in Milos



    Ferry to Santorini – BOOK HERE

    There are limited ferry connections between the western Cyclades, a topic undergoing constant discussion in Greece. The route between Milos and Santorini is typically serviced by Seajets and takes about two hours.  

    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 them. 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!

    And while it can get ridicululousy busy in places when the cruise ships are in it is quite possible to get away from the crowds, there are twenty towns and villages after all, and visit on a budget.

    There are a surprising amount of things to do on Santorini with beaches, wineries, hot springs, great shopping, and some of the world’s most iconic and photographed sunsets. There are even a lot of great things for kids too!


    10 days in Greece

    How to get to Santorini

    You catch the ferry from Milos to Santorini. Book ferry tickets HERE.

    TIP: Both the port and the airport can be quite nuts in summer, and there can be long waits for the cable car, taxis, and donkeys. Book your transfers and tours with Santo Luxury Escape with the promo code ‘GTS2024” for a 10% discount.

    Where to stay in Santorini :

    For couples: Ducato Di Oia ( adults only) suites in Oia or Above Blue Suites in Imerovigli for more isolation and at a lower price point.

    For families and groups: White Harmony Suites have 2 bedroom suites or Theoxenia Boutique Hotel has squad rooms and is not far from, dare I say it, Mcdonalds’.

    Solo: Kivotos in Imerovigli for a splurge or Abelonas Retreat on a tight budget

      is santorini worth it
      santorini instagram spots

      Where to eat in Santorini

      Breakfast: Breakfast should be included at your hotel. Otherwise, Our Corner in Fira and La Scala on Oia are great choices.

      Lunch: enjoy lunch either at one of the wineries or at Aeolos Taverna in Akrotiri. If heading to Black Beach, enjoy lunch at Akro Beach Bar. Lefkes Taverna in Oia is also hard to beat for food or service. It often books out well in advance.

      Dinner: Book a sunset dinner cruise on the Caldera or Santorini Mou in Oia, or Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna in Ammoudi Bay. Mextaxi Mas is legendary and is great for both lunch and dinner with views across the island.

      Drinks:  V Lounge Cafe & Cocktail Bar in Fira or Le Moustache Pool Lounge 


      Things to do in Santorini


      Ferry to Naxos- BOOK HERE

      There are many connections between Santorini and Naxos, particularly in summer. The faster catamarans take around 90 minutes and the slower Blue Star ferry takes two hours. We always recommend the later which are bigger and more stable in bad weather. They are also less likely to cancel for this reason.

      Naxos is the largest and greenest island in the Cyclades group. It is known for its excellent beaches, charming mountain villages and thriving agricultural industry which makes it a very different island to both Milos and Santorini.

      Naxos has one main town, Chora, and many people see this as an advantage for the island as the port, airport, main town and good beaches are all close together. While it’s a great idea to hire a car to explore some of the more remote parts of the island it does mean that you can have a perfectly nice vacation without one too.

      There is a lot to see and do and its proximity to several other beautiful islands makes it a firm favourite with familiescouples, and solo travellers year after year. 

      Being so big and with so much to do we recommend trying to stay on Naxos for as long as possible. A week is not unheard of and many people stay for months at a time.

      naxos villages
      naxos villages

      Alyko Beach

      Where to stay on Naxos

      For first-timers we recommend staying in Chora, the main town of the island. This is also where the ferry port is and the airport is only a 10 minutes drive.

      Chora is a charming and quite lively town with a Venetian Castle, the ‘Old Market’, and the famous Portara Gate on the headland. There are even a couple of nice beaches so it is possible to spend your entire time here, even without a car.

      For a good mid-range hotel check out  Hotel Grotta or Nastasia Village, who have newly renovated rooms in a quiet spot a few streets back from the beach and the main part of town.

      Families and groups should check out Ikaros Studios and Apartments which has a great pool but is only a short walk to this popular family beach.

      Astir of Naxos is one of the most popular luxury hotels on the island and has a beautiful swimming pool and spa as well as a children’s playground. We also love Nissaki Beach Hotel which is right behind Agios Georgios Beach and has a beachfront restaurant and swimming pool, or Hotel Glaros Boutique Hotel which is right next door and less expensive. 

      Things to do in Naxos

      • Cooking Classes
          • 1. This class is conducted in a local home and includes dinner there too;
          • 2. This class is held at Basiliko Taverna and is conducted by their excellent Chef
      • Naxos is famous for its food and in particular its honey, cheese, and potatoes. In fact, the Naxos Potato Festival is held each year in July and they are currently world record holders! In the Chora you will find numerous shops that showcase the local produce and, of course, you can sample all the delicacies of Tavernas across the island. Don’t miss the amazing Naxos Cheese Koufopoulos, where you can do a private cheese tasting with wine, in their cellar and Antamoma Cuisine Deli.
      • Explore the mountain villages. Either pick up a car or catch the buses up into the mountains. There are almost a dozen villages you can see but with just one day stick with Filoti, Aperianthos, and Chalki, with a side trip to the Monastery at Moni if you have time.
      • Hike to Mt Zas and the Cave of Zeus. Do this very early before the sun heats up.

      Further reading: The Mountain Villages of Naxos

      • Explore the beaches. Hopefully, you will also have time to explore some beaches, especially if it is summer. There are many to choose from and if you have a car you can easily visit several before or after the mountain villages.
      • Drive down to the Cedar Forest of Alyko, not much of a forest these days but rather a large, sandy nature reserve with several beaches. Then drive north to Paralia Glifada, Kastraki, Orkos, Plaka, and Agia Anna before ending at Agios Prokopios, our personal favorite.

      Further reading: The Best Beaches of Naxos

      • Do a day trip to another island. Paros is right next door and can be as quick as 30 minutes on the ferry. Mykonos to the north is only 40 minutes away.  You can explore the the ‘small cyclades’ islands by public ferry (Ano Koufonisa then has little sea buses that go around the beaches) or on sailing trips.

      Where to eat on Naxos

      In the mountain villages stop in Filoti for a coffee at Platano on the square, under the shady plane trees. In Apeiranthos there are some great choices for lunch including Taverna Platanos and ‘Ο Αμοργινός‘ ( O Amorginos) is excellent too.

      Many visitors also love Rotonda. This is a large restaurant and bar high in the hills before Apeiranthos with sweeping views over the valley and out to sea.

      In Chora head to Avaton 1739 for sunset drinks and you can stay for dinner, or perhaps head into one of the small, charming places in the Old Market like Lithos or Labyrinth.

      Down near St.George Beach To Elliniko is worth queuing for a table as is Maro’s.

      For some great live music, plate smashing, and dancing the Flamingo Bar is the place to be.



      Fly or Ferry to Athens- BOOK HERE

      This is really a personal choice. The costs will likely be similar but the ferry will take longer, which a lot of people enjoy. Again, book the Bluestar and perhaps upgrade to Business Class and enjoy a meal or a bottle of wine with great views. You can even book a cabin and have a nap and a shower!

      Athens of course is the Capital of Greece and is one of the oldest cities in the world, having been occupied for around 5000 years.

      Named after the fierce warrior Goddess Athina ( which is what it is called in Greek) the city  has a fascinating and colourful past.

      There is a lot to do and see in Athens and the ancient centre is easy to get around and very walkable. 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.  It’s surprisingly affordable compared to most European capitals and returns tremendous value for your dollar.

      Where to stay in Athens

      For couples: Zillers Hotel has only 10 rooms and amazing Acropolis views from some rooms and the lovely rooftop bar and restaurant and is right on Mitropolous dining street, or The Foundry Suites in Psiri are uber cool and was once an industrial foundry.

      For families and groups:

      Great hotels that have one and two bedrooms suites and apartments include Met34, Athens Ikon and The Gem Society. All are in excellent central locations and all include breakfast too!

      Dionysus is a beautiful apartment right in the middle of Plaka. It has 3 bedrooms and can sleep 9 and it’s a great price too given the quality (one thing to note however is that it is not airconditioned).

      Auntie’s Home in Plaka is a fantastic 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment with a huge terrace and amazing Acropolis views too. I can’t believe it’s so cheap, actually!

      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 House food emporiums.

      Where to eat in Athens

      Breakfast : this will likely be included in your hotel tarrif. 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.
      Athinaikon in Monastaraki/Syntagma, or for something really special book Dinner in the Sky (book well in advance). Yiasemi in Plaka ( the much photographed steps) or Lithos Taverna in Psiri does my favourite Moussaka. Taverna Klimataria for live music and the best cabbage rolls in lemon sauce in town.

      Drinks : Enjoy sunset drinks at the Grand Bretagne Rooftop bar

      Things to do in Athens

       Further Reading:

      The Best Rooftop Restaurants in Athens

      The Elite Presidential Guard

      Private Drivers in Athens

      10 days in Greece

      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.

      This can save you tens of thousands of dollars, or even more.

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