If there is one destination that has forever nestled within our wanderlust-filled hearts and has long been on top of our bucket lists, it would be a holiday in Greece. We love it so much just by looking at its pictures and watching its reels and videos, to the extent that we unconsciously associate any blue-and-white theme with Greece.
How can we not love it? It’s a country that has it all! It is home to the most pristine beaches and islands in the Mediterranean, centuries of history, world-famous archaeological sites, sun-drenched landscapes, eye-soothing greenery, white and blue villages caressed by the glistening azure waves of the Aegean Sea, vibrant nightlife, friendly people, and a to-die-for Greek cuisine! We could go on and on about Greece; there’s nowhere like it! But what’s better is that you experience Greece for yourself.
In order to experience the best of everything in Greece, we’ve chosen three iconic destinations for first-time visitors: Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos. We’ve compiled a 7-day itinerary for a holiday in Greece, with everything to do, where to stay, and what to eat in these fantastic destinations. So put on your all-white outfits—maxi dresses, hats, and sandals for ladies—and let’s fly to Greece.
Table of Contents
Day 1: Travel Day to Athens
No matter where you are coming from, chances are you’ll probably enter Greece through Athens International Airport, the largest airport in the country.
Why Is Athens a Must-Visit?
If you are a first-timer in Greece, the captivating city of Athens, known as the cradle of history and democracy, should be at the top of your bucket list. If you believe history is confined only to museums, Athens will prove you wrong.
Athens is Europe’s oldest capital city; it is where the past collides with the present, where ancient ruins stand in juxtaposition against a modern cityscape, and where cobblestone streets whisper stories of Greek gods and philosophers.
However, Athens isn’t just about sightseeing; it’s about experiencing a city that has shaped the course of human civilisation. It’s about standing on the same grounds where democracy was born, walking in the same footsteps of the great philosophers Socrates and Plato. It’s about walking through a city that has experienced all types of government—oligarchy, tyranny, monarchy, democracy — you name it. No wonder Athens welcomes nearly 18 million tourists annually; that’s approximately six times Athens’ population!
What to Do Once You Reach Athens
Settle in your hotel and explore the surroundings. Head to the Plaka district, where cobblestone streets wind around neoclassical buildings. You’ll find yourself between quaint handicraft shops, traditional Greek cafés and restaurants and submerged in a sense of timelessness that will make you slow down and soak in every moment. You can stop by the bustling Monastiraki Flea Market to shop for souvenirs, antiques, and local products.
By night, you can pitch up at a beautiful outdoor cinema, looking up at the stars, in Thission. Athens becomes alive at night, and the nightlife scenes and the live music venues will keep you entertained.
3 Nights in Athens: Where to Stay?
Since you are staying for three nights, you might want to stay in the city centre so that all the sights are just a walking distance from you. So, here are our recommended top hotels with ratings of 8.5+ by Booking.com that will suit different budgets:
- Best Hostels: Athens Hub Hostel | Athens Hawks | City Circus Athens
- Best Budget Hotels: Athens Utopia Ermou | Ciel Suites Athens | Nikiou Suites Luxury Residence
- Best Mid-range Hotels: Royalty Hotel Athens | Royal Olympic Hotel | Hotel Lozenge
- Best Luxury Hotels: Electra Metropolis | The Modernist Athens | Electra Palace Athens | Kinglin Luxury Living
Day 2: Unveil the Soul of Greece, One Myth at a Time, While Exploring Athens
Just like how you can’t miss the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, you can’t miss the infamous Acropolis of Athens, an ancient citadel and a UNESCO World Heritage Site on a rocky hill above the city, built for the ancient Greek goddess Athena, goddess of wisdom and warfare, in 448 BC.
It’s essential to start your day as early as you can to avoid the heat and crowd in these touristy sites. The Acropolis houses the remains of significant architectural and historical monuments, the most famous being the Parthenon, a symbol of Athens’ glory.
The Temple of Athena Nike (which, according to Greek mythology, was dedicated to the goddess of victory), the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (the stone Roman theatre), and the Erechtheion complete the ensemble on the Acropolis, offering a glimpse into the artistic and architectural marvels of ancient Greece. Athens has a history of theatre that dates back thousands of years, so if you’re an art buff, you should attend the Theatre of Dionysos, which hosted the first plays ever performed in Athens. Check if any concerts, plays, or cultural events are taking place at the Odeon during your visit.
On the northwest of the Acropolis, you’ll find the Agora of Athens, which includes the Temple of Hephaestus and the Stoa of Attalos. After you’ve had the Acropolis for yourself before the crowds and snapped the best pictures, head to the Acropolis Museum to travel back to ancient Athens and check out the numerous artefacts the museum houses from the Acropolis, all the way from the Greek Bronze Age to the Roman and Byzantine Greece.
Your stomach will probably be rumbling by now. So, you can have lunch and a traditional Greek coffee in one of the cafés on Mount Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens, 300 metres above sea level. A cable car will get you up there. Brace yourself for a fascinating view. Then, you can explore the National Archaeological Museum, which features an extensive collection of ancient Greek artefacts.
Another must-see attraction in Syntagma Square of Athens is the colossal Temple of Olympian Zeus. While at Syntagma Square, you may be lucky to watch and admire the ceremonial changing of the guard that takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament Building every hour on the hour, showcasing a meticulously rehearsed choreography that ought to impress.
If you want to shop till you drop, Voukourestiou is just a breath away from Syntagma Square, with all the high-end boutiques and international brands you can think of. Ermou Street is also well-renowned for the best shopping in Athens. At night, enjoy dinner at a traditional Greek taverna with the illuminated Acropolis as your backdrop.
Day 3: A Day Trip from Athens
You can choose from several popular day trips from Athens depending on your interests.
The most common is the day trip to Cape Sounion, where the Temple of Poseidon sits on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea. The sunset views from this site are particularly stunning, making it a romantic spot. Beyond the temple, Sounio National Park offers hiking trails for the nature enthusiast in you to enjoy the coastal landscapes.
You can also also visit Delphi or Mycenae and Epidaurus. Aegina, Hydra, or Nafplio are picturesque islands you can hop onto for day trips. They are also home to temples and monuments from ancient Greece.
What To Eat in Athens?
When it comes to authentic Greek food, Athens is one the best places in Greece for foodies, so get ready to watch your waistline grow! Dive into a plate of moussaka, a hearty layered dish that blends eggplant, minced meat, and creamy béchamel sauce. Indulge in a grilled-to-perfection souvlaki dish, or savour the mere simplicity of a Greek salad, bursting with flavours of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, oregano, and feta cheese.
Day 4: Head to Santorini for Some Romance on the Waves of the Aegean
You can go to Santorini from Athens via a flight or a ferry from one of the two ports close to Athens, Pireaus or Rafina. The flight is usually less than an hour; we recommend this option to save time. The ferry can take 5 to 8 hours, but you will enjoy the serene sea views on your journey.
Why Should Santorini Be on Your Itinerary?
Santorini is the Greece you will see on postcards; the mere mention of its name evokes images of whitewashed buildings perched atop cliffs with cobalt-blue domes that mirror the azure Aegean Sea below and harmonise with the vibrant blue skies above. This idyllic Cyclodian crescent-shaped island, born from the remains of an ancient volcanic eruption, is crowned with jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches and rural vineyards stretching inland. This place is nothing less than breathtaking!
Looking for sun, relaxation, epic sunsets, a romantic escape, gastronomy, heritage, and scenery? Santorini ticks off all the boxes. What else would a couple look for?
Trust us; Santorini will steal your heart. Yes, it might be too touristy and crowded, luring thousands of tourists yearly, but its picturesque, out-of-this-world beauty is to blame. It is probably one of the best destinations in Greece, and even the world, that you need to experience at least once in your lifetime. It’s far more picturesque in real life than in postcards or pictures on Pinterest and Instagram. You must see it with your own eyes to believe that such beauty exists!
2 Nights in Santorini: Where To Stay?
You can stay in either the Oia or Fira regions. Both are drop-dead gorgeous. Oia is more touristy, thus more expensive. Fira is more affordable and still central. Here are some of the top-rated hotels on Booking with breathtaking ocean views.
- Best Budget Hotels: Mare Nostrum Santo | Aetheria Villas | Aplai Dome | Lotza Studios
- Best Mid-range Hotels: Aperanto Suites | Sophia Boutique Hotel | Anemomilos
- Best Luxury Hotels: Echoes Luxury Suites | Old Castle Oia | Theodora Suites
- Best Budget Hotels: Anatoli Hotel & Spa | Plastiras Rooms | Canyon Santorini
- Best Mid-range Hotels: Aroma Suites | The Majestic Hotel | Astro Palace Hotel & Suites
- Best Luxury Hotels Lilium Hotel Santorini | Tzekos Villas| Apeiron Blue Santorini
What to Do in Santorini Once You Arrive?
Take a swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters and splay on the volcanic beaches. Be sure to explore the postcard-perfect village of Oia, a visual symphony of white pastel-hued houses with blue domes cascading down the cliffs, overlooking the majestic coastline of the azure Aegean Sea. Weave through its narrow alleyways and dip in the rejuvenating hot springs warmed by an active volcano.
Stop by Amoudi Bay, a fishing village below Oia with tavernas serving fresh seafood. And if you are into a surge of adrenaline, say hello to cliff diving, the most common activity in Amoudi Bay.
There’s nothing more legendary than a sunset view in Santorini. As the sun dips below the horizon and into the embrace of the Aegean, the sky transforms into a palette of fiery oranges and soft pinks, casting a spellbinding aura over the island. Such a view should trigger this spark of romance between you and your loved one or, even better, be a perfect backdrop for an unforgettable marriage proposal. If that is not the best place to propose, we don’t know what is! But, even if you aren’t coupled up, you will still fall in love with Santorini’s charms.
Day 5: Explore the Rest of Santorini
If you enjoy hiking, take the scenic trail that connects Fira to Oia. The hike offers stunning views along the caldera cliffs. It is also worth exploring Fira, the island’s capital, which brims with boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and galleries.
You can then visit the Akrotiri ruins, referred to as the “Pompeii of the Aegean”. You will encounter Red Beach in Akrotiri, famed for its red-hued sand and amber cliffs. It is a must-visit since it is one of the very few red-sand beaches worldwide. Hop on a caldera cruise to Nea Kameni’s and Palea Kameni’s volcanic islets and hot springs in the Aegean waters. These tours often include stops at Thirassia Island and the volcano. Perissa Black Sand Beach is also something you won’t see every day, so make sure you can squeeze it into your itinerary.
What To Eat in Santorini?
So, what can you expect from an island in the middle of the sea? Seafood, seafood, seafood, fresh from the Aegean. Santorini’s favourites, the shrimp saganaki and grilled octopus dishes, are must-tries. The octopus is usually tenderised and flavoured with olive oil, lemon, and herbs. If you aren’t into seafood, check out the fava me Koukia (Mashed fava beans), a creamy dish from split peas drizzled with olive oil. Sink your teeth into tomatokeftedes, a local delicacy of fried tomato fritters that bursts with the sweetness of Santorini’s famous sun-kissed tomatoes.
Day 6: Off to Mykonos
So, you’ve got your share of history and romance; let’s satiate the party animal in you! And when talking about partying, Mykonos Island steps onto the stage. Take a ferry from Santorini and off to Mykonos. It is still one of the Cyclades islands, so it isn’t far away from Santorini and is still blessed by the Aegean’s embrace.
Why Visit Mykonos?
Mykonos, the Ibiza of Greece, is renowned for having some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean and a spirited nightlife. Mykonos is also, unsurprisingly, so charming. It resembles a typical sun-drenched Greek island —whitewashed buildings adorned with vibrant electric blue windows, doors, roofs, and staircases gleaming against a sapphire sea and a clear blue sky. Mykonos is also known for its iconic windmills, perched on a hill overlooking the harbour, and they are a symbol of Mykonos.
Mykonos’ location is also strategic; it’s the best place to start your Greek island-hopping adventures. And we can assure you that after you’ve experienced Greece once, you will definitely come back for a mesmerising Greek island-hopping adventure.
2 Nights in Mykonos: Where to stay?
- Best Hostels: MyCocoon Hostel | Nikos Rooms
- Best Budget Hotels: Central Suites Mykonos | Domna Hotel | Matogianni Hotel | Lefteris | Marietta’s
- Best Mid-range Hotels: Poseidon Hotel Suites | She Mykonos Boutique | Ubud Mykonos | Paradise View Hotel | Nimbus My Aktis
- Best Luxury Hotels: Tagoo Black Mykonos| Palladium Hotel | Anax Resort and Spa|
What to Do in Mykonos Once You Arrive?
After settling in your accommodation, you start exploring. Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets of Mykonos Town, called Chora by the locals, where colourful bougainvillaeas spill over whitewashed houses and vibrant blue doors. Everything is painted in bright colours and contrasted beautifully with the white houses. You will stumble upon charming chapels, quirky cafes, and chic boutiques.
Make sure to stroll along the waterfront of Little Venice, where colourful balconies seem to hover over the sea’s edge. This picturesque neighbourhood is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink, watch the sunset, and feel the salty breeze brush against your skin.
Day 7: Dance With the Waves in the Morning and to the DJ Beats at Night
Explore as many beaches on Mykonos. Some of the best include Platys Gialos, Psarou, Ornos, Paradise Beach, Super Paradise, and Elia. Leave Paradise Beach till the end because you will end the day there. Paradise Beach didn’t earn its name in vain; it is literally a haven for sunseekers, honeymooners, divers, party lovers—you name it. Lounge on its golden sands, sip a cocktail, splash in the sparkly turquoise waters, and engage in various water activities such as jet skiing, windsurfing, snorkelling, and scuba diving.
After watching the mesmerising sunset, brace yourself for a party like no other. The beach transforms into a throbbing dance floor, with the DJs firing up the crowds until the sun rises.
If you aren’t much of an extrovert and not a partier, you will still enjoy Mykonos. It is still an ideal destination if you are a family, a couple, a nature lover, a hiker, or a culture vulture.
Mykonos Island’s energy is infectious, its charm undeniable, and its vibe—well, let’s just say it’s the ultimate prescription for anyone seeking to escape the ordinary or seeking the best summer nightlife in the Mediterranean.
What To Eat in Mykonos?
Mykonos isn’t just about beaches and parties; it’s also where your taste buds are in for a treat with some unique Mykonian traditional dishes. Begin with a plate of Kopanisti, also known as the Greek Roquefort, a spicy, tangy cheese seasoned with local spices and served as a dip or spread with bread. You should also try the Tyrovolia, a Mykonian semi-hard cheese with a distinctive flavour. It is also used in many Greek dishes and for pie fillings. Indulge in the Amygdalota, traditional baked almond-based cookies, sweet and chewy, with a cup of coffee. They’re a popular treat on the island, especially during special occasions.
Enjoy Your Holiday in Greece to the Max!
From ancient ruins to sun-kissed beaches, Greece promises an unforgettable trip for any traveller. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags already because a breathtaking holiday in Greece awaits you.