10 Days in Greece: Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos
Greece is a magical country with the historical archeological sites in Athens, the serenity and pure magic of the cave dwellings in Santorini, and the boisterous nightlife in Mykonos. You will undoubtedly have a fabulous time. Here are a few key things to look into before you plan your Greece trip: 1) The hours of the museums and ruins in Athens are somewhat limited, so make sure you check in advance and plan your itinerary accordingly. 2) Look into the ferry times before you solidify everything. You don’t have to purchase the ferry tickets online, but at least have a general idea of which ferries make sense to take in accordance with your Greece itinerary. So without further ado, I present to you my ideal 10-day Greece itinerary. Enjoy and comment below with any questions you may have!
Fly into Athens, Greece. You should check before you leave your home base exactly how to get from the airport to the hotel, hostel, or airbnb that you are staying at. Personally, I always handwrite the directions down because I never know if I will have working wifi at the airport. Typically, the best form of public transport to get you from the Airport to the city center is via Metro, but please check with your hotel first! Once you check in to the place you are staying, head to the Plaka district for what I consider to be the best food in Europe (sorry Italy!). The feta on the Greek salads is incredibly fresh, the pita bread is so warm, and the moussaka is mouth-watering. This main thoroughfare in Athens is touristy, yes, but absolutely stunning and a total must visit. You can do loads of shopping in Plaka and when you are tired take a seat and look up at the beautiful Acropolis on the hill.
Spend the day in Athens visiting the ruins, namely the Acropolis and the Parthenon. I would suggest starting your day at the Acropolis Museum. Tickets are 5 euros and I recommend booking them at least two days in advance to ensure that they do not sell out. I think it’s best to go to the museum first as you will learn all about the Acropolis right before you actually experience it. You could easily spend the whole morning here. If you aren’t on a tight budget, I think it is also beneficial to hire a tour guide in order to fully understand what you are seeing. After the museum, grab a quick bite to eat and head on up to the Acropolis to take in these stunning ruins. If you are going during high season, you might want to wait until a little bit later in the day when the weather cools down and the crowds dissipate. Make sure you leave enough time though (approximately 3 hours or so) to see the Acropolis and most importantly, the Parthenon. You will also have time either in between the museum and the Acropolis or after the Acropolis (it’s only a 5 minute walk) to see some more ruins at the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
If you are a huge history buff or professor of archaeology, you probably should consider spending more time in Athens. Personally, I prefer the Island life so today I am ready to take the ferry to Santorini, Greece. Lots of notes on ferries: 1) You DON’T have to book a ferry in advance. You will either be in Greece in the off season and there will be plenty of tickets or you will be there in the high season and there will be plenty of ferries. I know that it’s scary to not have all of the tickets in advance, so if you want to go on the website to confirm availability, definitely do so! I have the links to the ferry companies on my Best Methods of Transportation post here. Why do I suggest waiting? Because it’s Greece and ferry times change and the website is complicated. 2) The names of the ports are not Athens and Santorini! The “Athens” port is actually Piraeus which is just outside of Athens but easily accessible by metro and the Santorini port is entitled Thira which is actually the major city in Santorini. Now that is out of the way, let’s get back to the day. Take the metro from your accommodation to the Piraeus port and buy your ferry ticket. The ferry is usually between 4-6 hours and typically leaves at seven in the morning. Once you arrive at the port in Santorini, stay your first night near the town of Fira which is the capital or city center of Santorini. Accommodation prices are also significantly cheaper! Walk through the streets of Fira, have dinner, and watch the sunset.
Take the funicular down the mountain to board a half-day boat tour that will take you to the volcano and hot springs for a fun adventure. I would suggest emailing your Fira accommodation ahead of time and ask their advice on a good company to book with that won’t be too crowded during high season. Because Santorini is a small island, things book up so it is best to do some planning ahead of time. After your adventure tour, ride a donkey back up to the top of the cliff and have a nice relaxing lunch. In the late afternoon/early evening, take a bus to Oia and check into your new cave dwelling for the next two nights. Tragically, the one hostel in Oia shut down a couple of years ago which means if you are on a budget, you will have to fork out some extra money for a hotel. I promise you it is worth the money though to spend two nights in majestic Oia. Open a bottle of wine, enjoy the incomparable sunset, and feast on a fabulous Greek meal.
Rent a car and head out to the beach for the day. Personally, I think you should go to the Red Beach in Akrotiri as it is the most famous beach on the island and the red rock is truly unique. However, if you are looking for a well-reviewed beach instead of the “famous” beach, you should check out Perissa beach. Make sure to bring sandals to wear as the beaches are rocky! After spending the morning relaxing by the ocean, head back in your car up to Oia and spend some time walking around the beautiful streets in the daylight. Oia is the perfect place to wander aimlessly on your own, with friends, or with a romantic partner. Make sure to take a bunch of photos and secure a great location to watch the famed Oia sunset. Afterward, have a leisurely dinner and enjoy some wine.
One of the most memorable parts of my trip was waking up to watch the sunrise and climbing up a bell tower all on my own. There was nobody around as the city had not woken up yet and the setting was magical. If you are on a romantic trip, I would suggest staying in Santorini for another day and visiting a winery. However, if you are with a group of friends or traveling solo and are ready for some nightlife, take the ferry to Mykonos, Greece. The ferry is about 3 or 4 hours and runs throughout the day so you can leave late morning and arrive in the middle of the afternoon. You will be headed from Thira (Santorini) to Mykonos if you are looking up the ferry schedule online. Once you arrive in Mykonos, head to your hotel, villa, bed and breakfast, hostel, etc. and get situated. As soon as you are ready for some exploring, head over to Mykonos town, the city center, for some window shopping, dinner, and some ice cream for dessert.
Mykonos is pretty straight forward. Rent a vespa or a quad, head to the beach for the day, go back to your room to change, and party all night. I strongly urge you to consider renting a quad if you have never driven a vespa before. I decided to rent a vespa even though I have never learned how to ride a bike ( I know, super weird) and that was a complete joke since I fell off immediately as soon as I sat down. Since you will be driving the bike all over the island, I recommend being as safe as possible and for me that was with a quad. And definitely wear a helmet! I will never forget the feeling of just how much fun it was to ride around the island with the sun shining, wind blowing, and gas pumping.
Wake up hungover and exhausted and ready for day two in Mykonos. Hopefully the place you are staying has some sort of breakfast option that you can have before heading back out to the beach and repeating day seven all over again. Super Paradise Beach and Paradise Beach are where the party is at so take your quad and get on over there! If you prefer to do some beach reading at a quieter spot, there are also beaches you can go to that have a more relaxed atmosphere. At night, check out Cavo Paradiso and Scandinavian Disco. If you are not a partier, there are art galleries, museums, vineyards, and a half-day trip to Delos that you can partake in instead.
Take the ferry from Mykonos to Piraeus (Athens). The ferries from Mykonos typically leave around 2 PM, so you need to head back the day before in order to make your flight the next day. The ferry time is typically between 3 and 5 hours long. Once you arrive back in Piraeus, take the metro to your accommodation. Hopefully it is the same one you stayed at on the first part of the trip! If you have time, you can head back to Plaka and explore several other archaeological sites including the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s library, and the Ancient Agora. Enjoy your final dinner and buy your last minute souvenirs!
Fly home or to your next location. Since you will most likely be staying at the same accommodation you were at on your first few nights in Athens, you will already know the way back to the airport whether it is by metro, bus, or taxi. Cheers!
Planning to go elsewhere in Europe? Check out my guide to the best festivals in Europe!
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