Greece: An Ideal 10-Day Itinerary
January 20, 2020
10 Days in Greece: Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos
So you’re planning a 10-day trip to Greece? Sounds like a pretty swell idea to me. Greece is a magical place to visit because you have the archeological sites in Athens, the serenity of the cave dwellings in Santorini, and the boisterous nightlife in Mykonos. I mean…how can you not have a fabulous time? While planning your Greece trip, just keep in mind the following: 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. For more specifics on Greek Island hopping, be sure to read How to Choose the Best Greek Island Hopping Itinerary Routes. Below you will find my ideal 10-day Greece itinerary for visiting “the big three” as I tend to refer to Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos.
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Feel free to comment below with any questions that you may have about Greece and the planning process! And, if you’re looking for packing tips, be sure to read my Comprehensive Greece Packing List for a super detailed guide on what to bring to Greece.
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Day 1 of 10 Days in Greece:
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.
Day 2 of 10 Days in Greece:
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 10 euros in the summer season 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.
Where to stay in Athens:
Hotel Grande Bretagne, A Luxury Collection Hotel is the highest rated 5-star luxury hotel in Athens. There are beautiful views of the Acropolis from many of the rooms as well as views of Parliament and the changing of the guard ceremony which is located right across the street from the hotel. Prices are typically in the $200-350 range and the hotel boasts all of the amenities that you would expect at a luxury hotel including a pool, rooftop restaurant, turndown service, etc.
Plaka Hotel is an awesome affordable option at $100-150 a night and maintains stellar reviews. The hotel is situated in one of the best locations in the city right in the Plaka district and does have Acropolis views from some rooms as well as from the rooftop terrace.
Best Hostels: Personally, I use Hostelworld to book all of my hostels as I trust their rating system.
City Circus Athens – If there is availability, this hostel is the highest rated for the amount of reviews.
Athens Backpackers – If you are looking for a party atmosphere, and City Circus is unavailable.
Day 3 of 10 Days in Greece:
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. If it makes you feel more at ease to book ferries in advance, then I recommend using Ferryhopper to book your tickets
But, here is why I suggest waiting: 1) Because it’s Greece and ferry times change and the websites can be 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. 3) During the off-season, direct ferries are not always accessible between islands like Santorini and Mykonos. You may need to take flights between the islands should you wish to visit them both.
An exception to this rule is if you plan on taking a day trip to Hydra, especially on the weekend when local Greeks visit this pedestrian-only island. My friend missed her ferry and the next available one that day was hours later, so she unfortunately did not get to spend much exploring this beautiful island. Ferryhopper is straightforward with your options. Ferries leave from Piraeus and arrive in the Hydra port.
With all that out of the way, let’s get back to the day. Take the metro from your accommodation to the Piraeus port. 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.
Day 4 of 10 Days in Greece:
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 or take the funicular 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. Luckily, I found some airbnbs in Santorini as well that are “reasonable” in price comparatively to some of the more luxurious resorts. 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.
If staying in Oia is just not in your budget, don’t despair. You can always do the walk from Fira to Oia. You’ll walk through volcanic landscapes and the towns of Fira, Imerovigli, Firostefani, and of course, Oia on this 10km hike. And if that sun is beating down on you, stop for a cappuccino freddo at a local shop along the way.
Where to stay in Oia, Santorini:
Katikies Hotel is pretty much a dream honeymoon spot; the views, the accommodation itself, the hospitality of the staff…all as close to perfection as you can get. There are 3 swimming pools on the property and breakfast is delivered daily to your patio. Rates range from $450 to upwards of $1000 during the high season.
Andronis Luxury Suites is a luxury cave hotel with minimalist design overlooking the caldera. The hotel has fabulous views, a swimming pool, and breakfast on the balcony is included in the price. Rates range from $377 to 850 a night.
Where to stay in Fira, Santorini:
Anteliz Suites: Luxury – Click here to see the latest prices.
Costa Marina Villas: Budget – Click here to see the latest prices.
Best Hostels on Santorini: As I said, there are no hostels in Oia and the ones in Fira do not have the best reviews. If you are looking for something very inexpensive, here are two options but they are a bit away from the center.
Stelio Place at Perissa Beach – It has phenomenal reviews if you are willing to stay in Perissa Beach.
Caveland – I stayed here on my trip and it is walking distance to Fira but you may want to take a taxi back at night since it is a bit further out.
Day 5 of 10 Days in Greece:
Rent a car and head out to the beach for the day. While Santorini has incredibly unique beaches, they aren’t all “sunbather friendly.” If that’s what you’re looking for, go to Crete and check out Elafonissi, or the famous pink beach.
With your expectations in check, I personally think you should visit 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 lounge bed/swimming alternative as opposed to the “famous” beach, you should check out Perissa beach, known for its black sand. Make sure to bring sandals or water shoes to wear to the beaches as they are rocky!
After spending the morning 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.
Day 6 of 10 Days in Greece:
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 for some locally sourced wine.
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, wander over to Mykonos town, the city center, for some window shopping, dinner, and some ice cream for dessert.
Day 7 of 10 Days in Greece:
Mykonos is pretty straight forward when it comes to planning your visit. Rent a vespa or a quad, head to the beach for the day, take a pit stop to view the Chora windmills, and go back to your room to change before you 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 had never learned how to ride a bike ( I know, super weird) and that was a complete joke since I fell off the vespa as soon as I sat down on it. 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’ll never forget just how much fun it was to ride around the island with the sun shining, wind blowing, and gas pumping.
You may get lucky, but most rental companies won’t rent you a vespa or a quad without an International Driver’s Permit. It’s a relatively simple process especially if you have AAA. You just need to print out a form that you can find online on their website, write a check for $20, and go in to AAA to get the license. You also have to bring two original passport photos with your signature on the back.
Day 8 of 10 Days in Greece:
Did you wake up hungover and exhausted and ready for day two in Mykonos? Let’s rally on! 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 or go for some wine and cocktails at one of the various bars in Mykonos Town.
If you are reading this and thinking to yourself…hold up! I didn’t just come to Mykonos for the fiesta, then a half-day trip to Delos to visit the ancient ruins is a must. There are also a plethora museums and vineyards to visit and my friends who just visited said that there favorite experience in Mykonos was art gallery hopping around sunset time.
Where to stay in Mykonos Town:
You have a choice of staying near the main town or closer to the beaches. I recommend staying near Mykonos town as you will be closer to the shops, bars, and restaurants and can always shuttle or take a quad to the beaches during the day.
Kouros Hotel & Suites is a 5 star hotel with impeccable service (this is what really sets them apart). It is a 10 minute walk from Mykonos town so that you have those uninterrupted sea views from above. There is complementary shuttle service to town if needed. Breakfast is included with your stay and there is a small fitness center and spa as well.
Vencia Hotel is a slightly more affordable option, and still boasts stellar reviews. It’s about a 10 minute walk from Mykonos Town which is perfect because you have the views of the town and water from the property and from the infinity pool. Breakfast is included which is always a plus and the hotel provides shuttle service to the beaches.
Tropicana – If you are in Mykonos to party, then book this property early! It is BY FAR the best option for staying near Paradise Beach which is where the famous beach clubs are and it is usually sold out.
Day 9 of 10 Days in Greece:
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 prior 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 you liked your accommodation enough to stay at the same place you stayed during 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!
Day 10 of 10 Days in Greece:
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!
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