Travel back in time to ancient Athens, party-hop the beach clubs of Mykonos and explore the famous blue-and-white houses of Santorini. This itinerary explores Greece's most iconic city and islands.
EuropeGreece8 days / July 2018
Highs & Lows
Enjoying the view of the Aegean Sea with a drink in hand in Little Venice, Mykonos.
Getting lost for hours trying to find our Airbnb in Santorini.
To travel to Greece is to enter a world full of beauty and magic! It’s one of those jaw-dropping destinations that leaves you completely speechless! Boasting some of the world’s most iconic ancient ruins as well as stunning islands, Greece is an adventure for all types of travellers. From history buffs, nature lovers, to couples looking for a romantic getaway - this is the place to experience it all!
Our first stop is Athens. This is the hub of all the main history exploration you’ll be doing and encompasses lots of sightseeing and museum tours.
From Athens, we set out to Mykonos - my favourite destination of this trip. This island is best known for its world-renowned beach clubs and parties, as well as its more lavish lifestyle. Its charming quaint little town is a must-see and proudly boasts one of the country’s best food scenes!
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the famous island of Santorini. Dubbed one of the world’s most romantic destinations, its Cycladic blue-and-white architecture overlooking the Aegean Sea makes this my personal favourite place for watching sunset!
This itinerary covers all the must-see sights and top things to do in each location so you can make the most of your week-long Greek trip! Have fun and enjoy!
The Acropolis - Undoubtedly synonymous with Greece, is the impressive ancient Greek monumental complex known as the Acropolis of Athens. Situated on top of a giant hill in the middle of the city, the Acropolis is a stunning sight to be seen from afar just as it is from up close, however it's most famous for its stunning ancient temples and ruins that date back to the 5th century B.C. and that have earned it a spot as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most famous monuments to visit include:
The Parthenon - Arguably the most well-known and visited monument in Athens. The Parthenon is a former temple built in honour of the Goddess Athena of Greek mythology, for which the city is named after.
The Propylaea - A giant monumental gateway that served as entry into the Acropolis.
Temple of Athena Nike - An important temple which is also dedicated to the Goddess Athena.
Theatre of Dionysus - the world's first ever theatre (yes, its super ancient).
Give yourself about half the day to explore around the Acropolis. Also, just before exit, you'll notice a giant rock, also known as the Areopagus Hill. Make sure to climb up for an impressive view over the ancient complex and the city.
After finishing your tour around the Acropolis, you can continue exploring nearby, as there are tons (seriously, TONS) of historical sites and monuments just walking distance away.
Hadrian's Arch - An arch constructed under Roman Emperor Hadrian to separate 'new' from 'old' Athens.
Temple of Olympian Zeus - The largest temple in the city.
Panathenaic Stadium - This impressive stadium is not only built entirely out of marble, but it's also where the first modern Olympics proudly took place!
National Garden - A beautiful nearby park that offers pretty views of lush greenery and gardens. Great for a leisurely stroll or to relax after all the sightseeing!
Syntagma Square - A lively public square in the heart of the city! The square holds lots of historical and political importance and actually translates to 'constitution' in Greek. At the top of the square, you'll find the Greek Parliament House.
Monastiraki - Monastiraki is a popular and lively Athenian neighbourhood central to many of the major tourist sites and attractions. It's most known for its shopping and brings in the likes of fashionistas and bargain hunters alike - that's because you can find many beautiful luxury boutiques and famous brands as well as one of the city's most famous flea markets. Get your shopping on, grab coffee from one of the cute cafes and afterwards make your way over to Monastiraki Square. Here, you can take in all of the city's lively hustle and bustle. It's also home to some great rooftop bars offering a spectacular view of the city and the Acropolis nearby. I recommend checking out A for Athens, especially for sunset!!!
Plaka & Anafiotika - Probably my favourite part of Athens was wandering around the neighbourhood of Plaka! It's such a peaceful and charming ancient quarter - in fact it's the oldest neighbourhood in all of the city! Spend some time walking along the streets and just get lost! You'll find tons of charming traditional restaurants and cafes as well as some cool bars spread throughout its picturesque streets. As you wander, make sure to walk over towards Anafiotika, a section of Plaka. Filled with the cutest little white houses and beautiful lush greenery and bougainvillea, this part of town carries a romantic feeling in the air mixed with some Greek island vibes!
Lycabettus Hill - Lycabettus hills is the tallest mountain in Athens. It's a great hiking spot for adventure and nature lovers and offers possibly the best view of the Acropolis from above! I highly recommend checking it out for sunset!
National Archaeological Museum - Highly recommend this one. It is one of the biggest and most important museums devoted to ancient Greek history.
Museum of Cycladic Art
Byzantine And Christian Museum
Explore Mykonos Town - One of my most memorable experiences from my Greek trip was wandering around the quaint little streets of Mykonos town (also known as Chora). There's a distinct charm and romance in the air. Take the day to walk around the cobbled streets and soak in the beauty of its traditional Cycladic blue and white features. Mykonos is truly picture perfect, so take every opportunity to photograph the stunning houses and alleyways. Also, if you're into shopping, this is the place to do it! You'll find tons of cute boutiques as well as artistry and souvenir shops. For the foodies, Mykonos will spoil you! The town is known for its delicious food scene and you will find charming restaurants serving Greek cuisine wherever you go! It's worth noting however, that Mykonos is not cheap! It's known for catering to this lavish lifestyle however I did my trip as a backpacker so it is still possible!
Must-try Greek dishes to order:
Gyros; souvlaki; any fish or seafood dish; moussaka; pastitsio; dolmades; Greek salad; saganaki. For desert, baklava is a must!!!
Windmills of Mykonos - While exploring Mykonos town, you'll notice a number of charming windmills on a hill nearby the shore. Windmills are signature of Greek islands but perhaps most well-known for it is Mykonos. You can explore from the outside and also take some great photos of the scenery from the lookout point.
Little Venice - Also located in Mykonos town and a must-see is the cute neighbourhood of Little Venice! The neighbourhood literally sits at the edge of the sea and truly has a charming Venetian feel to it, with lively bars and restaurants overlooking the deep blue Aegean Sea. Also, this is THE spot to be for sunset. I highly recommend booking a dinner reservation for some point during your stay - book way ahead if you can!
Boat tour - A great way of exploring Mykonos is through a boat tour! It offers a different perspective of the island from its waters and there are plenty to choose from, each catering to different interests. There are some that run a few hours while others offer a full-day experience with lunch and alcohol included!
Day trip to Delos - Delos island is a must for history lovers! This small island has become a major archaeological site full of ancient Greek history and mythology. It is said to be the birthplace of Greek God Apollo and is home to temples dedicated to multiple mythological gods and goddesses! Take some time to explore the sacred ruins - either book with a tour company for a full guided experience or explore on your own! Ferries are available from Mykonos for a short 40 minute ride!
Nightlife and Beach clubs - Saved the best for last... Now if you're anything like me, than this is the part of Mykonos you really came for - THE PARTIES! Mykonos is most well-known for its amazing beach parties and nightlife! In fact, it's often dubbed the 'Ibiza' of Greece! If you're into this scene, than this is the place to experience it, especially in the summer months! The island is crawling with famous beach clubs that play music at all hours of the day! While some are known for their day-beach parties, others are known for going into the wee hours of the morning.. and then there's your luxury clubs! No matter what you're into, you'll find it in Mykonos! Note, most of these clubs are located away from the main town but are not more than a 15-20 minute drive away.
Cavo Paradiso Club Mykonos - The most famous club on the island! Super popular and brings in a large younger crowd. It's also known for bringing in some of the world's most popular DJs to perform!
Super Paradise Mykonos - Another very popular beach club and also super gay-friendly!!
Tropicana Beach Club - Another favourite! It brings in a fun crowd of young party-goers and is overall such a great time!
Scorpios - One of the coolest beach parties I've ever experienced! Scorpios was one of my favourites (right after Cavo Paradiso)! It has a very boho-chic and hippie feel to it, mixed with all the glitz and glam! It's such an experience and is also a favourite among celebrities! It's also a great spot for catching sunset!
Nammos - Probably the most lavish club and restaurant on the island! It's often frequented by celebrities and is the 'it' place to party.
Skandinavian Bar - A favourite among all! This one's the only club on the list that's actually located in Mykonos town. It's known for its unpretentious yet lively atmosphere!
Oia - Undoubtedly the highlight of my trip was visiting Oia! It's known as one of the most romantic and picturesque towns of the world! While most over-hyped places can fall rather underwhelming, Oia (and all of Santorini for that matter) is one that truly lives up to it and more! With that being said - yes it's as crowded as you can imagine, but with so many cute little back-roads and cobbled alleyways, it's easy to wander around and get lost without the major crowds!
Popular sights and spots:
Blue domes of Oia - Check out the iconic 3 blue domes of Oia - it's arguably one of the most iconic sights of Santorini! The three blue domes make up the roofs of several churches, including Anastasi Church and the Church of Agios Spyridonas, which overlook the sparkling blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
Kastro Oia houses - Another popular spot in Oia are the Kastro Oia houses. They are a set of three stunning bright orange houses with vibrant blue windows and doors. They overlook the sea and the rest of the town and is truly a magical sight! The Kastro houses now operate as a hotel and villa experience.
Nikolaou Nomikou - This is the main street of Oia and offers some of the most picturesque views in town!
Catch sunset - It should be a crime to visit Santorini and leave without catching sunset! Haha, but for real, it's ranked as one of the world's most iconic spots for watching the sun go down and it's honestly just as magical as it sounds! The most popular place to experience this is from the Castle of Oia. Personally the amount of people that crowd this spot at once makes this specific location the only thing that was overhyped for me. My recommendation is that you can't go wrong with a sunset view from anywhere in Oia. Pick a spot anywhere that is less crowded for a more enjoyable experience.
Fira (Thira) - Fira is known as Santorini's more livelier town. It's known for its great bars and nightlife as well as equally charming views. Take the time to walk around its cobbled streets, visit its many churches and museums and also enjoy the nightlife scene. I recommend checking out the Museum of Prehistoric Thira or the Archaeological Museum of Thira and as for nightlife, Enigma Club, Koo Club and 2 Brothers Bar are popular options.
Also, I highly recommend catching sunset in Fira as well! Although not as popular as in Oia, I think that's what makes it so great! The town is stunning and without the crowds, this makes it my ideal choice for golden hour!
Other things to see and do:
Hike Fira to Oia - For those who are up for the challenge, I recommend hiking the trail from Fira to Oia! The views along the Caldera cliff are highly worth it! Be mindful however, that if you go in the summer months, to prepare accordingly and avoid peak hours of the day. The Greek summer heat is no joke and there isn't much shading at all on the islands!
ATV around the island - One of the best and most convenient ways to get around the island is by ATV. You'll notice that this is the most common form of transportation by locals and tourists alike, mainly because they're the most accessible and also cheaper than cars, but also because the roads are quite narrow. I had sooo much fun driving the ATV around! Whether you use it as your main form of transportation or just as a fun experience, the views throughout the ride will leave you speechless! I highly recommend it!
Visit local wineries - Wine lovers, this one's for you! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Santorini boasts a number of wonderful wineries! You can easily spend half a day or so touring around and wine-hopping from place to place on your own or join a group wine tour. Some recommended wineries are Domaine Sigalas, Estate Argyros Santorini and Venetsanos Winery.
Beaches - Santorini is home to some very diverse beaches with unique features to each. The most popular ones are Red Beach (red volcanic rocks), Perissa Beach and Kamari Beach (both black sand beaches). I visited Perissa Beach and had a very enjoyable time! We rented lounging chairs at one of the beach clubs/ restaurants and drank cocktails all day! It was a blast!
Q & A
Anything go wrong during the trip?We got super lost in Santorini... but the sad part is that we were right where we had to be! The thing about these quaint little Greek towns is that they're essentially a maze! The tiny streets are more like alleyways that barely fit a car and all the houses resemble one another. On top of that, it's hard getting around as all signage is in Greek. So finding our airbnb was a mission! Even our Greek Uber driver couldn't find it... until over an hour later! And then the next night, we got lost again finding out Airbnb! This time, it took us several hours of circling around without phone battery or a map! So, please come prepared by mapping out your location ahead of time!
Tips you would give a friend?My biggest tip is to plan and book reservations way in advance, especially during peak summer months! This goes for all things but most importantly for accommodation! We booked our stay for each location about a month and a half before the trip and found that options were already tight by then. In fact, we had much difficulty finding a reasonable place for both Mykonos and Santorini. As a result, we ended up with stays that were either far away from our ideal location or simply lacking in a few amenities (e.g. staying in a camping tent in Mykonos). I also recommend doing the same for your transportation to and from the islands. Whether you decide to fly or take a ferry, the best-valued rides will fill up quick! So if possible, do book several months ahead!
Packing tips?Super important for the summer months - bring protective gear! Bring a trusty sun hat or two, even an umbrella if you want extra coverage, and certainly lots of sunblock! Additionally, pack a reusable water bottle! Seriously, the Greek summer heat is no joke and I was surprised to find that there's barely any shading. I didn't come prepared and found myself constantly stopping into convenience stores to buy water bottles all throughout the trip. I also had to buy a hat from one of those overpriced tourist booths. Save yourself the hassle and come mentally and physically prepared for it!
Transportation Tips?Once you're in the core parts of the city and towns, most tourist spots can be easily accessed by foot. However, it's getting there from the airport of ferry docks that is a little bit trickier as they're far removed. I remember the Athens airport being reaaaally far from the city and took us over an hour Uber ride to get to our Airbnb! I highly suggest planning out your transportation ahead of your arrival and recommend you order a taxi or Uber. Make sure you have available data or strong wifi ahead of time to make the process smoother. Also to note, do give yourself adequate time for transportation and travel days in between your trip. One of my main errors was planning out too much activities for later on during a travel day, thinking I'd get in early enough and get right to exploring. But travel usually takes longer than it seems and checking-in to your accommodation also takes quite some time! So, be mindful to take things slower and don't put too much expectations on days of travel.