5 days in Greece is just not enough time to take in such a beautiful location. The country is so disparate between its many cultures and geographic locations, trying to see the whole of Greece in just a single week is neigh impossible and would be like attempting to see all of the United States in just five days.
People visit the USA and can spend five days in Disney World itself, without ever witnessing other monuments and prime tourist destinations. Martha’s Vineyard, the Alamo, San Francisco Bay, Washington DC, Maui… keep in mind how different each of these spots are and then imagine visitors trying to make up their mind about where to visit.
5 Days in Greece: Our Recommended Itineraries
That is what you are going to have to do when you plan your short five days in Greece. There is so much to see that you can spend a month exploring the country and still not see it all. So lets take a look at some of the options that will give you a great experience in some portion of Greece and make you fall in love with the country. Enough to make you want to return, spending another five days on one of our other great itineraries in Greece.
As a history buff with an interest in one of our most ancient cultures, you’ll have more than enough to see and do in Athens and its surrounding area. Five days in Greece could be spent right here in the capital city, not to mention the short excursions available in the immediate vicinity.
The day starts early with so much to do. Walk the ancient streets of Athens, or better yet, rent a scooter, to make it around to all the incredible wonders available to you. The Acropolis and the temple of Athena is one of your first stops and you’ll want to walk the circuit and see the Ancient Agora, Lyceum of Aristotle, Ancient Olympic Stadium, Temple of Zeus, and Hadrian’s Arch for sure.
Leave time to walk up Phillapapou Hill to witness the Parthenon at sunset. In between this walking tour of all the ancient ruins, there are streetside eateries that you must try and experience the true Athenian life.
A quick trip up the road to Delphi will bring you yet another perspective on ancient Greek life. Here you will visit the Temple of Apollo. Home to the inner chamber that housed the famous oracle, the temple ruins also played host to the wisdom of the Seven Sages, among them “Know Thyself” and “Nothing to Excess”. Good advice through the ages.
The Athenian Treasury and the Theater of Delphi are close by and worth admiring. If you’re up to a healthy hike, the trails through Mount Parnassus will bring you to the Corycian Cave, a sacred location for nymphs, muses, and the nature god Pan.
Next we travel south onto the Peloponnesus to visit historical Mycenae. One of the first things you will note are the enormous walls in the city. Named the Cyclopian Walls, legend tells that they were built by the gigantic creature Odysseus escaped from in the Odyssey. Part of the wall system is the Lion Gate you will pass through as you enter the ancient city. Two tombs are also worth checking out, the Tomb of Clytemnestra and the Treasury of Atreus which is thought to be the tomb of the famous King Agamemnon.
Returning to Athens for a day of leisure, you have countless museums to peruse. If you skipped the Acropolis Museum while hitting all the open-air sites, make sure you stop in and see the chronological history of this magnificent site. Another must-visit is the National Archaeological Museum.
The exhibits there will stun you will the amazing history of Greek culture. The beauty and power in many of these exhibits can only be experienced in person, a photograph can’t convey the awe. After all the museums you can explore, take an afternoon stroll through the streets of Plaka as night falls and the Greek nightlife picks up.
Island Hopping the Cyclades
Having 6000 islands to choose from, spending five days in Greece could be and easy task even just by staying on the islands. If you’re looking to experience the most out of your short trip, get ready for a whirlwind tour of some of the best experiences the Greek Cyclades can offer.
Milos is one of the islands many visitors overlook but that is their great mistake. There is enough to see and do on this one island that you could conceivably spend the entire week here. Beaches ranging from the secluded Paliorema situated at an old mine, the port style Firopotamos Beach, and the breathtaking white alien mounds at Sarakiniko.
The cliffs and arches at Kleftiko are best taken in by a boat tour and while on the way you’ll see Sykia cave where the collapsed roof of the sea cave makes for an incredible view. Milos has plenty more in store for you, make sure you see it all.
Board the ferry and we’re on our way to world famous Santorini. If you planned a trip to the Greek Cyclades, you undoubtedly planned the trip around seeing the blue domed, white walled houses on the caldera cliffs, it is one of the more iconic images of the Greek islands.
After exploring the volcano, hiking the trails or taking in the fine wineries, make certain to plan the evening meal at one of the many restaurants overlooking the bay to the west as the northernmost town of Oia boasts the finest sunset view available in all of the Mediterranean; and they’re not wrong!
When you arrive on Naxos, get your hiking boots on and make the ascent to Mount Zas. It is the highest point in the entire Cyclades island chain at nearly 3300 feet with natural springs and shady caves along the trail to the summit. Once atop the mighty mountain you will have an amazing panoramic view of the island and the seas.
Greek art, particularly statues are known to inhabit museums around the world, but here on Naxos you will see an uncommon sight; unfinished and abandoned sculptures. The Kouros of Apollonas thought to be either Apollo or Dionysis, and the Kouroi of Flerio thought to be abandoned due to damage during transit.
Mykonos is another of those islands that needs no introduction. If you’re going to Mykonos, you already know why; it is party central for jet-setters and fashion-conscious. Mykonos is where the rich get seen and the rest of us want to be seen among them.
Late night clubs, popular DJs and dancing on the beaches until the sun comes up may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, and Mykonos has many small villages, quaint shopping districts and old church buildings to explore. Whether you wrap up your Cyclades excursion with waking up on the beach or sitting in a quiet cafe is up to you.
One hundred miles from the Greek mainland, Crete is very nearly a country in its own right. With such a diverse landscape and varied cultural makeup, spending five days in Greece can be accomplished by visiting Crete alone and taking in the entire Greek life without ever leaving this large island.
Chania is the old capital city and has a very Mediterranean influence much like Venice in Italy. The Old Town Market is a pleasant way to spend the day shopping and indulging in cafe treats and local Greek life. The proximity to snow-capped mountains in contrast to the sparkling blue Aegean Sea will make this beachfront visit worth remembering.
Then you can take a hike through Samaria Gorge. These steep walls carved into the white mountains is impressive to witness. The Doors, or Portes, is just under ten feet wide at the narrowest point making for a great photo opportunity while standing at the bottom of these majestic 1000’ high cliffs.
We leave behind the busy city life of Chania for a day in Rethymnon. The Fortress here is one of the best preserved medieval structures in Greece. Explore this photogenic castle and visit the shops in the pedestrian market below. The harbor is another perfectly beautiful photo spots.
When you’ve had enough shopping and are looking to relax on the beach, Rethymnon has plenty of hotel beaches to offer, but lets take a quick jaunt down to Matala. This strip of beach is circled by hillside caves and grotto making this small excursion worth the extra effort once you discover the laid back vibe from this relaxed beach.
Headed back across the island, north to the capital of Heraklion. It seems every city in Greece has an “old town” section, and this is another one worth visiting. Here there are museums that will take you through the archaeological history of Crete and the nearby Knossos. You’ll also want to visit the Palace at Knossos which is the location of the legendary labyrinth of King Minos.
Nearby is the Cretaquarium Thalassocosmos, a fantastic modern aquarium displaying the aquatic life from the seas surrounding Crete. After a long day of sightseeing, there is a lovely waterfront walkway that will let you breathe in the fresh sea air and ends at the Koules Fortress.
Wrapping up our short five days in Greece, we head further down Crete to the far west and spend the day in Sitia. This is another escape from the bustling tourist cities and a relaxing day of discovering life in Crete. Embracing both its rich cultural past and melding it with the influx of modern life, Sitia is a fresh city in an old setting.
Walk the Richtis Gorge and listen to the waterfalls for a relaxing and refreshing afternoon. And finish your trip at Vai Beach, the picturesque beach at the end of a palm forest.
Rhodes is just about as far as you can get from the Greek mainland and still spend five days in Greece. The eastern edge of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes is a fabulous blend of Greek and Turkish cultures with a fascinating history presented in near perfect locations that are so beautiful they appear as though straight out of a movie set.
Rhodes City is another of those ultimate quaint towns that you want to experience on foot, walking between the cafes and markets, breathing deep the Greek culture among the locals. Walk over to the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, a castle turned museum. Of course, no trip to Rhodes would be complete without seeing the spot where the 108’ statue of Helios, also known as the Colossus of Rhodes once stood.
This was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and though the exact location of the giant is disputed, there is a park at the northernmost tip of Rhodes that commemorates this ancient wonder.
We’ll head south for our next day of adventure. Stopping halfway at the Kameiros Ruins you can see the foundations of one of the larger cities on Rhodes. Set at the base of Mount Akramytis, the ruins are amazingly intact for their age and the infrastructure is incredible to see.
Further south we’ll take a trek through Monolithos Castle. Walking this trail up to the ancient stronghold will impress upon its visitors just how difficult an assault on this fortress would have been. The arches and churches still intact and monumental to history are exciting to see and the view from the castle looking out over the sea is breathtaking.
A quick jaunt to the east coast brings us to Lindos and its famous clifftop acropolis. This idyllic outcropping has been inhabited and reinvented by countless cultures through the ages. As a place of worship and a tactical observation point, this spot has been claimed and reclaimed by occupying forces throughout civilization’s history. The temple of Athena Lindia is still present and the Roman Temple dedicated to the Emperor are still intact.
The Byzantine architecture and the Greek orthodox Church round out the mix of clashing cultures that makes this spot such an amazing historical piece showcasing that this spot has been important to so many peoples over so long a time.
Finally, we make it to the southern coast of Rhodes and the village of Kattavia. This small town remains largely untouched by tourist invasions and is a great place to escape towards the end of your five days in Greece. Take a walk out on Prasonisi beach where a small strip of land connects this nature preserve to the southern tip of Rhodes and in the winter, the water rises and makes Prasonisi into an island.
The reliable wind currents make this spot a great place to enjoy some windsurfing and you will almost always see a handful of colorful kites in the air.