Ideal Greece Itinerary 7 Days: Maximizing Adventure

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Greece may just be the world’s most perfect travel destination, with something to please tourists of every taste. Are you a history buff? Greece has some of the richest history on the planet, with historical sites and artifacts from centuries of civilization. Love spending time on the beach? The Greek islands boast pristine white sands, clear blue waters and spectacular weather for enjoying them. Is hiking your hobby? You’ll love trekking the rolling hills and towering peaks of the mainland and many islands. Are you a foodie who loves sampling delicious global cuisine? Greece has that covered too.

While it would take years to fully explore the riches Greece has to offer, a seven-day trip will afford you enough time to experience many of the highlights of three popular destinations: capital city Athens and two Cycladic islands, Mykonos and Santorini. The weeklong itinerary below will help you maximize your time and ensure you don’t miss any of the must-see attractions in this unforgettable place.  

Greece Itinerary 7 Days – Getting to Athens

Getting a flight into Athens is relatively simple, with dozens of connections from major European cities. Daily flights from Athens to the Greek isles are also available at relatively low prices, should you choose that route when it’s time to move on from the capital city.

While public transportation in Athens is fairly reliable and inexpensive, you’ll probably want to avoid the hassle after you’ve been traveling for 12 hours or more. You can take one of the many available taxis to your hotel, but the cost can be steep: 38 euros from the airport to the city center during typical hours and a whopping 54 euros for late-night arrivals (midnight to 5 a.m.).

Instead, consider booking a private transfer service, which will shuttle you from the airport to your hotel in a clean, comfortable mini-bus with up to 14 other passengers. Prices start at around 8 euros one-way and include all taxes and fees as well as bottled water and an English-speaking driver.

Greece Itinerary 7 Days – Day 1: Athens

Start your first full day in Athens with a hearty breakfast—you’ll need the energy for a full day of sightseeing. If you want something more memorable than what your hotel offers, try Stani, which serves creamy house-made Greek yogurt as well as spinach pies, pastries and more.

The Acropolis

After fueling up, your first order of business is to head to the Acropolis, arguably one of the most famous sites in Greece. The remains of this ancient citadel sit proudly on the city’s highest hilltop and contain the ruins of multiple structures, including the Parthenon (the instantly-recognizable former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena), Odeon of Herodes Atticus (an ancient theatre built in 161 A.D. and still used for performances today), the Ancient Agora of Athens and much more.

Plan to spend a minimum of several hours here, especially if you’re visiting during the summer high season. Arriving as close to opening time (8 a.m.) as possible will help you avoid the worst of the crowds and the midday heat. To save precious hours for other stops on your agenda, you can book a Guided Tour with a Skip the Line ticket.

Monastiraki Square

Just down the hill from the Acropolis, you’ll find Monastiraki Square, one of the busiest spots in the city. It’s home to Hadrian’s Library, whose ruins include the remains of imposing Corinthian columns standing more than 25 feet high. The square also houses a massive flea market, providing an excellent opportunity to browse for souvenirs made by local artisans.

Syntagma Square

Just a few blocks east of Monastiraki is the heartbeat of Athens: Syntagma Square, where stands the former Old Royal Palace that now houses the Greek Parliament. Don’t miss the changing of the guards at Parliament, which takes place hourly but occurs with additional ceremony on Sundays at 11 a.m. The square is a constant buzz of tourists and locals, and you can grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee at one of dozens of restaurants, cafes and food carts nearby.

If the weather is nice, take time to explore the National Garden, a large public park commissioned by Queen Amalia in the mid-19th century. The Queen famously planted the towering 80-foot Washingtonia palms herself, and these iconic trees number among the 7,000 trees and 40,000 other bushes and plants that make up the garden.

Psyri

This eclectic neighborhood bordering Monastiraki and Syntagma squares is the perfect spot to finish your first full day in Athens. Your dining choices are virtually endless, from fast food and taverns to quaint cafes and upscale restaurants, and many establishments offer live music and Greek dancing. Be sure to take a stroll down Pittaki Street, famous for its colorful lamps, chandeliers and lanterns that glow after dusk.

Greece Itinerary 7 Days – Day 2: Athens

National Archaeological Museum

This museum features the world’s most comprehensive collection of ancient Greek art, jewelry and other artifacts, with more than 11,000 exhibits spanning the Neolithic period to late Antiquity. Famous pieces include the gold death mask of Agamemnon and the Antikythera Mechanism, a 2,000-year-old relic considered to be the earliest primitive computer ever identified. Plan to spend around two hours here (more if you’re a history buff).

Varvakios Central Market

From the museum, it’s roughly a one-mile walk to the Varvakios Central Market, where foodies will be convinced they’ve died and gone to heaven. This massive indoor market features a colorful array of fresh meats, seafood, cheese, produce and spices along with vendors serving traditional Greek cuisine. From there, stroll south on Athinas to explore dozens of local shops, boutiques and cafés.

Lycabettus Hill

In the afternoon or evening, venture to the top of Lycabettus Hill, the highest point in the center of Athens. Energetic tourists can make the trek on foot, traversing multiple flights of zigzagging stairs to reach the 277-meter (908-foot) summit. If you’re not up for a hike, you can drive the Lycabettus ring road to the top or ride the cable car, which operates daily until midnight.

Once you arrive at the top, you can enjoy the stunning panoramic views of the city, enjoy a meal at the hilltop restaurant and visit the Church of St. George, a beautiful whitewashed structure with multiple domes and lovely stained-glass windows.

Twilight Tour

If you have the time—and the energy—you can squeeze in a bit more sightseeing with a twilight small-group tour. You’ll experience key attractions lit up against the night sky, visit three themed rooftop or garden bars and sample food and drinks at each, hear stories and history from a local guide and finish the evening at a bouzouki bar with live Greek folk music.

Greece Itinerary 7 Days – Day 3: Athens to Mykonos

To get from Athens to the Cycladic island of Mykonos, you have two modes of transport from which to choose: boat and plane. Your selection depends largely on timing.

If you want to get there as quickly as possible, flying is your best bet. The flight from Athens to Mykonos takes around 35 minutes, not including time spent in the airport checking bags and going through security. During the busy summer months, you’ll have at least a dozen daily flight options.

If you don’t mind a slightly longer trip, consider catching one of several ferries to Mykonos. Boats depart from three ports in Athens—Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio—with most departing between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and arriving between noon and 1 p.m. You’ll get to enjoy a few hours relaxing on board and taking in the majestic blue waters of the Aegean Sea before arriving on the island.

Mykonos Town (Chora)

This largest city in Mykonos is a hub of activity, with dozens of excellent restaurants, luxury boutiques, sightseeing destinations and of course, the island’s famous nightlife.

After you’ve had a chance to stop for a bite to eat at one of the charming local tavernas and dropped your luggage at your hotel, take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Old Town Mykonos—and be sure to have your phone or camera at the ready. The traditional Cycladic architecture—whitewashed walls with bright-blue accents—and narrow cobblestone streets make for stunning photo compositions.

Greece Itinerary 7 Days – Day 4: Mykonos

Hit the Beach

Mykonos is famous for its beaches, each one with a slightly different character. For travelers looking for an energetic party vibe, Paradise and Super Paradise beaches won’t disappoint. Essentially a waterfront club scene, these locales are known for loud music, dancing and hedonism and are not suitable for children. Luxurious Psarou beach is popular with the celebrity set, so you may just you’re your favorite film star lounging on the sand nearby. Paranga beach is relatively laid-back and good for families, while Ornos and Agios Ioannis beaches are some of the most secluded and peaceful places on the island.

Take a Dive

Mykonos is a diver’s paradise, thanks to the clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Spend your afternoon snorkeling or scuba diving and experience breathtaking close-up views of fish, coral and other marine life as well as a few fascinating shipwrecks.

Little Venice

Once you’ve worked up an appetite in the water, head back to Mykonos town for a romantic sunset dinner in the Little Venice neighborhood. Named for the charming waterfront houses reminiscent of the Italian city, it’s packed with eateries offering spectacular views of the sunset with the island’s famous windmills in the background.

Greece Itinerary 7 Days – Day 5: Mykonos to Santorini

Panagia Paraportiani

Before you depart Mykonos, be sure to plan a stop by Panagia Paraportiani, the most-photographed church on the island. With its striking whitewashed walls and blend of different architectural styles, this iconic structure in western Mykonos town is not to be missed.

Ferry to Santorini

The simplest and most enjoyable way to get from Mykonos to Santorini is by hopping on a ferry. Depending on the season, you’ll have multiple options from several different companies. The trip between the two islands typically takes about two hours.

Oia

When most people think of Santorini, they picture Oia, with its picturesque churches, rocky cliffs and whitewashed houses with blue trim. This town on the northern edge of the island’s caldera is widely considered to be the best spot on the island for capturing the colorful daily sunsets. Make a reservation at one of the restaurants offering dazzling sunset views—Kastro Oia is just one excellent option—and indulge in classic Mediterranean cuisine as you watch the sun sink into the glittering waters of the Aegean Sea.

Greece Itinerary 7 Days – Day 6: Santorini

Hiking from Oia to Fira

Get in a hearty breakfast before heading out on the popular six-mile hike between Oia and Fira. Along the way, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the rugged caldera and pass through several charming coastal villages, including Imerovigli and Firostefani, where you’ll want to detour for a glimpse of the Three Bells of Thira at Agios Theodoros church.

Fira

Once in Fira, spend the rest of your day exploring the town’s photogenic streets and churches and browsing its shops and museums. Cap things off with a visit to Santo Winery, located just outside of town. There, you can sample unique local wines flavored by the island’s rich volcanic soil as you take in another dazzling sunset over the caldera.

Greece Itinerary 7 Days – Day 7: Santorini

Akrotiri

On your final day in Santorini, venture south to Akrotiri, which features an ancient Minoan archaeological site dating back more than 4,000 years. You’ll also want to stop by the Akrotiri lighthouse, one of the oldest in Greece, which offers unforgettable views as well as fantastic photo opportunities. Finally, head over to Red Beach, where the strikingly-hued sand gets its color from earlier volcanic eruptions.

Santorini to Athens

If your return trip departs from Athens, the fastest and easiest way to get back to the mainland is via an inexpensive flight. You should have multiple airlines and departure times to choose from, especially during the busy summer season.

With that, your seven-day Greek adventure comes to an end. But chances are, this friendly Mediterranean nation has captured your heart, and you’re probably already planning your next visit.

 

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