Experience captivating Athens and highlights of the nearby Peloponnese Peninsula and Cycladic Islands with this week-long itinerary.  After getting your first taste of Greece in the capital city, you'll take a day trip to legendary Mycenae and charming Nafplio. Then, head to Naxos to experience the beaches, history, villages, and culture of the largest Cycladic isle.

Highlights

  • Tour the historic sites, museums, and flea markets of Athens
  • Learn to prepare a Greek meal in a local home in Kaloxylos
  • Day-trip to Nafplio, a pretty Peloponnese seaport town
  • Hike to unfinished statues of the gods on Naxos

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens Athens
Day 2 Guided Acropolis Visit Athens
Day 3 Day Trip to Mycenae and Nafplio Athens
Day 4 Athens to Naxos Naxos
Day 5 Ancient Naxos Hike Naxos
Day 6 Cooking Class on Naxos Naxos
Day 7 Beach Day on Naxos Naxos
Day 8 Naxos to Athens and Depart  

Detailed overview

Day 1: Arrive in Athens

Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis
Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis

Welcome to Greece! You'll begin your trip in Athens, home to both the iconic Acropolis and so much more. The mythology of this spectacular city precedes it, with towering temples to Classical deities and the ruins of ancient marketplaces rubbing shoulders with lively nightlife, crowded flea markets, and contemporary cuisine. Make the most of your time in the city at some of these spots:

  • Check out the views of the can't-miss Parthenon. (Pro tip: The Parthenon is the temple, the Acropolis is the hill.) This temple to Athena has enchanted visitors since its construction was completed in 438 BC. It's probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of ancient Greece and is visible from many of the city's high points.
  • Stop at the sprawling National Museum for a crash course in ancient iconography. Be sure to seek out the room housing the Antikythera mechanism, essentially an ancient astronomical computer.
  • Visit a smaller archaeological site at the Tower of the Winds, then stroll down neighboring pedestrian Aiolou Street to stop at shops and cafes. 
  • Find your perfect souvenir or sun hat in the busy stalls of the Monastiraki flea market. 

Spend your evening exploring the up-and-coming Pangrati neighborhood or amid the nightlife and mezze of the Psyrri district.

Day 2: Guided Acropolis Visit

Caryatids
Caryatids

Today you'll get to experience the mighty Acropolis—ruins of the iconic 5th-century BCE complex located on the rocky hilltop overlooking the city. Take a guided tour of the entire settlement with an English-speaking professional guide who will share the stories of the country's most famous monument.

In addition to the iconic Parthenon, dedicated to the city's patron goddess Athena, you'll view and learn about the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the most sacred temple of Erechtheion, all located on the sacred rock of the Acropolis.

Complete your tour with a trip to the nearby modern Acropolis Museum. Many of the more delicate statues and other artifacts originally found at the Acropolis have been moved here, but you can imagine them in their previous home as you explore the exhibits. Stop in the musuem cafê for lunch or a relaxed snack and coffee.

After lunch explore the Anafiotika neighborhood on the northeast side of the hill. The oldest neighborhood in the city, Anafiotika's classic white geometric architecture echoes the motifs of the Cyclades in this tranquil urban oasis.

Day 3: Day Trip to Mycenae and Nafplio

The Lion Gate
The Lion Gate

Start the day early with a full day trip back to a true classic. You may recognize Mycenae from its role in Homer's Iliad: It was home to the famous Helen, whose Mycenean husband King Agamemnon led his people to war when she left him for Paris of Troy. See its Cyclopean walls, whose construction method is still a mystery. They got their name due in part to the belief that only the mythical Cyclops would have been strong enough to lift their boulders.

You'll pass through the Lion Gate to enter the ruins of the city, wandering past the tombs of Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra and the Treasury of Atreus.

You'll go on to Nafplio, one of the prettiest seaport towns in the Peloponnese peninsula and once believed to have been founded by the son of Poseidon. The town was the first capital of the new Greek state after the war of independence in the 1800s. Take a stroll through the old town, where you'll pass statues honoring significant figures from Nafplio's history, Ottoman fountains, and Venetian architecture along the winding streets, topped off by the Bourtzi Castle in the middle of the harbor. Don't miss the climb up 1,000 steps to see the view from the Palamidi Castle.

Day 4: Athens to Naxos

Looking back from the Portara
Looking back from the Portara

Time to ferry or take a quick flight to Naxos after breakfast. With a main town where you can shop and admire the Venetian architecture, a historic Kastro (castle) area, and expansive beaches, the island offers opportunities for laidback relaxation and water activities. The rest of the day is yours to unwind as you choose.

If you prefer something a bit more pastoral, Naxos is also known for its rich agricultural industry. Pay a visit to a cheese-producing facility or a local distillery to sample the famous local kitron liqueur. For dinner, wander up the hill through the streets of the Kastro neighborhood to pick out your favorite of the area's tavernas, where you can sample the island's fresh produce in its best forms.

Day 5: Ancient Naxos Hike

Kouros in the shade
Kouros in the shade

After breakfast, head to the village of Myli, where you'll pick up an old footpath that leads to the island's ancient aqueduct. Hike up to the nearby quarry, where you'll find two large kouros, unfinished statues of ancient Greek gods, lying on the ground. Originally intended to hold up a temple roof, these giant statues were abandoned by their ancient sculptors when they discovered faults in the marble, but they're no less impressive for that today.

Pass the statues along with olive groves, orchards, and a shady riverside. You'll visit the Catholic church of Theoskepasti, also known as Agios Mamas, the island's oldest chapel, along with Episkopi, the summer residence of the Catholic archbishop, on this 2.5-hour guided hike.

Stop in Mesi Potamia on your way back to town to take a break at a taverna under the trees on the river bank. Spend your afternoon exploring the town along with its neighboring riverside settlements at Ano Potamia and Kato Potamia, connected by a walking path, or return to town for a well-deserved beach break.

Day 6: Cooking Class on Naxos

Pass the kitron please
Pass the kitron please

Take a leisurely morning after breakfast, adding more shopping or time in the sun to your itinerary. At your choice of time in the afternoon, you'll head to Kaloxylos village to learn how to prepare a typical Greek meal in a local home. Join in the village life, with a menu that you can help determine based on your personal preferences, season, and what's growing in the village garden. 

At sunset, head to the Portara if you haven't yet. The unfinished entrance to the Temple of Apollo on an islet outside of town is one of the island's best views as the sun goes down.

Day 7: Beach Day on Naxos

Aliko Beach on Naxos
Aliko Beach on Naxos

Naxos has numerous spectacular beach options. Since the island is less famous than nearby Mykonos and Santorini, it is easy to find your own private slice of paradise. Some of the best beaches are located along the southwest coast of the island, from Plaka down through Mikri Vigra and Aliko.

Day 8: Naxos to Athens and Depart

Take one last look
Take one last look

It's time to wave goodbye to Naxos! After breakfast, you'll be transferred to either Naxos Port or the island's small airport to return to Athens in time for your departure.

Map

Map of Delightful Naxos and Mainland Greece - 8 Days
Map of Delightful Naxos and Mainland Greece - 8 Days