Delve into Greece's modern culture and ancient history with this exciting itinerary. Immerse yourself in Greek mythology in Athens and Delphi before beginning your island hopping adventure. Explore the picturesque streets and inviting waters of Mykonos and the volcanic island of Santorini, with a stop at the sacred island of Delos along the way. Then head to Crete for more fascinating archaeological sites, hiking in the mountains, and visits to traditional villages before returning to Athens.

Highlights

  • Listen to Greek myths at the Acropolis
  • Visit the sacred island of Delos, the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo
  • Watch the sunset over Santorini's volcanic caldera
  • Tour the Minoan Palace of Knossos
  • Go trekking in Crete's Samaria Gorge

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens Athens
Day 2 Acropolis and Ancient Greek Mythology Tour Athens
Day 3 Day Trip to Delphi Athens
Day 4 Athens to Mykonos Mykonos
Day 5 Explore Authentic Mykonos Mykonos
Day 6 Day Trip to Delos Mykonos
Day 7 Mykonos to Santorini Santorini
Day 8 Santorini Tour & Wine Tasting Santorini
Day 9 Santorini Catamaran Cruise, Ferry to Crete Heraklion
Day 10 Guided Knossos and Heraklion Tour Heraklion
Day 11 Trek Samaria Gorge Chania
Day 12 Explore the Villages of Apokoronas Chania
Day 13 Return to Athens and Athens Food Tour Athens
Day 14 Depart Athens  

Detailed Itinerary

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: Acropolis and Ancient Greek Mythology Tour

Ancient columns
Ancient columns

Experience the ancient stories surrounding you with today's guided mythology tour. You'll meet your guide and storyteller at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, then head to landmarks around the city including the Acropolis, ancient cemetery at Kerameikos, and the Agora. The myths that founded the city and are featured in its retellings for generations will accompany as you go, with stories of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Dionysus, and more. Hear both the stories themselves and the historic facts behind them, adding resonance to the archaeological ruins you will visit during this four-hour tour.

Make your way over to explore the Acropolis Museum on your own after your tour (or join a guide if you'd prefer). Named one of the ten best museums in the world by National Geographic, this modern museum houses a multitude of artifacts removed from the hill of the Acropolis for safekeeping to provide insight into ancient religious practices and daily life. Linger for lunch in the museum's cafe, with views of the artifacts' former hilltop home.

As night falls, you may be able to visit the Athens Observatory to learn about the constellations overhead and take a look through the telescope. Its hours vary seasonally and by day of the week.

Day 3: Day Trip to Delphi

The Treasury of the Athenians at Delphi
The Treasury of the Athenians at Delphi

Today, you'll seek out the oracle during a day trip to the ruins of Delphi, once home to priestesses of Apollo who Ancient Greeks believed could predict the future. After being transferred from your hotel to Delphi (about 2.5 hours from the city), you'll take a guided tour through this sprawling archaeological site, with stops such as the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo, and expansive theater.

Explore the ruins or venture up an ancient footpath once used by worshippers of the god Pan, who started from the temples of Delphi and proceeded to Corycean Grotto for their religious rites, surrounded by the valley of olive trees and views of the Corinthian Gulf and peaks of the Peloponnese on your way. 

Outside of the ruins, you'll head to an old town district that used to serve as the leather tanner's district. One of Greece's last bellmakers keeps his workshop here; if you're lucky, he may be on site for a visit. Lunch will be served under the plane trees in the town square, with cheeses, Amfissa olives, and traditional home cooking.

Head indoors after lunch to the museum, a short downhill walk away. Wander through its halls to find the bronze Charioteer of Delphi, marble Sphinx of Naxos, and what may be the first recorded notation of a melody once inscribed on the walls of the Athenian Treasury.

You'll be transferred back to Athens in the late afternoon to rest up or spend the evening out and about in the city.

Day 4: Athens to Mykonos

Bright balconies of Little Venice
Bright balconies of Little Venice

You'll start your time in the islands on Mykonos, one of the most famous islands in the Cyclades chain. Known for its glitzy restaurants and nightlife, art scene, and jet set crowds (it was recently home to a Gucci pop-up boutique), Mykonos will throw you headfirst into your island adventure.

Your first day's itinerary is up to you. You'll receive a personalized list of tips for exploration, but some highlights include:

  • If you need to get your toes in the sand immediately, head to remote Agios Sostis beach to find your own isolated paradise.
  • For a more active experience, Ftelia Beach is known for its excellent windsurfing.
  • Stroll through Little Venice, an 18th-century neighborhood where colorful former captains' mansions and seaside restaurants seem to sprout straight from the sea. It's also right next to the island's famous hillside windmills for great photo ops.

Day 5: Explore Authentic Mykonos

Colorful boats bobbing in Mykonos' Old Port
Colorful boats bobbing in Mykonos' Old Port

Today, you'll sneak away from the cosmopolitan side of this island to discover Mykonos' authentic heart, touring charming villages, little harbors, and remote beaches with your expert guide. You'll start with a panoramic viewpoint of Mykonos Town to capture the perfect 360 degree shot. Then, head to the port of Agios Ioannis, a protected harbor where fishing boats now launch. Hear the stories of its namesake saint, including a church dedicated to him and the cell he was held in that are now home to an annual festival. 

Next, you'll go through the island's agricultural and livestock country, past cultivated fields and animals grazing. At Ano Mera village, you'll explore a farm with its superintendent and even have the opportunity to help out with some farm work or say hi to the animals. You'll also sample a light lunch with products grown right there in the fields. After lunch, the colorful village square awaits, including a monastery tour and stroll through the open-air market.

From there, the shores of Kalo Livadi, Kalafati, and Aghia Anna all await your camera lens as you pass them on your way to learn about the island's history at the site of former mines. The now-abandoned structures used to mine lignite from the island's soil. Wrap your tour up on the picturesque narrow streets of Mau, home to the Mykonos dam.

The evening is yours to spend as you will, whether you want to relax by the sea, wind away the hours with a sundowner in Little Venice, or dance the night away on the boardwalk of Paradise Beach.

Day 6: Day Trip to Delos

Terrace of the Lions
Terrace of the Lions

Travel back in time after breakfast with a morning boat ride out to the archaeological site at Delos. You'll board a small boat at the old port to cruise for 45 minutes out to one of ancient Greece's most sacred sites. This small island was the center of the Cyclades during the Classical era and the mythological birthplace of twin deities Apollo and Artemis. Pilgrims from around the region were attracted to the mystical site and helped it evolve into one of the largest trade centers of the Mediterranean.

Your guided tour will wind you through the foundations of former traders' mansions, temples, and landmarks such as the Terrace of the Lions. Don't skip the island museum, where many of the smaller artifacts and frescoes have been moved to protect them from the elements.

You'll return to Mykonos in time to catch up on your shopping in your the afternoon as you explore some of the best boutiques in the Aegean, or check out the weathered Faros Armenistis lighthouse perched high above the Aegean on the island's northwestern tip, with views across to the neighboring island of Tinos.

Day 7: Mykonos to Santorini

Santorini's caldera
Santorini's caldera

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll get an early ferry to Santorini. Nothing says "good morning" like watching the sun coming up over the island's iconic cubic architecture. Upon arrival, you'll take in the island's central caldera—the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history—rising above you. 

The island's volcanic history has led to the formation of some of the more unique beaches in the Greek islands, along with the dramatic cliff views on the island's caldera side. Spend your day relaxing at the beach or catching some exercise—and even more views—from one of Santorini’s more than 12 scenic walking routes, ranging from between two to eight miles each.  At dinner, sample the island's signature cherry tomatoes and white eggplants as guest stars in seafood dishes or the main event.

Day 8: Santorini Tour & Wine Tasting

The approach to Oia
The approach to Oia

The morning is yours to spend as you will, whether that's browsing the boutiques of Fira or getting beachside. Don't wear yourself out too soon, though, as in the afternoon you'll take a guided tour that will show you a side of Santorini that most travelers don't see.

You'll check out hidden gems in Oia, the furthest town along the rim of the caldera. Oia's arty streets are the quintessential Santorini scene. Later, you'll take a trip up to the highest peak on the island. Bring your camera for the 360 degree views at the top, as well as the many stops on your way down. You'll also see medieval villages at Megalochori and Pyrgos and the Blue Dome in Firostefani before your voyage ends with a wine tasting to sample varietals dating back centuries, complete with epic caldera views as the sun goes down.

In the evening, return to Oia to wander the alleys and linger in the town's tavernas into the evening and experience a calmer vibe after the sunset crowds subside. When searching for your dinner, seek out tomato keftedes, deep-fried tomato balls that encapsulate the essence of the Mediterranean diet, and the Santorini specialty spelt pie.

Day 9: Santorini Catamaran Cruise, Ferry to Crete

Red Beach, Santorini
Red Beach, Santorini

Enjoy a leisurely morning breakfast before taking some time to stroll and scope out small shops and boutiques. Explore Fira, the capital of the island, which offers plenty to check out. History buffs will be delighted by proximity to the Archaeological Museum of Santorini, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, the Folklore Museum of Emmanuel Lignos, and the church of Hypapante.

As the day unfolds, you'll head toward Vlychada Port to board your semi-private catamaran cruise around the island. Your first stop will be at the Red Beach to swim and sun, followed by a second stop at the White Beach to take in all the distinctive-colored sands of Santorini.

Barbecue will be served onboard while you sail past landmarks at Aspronisi, the Ancient LighthouseIndian Rock, and the prehistoric city at Akrotiri, hidden away at the southern tip of Santorini. These ruins are the site of some of the Bronze Age’s most advanced settlements, which prospered for centuries before being destroyed by a great volcanic eruption in the mid-second millennium BC. Top it off with a jump into the hot springs at Nea Kameni, where the mineral-rich volcanic waters are believed to have therapeutic properties.

Once you return to port, you'll be transferred to your ferry to Crete, the largest and most populous of the 230 inhabited Greek islands, and its capital city of Heraklion.

Day 10: Guided Knossos and Heraklion Tour

Palace at Knossos
Palace at Knossos

Set off for a guided exploration of the magnificent Palace of Knossos. This 3,500-year-old Minoan palace is a sprawling maze of royal chambers, grand staircases, storerooms, and workshops. The evocative Bronze Age site is believed to be Europe's oldest city; it flourished for nearly 2,000 years as an economic center, trading with cities across the Mediterranean.

Follow it up with a guided stroll through the streets of Heraklion, exploring the old city's medieval streets with architecture representing the island's Venetian past. Highlights include the elegant arches of the Loggia, now in use as the town hall, and the Koules Venetian fortress along the harbor walls. In the afternoon, don't miss the Archaeological Museum, home to one of the largest collections of Minoan artifacts in the world.

Spend the evening strolling with the locals through the old town of Heraklion. A pleasant pedestrian street connects the port area with the Lions' Square and its Venetian fountain. Don't miss "mama's food" at Anchorage Traditional Mezedopolio nearby.

Day 11: Trek Samaria Gorge

Under the towering rock faces
Under the towering rock faces

After breakfast, you'll be picked up at your hotel nice and early to explore one of Crete's natural wonders. Set amidst the scenery of the White Mountains is the popular hike through Samaria Gorge. The trek takes approximately five hours to cover the gorge's approximately 11 miles (18 km), most of which are downhill and during which you'll spot flora and fauna of all kinds. As your trail nears its end, you'll descend a gentle slope down to the peaceful beach at Agia Roumeli on the turquoise Libyan Sea where you can take a dip and wash off the trail dust. 

There will be time to linger on the sand and relax before you wrap up the outing with a boat trip to Chora Sfakion, where your coach will be waiting to return you to your hotel in Chania.

Day 12: Explore the Villages of Apokoronas

Stone arches at a former olive oil press
Stone arches at a former olive oil press

Today, you'll have a chance to hear some of the island's history firsthand during a guided tour through nearby Apokoronas. The region's villages—seven of them—are home to a number of sites including an Ottoman fort, historic churches, and a folklore museum. But most interesting will be the conversations you and your guide will have with the local residents of the area.

Some potential highlights include:

  • The hillside ruins at ancient Aptera, one of the largest city-states in Crete until it was destroyed by an earthquake in the seventh century, including a Minoan tomb believed to date back to roughly the 13th century BCE.
  • Two-aisled churches in Stilos village from the 13th and 15th centuries, along with a limestone fossil once believed to be a fossilized sea siren and a walk along the Kiliaris river to a Venetian watermill.
  • A glassblowing factory in Kokkino Chorio.
  • The old square of  Gavolochori, where you can visit the women's cooperative and see hand-knit lace created using a Byzantine technique or the neighboring Folklore Museum of Gavalochori.

In the evening, check out Chania's waterfront districts of Halepa and Tabakaria. Wander among former tanneries and factories in these off-the-beaten-track parts of town, just past the end of the main promenade.

Day 13: Return to Athens and Athens Food Tour

Vendors in the market
Vendors in the market

In the morning, you'll head back to Athens.

Once you get settled in at your hotel, meet your guide in Syntagma Square to start sampling the best of what the city's street food stalls have to offer. You'll learn about the Mediterranean diet and its potential benefits while strolling the city streets in neighborhoods you may not have discovered yet and bustling open-air markets.

Venture into the Varvakios Market, the largest and most popular fish, meat, and vegetable market in the city, and explore the city's main spice street. Sample olive oils, honey, cheeses from around the country, cured meats, olives, and more. Everything from baklava to souvlaki is available to appeal to even the pickiest eaters.

If you haven't had your fill of adventuring during the afternoon, spend your evening in the Koukaki neighborhood. This area's off-the-beaten-path wine bars will introduce you to a wide selection of Greek wines amid friendly crowds, or if you're with the whole family a selection of great local restaurants await.

Day 14: Depart Athens

Wave to the city
Wave to the city

Time to say farewell to Greece. Enjoy your final Athenian breakfast before your transfer to the airport.

Map

Map of Discover Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete - 14 Days
Map of Discover Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete - 14 Days

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Discover athens, mykonos, santorini, and crete - 14 days, Greece - May 16 - May 25, 2019

Traveler: Patrick L. - Local specialist: Chris Leontopoulos

I always use local guides and drivers when I travel. This is the first time I used kimkim online without using a travel agent from where I live. I was skeptical and a bit nervous at first. It turned out to be one of the best decisions. The best things about kimkim is that its' travel agents are living in the places that you want to travel so they have the most up-to-date info of where and when to go. My local agent, Chris is very knowledgeable of Greece. He listened to my unique... read more

I always use local guides and drivers when I travel. This is the first time I used kimkim online without using a travel agent from where I live. I was skeptical and a bit nervous at first. It turned out to be one of the best decisions. The best things about kimkim is that its' travel agents are living in the places that you want to travel so they have the most up-to-date info of where and when to go. My local agent, Chris is very knowledgeable of Greece. He listened to my unique requirements and custom built an itinerary for four people in my group. We all loved the schedule and places that we visited. We visited the must see archaeological sites and enjoyed the peaceful Naxos island. Chris was able to find me rooms where I had a direct view of the sunset in Santorini and Aegean sea from my room in Naxos. Local guides for the "Taste of Athens" walking tour and Acropolis were very friendly and accommodating. Eva, the local guide for the "Taste of Athens" tour changed the itinerary throughout the day to accommodate our needs. She is the best. Chris was always in contact with us to make sure everything was ok. Although there were problems in transportation, Chris resolved the problem to my satisfaction. One suggestion for Chris is to provide acknowledgement and update to changes or requests within 24 hours. This is very important especially to clients who have never used Chris before. Overall, I am still very satisfy with the services provided by kimkim staff and Chris.