You'll see the ancient sites of Athens, discover the coastal Byzantine city of Thessaloniki, and stroll around the Venetian streets of Chania with this 9-day itinerary. Along the way, you'll go wine tasting, commune with the oracle at Delphi, and bask on the beaches of Crete. End your journey back in the capital, where you'll enjoy a farewell dinner with a view.

Highlights

  • Enjoy Athens' culinary delights with a wine tasting and cooking class
  • Consult the oracle at the sacred site of Delphi
  • Wander the streets of Thessaloniki on a walking tour
  • Explore the charming Venetian-style lanes of Chania

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Welcome Wine Tasting Athens
Day 2 Ancient & Modern Athens Tour Athens
Day 3 Day Trip to Delphi Athens
Day 4 Athens to Thessaloniki Thessaloniki
Day 5 Thessaloniki Walking Tour Thessaloniki
Day 6 Travel to Chania Chania
Day 7 Old Town of Chania Tour Chania
Day 8 Return to Athens, Cooking Class Athens
Day 9 Depart Athens  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens, Welcome Wine Tasting

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. 

In the evening, you'll sit down to drink to your upcoming adventure with a wine tasting in a bar in downtown Athens.

Day 2: Ancient & Modern Athens Tour

See every facet of the city
See every facet of the city

Span the centuries of the city on today's guided tour. Over the course of about seven hours, you'll cover thousands of years, starting with a review of the Acropolis and Agora, where you'll learn the history, philosophy, and politics of ancient Athens. 

Jump forward to the present, where Athenian art, style, and cuisine are being reborn amid their traditional influences. You'll see the colorful flea markets of Monastiraki, along with the street art, design, and vintage clothing stores of Psyrri. 

Get a taste of those traditional influences as you 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. You'll sample olive oils, honey, cheeses from around the country, cured meats, olives, and more. End in the Plaka district, one of Athens' oldest neighborhoods, where souvenir shops balance with local life. You'll cap off the experience with lunch in a traditional taverna at the foot of the Acropolis.

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.

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 Thessaloniki

Walkable streets in the city center
Walkable streets in the city center

Take a quick flight to history-rich Thessaloniki in the north. 

The day is yours to explore with a self-guided walking tour, so you can pick and choose based on your interests and time of arrival. You'll start with history, scoping out the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Byzantine churches and the Roman agora, which hosted traders from around the Mediterranean for thousands of years. 

Continue to the modern food and flower markets amid the riots of color and flavor on view. Don't miss the opportunity to sample the bougatsa, a typical semolina-based dessert. Keep going on to the crypt of Saint Dimitrios, a subterranean space recently discovered below the church. You'll learn about the range of cultures that have shaped Thessaloniki as you go, including Ottomans, Christians, and Jews.

End your trip at the top of the White Tower. This fifteenth-century structure is one of the city's most famous landmarks and its unofficial symbol, and is home to both a history museum and views across the water.

Day 5: Thessaloniki Walking Tour

The Rotunda at the Galerius Palace Complex
The Rotunda at the Galerius Palace Complex

Today you'll explore Thessaloniki's many sights on foot. Start your tour at the top of the mid-century modern OTE Tower in the Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center, one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. From here you'll enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the city while your guide explains its historical background. You'll also have a chance to sip on traditional Greek coffee and nibble on some snacks before continuing on.

Head down towards the Ottoman-era White Tower on the waterfront, where your guide will share tales of its gruesome history. Next, you'll make your way to the ruins of the 4th-century Galerius Palace at the heart of the city. You'll explore the throne room, the atrium, the basilica, and the Arch of Galerius. Continue on to the impressive Rotunda, which is said to be the best-preserved pantheon outside of Rome. A close look at the walls will reveal spectacular mosaic work.

Finally, you'll visit the Byzantine Church of St. Panteleimon and the tiny Church of the Savior, which is also called the Chapel of the Transfiguration of Christ, where you'll learn about their historical significance to Thessaloniki. 

Spend your evening at your own pace.

Day 6: Travel to Chania

Chania's old town harbor
Chania's old town harbor

Today, you'll continue onward to Chania, a city (and region) on the northwest coast of Crete. Chania itself is the second largest city in Crete and one of the most scenic spots on an island with stiff competition for that title. Life in this former Venetian city revolves around its charming 14th-century harbor, narrow streets with winding alleys, and colorful architecture influenced by past Ottoman and Egyptian eras.

While you're exploring the area, don't miss some of these spots:

  • The elevated neighborhoods of Topanas, Splantzia, Kolombo, and Kasteli for panoramic harbor views, Cretan taverns, and architectural history. You can see the ruins of the Minoan city of Kydonia and high walls of former Venetian moats integrated into the city.
  • The Municipal Market of Chania and neighboring Municipal Garden to enjoy a coffee amid the shade of the trees or garden clocktower. 
  • The Botanical Parks and Gardens of Crete to enjoy Cretan nature at its finest. The special micro-climate formed at this specific area allows plants from three different climate zones to grow in the park.
  • The olive-oil-producing region of Vouves, to the west of the city, complete with a museum and one of the oldest olive trees in existence.
  • Falassarna and Elafonissi beaches, also to the west, where you can find solitude on the sands.

Top it all off with a sunset drink on the rooftop at trendy Pallas or visit Cafe Koukouvaya for a pastry and a view of Chania town and harbor.

Day 7: Old Town of Chania Tour

Watch the city life go by
Watch the city life go by

Today, you'll experience the streets, buildings, high spots, neighborhoods, and monuments that only locals know with a guided tour. Walk the stone paths where the Venetians, the Ottomans, and older generations of Cretans used to live and work, admiring the flower-decorated neighborhoods. You'll learn about Cretan history, the Cretan mythology and traditions, meet the locals, and eat like the locals.

Visit the neighborhoods of Topanas, Splantzia, Kolombo and Kasteli, along with high spots to admire the panoramic view of the harbor, as well as traditional Cretan taverns and magnificent buildings. You'll also see the ruins of the great Minoan city of Kydonia and high walls of former Venetian moats now integrated into the city.

When hunger strikes, visit the Municipal Market of Chania and neighboring Municipal Garden to enjoy a coffee amid the shade of the trees or garden clocktower. Then, top it off with a sunset drink on the rooftop at trendy Pallas.

Day 8: Return to Athens, Cooking Class

Craft an afternoon spread
Craft an afternoon spread

You'll head back to Athens in the morning after breakfast.

Once you've settled in, spend your afternoon acquiring some take-home skills with a cooking class. You'll visit a contemporary multi-use space home to four shops in one—a coffee house, pie shop, creamery, and kitchenette—and the perfect setting for your lesson. Discover local products from around Greece and experiment with traditional recipes to create your own twist on the classics. And, of course, sample all of it.  Savor the fruits of your labor on the rooftop while taking in views of the Acropolis and surrounding Plaka neighborhood. 

The evening is yours to spend as you will, whether you want to sneak in some last-minute souvenir shopping in Monastiraki or visit the wine bars of Koukaki for an end-of-trip toast.

Day 9: Depart Athens

Wave to the city
Wave to the city

Time to say farewell to Greece. Enjoy your final Athenian breakfast and sneak in some last-minute exploring before your transfer to the airport.

Map

Map of Discover Athens, Thessaloniki & Crete - 9 Days
Map of Discover Athens, Thessaloniki & Crete - 9 Days