Some of the most-discussed spots in Greece are yours to explore on this itinerary. After a city history tour of Athens, you'll set sail for the Cyclades' best-known islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Take a sunset sail out to the sacred island of Delos and sun on the sparkling beaches of Mykonos, then sample the fresh seafood and volcanic springs of Santorini.

Highlights

  • Hear and tour the mythology of the ancient Acropolis
  • Visit the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis on the sacred island of Delos
  • Lounge on the luxury beaches of Mykonos
  • Cruise through the colorful volcanic caldera of Santorini

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens Athens
Day 2 Explore Athens & the Acropolis Athens
Day 3 Athens to Mykonos Mykonos
Day 4 Beach Day & Sunset Boat to Delos Mykonos
Day 5 Mykonos Day Cruise Mykonos
Day 6 Mykonos to Santorini Santorini
Day 7 Free Day in Santorini Santorini
Day 8 Explore the Volcano Santorini
Day 9 Return to Athens & Free Evening Athens
Day 10 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: Explore Athens & the Acropolis

The Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium

Today's full day tour brings you up to the mighty Acropolis and more. You'll start at the white marble Panathenaic Stadium, home to the first Olympic games in 1896 as well as previous tributes to Athena. Continue past Zappeion, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Athens Trilogy, which includes the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, and the National Library.

Eventually, you'll reach the top of the Acropolis hill, where you'll follow your expert guide through the ruins of the iconic 5th-century BC complex overlooking the city and hear 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.

Continue with a walk past Herodion and the Dionysus Theater to the 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. Don't miss the Caryatids or the Parthenon Hall, with its impressive metopes, pediments and frieze. Complete your visit with a stop in its cafe for either lunch or a relaxed snack and coffee.

Day 3: 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 4: Beach Day & Sunset Boat to Delos

Terrace of the Lions
Terrace of the Lions

Spend your daylight hours basking on one of Mykonos's many lovely beaches, such as:

  • Agios Sostis, full of island residents and travelers who prefer tranquility to amenities, with just sand and a nearby taverna.
  • Elia, considered one of Mykonos's most beautiful beaches. This beach has one of the longest stretches of sand on the island and plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas to keep you fed and serviced.
  • Platis Gialos, a popular beach lined with hotels and restaurants with music drifting out of their patios.
  • Ftelia on the northern side of the island, known for windsurfing and sailing when the winds are blowing and tavernas along the bay.

As the sun sets, voyage 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.

Day 5: Mykonos Day Cruise

Your potential vessel
Your potential vessel

You have two seafaring options to choose from for today's excursion.

Your first option is a private yacht cruise around the secluded bays of Mykonos, along with a stop at the uninhabited island of Rineia. In addition to the natural attractions, your boat will come equipped with snorkeling gear, floating mats, and fishing equipment, and you can even add a jet ski if you so choose.

Option two is a group experience on a glass-bottomed boat. Mingle with fellow travelers as you enjoy a barbecue meal and soft drinks while enjoying views of the Aegean horizon.

Day 6: 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 7: Free Day in Santorini

The approach to Oia
The approach to Oia

Spend the day exploring the island at your whim.

Wander the streets of Fira, the island's capital, and pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Santorini, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, the Folklore Museum of Emmanuel Lignos, and the sweeping white arches of the Orthodox church of Hypapante.

Get beachside on the other side of the island, or stroll through famous Oia and climb up to the highest peak on the island, with 360 degree views at the top for the perfect souvenir photo (or five). Or head on to the medieval villages at Megalochori and Pyrgos, which feel a world away from the touristy towns along the caldera rim.

Day 8: Explore the Volcano

The basin from above
The basin from above

No trip to Santorini is complete without an exploration of its iconic caldera. The island is shaped by the volcanic eruptions of its past. The most intense is known as the Minoan eruption in the mid 2nd millennium BCE, which created the island's current geography and was felt around the ancient world. 

After breakfast, you'll head to the port and take a boat to the volcano, either on a private trip or with a larger group. Head down into the basin to the two small black lava islets in its center. These are the youngest of their kind in the eastern Mediterranean, only forming about 50 years ago. Hike around their rocky red soil before hopping in the hot spring at Nea Kameni. These yellow-tinted waters are high in sulfur and renowned for their potential therapeutic benefits.

Day 9: Return to Athens & Free Evening

National Archaeological Museum
National Archaeological Museum

Return to Athens after your final breakfast. Once you've returned, use your afternoon to scope out some of the museums you may have missed earlier in your trip. The city has a whole slew to be explored, depending on what specialty speaks to you.

For more history and mythology:

  • Acropolis Museum
  • National Archaeological Museum
  • Museum of the Ancient Agora
  • Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos

Find some fine arts at:

  • Benaki Museum
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • National Gallery

Go off the beaten path at:

  • Museum of Cycladic Art, where you can also buy some truly unique souvenirs
  • The digital interactive museum at the Platonic Academy, next to the site where the actual Academy stood
  • Museum of Ancient Greek Technology in the center of Athens, featuring a working model of the Antikythera mechanism, the first analog computer 

Museum tickets and guided tours can be arranged upon request.

Day 10: Depart Athens

Wave farewell to your new friends
Wave farewell to your new friends

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