See some of Greece's star attractions on this 12-day itinerary. Start off in the capital of Athens and experience its rich historic heritage and modern food scene. Then ship out to the Cyclades, home to Mykonos and Santorini, where you'll enjoy beaches, archaeological tours, and all the fresh seafood your stomach could desire.

Highlights

  • Hear and tour the mythology of the ancient Acropolis
  • Sample local specialties on an Athenian food tour
  • Lounge on the luxury beaches of Mykonos
  • Visit the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis on the sacred island of Delos
  • Hike along the scenery and architecture of Santorini's iconic caldera

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens Athens
Day 2 Explore Athens & the Acropolis Athens
Day 3 Athens Food Tour Athens
Day 4 Athens to Mykonos Mykonos
Day 5 Agios Sostis Beach Mykonos
Day 6 Beach Day & Sunset Boat to Delos Mykonos
Day 7 Mykonos Day Cruise Mykonos
Day 8 Mykonos to Santorini Santorini
Day 9 Fira and Amoudi Bay Santorini
Day 10 Caldera Day Hike Santorini
Day 11 Return to Athens & Free Evening Athens
Day 12 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 Food Tour

Olives for sale
Olives for sale

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 exploring bustling open-air markets.

Say good morning with Greek coffee at one of the city's landmark coffee houses, then pick up some street snacks to sample on the go. Venture into the aromatic 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 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: Agios Sostis Beach

Hop in
Hop in

Trek out to one of the island's remote beaches at Agios Sostis today. Located on the northern side of the island, the beach is named for a nearby church overlooking the bay and remains one of the last bastions against Mykonos's organized sunbed beaches. Though it does get busy during the high season, this uncultivated stretch of sand provides quiet seashore devoid of beach chairs or umbrellas—just you and your towel and whatever else you choose to bring with you.

Day 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: Fira and Amoudi Bay

Boats in the bay
Boats in the bay

Today, start your morning on 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.

Then make your way to Oia for a leisurely stroll down to Amoudi Bay. Do some shopping at the stores you pass along the way before you descend down the 300 steps to the waterside. Once you reach the bottom, jump off the rocks into the water to cool off, then visit the taverna when hunger strikes.

Either walk back up or take the cable car to take in the views over the caldera as you return to the top of the cliffs just in time to watch the sunset.

Day 10: Caldera Day Hike

Trailside views
Trailside views

You'll really get those postcard views with today's hike. Lace up your sneakers and depart for one of the best walks on the island. Circle the caldera from Fira to Oia, taking in the picture-perfect surroundings. The full hike takes roughly five hours, but can be broken up with stops in the towns or tavernas along the way.

Start early if you'd like the trail to yourself or go out in the late afternoon to arrive in Oia just in time for the sunset views the town is known for, but try to avoid the heat of the midday sun. Stroll through Oia's alleyways and art galleries once you arrive, or head down into Ammoudi Harbor if you want seafood on the shore.

Day 11: 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 12: 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.