Planning Your Trip to Greece
From Minoan ruins on the island of Crete to sky-high monasteries on the mainland, sandy beaches on Corfu to hip Thessaloniki bars, there’s almost too much to see and do in Greece. Whether you're into big cities or hiking among wildflowers in the mountains, this is a country that has you covered. From four days to three weeks, here are a few different itineraries to suit your interests while you’re traveling in Greece.
Four Days in Greece
With a long weekend in Athens, you can explore more than 2,400 years of history at the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum, check out the Athens Riviera, and — of course — eat all the flaky spanakopita pastries you can at the local food markets. It's worth joining a food tour while you're in the capital to hear the stories of Greece's culinary history and to get an introduction to local producers.
That said, if you're visiting at the height of summer you might want to do as the Athenians do and hot-foot it out to the breezy coast. For more info on the best time of year to visit Greece, check out this guide.
With four lively days in the capital, though, you could spend an evening doing a local wine pairing and a morning tasting thick Greek coffee at various spots before flitting between the city's ancient ruins. Your final day should definitely be spent at the Athens Riveria and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion before the ultimate finale: a sunset cruise on the Mediterranean. For a more detailed idea of what four days in Athens could look like, here's an itinerary.
Seven Days in Greece
Delicious as they can be, Greek food goes far beyond gyros and feta salad.
If food and drink is an important part of your vacation, how about joining a gastronomy tour of Athens and Crete? Starting in the capital for wine tasting at a hip local bar before traveling to Crete, taste and eat your way through olive groves, vineyards, and local farms as you explore the history and culture of the country.
When traveling around Greece's largest and most southerly island, the beautiful city of Chania is a great base. On your first day in the Aegean, head to the village of Vamos to tour its famous olive oil factory and meet the local olive oil producers. The next day, you could set off early to hike the Samaria Gorge. It's the longest trekking canyon in Europe, and it ends at Agia Roumeli village by the sea where you can grab food and a cold beer before heading back to Chania.
There are some great cooking classes you could do on the island, and it's also worth visiting some of Crete's fabulous protected beaches like Gramvousa and Balos. The Lefka Ori Mountain area is known for its wineries as much as its hiking opportunities, so you could easily spend a day doing tastings there. Take a look at this itinerary for more ideas of how a vacation on the island of Crete could look. More 7-day itineraries
Two Weeks in Greece
If you have a couple of weeks in Greece, there’s time for a real adventure — like joining a small-group tour that’ll see you hiking the tallest mountains in the Peloponnese range, canoeing off the coast of the Mani Peninsula, heading up ancient Sparta's Mount Taygetus, and checking out the southernmost point on the European mainland.
Most flights land in Athens, so with this itinerary you'd start off in the Greek capital before getting your adventure on: think whitewater rafting on the Louisos River, trekking in the nearby mountains around Dimistana, visiting local monasteries like Prodromos, hanging out at the tavernas of Kardamyli, and kayaking in the Mediterranean Sea. Oh, and with a full week in the area you could also hike in Viros Gorge, wander around the ghost village of Vathia, and visit Cape Tenara (it's the southernmost point of mainland Europe). Here's a more detailed itinerary if this week in the Peloponnese piques your interest.
With your second week in Greece, the country's your oyster. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to explore the pinnacle-top monasteries of the Meteora? You could easily drive there from Athens, then take a ferry to spend a few days on the pretty island of Corfu, a good place to end your Greek trip: in summer, there are regular flights from Corfu Town to other parts of Europe if you're looking to explore more of the continent. More 2-week itineraries
Three Weeks in Greece
Greece is about the same size as Alabama — if a lot more mountainous — and with three weeks you really can see a lot of the country. Why not start in the second-biggest city, Thessaloniki? It’s the hub of the northern region of Macedonia, and the waterfront, with its endless cocktail bars, really comes alive when the sun sets.
From Thessaloniki, visit some of the beaches of the neighboring Halkidiki peninsula. Make a side trip to Mount Athos, a monastery open to males only (that includes the animals). Drive down to Mount Olympus for some hiking in the home of the Greek gods. Then make your way further south to Athens. You could follow the four-day Athens itinerary above, then catch a ferry (or seven!) to do some island-hopping in the south.
Perhaps head to the Cyclades, a gorgeous group of Greek islands that sits southeast of the mainland in the Aegean Sea. This is where you’ll find Santorini, its wineries and blue-domed churches, Naxos and its golden beaches, Mykonos and its wild nightlife, and, oh, about 217 more islands.
How long should you spend in Greece?
Give yourself at least a week and visit a couple of Greek islands. Peek into all the ancient ruins you can, swim off the coast and visit a different restaurant each night, and you'll get a good sense of why Greece is beloved by so many travelers. If you can, add on another few days to go hiking in the mountains or visit the capital of Athens.