This 3 day Santorini itinerary is perfect for first timer's to the beautiful Greek dream destination. Spend 3 days in Santorini, enjoying sunsets, epic views, and more!
3 Days in Santorini
Most first-time visitors to Greece choose to include a trip to Santorini in their itinerary . Renowned for its whitewashed houses, blue domed churches, serene views and stunning sunsets, it's a dream destination come true.
As you can imagine, Santorini is very popular, especially in summer, and there are lots of options on what to see and do.
If you are an independent traveler, you will find that Santorini is quite easy to go around on your own, either on buses / taxis or in a rented car.
At the same time, Santorini is ideal for people who prefer organized tours, as there are plenty to choose from. Frankly, it can make your life easier as well. Besides, who doesn't want to enjoy a wine-tasting tour, or take a sunset boat trip!
How many days in Santorini?
I get asked this question a lot, and there is no one definitive answer. Many people have Santorini as a bucket list destination, so want to spend their entire vacation there. Others visit Santorini for a honeymoon, or as a short break.
What I would say, is that you probably don't need as much time in Santorini as you think. Once you've seen the main things to do in Santorini, head out to one of the quieter and more authentic Greek islands!
Is 3 days in Santorini enough?
Personally, I think that three days in Santorini is the ideal amount of time for first time visitors.
This allows for enough time to see the main things to do in Santorini, Greece, and leaves a little extra should you want to return one day.
What to do in Santorini in 3 days
This Santorini 3 days itinerary is broken down into sections. These include:
So how best to see Santorini in 3 days? Here is a relaxed 3 day itinerary for Santorini, Greece, to help you with your planning.
It's designed to cover the best places to see in Santorini, whilst providing options for enjoyable half and full day tours. There's also a list of the best beaches in Santorini, along with some suggestions for the best places to eat in Santorini.
Whether you follow this Santorini 3 day itinerary exactly, or use it as a base to create your own sightseeing itinerary, I'm sure you'll love your time on the island!
Day 1 – Santorini wineries, time on the beach and sunset at Oia
On your first day in Santorini, the best way to find your way around the island would be to take a tour that combines wine-tasting with some sightseeing.
This way, you can see Santorini’s highlights with a guide, and then go back in your own time if you want.
Most importantly though, you will get to experience a few different Santorini wines, and get an idea of what to order at Santorini restaurants. And obviously, as you are in Greece, you must take some time to relax on the beach!
Wine Tours in Santorini
There are several wine-tasting tours of Santorini. As an example, this one offers some sightseeing on the road to the wineries – Santorini sightseeing with wine tasting. The tour will either return you to your hotel, or drop you off at Perivolos beach, one of the most popular beaches in Santorini.
If you prefer to be independent, you can organize your own Santorini wine-tasting and sightseeing tour by renting a car and driving around the island – the problem here is that there needs to be a designated driver!
Wineries in Santorini Greece
Some of the most famous Santorini wineries are Venetsanos, Gavalas, Koutsoyannopoulos and Art Space winery, or you can visit the Union of Santorini Cooperatives.
Either way, you will get to taste wines made out of several local grapes, such as Vinsanto, Assyrtiko and Nykteri – and perhaps buy a few bottles to have at your hotel or bring back home.
Don't miss these places in Santorini
If you decide to drive around Santorini for a day, the best places to visit in Santorini on the day of your winery tour are the following:
Firostefani, the village with the famous blue domed church
Imerovigli, another village with great views, where you can walk up to a rock called Skaros
Pyrgos, where you can see the remains of a Venetian castle
Perivolos, Perissa or Monolithos beach – see separate section on Santorini beaches below
The world-famous Oia, where everyone goes to see the sunset in Santorini
A word of warning though – as the sunset in Oia is very popular, the area gets very busy. The famous Oia castle will be really crowded, particularly in high season.
Quiet Sunset Spots in Santorini
If you prefer something quieter, there are several other places to enjoy the sunset in Santorini. In Oia, you can head to the church of Saint John of the Sea (Agios Ioannis Thalassinos), near the lighthouse. Alternatively, you can or drive out to Finikia or Baxedes. However, anywhere on the west side of the island is great to see a great Santorini sunset.
After a long day out, return to your hotel for some well-deserved rest, and head out for dinner. Whatever your budget, Santorini will not disappoint you – you will find street food for a few euros, but you can also indulge in fine dining if you prefer. For more information, check out the section about food in Santorini below.
Day 2 – Boat trip around Santorini
If you decide to just do one organized activity while in Santorini, go on a sailing trip. The unique Santorini landscapes and the dark, volcanic sand, combined with the blue sky, offer an experience that you are likely to remember for years.
There are several types of boat tours you can take as a Santorini day trip, depending on the time of year.
In high season there are many more choices, and as many sailing trips tend to sell out, it makes sense to book in advance.
During low season there are fewer different options, and you can even book after you arrive in Santorini, though if you want to avoid wasting time it is also best to book your sailing trip in Santorini before you arrive.
Santorini Boat Tours
Note that not all cruises include stops on the volcanic islands, so read the information provided carefully.
Bear in mind that walking around the volcanic islands can get unpleasantly hot in summer, so if you go on a cruise that includes the Santorini volcano make sure you have plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen.
Most of the cruises also stop off at hot springs, which are especially pleasant if you go off-season.
Best Boat Tours in Santorini
Here are some examples for Santorini boat tours and volcano tours:
Morning or sunset Catamaran sailing cruise, with stops at Red Beach, White Beach and the hot springs, and meal.
No matter which cruise you choose, you will definitely enjoy it. When I visited Santorini off-season, I went on the half day morning cruise that included the volcano – it was really amazing!
Morning cruise in Santorini
If you go for a morning cruise, you can spend your evening in Fira. It’s a nice little town, from where you can also see the sunset.
Choose one of the numerous cafes overlooking the volcano caldera, and enjoy the view! Have a nice dinner, and finish your evening with a few drinks at one of Santorini’s many bars.
Evening Cruise in Santorini
If you go on an evening cruise, you can spend some time wandering around Fira in the morning. There are many shops in the town, as well as a couple of museums which very few people seem to visit.
It’s worth walking down to the old port, and perhaps taking the cable car back to Fira. There is also the option to return on the back of a donkey or a mule, but please avoid it, as many of those animals are really overworked.
Day 3 in Santorini
On your last day in Santorini, make sure you visit the archaeological site of Ancient Akrotiri. It’s a settlement of the Minoan Bronze Age that was destroyed around 1600 BC due to the eruption of the volcano, and covered in volcanic ash.
If you want to find out more about the ancient civilizations and the volcano’s eruption, you can get a guided tour to Akrotiri.
After your visit to Akrotiri, head to Vlichada beach for a swim. The Red beach and White beach are also nearby, but they are not really that great for a swim.
You can spend a few hours here, and go for a meal in Psaraki fish taverna, which comes highly recommended – see the sections on beaches and restaurants in Santorini below. Or you can head back to Akrotiri and eat at “I spilia tou Nikola”.
As this is your last day in Santorini, you should make the most of it.
Depending on where you are staying, make sure you reach the west side of the island in time for your last Santorini sunset. In fact, if you are staying at a hotel with a sunset view in Santorini, it would be a shame not to spend some time on your balcony, sipping a glass of Vinsanto and enjoying Santorini’s sunset!
Beaches in Santorini
I’ll be honest about it: if you were thinking to go to Greece mainly for beaches, Santorini really isn’t your best option. There are plenty of islands that have much nicer beaches, fewer crowds and lower prices. However, if you have three days in Santorini, you should still visit a couple of beaches.
The west side of the island has very few beaches, which you can only reach by boat. Santorini’s most visited beaches are found at the north, east and south sides of the island.
Best Beaches in Santorini
Here is a list of the most famous beaches in Santorini, starting with Ammoudi port beach in Oia and going clockwise:
Eight under Oia, is actually not exactly a beach, yet many locals come here for a swim. To get here, you will need to climb down 200 steps.
Ammoudi is one of the most picturesque spots in Santorini, and it gets busy with swimmers and tourists, especially at sunset. Just a warning – this place is not suitable for families or inexperienced swimmers, as the water is deep.
Located on the north of the island, is a quiet, secluded beach that you can reach on foot from the main road.
It will be affected by northern winds, plus it’s got many pebbles rather than sand, so it’s not for everyone. If you are looking to get away from the beach bars and crowds, it’s a good choice. It’s also your best bet in Santorini if you are a naturist.
Exo Gialos Karteradou beach
Over on the north-east side of the island, is another beach covered with dark sand, but not as cosmopolitan and busy as the nearby Kamari and Perissa.
This beach is on the north-east of Santorini. Although it’s quite close to the “industrial” area of the island, it’s still a good choice as it’s sandy and shallow, and therefore ideal if you have a family. It’s also the only beach in Santorini where you can go kite-surfing.
You can get here through Exo Gialos Karteradou. There are plenty of options as far as bars, restaurants and accommodation are concerned, and it’s less quiet than the most famous beaches of Perissa and Perivolos.
Kamaris to the north of Perissa, is a long beach, covered in the same dark grey / black sand, with many loungers, bars and restaurants.
Water sports and a beach volley net are also available. If you prefer to stay on the beach in Santorini, Kamari is another good choice. It also has an outdoor cinema, voted as one of the best in Europe.
Perissa beach and Perivolos beach
These are two long beaches next to each other, on the southeast side of Santorini. They are covered with dark grey / black sand, or rather fine pebble. This can get very hot, so avoid stepping barefoot!
Although Perivolos and Perissa are both very popular, they are big enough to accommodate hundreds of people, so you should be able to find a lounger even at high season. There are also water sports if you are feeling active.
The area has plenty of small hotels and rooms to rent, and can be a good choice to stay, especially if you have a family.
Naturally, there are many bars and restaurants all around the two beaches.
If you have more than 3 days in Santorini and you don’t care about a hotel with views over the volcano, you can use Perissa as a base to explore Santorini, and also spend a few days by the beach.
Located at the southernmost spot of the island, is surrounded by several rocks and caves. As a result, although there is an area with loungers and umbrellas, parts of the beach are fairly quiet, and you can have some privacy.
As you can expect, there are bars and restaurants on the beach. Bonus: there is no mobile phone reception on Vlichada beach. This is best combined with a visit to Ancient Akrotiri.
The Red Beach (Kokkini Paralia)
Lovely for a photo-stop, but not exactly great for swimming in my opinion. It’s probably best to get there on a cruise, and swim off the boat.
Close to Red Beach, there is the White Beach (Aspri Paralia). This is a much smaller and quieter beach, where many cruise boats make a stop after the Red Beach.
If you decide to go there on your own, you can walk from the nearby Kampia beach, a quiet beach to which you can arrive via a dirt road. Bring your own snacks and water.
Where to eat in Santorini
Greek food is famous around the world, yet most first-time visitors only know a few dishes, like the Greek salad, moussaka and souvlaki. It’s worth exploring a few more dishes in Santorini. Apart from the distinctive wines, Santorini has some unique products, like fava beans and small tomatoes.
While Santorini is among the most expensive Greek islands, you can still have a meal for a decent price. And while many restaurants will cater to foreign crowds, it is still possible to have authentic Greek food in Santorini.
Top places to eat in Santorini
Here is a small selection of the best places to eat in Santorini. You'll need to pick and choose, as you won't be able to squeeze them all into a Santorini itinerary for 3 days!
I spilia tou Nikola – “Nikolas Cave” taverna is an old fish taverna in Akrotiri. Apart from the fish, try the ntomatokeftedes (fried tomato balls), and the moussaka, made with the local white aubergines.
Ta dichtia – Right on trendy Perivolos beach, the long-standing “Nets” taverna offers great fish and seafood dishes. Try the marinated anchovies, the spicy “bekri meze” and the fish-pie.
Roza – A homely taverna in quiet Vourvoulos area, Roza’s menu changes day by day. Try the fried fish, the rabbit and the moussaka.
To Psaraki – Not just a fish taverna, Psaraki (little fish) close to Vlichada beach offers some of the best dishes in Santorini. Try the sardines, the tuna, the octopus with capers and olives and the taramosalata.
Metaxi Mas – A taverna offering a mix of Santorini and Cretan dishes, Metaxi Mas in Exo Gonia should not be missed. It’s very popular with the locals so you know that it’s not made for tourists.
Dimitris – Located in Ammoudi, this small taverna is run by a Greek-Canadian couple. If you want to leave behind the hustle and bustle of Oia, this is a good option. Try any fish, the ntomatokeftedes and the spaghetti with lobster. Great for lunch too.
Skala – When you find yourself in Oia, there will be plenty of options. A restaurant with a long history that comes highly recommended, is taverna Skala, with a fantastic view towards the volcano and a menu to match.
To Krinaki – Located in quiet Finikia, close to Oia, Krinaki (little lily) is a great choice for meat and vegan dishes, and it also offers a good selection of Greek cheeses. It’s a great choice if you want to skip the crowds.
Finally, if you want to try fine dining, you can try Koukoumavlos in Fira a restaurant that gets high ratings on a constant basis.
Where to stay in Santorini
Choosing the best Santorini hotel to stay in is no easy task! Although there are plenty of Santorini hotels to choose from, they book up fast especially in the peak month of August.
This is a complete guide to special events, holidays and festivals in Athens. Including free museum and archaeological site days, religious days, festivals, and events in Athens.
Special days and festivals in Athens
While most people choose to go to Greece in summer, there are several reasons why you might prefer to go off season. One of those, might be to take part in a special event or visit a festival in Athens.
Even if you aren't planning your trip to Athens around a festival, it might pay to know what is going on during any given month.
For example, visitors in Athens on May 1st might find it difficult to travel. The Athens Marathon in November makes getting to the airport more difficult.
Listed below, are some of the most important special days and festivals in Athens, by month, to help you plan your Athens vacation.
Note – Things change from time to time. If you are interested in visiting an archaeological site or museum on the public holidays listed below, double check their opening hours and whether they are open (or perhaps free) on the day you are planning to visit.
January – Special Days in Athens
1st January: St Basil Day – The first day of the year is a public holiday, and most shops and other businesses are closed. Archaeological sites and museums are closed too.
If you happen to be in Athens on the 1st of January, just take it easy and go for a stroll in the quiet centre.
The main tradition of the day, which is often extended throughout the whole month of January, is cutting the vasilopita cake which contains a coin, and sharing it among family members or friends. The person who gets the piece with the coin, will have luck for the whole year.
First Sunday in January – All archaeological sites in Athens are free to visit.
6th January: Theofania / Epiphany – On this day, which is typically a cold winter day, the custom calls for a swim! A priest throws a cross in the sea, and several people jump in to find it.
Being the one who finds the cross is a great privilege. One of the biggest Epiphany celebrations takes place in Pireaus, so jump on the green metro line and head over. This tradition is in memory of Jesus Christ’s Baptism by St John.
February – Events and Festivals in Athens
First Sunday in February – All archaeological sites in Athens are free to visit.
Carnival season begins – Carnival season in Greece begins ten weeks before Easter Sunday. As an example, for 2019, Easter Sunday is on 28 April, hence the carnival season started on 17 February.
The carnival season in Greece lasts for three weeks. During that time, you are very likely to come across people dressed up for the carnival. There are several fiestas organized throughout central Athens, especially on weekends.
Go to Metaxourgio, Koukaki and Plaka areas and have a look. Even if you have never participated in carnival celebrations before, get a wig and some confetti and join the fun!
Tsiknopempti / Meat-eating Thursday – This is a very popular custom throughout Greece. The idea is very simple – it’s all about eating meat! The custom of Tsiknopempti has to do with the seven-week long fasting period preceding Easter Sunday.
Most souvlaki places in Athens will be very busy on the day, and in fact it’s an unofficial half-day off for some people.
Tsiknopempti always falls on the second Thursday after the carnival season begins. For 2019, it was on 28 February. Sometimes (though rarely), it might be in March.
March – Festivals and Events in Athens
First Sunday in March – All archaeological sites in Athens are free to visit.
Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday) – This is a public holiday indicating the end of the carnival period. On that day, most Greeks will go fly a kite, and you are likely to see many of them if you go up Filopappou Hill.
Several special dishes are prepared for the day, corresponding to the Greek Orthodox fasting tradition. This is basically a vegan diet with the addition of some seafood.
Try dolmadakia (the famous stuffed vine leaves), mavromatika (black-eyed beans), fava (yellow beans) and taramosalata (perhaps an acquired taste).
Kathara Deftera is the Monday three weeks after the beginning of the carnival. In 2019, it was the 11th of March. In theory, the next 49 days before Easter are a fasting period, but in practice very few people in Athens observe it.
6th March: Melina Merkouri Day – To honour the late Minister of Culture and former actress Melina Merkouri, all archaeological sites in Athens are free to visit.
25th March: Independence Day – On this day, Greeks celebrate their Independence Day, and the anniversary of the 1821 Revolution against the Ottoman Empire.
There are several parades throughout Athens. The biggest one is in front of the Parliament, combining a school and a military parade. The Acropolis and other archaeological sites are closed, but the Acropolis museum is open and free to visitors.
April – Events in Athens Greece
18th April: International Monuments Day – All archaeological sites and some museums in Athens are free to visit.
Easter Week and Easter Sunday – By far the most important religious holiday in Greece and Athens, is Easter Sunday.
There are several customs on the week preceding Easter. The most picturesque is the Epitafios Procession on Friday evening, and the Resurrection on midnight Saturday.
If you are in Athens on those days, go to Plaka or anywhere with a church, and observe those unique religious traditions.
Note that the Acropolis and other sites as well as many museums operate on different schedule for Good Friday, Good Saturday and possibly Easter Monday.
As for Easter Sunday, the main tradition after 49 days of fasting is… eating lamb and plenty of other foods, like kokoretsi (a mix of various lamb / goat insides) and red boiled eggs. The Acropolis and other archaeological sites are closed.
May – Notable Days in Athens
1st May – Like in most countries, this is a public holiday / strike day. Transportation on May the 1st is likely to be affected, and boats typically don’t run at all.
The Acropolis and other archaeological sites and museums are closed. If you are in Athens, do as the locals do, and go for a swim, or just chill by the coast.
18th May: International Museums Day – All archaeological sites and museums in Athens are free to visit.
June and July Festivals and events in Athens
Agiou Pnevmatos: Holy Spirit Day – A day off for some people, this day is the Monday which is six weeks after Easter. For 2019 it is the 10th of June.
It is unlikely to interfere with your vacation in Athens, but some museums (e.g. the Benaki) as well as banks and public sector offices are closed. If you are planning to travel on that day, it’s best to book your tickets in advance. Depending on the date of Easter Sunday, the Holy Spirit day might be in late May.
Athens and Epidaurus Festival – This is not really a special day, but rather a series of performances that typically begin in June and end in September or October.
If you are passing by Athens at that time, try to catch a performance in the ancient Herodion theatre. The standards are very high and you can often get very affordable tickets, especially if you book in advance.
Even if you are not particularly interested in the performance itself, the whole experience is really amazing. Find out more here – Athens and Epidaurus Festival.
Music festivals in Athens – Several other music festivals take place throughout the summer months, such as the Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival, the Release Festival, the RockWave Festival, the Ejekt Festival, the Summer Nostos Festival etc.
15th August: Assumption Day – One of the most important religious days, and also one of the biggest public holidays in Greece. This is a day when Athens will be pretty dead, as most Athenians are on holiday.
Interestingly, the archaeological sites and most museums are open. If you are planning to travel on or around that day, make sure you reserve in advance.
September – Events in Athens
After August when everything shuts down, September is the month when Athens gets back to normal and prepares for winter. There are many events going on, many of them planned last minute.
The last weekend of September: European Heritage Days – All archaeological sites and most museums in Athens are free to visit.
October – Public Holidays in Greece
28 October – This is a public holiday, when Greek celebrates the famous “Oxi” day. There will typically be school parades in several areas. All archaeological sites and museums in Athens are free to visit.
November – Special Events in Athens
Second Sunday in November – This is the day of the Athens Authentic Marathon. Hundreds of people visit from abroad to participate, and many roads are closed on that day.
17th November – This day, is the anniversary of the 1973 Polytechnic Uprising against the dictatorship. There is a march towards the US Embassy close to Megaron Mousikis metro, and as such several metro stations start closing after 14.30-15.00.
The march often ends in demonstrations and riots, so if that’s not the experience you would like, avoid the areas around Megaron, Evangelismos, Panepistimio, Exarchia and Omonia. Check out this guide to neighborhoods in Athens.
December – Events and Christmas in Athens
6th December – This day is the anniversary of the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos. He was a 15-year-old student, and his deathsparked a series of riots that went on for several days in 2008. Similarly to the 17th November anniversary, you might want to avoid some central areas, most notably Exarhia, Omonia and Victoria.
Christmas Day – Like in all Christian countries, Christmas in Greece is primarily a family celebration, so you will find that Athens is very quiet during that period. As you can imagine, all archaeological sites and museums in Athens are closed. Public transportation runs on reduced schedule.
Please pin this Athens guide for later
Sharing and caring is all that! If you are an avid Pinterest user, please add this pin on Athens festivals to one of your boards!
These basic Greek words are easy to learn for your next vacation in Greece. Includes explanations of the Greek alphabet, pronunciation, and everyday Greek words.
It's all Greek to me
You land in Greece, you see your first poster written with Greek letters, and what's the thought that immediately springs to mind? It's all Greek to me!
Greek can be a baffling language to the uninitiated. I've lived here for four years, and my own failures to get to grips with the language are almost legendary!
Thankfully, I've drafted Vanessa in to write this post as an introduction to basic Greek words. As a native Athenian, she's created this little introduction to a few everyday Greek words you might find useful.
Do I need to speak Greek to visit Greece?
The simple answer here is no you don't. The majority of people you are likely to meet will probably speak English to a fairly high standard.
With that said, it's always nice to know a few words of the local language, even if you are only on vacation in Greece for a short while. The effort is always appreciated, and it doesn't take long to learn a few basic Greek words.
Do I need to read Greek to speak Greek?
You certainly don't need to read Greek in order to memorise basics such as how to say goodbye in Greek.
Being able to read some of the alphabet might prove useful though in situations where information such as place names and street names are only written in Greek.
The Greek alphabet
The main reason visitors find Greek hard to read and learn, is the Greek alphabet. Some of the letters might remind you of maths classes. Others might seem to resemble Latin letters, but are not the same at all.
Consisting of 19 consonants and 5 vowels, the Greek alphabet is unique. Here is what the Greek alphabet looks like:
How to pronounce Greek letters
Confusingly, a few vowels are pronounced in exactly the same way. Even worse, some of the Greek letters look exactly like English letters, but the sounds are different.
As an example, the Greek letter “ρ” might look like the English letter “p”, but it sounds like the letter “r” (in fact the sound is that of a rolling r).
At the same time, as you may remember from mathematics, the Greek letter “π” is pronounced like the English letter “p”.
Confused? Read it over and over until it starts to make sense!
If you make an effort to memorize the letters, you will be surprised at how easy it actually is to read Greek words, especially those in capital letters.
Greek letter combinations and sounds
Furthermore, there are certain letter combinations that produce a new sound. As an example, there is no letter for the sound “d” in Greek, so the combination “ΝΤ / ντ” is used instead.
There are about 10-15 of those combinations, using either vowels or consonants, and if you are serious about learning Greek you will need to memorize them.
Basic Greek Words
And now on to the fun bit – speaking Greek! Here are a few words that you are likely to find useful during your holiday in Greece.
ΚΑΛΗΜΕΡΑ (καλημέρα) pronounced kalimEHra means Good morning / Good day in Greek
ΚΑΛΗΣΠΕΡΑ (καλησπέρα) pronounced kalispEHra means Good afternoon / Good evening in Greek
ΚΑΛΗΝΥΧΤΑ (καληνύχτα) pronounced kalinIHta means Goodnight
ΓΕΙΑ ΣΟΥ / ΓΕΙΑ ΣΑΣ (γεια σου / γεια σας) pronounced yiA sou / yiA sass means Hello (informal / formal) in Greek
ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΩ (ευχαριστώ) pronounced efharistO means Thank you in Greek
ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛΩ (παρακαλώ) pronounced parakalO means Please / You are welcome in Greek
ΝΑΙ (ναι) pronounced neh means Yes in Greek
ΟΧΙ – (όχι) pronounced ohi means No in Greek
ΤΟΥΑΛΕΤΑ (τουαλέτα) pronounced tualEHta means Toilet in Greek
ΝΕΡΟ (νερό) pronounced nehrO means Water in Greek
ΚΑΦΕΣ (καφές) pronounced kafEHs means Coffee in Greek
ΜΠΥΡΑ (μπύρα) pronounced bEEra means Beer in Greek
ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ (ταβέρνα) pronounced tavEHrna means Taverna / restaurant in Greek
ΟΥΖΟ (ούζο) pronounced OOzo means ouzo in Greek
ΠΑΡΑΛΙΑ (παραλία) pronounced parahlIa means beach in Greek
ΘΑΛΑΣΣΑ (θάλασσα) pronounced thAHlassa means sea in Greek
ΞΕΝΟΔΟΧΕΙΟ (ξενοδοχείο) pronounced ksenodoHIo means hotel in Greek
ΧΩΡΙΑΤΙΚΗ (χωριάτικη) pronounced horiAtiki means Greek salad in Greek
ΚΡΑΣΙ (κρασί) pronounced krahsEE means wine in Greek
Note that the syllable where the stress goes is very important in Greek. In the above table, the syllable that should be stressed has been capitalized.
For the most part, visitors tend to stress words in the wrong syllable, which apparently many Greeks find quite amusing! Putting together correct sentences in Greek is another matter altogether.
This is because the Greek language has three genders, and all words (nouns, verbs etc) are conjugated.
They didn’t invent the phrase “it’s all Greek to me” for no reason!
Oh, and if you were wondering, the Greeks say “it’s all Chinese to me”!
Learn Greek Before Your Vacation
If you want to explore learning Greek further, you might find some of the following helpful. From Greek phrasebooks and audio books on how to learn basic Greek, to full deep dive courses, take your pick!
Pin this guide to useful Greek phrases for later
Do you have a vacation planning board on pinterest? Please pin this guide to everyday Greek words to use on your vacation for later!
More Posts about Greece
If you're planning a vacation in Greece, you've landed at the right place! I've been living in, and writing about Greece for nearly 5 years, and have hundreds of free travel guides for you.
If you're unsure where to start, I'd suggest signing up for my free guides by using the form in the middle of this post. Otherwise, you might find these of interest.
This guide to the best neighborhoods in Athens includes the colorful, interesting, and sometimes edgy. Put your urban explorer's hat on, and dive in!
Although central Athens is quite small, it is divided into several distinct neighborhoods. Each one has its own vibe, ranging from the edgy alternative, to the upmarket elite.
Whether you are after ancient sites, markets, shops or good food, this best Athens neighborhood guide will help you plan your itinerary in Athens. You can mostly walk around between neighborhoods in Athens, and explore the city at your own pace.
The Best Neighborhoods in Athens
This Athens travel guide features all the best neighborhoods in Athens Greece. These include:
The Koukaki neighbourhood in Athens city center stretches from Acropolis metro station to Fix metro station, both on the red metro line. This area is very popular with visitors, especially people visiting Athens for the first time.
For most tourists, the area is defined by two of the most important sights in Athens, the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum, and is therefore referred to as “close to the Acropolis”. Greeks mostly refer to this neighborhood as Koukaki or Makriyianni.
Where to stay near the Acropolis
This part of Athens has the greatest selection of hotels and places to stay. It is also the best neighbourhood in Athens to stay if you want to maximise your time in the city.
Koukaki area is home to quite a few sights in Athens. The obvious ones are the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum, but you can also see Hadrian’s Arch, visit the temple of Olympian Zeus and pop in the fascinating Lalaounis Jewelry Museum.
There are plenty of restaurants in Koukaki area, many of them being closer to Fix metro station rather than Acropolis metro station. Walk up and down Falirou Street, and you will definitely find something you like.
2. Plaka Neighbourhood Athens
Possibly the most famous neighborhood in Athens, Plaka is a small area between Acropolis, Syntagma and Monastiraki metro stations. It offers a unique mix of sights, Byzantine churches and plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops.
Where to stay in Athens in Plaka
The Plaka neighbourhood of Athens also has a wide selection of places to stay. Many of these come in the form of cool boutique hotels.
** You can find a good selections of hotels in Plaka here – Hotels in Plaka. **
What to do in Plaka area
Strictly speaking, the Plaka neighbourhood in Athens doesn’t really have any ancient sites, as these are located in the adjacent Koukaki and Monastiraki areas. However, Plaka has quite a few museums, none of which seem to feature in most people’s itineraries.
Most people, however, won’t go to Plaka to check out the museums. The main attractions of Plaka are the numerous restaurants, bars and cafés, the souvenir shops, and the area’s unique vibe.
Although it’s quite touristy, Plaka is nevertheless charming all year round. Just prepare yourself mentally to see more tourists and climb quite a few stairs.
One place you shouldn’t miss in Plaka is the Anafiotika area, where you can see some of the oldest houses in Athens that are still in use.
Perched up on the hill just underneath the Acropolis, those houses were built mostly in the 1830s onwards by construction workers who came from the Cyclades islands, especially Anafi.
They are all whitewashed, and as you walk around the small streets you will think you have left Athens behind. Be respectful of the residents, but don’t hesitate to have a chat with them.
3. Monastiraki in Athens
Adjacent to Plaka, Monastiraki area right on Monastiraki metro station is home to a few ancient sites. It also offers an abundance of restaurants and quite a few rooftop bars. Visit any time of the day or night, and you will find something to do.
Where to stay in Monastiraki
The Monastiraki neighbourhood of Athens has a number of places to stay. These include small boutique hotels, as well as a few recently constructed larger hotels. There are also one or two hostels in the area for backpackers.
In terms of ancient sites, by far the most important one in Monastiraki is the Ancient Agora, the main financial, social and political centre of Ancient Greece.
Walk down Adrianou Street, and you will find the entrance. The Ancient Agora is a fascinating site that needs at least a couple of hours to be properly explored. Stroll around, and definitely visit the Agora Museum, hosted in the renovated Stoa of Attalos.
Not to be confused with the Ancient Agora, the nearby Roman Agora is another ancient site, which won’t take nearly as long to visit. Check out the recently restored Tower of the Winds. The remains of Hadrian’s library are also worth a look.
Museums and Markets in Monastiraki, Athens
Nearby, you will find the excellent Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments, where you can listen to quite a few instruments that are popular in Greece and the nearby countries. This museum is really a great choice, is ideal for families, and it’s free.
Right outside Monastiraki metro, on Ifestou Street and all the way down to Ermou Street, there is a flea market, which expands on Sundays. There are also many cool souvenir shops on Pandrossou Street and around. If you are looking for souvenirs, check it out, are prices might be cheaper that prices in Plaka.
In terms of restaurants and rooftop bars, Monastiraki area has plenty. This is an area where many Greeks live, work and visit, so although the area might seem touristy, you can rest assured that the quality is high. Go up the 360 café / bar for great views of the Acropolis.
4. Psirri area and Central Market in Athens
Another area very close to Monastiraki metro is Psirri or Psyrri area. Possibly the most “authentic” area in central Athens, Psirri is home to cafés, bars, restaurants, but also a vibrant food and household goods market.
Where to stay in Psirri, Athens
The Psirri neighbourhood of Athens doesn't have a massive amount of choice when it comes to accommodation. There are one or two though.
If you want to catch a glimpse of the local life, you should definitely visit the Central Varvakios Market on Athinas street.
This sprawling market is divided in several areas and has tons of stuff – meat, fish, fruit + veg, nuts, spices, cheese, bread, cookies, olives and olive oil. This is a great place to buy fruit or stuff to bring back home.
Many shops open at 7.00 and close just after 15.00, so go early. It is also a good idea to go with a local, who can explain you more about the Greek food culture – if you are interested, let me know and I can get you in touch with the right people.
If you are visiting with children, you might want to avoid the streets behind the central market, such as Menandrou, where you are likely to be offered drugs and perhaps come across homeless people.
Street art in Psirri, Athens
Just a five minute walk from the central market, is the centre of the bustling Psirri area. Here, you will find many cafés and restaurants, as well as stores selling random household goods.
If you are interested in street art, this is a great area to explore – stroll around Aristofanous, Sarri, Riga Palamidou, Ag. Anargiron and Louka Nika streets, and just look around for your favourite artwork. One of the most recent works in the area is a big one on Agatharhou street.
As you are getting out of Psirri towards Monastiraki metro, you can stop for a coffee or drink at A for Athens hotel / rooftop bar, offering great views of the area.
Named after the Greek word for “constitution”, Syntagma square is the heart of Athens. Right on Syntagma metro, it is easy to get to from wherever you are staying.
Where to stay in Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square has some of the best hotels in Athens. These include the Hotel Grande Bretagne, the Electra Hotel, and King George. Staying in Syntagma Square is a good choice is it is the most central location. Your visit might also coincide with an event or demonstration on the square, which can be great viewing from a hotel rooftop!
The main attraction in Syntagma is the Parliament, a grand neoclassical building which used to be the Palace of King Otto.
In front of the Parliament, you can see the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the Greek Guards called the Evzones.
The change of the Guards takes place every hour, on the hour. There is also a ceremonial change of Guards every Sunday at 11am, with many Evzones participating – if you are interested, go early to reserve a good spot, as it’s quite a popular attraction.
For those who are interested in Athens’ most recent history, the National Historical Museum of Greece will definitely be a highlight. It covers the period between 1453, when the Ottomans conquered Greece, up to the Second World War
If you are a fan of even more recent history, visit the nearby Museum of the City of Athens. Finally, those with a special interest in money and coins should definitely not miss the Numismatic Museum. If you are here in summer, check out for evening gigs in the lovely cool garden, that are mostly free.
Shopping in Syntagma
Those interested in shopping around Syntagma, might want to visit the Attica shopping complex. This is one of the most upmarket establishments and pretty much the only shopping mall in Syntagma area.
For more mainstream shopping, walk down Ermou Street and its side streets. Here you can find cheap clothes and shoes, fabrics, household items and many other knickknacks.
If you want a coffee, drink or snack in the wider area, the best places to head to are Mavili Square, or Agias Eirinis Square, that are fairly popular at every time of the day and night.
6. Thissio, Dionissiou Areopagitou Street and Filopappou Hill
If you walk from the Acropolis Museum towards Thissio metro station, on the pedestrianized Areopagitou Street, you can explore the area of Filopappou and Thissio.
This is one of the most pleasant areas in Central Athens, and it’s worth including it in your itinerary even if you are in Athens only for one day.
What to do in Thissio / Filopappou area
Stroll around Dionissiou Areopagitou street at any time of day or night, and you are likely to see street musicians, handicraft stalls, and several locals and tourists hanging around. Take in the views, and if you are feeling active, hike up Filopappou Hill – best to avoid it at night, as a few incidents of theft have been reported.
You can also climb up the few steps to Areios Pagos hill, Ancient Athens’ Supreme Court, with a fantastic view of the Acropolis.
In the summer, check out the outdoors cinema on Areopagitou Street. Viewings begin at around 21.00 and 23.00, and you can enjoy the movie under the starry sky with a beer and some popcorn.
If you are in Thissio area, it’s also worth checking out Herakleidon Museum, hosting new exhibitions every few months. Check out their website to find out more.
7. Kerameikos / Gazi
Close to Kerameikos metro, the area of Kerameikos / Gazi is home to one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Athens, a few museums, and also the area to go for vibrant nightlife.
A few minutes’ walk from the Kerameikos site, on Agion Asomaton Street, you can also find the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art in Athens. One of the few museums in Greece that showcases Islamic Art, it’s worth visiting.
If you are into modern and contemporary art, your best bet in Athens is Benaki Pireos Museum, on 138 Pireos Street. Exhibitions change every 3-6 months, but there is always something great going on. Check out the website before you visit, and note that there are often several exhibitions going on, to which the combined ticket offers much better value.
Last but not least, the area of Technopolis, very close to Kerameikos metro, often hosts exhibitions, concerts and other events that make it a worthwhile stop. It is also home to the Industrial Gas Museum in Athens.
Apart from these attractions, Gazi area is among the most vibrant for nightlife in central Athens. Popular with the young (and younger) crowds, it nevertheless offers quality options for drinks and music for all ages. Remember that nightlife in Athens starts late, and goes on until late, or rather early in the morning.
Close to Evangelismos and Syntagma metro stations, Kolonaki area is one of the most upmarket areas in central Athens, great if you are into quality shopping. At the same time, it is full of museums, and is also home to the popular Lycabettus Hill.
What to do in Kolonaki area
If you are interested in museums and other indoor attractions, Kolonaki area is one of the best areas to visit. Alongside the numerous private galleries, you can find four of the most important museums in Athens.
Museum of Cycladic Art – If you are interested in this particular era of Ancient Greece’s long history, this should be your first choice. It brings the Cycladic civilization to life, showcasing with numerous ancient Cycladic Greek statues and other artefacts. There is also a whole section dedicated to life in Ancient Greece.
Benaki Museum – The main building of the private Benaki Museum collection gives an overview of Greece’s long history through carefully selected items. It’s perhaps your best bet if you are only in Athens for a day, or if you are not too interested in history museums.
Byzantine and Christian Museum – Most people have heard about Ancient Greece, but the Byzantine Empire is not known to many visitors. Allow 2-3 hours in this museum if you want to make the most of it. There are often free music events on summer evenings.
War Museum – If you have a special interest in the most recent wars that Greece has participated in, this is the place to visit.
Apart from the museums, Kolonaki offers plenty of choices for shopping, people watching and just hanging out. The vibe in Kolonaki is more upmarket than in most other areas of central Athens, and therefore it’s an area popular with visitors and expats.
If you have a couple of hours to spare, hike up Lycabettus Hill – you can also take the cable car or just a taxi.
9. Exarcheia Athens
The infamous area of Exarchia, which is walking distance from Panepistimio, Omonia and Victoria metro stations, has been described as the “riot area” of Athens, and for good reason.
In 1973, students of the Polytechnic University on Stournari Street rose against the dictators. In 2008, following the death of the 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a big riot started, which went on for weeks.
Most tourists will actually avoid Exarchia area, and perhaps only visit..
In this Crete travel blog, you'll find all the information you need to plan your trip to Crete. From the best time to visit Crete to what to see, here's everything you need to know.
Why visit Crete
Greece’s largest island, Crete, lies to the south of the mainland. It might look small on the map, but due to its mountainous terrain, it would take you weeks or even months to see it all.
Due to its long history, Crete has no shortage of archaeological and historical sites. The most famous of these is Knossos, but there are literally hundreds of others if you look hard enough.
History aside, the island offers some of the most stunning landscapes in Greece. If you are after beaches, look no further – Crete has hundreds of beaches to suit every taste.
The famous Balos and Elafonissi beaches are really stunning, though you must expect to share them with hundreds of other tourists.
For me though, it's the culture of Crete that makes me want to return time and time again. It could be the great food or the people, the small villages or the laid-back attitude. I'm sure you'll form your own opinions after spending time in Crete!
Best time to visit Crete
As Crete is one of the southernmost places in Europe, it enjoys warm summers and good weather most year round, with the exception of winter months, when it can be surprisingly cold and damp.
In fact, snow is not rare between December and February, and in the past years there have been a number of floods.
The best months to visit Crete are in general the shoulder months, April – June and September – October, but as it’s a big island it is possible to stay away from the crowds even in August.
How to get to Crete
You can get to Crete either by plane or by boat from Pireaus. It is also connected with a few other Greek islands, with itineraries varying depending on weather and time of year.
Regions of Crete
Crete is divided in four prefectures, each of which has a main port town to the north. From West to East, these are Chania, Rethymno, Iraklio (or Heraklion) and Agios Nikolaos.
The two biggest towns, Chania and Iraklio, are the two most likely destinations when you are researching where to go in Crete, as they both have large ports as well as airports.
How to get around Crete
While public transportation on the north side of the island is generally quite good, travelling from the north to the south is considerably more time-consuming. Getting from one place to another by bus will often mean using two or even three different buses. As such, the best way to get around Crete is definitely by car.
Note – I've cycled in many parts of Greece, but not in Crete. Yet. When I do, I'll let you know!
Crete – A brief history
Crete has a very long and tumultuous history. The first settlements on the island date since the Paleolithic period, over 130,000 years ago.
Crete developed extensively during the period of the Minoan civilization (roughly 2700–1420 BC), and also during the Mycenean civilization that followed, brought by Greeks from the mainland.
In subsequent years, there were a number of conflicts and wars among the Cretan city states, but also against outsiders, like the ancient Macedonians and the Rhodians.
Similarly to other regions in Greece, Crete was occupied by the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians and the Ottomans, to regain its independence as a standalone state in 1897. Crete joined the Kingdom of Greece in 1913.
What to see in Crete
Most visitors will only have time for the Palace of Knossos, which was largely restored and rebuilt in the early 1900s under the guidance of the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans.
However, there are many other sites, especially to the south of Crete, such as Faistos, Gortyna, Malia and Zakros, some of which have been extremely well preserved.
At the same time, the island boasts some of Greece’s most impressive Venetian castles, remains of which you can see in the biggest towns but also in other areas, such as Spinalonga, Gramvousa, Fortezza and Kazarma.
The presence of the Ottoman Empire is also quite evident in several parts of the island.
Mountains and Gorges in Crete
Along with the beaches, Crete boasts some of the highest mountains and the most amazing gorges in Greece. Apart from the famous Samaria gorge, there are many others, such as Kourtaliotiko, Ha and Imbros , to name a few.
Access to these is generally restricted in winter. Because of the mountainous terrain, there are also many plateaus and caves, which are worth visiting, and also many rivers.
Food in Crete
A special mention must be made to Cretan food! The Cretan cuisine is one of the most instantly recognizable cuisines in Greece.
Barley rusks, a huge selection of Cretan cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, fantastic olives and olive oil, goat meat, snails and plenty of fish are all part of the Cretan diet, along with Cretan honey and the famous alcoholic drink called raki or tsikoudia.
Locals will have it at any time of the day or night, and they will treat you to a few shots after every meal. It is a strong drink, and goes well with your Cretan vacation. Just remember not to overdo it on the day before hiking the Samaria gorge!
Crete Sightseeing Guides
I've written a few Crete travel blog posts you might find useful. The most important ones are listed below.
Crete Travel Blog Posts
These travel blog posts about Crete will help you plan places to see and things to do in Crete.
Things To Do In Crete - Top 5 Greek Experiences in Crete
Unsure if Crete is the Greek island for you? This Crete blog post on the top things to do is a good starting point to get inspired!
Palace of Knossos in Crete | Visit Knossos and enter the Minotaur's lair!
The Palace of Knossos is the most well known archaeological site in Crete. Legend has it that this was the home of the Minotaur, and that the Palace might even have been the famed Labyrinth itself! Here's everything you need to know about visiting the Palace of Knossos.
Best things to do in Crete, Greece - What to do in Crete on a road trip
A road trip in Crete is the best way to explore this fascinating Greek island. I've taken a couple of road trips around Crete now, and this blog post lists some of the things you should include when planning your own.
The Peloponnese is one of my favourite areas in Greece. This guide will show you what to see and things to do in Peloponnese Greece.
The Peloponnese region in Greece
Few areas in Greece are quite as geographically diverse and archaeologically rich as the Peloponnese. The southernmost part of mainland Greece, the Peloponnese is a self-contained peninsula separated from mainland Greece by the man-made Corinth Canal.
I've cycled around the Peloponnese, lazed for weeks on beaches, and taken several road trips. I've still barely scratched the surface though!
This travel guide acts as an introduction to the region, and lists all my relevant blog posts toward the end. It's a great starting point if you're planning your own holidays to Peloponnese.
This map of the Peloponnese shows the cycling route I took, and gives you a good idea of the shape of the region. Due to its location near Athens, and circular shape, the Peloponnese is the perfect destination for a road trip.
A Brief History of the Peloponnese
The Peloponnese was said to have been named after Pelops, an ancient king. The word “Peloponnese” means “the island of Pelops” and, technically, you could actually argue that it is an island.
The Peloponnese has constantly been inhabited since prehistoric times. It was dominated by the Mycenaean civilization during the Bronze Age, and was home to the first Olympic Games in 776 BC.
It was always one of the most important regions in Ancient Greece, and was involved in many wars, like the Peloponnesian War, the Persian Wars etc.
Peloponnese Occupation and Liberation
Over the last two millennia, the Peloponnese became a Roman and later Byzantine province, but was also raided by Slavs, Arabs, the Franks, the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks in the 14th century.
After the Greek War of Independence which started in 1821, the Peloponnese was one of the first areas that was included in independent Greece. The picturesque city of Nafplion then became the first capital of the newly founded country, until the status was transferred to Athens.
Best Places to visit in Peloponnese
Due to its rich history, the Peloponnese is full of ancient and historic monuments. Five of these have achieved UNESCO World Heritage status. I've not worked it out mathematically, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Peloponnese had the highest density of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world!
Some of the most important places to see in the Peloponnese include Mycenae, Olympia, Epidaurus, Corinth, Nemea, Messene, Mystras, Monemvasia, Methoni and Koroni castles, and Nestor’s palace. More about these important places in the Peloponnese toward the bottom of this travel guide!
Best Beaches in Peloponnese
At the same time, the Peloponnese is home to some of the best beaches in Greece. Apart from the most famous ones, such as Voidokilia, Finikounda and Simos, there are literally hundreds of beaches dotted around the peninsula.
Beaches such as Kalogria, Pori, Kyllini, Mavrovouni, Kyparissia, Elea and Foneas should be on your itinerary.
Skiing in the Peloponnese
It’s not all about beaches, however. The inland Peloponnese is really mountainous, with quite a few mountains standing taller than 2,000 metres. As such, it is an ideal destination for off-season travelling, winter breaks and even skiing.
Wine-making is very popular in the area, and there are several wineries you can visit, many of which are located in the Nemea region.
What to see in Peloponnese
In terms of cities, you could consider stopping by Patras and Kalamata for a day or two, even if it’s just for the museums.
Sparta, the once important city-state, is actually a small provincial town. You can easily see it in a couple of hours, but it's not exactly a deal-breaker if you don’t.
Nafplio is definitely worth it, but it’s a popular destination and as such it can get quite busy.
When to visit the Peloponnese in Greece
For all these reasons, and as it’s only a couple of hours’ drive from Athens, the Peloponnese is an ideal all-year-round destination.
Unlike some of Greece’s most famous destinations, like Santorini or Mykonos, the majority of the areas in the Peloponnese have not been affected by mass tourism, so you are likely to have a more authentic experience.
Getting around the Peloponnese
The best way to get around the Peloponnese is by car, as you will have flexibility. You should also note that many of the beaches and archaeological sites cannot be easily reached by public transportation.
Driving around the Peloponnese is fairly straightforward, as there are some fantastic new highways . Sadly these also come with fairly frequent and expensive tolls!
The local road network is quite easy to navigate with the help of Googlemaps or a GPS. Furthermore, if you choose to go to the Peloponnese instead of the islands, you won’t need to rely on boats or planes, which can be a source of frustration for some visitors.
Of course, my preferred mode of transport is the bicycle. It's not for everyone though!
My Peloponnese Travel Guides
I've written a few travel guides to different areas of the Peloponnese in Greece. These include some Peloponnese road trip ideas, my cycle tour of the Peloponnese, and individual guides. You can go through to each one of the Peloponnese blog posts for more travel tips and details.
Things to do in Peloponnese Greece
The Peloponnese in Greece is a huge region, packed full of things to see and do. Here's how to get to there, and some of the things to do in the Peloponnese when you arrive.
How to get from Athens Airport to Patras in Greece
Patras is the largest city in the Peloponnese, and a destination for people seeking to catch ferries to Greek islands. This guide shows how to get to Patras from Athens, but can also be used to get to the Peloponnese peninsula to visit other destinations.
Peloponnese Tour : A 2 Day Road Trip for Peloponnese Sightseeing
There's no way that I'm saying 2 days is enough time to take a road trip in the Peloponnese! However, I was once asked to drive some people for a quick trip to Olympia and back from Athens. Here's how that short road trip went!
Peloponnese Road Trip Itinerary - See the best places in the Southern Peloponnese, Greece
This Peloponnese road trip itinerary is a little more like it! Including stops off at UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beaches in the Peloponnese, and other significant places of interest, this Peloponnese road trip itinerary is a good starting point to planning your own.
The Labours of Hercules Bike Tour of the Peloponnese in Greece
The Peloponnese in Greece is a popular destination for cyclists. I've cycled there a few times myself now, the last occasion being a month long bike tour of the Peloponnese. If you're planning to cycle around the Peloponnese, make sure to read this guide first!
Mycenae - Explore Ancient Greece with Dave's Travel Pages
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must see in the Peloponnese. The main city of a civilisation that held sway throughout the Mediterannean during the Bronze Age, Mycenae is a place where Greek Myths come to life!
Although written as a day trip from Athens, this post is a useful read for anyone set on visiting Epidaurus. It's certainly worth the journey, and the acoustics within the Epidaurus theatre are truly remarkable.
Croatia is home to some of the most fascinating landscapes and seascapes, not just in Europe but in the entire world. Here are seven compelling reasons to charter a yacht in Croatia.
Sailing in Croatia
Sailing is inarguably one of the best ways to tour the country. If you have a fortnight, then you must charter a yacht in Croatia. If you have a week, then too you should consider sailing. You may choose a motor yacht if you are pressed for time. You can go for a sailing yacht if you aren’t in haste. Here are seven compelling reasons to charter a yacht in Croatia.
1. Set your own pace
You will get to decide the pace of your tour. There are so many interesting places in the country that one trip is insufficient to explore everything, unless you are planning to spend a few months.
While Croatia is a small country in terms of size, its major attractions have a lot of history and the sheer beauty of various hotspots will compel you to pause and marvel for a while.
Even the ports or harbors, marinas and beaches are stunning, and you will want a leisurely tour. A yacht allows you to regulate the pace and you can soak it all in. A sailing yacht is recommendable for this very reason. You will get to truly experience the various wonders along the coast.
2. Explore the Croatian Islands
There are quite a few islands of Croatia that you should consider exploring. There are one thousand, two hundred and forty-four islands, including crags and islets. Only forty-eight of them are inhabited.
You may choose to take a ferry to and from one of the inhabited islands, but a yacht is a much better option. You can even explore some of the uninhabited islands if you charter a yacht.
3. Hiring a Yacht is cheaper than you think
Many tourists think that that they will have to spend a lot of money, especially if they wish to sail away from the coast and explore the islands. This is not true.
Yacht charter in Croatia is affordable. Less than Two hundred pounds per head for a group of a dozen people can pay for an exclusive charter for a whole day.
There are many operators to choose from. Research a little and you will find a reasonable deal without making any compromise on the kind of amenities you shall get aboard the yacht or the exact route you may want to pick.
4. Swap busy streets for open seas
You may be traveling to Croatia during the peak season. This small country is usually quite crowded during the peak times. The streets are chockablock, the popular cafes and restaurants are filled, the partying hotspots have very little vacant space and you may not have a leisurely time at many of the hotspots.
A yacht takes you away from the busy streets, beaches and harbors. While you can halt at chosen ports and tour the towns as and when you want, you will be blissfully offshore and having a luxurious and leisurely tour aboard a yacht.
5. Amazing sailing destinations in Croatia
There are over a dozen sailing destinations in Croatia. You can start at Split and sail to Dubrovnik. You can interchange the origin and destination and expand the route to cover all the places from Zadar to Kotor if you have more time. Tourists love exploring Skradin, Primosten, Trogir, Maslinica, Milna, Stari Grad, Hvar, Vis, Komiza, Korcula, Lastovo and Mljet.
6. Enjoy water sports
You will get to indulge in a plethora of water-based activities if you charter a yacht in Croatia. The onset of the peak season is not the ideal time if you are looking for warm waters. The water is still relatively cold through May, but it warms up towards the end of June. July is the perfect time if you love to splash.
7. Check out Game of Thrones locations
You are perhaps aware of the phenomenon known as Game of Thrones. Perhaps you are a bibliophile and prefer A Song of Ice and Fire. Even if you do not like the television series or the books, you will fall in love with the locales where the show has been shot in Croatia.
There has been a spike in tourism after the world discovered the real locations where their favorite show has been set. Chartering a yacht lets you secure some enviable views of these popular places. The most obvious location featured in Game of Thrones is Dubrovnik.
You may not need any help to identify Fort Lovrijenac in Dubrovnik that served as Red Keep in King’s Landing, but you must not miss the views of Old Town from your yacht, the Baroque Staircase, Fortress of Kliss, Trsteno Arboretum, Minčeta Tower and Papalićeva Street in Split among others.
Sailing on a yacht is itself an experience to remember forever. Sailing in Croatia is going to a unique adventure for any and sundry. There are many who revisit Croatia for many reasons including the sailing experience.
Related Croatia Blog Posts
You might also be interested in these other blog posts about Croatia:
My Athens 3 day itinerary is a comprehensive guide to the most historic city in Europe. See all the main highlights and explore ancient and contemporary Athens in 3 days the easy way!
How long to spend in Athens?
How long do you need to ‘see' a city? It's impossible to answer, and especially when Athens, the city in question, has a history going back thousands of years.
In the end, most people are limited by the time they have available. As such, I've come to realise that many people aim to spend 3 days in Athens, before moving on to their next destination – normally a fabulous Greek island!
Planning 3 days in Athens
So, I've designed this Athens 3 day itinerary in a way that helps you see the most of the city. You'll get to see all the main highlights as well as a few contemporary treasures to give you a taste of both ancient and modern Athens.
How this three day Athens itinerary works
I've been living in Greece for over four years now, writing about numerous places to see and things to do in Athens. After showing friends and family around the city, I developed several Athens sightseeing itineraries.
These Athens itineraries are realistic, practical, and combine my local knowledge with what I know visitors will want to see.
Each of the three days in Athens starts off with a section called ‘what to expect'. This gives you a brief summary of the day's events.
After this, there's also a short section called ‘itinerary notes'. In this paragraph there are notes concerning how you might choose to adapt the Athens itinerary depending on time of year or personal interests.
Finally, there's a suggested order for the day's events with more extensive notes. Each day in Athens uses the suggested summer season order for sightseeing.
This is quite a long post, so you may find the table of contents listed underneath useful to jump directly to sections that appeal to you the most.
Athens 3 Day Itinerary
This Athens travel guide features a full 3 day itinerary. The Athens must do list includes:
What to expect: On your first day in Athens, familiarize yourself with the centre of the city. Visit some of the most important monuments and sites, like the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora. Take a stroll on one of Athens’ most picturesque pedestrian streets, Areopagitou Street, and walk up and down Filopappou and Areopagus hills for amazing views of the Acropolis.
Itinerary Notes: In my opinion, the time of the year and weather conditions can help shape your itinerary while in Athens. With this in mind, I would totally recommend keeping the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum as the last activity of your day if you are in Athens during the summer.
At the same time, if you visit Athens in winter you can go to the Acropolis early and finish with the Ancient Agora. Obviously these are just my suggestions, and you can follow the winter itinerary in summer, but you will probably find that the Acropolis gets too crowded in the morning and too hot in the afternoon.
Suggested order for winter Day 1 Athens
Hadrian’s Gate / Temple of Olympian Zeus
Walk on Areopagitou Street
Lunch off Areopagitou Street
Dinner around Monastiraki area
Suggested order for summer Day 1 Athens
Hadrian’s Gate / Temple of Olympian Zeus
Walk on Areopagitou Street
Lunch around Monastiraki area
Dinner around Acropolis area
In general, the ancient monuments are normally open from 8.00 – 17.00 in winter months, and from 8.00 – 20.00 in summer months – but check before you visit, especially for the months of April and October.
As the summer months are far more popular with visitors to Athens, the summer itinerary for day 1 is listed below.
1. Hadrian’s Gate
If you are in Athens for 3 days, it’s best to stay in a hotel which is close to the Acropolis, as you can then walk to most of the sights.
Assuming that you are, it's time to step outside the front door and get started!
After breakfast, check out Hadrian’s Gate for a quick photo opportunity. If you get the right angle, you can also see the Acropolis along one of the side streets. You don't need to hang around here too long – probably five minutes will do most people.
2. Temple Of Olympian Zeus
Proceed on to visit the impressive Temple of Olympian Zeus which is just behind Hadrian's Gate. This magnificent structure is one of the biggest ancient temples in the whole of Greece.
The huge columns of the Temple of Zeus in Athens are a wonder to behold, and there are also great views where you can get both the Temple and the Acropolis in the same photo. How long you spend at the site is up to you, but I'd say to allow 20-30 minutes.
Note – The reason you should visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus first, is that it is here where it’s best to buy a combined ticket for many archaeological sites in Athens without having to queue for too long.
The combined ticket costs 30 euro in summer months (April to October), and 15 euro in winter months (November to March). There are discounts available for children, students and seniors, so check if you qualify.
3. Areopagitou Street
Head back to Hadrian's Gate, cross the road, and you'll find yourself at the start of a pedestrianised street. You may find signs pointing to the Acropolis Museum – you won't be heading there now, but later in the day.
Areopagitou Street was pedestrianised just before the Olympic Games in 2004, and is one of my favourite places to walk in Athens. As you walk along, you'll see the Acropolis on your right hand side so there will be plenty of photo opportunities!
Heading towards Thisseio metro station, you will see plenty of buskers and artisans, but also locals and tourists strolling up and down the street.
4. Filopappou Hill
You will soon see a large green area, called Filoppapou (or Philopappou) Hill, on your left hand side. If you want to walk to the top and back, allow about an hour.
From up the hill, you can get great views of the Acropolis, especially if you go up to Filopappos monument. Although it’s not signposted, you can’t miss it – it’s a tall monument at the highest point of the hill.
If you are tempted to walk up Filopappou Hill in the evening, keep in mind there have been some reports of theft in recent years. If you decide to go, be vigilant and avoid having valuables with you.
5. Areopagus Hill
As you keep walking on Areopagitou Street, you will reach a point where the street changes name to Apostolou Pavlou. Turn right there, and you will soon reach another spot with great views of the Acropolis – Areopagus, or Areios Pagos.
This was the court of justice in Ancient Greece, and also the spot where Apostle Paul talked about Christianity in 51 AD.
The Areios Pagos is really a big rock, or a very small hill, and going up will only take you a couple of minutes. As such, it is often quite crowded with locals and tourists alike. Feel free to bring drinks and snacks, and spend some time here admiring the view.
As you continue strolling on Areopagitou Street, you will see that there are plenty of cafés, restaurants and snack bars around, so there are plenty of opportunities for a break.
6. Ancient Agora
If you are in Athens for 3 days, one of the must-see places is the Ancient Agora and the Museum. An area that has been largely excavated after the 1930s, the Agora was the commercial, social and political centre of Ancient Athens. You will need at least a couple of hours to see it properly.
Among the highlights are the temple of Hephaestos, the best preserved temple in Greece, the Byzantine churches, and the Agora Museum / Stoa of Attalos. However, even just walking around the Agora is a highlight in itself.
It's been quite a morning, so time for lunch! Greek food is amazing, and best enjoyed at a leaisurely pace. The chances are if you are visiting Athens for three days in the summer you'll want a time out in the shade in any case!
Near Monastiraki market, one of my favourite places in the area is Athinaikon restaurant on Mitropoleos street – very clean, and good sized portions. Nearby Ergon Athens is also very good.
After lunch, you can decide between visiting the Acropolis or the Acropolis Museum first. If it's still hot outside (remember temperatures in August in Athens can reach over 40 degrees!), head to the museum first. If not, head to the Acropolis.
8. The Acropolis Museum
It jmight not be my favourite museum in Athens, but the Acropolis Museum is very popular with visitors, especially as it’s very close to the Acropolis and therefore they can both be visited in a few hours.
The air-condition is quite strong too, so if you are here in summer it will be a nice break from the hot weather. Do not miss the 6-minute video projection explaining the history of the Parthenon.
Allow at least an hour and a half at the Acropolis museum, or more if you want to visit the café / restaurant with great views of the Acropolis.
Tip for the ladies – Some of the floors in the Acropolis Museum are made of glass, so you might prefer to avoid wearing a mini skirt!
9. Visit The Acropolis And The Parthenon
Definitely the best known ancient site in Greece, the Acropolis is one of those monuments that you simply cannot miss. You can spend as much time as you want up on the Acropolis hill, but in general one and a half hours is about enough to appreciate the Parthenon and all the other temples in the complex, and take in the views of Athens.
In order to appreciate better the history of the ancient site, try to read up before you visit. Alternatively, you might want to get a guided tour of the Acropolis.
Visiting the Acropolis in summer
As the Acropolis is on top of a hill, it gets quite hot during summer, especially from June to August. Furthermore, large groups of tourists arrive every morning – many of them are visiting Athens on a cruise, and come straight from Pireaus port, where they only stop for a few hours.
My suggestion if you are in Athens in summer is to visit the Acropolis in the evening, after 17.30, when the majority of the tourist groups have left, and the temperature starts cooling down.
Visiting the Acropolis in winter
If you are in Athens in winter, chances are that there won’t be too many tourists and the temperature will generally be fine, so you could visit the Acropolis at any time of the day. Avoid going up with rain, as the stairs get quite slippery. Remember that opening hours are shorter in winter, so make sure you have arrived there by 15.00 at the latest.
10. Plaka And Dinner in Athens
You've almost reached the end of the day, so it's the perfect time to visit one of the most charming areas in Athens. The famous Plaka area has lovely neoclassical buildings and an abundance of places to eat, as well as souvenir shops.
You can easily walk around the whole area in less than an hour, though you are very likely to get lost and go round in circles – I still do!
Despite the unavoidable touristy vibe, Plaka has some good little tavernas, like Damigos Bakaliarakia on Kidathinaion 41 (for fish).
Nearby Scholarhio on Tripodon 14 is also an interesting choice, as they bring several dishes on a big tray and you can choose the ones you like. If you prefer a slightly busier vibe, try getting a table (or perhaps a seat on the stairs) at Yasemi on Mnisikleous street.
At the same time, if you are too tired to wander around Plaka, there are good options for dinner wherever you are. Places around the Acropolis area often cater for tourist crowds, as you would expect, but the quality tends to be high nevertheless.
I totally recommend Mani Mani on Falirou 10 – not the most budget restaurant in the area, but it’s great food and is constantly rated very highly on Greek food forums.
Day 2 in Athens – Overview And Itinerary
What to expect: On your second day in Athens, start by observing the changing of the Guards in front of the Parliament, then walk through the National Gardens to visit the Panathenaic Stadium. Depending on your interests, you can visit one or maybe two museums out of the many that Athens has to offer.
Itinerary Notes: Athens has over 70 museums, and most of them are worth visiting. The biggest one is the National Archaeological Museum, which could take a good four hours to see and is included in the third day’s itinerary.
A good option if you don’t want to spend half a day inside a museum, is the Benaki Museum, which gives a good overview of Greece’s very long history.
Alternatively, if you want to focus on a specific period of time, you can visit the Museum of Cycladic Art or the Byzantine – Christian Museum instead.
Suggested order for Day 2 in Athens
Syntagma Square / Parliament
Cable car to Lycabettus Hill
Dinner in Agias Eirinis Square
Syntagma Square And The Parliament
If you don’t mind an early start, try to get to the Parliament just before 8am, so you can see the changing of the Guards. Don't worry if you miss it, as there's one on the hour, every hour.
If it’s a Sunday, there is a bigger, more ceremonial Changing of the Guards at 11am. Make sure to get there by 10.30-10.40 so you can get a decent view.
The Change of the Guards in Athens takes place just in front of the Parliament. Originally the Palace of King Otto, this beautiful neoclassical building is now home to the Parliament of Greece.
It is actually possible to visit, but you need to book well in advance and unless you speak Greek you won’t really appreciate it much.
The National Gardens
From the Parliament, walk through the National Gardens, heading towards Zappeion and the Panathenaic Stadium. The design of the National Gardens was originally overviewed by Queen Amalia herself, and some of the trees are hundreds of years old.
This is one of the relatively few green areas in central Athens, and you are likely to see locals strolling along, or even jogging. There is also a small area with grim cages, where a few birds are kept.
I recently spent two days in Hanoi, Vietnam as part of my 5 month trip around South-East Asia. Whilst I know that 2 days is very little time to appreciate a city like Hanoi, I feel I got a good taste of things. And to be honest, 2 days in Hanoi was enough for me!
Hanoi is crazy busy. I mean CRAZY busy! There's mopeds going everywhere, ceaseless movement, and the constant sound of ‘beep beep', as drivers go by.
This of course is the attraction of Hanoi for some people. To get right into the insanity of it all, and see what happens.
For me, it was fun for a while, but it's not really my scene. I'm more of a mountains and wilderness type person (hence all the bike touring around the world!).
So the plan was to experience the city, see the main Hanoi points of interest, but then get right out of there!
Hanoi Itinerary 2 Days
As such, I wanted to squeeze as many of the top things to do in Hanoi as possible into 2 days. I'm definitely not claiming I saw it all. No way! I almost certainly left out some of the places to see in Hanoi other people might feel are essential.
With that said, I think I included some pretty cool things to do in Hanoi, combining the obvious main attractions and some lesser thought of alternatives.
If you plan to visit Hanoi in Vietnam and only have a couple of days to see the city, I hope this Hanoi travel itinerary will help.
Hanoi Itinerary Day 1
We had breakfast at the Rising Dragon Palace hotel, in the Hanoi Old Quarter neighbourhood where we were staying, and then we set off to explore Hanoi on foot.
As we had arrived late the previous night and had checked straight into the hotel, we hadn’t had much time to check out anything beyond our street, so we had no idea if the famous Hanoi motorbike traffic is as bad as they say.
1. Braving the traffic in Hanoi
We didn’t need to walk far – even walking a couple of blocks was enough to agree that yes, Hanoi is a crazy city when it comes to motorbikes!
There were motorbikes everywhere – on the pavements, on the streets, between the cars, parked around literally everywhere.
Pedestrians have no right of way, and you need to be careful. At the same time, motorcyclists seem to be aware of pedestrians and they generally take care to not bump into them – but they can pass really, really close.
2. How to cross the road in Hanoi
So, how do you get across the road in Hanoi then?
The only way to go, is to just ignore the traffic, and walk across the road as you normally would as if the motorbikes don't exist. Which is what we did, and survived. Just!
Note that zebra crossings and traffic lights are only indicative, so a green pedestrian traffic light means that you can cross with caution, but you absolutely need to look around first. Not much change to being back home in Athens in that regard!
3. Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi
We made at quick stop at Dong Xuan market, which was a couple of blocks away from our hotel. This big, indoors market seemed to have cheap handbags and random clothes and fabrics. We didn’t find it too interesting.
After Dong Xuan market, we started walking towards St. Joseph’s cathedral. We were hoping to check the inside of the temple, but it was closed, so we just took a photo from the outside, and then decided to stop for a quick coffee, Vietnamese way!
4. Coffee in Vietnam
It’s worth making a special mention about the several types of Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi. Apart from various types of hot and iced coffee, there are two types of Vietnamese coffee that seem to be very popular: coconut coffee, and egg coffee.
The coconut coffee was essentially a couple of scoops of coconut ice cream with an espresso shot. Yum!
As for the Vietnamese egg coffee, it’s a coffee with some sort of custard cream made out of egg yolk. Unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t try it in Hanoi, but as we still have 3 weeks in Vietnam, I am sure we will come across it again.
5. Hoa Lo Prison Memorial
Our first official stop of the day was Hoa Lo Prison Memorial, also known as the Hanoi Hilton. This interesting museum stands on the grounds of what used to be a prison, originally built by the French to accommodate Vietnamese prisoners in the late 1800s.
According to Wikipedia, the words “Hoa Lo” mean “furnace” or “stove” in Vietnamese… so you can imagine what the conditions were like.
Parts of the prison were demolished in the early 1990s, but some parts still remain.
6. Hanoi Hilton Prisoners of War
In the 1960s and 1970s, Hoa Lo Prison was used by the Vietnamese to keep American air force pilots and other soldiers that were captured during the American War. After their release, many of them went in pursuit of several public roles, more notably into politics. Arguably, the most famous of them is Senator John McCain.
Like all establishments that used to be prisons, Hoa Lo Prison Memorial was a very sad place to visit. According to the information presented in the museum, the conditions under which the Vietnamese were kept by the French were really horrible.
In contrast, according to photos and articles published in US newspapers at the time and selectively displayed, American prisoners were treated respectfully, hence the name “Hanoi Hilton”. I'm pretty sure there is a completely different American version of this! But of course, the victors get to write history, and in this case, it was the Vietnamese.
Even if you only have one day in Hanoi, make sure you visit Hoa Lo Prison Memorial, and allow a couple of hours to read all the information and watch the videos on display.
It wasn’t really our intention to go to a vegan restaurant in Hanoi. However, given that the country’s cuisine seems to be based on pork or beef, we thought we’d give it a go.
We absolutely loved the food, which we both found a lot more tasty than Vietnam’s signature dish, Pho – more on that later.
8. Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi
Our next stop, a few minutes’ walk from Hoa Lo Prison, was the Vietnamese Women’s Museum. We found this to be very informative and pretty unique.
There are four floors, each of them dedicated to a different aspect of Vietnamese women’s lives.
There was information relating to marriage and family, everyday life, and tribal customs, that seem to vary a lot from one tribe to the next.
One custom that we found very impressive was the lacquered teeth – apparently, staining teeth with betel juice makes women more attractive.
9. Vietnamese Warrior Women
One of the most fascinating sections of the museum was the section highlighting the role of Vietnamese women during the several wars this country has gone through.
There were women who joined the guerrilla forces at the ages of 14 or 16, and others who were accomplished revolutionaries before their 20s.
Many of these women were exiled for months or years, some of them died way too young, and others eventually went into politics or other areas of the public sector.
If we had to go back to just one of the two museums, we would marginally prefer the Women’s Museum, but I highly recommend visiting both, as they are very close and offer a unique perspective on Vietnam’s history.
10. Hoan Kiem Lake
We left the Women’s Museum at around closing time (17.00), and decided to walk back to our hotel, and catch a glimpse of the popular Lake Hoan Kiem.
While this is supposed to be one of the highlights of Hanoi, we didn’t really think much to it and wouldn’t really recommend it, but then again everybody’s different.
11. Hanoi Night Market and Pho
When we got back to the hotel, it was still a little early for the famous Hanoi night market, but it wasn’t too early for dinner.
Literally half a block away from the Rising Dragon Hotel where we were staying, there is a place to try Pho, Vietnam’s most famous noodle soup and possibly the best known Vietnamese dish.
Unlike many other people out there, we really didn’t really see the excitement – I think that as we had spent 3 weeks in Thailand, we were quite spoilt with food options. Regardless, it was a cheap and filling meal.
12. Exploring the Old Quarter of Hanoi at night
As we continued walking around the Old Quarter Hanoi area, we came across another street food option that many Westerners wouldn’t go near. Dog on the spit, ladies and gentlemen. Not for the faint-hearted. We decided to give that one a miss.
13. Hanoi Night Market
And then it was on to the Hanoi Night Market. Like other Asian night markets, this is a place where you can find pretty much everything you were looking for, and things you weren’t.
In most night markets in SE Asia that we had visited so far, there were no cars or motorbikes, so we thought this would be the same. Right?
Wrong. This is Hanoi. Among the hordes of people looking at the cheap stuff and food stalls, there were hundreds of motorbikes, making this experience quite a memorable one.
14. Street Food in Hanoi
Now as for the food stalls, they didn’t seem to be confined to a specific area like in other night markets in SE Asia, but they were interspersed through the market.
There were many foods that we couldn’t immediately recognize, but were probably pork or fish snacks. Remember that the Vietnamese tend to use a lot of meat in their cuisine, including animal parts that are not used in the West, like chicken feet.
Among the various stalls, there were several large groups of local people eating and having beers, sitting on tiny plastic stools. This is quite common around SE Asia, but you wouldn’t dream of it in the West!
There were also numerous shops selling candy, liquor, souvenirs and cheap clothes. Last but not least, there was a specific area seemingly dedicated to backpackers, which was really busy and bustling, mostly with tourists.
And that was the end of our first day in Hanoi. Back at the hotel, the motorbike noise seemed to die out just after 11pm. Time for some well-deserved rest!
Hanoi Itinerary Day 2
On our second day in Hanoi, we set off to visit the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum, the Temple of Literature, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and museum. We were also thinking to catch a Vietnamese water puppet show.
15. Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum
Walking from our hotel to the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum wasn’t super pleasant – there were times we wished we had taken a Grab, though it was actually quite close.
We were rather disappointed by the Vietnam National Fine Arts museum – there were a few pieces of art worth checking out, but the majority were rather boring paintings.
We ended up hurrying between ice cold and scorching hot rooms – I guess the people who installed the air-condition were lazy!
16. Temple of Literature – Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam
After a quick snack and a coconut coffee, we walked to the Temple of Literature, which we expected to be one of the highlights of our day.
However, upon arrival we saw several tourist buses outside. This, combined with the fact that we were still templed-out after Bagan and Chiang Mai, made us reconsider our priorities.
So eventually we didn’t visit the temple, but crossed the street and checked out Ho Van Lake instead. This quiet little area is full of souvenir stalls and small shops selling art items, probably mostly relevant to Chinese tourists.
Looking for a Greek island itinerary for 14 nights? I recently answered a reader's questions regarding a Greek island itinerary for late September. Here's a few ideas I came up with.
Planning a Greek Island Holiday
I was recently asked by a reader for some suggestions regarding their Greek island itinerary for 14 nights / 16 days. Somehow, what started as a quick answer morphed into this blog post!
As a result, I hope other people also find this suggested Greek island itinerary to be of some use.
Their questions were:
We are planning to visit Greece in late September for 14 nights/16 days. We are interested in Athens, Naxos, Santorini and Rhodes, and if possible to add Paros in the itinerary.
1. Which island would you suggest to start/end (via ferries or flight) and fly back home to North America?
2. If we need to choose between Naxos and Paros, which island would you recommend?
3. Is it easy to get around via buses within each of the islands?
4. Also would love to hear your hotel/area suggestions for each of the islands.
Here's my answers.
Greek Island Hopping Routes
Greece is a small country, but as you will see it can be quite time-consuming to get around, especially for islands that belong to different island groups.
In your case you have Santorini – Naxos – Paros that belong to the Cyclades group, and also Rhodes which is one of the Dodecanese islands of Greece.
Depending on your interests and how much time you want to spend in each place, four islands plus Athens is quite a challenge, and you will most likely end up running around ports and airports. My suggestion would be three islands max plus Athens.
Weather in Greece in September and October
Take into account that September / October is when the weather starts getting worse, so there may be fewer sunny / beach days.
Out of the places you are going, Rhodes is the place where you are the most likely you are to have good weather – there are also many archaeological and historical sights so you definitely need more than 3 days to get a good idea of the island.
1. Which island would you suggest to start/end (via ferries or flight) and fly back home to North America?
In general, ferry schedules for that time of year can be announced later on in the year. You can check www.ferryhopper.gr for itineraries and tickets – there are some already, but there may be more added later on.
As you will see, Rhodes in particular is a little tricky to get to from the Cyclades. There will be a connection once or twice a week and it would take a pretty long time.
As for flights, the domestic air carrier Aegean / Olympic is great, but again you will find that you won’t be able to fly from one island to the other, and you will have to go through Athens.
Make sure you read luggage specifications in advance (though they are not really strict, it’s better to be safe than sorry).
Starting and finishing in Athens
If you are coming from North America into Athens and are planning to use ferries, it is best to leave Athens as your final destination, in case of boat strikes or bad weather / no departure (it’s not so uncommon).
I would suggest starting with Naxos (great beaches, and a chance to get some good weather, though it’s debatable), going on to Santorini (the beaches there are not that great, focus on other activities instead like this incredible hike or the volcano tour), then Rhodes (for a chance to spend some time on the beach) and leave Athens at the end.
Or even just three destinations – Santorini, Rhodes and Athens.
2. If we need to choose between Naxos and Paros, which island would you recommend?
Naxos is a much bigger island than Paros and there is much more to do, plus the beaches are great. Also, at that time of year, Paros will have started shutting down for winter. Check out my introduction guide to Naxos.
3. Is it easy to get around via buses within each of the islands?
All of the islands have buses, however schedules are not always easy to find in advance and they change for high and low season. Quite frankly, it is much better to rent a car and be independent – driving on the islands isn’t as bad as you may have heard.
4. Also would love to hear your hotel/area suggestions for each of the islands.
For that time of year, I would recommend the following areas:
Santorini – Stay in the main town, Fira (this is where I stayed when I was there in November), or perhaps nearby Imerovigli. The famous sunset spot, Oia, will not offer that many options for meals etc, and it’s a little far to get around from. Just visit for an evening, you can get there by bus and get the last bus back just after sunset or taxi. I've also got a list here of sunset hotels in Santorini.
Naxos – either the Chora (old town) or one of the beaches, maybe Plaka. If you like mountains and are prepared to rent a car and drive around, Apeiranthos will also be a great choice.
Paros – Most likely Parikia, some people prefer Naoussa but I think this is more suitable for summer months. Check here for hotels in Paros.
Rhodes – Definitely the main town, it is pretty amazing and you will need at least a couple of days to see the main sights.
Athens – The area close to the Acropolis is the best if you are staying for just a few days, I’ve put down a guide for the best hotels near the Acropolis here.
A Greek Island Hopper Itinerary
Personally, I love putting my own trips together. Everything might not be perfect, but it's an adventure! There are ‘done for you' solutions available though through some companies, and I've included some Greek island hopping packages below.