This is one destination which takes you thousands of years back into history; its cities are the cradle of western civilisation as they are called; its beautiful and diverse islands are ranging from world’s best romantic destinations to mecca for party lovers and its amazing food which gives your taste buds something to remember for a very very long time. Yes, you have it all in a single trip; undoubtedly one of the most popular destination of Europe, Greece
This guide will help you to answer first major six doubts in planning a trip:
- Number of days required
- List of places to visit
- Best modes of transport
Number of days
I initially gave 10 days to Greece which I thought was more than sufficient. As I started my research of what Greece has to offer, I realized that someone can easily spend a month here and still there will be scope for a next trip. We spent 14 days in Greece and were able to cover 4 major destinations. The number of days and destinations may vary as per your taste and style of travel.
Places we visited
Three most obvious destinations for our first trip to Greece were Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos. I added one more destination to the list which is not very popular but a gem of a place, Meteora.
We spent 3 nights and 4 days in Athens which is a luxury of time. We visited major tourist spots in the city, explored lesser known neighborhoods of Athens and discovered new routes to reach our Airbnb stay daily. Someone can easily cover the major tourist destinations of Athens in 2 days.
Whatever you have seen in pictures or heard about Santorini is all true. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. We spent 3 nights and 4 days in Santorini which is the minimum time you should give to make justice with the place. Please read the detailed Guide to plan a trip to Santorini.
Some travelers avoid Mykonos as it is popular for beach parties and is very expensive which is partially true. Mykonos is definitely very expensive especially if you buy drink/food at the beach. There is much more to do in Mykonos other than famous beach parties like watching a sunset at iconic windmills, exploring the streets of Chora town and a drink at Little Venice. We witnessed one of the best sunsets of our entire trip of 90 days in Mykonos that too three days in a row.
I saved one picture around 5-6 years back of some place in Greece with narrow vertical cliffs and houses on top of it. When I started planning for Greece, the first thing I searched was the name of that place. Thanks to Google Image search, I found this place called Meteora and then we came to know that those houses are actually 14th-century monasteries. We have also added the detailed blog posts on Meteora, Guide to monasteries in Meteora and complete photography guide to Meteora.
Day 1: Reached Athens
Day 2-4: Flight from Athens to Santorini and 3 nights in Santorini
Day 5-7: Ferry from Santorini to Mykonos and 3 nights in Mykonos
Day 8: Ferry from Mykonos to Athens and train from Athens to Meteora
Day 9-10: Reached Meteora and 2 nights in Meteora
Day 11-13: Train from Meteora to Athens and 3 nights in Athens
Day 14: Fly out from Athens
We used almost all modes of transport in 14 days from train, flight, car rental to small boats and even cruise ships.
You don’t need a car rental in Athens as you can roam around on foot and can use metro if needed. It’s better to book your accommodation near Acropolis then everything will be at walking distance.
You can reach Santorini from Athens either by ferry or flight. A Flight takes only 45 min where a ferry takes 9 hours. If you book in advance (2-3 months), a flight will be much cheaper than a ferry. Blue Star ferry cost around 60 euro per person where flight (Ryanair) cost us 50 euro for two (without check-in baggage price).
We took a car rental in Santorini for just one day to roam around in other parts of the island from Oia (where we stayed). More details about Santorini.
Santorini to Mykonos can only be done by Ferry which is quite expensive: 65 euro per person and takes 3 hours. We stayed near Chora town which is actually the most happening area and there is no benefit in having a car there. You need a car rental to explore other parts of the island and reach different beaches. We took a car rental for last 2 days to explore the beaches.
Tip: There is no need to book the ticket for ferries in advance at least in non-peak seasons. There are multiple tour operators in Fira, Santorini where you can buy the ticket even a day in advance.
We booked a train from Athens to reach Meteora and then took a car rental to roam around in Meteora. There are tour operators available which can take your for a planned trip to monasteries but car rental gives more flexibility according to me. Checkout our blog post on complete guide to monasteries in Meteora and photography guide for photography enthusiasts.
Along with amazing destinations, Greece keeps the bar high for food with a great variety of food options. You must try Souvlaki, Gyros, Feta Cheese and definitely Greek yogurt. Endless greek dessert options can give you a sugar rush and can spoil your workout but the taste is all worth it. Food is very cheap in Greece as compared to other European countries and in almost all the restaurants, there are no service charges.
We mostly stayed in budget accommodations and Santorini was the most expensive one where we stayed in a villa in Oia.
Santorini: Musses studios in Oia. It was a nice accommodation with great location (close to bus station and right on the main road) and in our budget. You can find all fancy accommodations in Santorini but keep in mind that for all sea facing accommodations, you need to climb down the stairs from the main road.
Mykonos: Olympia, It was a really nice accommodation with a very polite host and spacious rooms. The stay is in walking distance to bus stand and all major attractions (Chora town, Little Venice).
Tip: They offer two types of rooms: Budget double room and Double room. Double room is a bit expensive but has a balcony with views of windmills and it is worth the extra money.
Meteora: I won’t recommend our stay as it was very far from the town center and it is very difficult to get a taxi in Meteora. Car rentals and major restaurants are in the town center, so it’s better to book your accommodation in the town center.
Athens: We booked an Airbnb apartment which was very close to Acropolis and Plaka neighborhood. The host was very helpful and polite.
Now we have reached the most important part of any trip planning; Budget. The budget completely varies with personal preferences and standards. We didn’t book any fancy accommodations and rarely had expensive dinners. Below are our expenses of two people for 14 days.
Accommodation: 520 euros for 14 days.
Food: 670 euros (~25 euros per person per day). You can easily have breakfast in Greece for 3-4 euros per person in typical greek bakeries and the cheapest food option is Gyros.
Shopping: 100 euros. As we were on a long trip of 90 days, we couldn’t afford much shopping both in terms of budget as well as luggage weight. We just purchased souvenirs for friends and family.
Transport: 670 euros. This includes everything from ferries, train, car rentals to flight from Athens to Santorini excluding our international flight in and out of Greece.
Entry fees and activities: 110 euros. Greece is one of those rare places in Europe where you spend very less on entry tickets. The only major expense was tickets of Acropolis with a guide and it was all worth it.
In 14 days, we had witnessed amazing views of Santorini, few of the best sunsets of our life in Mykonos, mesmerizing views of Meteora and thousands of years old Greek architecture in Athens. We ate like crazy, especially those endless Greek dessert options which were capable enough to spoil our months of workout in few days and in the end carried some great travel memories with us for life.
There is a lot more to explore in Greece especially different Islands further in the south, one day we will definitely come for a second trip to Greece. Lets us know if you find this guide useful in the comments below and also share your travel experiences in Greece.