Out of all the countries I’ve visited in the world, Greece will always be my favorite. Many people choose to visit Greece by cruise, but there’s so much missed when not staying on land. From getting out early before the cruise crowds to seeing the amazing nightlife in each city. It’s something I’m so glad we were able to experience and you will be too!
This guide begins in Athens including a short side trip to either Delphi or Meteora. From Athens, you’ll head to Santorini and end your incredible vacation in Paros. Let’s get planning!
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10 Day Greece Itinerary: Athens and Greek Island Hopping
This itinerary does not include the day you might lose getting to Greece if you’re traveling from the US. So keep in mind you’ll need 1 more day for travel.
Day 1: Arriving in Athens
You’ll most likely arrive in Athens in the morning or early afternoon depending on your layover. Make sure to confirm the check-in time with your hotel or Airbnb and give them a heads up on your estimated arrival time if you plan to arrive early. Most places will work with you if you arrive earlier than the stated check-in time. They might not have the room ready, but they will usually hold your luggage in a secure area so you can start exploring the city.
Getting from the Airport to the City
To get to the city center from the airport, you’ll need to take the train and transfer to the metro. I’ll admit, I was nervous about this. I had heard Athens wasn’t the safest city so I was expecting to have to be on high alert for the entire train ride. The reality of it was that we felt safer on Athens trains and metros than we did in Paris. So there’s no need to be fearful. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be on the lookout for pickpockets, but you don’t need to shell out a ton of money for a private driver.
The ride to the city is about 30 minutes. We were staying very close to the Acropolis, so once we reached Syntagma Square, we had to transfer to the metro in order to get to the Acropolis station. For suggestions on where to stay in Athens, check out my One Day in Athens post.
Days 2 & 3: Explore Athens & Day Trip to Delphi
It’s very easy to see all there is to see in Athens in one day. In fact, I’ve already written an entire post about it. So to get your comprehensive Athens, Greece itinerary complete with free tours, go on over to my one day in Athens guide.
Delphi Day Trip
Your second day in Athens could be spent in the city, but there’s a very interesting and less explored ancient city called Delphi about two hours away by car. For a day trip to Delphi, I would highly recommend hiring a driver. By doing this, we were able to beat the big bus loads of tourists which meant seeing the sites without big crowds.
Restaurants to check out on your visit:
- Acropolis Secret Rooftop Restaurant: Great option for a nice dinner in Athens. You’ll be able to see the Acropolis as you’re eating. Reservations required.
- Ambrosia: Very casual Greek restaurant near the Plaka. Reviews are mixed, but we had an excellent authentic Greek dinner there. Service is not the best, but that’s not what we went for.
- Yard Restaurant: Perfect lunch spot very close to the New Acropolis Museum. The service was fantastic as was the food!
Day 4: Travel to Santorini
There are three ways to travel to Santorini from Athens. I’ll give you the options first, then I’ll give you my (un)professional opinion.
Option 1: Greek Island Cruise (easiest)
Instead of staying on the islands themselves, you could opt for the easiest option of the three and hop on a cruise. This takes care of all of your transportation and accommodations in one easy to plan package. With this option, you’ll spend your days exploring Greeks islands and your nights aboard a ship.
- Pros: Very easy to plan and one price for everything with some meals included
- Cons: Limited sightseeing due to limited time on each island; can be pricey
Option 2: Highspeed Ferry (cheapest)
This is the most cost-effective way to Greek island hop. If you have the time, a ferry can be a very pleasant way of traveling. Not only is it cheaper but the scenery as you pass smaller Greek islands along the way is absolutely beautiful. A highspeed ferry will get you to Santorini in 5 hours while the regular Blue Star Ferry will take 8 hours. Check out this post by Santorini Dave if you plan on taking a ferry.
- Pros: Cost effective with beautiful scenery
- Cons: Time-consuming and upon return, you’ll have to figure out a way to get to the airport
Option 3: Fly (fastest)
Obviously, this option is pricier than taking a ferry. However, you’ll get to the islands very quickly. It takes less than an hour to fly from Athens to Santorini. Ryan Air has cheaper prices, but the times aren’t great. We chose Aegean based on the flight times we needed and really loved flying with them.
- Pros: Very quick and you’ll already be at the airport upon return
- Cons: Pricey
My opinion: If you want to really get the full Greek island experience in a short amount of time I would highly recommend flying. While a cruise might be fun, you will miss out on so much. One of my most treasured memories of Santorini was waking up early to explore before the cruise crowds arrived. We had the entire town of Oia to ourselves. It was a priceless experience and one we would have never had if we were on a cruise. Flying will ensure you get the most out of your short time away.
If you have more time to spare, the highspeed ferry would be my second choice. However, I would leave as early as I possibly could.
Days 5 & 6: Explore Santorini
Santorini is a picturesque Greek island full of incredible things to do and scenery to take in. I’ve written several posts all about this wonderful place and you can check them out here:
- 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Traveling to Santorini: Read this for a real look at visiting Santorini. It isn’t all magical, but expectations are key to enjoying your time there.
- 10 Amazing Things to do in Santorini: Make sure you have a plan for your time in Santorini. There are so many things to do, this post will help you make the most of your trip.
- 10 Incredible Santorini Airbnb’s with a View: Yes, you can have a view and still stay in budget! Check out these incredible Airbnb
Restaurants to check out while in Santorini:
- PitoGyros: The best gyros you will ever eat and one of the cheapest food options in Oia. Make sure you try a Yellow Donkey beer!
- The Athenian House: Greek food located in Imerovigli. Go here for a great sunset view!
- Catch Bar & Restaurant: Seafood in Oia. Go here for a really nice dinner and a sunset view.
- Lolita’s: Incredible gelato shop located in Oia
Day 7: Travel to Paros
If you’re not taking a cruise, I would take a ferry from Santorini to Paros. It will take about two hours. You could fly, but it will be much more expensive and there won’t be as many options for departure times. The ferry will give you a bit more flexibility will not impacting your budget as much.
For accommodations, check out this post by Santorini Dave (if you can’t tell already, he’s an incredible source for all things Greece).
Days 8 & 9: Explore Paros
Santorini has giant cliffs so getting to the water is a bit difficult. In Paros, finding relaxing beaches is easy. Paros still has the iconic whitewashed buildings, but the landscape is much different from Santorini. You’ll also see fewer crowds on this island. It’s a great island to pair with Santorini so you won’t be fighting tourist crowds your entire trip.
There are so many things to do in Paros, but I’ve listed a few guides below to help you with your planning:
Restaurants to check out while in Paros:
- Mylos Traditional Grill: Small, family-run, casual Greek restaurant
- Itria: Go for a cocktail before or after dinner (or both!)
- Les Amis: Mediterranian food and wine bar. Great option for a nice dinner!
Day 10: Travel Home via Athens
There are two options to get from Paros to Athens: Ferry or plane. A ferry will be the least expensive, but it will take 3 hours to get to the Piraeus port plus you’ll need time to get to the Airport. If you’re sold on the ferry option, check out the timetable and get your tickets here.
A flight is more expensive, but it will only take 40 minutes and you won’t have to worry about getting to the airport. Keep in mind if budget is your main concern, only going one way isn’t that much of a cost especially when you factor in the convenience. Most one-way flights from Paros to Athens run between €40 – €60. Check out your flight options using the Google Flight Tracker.
Additional Excursion from Athens: Monasteries of Meteora
If you have at least two extra days, I highly recommend making a side trip to Meteora. The monasteries of Meteora appear to be floating high above the ground precariously sitting on top of enormous rocks. I haven’t been myself, but it’s at the top of my bucket list for when we go back to Greece.
To get to Meteora from Athens, you can book a group tour so all transportation, tours, and accommodations are taken care of for you or you can do it on your own.
For great instructions on how to get to Meteora from Athens on your own, check out the Visit Meteora website.
If a pre-arranged tour is more your speed, Check out the options below:
Greece is an incredible country. So incredible it’s my favorite out of everywhere I’ve been. If you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip there, I hope this guide and my other Greece guides help make your travel planning a breeze (preferably a warm Mediterranean breeze).