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10 day Athens and Greek Island Itinerary Suggestions

My mother and I are going to Greece for the first time Mat 10-25. We fly in and out of Athens. I am having a hard time narrowing down which places and islands to visit, and would like some advise. We do not want to rent a car, and would like to take the ferries or fly. I wanted to start off with Athens and Delphi, but based off other suggestions, I am hearing that we should start with the farthest island first and work our way back and finish up in Athens. We are more interested in the cultural sites and ruin, than the beaches and shopping. Out of the following islands, does any have any suggestions of which ones to visit or skip, and how long to stay?
- Mykonos and Delos
- Rhodes
- Crete


Posted by
3364 posts

Hi Colleen, You're asking a "Universe" of questions, and if we were to answer them fully, we'd be writing a full guidebook here ourselves. If you can do a little wee bit of homework, you can learn a lot --- and be realistic in how much you can cover in 14 days.

Have you considered looking at some Guidebooks?? You don't have to buy them, you don't say where you're from, but Im guessing you are from the USA, and good libraries have tons of books to use free. If your local branch doesn't have them they can get them from central Loan. Or run over to Barnes & Noble and browse there for Free. To sort out what's possible, GREEK ISLAND HOPPING is Great for first-timers. It shows the ferry routes, and what you can hope to cover in 14 days (it's going out of print but libraries have it, also Amazon -- even used cheeep). Also ROUGH GUIDE to GREECE. I could give u some websites, but without knowing something, you can be misled by websites that sometimes are designed just to promote, not to inform.

Here's a MAP of Greece (click to enlarge) You will see that some isles are waaay far from the others. You have proposed 8 destinations; you have time for 4, max. Look at those books, also look at this Ferry Map --

With such ambitious plans, you need to be efficient in Time-allotment. You will have to be in Athens at the last, to assure making your flight home. So why go there ALSO at the first?? When you land, leave as fast as do-able, for your first island, by ferry or plane. Which it will be, depends on your arrival time... so you need to share that, not just day. Also departure time: if you have a7 am flight out, that will affect your last-day plans.

On your sentence "we are more interested in unique cultural experiences (etc) is the next word "Then" or "than."? if it's "then," you need an itinerary that allows time for both. Finally, planning a trip requires figuring out the logistics FIRST --- and learning how much it takes to TRAVEL between one place an another will govern how much time you can STAY in each place. If it takes half a day or nearly all day to change islands, that drastically cuts down on your "stay" time.

Given your time limits, I would drop Crete (160 miles long!) and Hydra (not up to the other isles you list). Also, realize that Delphi is a 3.5 hour bus ride each way -- and the 1-day tours give you only about 90 minutes at the ruins and museum. Then the tour leader drags you off for lunch (which you pay for) and a souvenir shop/rug shop you don't want to see (but the bus folks get a kickback for taking you to) ... So if you want a memorable Delphi experience I think it requires going up on a noon intercity bus, seeing the museum before it closes at 7, seeing the ruins 8-10:30 in am, then taking a bus back to arrive about 5 pm. So... it's a day & half. Something to weigh when choosing your destinations.

Posted by
1531 posts

Your title says 10 day Athens and Greek Island Itinerary but your first sentence says May 10-25. Are the 10 days for the islands only? I would suggest you end in Athens since you have to sleep there the night before you leave. I'd also suggest you drop Crete and Rhodes because each is too far to travel in the time you have. When you land in Athens you could fly directly to Santorini for 3-4 nights. From there you could take the ferry to Mkyonos which has day trips to Delos. We preferred Naxos to Mykonos but it seems there is no service from Naxos to Delos in May. Depending on the time you have you could still visit Hydra for 1 night, which as Janet said is not up to the other islands but is still a cute place to visit if you have the time. Or you could add Naxos, which has interesting archaeological sights and an interesting old town, for 2-3 nights and spend less time on Mykonos. When you return to the mainland you could visit Delphi by bus and then end in Athens for a few nights before you leave. As previously mentioned, I'm not sure how many nights you plan to spend in Greece so I hope these suggestions are helpful. Greece is beautiful and you will enjoy any of the islands and towns you visit.

Posted by
16894 posts

I agree with Carol that Rhodes is too far a detour from your route (even though you could fly). Crete is also a distance, as well as it's a large island which easily deserves a week to visit.

Posted by
32273 posts


I'd suggest choosing locations which the easiest fit to work into an Itinerary, without wasting an excessive amount of time getting from one place to another. With only a very short 10 days, one possibility would be Athens with day trips, Naxos (by Ferry), Santorini (by Ferry) and return to Athens by air (Aegean or Olympic Air). You should have time for another island but best to choose one that's easy (quick) to get to.

Spending a night or two on Hydra would be worthwhile (IMO). It's an easy trip from Athens.

You may find it helpful to have a look at the excellent Greece Travel website. I used one of the Greek travel agencies listed on the website to arrange all the details for my island trips (hotels, transportation, transfers), and they did an outstanding job.

IMO, it would be best to leave Crete for a future visit when you have more time. It's huge and will take some time.