During my spring semester this coming year, my class will be studying abroad in Rome. Within that semester is a 10 day spring break which I plan on going to Greece with a couple of my friends. Does anyone have suggestions for a travel itinerary/ where to stay/ or even what to see that is relatively low-budget? We want to see Santorini and Athens at the very least.
College was decades ago, so I won’t try to image exactly where and what you’ll find of most interest, but for what it’s worth:
At Eastertime last year, we rented a car and visited Hydra Island, the Peloponnese Peninsula, Delphi, and finished up in Athens. Cheaper than many other places in Europe, but still maybe more than you’d want to spend.
This late September/early October, we’re heading to Crete, the largest of the current Greek islands. Lots to do on this big island, from beaches to ancient sites, museums, bicycling on the Lasithi Plateau, towns with Minoan, Greek, Venetian, Turkish, Nazi-resistance pasts. Greek Orthodox churches with centuries-old frescoes. The iconic Samaria Gorge, and other hiking options. We’re staying in moderate hotels but hostels are widely available for a lower cost.
This may be throwing a wrench in your plans, but Sicily, a cheap flight from Rome, was once part of the greater ancient Grecian culture, settled by Greeks, and still full of Ancient Greek temples, many in much better shape than you’ll find back in Greece.
If you do make it to Athens, though, have a “splurge” dinner one night at the Mani Mani restaurant. Not really expensive, but a truly great place, and outstanding value, just a few blocks south of the Acropolis.
First, clarify when Spring Break is, to me, that means like March?
If so, we are not talking beach weather, many of the smaller islands will have shut down the tourist trade. Athens of course will be going strong and Santorini is mostly year round. A few of the larger islands like Naxos and Crete will also still have good activity. Ferries may be less frequent, but you could look at cheap flights from Athens to Santorini.
The mainland has a number of sights, Delphi, Olympia, Nafplio, Epidaurus, if that interests you.
If you are primarily interested in history, art and culture, then focus on Athens and some of the archaeological sites on the mainland.
Santorini is very interesting from a scenic point of view and does have some ancient Minoan Ruins. Mykonos is cool, but nearby Delos is for the historical value.
Athens should take up at least four days to the Acropolis, New Acropolis Museum, Archaeological Museum, Constitution Square and some of the other historical sites like the Agora.
The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion is a day trip from Athens, as is a day trip to Delphi, site of the ancient oracle.
Corinth and the canal are also a good day trip.
There are other famous sites like Olympus and Mycenae.
"Low budget" is a relative term. Any advice given to you would depend on how much you plan to spend on your 10 day visit. First, the cheapest sleeping accommodations for Athens will be found on airbnb. There you will find apartments for as little as $30 per night, but the prices will increase as you get closer to the city center and attractions. Be sure you understand the neighborhood location when you consider these rentals. If you are flying from Rome to Athens, consider the Athena Pass for transportation (available on the Athens public transportation website) It will get you to and from the airport plus enable you to use various forms of public transportation in Athens. As for Santorini, the cheapest way to get there from Athens is via Blue Star Ferry, but it's about an 8 hour trip. There is also a high speed ferry (about 5 hours) at a greater cost. There are some good tour packages for Santorini which include hotel pick-up and return, the ferry ticket (round-trip), hotel (3 star) and a tour. Again your budget is the issue. Several daily flights are also available from Athens to Santorini via Aegean Airlines. Have a wonderful visit.
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You can't associate Santorini and Athens with low-budget regardless of the time of year you go. Spring will be less expensive but still outside "Low-budget". You may want to tell us what your budget is for better recommendations.
You might get something in Athens like a hostel at lower prices but Santorini is still high price regardless of time of year.
With 10 days I would devote a minimum of 2 days in Athens with 3 being better. That would give you 7-8 days for one or two islands that you can combine.
Lots of options but what I like may not be what you like. However you can combine Paros with Antiparos, Sifnos/Milos, Aegina/Agistri and several others. Or pick one of the larger islands like Crete or Lesvos for your entire stay.
Check out this guide for Athens and the Islands and do a bit of research to find something that meets your needs:
I would check the Lonely Planet forum for tips. RS readers, including myself, tend to be a few decades past college and have different ideas of fun. I believe Andy Steves(Rick's son) also has a website for college age travels that might be helpful.