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Greece in 10 days

My husband and I are going to Greece for 10 days from the US in late June to early July. We would like to spend some time in Athens (or anywhere else on the mainland) and some time on any one or two islands. We have been encouraged to go to Santorini, but unsure what other island would be good. We love the ocean, outdoors, authentic food and embracing the local culture. We are not into partying so much, that is why we have chosen to stay away from Mykonos. We want to explore, learn and dive into Greek life.
Please give us any and all suggestions on where to go on the mainland and the islands, accommodations, and food. We are just starting to plan our trip!
Thank you!

Posted by
4535 posts

Athens is worth at least a couple of days, though in mid-summer it can be unbearably hot. Nafplio is a great small city on the Peloponnese with several ancient sites nearby. But it works best with a car. Plan on at least 1 and better with 2 nights. Delphi is an amazing ancient site with dramatic vistas. There are many organized tour options or you can take a public bus pretty easily. Or drive. It is a one day trip or an overnight (the town is not very interesting).

I cannot comment on islands.

Posted by
2788 posts

Do you have a Greece guide book yet? If so, great. If not, we purchased a RS "Greece/Athens" guide book elsewhere on this web site that was very useful when we planned our trip to Greece. During late June and early July it will be very hot in Greece. Be sure to check that our and pack accordingly.

Posted by
3334 posts

You have no time to waste in making arrangements, mainly because your trip runs in to High Season. ALso because your trip is short, logistics become extremely important -- and in Greece, logistics are more complicated than in other European countries -- for one thing, virtually no train service, and for another, ferries don't speed like cars, trains & busses. If you are not careful, transport could eat up days of your precious time.

Because not only days, but hours, affect your options, I'm not going to give specific suggstions until you share some vital details, i.e. what is the exact date (AND time of day) you land in Greece. and date/time of day your departure flight. (It really matters whether u land at 9 am or 4 pm). Where in US?? People from LA are MUCH more exhausted on arrival than people from NYC.

If as I fear, your 10 days includes flight, you may only have 7 or 8 days in Greece. That's enough for only one island plus Athens. If you want to dive into Greek life and embrace local culture, I advise u do not stay on Santorini ... it has a famous Caldera View but is totally touricized, and in high season jampacked & Hot 100°+. However, if you choose for your island Naxos or Paros, both these have 2 companies that do day-excursions to Santorini, so you could glimpse the view w.o. staying overnight.

Since u are starting so late, you need to make transport as efficient as possible, which means grabbing a domestic flight to your chosen island just as soon as you arrive at ATH airport. Perhaps flying back as well... main thing is to do Athens last, so you won't waste precious hours going from Airport-Central athens-back twice. One other possibility, if the timing makes it possible, would be to take a high-speed ferry to that Single island (such as Sifnos), and high-speed ferry back. Sifnos has no airport and unlike Mykonos & Santorini, harbors can't take giant cruise ships, so a bit more of that authenticity you value.

You need to get the sequence & transport solved before u book an Island hotel, so devote your first priority to that. You can book an Athens hotel for the last 3 nights without risk (because most hotels allow cancellations without penalty until a week or 2 before arrival). You'll want to find a hotel room very near (walking distance) to the main landmarks (Acropolis etc) for a couple of reasons (1) with limited time, you don't want to have to taxi or Metro for sightseeing and (2) it will be HOT, so it's good to be near your hotel when you need to collapse for a bit. To get the best advice, please share (in Euros) your preferred price-range per night ... otherwise people may recommend hotels too budgety, OR too luxe for your taste.

Everyone's lives are busy, but could I suggest you stop by a library and check out any Greece guides on the shelf??? Guides really ARE helpful as a filter ... the best ones are candid, and can help you sort out what's important to you. Too often, internet sites are designed to attract eyeballs, and don't mention important minusses as well as the plusses, of many destinations.

Posted by
2 posts

I am so grateful for all the advice we have gotten thus far! We are going to see if we can extend our trip a couple days which seems would help us enjoy more of Greece. Additionally, I will get a guide book ASAP! Thanks for the heads up about the weather. We would much rather stay away from the touristy so maybe another island is a good idea (a non cruise ship port destination).
Again thanks for all the other tips. Will take all these into consideration!

Posted by
1171 posts

A number of really good, less touristy islands to pick from: Sifnos, Milos, Naxos, Skyros, Lemnos are but just a few that still retain their Greekness without selling out to mass tourism.

All of the above, except Sifnos has an airport so it makes it quick and efficient to get to. Even a ferry won't be too bad with the most being 4 hours or so ride one way.

You could fly to Milos and ferry to Sifnos near by, fly to Naxos and do day trips throughout the island and even day cruises to Myknos/Delos and Santorini without spending big bucks for overnight stays.

Lemnos & Skyros are really very lovely islands with beauitful architecture and low-key atmosphere, beaches, real Greek food and lots to do and experience.

More research on your part will reveal many areas of either the mainland or islands that would appeal to you.

You can check out Matt's Greek Guide on the web for everything and anything about Greece:

Posted by
3 posts

I agree with Tommy.
It would be better to also visit some island like Sifnos which is my personal favorite!

Posted by
211 posts

I read where you suggest you might add a few days. By all means, do that at all costs if you can.

Now, to your point ... I am going to suppose you'd like to also experience some of the ancient history as well.

For one thine, Greece is incredible. You'llaurants only be able to scratch the surface, so let's plan on just really enjoying yourselves with what you'll be able to see and not fret about what you may be "missing". Frankly, if I had, say, 14 days beginning in Athens, I would do this:
Land and get into a rental car. Head for Delphi. It's a two-hour drive so let's assume you arrive in late afternoon. Great. Check in and chill out to get over the jet lag and enjoy a terrific meal with the amazing view (most restaurants on the main drag feature tremendous views). Next day, visit the archaeological museum and then the archaeological site. Since these are your first days, I'd stay in Delphi second night, too. (2)
Next day, get an early start and drive to Meteora. Know which monasteries are open / closed that day and visit whichever ones are to be closed the following day. Next day, visit the rest of the monasteries. Stay in Kastraki two nights. (4)
Next day, head to the coast towards Parga. You can visit Roman ruins in Dodoni or the charming mountain village of Metsovo along the way and stay in Parga a couple nights (6).
if you definitely want to visit an island, visit Lefkada while you're in this area. It's the only island I know of in Greece attached to the mainland by a bridge and while you'll miss out on a ferry ride, you'll preserve precious time (you have little). Slow down, find a nice place on the south or west shore and spend three nights. Seems unnecessarily long for an island but it's really a critical part, in my opinion, of the island experience. (9)
Next day, a long drive of four hours to Olympia but quite scenic and, hey, you're in Greece. If you get an early start you can make it to the ancient site there in the afternoon but I would just make a day of the drive (plenty of fun places to stop along the way) and visit the site the next day. To speed things up, drive to Mystras in the afternoon after visiting the site. (10 & 11)
Visit Mystras sites and then head to Nafplio. Worth at least two nights with side trips possible to Mycanae and Epidarus. (13)
Drive to Athens and park the car near your hotel and leave it be. Two days is fine for Athens. (15)
Return car where you got it and fly home.

Posted by
3334 posts

There! Thanks to Will, you now have 2 quite different options, the 2nd focussing on Mainland sites. To will's itinerary I would suggest only at the end, a "tweak" -- when reaching Athens, do NOT park your car (almost impossible anyway) and let it sit unused (and costing you $40up per day) while you walk to sightsee (almost all the famous sites/museums are in the center, walkable). Instead, when approaching Athens, continue on "beltway" highway around the city to Airport, & return where u hired it. You can then get to your Central Athens hotel via X95 Express bus (€6, 1/2 price for seniors), or Metro (€18 for 2, or sr. discount). About the same amt. of time, except in rush hour when Metro is faster (but much more crowded, & also u must be alert there for pickpockets).