Greece was hands down one of our favorite destinations we’ve ever been to. A friend of ours went to Greece before using a travel company similar to explorow.com – Ancient Thira was a magnificent sight to see according to her, so we had to check it out!
This is probably because it felt like an actual vacation unlike a lot of our sightseeing trips.
It ended our year in Europe and we took it as our babymoon, so it’s easy to see why we fell in
love. I think everyone needs to make it to Greece in their life, preferably for a special occasion.
It is the perfect idyllic setting to relax and celebrate and enjoy. We loved the scenery,
the FOOD, the people, the history, the nature, and the variety. We did Athens and
then scratched the service visiting three islands, so here is our Greece guide
with some favorites and tips from our time in this beautiful place.
GUIDE to GREECE
Let’s begin in Athens! You’ll likely fly in for any Greek vacation unless you’re doing a cruise …
but we loved spending some time in the capital city before heading to the islands.
We landed and had a ride all set up with Athens 9Seater pickup into city. Stelios was waiting right in the arrival area with our names on a sign (fancy!) but it was still less expensive than a cab at 40€ for up to 3 people. They also offer tours and all different route options. We were taken straight into city center and picked up at our hotel at the end! It was so smooth and the way to get into the city from the airport. For getting around town, we took the metro but it was a little bit crammed and tricky…so we also took some Ubers which were really cheap here! Saying this though, if we had found out earlier about car rental companies like e-mietwagenkreta, it may have been a lot easier, but at least now we know for next time.
Athens has plenty of hotel options in different areas and price ranges:
Reasonable: Herodion Hotel offers an amazing location (and balcony view of the Acropolis) for a really good price, especially in early season! Their restaurant Atrium Greek Bistro was our first meal in Greece and definitely our favorite in Athens. The Acropolis is a few minutes walk away which is convenient for sightseeing.
Boutique: Coco-Mat Hotel is one of the most unique and stylish places we’ve ever stayed. Owned by a luxury Greek mattress and home brand, everything from the bedding to the design is done right here. It is beautiful and chic in a more eclectic part of the city.
Luxury: The Hilton Athens is perfect for those jet-lagged travelers stopping through Athens in need of rest and relaxation before or after visiting the islands. It is comfortable and luxurious with a large pool, pretty rooftop restaurant overlooking the city, and top-notch dining options.
First: in Greece in general, you must eat… Greek salads daily, fresh Greek yogurt, cheap gyros at any street stand, moussaka, pure local olive oil, fava, hummus, fresh fish, halloumi cheese, loukoumades Greek doughnuts, coconut sticks, and more. All so amazing.
In Athens itself:
- Fresko Yogurt Bar: Fresh authentic Greek yogurt bar with local honey and toppings
- Pure Juice Bar: We stopped in here after a hot hike and loved their acai bowl.
- Atrium Greek Bistro: Our favorite Athens restaurant! PLEASE have the loukoumades appetizer, salads, and any dish. Try their homemade yogurt + berries for dessert.
First, we did the Athens Walking Tour which covered a lot of the main sights and got us past the line! It was a perfect way to hear all of the history and see a lot at once. It included:
- The Acropolis
- Dionysus Theatre & Sanctuary
- Nike Temple
- Agrippa Monument
- Odeon of Herodes Atticus
- Ancient Agora
- The Observatory
- The Philopappos
- Acropolis Museum
- Athena’s Tree: apparently the first olive tree in Greece!
- Mars Hill, the Biblical sight where the apostle Paul spoke when he visited Athens
- Pnyx Hill
^^ Aside from those sights which are all packed in together, we also enjoyed:
- The first Olympic Stadium
- Temple of Olympian Zeus ruins
- Mount Lycabettus –> Fun hike to the highest point, looks back across the city to the Acropolis
- Old Town Plaka Square
Okay! Onto the…
Athens is the center where everything runs, but the islands are an absolute must.
We chose to do three of them during our first visit: We picked Mykonos, Naxos,
& Santorini. We thought the 3 were a perfect balance of the different things the
islands have to offer. There are countless others to visit in the future, but we
recommend our exact itinerary because we loved it! Below is an idea of the
schedule we planned out so you can base off of it. We originally considered
a cruise just because it seemed easy, but we were so glad that we spent more
time on each island and really got to experience different parts of them all.
Sea Jets: Different ferry lines and flights are available to the islands, but we opted for the super fast ferries with Sea Jets. This made things so convenient to go in and out of ports right in town, not deal with flights, and still enjoy fast travel time! The only downside was the fact that the high-speed boats can cause sea-sickness on choppy days…as I learned firsthand our first ferry ride from Athens to Mykonos. So be prepared if you get seasick! After the first ride I was fine, and we loved ferrying around. One other note though, the ferries are almost always late (or should I say…they run on “Greek time!” ;)
- Ferry from Athens Piraeus –> Mykonos: The fun “party” island, but so charming and wonderful especially if you go in early season!
- Stay at: Rocabella Hotel Mykonos (See our stay HERE.)
- Rent a scooter or bikes to take around hills.
- Wander Mykonos town: See Little Venice, the Windmills, Petros the pink pelican “Mascot of Mykonos”, and try to find my favorite little street :)
(3 day // 2 night stay)
- Depart Mykonos–> Naxos: A quieter, lesser-known family oriented island.
- Stay at: Korali Boutique Hotel
- Climb Mt. Zeus
- Go to world’s first Marble Quarry (you’ll need a rental car)
- Go to the cute old town of Halki: Hike to an ancient Byzantine church, & also walk through the beautiful olive orchards.
- Breakfast at Nostimon Helias
- Eat lunch at Antamoma Cuisine Deli Store! AMAZING.
- Other good food: Labyrinth OR Yianni’s Taverna (Tips from our friends)
- Walk down by Labryinth, deep in old town Hora. The island used to be ruled by the Venetians, so the “old town” is actually what the castle used to be. It is so much fun to get lost in – there are stair cases leading to nowhere, gorgeous flowers, and random squares with amazing trees growing so tall!
- Watch the sunset from Portara. As soon as you get to Naxos, you’ll be able to see this statue.
(2 days, 1 night on this quiet island)
- Depart Naxos – Thira (Santorini)
- Stay at: Sophia Luxury Suites. No question about this.. It was perfect. See photos from it here. It’s in the town of Imerovigli, nicknamed “The Balcony of Santorini” with amazing views.
- Hike from Imerovigli to Oia! (~3 hour hike)
- Wander Oia. Shop, find the best views, soak it in.
- Go to Ammoudi Bay in Oia: It’s the cutest little port, you can jump in the water before dinner.
- Go to Lolitas in Oia for gelato!! Many times!
- Sunset dinner at Canaves Oia. This is a lovely hotel if you want to stay down in Oia as well!
- Take a Sunset Sailing Cruise complete with a swim in the warm springs.
- Explore Fira
We love love LOVED Greece and hope this helps for
anyone planning a dream getaway to this country!
See all of our travels through Greece HERE.