Greece: 10 Day Itinerary Ideas
Greece is a country on every traveler’s radar- and for good reason. The photos don’t lie. It really is THAT beautiful.
Once you’ve made the decision to go, trying to fit it all in on a budget can be tricky. While many people go to Greece on an organized tour or with a cruise, we chose to do it solo. There are of course pros and cons to each style, but this independent trip let us tailor the itinerary to exactly how we wanted it to be.
Here is a detailed breakdown of my Greece 10 Day itinerary:
⇒ Want to know my specific budget and costs?? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ⇐
Trip map courtesy of Wanderlog, a vacation planner app
1. Athens, Greece
We flew into Athens, and fighting jet-lag, began our vacation! It was a 45 minute cab ride from the airport into the city, so after finally checking into the hotel we were eager to see the city. First, we did a self-guided walking tour based on an itinerary in the Lonely Planet Guidebook, and were able to see:
- The Roman monument of Agia Ekaterini
- Hadrian’s Arch & The Temple of Zeus
- Gardens and the Lysikrates Monument
- Panathenaic Olympic Games Stadium
We then spent about 3 hours at the Acropolis Museum. This essentially houses most of the detailed pieces and stonework from the original Parthenon and ancient Agora, and is crucial to visit if you want to understand how the monument used to look, feel, and function in its prime. Check out organized sight-seeing tours in Athens , and read more about visiting Athens with kids here.
After the museum, we headed towards Syntagma Square– the political center of Athens. We saw the Presidential Palace, and found a place with amazing Greek salad. We ended the night at our hotel, which has a great view of the Acropolis and Parthenon!
Lodging: Astor Hotel – A budget stay with basic accommodations, but an amazing breakfast and view from the rooftop! Check this post for other hotels near the Acropolis!
2. Athens ⇒ Delphi
On our second day, we set out on a day tour to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Our tour was booked via Viator.com using local operator Chat Tours. We had a medium-sized group, and our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the area and archaeological site.
To reach the site on your own, it is best to hire a car. Discover Cars offer car hire in Greece, and have a wide variety of car types for various budgets. They analyze all of the car operators in the area, and list the best offers.
The temple complex was built in the 4th Century BC, and dedicated to the god Apollo. People would travel there from all over the country to visit the famous oracles, and learn their futures. One of the most fascinating things there is the thousand year old carvings etched by slaves detailing their life stories.
Another highlight is the view of the theater from above, surrounded by the hills leading to Mount Parnassus. The tour ended with a guided visit to the on-site Archaeological Museum of Delphi. We had lunch, then made a quick stop in the ski town of Arachova.
After the 3 hour ride back (6 hours in transit total), we decided to walk and explore the Athenian shopping district of the Plaka. We did some jewelry shopping, attempted bartering, and found our new obsession for ice-cream: Ambrosia.
Lodging: Astor Hotel
3. Athens ⇒ Cape Sounion
We booked a morning day tour out of Athens and up the coast to the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, built in 440BC. We got there early, beat the crowds, and enjoyed amazing views! We spent 2 hours there, which was the perfect amount of time.
This temple is worth the 1.5 hour drive from Athens, as its position on the top of a hill surrounded by the Aegean makes for an unforgettable view!
Back in Athens, we explored “The Plaka”, then packed up and took a cab to Piraeus Port (about a 30 minute drive). Once there we boarded our ferry, “The Blue Horizon”. We left Athens headed towards Heraklion at 7pm. We had booked a 4 bed room cabin, and it was actually pretty comfortable. The ferry was almost like a mini cruise ship!
Lodging: Overnight on the “Blue Horizon” ferry.
4. Heraklion, Crete
Our ferry arrived on the island of Crete at 6am. After dropping our luggage at our hotel, we took the 3 euro public bus to the restored archaeological site of the Minoan civilization: The Palace of Knossos. Arriving there around 8am was a good idea, as we had no lines or crowds. Later that day, the tour groups rolled in, and the line was about an hour long!
The island of Crete, the southernmost place in Europe, is famous for the palace of Knossos. This is where the fabled Minotaur lived in the labyrinth- according to Greek mythology. The palace complex was discovered by a British archaeologist in 1900, and he slowly excavated and restored many of the buildings over time. Seeing the ruins and restored “re-creations” of what it would have looked like many centuries ago was a neat experience. However, it was not our favorite historical site on the trip. Either way, seeing pottery, frescoes, and structures from 1,900 BC is a humbling experience!
We then visited the Crete Archaeological Museum. Here, we were able to see the original items that were found at the site of Knossos. I have been to many amazing museums in my lifetime, and this one stands out as being the most impressive and interesting of all. The pieces in the music are ancient beyond comprehension, and the condition they are in is extraordinary!
We then walked to the beautiful city waterfront where we saw its Venetian-era walls and fortress, as well as nearby volcano. We bought art from local painters, and had dinner at our hotel’s rooftop restaurant with the perfect view!
Lodging: Lato Boutique Hotel: A very nice hotel at a surprisingly affordable price! The staff here went above and beyond, the place is gorgeous, and the rooftop restaurant was great. This was our favorite hotel of the trip!
5. Heraklion, Crete
For our second day in Crete, we split a taxi to Amnissos Beach, a place popular with locals. There we rented beach chairs and umbrellas for 10 euros, and spent a day enjoying the sun, sand, and calm ocean. The surrounding arid, desert-like landscape of Crete was gorgeous, and we got a great view of the region while swimming in the Aegean.
We ate lunch by the beach, which like most Grecian restaurants can be a time-consuming process. Back at our hotel, we got ready and headed into downtown Heraklion (Iraklio in Greek). We explored the city center, visiting The Church of Saint Titus, Saint Minas Cathedral, and the Morosini fountain. With stray cats galore, I was also happy to feed my new friends while we shopped the many boutiques in the area.
We had tried to do a vineyard visit and wine tasting with local producer Lyrarakis, but made a travel hiccup as we tried to do this on a Sunday. We ended up buying a few of their bottles from a grocery store, and did our own personal sampling at the hotel! 🙂 We had made dinner reservations for our hotel restaurant again, and had a nice meal with great service, and a stunning view!
Lodging: Lato Boutique Hotel
6. Heraklion, Crete ⇒ Fira, Santorini
See the full details in my post about what to do in Santorini!
Lodging: Loizos Stylish Residence – An affordable place in Fira. The pool was always in the shade, and was too cold to swim in, but the facilities and location were great!
7. Fira ⇒ Oia, Santorini
See the full details in my post about what to do in Santorini!
Lodging: Loizos Stylish Residence
8. Oia, Santorini
See the full details in my post about what to do in Santorini!
Lodging: Anemomilos Hotel– Affordable, family run place with a great restaurant and beautiful pool.
9. Oia, Santorini ⇒ Parikia, Paros
Bidding a sad farewell to beautiful Santorini, we took our hotel’s shuttle down to the port at Thira. We took the two hour highspeed ferry to the small island of Paros. We were able to walk to our hotel from the port, and got lunch at a waterfront family restaurant. Next, we headed to Livadia Beach for swimming and snorkeling, but there were a lot of sea urchins!
We then visited the city center to shop at the many adorable boutiques. We also went in to the ancient Byzantine church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani, founded in 326AD- and we marveled at the artwork inside from the 4th century! On the walk back to our hotel we stopped by a 3rd century cemetery, and saw the iconic whitewashed windmill of Paros. We then got dressed up, and went out for a night on the town!
Lodging: Alexandra’s Rooms: A budget hotel with a good location, but nothing too impressive.
10. Parikia, Paros ⇒ Athens
We took an 11am ferry to Athens, and arrived almost 4.5 hours later. The ferry terminals in Greece are often places of mass disorganization, people, heat, and overall confusion- and this time was no different. Once on the ferry, it wasn’t much better, because this time we failed to buy assigned seats and had to scramble to find a spot in the common area. Who said travel was always glamorous? 🙂
Our Athens hotel arranged a port pickup for us, and we headed into the city. We visited the Plaka again for some last minute shopping, then made our way over to the Monastiraki Flea Market area. We then went back to our hotel and tried to get some sleep!
Lodging: Hotel Adonis: A budget stay in Athens, good location but with sub-par rooms and strange hotel policies.
11. Athens, Greece
Our last day in Athens was my most memorable one. We got up extra early and walked 15 minutes to the famed Acropolis. The ticket line was a bit chaotic and disorganized (lacking signage and clear communication) but we eventually figured it out, and had our tickets to see the Parthenon! We also realized there were no restrooms or water, so be sure to use the facilities ahead of time and bring plenty of hydration! Admission to the site also does not include any informational brochures or maps, so be sure to come prepared with materials as well.
Once we walked in to the Acropolis complex, we saw the ancient Theatre of Dionysus. After, we climbed the stone steps up the hill and arrived at the top- where all the magnificent temples are. We spent about an hour exploring the various ruins, and soaking up the history.
After leaving the Parthenon, we headed over to the Agora. This would have been the commercial and social center in ancient times, and many fallen columns and statues are still there. We ended our visit at the Temple of Hephaestus , which I maybe liked more than the Parthenon due to its condition and lack of crowds!
We got lunch in the nearby Monastiraki neighborhood, and then I had to say my goodbyes to Greece 🙁
Lodging: Hotel Adonis
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As always, all reviews and opinions are my own. However, I may receive a small commission should you choose to book any of the hotels or tours listed above. This helps with the costs of running this site.
We love Greece, last visit was to Rhodes. Even on this tourist Island there is so much culture, Rhodes town and Lindos for example. Crete looks interesting and The Palace of Knossos, good tip to get there early to avoid the crowds and probably the heat.
There’s so much to see in Greece that it can be challenging to organize your time ans budget. Your article sums it up and it makes it perfect! Thanks for the information!
I love the Greek isles! Santorini is incredibly popular, but for a reason. We’ve been twice and we’d go back. We also really loved Folegandros, which you can easily reach by ferry from Santorini.
I really wanted to see the Acropolis in Athens, but beyond that Athens was incredibly disappointing for me. I found the city to be extremely dirty and mainland Greeks to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.
I agree!! I wasn’t a big fan of Athens. Beyond the historic sites and museums I was not a fan. We also had some negative experiences with the people there as well. Had a few people try to scam us, taxi drivers screw us over, and restaurant vendors so obnoxious they would reach out and physically touch us to try and get us to eat at their place! Insane.
Ahhhhhh this makes Greece higher on my wish list! Love the photos.
This looks amazing! I’ve always wanted to visit Greece. Love those gorgeous white and blue domed buildings!
Is Santorini this isolated as seen in the pics. I thought it was a touristy place but looks so peaceful in your pics.
These photos definitely show what you can see in Santorini, but if you were to turn around from the direction of the photo there would be tons of people! I did think that it was very crowded during mid-day. If you got out early there weren’t many people, and then we went out and found our own little swimming holes and those weren’t crowded at all! Yes touristy, but still worth it 🙂
I love that you’ve combined ferries and public transport to organize your own solo tour of Greece – so much more freedom and flexibility doing it this way than if you were to have organized an island hopping tour. I can’t wait to get to Greece, and we would probably do it this was as well – sounds like visiting most of the more famous attraction in the mornings is definitely the way to go – love that you managed to rock up and miss the huge crowds!! Makes for such a nicer atmosphere and easier to get stunning photos this way.
Santorini is also on our list though I’m semi scared that my expectations won’t meet up with reality because I’ve heard it can be very touristy and the crowds can ruin the experience. But it looks like you had a fab time – sunset cruise sounds spectacular!!
Very well planned one. I was there in Athens for 5 days yet I felt I couldn’t cover enough. At several of the sites I was hurrying.
The islands require a dedicated trip. Happy new year!
What a picture perfect whirlwind tour, really looks so beautiful. I remember going to the Acropolis in Athens when I was about 5 years old when then, being so awed by it! Great to read your tips for doing Greece on a budget!
Wow! looks like you had a great time. There is so much of sun as much as in India , perhaps. I have bookmarked this page which , I am sure , will help me in planning my own trip to Greece.
We, absolutely, loved Athens! We followed a similar itinerary but we did the free walking tour that took us around the city and we went back to see the things we missed on the tour. One of my favorite things about Greece is the food so I can attest to the wonderful Greek salad! Great tips.
Some great tips and tales here, especially for first timers. Our favourite part of Greece is Paros!
Thank you for sharing the details of your Greece vacation. It sounds jus wonderful. I normally plan my own overseas vacations as well, but had been thinking of doing Greece via a cruise just because of the logistics. Your article has changed my mind. I’m so excited to get started planning. If you don’t mind could you send me your budget spreadsheet as well. Thank you again for sharing!!!
What an amazing trip this must have been. I hope to be able to see that much of Greece and really spend some time there when I visit next.
This look amazing, I would like to visit Greece in October this year hopefully. May I know how much budget did you set aside for this trip?
I am very happy to help and give my budget spreadsheet with a detailed breakdown of the costs. I tried to send it to the email you have listed here but that did not work. If you can reply with your correct email I will send that information along 🙂
Hi Michelle, Can I be a bother and ask for a copy of your budget spreadsheet as well? I appreciate the time you put into sharing your experience – thank you so much!!
Hi Michelle; the info you provided is so helpful and I really appreciate it! Would it be possible for you to provide a copy of your budget spreadsheet with a detailed breakdown of the costs? so many thanks! Gwen email: email@example.com
Thanks Gwen- Check your email for the details 🙂
Greece is too beautiful for words! It’s amazing how you guys were able to see and do so much in just 10 days!
We are going this july for our honeymoon and this blog is very helpful. I was wondering if you could also email me the budget spread sheet you had mentioned about to Kim please? Also, do you have any recommendations for food places or were there any options for Vegetarian? Thank You!
Thank you so much for this post. It’s very detailed as I’m looking forward to follow your itenerary this July to Greece! Cannot wait! 😉
Hi Michelle, if you still have your Greece budget spreadsheet and trip info could you send me a copy please? My fiancé and I are planning a trip for our honey moon in September. Also what time of year did you go? Thanks!
I am visiting greece in July, we currently have 1 hotel in Athens for the entire time of our stay. (12 days) i wanted to know your thoughts on possibly switching hotels as you and your group did. We are just worried about bag storage and having to carry around our luggage every time we switch. Also, if you could please email me your spreadsheet as well, that would be awesome! thanks so much!!
We are planning a 10 day trip to Greece coming September and your itinerary will help us greatly. I would be most grateful if you could email me your budget spreadsheet – even though it will be 3 years out of date, I will be a good starting point and I can adjust to allow for Inflation/current prices. Thank you so much.
A popular request I see! Could I also see your budget. I’m going to Greece for ten days with my best friend ( we are both in are sixths but fit. So excited by your report
Just beautiful. I would love to visit Greece some day. you photos are amazing. Thank you for all the great ideas. This is going to help me plan my trip.
I read a lot of your articles and every one of the articles are extremely useful. I also might want to contribute an article on your website page. I have been composing a lot of articles and might want to distribute them on your site. Desire to get a positive reaction from you.
Thank you very much for this post. It’s very detailed Information I love it Thank you once again