Greece truly is a bucket list destination. With so much to see and do, an incredible history, and some of the best food I’ve ever had, Greece quickly became one of my favourite destinations and somewhere I plan to return to again soon. However, planning your Greece itinerary can be tricky because it has so much to offer. From ruins and museums to beaches and islands, it can be hard to pick and choose, especially if you are short on time.
I spent nearly a month exploring Greece from Athens to the islands and, based on my experience, I’ve picked my favourites to create this Greece itinerary. The main focus is the islands, but I have also included some great sites for ruins and history as well. So, if you are a first time visitor, here’s my itinerary for 2 weeks in Greece.
Getting to Greece
Getting to Greece is really easy and can be done by pretty much every method of transportation: plane, train, bus, and boat.
Chances are you’ll be flying into Greece. The easiest airport to get to is in Athens, which is where I’m going to start this itinerary. The Athens airport is located about 45 minutes outside of the city centre, but you can easily take a train from the airport into downtown Athens. Keep in mind, this train does not run 24/7 so if you are arriving into Athens late at night or really early in the morning it may not be running. If this is the case you can take a taxi, however, since taxis in Athens have a reputation for overcharging tourists (it’s true, I fell victim to this) I recommend arranging a private transfer ahead of time. It will probably be cheaper and definitely less stressful. You can book an airport transfer here.
Need cheap flights to Athens? Try Skyscanner. I use this site to find the best flight deals.
Getting Around Greece
Since you are spending a couple of weeks in Greece, you’ll be moving around. This Greece itinerary is focused more in the islands which means you can either fly or take the ferry. There are pros and cons to both.
Getting around Greece by Ferry
The ferry is a popular way to get around the Greek islands. There are several ferry companies offering both fast and slow options (fast is best), however, they aren’t always as cheap as you would think. I paid about $70CAD to get from Athens to Paros by Ferry (4 hours) and that was the regular economy class.
The ferries are nice in that you can get up and move around, but they can also be insanely crowded and they do take a while. Depending on the island you are travelling to, however, it may be easier to find a ferry than a flight.
Getting around Greece by Air
Depending on how early you book your flight, what island you are going to, and if you are checking luggage or not, flying may actually end up being cheaper than taking a ferry. Not to mention, it’s a much faster way to travel. For example, a flight from Santorini to Athens is 45 minutes but the ferry ride is 9 hours. That being said, flight schedules can be limited which may not work with your travel schedule. To give you an example of pricing, I paid $140CAD to fly from Santorini to Athens with 1 checked bag (I booked 2 weeks in advance). Again, check skyscanner for cheap prices.
Transportation on the Greek Islands
Once you have actually got to the islands, you’ll need to figure out how you want to explore them. For some people, you may just want to pick one spot and stay in the village for the duration of your trip. If that’s what sounds best to you, go for it! However, exploring the islands is part of the fun and even the small ones have some cool things to see and do.
Renting an ATV or Motorbike in Greece
The most obvious way to get around is to rent a vehicle. On the islands you can either rent a car or rent an ATV or motorbike. Now, renting an ATV or motorbike might sound like a lot of fun, but it’s actually not encouraged. In fact, many agencies will not rent to you unless you have a motorbike license and have experience. Even then, they will try to encourage you to get a car instead. This is because the roads on the islands aren’t necessarily in the best condition and they can be very twisty. There are lots of tourist accidents so really think about it before you decide to rent an ATV or motorbike.
Renting a Car in Greece
As for renting a car, you can get one for about 30 euros a day; a pretty good deal, especially if you have some friends to split the price with. You will need to show your license and it’s a good idea to know how to drive standard. Automatic cars are a rare find in Greece (well, in most of Europe).
Our sailing group ended up renting cars twice during the trip to explore more of the islands. The roads were pretty twisty but there wasn’t a lot of traffic either time so it was ok. Smaller cars are probably easier though given that the roads are small as well.
Public Transit on the Greek Islands
Another option is to use the public transit on the islands. Keep in mind, not all islands will have buses and the schedule will depend on the season, but, if you are visiting one of the bigger islands in summer time you won’t have a problem.
Bus tickets (as of 2019) cost between 1.50 euros and 2 euros depending on the island and the destination. They go to the main places and run on a reliable and fairly regular schedule during peak season. That being said, sometimes they do stop for a couple hours every day in the afternoon as a sort of ‘siesta’ so make sure to keep that in mind and plan around it or you might end up stuck (it happened to me).
Buses also mean you’ll need to deal with more crowds. In less popular places and route that’s not a big deal, but in Santorini the bus between Fira and Oia was always overcrowded with people being left behind having to wait for the next bus. If you plan on using the bus, get to the station early.
How to Spend 2 Weeks in Greece
Days 1-2: Athens
Athens, which is the capital of Greece, is one of those destinations that people seem to either love or hate. Personally, I loved it. Granted, I only spent one day here and definitely stuck to the safe and touristic spots but I thought it was a lot of fun to explore and, as an ancient history nerd, I found the ruins and archeological sites fascinating.
If you are up for a busy day, you can absolutely see the highlights of Athens in a single day (check out my 1 day in Athens guide for my suggestions). I do however suggest staying on the mainland for a second day to go to Delphi for a day trip. It will be a long day (Delphi is a 3 hour drive from Athens) however, it’s pretty incredible and if you are into ancient Greek history then it really is a must-see! Book a day trip to Delphi here.
Need a place to stay in Athens? Try:
Hostel: City Circus Athens (I stayed here, cool hostel with awesome rooftop views)
Or you can always book an Airbnb. Use my promo code here to save on your first stay.
Days 3-7: Paros
Paros was the first island I visited in Greece and it ended up being my favourite. I went towards the end of May and, based on my experience, it felt like one of the more authentic islands considering its size. It wasn’t overrun with tourists (especially not big groups) and it had plenty to see and do. I stayed for 6 days and didn’t want to leave.
I based myself in Naousa, an adorable village on the north end of the island. I spend my days exploring the different beaches (Naousa has its own small beach and there are a few in the bay you can take the boat too). The village itself is also full of great tavernas and cute boutique type shops where you can find anything from local soaps to jewellery to artwork. There’s also a winery within walking distance, Moraitis Winery, which is worth a visit for a wine tasting. I definitely recommend staying in Paros if you are looking for somewhere fun to explore that’s not too loud or crazy in the evenings.
Need some suggestions? Try:
Hotel Stella (great budget option, this is where I stayed)
Or there are some great Airbnb options as well.
Paros is a pretty big island, so you can rent a car or hop the bus and explore different parts. The port area, Parikia, is fun to explore for a bit and I definitely recommend doing a day trip to Anti Paros- the small island which is just a short ferry ride away.
Days 7-10: Naxos
Naxos is the biggest island in the Cyclades and definitely worth taking a few days to explore. If you are able, I definitely recommend renting a car for at least one of your days here and doing a little roadtrip. I did one with 3 other girls from my sailing tour and we had SO much fun. Make sure to check out the temple of Demeter and the village Apiranthos which is cute, historic, and famous for its food and secret family recipes. Definitely plan to stop here for lunch. Depending on your timing, there are also a couple of distilleries and an olive press that you might enjoy visiting.
Naxos town can be explored in one day as well. Lots of great shops for those looking for souvenirs. A favourite include Pagonis Greek Sandals where you can get customizable leather sandals. As for food and drink, there are endless options. However, ice cream fans HAVE to try Waffle House, it’s amazing. Also, for sunset drinks check out 520 Cocktail bar; delicious drinks and a great view or, head to Apollo’s Arch (it gets pretty crowded though!)
As for beaches, there’s one about a 10-minute walk from the old town. You can pay (or buy drinks) at one of the beachside tavernas to use their beach chairs and umbrellas. There’s also a beautiful beach a little further away called Agios Prokopios. If you have a car, you can drive here. Or, you can take the local bus which runs frequently during the high season. It’s one of the best beaches on the island.
Need a spot to stay in Naxos? I recommend using the old town as your base so try:
Days 10-14: Santorini
No trip to the Greek islands is complete without a visit to Santorini. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it crowded? Yes. But, is it worth it? Absolutely. Santorini is stunning so I definitely recommend that you spend 3-5 days in Santorini to see what the hype is all about.
Santorini is a big enough island that you’ll want to make sure you have a few days to see and do things. The biggest attractions are usually the villages themselves, specifically Oia, but there are beaches, ruins, museums, and outdoor and foodie adventures to be had as well. Check out my list of unmissable things to do in Santorini for some ideas.
The biggest question, however, when it comes to Santorini is usually deciding where to stay. I also have a post on that, depending on what you are looking for in terms of your stay and accommodation; check out my where to stay in Santorini post for more tips. I will also point out that splurging on a luxury hotel in Santorini is definitely worth it for the true Santorini experience. I’m a self-labelled cheapskate when it comes to travel, but spending a few hundred dollars on a private cave hotel for a couple of nights in Oia was amazing.
Want to See More Islands in a Short Amount of Time? Consider Sailing
Three islands not enough? Don’t worry, I feel you. Greece has hundreds of islands and it’s hard not to want to see them all. While I do think the islands above are worth spending a few days, if you are really keen on seeing more or, if you have more time and can add another week or so to your itinerary, then consider doing a sailing tour.
I did a 10 day Cyclades sailing tour with Intrepid Travel and it was honestly one of the best travel experiences of my life. We spent a few hours every day on the boat sailing from one island to another, often with really cool swim stops in-between such as caves and a WWII plane wreck (weather permitting). During our 10 days (which started and ended in Santorini) we visited 8 other islands; popular ones like Mykonos and ones I’d never think to go to on my own such as Irakleia. The value was fantastic and the sailing itself was a ton of fun (especially when dolphins decided to swim along beside us).
You can find the sailing tour I did here.
Two weeks in Greece may not be enough time to see it all, but this Greece itinerary will give you a good taste of what this country has to offer and probably convince you to come back!
A Note on Travel Insurance in Greece
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.