You can see a lot of Greece in under two weeks and get a real feel for its history, ruins, beaches, food, late-night revelry and a few of its many iconic islands. Ferries link many of the best places to visit, and lazing away the hours on deck gazing at the passing turquoise water is an irresistible interlude to more storied sights. 

We’ve put together a detailed ten-day itinerary to show you the best Greece has to offer. Don’t have that much time available? Never fear – you can also curate your ideal locations from our picks to plan a blissful long weekend.

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People dining outside on the stairs in the Plaka district of Athens
Stop for a drink or two in Athens' oldest district, the Plaka © titoslack / Getty Images

Day 1: start in Athens, the nation’s cradle

Don’t delay; climb the hill in the center of Athens to the magnificent Acropolis. Descending back into the land of mortals, wander the ancient Agora neighborhood before joining the merry mobs hopping from one taverna to another in the Plaka district. For extra credit, pause at some point at the extraordinary Acropolis Museum.

Go from Athens to Mykonos: Catch one of the many ferries that make the run from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, to Mykonos. The fast times are on speedy hydrofoils, while the slower runs are on traditional boats, with their broad and sunny decks.

How to get around Greece

Day 2: sail the Aegean to Mykonos

Burn off your pre-trip stress on the island of Mykonos. One of Europe’s fabled party destinations (St Tropez and Ibiza are rivals), this small island has just enough to keep you occupied by day. Explore the maze of covered lanes, boutiques and flower-bedecked cafes in the old town of Hora. Head to nearby beaches for your first dip in the ever-blue Aegean. But save some energy for well after dark when the notorious clubs like to party until dawn – or later.

Go from Mykonos to Delos: Boats to Delos make the run in a quick 30 minutes starting in the morning. 

ruins of classical greek architecture carved in marble on the island of delos near mykonos in greece
The island of Delos is covered in an extraordinary collection of ancient ruins © R. Lemieszek / Getty Images

Day 3: walk with the ancient Greeks in Delos

Fight off any after-effects of the night before and catch a morning boat to Delos, the mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The entire island is a sacred shrine – ruins stretch across the sunbaked landscape. Let your imagination run wild as you reconstruct this once magnificent center in your mind. Make the quick return to Mykonos by boat and cool off at a beach. Then get lost in Hora until you stumble upon the perfect seafood dinner.

Go from Mykonos to Paros: Several ferries a day make the run in about one hour.

Marina and harbor on the Greek Island of Paros
If you're looking to ferry from island to island, Paros is an excellent place to start © Starcevic / Getty Images

Day 4: relax on Paros

Something of a ferry hub for the Cyclades, Paros – the group of islands that in many ways defines Greece – literally has something for everyone. Flower-draped tavernas in the port town of Parikia make great post-ferry lunch spots.

Get a rental car and drive the circumference of the island. This can be an all-day adventure and includes plenty of beach access along the east coast. The island is also noted for its produce – especially the tomatoes – so enjoy something delicious in the oh-so-cute mountain village of Lefkes or the locally popular beachside town of Aliki.

Go from Paros to Antiparos: Car ferries link the adjoining islands in under 15 minutes.


Day 5: slow down on Antiparos

Almost touching its much larger neighbor, the diminutive island of Antiparos really is the anti-Paros. Parts of the island qualify as sleepy, and there’s an unhurried vibe across its narrow, windy roads. Take the quick boat ride to Despotiko, a restored ancient sanctuary, then enjoy a seafood feast in Agios Georgios at a waterfront taverna. If you’re feeling sporty, join the windsurfers taking advantage of some of the most reliable winds in Greece.

Go from Paros to Santorini: Ferries take 2–3 hours.

Overhead shot of donkeys climbing a set of stairs on Santorini island, Greece
It's easy to get lost wandering through charming narrow pathways of Santorini © Michela Ravasio / Stocksy United

Day 6: join the throngs on Santorini

With its polychromatic cliffs soaring above its drowned caldera, Santorini is the definition of a ‘Greek island’ for many. Steep and narrow lanes are lined with brilliantly whitewashed houses topped with cerulean domes. Beaches dot the curving coast, and gentle hiking paths follow the island’s spine, offering sweeping views. Sunsets are mesmerizing. Take in the spectacle from tiny hillside Oia, which offers a choice of tavernas serving deeply traditional Greek fare (expect grilled meats, creamy tzatziki and more).

Go from Santorini to Crete: There’s usually one speedy ferry daily, making the two-hour run to Iraklio in Crete.

Day 7: get lost in Greece’s best palace at Knossos

The island of Crete is so big that it almost feels like its own country. The main city of Iraklio is best enjoyed for a quick lunch in a café and as a place to secure a rental car. Then charge south for barely 20 minutes to one of the top ancient sites in a nation of ancient sites. The Palace of Knossos was built by the Minoans and is a vast and somewhat restored ruin that can easily absorb half a day or more. If you have time to take a tour, there are more than a dozen wineries nearby that make the excellent local wines you’ll enjoy with every meal.

Go from Iraklio to Hania: Rental car prices on Crete are competitive, and distances are manageable. The run between the island’s two main cities takes only two hours, although endless stops and diversions to admire incredible views can greatly extend that.

Day 8: revel in the stunning beauty of Crete

Crete’s second city of Hania is really the island’s first city in the hearts of those in the know. The old town and harbor combine the legacies of the Minoans, the ancient Greeks, the Venetians and countless other influences from occupiers and others who just happened to sail by. The food here is extraordinary, and the chefs put Crete’s fabled produce to remarkable use. Two excellent detours are the absorbing ancient port town of Rethymno and the grand and glittery Orthodox churches in the hills, such as Moni Arkadiou.

Go from Hania to Elafonisi: Driving direct will take about two hours, but, as always, detours and myriad excuses to pause and enjoy the scenery will extend that greatly.

Two blonde women are walking on the beach in Crete. They look happy and carefree in the sun, holding cameras.
Find turquoise waters and pinkish-hued sands on the beaches of Crete © SolStock / Getty Images

Day 9: hit the beaches of Crete

The Samaria Gorge is the most famous of southern Crete’s many gorge walks, which start high in the craggy hills and follow often-lush, stream-fed canyons down to little villages and beaches. If the crowds at Samaria are daunting, consider the Agia Irini Gorge instead. Finish your day at sublime Elafonisi Beach, where the sand has a pinkish hue in a certain light, and the swimming is superb.

Go from Hania to Athens: Frequent flights to Athens take under an hour from Crete’s second-largest airport.

Day 10: stroll around Athens

The Acropolis is never far from view as you stroll the compact and endlessly fascinating center of Athens. Catch the changing of the guard at the center of government (and Athens) in Syntagma Square. Choose from sights such as the antiquity-stuffed Benaki Museum, the lush National Gardens, the ornate Hadrian’s Arch and the grandiose Temple of Olympian Zeus.

Finish your time in Greece with a languid session in the upscale neighborhood of Kolonaki and cafe-lined Plateia Kolonakiou.

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