*Booked*. That’s the sound of you getting your confirmation email from the airline and hotel for your trip to Greece. You’re so excited. You’ve never been but you’ve been dreaming of visiting this beautiful country for ages.
You are me, and I am you. This is actually how I felt when the idea of Greece floated into my brain six months before going. It does take me six months to mentally, physically, and financially prepare for trips like Greece.
But, I had the dream and it started to come true That same may be true for you. You’re beyond ready. You can’t wait to put on your Athens best and see the sites, jump in the water on one of the legendary Greek islands, and finally…truely… rest.
This is your 7-day guide to Athens & Santorini (if you’re not going to Santorini, disregard that part–and insert 3-4 days on another island of your choice). No matter where you go in Greece, you’ll love the history, food, ambiance of this beautiful Mediterranean nation.
Jump into my luggage and let’s go to Greece!
This 7-day Guide to Athens & Santorini will cover:
Where to stay (our hotel recommendations and different neighborhoods)
What to do each day (day-to-day activities we renjoyed)
The best ways to get around Athens & Santorini
What to avoid on your trip and what to lean into
Tons of lessons I learned that will save you time, money, and the headache
An actionable guide that you can take on your upcoming Greece trip
Getting to Greece
Depending on where you’re flying from, Greece can be a hop-and-a-skip away or an all-day (and night) endeavor. My boyfriend and I flew from Colorado, USA which required at least one layover. We flew with Lufthansa because they had the most affordable flights from Colorado with the least amount of layovers.
But I also recommend:
Aegean (A Greek airline with very tasty in-flight meals!)
Flying directly to Athens will be the most affordable and accessible options for folks coming from the USA. From there, you can fly to Santorini or take a ferry (more on that later)
7-Day Itinerary for Athens & Santorini
Day 1: Athens
Once you arrive in Athens, you’re going to want to settle in. Like most major cities, Athens is busy, populated, and somewhat chaotic. There are nooks and crannies with amazing sites to see but it can be overwhelming. Be sure to whip out your Google Maps and get a sense of where you’re going.
NOTE: Athens is very English-friendly. Most signs are in Greek and English, plus most businesses have an English-speaking employee. This makes it very easy for English-speakers to get around, ask questions, and enjoy the city.
Check in to your hotel
We stayed at the 5-Star Divani Palace Hotel in the old Acropolis district. This historic hotel’s interior is decked out in marble, gold, and fine decor. Its luxurious rooms have balconies giving a bird’s eye view of the city. And it has a fabulous view of the Acropolis.
Go to the hotel rooftop for sunset dinner and drinks
Before leaving the hotel, be sure to go to the rooftop for dinner or a sunset cocktail with a view of the Acropolis.
Stroll around your neighborhood
After you settle in, walk around. See where you are and explore the neighborhood. The number of cafes, restaurants, theaters and experiences is massive in Athens. Get lost for a few hours and stop at shops that interest you.
Eat dinner at Syntagma Square
For dinner, if you’re staying around the Acropolis, walk by Syntagma Square. This shopping and commerce district has the coolest bars, very delicious restaurants, and shopping galore. It’s the perfect place to get started in Athens and get a taste of tourist life.
After a delicious dinner and perhaps beverages out, head back to the hotel and rest up. Tomorrow’s a big day!
Day 2: Athens
Okay, day 2 in Athens. You’re rested and ready to really see the sites. But first coffee.
Grab a local Greek breakfast
Outside of your hotel, there are numerous coffee houses and breakfast spots to hit in Athens. You’ll enjoy world-class coffee drinks and delicious Greek breakfast specialties like Greek omelettes, Spanikopita, and yogurt.
PRO TIP: Don’t get a rental car in Athens. Public transportation (trams and the metro) is so efficient and affordable, you can pretty much go anywhere without being stuck in traffic. Plus, if your accommodation is near the Acropolis, you can walk to most of the famous sites in 30 minutes or less.
Visit the famous Acropolis
After breakfast, head directly to the Acropolis. Start here on day 1 because it may take you a couple of days to get through it all. The Acropolis has the world-famous ruins as well as a modern indoor museum. Start with the Acropolis Museum. It will give you context on what the ruins mean from a historic and cultural perspective.
In the museum, you have an options of buying a one-time ticket for $20 or getting a pass to see several other ruins and sites for $30. Go for the $30 pass. It’ll save you money as you visit more sites throughout the week. Spend 1-3 hours in the museum. Enjoy the ancient artifacts, historical placks, and short-films highlighting the history.
PRO TIP: Get the $30 pass that includes access to the Acropolis, and several other historic sites. If you forget to buy it at one site, the other sites also offer the deal. Just remember not to forget!
When you’ve had your fill, head to the Acropolis ruins. Now, like most tourist sites, the site is busy and a line to get in is likely. If you want you to avoid the line, go at unpopular times like Wednesday morning at 9am or Tuesdays at 12:00pm.
Once you’re in, walk around and be in awe at what most people wait their whole lives to see. The crumbling pillars are symbolic of the trauma of time, weather and war that the Greek people endured. Allow yourself to feel small and young in such a grand and old place .
Grab lunch away from the tourist sites
From there, grab lunch. I highly recommend getting a bit further out from the Acropolis and Syntagma Square. Places very close to the Acropolis will be expensive and may not have the taste and quality of places a little further out. You’ll find more delicious and affordable
options in quieter areas.
See the Ancient Agora
After lunch, hit the Ancient Agora. If you followed my earlier advice, you will have a multi-day pass to see ruins that include the Ancient Agora. All you have to do is scan your ticket and walk in.
The Ancient Agora was a marketplace that had commerce, residents, and business all tied into one. It has the classic pillar architecture famous of Greek buildings, but it’s been maintained and is still in pretty good shape. There are tons of historic placks to read from to learn how and what this ancient marketplace was like.
PRO TIP: Keep your camera hot and ready. There are so many Instagram worthy shots at each of these sites.
Visit the Roman Forum
After the Ancient Agora, hop over to the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum was a trade center used around the time when the Romans took control of Athens between 11 and 19 BC. Another great site with a ton of historical significance and great reading material to learn from.
Rest and recoup at the hotel
Phew! That was a lot of walking. If you’re beat, this could be a good time to go back to the hotel and recoup. At the Divani Palace hotel, they have a fabulous pool that’s popular in the afternoons. Spend time there or get a nice happy hour drink on the rooftop to take in the day.
Grab dinner and go dancing in the Gazi Neighborhood
Around dinner time, head towards the Gazi Neighborhood. Gazi has tons of chic, upscale bars, nightclubs, and restaurants with some of the most delicious Greek food. The ambiance is fantastic and often dawns rooftop venues. Just walk past the Acropolis on the big sidewalk path, and find a dinner spot that looks good to you.
From there, you can go clubbing at any of the clubs in the Gazi district, stroll all evening, or head home to relax.
Day 3: Athens
Day 3 is the day where you feel more confident in the city. You’ve crossed streets, been in the weather, eaten at the restaurants and feel good about exploring some more.
Get breakfast or coffee
Same deal, find your breakfast or coffee and enjoy the morning. From there, get some fresh air in the National Garden.
Take a deep breath in the National Garden
The National Garden is a massive green area with miles of walking trails, a botanical garden, and tons of foliage to get lost and read a book. This is also a great place to go for a run or do yoga if you’re craving a bit of greenery in Athens.
Check out Hadrian’s Library
After you’ve had a burst of greenery, head to Hadrian’s Library. This ancient place of knowledge was once the largest library in Athens. It was an important safeplace for literary work, legal, and administrative documents.
The ancient Greek pillars that show up in so many of these historic sites show up again here and are worth snapping photos with. Whip out your camera, read the plaques, and get lost in the significance of this site.
Get lost in Aristotle’s School
From there, head to Aristotle's school. Here the great Aristotle began to theologize about democracy, governance, and philosophy. Get lost in the significance of this former site of intellectual progress.
Find lunch at a local spot away from the tourist sites
Next, find lunch. Again, the farther you are from the big touristy sites, the better. Find a restaurant that’s less obvious, flashy, and popular. You may end up enjoying the best Greek food from lesser-known spots.
Relax at the Hammam Baths
Have a long two days of historic site seeing, you may want some time to relax. In the later part of the afternoon, hit the Hammam Baths. This Greek bathhouse has the spa experiences you’re craving. Massages, steam room, facials, and more. Definitely do the steam room and sign up for a black soap scrub!
Stroll around and souvenir shop
After the spa, walk around, buy souvenirs and get lost. This will be your last full day in Athens, so, it’s your last chance to get those Greek sandals you’ve been eyeing!
Get dinner, grab a drink, and enjoy the night
Enjoy dinner at Syntagma Square or a place of your choice. Hit the club in Gazi, grab a cocktail, or chill by the pool for the rest of the evening.
Day 4: Athens/Santorini
It’s your last day in Athens and by the end of the night, you’ll be in Santorini.
Get breakfast, coffee, and do last-minute sightseeing
Spend the morning eating breakfast, doing last minute souvenir shopping, and hitting museums you may have missed.
Take a ferry to Santorini
In the afternoon, grab a ferry. We did Seajets and took a 1pm ferry to Santorini. The trip took a total of 5-6 hours but had amazing scenic views the entire time.
If you’re a seasick person or you prefer faster andmore efficient travel, book a flight. Flights to Santorini or other Greek islands were competitive with the ferry. Prices ranged from $50-$200 round trip on either a ferry or plane.
The ferry with Seajets was very comfortable. Cozy, living room style leather seats that reclined, a full bar, food on deck, and tons of room to walk around. We enjoyed getting a beer at the bar and making our way to the top of the boat to watch the journey from outside.
Sea breeze was running through our hair and the smell of the ocean was steaming through our noses. If you have the time, I recommend taking a ferry! Even if it’s just one way.
Take a shuttle to your accommodation
About 6 hours later and many stops in between, you’ll arrive in Santorini. The first thing you’ll see when you hop off the ferry is small harbor at the bottom of a cliffy mountain. Then, you’ll see vibrant signs with the words “taxi”.
PRO TIP: Avoid the “taxi” and arrange a shuttle pickup directly from your hotel, if possible. Taxis are a flat $40 rate for the island and are actually group shuttles. You’ll save $5-10 per person by organizing a shuttle pickup with your hotel.
When you arrive to your accommodation, it will likely be the evening. Settle in, relax, and unpack. You’ll be here for 3 days and you’ll want to be comfortable.
Grab dinner in your area
Around dinner time, explore your local part of the island. Santorini has several areas that all have their own specialness.
We stayed at Abelonas Village in Megalachori. Megachori is very close to the harbor and is more peaceful and quiet than other parts of Santorini. However, it’s isolated and will require some form of transportation; whether that’s a scooter, ATV, or rental car (more on that later).
Choose your part of the island wisely
Here’s a quick breakdown of all of the more popular regions of Santorini.
Fira is a coastal-facing region popular for their nightlife. This area is very touristy and is packed with restaurants, bars, and other sites sure to attract those looking to party.
Oia is the most popular area with breath-taking views of the coast. Oia dawns luxury shopping, cliff-side condos, high-end restaurants, and nightclubs. This area has more traditional architecture which may feel tight and suffocating for some to navigate.
Kamari is a coastal area that was one of our favorites. It’s the closest area to the airport and has fabulous beaches and a calm atmosphere. It also has great access to hiking trails and quick access to the ancient city of Thira.
Akroiti is in the southern-most part of the island and has a strong commerical fishing cultural. Here you’ll have access to some of the best and most natural sunset views. This area also houses the famous Akroiti lighthouse.
Megalachori is quiet and isolated near the harbor. Here, you'll get nature views, an ancient city center, and much more refined and relaxed atmosphere than other parts of the island.
PRO TIP: The further away from the water you stay, the more affordable your accommodation will be. Plus, the fewer tourists you’ll see. Save money and the headache by booking accommodations further out and visiting the water throughout the day instead.
Go home to rest and relax
After you arrive at your accommodation, settle in, walk around, and appreciate what your side of the island has to offer.
Day 5: Santorini
Day 5 in Greece, day 2 in Santorini looks like getting your transportation together. Whatever you do, get your transportation, boo. Although there are large tourist buses that run around Santorini and plenty of overpriced taxis, the best bang for your buck involves getting your own transportation.
Get an ATV, motorbike, or rental car first thing in the morning
If you want a scooter, make sure you have a motorcycle license. Greece requires everyone who rents a motorbike to have an A or A1 license to ride a motorcycle.
If you’re like me and most other US tourists with a standard driving license, you can rent an ATV. They’re great for exploring all around the island and even some remote trails. Expect to pay around $200 for 3-4 days plus a bit more for gas.
You can also rent a car. However, cars aren’t allowed everywhere (e.g. remote trails), so you’ll have to walk or hike to some places you want to see.
PRO TIP: ATVs are just as easy and efficient as rental cars on Santorini. Get an ATV to enjoy the breeze in your hair, 360-degree panoramic views, and a *much* easier time parking.
Cruise to Fira and book a flying dress shoot
First thing on day 2 is to pick up your transportation. From there, explore other parts of the island. Head to Fira (if you’re not already there), and do a flying dress shoot.
Fira has the classic blue-domed churches that Santorini is famous for and has absolutely stunning views of the water. Book a flying dress shoot with Santorini Lion and take home memorable photos of you and/or your significant other to cherish for years.
Have lunch in Fira
Have lunch in Fira. Enjoy fresh fish, Greek salads, and other local delicacies.
Head to Oia for shopping and sites
From there, head to Oia. As mentioned, Oia is a very touristy part of Santorini but it’s definitely worth seeing. It has world-class shopping, food, and experiences. Explore the scenic views, grab a souvenir, and dine in one of their amazing restaurants.
Get dinner overlooking the sunset in Oia
Choose a spot in Oia that has a view of the water around sunset. Sunset in Oia is a must-see experience.
NOTE: If you see fireworks in Santorini around sunset, it’s not a national holiday, it’s someone getting married.
Day 6: Santorini
Your second to last day in Santorini should be all about relaxation. This is your day to get into nature, hang by the beach, and enjoy a good, long unwinding.
Grab breakfast or coffee
First things first, have breakfast, coffee or any other libations you would enjoy.
Have a full-on beach day at Kamari
From there, find your way to Kamari. Kamari has some of the best beaches and beach bars in Santorini. Find a beach bar that offers $20 all-day beach chairs. When you get one of these, you can get a beach chair as long as you commit to spending $20 at their restaurant. This means an all-day lounge chair in front of volcanic waters, and several pitchers beverages served to you beachside, and even lunch.
Enjoy lunch at the beach
Sit back, relax and swim in the cooling volcanic waters. Have lunch and beverages on the beach.
Take a hike near the Ancient City of Thira
In the early afternoon, continue to stay at the beach. Or if you’re ready for a bit of nature and hiking, cruise up the Ancient City of Thira. It’s about 10 minutes on an ATV to the top from Kamari. There you’ll enjoy amazing scenic trails that can connect you by foot from Kamari all the way to Fira. Get in your steps and come down for a glass of local wine.
Enjoy a wine tasting
Did you know Santorini produces its own wine? As you cruise around the island, you'll notice tons of wineries along the way. Stop by one and do a wine flight. We enjoyed visiting the Gavalas Winery in Megalachori and did a wine flight featuring local reds and whites for about 15 euros a person. Sip some wine, relax, then find your way to the nearest restaurant.
Eat dinner and enjoy sunset
After you scratched your wine itch, unwind and relax at a sunset dinner spot near you.
Day 7: Santorini
Your last day in Greece ends at the Lost Atlantis Museum.
Eat breakfast then visit the Lost Atlantis Museum
After breakfast, find your way to the only museum in the world dedicated to the story of Atlantis, the ancient city Greek theorists have tried to figure out for centuries.
Apparently, Plato retold the story of Atlantis and some believe Atlantis was originally in present-day Santorini. This interactive museum is fun and informative for kids and adults alike. Be convinced for 1-2 hours that Atlantis and Santorini are one.
NOTE: Santorini is right next to an active volcano. Meaning, this may be your last trip if you’re unlucky. Fortunately, the volcano hasn’t erupted in a while. But still, fingers crossed you don’t end up like those Atlantis people.
Go last-minute souvenir shopping
After the museum, explore your local area one more time. Pick up those last minute souvenirs or grab lunch at that one spot you’ve been itching to get to.
Get on your flight or ferry back to Athens or island hop
From there, grab your flight or ferry back to Athens or hit another island. The options are endless.
You did it!
You went from the ruins of Athens to the beaches of Santorini. You ate, you danced, you relaxed, and you enjoyed. You did the photoshoot, you did the souvenir shopping, you did all the things in just 7 days. Feel proud and delighted at the ways you lived it up. Got questions? I’ve got answers.