Greece › Best Places to Visit
Updated: February 16, 2023
By Santorini Dave
• Greece Travel Guide
• Best Greek Islands
• Mainland Greece Travel Guide
• Peloponnese Travel Guide
• Best Things To Do in Athens
• Best Things To Do in Santorini
• Where to Stay in Athens
• Where to Stay in Santorini
• Where to Stay in Mykonos
The Best of Greece
- Greece is my favorite holiday destination in Europe. History, culture, great food, beautiful beaches, charming villages, amazing weather, fun nightlife, and island hopping.
- All Greek Islands are unique, wonderful, and worth visiting. But my favorites (especially for first timers) are Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Crete.
- If you can only go to one island then visit Crete or Santorini (they have the most to see and do). If you can only go to two then visit Santorini and Naxos (very easy to get between) or Santorini and Mykonos (both have international airports making visiting from western Europe easy).
- Best Greek Island for Couples and Honeymoon: Santorini
- Best Greek Island for Kids and Families: Naxos
- Best Greek Islands for Nightlife: Mykonos • Ios • Santorini • Paros
- Best Greek Islands for Beaches: Mykonos • Naxos • Paros • Ios • Crete
- Best Greek Islands for Food: Naxos and Santorini.
- Best Greek Islands for Hiking: Naxos • Santorini • Crete • Sifnos
- Athens deserves two to three full days of sightseeing. But after that, get yourself to an island, Delphi, Meteora, or Peloponnese. There are some great tours in Athens that should not be missed and most of the Best Hotels in Athens are centrally located and close to the main tourist sights. From central Athens, it’s an easy 20-minute metro ride to the ferry port.
- The best day trips and short trips from Athens are Nafplio, Delphi, and the Meteora.
Greece Travel Itinerary
The key to planning a travel itinerary for Greece is to fly in and out of different cities, and be sure there are direct and regular ferries between all your destinations. Once you set those basic plans the rest is easy as there really are no bad itineraries for Greece. Every Greek island is worth visiting. From April to October, there are regular ferries (usually 2 or more per day) along the Heraklion (Crete) to Santorini to Ios to Naxos to Paros to Mykonos to Athens route – which are the best islands for first-time visitors to Greece.
• Greece Itinerary for 7 days: 4 days in Santorini and 3 days in Naxos OR 5 days in Santorini and 2 days in Mykonos OR 6 days in Santorini and 1 day in Athens.
• Greece Itinerary for 10 days: 2 days in Chania (Crete), 1 day in Heraklion (Crete), 4 days in Santorini, 3 days in Naxos/Mykonos OR 5 days in Santorini, 4 days in Naxos/Mykonos, 1 day in Athens.
• Greece Itinerary for 14 days: 3 days in Chania (Crete), 1 day in Heraklion (Crete), 5 days in Santorini, 3 days in Naxos, 2 days in Mykonos OR 5 days in Santorini, 3 days in Naxos, 2 days in Paros, 3 days in Mykonos, 1 day in Athens.
If you’re uncertain where the top destinations are located then take a look at my maps of Greece – they should help you get a feel for the lay of the country and islands.
The 30 Best Places To Visit in Greece
Which Greek Island by Season and Weather
Where to Go In Greece in July and August (Summer/High Season)
Santorini and Mykonos are great if you want lots of activity, nightlife, live DJs, and packed clubs. If you want a quieter island in the peak season Naxos, Folegandros, Milos, Sifnos, Antiparos, and Ikaria are wonderful choices.
Where to Go In Greece in June and September
Santorini and Mykonos are a little quieter than their high season peak but still plenty going on. Crete, Naxos, Paros, and Rhodes are at their best. The quiet islands (Sifnos, Ikaria, Antiparos) quickly become very quiet by mid-September which might be fine for some but too slow for others.
Where to Go In Greece in May and October
Most islands are slow in these shoulder months but Santorini, Crete, and Rhodes are still wonderful places to visit with lots open. Naxos and Paros are quiet but far from dead. Quiet islands are very slow but still enough open to get by.
Where to Go In Greece in March, April, and November
A great time to visit if sightseeing, wine tours, fine food, and walking are your main interests. Weather is nice by northern European standards but usually not warm enough for swimming or suntanning. Santorini and Crete are the best islands to visit during this period but unfortunately, there are no ferries between the two islands during the slow season so you’ll need to fly via Athens if you want to visit both.
Where to Go In Greece in December, January, and February (Winter/Low Seasons)
Santorini is the best island to visit during the winter. Best to fly directly as the sea can be rough during the winter months. Crete is also a good destination as it’s the warmest place in Greece during winter.
- Complete Greece Travel Guide
- When to Visit Greece and the Greek Islands
- The Best Beaches in Greece
- Athens Travel Guide
- Crete Travel Guide
- Mykonos Travel Guide
- Naxos Travel Guide
- Paros Travel Guide
- Santorini Travel Guide
- Mainland Greece Travel Guide
- Peloponnese Travel Guide
- Halkidiki Travel Guide
- Italy Travel Guide
- Itinerary for Italy and Greece
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Great site. I never really considered Greece until I saw your articles now I am hooked on visiting. I have a question, I plan to visit at the end of June, I would like to do 2 islands, definitely Santorini for 5 nights. Which other island would you recommend with great beaches I like calm waters as I am not a swimmer and low crowd volume.
Naxos would be perfect for you. Great beaches and St George’s Beach near Naxos Town is one of the calmest, shallowest, protected beaches in Greece.
Hello! I am planning a 9 day trip to Greece with my family. My daughters are 18,21,23. I know for sure I want to go to Santorini, but then stuck on Naxos, Paros, and Crete! There is so much information that I am not sure where to go after Santorini. Mykonos is a little too party scene for my husband and I. Also how do you feel about airbnbs? Trying not to save some money here and there. Laurie
With just 9 days I would forget about Crete – too far from the other islands and too big. Santorini and Naxos would make a great trip. Or add Paros too. If you have 9 full days on the islands then doing all 3 is fine. But if the 9 days you mention includes in and out of Athens then stick to just Naxos and Santorini. On the islands, staying at a hotel always tops an Airbnb experience (for me anyways, but I love great hotels and am not a big Airbnb fan).
I’m so happy I came across your blog because it has been extremely helpful. I am visiting Greece the second week of February for my honeymoon. We are planning to do 8 days in Greece. Is it sunny during that time? We are a young couple. Any recommendations would be much appreciated!
You can get pleasant weather in February (sunny and clear) but you definitely won’t be swimming or suntanning. Cool rainy weather is also possible. March is much more likely to have nice weather than February, and then April more likely still. May is when the beach season begins in earnest.
Hi Dave, my wife and I are traveling with 3 young kids (6, 4 and 2). We have 18 nights on the islands and I have narrowed our trip to 3-5 islands including:
Milos, Naxos, Ios, Santorini, and Crete
We are open to other suggestions you may have. What would be your itinerary for 18 nights with 3 young kids?
That sounds great. All wonderful islands. I might consider dropping Ios. Not because it isn’t kid-friendly but just for the sake of cutting down your island hopping and extending your time in Naxos (the most kid-friendly).
Hi Dave. We have friends and family (20 years old to 75) traveling to Greece in August of 2020. We have a total of 11 nights flying in and out of Athens. Would you mind giving me your thoughts on the following below?
Fly into Athens and immediately fly to Crete. Stay around Chania for 3 or 4 nights.
Ferry to Santorini and stay for 3 or 4 nights.
Ferry to Mykonos and stay for 2 or 3 nights.
Either ferry or fly back to Athens for 2 nights and fly back home. For group of 12 do you have suggestions where to stay in Chania, Oia, Mykonos Town, and Athens? Thank you very much. Your site and information is unbelievable. Best I have ever read!
That sounds like a great itinerary. Fun, easy to do, and interesting. Most ferries to Santorini leave Heraklion around 9pm in the morning so you’ll either have to be up early to catch the 2.5 hour bus from Chania to Heraklion or take the bus the previous day and spend one night in Heraklion. From Mykonos to Athens, ferry is much easier than flying. If you want to take multiple rooms and stay in a hotel I have pages for each of those islands on my site. Or if you’d like to stay together in a house or villa then search for villas in Greece on Booking.com.
Hi Dave. I’m curious as to why you always recommend saving Athens for the end? I’m confused as to whether I want that to be my last memory of my Greece vacation? Can you tell me the pros and cons of seeing Athens for 1 night at the beginning or end?
There is no difference unless there is a ferry strike or rough weather that cancels the ferries. In that case, it’s good to have a buffer day or two in Athens so that you don’t miss your flight home.
Thanks for your very informative guide. Would like to request your suggestion for us. We are 1st time travelers to greece. Planning to spend 8 nights in greece with my wife, no children. Will be traveling from India in June 1st Week.
Was thinking of:
Athens – 2 nights
Santorini – 3 nights
Mykonos – 3 nights
Is the above itinerary suitable for 1st timers to the Greek islands. I also wanted to know your suggestion on the order of visit and mode of transport.
That sounds like a great itinerary for a first time trip to the Greek islands. If you wanted to save yourself a long ferry trip I would ferry Athens to Mykonos, then Mykonos to Santorini, then fly Santorini back to Athens. Otherwise the order doesn’t matter much.
Hello- I will be taking a 40th birthday trip to Greece next year with friends. We are looking at staying 7-9 days and want a mixture of fun, nightlife, beach, and tour. Which islands would you recommend? Crete, Mykonos, Santorini. We are flying from NYC.
Mykonos and Santorini make great bookends to a trip. Fly into one and out of the other. In between, you could visit one of Paros, Naxos, Ios, or Folegandros. But I wouldn’t do more than 3 islands with 7 to 9 days.
Hello! Thank you for all your information. It is fantastic! My husband and I are planning a trip in June. We’ve decided to visit Athens and Santorini, but are struggling to choose from Milos or Mykonos. What are your thoughts?
Mykonos for nightlife and beach. Milos for exploring and boat trips around the island.
Do you think Santorini and Milos are too similar and Crete would be more complimentary to Santorini?
Are there day trips near Chania that are close by or are most POI 2 -3 hours away?
Santorini and Milos do have a similar geologic feel but they are still very different as a tourist experience. In many ways Chania feels more similar to the towns of Fira and Oia than anything on Milos. There’s nothing momentous close to Chania – but the town itself is a charmer. Rethymnon is one hour away and worth a visit.
Dave, thanks for your reply above regarding a itinerary for my wife + 3 year old. You mentioned… Fly to Santorini (3 days), ferry to Mykonos (2 or 3 days), then fly back from there. Santorini and Mykonos should both have direct flights from Milan and Venice.
Would you skip going to Athens and not try to go to Naxos? I heard Naxos is great for families.
Yes, with only 5 or 6 days you should go straight to one of the islands. Athens takes at least one full day to tour then you lose a good chunk of another day getting the ferry, so just fly straight to an island. Naxos is great and right in between Mykonos and Santorini … but you don’t have much time. I wouldn’t do any less than 2 nights on any island but if you can make it work, go for it.
Hello Dave…I was wondering if you could give me a quick suggestion. My family and I (wife and 3 year old son) will be heading to a wedding in Lake Como, Italy in July this year. My wife has been dying to go to Greece, so we were thinking of heading there before we get to the wedding. I’ve been to Corfu, Santorini, and Mykonos, but I was 21 then and I’m now 41 so I don’t remember much.
I may be able to swing about 5-6 full days in Greece. Is that a good amount of time, or too short. I don’t know if I will be able to swing more. What do you think is the best itinerary for us?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Fly to Santorini (3 days), ferry to Mykonos (2 or 3 days), then fly back from there. Santorini and Mykonos should both have direct flights from Milan and Venice.
Read your informative blog and found out that I haven’t thought my trip through ! Could you please advise me further?
I have booked my husband and myself a trip to Greece in March. So we were planning to do a day in Athens and then head to Santorini, Mykonos, and Milos. I have now realised that there are no ferries to connect us between the islands.
We arrive in Athens on 10th March and leave Athens for home on 17th March.
We have a few days in between but we are not sure on how to proceed.
Please share your expert opinion on what I can see/do in this time frame?
Thanks sooo much.
Yeah, the combination of Santorini, Mykonos, and Milos does not work well in March as there usually are not ferry connections for those islands in that month. Better is some combination of Paros, Naxos, and Santorini as there is always a daily ferry between them (and to Athens).
A very good afternoon to you.
I have been reading your blog on Greece holidays.
It would be of great help, if you could provide me on the inputs of my shortlisted below itinerary
Arrival Date – 15-March
Athens – 2 Nights
Shortlisted Hotel – Inn Athens
Mykonos – 3 Nights
Arrival Date – 17-March
Santorini – 3 Nights
Arrival Date – 20-March
Person – 2 Adult & 1 toddler (Age-20months)
Also, suggest if there are better choices of hotels other than the above.
I am still confused about whether to travel by air or ferry to these above islands. Ryanair prices are very much discounted when compared to Aegean airline & Olympic Air.
Your valuable inputs on hotel & means of travel will be highly appreciated.
The Inn Athens is very centrally located and an easy walk to metro station, the Plaka, and Acropolis. The scene immediately around the hotel is a little scruffy fun safe and otherwise fine. In Mykonos, I’d go with the Semeli for its more convenient location. In Santorini Above Blue and Alta Vista are both great. Above Blue will have better sunset views. For your itinerary I’d ferry to Mykonos, ferry to Santorini, then fly back to Athens.
I have been reading a lot on your posts, thank you very much for all the information and tips thus far.
I would like to have your comments on our trip planned this summer between 21 June – 7 July.
Our itinerary so far is (in specific order):
Athens 3 nights
Milos 3 nights
Santorini 3 nights
Naxos 3 nights
Mykonos 3 nights
Would you say that is enough time spent on each island? And do you know where I can find ferry ride schedules, closer to the time, in order to ensure we do have tickets on the specific days, as our accommodation and all will be booked in advance?
Also, would you recommend staying in Kamari/Perissa area on Santorini instead of the more expensive areas?
We would really appreciate your reply and advice.
Thank you in advance!!
Itinerary looks great. 3 nights/2 full days are the minimum I recommend for most people. Yes, you will be busy but busy can be fun as long as you know what you’re getting. GTP.gr is a good site for seeing ferry schedules. Book ferries 1 to 3 months in advance. I recommend staying along the caldera (Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, Oia) not at the beaches.
Hi Dave, thanks so much for providing this wealth of information. It has been incredibly helpful as I plan my first trip to Greece. I will be flying into Athens with a friend & her grade school aged daughters at the end of june. We will have three full days on the mainland & then on the fourth day I will leave for Santorini & they will head home to Ireland. Since they will not be going to the island, they’d like to see more than just the city. We’d like to spend one day in Athens and the other two days in a lovely village. Somewhere by a nice beach would be ideal. We will be taking public transport. Is there anywhere you can recommend or is this trying to do too much in 3 days? Thanks again for your help!
Nafplio is a wonderful town/city in the Peloponnese just a few hours from Athens by bus. It’s got a great atmosphere (lots of charming restaurants and shops) and there are several good beaches nearby.
Beginning to make a plan for June, about 15 days for a big anniversary. We are in our 40’s like to relax on the beach or pool, walk or hike and explore. We are into great food and drink, but not into nightclubs. I am looking at the following itinerary:
Fly into Athens, spend 3 nights (two full days)
Naxos, 2 nights
Milos, 2 nights
Santorini 6 nights, fly directly out of Santorini to London.
Are the transfers between these islands doable? I originally was only going to choose Athens, Santorini, plus one other island, but I am smitten by both Naxos and Milos. It looks like there is enough difference between islands to make it worth the trip, but is it too much moving around? I want to be able both relax and explore each place.
Thank you so much for your opinions and advice!
Yes, this sounds very doable and transfers between islands should be fine (Naxos to Milos is the one I have the most concern about – it’s possible you have to switch ferries somewhere between the two islands). I don’t know your particular interests but for most people I would drop one night from Athens and add it to Naxos and maybe even drop Santorini to 5 nights and add that day to Milos.
Trying to decide between Kos and Rhodes for a June holiday. What would you say are the strengths, weaknesses, and characteristics of both. (It could be just my wife and I, but also inviting others, so hard to know what we’re looking for yet. At this point need a general comparison of both islands.)
Rhodes and Kos are a bit like Ying and Yang: so different in many ways yet they complement each other perfectly. Rhodes is the mature big sister; Kos the little sister wanting to wear her big sister’s shoes. Both are islands geared towards international package tourism and attract large numbers of visitors wanting sun, sand and relaxation. Both share similar cultural traits – they are part of the Dodecanese island chain and are no more than two hours apart from each by fast catamaran or an hour or so longer by one of the regular connecting ferries.
Rhodes: the bigger and more diversified island of the two boasting an exquisite Old Town and a string of beach resorts running mainly down the southeast coast with an overlap running from the northern tip of the island back down to the airport on the northwest side. The island’s attraction to the score of cruise ships that make Rhodes’ harbour an obligatory stop is the well-preserved mediaeval Old Town. Completely enclosed within its own fortifications, the narrow streets are either full of restaurants, cafés and shops and strolling visitors, or almost completely untouched by time with abandoned houses and locked wooden gates with intriguing door handles. Outside the Old Town is the New Town, also a popular destination because of its fashionable clothes and shoe shops and restaurants and also a pretty decent beach scene. Excursion boats to other parts of the island leave from here, while ferries and the island’s catamarans arrive and depart from two harbours a little way further south of the New Town.
The southeast coast is a contiguous strip of hotels and beachscapes starting with the upper-market hotels of the Faliraki Riviera and petering out at the decidedly quieter and serene scene of the southern coastline centred on Gennadi. In between, the village of Lindos bursts out like a Cycladic theme park marking the half way point down the island’s coast. It is long here that you will find Rhodes’ best beaches. It northwest coastal scene, on the contrary, is much more muted and less developed mainly because it doesn’t have the beaches, but does get most of the winds.
Kos: is long and skinny and its shape vaguely reminds one of a whale, seemingly swimming into the embracing Turkish gulf of Gökova. It’s taken negative press in the last couple of years – from ‘uninvited refugees’ to an earthquake earlier this year. The refugees never were a problem and the earthquake shook part of Kos’ Old Town and has since been cleaned up. The island has a cosier, more intimate feel and while, like Rhodes, it has a mountain scene, the feel is mainly flat and rolling and for that reason cycling is enormously popular here and quite feasible along the meandering backroads of the north coast. Kos’ Old Town is not as extensive or in any way as picturesque as Rhodes’: the appeal of Kos lies in its relative compactness, its sunny demeanour and the high quality of its accommodation. Boutique hotels do not feature as prominently as they do in Rhodes, but on the luxury side there are some quite stunning places. Its excellent beach scene is hidden from casual view along a swathe of golden sand running along the cusp of Kefalos Bay in the south. Beaches elsewhere (and by comparison) are generally average. Oddly, one of the most popular beaches is a thermal springs beach made up of pebbles and warmed by hot artesian water. That’s just around the corner of the eastern tip of the island basically where the island’s road network ends.
So the toss-up between the two? They are touristy islands but still lived-in Greek islands. They make a good duo so half your time in one and half in the other with day visits to neighbouring islands such as Halki, Tilos, or Symi (from Rhodes) and Kalymnos, Nisyros, and Pserimos (from Kos) will give a total of 8 Dodecanese islands for the price of two! June and September are good shoulder periods to travel, so good luck. It’s win-win all the way.