Embark on an unforgettable journey through Greece, where history, mythology, and breathtaking beauty converge. This comprehensive 10-day itinerary is customized for first-time visitors, offering a perfect blend of ancient wonders, idyllic islands, and vibrant city life.
From the moment you arrive in Athens to the stunning sunsets of Santorini, this adventure will immerse you in the heart of Greece’s rich cultural heritage and natural splendor. Get ready to explore the iconic cities of Athens, Santorini, and Paros, each with its own unique charm and allure.
We’ll do our best to make this 10-day Greece itinerary as easy to follow as possible to ensure a stress-free vacation. So, fasten your seatbelt, and let’s dive into your arrival in Santorini, where you’ll begin your Greek odyssey!
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Quick tips for planning your trip
End your trip to Athens instead of starting there.
You’ll have to fly into Athens no matter what. However, we then suggest directly flying to your island of choice. Many seasoned travelers leave touring Athens for the end of their journey, as it simplifies the logistics of getting to the airport for your return flight.
Don’t underestimate travel times between destinations.
Travel within Greece can take longer than you expect, often involving at least half a day for transfers. After all, Greek ferries can be notorious for running behind schedule. Additionally, you’ll still need to arrange transportation to your accommodations after arriving at the main port.
Don’t try to see too many islands in too little time.
When planning a trip to the Greek islands, resisting the urge to visit too many islands in a short period is essential. While the allure of hopping from one picturesque island to another is undeniable, overambitious itineraries can lead to rushed, exhausting experiences.
It’s far more enjoyable to savor each island’s unique character, culture, and beauty rather than treating them as mere checkboxes on your travel list. With a 10-day trip to Greece, a maximum of 2-3 islands is the most you can do while still feeling like you’re on a relaxed vacation.
Pair a crowded island with a hidden gem.
While Santorini and Mykonos are the most popular Greek Islands, numerous others offer beautiful beaches and scenery without the crowds or high costs. For a more balanced experience, pair Santorini or Mykonos with a less-frequented Cycladic island, like Paros, Naxos, or even Crete.
Especially if it’s your first time in Greece and you only have time for two islands, we don’t suggest choosing Santorini and Mykonos. We promise you’re going to want a break from the crowds! Plus, we think a more authentic trip is always better.
Book ferry tickets in advance.
Booking your ferry tickets in advance for a Greek island hopping vacation, especially during the high season, is crucial for a stress-free trip. The peak season in Greece (June through September) witnesses a surge in tourist traffic, leading to limited availability and overcrowded ferries.
By securing your tickets early, you guarantee a spot on your desired ferry and have the flexibility to choose from a wider range of departure times and seating options. Plus, it means you’ll likely be able to book the high-speed ferry, saving you precious time on this 10-day Greece trip.
10 days in Greece itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Athens and departure to Santorini
Morning & afternoon
Your journey through Greece begins at the Athens International Airport, likely after a restful overnight flight from the U.S. After clearing customs, you have a choice to make: you can either stay in Athens for the day or seize the opportunity to head directly to your first Greek island of choice.
We recommend the latter, as it allows you to end your vacation in Athens without the stress of rushing back to catch your return flight home. Additionally, flying to the islands is preferred, particularly during peak travel seasons when ferries can be crowded and delayed.
With this in mind, we suggest landing in Athens, grabbing a bite to eat, and then boarding an afternoon flight to Santorini, which we’ve selected as the ideal starting point in this itinerary. Fortunately, there are over 100 weekly flights from Athens to Santorini; flight time is only 50 minutes!
Pro tip: You can often find one-way flights with regional airlines like Aegean for under $100 if you book in advance.
Upon arrival at Santorini Airport, you can opt for a taxi to your hotel, arrange a transfer, or, if you’ve reserved a rental car, pick it up right at the airport. Nonetheless, having a car isn’t a requirement for your visit to Santorini.
After checking into your hotel on the enchanting Greek island of Santorini, embrace the magic of your first evening. Start by freshening up and taking in the breathtaking sunset views for which Santorini is renowned.
Whether you’re in Oia, Fira, or any other charming village, head to a vantage point or a cliffside restaurant with panoramic vistas of the caldera. As the sun dips below the horizon, you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing display of colors, casting a romantic glow over the island.
Enjoy a delightful dinner at a local tavern or restaurant, savoring traditional Greek cuisine and perhaps a glass of the island’s renowned wine. We suggest making a reservation at Naoussa Restaurant (Fira), Ambrosia (Oia), or Aegean Restaurant (Imerovigli).
Day 2: Santorini exploration
Begin your day with an early breakfast at your hotel or a local cafe. Since you’re in Greece, why not indulge in some Greek yogurt with honey and fresh fruit? After you eat, you’ll be starting your day with a visit to the charming village of Oia!
Oia is famous as a honeymoon destination, home to postcard-worthy white-washed buildings and incredible views of the caldera. Although many other itineraries we’ve seen suggest ending the day here for sunset, we actually disagree.
While sunset here is undoubtedly gorgeous, it’s also the most crowded time you could choose to experience this scenic village. With this in mind, especially if you’re traveling during peak season, we think it’s much better to visit in the morning before the hoards arrive.
Peruse the traditional Greek buildings, narrow alleys, and art galleries while shopping for souvenirs and enjoying the ambiance. While in town, don’t miss some of the most famous photo spots like the “Three Blue Domes” or the Kastro Oia Houses.
After exploring Oia, make your way down to Ammoudi Bay, a beautiful and picturesque small port located about 300 steps below Oia. This bay is home to some of Santorini’s best fresh seafood restaurants, where you can enjoy fresh octopus, lobster, red snapper, and more.
There are two options to reach Ammoudi Bay: walking or taking a taxi. For those who enjoy a bit of adventure, we recommend leaving your car in its parking spot in Oia and taking the staircase, which begins just below the castle in Oia. Just remember to wear shoes with good traction!
If you’d prefer to avoid the stairs, you can always arrange for a taxi at your hotel or through the restaurant where you have lunch. In Ammoudi Bay, some of the best restaurants are Ammoudi Fish Tavern, Sunset by Ammoudi, and Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna.
After you finish your early lunch, Ammoudi Bay is a convenient location for a catamaran cruise! Book an exciting day cruise and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the crystal clear water at Red Beach and White Beach, followed by volcanic hot springs.
These wineries offer breathtaking views and a selection of local wines. End your first full day in Santorini with dinner at a cozy Greek tavern or a fine-dining restaurant, depending on your preference.
Day 3: Day trip to Ancient Thera and black sand beaches
Rise and shine for an active day of exploration on your last full day in Santorini. Start your day with a hearty breakfast at your hotel or a local café. Then, hop in your car and head towards the island’s southwestern coast, where you’ll visit the Archaeological Site of Ancient Thera.
Although the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri is more popular, we think Ancient Thera is more interesting and has a cooler location! These ancient ruins sit atop one of Santorini’s highest peaks–Mesa Vouno–offering stunning island and ocean views.
To reach the archaeological site, you can either drive most of the way up the mountain and park near the admission building or take the long and challenging hike from Kamari. If you choose to do the whole trek from Kamari, be aware that it takes about 3 hours.
Instead, we highly recommend driving to the top (or ATVing/taking the minibus) to save some time! After all, there is still a short but steep hike from the admission building to the ruins. With this in mind, make sure to wear shoes with good traction.
Once you’ve reached the top, take your time exploring the ancient village, which was inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD. You’ll find impressive ruins of an agora, a covered portico, a theater, religious buildings, and private dwellings.
After your exhilarating hike, it’s time to cool off on Santorini’s beautiful black sand beaches. There are several options to choose from! However, we recommend visiting Perissa Beach, Perivolos Beach, or Kamari Beach, all of which are located on the southeastern side of the island.
- Perissa Beach is famous for its jet-black sand and crystal-clear waters. Choose a beachfront spot and rent a sunbed with an umbrella for some shade. The beach is well-equipped with beachside taverns, cafes, and water sports facilities so that you can enjoy various activities.
- Perivolos Beach is a continuation of Perissa Beach, offering a similar ambiance. It’s famous for its long stretch of black sand and beach bars, creating a lively atmosphere. Spend your time here sunbathing, swimming, or trying water sports like jet skiing or parasailing.
- Kamari Beach is another option with its black pebble shoreline and clear blue waters. Explore the promenade, lined with restaurants and shops, to enjoy a delicious seaside lunch. Try local specialties like grilled octopus, fresh Greek salads, and seafood dishes.
After a rejuvenating afternoon spent on the black sand beaches of Santorini, your evening awaits with a blend of relaxation and indulgence. Return to your hotel and take some time to freshen up–a shower and a change of clothes will have you feeling ready for the evening ahead!
As the sun begins its descent toward the horizon, start your evening with a pre-dinner aperitif while enjoying the breathtaking views of the caldera. We recommend choosing a cozy cliffside bar or a terrace with a view.
Then, indulge in a sumptuous dinner featuring the best Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh seafood, classic dishes like moussaka, and local delicacies await. Don’t forget to try the local Santorini wine, like Assyrtiko and Aidani, which is exceptional!
Your last evening on Santorini is a beautiful opportunity to savor the island’s romantic ambiance. As you soak in the beauty of the illuminated villages and the caldera, you’ll create lasting memories of this idyllic destination before heading to your next adventure.
Day 4: Santorini to Paros
It’s time for the next stop on this Greek island hopping itinerary–Paros! This morning, you’ll be checking out of your Santorini hotel and making your way to the Santorini ferry port.
We suggest booking an early morning ferry to Paros to maximize your time. If you book the high-speed option, your one-way trip from Santorini to the Paros ferry port should only take about 1 hour and 35 minutes.
Remember that ferries are notoriously late, so your arrival time to Paros will probably be off by a bit. Once your ferry arrives, you’ll then drop your luggage and make your way to your seat.
You’ll likely notice a difference in the amount of tourists in Paros vs. Santorini. In fact, your arrival on this new island should feel like a breath of fresh air! After all, many people claim that Paros is a more laid-back and cheaper version of Mykonos.
After disembarking the ferry, pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel in Naoussa. We personally prefer to stay in Naoussa, which many people compare to Mykonos Town–just without the crowds.
After settling into your new accommodations, take a 10-minute drive to Kolymbithres Beach. This Paros beach is famous for its unique rock formations and crystal-clear waters. Plus, it’s home to two beach clubs!
So, rent a sun bed to relax and recover from your ferry adventure. The water at Kolymbithres Beach is calm and warm, making it perfect for the whole family. After swimming and sunbathing, you’ll make your way back to Naoussa.
It’s time to explore the adorable Naoussa–a trendy fishing village that’s home to a mix of boutique hotels, authentic Greek eateries, and upscale dining establishments. Begin your evening with a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade.
You’ll notice whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches along your walk, marking this town as quintessentially Cycladic. However, Naoussa is really known for its fresh seafood. Choose a waterfront restaurant for the whole experience, like Taverna Glafkos!
Of course, we won’t send you back to your hotel without dessert. Don’t miss the chance to taste our favorite sweet treat on the island: loukoumades from To Paradosiako. These bite-sized donuts are a must-try while in Paros.
Day 5: Paros beaches and villages
Start with a hearty breakfast at your hotel to prepare for the busy day ahead! Or, if you’d prefer to eat at a restaurant, we suggest Almond in Paros, where you can get favorites like pancakes and eggs benedict.
After breakfast, hop in your rented vehicle and head to the traditional village of Lefkes, located approximately 20 away from Naoussa. The scenic drive through the island’s countryside offers beautiful views and is an excellent choice for a half-day trip.
You’ll find multiple parking lots located on the outskirts of this village–one is even marked as “free public parking” on Google Maps! Then, you’ll take the short walk down into town, where you’ll notice charming narrow streets adorned with white-washed buildings and bougainvillea-covered arches.
In the Medieval period, Lefkes served as the capital of Paros, chosen for its strategic mountainous position that offered protection against pirate invasions. Today, this elevated village affords tourists breathtaking vistas of the Aegean Sea, including the nearby island of Naxos.
Take your time exploring the Byzantine church of Agia Triada and admiring the local architecture. Don’t forget to capture some photographs of the village’s picturesque ambiance along the way!
Before you leave Lefkes, take the opportunity to grab lunch at a local taverna or café. We suggest Chrisoula Mezes Tavern (Geuseis tis Sintrofias) or Lefkiano Restaurant for traditional Greek food, like moussaka, meat skewers, or a Greek salad.
Once you’ve finished lunch, return to your car and head to Golden Beach. Also called Chrissi Akti, this blue flag-certified beach is one of the best on the island, renowned for both water sports and relaxation.
As you can imagine, Golden Beach is well organized and home to various beach bars and restaurants where you can rent sun beds. Thanks to the seasonal Meltemi winds that pass through Paros, this spot is also famous as a windsurfing destination.
So, whether you want to swim in crystal clear waters, relax on a sun bed, or try water sports, Golden Beach is a great choice! Head to Force7 Windsurfing Center for windsurfing, which offers beginner to advanced-level classes.
After you’ve had your fill of beach time, take the 30-minute drive back to your hotel in Naoussa. Plan to shower and change clothes before you head out for your evening plans.
Sign up for an evening wine tasting and tour at Moraitis Winery in advance by emailing visit@
If you have any wine lovers in your group, you won’t want to miss the chance to learn about the grape varieties cultivated on Paros and across the Cyclades. Plus, you’ll get to sample reds, whites, rosés, and even sweet dessert wines.
After your wine tasting, you may even want to purchase a bottle to take home! We highly recommend bringing back a bottle as a souvenir to share with friends.
Make the 10-minute walk back down to Naoussa’s main old town area for dinner. Some of our favorite restaurants include Kafeneion – i Palia Agora, Yemeni Wine Restaurant, or Open Garden Restaurant. Or, if you want a break from Greek food, try Platia (Italian) or UMI Sushi Bar.
Day 6: Day trip to Antiparos
One of the top activities in Paros is to hop over to the nearby Antiparos, located a mere nautical mile’s distance (equivalent to 1.9 km) away. With this in mind, we’ll use most of day six as a day trip to Antiparos!
To reach Antiparos from Paros, you can opt for a brief ferry voyage departing from either the Port of Parikia or Pounta. However, if you plan to take your rental car with you, you’ll need to travel to the Port of Pounta.
This port is approximately a 30-minute drive from Naoussa. So, we recommend eating an early breakfast and then hitting the road. After all, the ferry service runs regularly, with intervals ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. So, you likely won’t have to wait long to board!
It’s important to note that ferry tickets must be purchased upon boarding and cannot be reserved in advance. Hence, it’s essential to have cash on hand, as credit card payments are not accepted.
Ticket prices are approximately €2 per person for foot passengers and around €7 for those traveling with a car. When you arrive at the port, make sure to park in the queue to board the ferry. You’ll pay for the ticket after driving onto the ferry.
The boat journey from Pounta to Antiparos Port typically takes 15 minutes or less from Pounta Port. So, park your car and then go up to a seat on the ferry to watch the short journey to Antiparos.
Once the ferry arrives at Antiparos Port, you’ll return to your car and wait your turn to exit the boat. From there, you’ll drive directly into Antiparos Town.
After arriving at Antiparos Town, you can choose between some of the top things to do on the island. For example, some of our favorites include:
- Antiparos Town: Often referred to as Chora, this small town can be explored in about an hour. It features charming white-washed buildings and the classic Cycladic houses embellished with vibrant bougainvillea. Walk along the main pedestrian street for most souvenir shops, boutiques, and tavernas here. Additionally, you’ll discover the remnants of a small ancient fortress known as Kastro within this area.
- Antiparos Cave: Antiparos Cave is frequently counted among Europe’s most remarkable and largest caverns, approximately 5 miles (8 km) from Antiparos Town. Nevertheless, to explore one of the most breathtaking collections of stalactites and stalagmites, you’ll need to descend a total of 411 steps. Once inside the cave, you’ll also encounter what is believed to be the oldest stalactite in Europe, with an estimated age of 45 million years.
- Psaraliki Beach: Psaraliki Beach comprises two sandy sections, Psaralyki I and Psaralyki II, offering easy access from Antiparos Town. These shallow, wind-protected beaches cater to families with sunbeds, umbrellas, and natural shade provided by tamarisk trees. Psaralyki I is the larger, more popular swimming spot, while Psaralyki II, a short walk away, features a secluded nudist-friendly area alongside a family-friendly central beach.
After you’ve spent most of the afternoon in Antiparos, we suggest making your way back to Paros via ferry. You can see the highlights on Antiparos in just a few hours!
Once you’ve returned to Paros, head to Parikia, the island’s capital. Although your ferry from Santorini arrived here on your first day in Paros, you’ve yet to explore this adorable town.
Parikia is famous for its 13th-century Frankish Castle remains and the array of shops and cafes lining Old Market Street. Top activities in Parikia encompass strolling through the historic district, exploring Panagia Ekatontapiliani Church, and savoring delectable Greek cuisine.
With this in mind, we suggest parking your car and going to the Old Town neighborhood. Since we’ve spent the first two nights in Paros trying restaurants in Naoussa, it’s now time to check out the food scene in Parikia.
If you want to splurge on a nice meal while in town, we recommend STOU FRED. Other visitor favorites include Little Green Rocket and Symposium Cafe. Following dinner, you’ll return back to your hotel in Naoussa to rest before your big travel day tomorrow to Athens.
Day 7: Return to Athens
Have your last breakfast at your Paros hotel and check out. You then have two options for traveling back to Athens, on mainland Greece:
- Take the ferry from Paros to Athens: Ferries from Paros leave from the main port in Parikia, about a 20-minute drive from Naoussa. Of course, you’ll also need to factor in enough time to drop off your rental car. The fastest ferries from Paros to the Piraeus port in Athens take just under three hours. Meanwhile, the slower options take between four to five hours. With this in mind, you’ll want to book in advance to snag a seat on one of the faster morning ferries.
- Fly from Paros to Athens: One of our best travel tips is that we prefer flying to Athens from Paros over taking the ferry. The Paros National Airport is about a 30-minute drive from Naoussa, and you can quickly return your rental car there. Flights from Paros (JMK) to Athens (ATH) are non-stop and take only 45 minutes! You can typically find flights with Aegean or SKY throughout the day for a similar price compared to ferry tickets. Just make sure to book in advance, especially if you’re traveling during the high season.
Check into your hotel in Athens and take a moment to relax–after all, you’ve reached your final destination on this 10 days in Greece itinerary. Since it’s your first time in the capital, we highly suggest learning a little about this city and its cuisine via a guided food tour.
These experiences typically last three to four hours, and you’ll get to sample local treats along the way. For example, you’ll likely taste foods like loukoumades (Greek donuts), regional cheeses, Greek wine, organic olive oil, koulouri (sesame bread), and more.
Most of these tours will first take you through the Monastiraki neighborhood–home to the Monastiraki Flea Market. Then, you’ll end in the Psirri neighborhood, famous for its dining establishments, pubs, and live music venues.
End your first day in Athens with dinner and drinks at a rooftop restaurant with a view of the beautifully illuminated Acropolis. We strongly urge you to make a reservation in advance if you’re trying to catch the sunset.
Don’t miss Tudor Hall at the King George Hotel or the GB Roof Garden Restaurant & Bar at the Grande Bretagne if you want to splurge on a nicer dinner. Or, for those looking for a budget-friendly option, we suggest Mira Me Athens or Cafe Avissinia.
Day 8: Athens highlights
The Acropolis, perched high on a rocky outcrop, symbolizes ancient Greece’s artistic and architectural achievements. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to many significant structures, including the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaia.
To make the most of your Acropolis visit, it’s advisable to arrive early, ideally around 7:30 a.m. Since this attraction opens at 8 a.m., showing up earlier rather than later gives you a better chance of beating both the crowds and the heat.
Additionally, you’ll want to wear comfortable walking shoes and breathable clothing (if you’re visiting in the summer). Note that most tourists at the Acropolis spend between one to two hours perusing this ancient Greek wonder.
After exploring the Acropolis, make your way down the hill to grab an early lunch in the Plaka neighborhood. You’ll visit the Acropolis Museum after lunch, so you’ll likely want to pick a restaurant along your walk between the Acropolis and the museum.
After all, it’s only a 10-minute walk between these two attractions! For example, some popular options along the way are LIONDI Traditional Greek Restaurant, Elaea Dine & Wine, and Greek Stories. Or, if you just want a coffee, try Coffee Island.
The Acropolis Museum, nestled in the shadow of the iconic Acropolis itself, stands as a modern marvel preserving the ancient treasures of Athens. One of its highlights is the Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis.
Here, you’ll find pieces from important sanctuaries that were found on the rocky outcrop where the Acropolis sits, as well as early settler artifacts. The Archaic Gallery takes visitors on a journey through the evolution of Greek sculpture, while the Parthenon Gallery provides space for the sculptures from the Parthenon.
Since you took a food tour of Athens yesterday, we suggest taking a cooking class today for a hands-on experience with Greek cuisine. Learn to make traditional dishes like Tzatziki dip, Spanakopita (Cheese-spinach pie), Moussaka, Dolmadakia, and more.
Day 9: Last full day in Athens
On our last full day in Greece, we’ll knock out some of the final highlights in Athens before your big travel day. We’ll begin by witnessing the famous Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square.
This ceremony takes place every hour, on the hour, throughout the day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Greek Parliament. However, the most elaborate and ceremonial change occurs on Sundays at 11:00 a.m.
Dressed in traditional Evzone uniforms, the ceremonial guards, known as Evzones, perform precise movements and symbolic gestures. Their captivating routine draws both locals and visitors who gather to witness this culturally rich and visually striking tradition.
Then, head to the National Archaeological Museum, a treasure trove of ancient Greek artifacts. Highlights include the Mask of Agamemnon, the Antikythera Mechanism, and the bronze statue of Zeus/Poseidon. Dive into Greece’s rich history and artistry, taking a captivating journey through its archaeological wonders.
After concluding your visit to the museum, plan to grab lunch in the Exarcheia area before heading to the next activity. Exarcheia exudes an unconventional and avant-garde atmosphere, bustling with a youthful crowd and a vibrant community of artists.
On your last day in Athens, we’ll end your trip with a breathtaking city view! This evening, we suggest making your way to the top of Mount Lycabettus, the highest point in the center of Athens.
There are three ways to reach the summit: by cable car, on foot, or by taxi. If you don’t feel like hiking to the top, the cable car runs frequently and costs 10€ per person roundtrip. The ride only takes about three minutes.
For those who want to climb up the hill on foot, the journey can take anywhere between 30-90 minutes, depending on where you start and how many stops you make. Or, you could always take the cable car up and walk down to experience the best of both worlds!
If you’d like to save some time, you can also skip both the hike and cable car and take a taxi from the center. Whatever option you choose, we recommend timing your arrival so you can be at the top for sunset.
Day 10: Athens departure
Depending on your flight time, have free time for last-minute souvenir shopping or additional sightseeing. Then, check out of your Athens hotel and head to the Athens International Airport for your departure. We hope you enjoyed this 10-day Greece itinerary!
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