Best of Greece in a Week

As a country of irresistible food, strong coffee, ancient ruins, stunning islands, and regarded as one of the cradles of Western civilisation, Greece never ceases to fascinate. Take your time here to really enjoy the views and the history.

If you only have couple of days or a week here, you may want to customise your trip. We can certainly help you with that. To jump start your imagination, you may consider a popular option for a week in Greece, spending a day in Athens upon arrival and then heading out to the Greek islands by ferry or flight. Another commonly recommended option is a road trip to explore the ancient history and mythology of mainland Greece. Or, experience the Greek islands on a yacht. No matter which itinerary you choose, Greece is going to leave a deep footprint in your memories.

While Greece covers a relatively small amount of land in comparison with some other neighbours, it’s a huge country when it comes to the richness of its culture and history. In our past articles, we’ve explored some of the gems in Greece – this can add more flavour to your bucket list.

We’ve put together some of the best destinations in Greece if you only have a week to help you plan your next Mediterranean holiday.

Athens: Hidden Away City Gems

Athens is the birthplace of democracy and home to some truly epic archaeological sites. And this is why many people keep coming back to this grand city. Athens is also infused with little gems.

Before you head out for a long day of exploration and history learning, enjoy your breakfast at the Acropolis Museum’s second-floor restaurant. Inside or on its vast terrace with the Parthenon in full view, you can graze on the likes of fried eggs and Thracian prosciutto, mini-pancakes with grape molasses, full cream Greek yogurt with thyme honey and seasonal fruits, among other treats.

Remember, you don’t need to visit the whole museum to enjoy the restaurant – just ask for a free admission ticket from the ticket desk.

If you are exploring Athens in summer, be sure to catch a movie under the Athenian sky in numerous parks and on terraces all around the city. The classic go-to spot is Cine Aegli, tucked inside the lush and historic Zappion Garden – it’s the oldest summer cinema in Athens has been in operation since 1903. This is a well-known cinema for its old world charm, verdant garden and delicious snacks.

Outdoor movies watching turns into a national obsession during the Athens Open Air Film Festival – special parts of the city, archaeological sites, parks, squares, beaches and some of Athens’ most beautiful museums transform into open air cinemas with free public access.

From the Parthenon, National Archaeological Museum, former Royal Palace and today Prime Minister’s residence, the temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, the Parliament and the tomb of the unknown soldier guarded by the colourful Evzones to Herodion and Dionysos theatre, our guided tour in Athens will take you back in time. But we also love uncovering local gems that are lesser known back at home, in Australia.

Visit Melissinos Art -The Poet Sandal Maker shop – this is an actual sandals maker and shop in Athens established by a local celebrity poet Stavros Melissinos who touched the feet of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Sophia Loren, Jackie Kennedy, Rudolph Nureyev, Margo Fontaine, Anthony Quinn, George Pappard, Ursula Andress, and Gary Cooper among others as he fitted them for his sandals. His son, Pantelis Melissinos, continues the legacy of poetry and sandal making.

Delphi: Traveling Back in Time

On the western slopes of Mt Elikonas, just outside Distomo village is the stunning monastery of Hosios Loukas (St Luke). The large walled complex contains two adjoining churches, one of which is the 10th century Church of the Theotokos, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, adjoining it the Katholikon cathedral, built in 1011. Walking around the monastery feels like making a trip back in time.

The most popular stop in Delphi is of course the UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Site of Delphi. Considered to be one of the most stunning archaeological sites in the world, you will need at least 3 hours to explore it. If you don’t feel like walking amongst the ruins you can fly above. That’s right, you can actually paraglide over the ancient temple of Apollo, the archaeological sites and admires the olive tree-laced valley from above. The activity is organised by professional instructors, and beginners can also participate. The flight lasts 20-30 minutes and you can even take a video, to re-live it later again.

The Delphi Theatre, designed to stage lyrical and dramatic productions, was cut out of the hillside overlooking the temple of Apollo during the 6th century BC, probably to replace an earlier wooden theatre. The theatre presented the seated audience with a spectacular view of the entire sanctuary below and the valley beyond. With 35 rows of seats the theater had a capacity of about 5,000 spectators. On the walls of the entrances engraved many inscriptions. The paved with slabs orchestra is surrounded by sewage stone tube for the waters of the koilon (auditorium).

Kalambaka: a Spiritual Journey

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second biggest monastery. It is located opposite of the Great Meteoro Monastery and it was founded by the ascetic named Varlaam. He built three churches, a small cell and a water tank. After his death the rock remained abandoned for about 200 years. In 1517/1518 the two monks Theophanes and Nektarios Apsarades reached the rock establishing the monastery.

The monastery also houses an important collection of relics, intricately carved wooden crosses, icons, embroidered epitaphoi and many other ecliastical treasures. It also contains frescos by the well-known post Byzantine iconographer Frangos Katelanos. Keep in mind that the monastery is open from 9am to 1pm and then from 3:30 to 6pm. It is closed on Fridays.

There are several active monasteries in Kalambaka and there are numerous ruined and abandoned monasteries scattered across the area – hiking is amazing here. You can join a guided hike through Meteora’s Rock Forest. The first thing that strikes many about the landscape here is the towering rock formations which geologists believe were made by extreme weathering and the waters of a prehistoric sea. However, you are welcome to prefer the tale of Greek gods playing games and pushing their fingers through the earth to create the rocky pillars we see today – it just makes it so much more magical.

Meteora: Mystical Views

Serene, spiritual, magical, mystical, extraordinary, breathtaking, immense, inspiring, impressive – these are only some of the words people very often use in an effort to describe Meteora.

The Great Meteoro Monastery was founded by Saint Athanasios the Meteorite who was the first founder of the monastery and the organizer of the systematic koenovion. For this reason, the foundation of this monastery is considered to be a turning point, or even better, the beginning of the organized monasticism in Holy Meteora. Like a medieval skyscraper, it towers 613m above sea level on a sandstone column and is the oldest of all the monasteries built there. The unique location of the monasteries, which were built on high sandstone cliffs seeming to float on foggy days, is fascinating in itself. It’s a view to die for!

In fact, the views is what makes many brave up to climb some 400 meters above the town of Kalampaka, through an ancient curved path up on the rock of Great Saint, a huge rock complex, of which thousands of years ago it was an integral part of the formidable ancient fortifications of the town below. Once you reach the top you will enjoy unparallel breathtaking views that you will remember forever!

Piraeus: Former Military Port

Piraeus is the entryway to Greece for so many travelers who cruise into Athens and a port access to Mykonos. For non-cruise travelers, Piraeus is a quick metro ride from the Athens city center. It is also the hub for ferries that depart for the Greek islands. If you have time before or after you sail off, you’ll find Piraeus can be a very authentic kind of place in Greece to explore.

Zea Harbour was one of the Athenian war ports in Piraeus, but now the large, round harbor is perfectly placid. Also known as Pasalimani, Zea is the leisure harbor today, where the most luxurious and expensive yachts moor. It has a pleasing seafront filled with bars, stores, restaurants and terraces. It is one of the bustling areas here. Also, the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus is a great attraction worth visiting if you are wondering around Piraeus.

The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus collection was first assembled in 1935 and then housed in the present two-storey building in 1966. The curators, having faith in the artefacts rather than any fancy pyrotechnics in their display, have arranged the objects in simple chronological order A little word of warning here – as the start of this journey through time starts on the upper floor it then continues all the way to the ground floor – many history buffs can really appreciate the size of this assemblage.

About 8km away from the centre of Piraeus lies a stunning Kaisariani Monastery. It’s thought that a shrine to the goddess Aphrodite once stood here among the pine-clad slopes of Mount Hymettos and that the first Christian church to be built here in the fifth century was constructed over the remains of her temple.

Interestingly, the monastery was also dedicated to a female (the Virgin Mary) when it was first built in the 11th century. Its small size belies its success, as it remained an important Orthodox religious enclave even during Ottoman times.

Mykonos: Lazy Seaside Dinners

The famous city of Mykonos is known for amazing beaches, unique night-life and lazy seaside dinners. Take your time to wonder around. Discover many recognized landmarks and uncover something new. The best way to explore Mykonos is on foot – just stroll through the streets, taste food, explore markets, little shops and maybe make a few local friends. It’s a truly joyful experience here.

The windmills are among the most recognized sights of the island and one of the most famous Mykonos attractions along with Little Venice. For many centuries the mills used to refine grain with the help of the high winds that blow on the island. Only seven of them have been preserved. We highly recommend that you walk up the hill in Chora and visit the windmill of Boni that is now a museum.

If you still have energy after a long day exploring Mykonos, visit the Mykonos Vioma Organic Farm for a wine tasting accompanied by traditional Mykonian products, cheeses (kopanisti, ladotyro), rusks, hams (loutza) and the Greek salad. Maybe evn some traditional music and singing!

Santorini: Discover The Lost Atlantis

In Mykonos you can catch the local high-speed ferry to Santorini. Take your time and really enjoy exploring the magical island of Santorini. Here you’ll discover Fira and Oia, its 2 principal towns that cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera and offer breathtaking views to the volcano. You may like to explore Santorini’s unique beaches in exotic colours of black, red, and white, a product of their volcanic sand. If you’re a foodie then you’ll love the cuisine here, which boasts extraordinary ingredients thanks to nutrient-rich volcanic soil.

Did you know that vineyards in Santorini are the oldest in the country? The history of wine cultivation goes back to prehistoric times when it appears to have been brought into the Aegean by Phoenician merchants. Excavations in Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on the volcanic island, have revealed vases and amphorae which confirm commercial transactions dealing with wine in before the eruption of the volcano. Not only is the Santo Winery one of the recommended spots to catch a stunning Santorini sunset, but you can also get a Greek wine education by doing an 18-wine tasting flight. That’s right, eighteen different wines served with cheese and a spectacular view.

This 9km hike, which connects the towns of Fira and Oia, has been called the most scenic in Santorini. The walk should take about 3 hours to complete, depending on how many pit stops you make along the way. Be sure to wear proper shoes as the path has some cobbled stones and loose gravel areas. When you arrive in Oia, reward yourself with a nice lunch or cocktail…or both.

Around 2,000 years ago, a catastrophic volcanic eruption consumed Santorini causing the middle of the island to disappear into the ocean below, with the island long assumed to be the home of the legend of Atlantis. Plato claimed that this story was passed on to him by the Egyptians and that it was true. However, the location of Atlantis, and whether or not it ever existed, remains a mystery. Just like any other mystery, many people wish to solve it. Therefore, many researchers, scientists and mystery enthusiasts have sought Atlantis for centuries. Some have concluded that the island of Santorini is a very likely location for the lost island of Atlantis. Truth be told, there are many similarities between Santorini and Plato’s description of Atlantis.

The Volcanic eruption was one of the biggest eruptions in the world and happened around 1,600 BC. Not only did it cause a vast majority of the island of Thera (the big island that once was Santorini) to sink beneath the ocean, it left a huge crater that formed the vast cliffs on Santorini – leading to many assumptions about this being the home of Atlantis. Expore Akrotiri Archaeological site and decide for yourself whether Santorini is the long lost city.

If you want help planning your Greek holiday, just reach out to us on 1800 242 353 or chat live online.