See the islands of Greece in style on a luxury ferry trip. Tick off bucket list experiences like watching a Santorini sunset and exploring charming villages dotted with bougainvillea.
Athenians escape the summer heat for their island retreats, so visit in late spring or early summer to avoid large crowds. Sit back and relax with a glass of Ouzo (or Raki, its stronger Turkish cousin) while you sail past these beautiful beaches!
1. Visit the Acropolis of Athens
Whether you’re a history buff or not, the Acropolis of Athens is a bucket list must-see. It’s not only a jaw-dropping monument, it’s also a gorgeous example of ancient architecture. The ruins are best seen on an afternoon walking tour or at sunset.
It’s a good idea to avoid the Acropolis at midday when crowds are swollen from cruise ship tours. Likewise, you’ll want to avoid visiting on a holiday weekend or in the fall (September or October).
A great time to visit is spring or autumn, which offers reasonable daytime temperatures and fewer tourists.
Once you’re at the Acropolis, be sure to spend some time wandering around, taking pictures, and admiring the ruins. Try not to rush, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Also, make sure to take a moment to appreciate the majesty of the Parthenon and its marble columns—at one point, they were painted in bright colors that have since faded. Be sure to also check out the Propylaia and Temple of Athena Nike.
2. Explore Ios by Boat
The beautiful island of Ios is a great place to go for a relaxing beach holiday. It has a variety of incredible things to do including hiking, watching breathtaking sunsets and visiting historic sites.
One of the best ways to explore Ios is by boat. You can visit 7 different beaches that are only accessible by boat and have the chance to swim in crystal clear waters, explore shipwrecks and underwater caves, relax on golden beaches, have a snack under the warm Greek sun and enjoy pure summer fun!
Ios also has many scenic walking trails that lead to picturesque beaches, ancient sites and charming chapels. You can also visit the open-air theatre Odysseas Elytis, a marble ancient Greek-style theatre that overlooks Mylopotas Bay. Another highlight of Ios is the traditional windmills that stand in the capital of Chora.
Another popular attraction is Koumpara Beach, which is a gorgeous sandy beach that offers a tranquil atmosphere and is surrounded by blue waters. You can also visit the prehistoric settlement of Skarkos on the north coast of Ios to see amazing ruins of houses, gardens, and temples.
3. Visit Santorini
Santorini’s cliffside villages are the stuff of dreams. From the iconic blue domes of Oia to a hidden cave where you can swim, it’s a one-of-a-kind place that deserves a spot on your Greece bucket list.
For a truly unique experience, take a hot air balloon tour over Santorini at sunrise or sunset! This once-in-a-lifetime activity is sure to create lasting memories.
If you prefer to stay on land, explore Santorini’s inland villages. Wander up to Pyrgos, a tumble of whitewashed lanes clustered around a 16th-century castle, and explore its fortified Byzantine citadel. Wander the shores of Amoudi Bay, a picturesque fishing village where you can find the island’s tastiest seafood.
And don’t forget to indulge in some of Santorini’s most famous treats! Be sure to try a bowl of fresh Greek yogurt, sip on some ouzo (the anise-flavored drink that’s basically synonymous with Greece), and sample the local wine. It’s an unforgettable way to get a taste of Santorini’s rich culture! Aside from its stunning views, Santorini is also known for its world-class wines.
4. Visit Mykonos
When people think of Greek island paradises, Mykonos is often the first name that comes to mind. This party-central island has world-famous beaches, a nonstop nightlife scene, and one-of-a-kind shopping. But the fun doesn’t stop there, and a visit here can be a truly rewarding experience for every traveler.
Take in the sights on a walking tour of Mykonos Town, also known as Chora. The cobbled streets are filled with photo-worthy white houses, and the iconic five windmills loom over this charming area of the island. Wander around and pop into some of the best stores for handmade souvenirs and international brands.
For a bit of culture, visit the Aegean Maritime Museum in a traditional whitewashed building by the harbor. This impressive collection showcases art and sculptures from the island, as well as from nearby Delos and Rhenia. Also in Chora, admire the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani. This large monastery is dedicated to the protectress of Mykonos, and is home to a grand dome as well as a religious museum with embroideries and liturgical vestments.
5. Visit Meteora
If you’re looking for something a bit different from the usual Greek island experience, Meteora is an ideal destination. Known for the large rock slabs that rise from the landscape, it’s also home to monasteries perched atop the cliffs. The six Eastern Orthodox monasteries that balance idyllically on the rocky outcrops are an amazing sight to behold, and their interiors will take you back in time.
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Meteora, as it allows you to explore some of the more hidden monasteries. You can start at Great Meteoron and Varlaam, then head over to Roussanou, Holy Trinity, and St. Nikolaos. It’s a good idea to plan ahead, as some monasteries are closed on certain days.
Make sure you schedule your visit around sunset, as this is when the monasteries are at their most photogenic. Another attraction worth checking out is the Giones ruins and medieval tower, which showcase daily life in the past. And if you have some extra time, stop at the mushroom museum to see over 300 embalmed specimens.