Europe

How to Cruise Around Greece in a Week

The hashtag #nofilterneeded must have been invented in Greece. The sapphire blue water views, ancient ruins, and gorgeous villages make Greece one of the most desirable places in the world to visit.

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There are very few places in the world that look as surreal in person as it does in photos. Greece is definitely one of those places.

If you have a week worth of PTO and are looking for a place to go, then this should be your destination. Greece is the perfect place to visit for relaxation, adventure, and incredible views.

The best part about visiting Greece is that it won’t break the bank, in fact, you’ll be shocked at how inexpensive everything is. And to top it off, the people that you encounter are as nice as can be.

We visited Greece for our honeymoon back in May 2015 and couldn’t have picked a better place. We’re going to share our favorite places and suggestions to make the most out of your mini vacay in Greece.


Greece in a Week: Travel Tips, Suggested Itinerary, & Transportation

 GREECE TIPS

  • Weather conditions change quickly. We went in May and it was extremely hot with the sun beating down, even for us Floridians. It was pretty chilly during the morning and night with no sun, and the breeze coming off the ocean. So bring light outerwear, sunscreen, and maybe even an umbrella for the rain or shine.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking and many of the streets are made of cobblestone. Keep in mind there are quite a few steps throughout the villages as well.
  • Play it safe in Athens. As with any big city, be aware of your surroundings. We were informed not to wear our jewelry when walking around town. You will want to take the same precautions with backpacks and cameras.
  • If you can extend your time in Santorini, do it! This island is just one of a kind and was the highlight of our trip. It didn’t even feel that touristy. You just feel like you are in paradise and there is so much to do and see.
  • Multiple forms of currency are accepted. This includes euro, credit cards, Greece drachma (1 USD = 297 GRD), and US dollars. We were surprised by this, but it made it very convenient.

 

SUGGESTED GREECE ITINERARY

After planning a wedding and buying a house, the last thing we wanted to do was plan a trip too. So we booked a Greek cruise and called it a day.

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Although we took a cruise to each island we visited, you can easily travel by ferry. So we didn’t provide a timeline for this trip in case you decide to extend your stay in each location. Here is our suggested itinerary for a week in Greece whether you are cruising by ship or ferry:

Athens

  1. Dinner at a rooftop restaurant
  2. See/visit the Acropolis

Santorini

  1. Fira
  2. Oia (ee-ah)
  3. Visit a local winery
  4. Mt. Prophet Elijah
  5. Panagia Episkopi Church
  6. Black Sand Beach (Kamari)

Crete (Heraklion)

  1. Knossos Palace
  2. Lions Square
  3. Harborside & Heraklion Fortress

Rhodes/Lindos

  1. Lindos Village
  2. The Acropolis of Lindos
  3. Palace of the Grand Masters
  4. Rhodes Old Town & Street of Knights
  5. Mandraki Harbor & Colossus of Rhodes

 

ATHENS

We flew into Athens and stayed there one night before boarding our ship the next day. This gave us a little bit of time to explore the city and honestly that was all we needed. We wouldn’t recommend staying too long in Athens as it is a major city. Plus all of the pictures you see of Greece with the beautiful landscapes are usually from the surrounding Greek islands.

We stayed at the magnificent King George in the city center so it made it easy to walk to all of the shopping and restaurants. We could even see the Acropolis from the top of our hotel.

Dinner at a Rooftop Restaurant

We ate at the Tudor Hall restaurant on the rooftop of our hotel and had an amazing view overlooking the city and Acropolis. The view was absolutely incredible and the food was also unforgettable.

We highly recommend eating here or another rooftop restaurant when visiting Athens so you can see the Acropolis lit up at night.

Acropolis

A UNESCO world heritage site and classic symbol of ancient Greek architecture and culture, this is a must-see in Athens.

Thankfully, we could see it perfectly from our hotel rooftop so we decided not to tour it in person. However, Viator has some great tour options that include the Acropolis and even other important sites. Most of the archeological sites are outside the city center and even the city, so it would be nice to have transportation and a knowledgeable guide to show you around if you extend your stay in Athens.

 

SANTORINI

This has to be one of our favorite places we have ever visited. The panoramic views of the ocean and cliffside villages are just stunning. We both agreed we would definitely go back to Greece just to stay in Santorini.

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In order to get on the island, we had to take tender boat from our cruise ship to the port in Athinios since we booked an excursion. Apparently, those who book excursions are given priority to tender to the dock.

If you are traveling by cruise ship, then we would recommend booking an excursion so you can be one of the first to tender and make the most out of your time in Santorini. If traveling by ferry, then it looks you would also dock in Athinios. Then you would take either a taxi or port bus up to Fira.

Oia (ee-ah)

Famous for its colorful cliffside homes and blue-domed churches, this village should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is about 7 miles from Fira and can be accessed via taxi or bus. In Fira, there is a central bus terminal with buses going to Oia frequently for pretty cheap.

The sunsets in Oia are rumored to be some of the best in the world. Since we took a cruise ship, we watched the sunset from the ship. However, if you are staying in Santorini, then you should definitely go to Oia to watch the sunset.

Oia is quieter than Fira and does not have as much shopping and nightlife. It is ideal if you are just looking to relax and enjoy the view.

Visit a Local Winery

We visited the scenic Santo Winery on our excursion. We were greeted with wines to taste and small bites to eat. We ordered another wine flight and grabbed a table overlooking the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

Inside, they have a large retail shop with tons of great products for gifts or souvenirs. It is definitely a busier winery, but the view is unbeatable.

There are plenty of other wineries in Santorini if you want to visit more than one or a winery that is a little more low-key.

Mt. Prophet Elijah

This is the highest point in Santorini and a great spot for panoramic photos. There is also a lovely monastery that you can visit. This stop was included in our excursion, but it is recommended you go early to avoid tours if you are traveling without one.

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Panagia Episkopi Church

Built in the 12th century, this beautiful little church features iconic Byzantine frescos. You also get a gorgeous view of Kamari.

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Again, this was included with our cruise ship excursion, but you can visit is separately. Just like Mt. Prophet Elijah, you will want to get there early to avoid big crowds if you are not with a tour.

Black Sand Beach in Kamari

This is a pretty beach to visit and see the black volcanic rock. Make sure you wear good footwear to walk on the rocks since they get extremely hot in the sun and can be uncomfortable to walk on. There are also wooden planks for you to walk on to avoid this.

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Fira

You can start in the main square known as Plateia Theotokopoulou. There are a ton of shops and restaurants throughout the city. We enjoyed checking out the specialty shops, local bars, and restaurants while taking in the amazing ocean views. Keep in mind that some restaurants are closed in November.

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We didn’t stay overnight in Santorini since we took a cruise, but supposedly Fira has an active nightlife scene, and has more things to do than Oia. So if you are looking for a busier scene, then you may want to stay in Fira rather than Oia.

Sadly when it is time to leave Santorini, you will most likely leave out of Fira. You can take a cable car, donkey ride, or walk down to the dock to board a tender back to a cruise ship. You will definitely have to be patient with this process as there is no easy way to get down.

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The line for the cable car is typically very long and you can wait up to 60 minutes in the sweltering sun. On the other hand, you can walk down the winding cobblestone road, but be prepared to dodge donkey s*!t the entire way down. We just didn’t feel right riding the donkeys down, but this is another option if you choose.

Once you get to the bottom, it is another hassle to get on a tender. We decided not to fight our way to board the tender or wait in the long line, so we sat a local café and enjoyed a beer while waiting for the line to die down. It was definitely the way to go!

CRETE (HERAKLION)

 Knossos Palace

This is a very fascinating archaeological site that you should definitely check out while in Crete. It is probably best to go with a tour to learn about the history of the ruins. Our tour took about 1.5 hours in total.

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It was extremely hot and we used an umbrella to hide from the sun as there is very little shade. Make sure to bring sunscreen and wear comfortable shoes.

Lions Square

This is where the Morosini fountain is located and the center of all the shopping and cafes. It is a great meeting spot and place to people watch while grabbing a drink or bite to eat at one of the local cafes.

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Harborside & Heraklion Fortress

One of our most memorable experiences in Crete was here. The view of all the boats in the harbor and the jetty out to Heraklion Fortress is not a view to be missed. You can also buy beautifully painted shells from local vendors to take home as a souvenir.

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Off to the left is the Venetian style fortress that was built to guard the city. It is closed to visitors (or at least at the time this was written) but you can still take great pictures of the fortress from the harbor.

RHODES/LINDOS

You have to go to the island of Rhodes when visiting Greece. Hands down, it is a must! There is so much to do and see on this beautiful island.

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It is the largest of the Greek islands and was important trade and seaport for centuries. Due to it’s desirable location, Rhodes has been conquered multiple times by different cultures and did not officially become part of Greece until the 1940s.

After visiting Rhodes, we can definitely see why so many countries wanted to conquer it. We fell in love with this island and would go back in a heartbeat.

Lindos Village

Lindos is a jaw-dropping village on the island of Rhodes and it is home to the Acropolis of Lindos.

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You can explore the cobblestone paths through the village on your way up to the Acropolis. There are tons of specialty shops to look at and the beautiful church of Panagia that towers above the village.

The Acropolis of Lindos

This was one of the highlights of our trip. You won’t believe your eyes when you get the top and see the ancient ruins and the torquoise blue waters in the background.

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From the top, you can see the heart-shaped bay of Agios Pavlos beach. Since we were on a tour, we didn’t have the opportunity to swim at the beach, but would have loved to. It is definitely on our list for next time.

Palace of the Grand Masters

Located in Rhodes Old Town, this powerful structure was built in the Medieval times to guard the city and grand master.

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We definitely recommend taking a tour to learn more about the history of this iconic structure.

Rhodes Old Town & Street of Knights

Such a cool part of Rhodes and a great place to shop. There are rows of different stores and shops to visit as you make your way down to the harbor.

Mandraki Harbor & Colossus of Rhodes

Take a dip in the harbor after a long day of touring and view the original location of the Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus was a giant statue that marked the entrance of the harbor and was believed to be destroyed by an earthquake over 2,000 years ago. There are tentative plans to redirect the giant statue which is said to have been bigger than the Statue of Liberty.

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GETTING AROUND GREECE

There are many cruise lines that visit Greece. This definitely took out the stress of having to keep repacking our bags and the inconvenience of traveling during the day. It was really nice to go to bed and wake up at a new Greek island every day of the trip. However, you can probably save money and avoid large group tours by traveling on ferry.

There are pros and cons to each method so you just have to figure out what is a deal breaker and go with the best alternative. For us it was the cruise since we just got married and didn’t want to do a lot of planning. Next time, I think we will travel by ferry though so we can stay longer at our favorite spots.

 GREECE SUMMARY

1st Place:  Oia (ee-ah), Fira, Lindos Village, The Acropolis of Lindos, Dinner at a rooftop restaurant in Athens, Heraklion Fortress & Portside

2nd Place: Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes Old Town, Street of Knights, Mt. Prophet Elijah, Lions Square

3rd Place: Black Sand Beach in Kamari, Panagia Episkopi Church, Knossos Palace

Saved for next time: Take a sunset cruise in Santorini, Swim at Agios Pavlos Beach (Saint Paul)

 

Heading to Greece for a mini vacation? We would love to hear about your plans!

 

 

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