7 day Greece itinerary? Is 7 days in Greece enough?
For the grecophile like me, living in Greece wasn’t enough, but if it’s your first time or one week in Greece is all wrangle from your schedule/line manager – 7 days in Greece is enough to see a good few amazing things! Many people who want 7 days in Greece try to fit everything in – all the mainland and all of the Greek Islands and every museum, as well as all the restaurants. But in a 7 day Greece Itinerary you need to be selective – you can always come back! And don’t worry – you’ll not be lost for what to do in Greece for a week!
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This one week in Greece itinerary is focussing on the mainland with a day of island hopping thrown in and a nice mix between relaxing and the must-see historic sites so there is something for everyone! If you like the layout of this you can get a downloadable and printable version of this 7 Days in Greece Itinerary in your inbox – just click below and sign on up!
Day 1 Arrive Athens
$ – $$$ as much or as little as you like! Grab a few coffees and a gyro for dinner and you’ll spend very little, or go on a food tour and have a sit-down dinner and treat yourself! You can spend today planning the things you really want to see in Athens, Lonely Planet have just released a Pocket Athens Guide which is available in paper back OR as an ebook!
If you have a few hours in Athens…
The first day you arrive in Athens I always recommend getting settled into the hotel and learning your way around a little while! Leave your hotel and head into the tourist centre, you can visit Plaka and window shop – don’t make your souvenir decisions yet though! Make a note of things you like and pay attention to the gift shops as you go along this trip. Too many times I have rushed to buy the first iteration of a cool thing, only to find it at a better price later in the trip. I always recommend the first thing to do in a city is to find a coffee shop and people watch for a while – this is especially good activity in Athens as the crowds are so varied and the coffee so excellent.
If you have a whole day in Athens…
I recommend combining the ‘few hours’ option with a more structured general Greek experience. You could search out some key dishes that you want to try or wander until something catches your eye.
Athens Travel Tip: don’t be hassled into a restaurant, this is a very common practice ‘hey mister you look hungry, you want a souvlaki?’, ‘lovely lady and man come and see my menu guys?’, ‘is cheaper here, you should definitely eat here!’. It can be a really odd experience the first time this happens but generally Greek waiters get more in tourist tips than wages, so don’t be rude to them just keep walking. Unless (of course) you really want to go to the restaurant! You have a whole
On of my absolute favourite things to do in Greece … well anywhere really… is to eat.
I recommend doing a food tour at the beginning of your trip because this gives you the chance to figure out some of the national flavours and try some things you may not usually be brave enough to! I took a food tour the first time I visited Athens and without this I would never have tried many things that I now consider to be favourites of mine without the encouragement of my tour guide. There are some amazing tours on offer and exploring a new city while eating is basically heaven!
Day 2 Athens – Famous Archaeological Sites in Athens
$$ buying the tickets into the sites can add up, but we have a tip for that!
Morning: Acropolis and New Acropolis Museum
Lunch: so many places in Plaka to choose from, or you could treat yourself and eat in the museum restaurant – I recommend the baked feta <3
Afternoon: Ancient Agora (don’t miss the Stoa of Attlos!) and The Temple to The Olympian Zeus.
Dinner: Head back into Plaka or venture to Psyrri or Monastriaki for a sit-down meal or grab a gyro from one of the many (many) stands and wander the streets! The street art in Psyrri in particular is spectacular.
Today is your first chance to really dig into Athens and the historical sites she has to offer. My recommendation – if you actually want to climb the acropolis – is to go early. And I mean EARLY. The gates open at 8am and if you are in Athens at the height of summer, you’ll want to be in early for two reasons – one very large and one very numerous. The sun. and the crowds. I like hiking up early because it’s exercise and I don’t want to do that when I’m tired from a day of walking.
The New Acropolis museum is a world class museum and deserves as much praise and respect at the British Museum in London. The artefacts and the way they are displayed, along with the fantastic information and temporary exhibits make this an absolute must in my opinion – if you only see one museum in Athens see this one!
Now if you wanted to skip the line for the acropolis or the museum you could buy an all in one “Skip The Line” tour– but keep in mind only specially licensed guides are allowed into the sites so these are often more expensive.
That ticket tip I mentioned: The other option is to buy a 30-euro (accurate as of March 2019) multi attraction pass at the acropolis gate. The ‘big ticket’ includes one off entry to six different sites and is valid for 5 consecutive days, so hang on to it for the rest of your trip! This includes entry to the acropolis, Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Kerimaikos (and its accompanying museum), the Temple to the Olympian Zeus, and The Archaeological Site of Lykeion.
Out of those six I would suggest that the ancient agora is a must and that the temple to the Olympian Zeus is probably the most impressive for the general tourist (if you’re a history buff then the kerimaikos is amazing!). Is the big ticket worth it? Only if you intend on using it. If you are going to see the acropolis and at least 2 other sites, then cost wise I say yes. If you just want to see the acropolis then just pay the single fee – and remember to bring your student card if you’re a European!
Day 3 Island Hopping Day
Time for a break from ancient ruins and get some island life in! There are a few islands within day tripping distance from Athens, and you really can spend as much or as little as you’d like. You can jump on the metro and see what ferry is cheapest to which island that day and spend less than 30 euros on the tickets – or grab a $2000 private yacht and live it up!
The popular options for an island trip from Athens are Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. They each have their own charms. Hydra is the furthest from Athens and has one main port, and is unique in this area in that there are no vehicles allowed! The inhabited area is so small that you can walk everywhere. There are several very nice beaches as well as some awesome museums and historical buildings.
Poros has some impressive history with ruins from antiquity to the present day. There are neoclassical buildings and ancient ruins close enough to see both as well as amazing soft sand beaches with beautiful clear water.
Aegina is the closest island of these three and boasts some incredible hilltop ruins, a stunning cathedral, and – you guessed it – some lovely beaches.
These islands are fan favourites as well as a local weekend break staple for Athenians thanks to their ease of access. You can organise yourself to visit the Saronic Islands by taking high speed ferries or hydrofoil, but these prices are variable – you might get a good deal or you may pay more. The full day cruises you can book are quite full on, as you do see all three islands with some free time on each.
When I was in Athens in 2017, we headed over to Salamis and had an incredible day, we sipped frappe and nibbled on fried potatoes – then had the biggest seafood dinner I’ve seen in a long time. The challenge here was that the tourist infrastructure isn’t great – there aren’t a lot of busses and everything is quite far apart. I speak a little Greek so I was able to talk to more people and navigate our taxi to a beach we wanted to visit. The attendants at the beach didn’t speak very much English and if I didn’t have my Greek it would have been a lot more stressful! However, for the nerds amongst us, Salamis played an important historical role in the Persian wars in the Fifth Century BCE and I have wanted to visit for this reason for a decade. So, if you want a quieter trip to a lesser visited island check out Salamis.
Day 4 Day Trip To Delphi
Delphi is one of those places that is naturally beautiful, with incredible ruins, a great museum, as well as an insanely important history. Delphi was the ‘ompholos’ (bonus points for excellent sounding Greek word) which means belly button – it was the centre of the ancient world in a lot of ways. Kings would consult on wars and matters of state on the same day a local may ask which person to marry, or if they should buy more livestock. You can jump on a KTEL bus which is cheap but takes about 5 hours each way – so charge that phone and take a book!
You could also choose to take an organised tour there, these are very common and most will pick you up from your hotel and include a tour of the site – any maybe even lunch! If you are feeling like one day isn’t enough there are many 2-day tours which allow you to include the amazing Meteora in your visit.
Meteora is one of the most unique places in the world, monasteries and convents built atop towering monoliths by people without electricity or machines. These structures would be epic-ly difficult to build even today – the historic effort is all the more incredible. Modified very slightly to allow visitors – there are lots of steps!
Note for those with mobility issues: when I say a lot of stairs, I mean a lot. Many of these are completely inaccessible to those in a wheelchair and very difficult for those who use crutches or other walking supports. Thousands of uneven steps carved directly into the stone of the monoliths provide access to most of the monasteries. Aigos Stefanos however is the most accessible, there are no steps and they have a platform to go up and down levels. The only issue is the bathrooms which are down a small flight of stairs.
These monasteries, aside form the physical feat of building a thing in such challenging conditions, are beautiful. The wall paintings inside are breath-taking and the internal architecture is wonderful. But no superlative could quite prepare me for the views. The natural landscape is an image that has stayed with me for years and I can still – clearly – rant and rave about the beauty to be found in Meteora.
You can organise bus tickets through KTEL to do an overnight trip yourself, and there are lots of amazing places to stay in Delphi as well as Meteora.
Meteora Accommodation Tip: You can’t stay up near the monasteries, so you need to stay in the surrounding area called Kalabaka. There is transport, taxis, and hikes up to the monasteries themselves.
Day 5 Options – Sites and Museums, Beach, or a Hike
If you haven’t chosen to head further north and include Meteora in your trip, you can choose your day today!
The multi-site ticket for Athens is still valid so if there are any things you missed that you still wanted to see then this is a perfect opportunity. If you’re feeling more like a beach day then there are a couple of options for beaches in Athens and its surrounds. There are plenty of beaches to choose from depending on your willingness to travel – and in some luxury cases pay.
Astir Vouliagmeni is a beautiful luxury beach about an hour from Athens on public transport, it is gorgeous and regarded as an absolutely hot spot in summer. Getting in will cost you up to 28 euros, for this price you’ll access to the beautiful beach along with its luxury facilities including Wi-Fi on the beach. One of the things you’re paying for here is the attention paid to the beach and its upkeep – no more than 1,000 people are allowed at this beach at any one time. If you’ve ever been trapped between warring towels on popular beaches in summer, you’ll know what a delight this is. You can book in advance to reserve your spot, otherwise I would suggest showing up early to avoid being told there’s no umbrella for you! With sunset views you can stay on the beach until then, and the restaurant is open until midnight. For those not wanting to spend the whole day on the beach there is a lovely 6th century BCE temple to of Apollo Zoster was unearthed in the 1920’s, as well as plenty of boutique shops to peruse.
For those not wanting to pay for access to a beach you can head in the same direction to Megalo Kavouri, just over an hour from Athens. Here there are sunbeds if you want them but equally free spots along the beach as well. Much less popular than the glam Astir (just 20 reviews on Trip Advisor in March 2019 vs Astir with 400+!) you can be sure of a quieter – and much cheaper – day here.
If chilling out on beaches aren’t for you today you can easily spend a full day hiking the hills in and around Athens. Mt Lycabettus is about 300 meters above sea level and is a reasonably tough climb, I declined the challenge in 2017 due to my back pain. Instead we took the funicular to the top where there is a chapel, restaurant, and one of the most stunning views of Athens you can get. Mt Lycabettus won’t take you a whole day but you can make it part of your day hiking around Athens, the other decent walk in Athens is up to Philopappos Hill – there is a monument as well as great views
If you’re happy to venture out of Athens for your hiking goals and have access to a car you can head about 45-60 minutes north of Athens to visit the amazing Parnitha national park which has many hiking trails that look out over gorgeous mountains. If you don’t have access to a car there is always the option of taking an organised tour out to the mountain, this particular tour is an easy three hour hike covering 6km (3.7 miles).
Day 6 Cape Sunion for sunset drive
This was a day I had been meaning to have in Greece for a really long time – and I FINALLY managed to get it done in 2017! There are some very affordable rental companies working in Greece, though I always think using a comparison website will help you get the best deal for car hire. I found some great deals online – for example when I did a quick search for mid-July day hires on www.arguscarhire.com and found a day long rental of a compact car for 36 euros!
I would just say make sure that you’re actually allowed to drive legally in Greece – if you need an international driver licence then make sure you get one. It isn’t so complicated and isn’t so expensive but it is being requested more and more often by police in Greece. Not only that but travel insurance – and often business insurance – won’t pay out in the event of a collision involving a *technically* unlicensed driver, so that only leaves you to be liable. Just because you’ve found a rental place that will rent to you without the right licence doesn’t mean you should take them up on that offer.
With this in mind, find a car rental service that you trust and head out of Athens. We followed our satnav out of the city and slightly north, we toured around a few villages and towns stopping occasionally for coffee or views. Then we jumped on to the main road out to Sounion for sunset. Even though Poseidon stole my phone, the cape is breathtakingly beautiful. Standing on that outcrop you can understand why the Greeks wanted to honour the god of the sea here, to appease him. The sunset is indeed beautiful but I love the way the setting sun casts gorgeous shadows and changed the colour of the ancient stone. If you don’t want to head back to Athens straight away there are many restaurants in the town below and plenty of places to stop.
I am a pretty brave driver, I’ve driven everything from a tiny hatchback to an 18-foot transit van and everything in between. Driving in Athens is not for the feint of heart, it is pretty hectic and there isn’t always the logic you might find in your home town. Essentially, I would say that so long as you are a competent driver who doesn’t panic on the road, you’ll be fine driving in Greece.
However, if you don’t want to drive yourself there are plenty of options for tours! While I would definitely say that the sunset is amazing, I don’t think you HAVE to be there for sunset in order to appreciate the site or how gorgeous it is. So, if you can’t time it perfectly then don’t stress too much – it is definitely still worth doing!
Day 7 Last Day in Athens
I rarely advise people to do anything big on the final day because I’m just too paranoid. I always see what time I need to be at the airport, add my travel time, and add an hour of ‘of-course-this-happens-today’ leeway time. Once this time is solid, make sure that you’re ready to jump into action – check out of your room, leave your luggage in the storage room if you’ve got one, and head somewhere close to have a relaxing last day in one of the greatest cities on earth. Wander around Psyrri looking at the street art, go back to that coffee shop you found that you loved, and fit in that one last site or museum you don’t want to miss. But relax, Greece has been here for thousands of years – you can always come back again.
If organizing it all yourself seems too daunting, why not check out an organised tour with G Adventures? They have amazing socially and environmentally sustainable tours for heaps of age ranges as well as budgets. Check out G Adventures Greece Trips Here