Your Perfect Greece in 7 Days Itinerary: Athens & Islands

Santorini Greece white buildings and the blue sea
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Looking to plan the perfect Greece itinerary – 7 days in the buzzing metropolis of Athens with time spent in the two most popular islands of Santorini and Mykonos? 

Here’s your full guide to one week in Greece  – based on my experience of living in and traveling around the country for more than a year!  

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Planning Your 7 Day Trip to Greece

This Athens – Santorini – Mykonos itinerary has plenty of room for improvisation, of course. It assumes you’re arriving in, and departing from, Athens – because most of you probably are. And it assumes you want to do some Greece island hopping – because most of you probably do! 

And of course, be sure to check out the best time of year to travel to Greece before planning your trip so you go at the perfect time!

With this Greece in 7 days itinerary, I’ll help you hit the two most popular islands of Santorini and Mykonos (yes, it’s also a Greece islands itinerary!) and spend time in the underrated but absolutely delightful city of Athens as well. 

Related: The Best Month to Visit Greece

Greece 7 Days Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens 

As you roll off your flight and into the bright Greek sunshine, welcome! You’re about to embark on a trip in one of the best countries ever. You’re likely landing in Athens so that’s where this Greece one week itinerary will begin. 

While Athens doesn’t have the best reputation, it’s the city I call home most often in my digital nomad life and one that I have grown to love deeply. It’s a bit worn around the edges, and the traffic is terrible, and the graffiti is everywhere – but that just means the authentic Greek experiences are close at hand. 

Shake off that plane grime with a stroll to the Acropolis – a must-do for any first time in Greece visitor or experienced traveler. Do avoid the middle of the day if the weather is warm, because there’s no shade on the hill but plenty of crowds. 

A freddo cappuccino at a cafe in Athens Greece

If you’re craving a freddo espresso (iced espresso – so delicious) or a cold beer and a delicious lunch with a view, you must head to the Acropolis Museum before or after your visit to the Acropolis – it’s right across the street from the main entrance. Their shady rooftop cafe has beautiful views, a cool breeze, and lovely food and drink options. 

The museum itself is well worth a visit too. You can learn all about the history of the Acropolis hill, see the ruins of the temples that have been rescued, and lots of beautiful statues found on the site as well. If you aren’t interested in the museum, you can enter just the cafe for free. 

You can walk around the entire Acropolis if your legs still need a stretch – the pedestrian pathway is beautiful and always bustling. 

When you’re ready for dinner, Athens has no shortage of options.

  • ManiMani is just a few blocks away from the Acropolis museum and the food is incredibly delicious and beautiful, serving food from the Mani region of Greece. This is some of the best food I’ve had in Athens! (and the servers are so nice). 
  • Black Duck is centrally located and has a beautiful garden to dine in, as well as modern Greek dishes and a great wine and cocktail list.
  • And Meat the Greek has incredible gyros and souvlaki for cheap – great to fuel up on the go and on a budget. 

After dinner, it’s time to sample a little Athenian nightlife! heteroclito has a huge variety of Greek wines and friendly staff who will guide you through the options. If you want something young and happening, you can’t go wrong with six d.o.g.s in Psyrri. And The Clumsies is a renowned cocktail bar you shouldn’t miss. 

Where to stay in Athens

For a budget option: Selina Athens has a great central location and chic dorms, and City Circus is great as well. 

For a mid-price option: Central Hotel is a good budget hotel pick and as the name suggests, quite centrally located! The Modernist Hotel in Kolonaki is lovely and well-located in a high-end part of Athens.

For a high-end option: Athens Gate Hotel is just a few blocks from the Acropolis Museum, and the views of the Acropolis are stunning, especially from the rooftop! If you’d like to splurge here (and why not?) you can’t do better than the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Syntagma Square. The rooftop bar is worth a visit even if you’re not staying. 

And if you’re looking for lots more recommendations for Athens, check out my complete 3 day city guide!

Day 2: Off to Santorini 

a glass of white wine at a cafe in Santorini Greece in Oia with a view of the sea on a 7 days in Greece itinerary
sipping a local white wine in Oia.

The beautiful basic bitch of Greece is definitely Santorini. And you know what? She’s popular for a reason – she’s gorgeous and fun, even for solo travelers. Head to Santorini from Athens in the morning (I suggest flying to save time) so you start your day off here, as the flight is quite short. 

On your first morning, a lunch with a view in Oia, which is on the northern end of Santorini, is a good way to settle in. It’s really popular for sunset but that means it’s insanely crowded, so the daytime is more chill. 

Ammoudi Fish Tavern has great seafood and beautiful views right on the water in Oia – be sure to book ahead! Wander off the meal around the charming little streets and boutiques here before heading back to Fira.

And you can have a cheeky glass of wine on a cafe terrace too – you’re on vacation in Santorini! 

If you want a delicious budget option for lunch or dinner, head to Lucky’s Souvlaki in Fira. He’s a true local character and his gyros are top-notch, and you will definitely meet people here too. 

And for the afternoon and evening, I’d suggest a sunset sailing trip. There are several companies who offer these from Santorini, and options range from a budget tour with basic but solid food and unlimited white wine to more upscale choices. It’s the best way to see all the different facets of the island, and you can even swim in the warm waters by the volcano. 

Where to stay in Santorini 

I’d suggest choosing a place to stay in Fira, which is the center of Santorini. All the buses go from here all over the island, and it has a lot of dining options and cafes. Its caldera views are beautiful as well, and with limited time on your trip to Greece itinerary, it helps to be really central so you don’t waste time getting around. 

For a hostel option: Bedspot Hostel is highly rated and centrally located – and one of the only hostels in Santorini!

For a budget hotel option: Markakis Studios is right in the center of Fira and has charming, if basic, little rooms for a great price. And San Giogio Hotel is also a great budget choice right in town. 

For a splurge: Athena Suites has the full Santorini luxury experience with caldera views and jacuzzi suites.

Day 3: Sightseeing in Santorini

Santorini is overtouristed, but everyone goes here for a reason – it’s stunningly beautiful. There’s nothing else quite like it. The island got its famous and striking caldera shape (those steep cliffs falling down to a big circular bay) from a volcanic explosion around 1600 BCE. 

In fact, one of the coolest things to do on Santorini if you’re interested in history is to head to Akrotiri to the archeological site. You can see the remains of the very advanced civilization that existed in Minoan times on Santorini that was destroyed by the volcanic explosion. Everything is well-preserved and explained so you can get a sense of what life was like in Santorini then. 

Unlike at Pompeii, another famous volcanic site, there are no bodies here – the inhabitants clearly knew something cataclismic was going to happen based on earlier earthquakes and escaped with all their valuables. Where they went, we still don’t know. It’s a beautiful mystery

The Spring fresco found at the ancient site of Akrotiri in Santorini
one of the Akrotiri frescoes: swallows and spring.

You can take a bus from Fira to Akrotiri or a taxi from wherever you’re staying. All the info you need for your visit is here. Afterwards, visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera (which is the Greek name for Santorini) to view the artifacts found at Akrotiri – although some are reproductions because the originals are in the Athens Archeological Museum, which we’ll get to later. 

If you’re more in the mood for an active outdoors activity, you can do the Fira to Oia hike. I did it and I am not (really, really not) a hiker, so it’s fairly easy and very scenic. It will take you about 3-4 hours depending on how fast you go. Don’t do it mid-day if you’re visiting in summer – there’s no shade and it’s quite hot going along. 

To reward yourself for your cultural and/or physical activity, it’s time for a delicious dinner. Santorini has its tourist traps, but there are also some real gems. Visit Ouzeri for a great budget option, Naoussa for a traditional taverna vibe with caldera views, or Argo for really delicious food and a pretty good view. 

If you want to go out in Santorini, options abound! I loved the more low-key vibe of Tropical Bar – get there early for a good seat. PK Cocktail Bar has beautiful views of the caldera in Fira and good drinks. 

Day 4: Magical Mykonos

In the morning, it’s time to head to Mykonos! (Again, I suggest flying to save time in this 7 day trip to Greece.) This world-famous island is full of natural beauty and beautiful people, and one of my favorite little Greek gems – but more on that tomorrow! 

Mykonos does the classic look of the Greek islands so well it’s become iconic – white-washed houses with bright blue trim, flags waving gently in the breeze. And of course, it has quite a party scene as well, though sadly Lindsay Lohan’s Mykonos club closed. 

Spend your first afternoon wandering around the center of town taking in the sights and people-watching. The windmills are worth a quick look, and walking the harbor from end to end and then getting lost in the little alleys will get you well acquainted with the town. 

To eat, Captain’s (which has great views of the harbor) and Eva’s Garden are lovely and not too pricey, although nothing comes cheap on this upscale island. If you do crave a quick, cheap meal, one of the bakeries in town can definitely help you out – Greek bakeries are great sources of delicious, cheap light meals like sandwiches and baked goods, as well as takeaway coffee.  

And of course, at night you can hit up a beach club if the mood feels right. Paradise Beach Club is an institution for serious clubbers but chill by day, while Cavo Paradiso is one of the most famous and has shuttles from town. 

Where to stay in Mykonos: 

I stayed in Aether Boutique Hotel, which was beautiful, charming, and well-priced, and has a huge and delicious breakfast included. If you’d like to be right in town, Harmony Boutique Hotel is a well-located option that’s not too expensive. Theoxenia Boutique Hotel is a lovely splurge option right in town as well. 

Day 5: Delightful Delos Island

Greek island of Delos outside Mykonos with a cat in the ancient ruins Greece islands itinerary
A lil Delos cat.

Another of my absolute favorite places in Greece is the island of Delos, just off Mykonos.

It was a sacred island for the ancient Greeks and said to be the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, and a cult site for the god Dionysus. Fellow nerds may have heard of the Delian League, yes it was formed here! 

It’s been uninhabited since around the 8th century years and is now a quiet sanctuary full of ancient ruins and a stunning silence. And cats!

Check in at the Delos Tours office in the harbor to find out when the ferries are going the day before you want to leave – like much else in Greece, their schedules can be unpredictable. 

Or you can book a guided tour of the island if you want a more personalized experience, or to add on some extra sailing time!

Delos is so perfect that it’s worth building your day around. You’ll usually have a few hours on the island before the return trip – don’t miss the boat back! Wandering the serene beauty is the perfect escape from the wild crowds of Mykonos. It’s all little scenic paths and ancient ruins as far as the eye can see, and a real sense of place and peace. 

When you return to Mykonos, you might be in the mood for a quiet dinner at Kadena or Nikos Tavern (or Sakis Grill House for a cheap and delicious gyro) to relax before heading back to Athens tomorrow. Or club it up for one more night – you only live once!

Day 6: Mykonos and Athens 

A word to wise travelers on a 7 day trip to Greece – prepare for things to not go according to plan. There are strikes on the ferries and in the airports, weather that prevents ferries from sailing and planes from arriving on time, and just the general chaos of travel in a slow-paced place. 

I always advise people who follow my Greece itinerary for 7 days to leave plenty of time in their plans in case things go wrong. That means not trying to pack too much into your Greece trip itinerary, and ensuring you return to the place you’re departing from at least the day before you leave. 

And that’s why we’re back in Athens! You can spend the morning in Mykonos wandering around the old town and enjoying your espresso freddo in the sun before heading to the airport or ferry dock. 

Once you’re back in Athens, head to the National Archeological Museum in Exarchia to see the vast range of Greek art and artifacts throughout the centuries and, indeed, millenia. Now that you’ve been to ancient sites like Akrotiri and Delos, you’ll have a new appreciation for the range of cultures and civilizations that have left their mark here. At the museum you can see them all in one place, from the mysterious ancient Cycladic figurines to Mycenaen gold hordes to Minoan frescoes and more. 

When you need a break, they have a lovely shaded cafe on the ground level for a freddo espresso and a koulouri, a sesame bread ring that is a classic Greek snack (I’m totally addicted). 

After you’re done with the museum and its ancient wonders, it’s time to explore some of modern Greece in the Exarchia neighborhood that surrounds it. This is a very young, hip, artistic (and anarchist) neighborhood in Athens that I love. Yes, it looks rundown like most of Athens, but the cafes are happening and lovely and there’s such a vibrant local scene here, you shouldn’t miss it. 

You might be pretty tired at this point in your Greece week itinerary, so sitting in a cafe with a coffee or a drink and watching the local life after browsing some shops for souvenirs is a great plan to recover.

If you need to stretch your legs, you can climb up the Strefi hill or Lycavettus hill to get some views and air before dinner. Or you can do these hikes if you’re just over museums – it’s your trip!

If you haven’t gotten any Cretan food yet – and it’s the best cuisine in Greece – head to Atitamos for an authentic feast. And if you’re looking for more modern Greek food in a beautiful inside-outside setting, Giantes is your place. Pop into Warehouse afterwards for a drink in a chic local wine bar. 

Day 7: Leaving Athens (and Greece)

You’ll be missing Greece before you’ve even left, I promise you. But how to spend your final day here depends on when your flight leaves – hopefully in the afternoon or evening so you can enjoy part of the day here! 

I’d suggest a casual stroll around the Plaka neighborhood to say a fond farewell to Greece and her shining Acropolis. Drink one last espresso freddo in the sunshine, grab a final spanakopita from a bakery, and maybe enjoy a final gyros plate at O Thanasis in Monastiraki.

My favorite final stop in Greece is always having a drink at the rooftop bar of the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Syntagma. It’s pricey, but the views of the Acropolis from the shady terrace and of all of Athens simply can’t be beat. Toast goodbye to this beautiful country –  hopefully you’ll be back soon!

a glass of champagne at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens, Greece at the rooftop bar with an Acropolis view
One last Acropolis view bar!

Travel Logistics for Your Greece 7 Day Itinerary

Traveling Within Greece

What is the best way to get around Greece? That depends on many factors! 

Flying is fast and there are plenty of flight departures to all the islands from Athens, especially in summer. If you’re here in the shoulder or off-season, they can be pretty cheap too. When you have just 7 days in Greece, I do suggest flying so you can get more destinations out of your trip. 

Lots of low-cost airlines like RyanAir and Vueling fly all over Greece, and can be a good deal. I am over my RyanAir days though and prefer Aegean Airlines, which is the national airline of Greece and quite lovely and affordable (plus their seats are a decent size and their employees are really nice!). Google Flights is your friend here, and then book directly with the airline once you find a good deal. 

Ferries are frankly my favorite form of transport, and the Greek ones are great. But they’re not the fastest way to get around, and departures are particularly limited in the off-season. Overnight ferries can be cool if you’re traveling to or from Crete, as it’s a real local experience and they’re quite comfortable. But the slow daytime ferry to Santorini, for example, takes all day to arrive and it’s always late. Not the best option for your Greece week itinerary.

To book your ferries in Greece, FerryHopper is your best bet. They let you choose any itinerary based on the islands you want to visit, and they have good customer service when things go wrong as well. 

Getting Money 

One of my biggest rules about money and traveling is to never get cash at an airport – they will give you a terrible exchange rate and charge you lots of fees. Instead, use a Greek bank ATM for max safety and convenience once you arrive in the center. Eurobank ATMs are also a real rip-off you should avoid at all costs. 

Getting Around 

If you’re coming from or going to the Athens airport from the center, you can take the fast, reliable subway directly there – just be sure to get the Aerodromo line and you’ll be set. Don’t forget to buy the airport ticket instead of the normal subway one from the machine in the station – it should cost 10 euros. And do watch out for pickpickets on that line, as they tend to target tourists.

You can also take the subway to the ferry port at Pireaus – same advice applies. 

All the other airports and ferries have bus connections as well, which are cheap but can be slow. Taxis are easy to find in Greece but they often mark up prices for tourists, so I tend to stick with Uber which makes sure the price is correct even though it just calls you a yellow taxi. Plus it eliminates language confusion. 

Your 7-Day Greece Itinerary

I hope this Greece one week itinerary gave you all the info you need to plan your trip – and feel free to make it your own! The perfect Greece week itinerary might look a little different for you, so this guide can serve as a starting point for your own plans.

For example, if you wanted a Greece 8 days itinerary because you have a little bit more time, you could spend longer in Athens (my favorite city!) or take an extra day to lounge on the beach in Mykonos. It’s up to you! You could also add a day trip from Athens, like heading to Cape Sounion or Aegina Island for the day.

Or if you’re tight on time and need a 6 day Greece itinerary, I’d skip one island and spend a little extra time on the other one.

Don’t miss my top ten Greece travel tips which will tell you even more to make your Greece in 7 days itinerary you’ll never forget! 

More Greece travel resources:


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Comments

  1. Malia McLaughlin

    Yiassou, Kathleen. Thanks for an engaging and informative article! I wonder if you know of anyone who has gotten the Greek government’s digital nomad one-year visa? I am in the process of applying and want to make sure I am meeting all the requirements. My question is, can I rely on my pension from being a teacher in the US, some social security, and my retirement savings, to meet the 3,500 euro per month income requirement? If not, should I find a job here in the US before I submit my application? I am a free lance writer/editor working as an independent contractor which means I do not have a regular on-going employment contract. The last 2 years I have had short term contracts that are not guaranteed, I tend to take on jobs when I can. It’s the nature of free lancing and really compatible with my desire to spend a year immersed in Greece. As a 28 year regular visitor to Greece, I really appreciate your help in making my dream of living there year-round come true!

    1. Post
      Author
      Kathleen O'Donnell

      Hi Malia, always nice to meet another Greece lover! I’m actually in the process of applying for the digital nomad visa right now which is super exciting. I’m not an expert though, so I’d recommend talking to a lawyer about your situation! I’m also a freelancer but had to show contracts with my long-term clients to meet the requirements.

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