Leisurely travel may be par standard in Greece, but that will not prevent you from properly exploring with just one week. This handcrafted tour mixes a little of everything that makes Greece so intoxicating with ruins and archaeological sites traditional fishing villages, sublime coastlines and cruises, colorful neighborhoods, and indulgent taverns. Mixing an island vacation with a dose of history is easily done while minimizing travel time, and these seven days are the perfect introduction to...
Athens – Ancient Greece, Plaka and the Acropolis
The Acropolis is your Athens compass point, its colonnades, and temples visible from almost anywhere in the city. You might even glimpse its splendor from the plane window, the remains of an ancient civilization perched high on the rocks above Greece’s capital. Check into your hotel and check out the rooftop view, the compass point almost within touching distance. Down below the streets twist and turn, and a myriad of sounds creep out from the tavernas and echo upwards, suggesting what’s to come this evening. But once your bags are dropped there is only one place for you today, the centerpiece of a civilization that changed the world in so many ways.
A path ascends, and the ruins start. Beyond the Beule Gate, you will glimpse what lies ahead with polished stone lies along the path, small sculptures sit on the floor, with temples coming gradually into view. Keep ascending, walking slowly in the heat, and take your time as the Acropolis temples and Parthenon rise high above you. It is the ruins of the Parthenon you never forget, so perfectly proportioned, so remarkably preserved. And although busy with tourists, there is enough to the area that you can also find quiet moments to take it all in. There is a chance to escape the heat with a look inside the Acropolis Museum, a place preserving marble and friezes that were rescued from destruction.
Maintain the slow walking pace as you descend, this time amid the cobblestone and marble of Grand Promenade. Skirting Acropolis Hill, you will be led to the Theater of Dionysus before plunging you forward into the 17th and 18th centuries. That is the time when Plaka evolved, and the neighborhood still has a lived-in old-world atmosphere. Boutique stores spill their wares into pedestrianized streets, enticing aromas come from narrow taverna doorways, and street traders call as they walk past. It is energetic and laid-back at the same time, classically Greek, but just completely different from the nearby Acropolis. Your guide will point you in the right direction for a traditional dinner before you take an early night, or stay out and enjoy all that is on offer.
Santorini – More Ruins and History Before Sunset in Santorini
Santorini – Cruising Across the Blue and White Island of Santorini
Santorini – Santorini by Catamaran and Helicopter
Ellinika – Beauty and Archeology on the Island of Crete
Ellinika – Discovering the Lasithi Plateau and Elounda Peninsula
Athens – Day Trip to Delphi and the Temple of Apollo
Athens – Departure
- Watch the sunset from a private terrace in the Santorini village of Oia
- Immerse yourself in the wonders of the Athens Acropolis
- Spend the day in Delphi, in awe of the Temple of Apollo
- Get to know the best of Crete, including the dramatic ruins of Knossos and the patchwork fields of Lasithi
- Soar above Santorini in a helicopter and spend an afternoon cruising the island’s coastline on a private catamaran
- Delve into the colorful streets of Plaka and other Athenian neighborhoods
- Walk the cliffs from Fira to Oia, explore the Minoan-era ruins of Akrotiri, and dine in waterside taverns
- Visit the archaeological museums in Athens and Crete, two of the best of their kind on the planet
- Relax on the coast – even with just seven days there can be plenty of downtime
Nothing is rushed in Greece. Meals continue long into the evening, the walking pace is languid, and the mantra of siga siga, slowly slowly, can be felt everywhere. Even in the capital city, you will rarely encounter a sense of urgency. But to see the best of Greece in seven days? Surely that is a no-go given the languorous way of life? Not any more. Modern transport connections are making one-week itineraries possible, allowing you to hop between ruins and islands without missing out on the siga siga way of life. This best of Greece tour takes you to Athens, Santorini, and Crete with seven active days followed by seven tranquil evenings.
While the sights are many, you will not need to charge around. Slow down, change your perception of time, and appreciate the Greek ambiance that unfolds all around. In the evenings, you will discover one of the most cultural and traditional of all the world’s countries. During the days, you will explore settings beyond the imagination with the Acropolis in Athens, the blue and white villages perched above the Aegean Sea, the vast ruins of an old Minoan city, crystalline waters, towering volcanoes and the magnificent Temple of Apollo. Also included in this best of Greece itinerary is a helicopter and catamaran tour around Santorini, Crete’s remote landscapes, intimate Athens neighborhoods, and a whole host of other coastal and historical treasures.
Day one and you will head straight to the Acropolis. Explore the ruins beyond the Beule Gate, basking in the glory of the Parthenon and its nearby temples. This is classical Greece, and it is so much more impressive than the photos suggest. Plaka is a lively evening destination, perfect for strolling and eating local. Then the next morning you stay within history, seeing important galleries at the National Archeological Museum and passing another couple of temples. Fly next to Santorini and inhale the fresh sea breeze, and you will be staying in Oia, a village of blue and white houses that only gets prettier at sunset. Cliffs glimmer in the moonlight and your hotel is built on the cliffs, ideal for appreciating slow island life.
Spend day three exploring the best of mainland Santorini with beaches, villages, vineyards, volcanic remains, and then what remains of Akrotiri, a once lavish Minoan town. Santorini epitomizes the Greek island vibe, and you will continue to take things slow on day four, admiring the island from a helicopter window before a half-day private catamaran cruise. Fly next to Crete and savor a second island as Knossos is all dramatic ruins, Iraklion offers intimate market experiences, and other old cities present a maze of culture and charm. You will be staying close to the village of Ellinika, at a five-star retreat on cliffs that preserve this itinerary’s laid-back atmosphere.
Crete is vast and diverse, an island of beautifully barren landscapes and simple pleasures. Spend day six discovering rural sides to the island, the Lasithi Plateau a puzzle of orchards and pastures topped by tiny villages and cottages. Remote turquoise waters are nearby, the Elounda Peninsula a place to swim alone beneath the cliffs. You will have an early flight back to Athens on day seven, meaning you can spend the day visiting Delphi and the Temple of Apollo as it would not be the best of Greece without something majestic and mysterious to end on. Your final night in Athens is back where you started, amid tavernas and traditions in the neighborhood of Plaka. Don’t take just our word for it - consider reading some of our travelers’ reviews of Greece, and see how you can customize your own dream vacation.
$1,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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