Essential Athens and Greek Islands Vacation: Mykonos & Santorini

A 11 day trip to Greece 
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Go beyond the traditional idea of Greece and into the essentials on this custom vacation tailored to show you the life of Athens and the islands. The vibrant blue roofs and whitewashed homes sit along the precipice overlooking a caldera. The lavish pillars of the Parthenon watch over the ancient city of Athens. The crystal waters of Mykonos brush against the shore. Spend your days experiencing the best of Greece, from the perfect views to the fabulous beaches, from the ancient ruins to the modern flavors; see the essentials and beyond. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Upward view of the marble pillars of Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, Greece
An outside restaurant dining area with a view of Acropolis Hill in Athens, Greece
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Athens, the Acropolis, Mykonos, Santorini

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Grabbing the Essentials

The myth of Athens will no longer be contained in the pages of books and within the heart of history; you depart from home and soar into the air with the requisites of Greece waiting for you across the Atlantic. The antiquity of Athens is only the tip of the iceberg. Dreams of beaches and cliffs, ruins and bazaars swirl around you. Your flight may bring you farther and father from home, but every second brings you closer to the ideal wonders of Greece.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner

Day 2: A Welcomed Sight

The morning sun glistens over the rolling arid hills that surround Athens. In the airport you will be greeted by a private transfer that will take you directly to your hotel within the center of the city. The freshness of the earth and lingering scent of olive groves wraps around the hills. White stone cascades along the mountains filled with marble that has been quarried for thousands of years. From the street you can see the Acropolis rising above the city, the pillars of the Parthenon proud and sturdy against the sands of time. Spend time strolling through the neighborhood of Anafiotika. Sitting along the slope of the Acropolis, the neighborhood gives you the first taste of the Cyclades, with whitewashed walls and charming narrow, pebbled paths. The creamy aroma of olive oil brushes against the bougainvillea and welcomes you to Greece.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 3: Inescapable Charm

The sun blankets the city and gives an orange glow to the marble atop the Acropolis. Meet your guide and be taken into the famed history of the city, from ancient to contemporary, that has shaped Athens, Greece, and the world. Step inside the new Acropolis Museum where relics of history are protected from the elements. Statues and busts, coins and ceramics are displayed dating from before Athens’s Golden Age to a period of Ottoman occupation. The Caryatids decorate a stoic room. These particular sculpted female figures provided architectural support for the Erechtheion situated on the Acropolis, opposite the Parthenon. Their togas sweep down to their feet while their hair is combed back into a perfect braid. The sixth statue sits within the British Museum in London; an empty podium waits for the day it is returned to Athens.

If history hasn’t yet come alive, it is about to, as you make your way up Acropolis Hill, the stone steps eventually giving way to marble. The polished grounds light the path to the Propylaea, the entryway to the plateau. The pillars continue to guard the citadel and let passersby know that they are about to step onto hallowed grounds. On the other side of the Propylaea is the Parthenon, glorious in its ruins as it continues to watch over Athens millennia after it was constructed. Where a large statue of Athena once stood is now empty, however the grace of the temple is still beyond compare. Porticos decorate two of the temple’s sides while metopes commemorate history with carvings connoting battles against Titans and Amazonians. Essential Greece is no less than what stands before you.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, tour

Day 4: Old to New

The sights of the city are at your command, giving you the opportunity to see as much as you’d like of Athens at your own pace. The streets are perfumed with Greek coffee, where the richness of dark roast is enhanced with the sweetness of sugar. Whether you prefer to see the famed agora, where ancient Greeks would market and politicians would proselytize, or if you’d rather visit the Athenian bazaar, there is never an end to the city’s splendor. Visit the neighborhood of Monastiraki, an old area of the city nestled beneath the Acropolis. The square is paved with cobblestones and open to the surrounding buildings with coveted space. A mosque dating back to Ottoman occupation sits along the corner of the square. When the market begins the plaza bursts with excitement, where the shopping habits and tradesmen feel like they haven’t changed for centuries. The boisterousness of the area is contagious as people stroll along the paths of the market eyeing everything from souvenirs to spices. The streets are lined with vibrant color. Everything is quintessentially Greek.  

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 5: No More Pillars Ashore

Today you will depart from Athens, board a ship, and cruise along the pristine waters of the Mediterranean. The turquoise sea glitters in the sunlight, the cool breeze rushes through your hair, and you notice how the Mediterranean has a sweeter scent. Disembark on the shores of Mykonos. The beaches are among the most beautiful in the world, bringing people from all over to dip their toes in the sand. Mykonos Town is a pearl along the stretch of coastline beneath the hills, filled with classic architecture and cosmopolitan vibrancy. Once along the shores of the island you’ll understand the precise reason people never want to leave.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Essentially Cyclades

The beaches of Mykonos bring around jetsetters from all over the world to bask on their luxurious sands. With the day at your leisure to enjoy as you please, be sure to make time to take pleasure in a Mykonos beach. Each beach offers you a variety of Mykonos’s range, from seclusion to watersports and just perfect sands. Agios Ioannis is a calm and pristine beach on the southwest shores of the island. The cabana will protect you and your ice cold drink from the sun. The water is crystal clear, lapping gently at the shore. It is a serene moment, with blue umbrellas that blend with the sky and a boardwalk with friendly restaurants that emanate irresistible cheeses and citrus fruits. Stretch out along the shoreline; this is classic Mykonos.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 7: The Classics of Mykonos

Mykonos is at your beckon call, offering up the island’s grandeur for however you wish to use it. The island of Delos sits just off shore of Mykonos and was the birthplace of gods Artemis and Apollo. At its prosperous peak the island was covered in temples and sanctuaries dedicated to all sorts of gods. Today the site is a fascinating island to experience history. The ruins continue to house some spectacular art pieces, including a dolphin mosaic that decorates the floor of an old residence. Walk along the Sacred Way that leads to the Sanctuary of Apollo. The paved road is 45 feet wide and is lined with marble bases where statues and monuments once stood. Stone lions continue to guard the Sacred Lake from where the legend says Apollo was born. The island boasts some sensational remnants of days gone by, from frescos to statues, residences to temples, all spread across what was once a great port city.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 8: When Blue Roofs Shine

You can watch the blue water shining from the boat as you depart from Mykonos. The white buildings of Mykonos Town fade from view, the hills soon follow. Soon you will come to rising cliffs that wrap into a crescent. Small islands sit within a caldera; the water somehow more clear here than in Mykonos. Atop the cliffs are whitewashed structures topped with stunning blue roofs. You have made it to Santorini. You are received by the famed postcard quality of the island. A semi-private transfer will take you to your hotel where you can settle into the magnificence of the island. The water rushes against the cliff. Mist sprays into the air. The caldera cradles the tranquility of it all.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, accommodation, transfer

Day 9: Quintessential Now

The island of Santorini is steeped in perfection, from the views to the buildings, where everywhere you turn is a picturesque moment fit for a postcard or a painting. The island is yours for experiencing, which gives you an endless amount of choices to explore. For a unique view of the island you can venture along the path leading from Fira, the capital, to Oia, a marble clad village on the southern end of the island. The path brings you beside the cliff where the view of the caldera is ever-present and ever-gorgeous; it is a sight of which you can never tire, the distant tiny islands in the center of the lush water rippling in the breeze. The arid volcanic soil gives richness to the air. The welcomed breeze brushes through you hair. When you arrive in Oia it is like a different world. The walking paths are literally paved with marble, stretching from the enchanting church to the ridged castle at the edge of the island. Cafes stand along the tiered edges of the cliffs; bakeries emanate a collection of mouthwatering pastries, from baklava to cakes. When the sun starts to set you can lookout over the horizon of the Mediterranean and watch the golden hue of dusk settle in.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 10: When Everything’s Better

The splendor of breakfast comes to you with a sweeping view over the caldera. Fresh pastries and fresher coffee sweeten the air. Your final day along the cliffs of Santorini is yours for the taking, spent with the pleasures of your choosing. For a different pace and delectable taste of the island you could enjoy a wine tasting tour. Santorini boasts tremendous vineyards because of the diverse landscape and lush volcanic soil. If not an entire tour, you can at least visit the Art Space Winery. Set within an underground cave, the cool temperature of the pumice stone allows the wine to mature better. The Saint August Barrel is made from Assyrtiko grapes grown predominantly in Santorini giving you the full flavors of the island; the wine boasts a full body with a dry citrus aroma and earthy finish. Anyone on Santorini will tell you that their wine is the best in all of Greece but sometimes you just have to taste it for yourself.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 11: Journey Home

Whether on your way home or now considering Santorini your home, today the holiday comes to close as you venture to the airport to begin your journey across the Atlantic. You have cruised along the Mediterranean to see the stunning beaches of Mykonos, the famed caldera of Santorini, and the wondrous ruins of Athens. There will always be an allure to Greece, because of the flavors, the waters, the people, and the sands. However, just because the holiday may be ending doesn’t mean you can’t come back soon; there will always be more of Greece to see. Another visit would be essential.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.