So, you’re planning a trip to Greece? I adore Greece so I know how excited you must be!
As much as I love to travel internationally, I also know that the planning part can be totally overwhelming.
You know, those big questions like: What travel documents do I need? Where in Greece do I want to visit and how do I get there? How and where do I book accommodations? Is it better to fly from Athens or take the ferry? What do I pack??
So many things to figure out! But, no worries—I’ve got you!
Pssst, heading to Greece? Don’t miss these travel guides to help you plan your trip!
I’m giving you my ultimate travel guide to help you start planning your Greece trip with everything you need to know to have the vacation of your life!
Planning a trip to Greece: What you need to get to Greece
First off, let’s make sure you can get into the country!
With travel conditions changing almost on the daily, it’s important to make sure you have every piece of documentation needed to cross over Greek borders. Always check the most updated protocols to see what the latest requirements are.
No matter what international country you’re traveling from, you’ll need a passport to enter Greece. Double and triple-check your passport’s expiration date and be sure everything is up to date and valid.
What about a visa? That depends on where you’re coming from. Greece is part of the European Union, so residents of the countries that are part of the Schengen zone don’t need a visa. Other countries—like the United States—aren’t required to have a visa for travel either. To make sure, you can check the official government website.
Also, I highly recommend having travel insurance. If you don’t have an annual policy that covers your Greece travel, you’ll want to take out some type of policy as soon as you book your flights. Many credit card companies and major airlines offer travel insurance upon booking, so that’s one way to go.
You just never know what will happen when you’re traveling—if you get sick or there’s some sort of natural disaster—you’ll want to spend a few extra dollars to cover yourself. The peace of mind alone is totally worth it.
Planning a trip to Greece: The best times to visit Greece
After you’ve made sure you can get there, you need to decide when to go!
Since Greece is synonymous with gorgeous beaches, turquoise waters, and sunshine, many people assume the summer months are the best for visiting the Greek isles.
But that depends on what type of vacation you want. Like, do you want a quieter vacation with the least amount of tourist crowds possible? Do you want to spend your days lounging on a beach chair by the sea, or do you want to see inland cultural sites too?
Depending on how you answer such questions, keep in mind that the peak season for Greek travel is typically June – August. If you said ‘yes’ to that quiet vacation wish, then you’ll want to avoid these times.
Also, be aware that Greek summers are very hot. Like, brutally hot.
High temperatures may seem ideal for sunny beach days, but peak August temperatures can start feeling uncomfortable pretty quickly—especially if you want to be out and about sightseeing at Athens’ top attractions, or even just walking around in Santorini.
We’re talking like high 90’s to low 100’s F in Athens—we were there early October and it was low 90’s and hot af while we were outside touring things like the Acropolis, and I couldn’t imagine being there during peak summer.
If you ask a lot of people, they’ll tell you that the shoulder months are the best times to visit Greece. In May, early June, and September, the weather is still great but the tourist crowds start thinning out.
Like I mentioned, we went the first week and a half of October and it was plenty hot in Athens. In Santorini it was starting to cool off but we definitely had some really warm days there, in the mid-80’s. I know it started getting rainy and cold right after we left, so I wouldn’t recommend going any later than mid-October.
During the winter, a lot of places close down on the islands, so November – February are the main months I would totally avoid so you can have the full experience.
Planning a trip to Greece: Best places to see in Greece
Ok, so deciding what you want to see in Greece is one of the toughest parts of the entire planning process! There are so many incredible destinations—how to choose?
Of course, there are the unbeatable Greek islands. I’m sure you’re familiar with Santorini and Mykonos—in the Cyclades Island group—because they’re by far the most visited and the most photographed.
I, for one, can’t get enough of Santorini! It’s not only super romantic with sunsets that are out of this world, but it has so many things to do including fantastic restaurants, hip bars, and fun nightlife.
But there are lots of other islands worth considering too—if you have the time. Other popular spots are Crete, Naxos, Corfu, Rhodes, and the list goes on!
If Greek island hopping is what you want—I wouldn’t blame you—Greece is the ideal place to do it!
We only made it to Santorini on our trip, and I’ve heard from others that you can skip Mykonos unless you’re looking for a party island.
I know, the islands usually steal the show, but don’t disregard mainland Greece! Athens is an incredibly culturally-rich city with some of the most incredible historical sites you’ll ever see. Especially if you’re flying into the Athens airport, you’ll want to stick around to scope out the amazing food and visit some of the top Athens museums.
If you don’t want to figure out all of the Greece planning details yourself, there are always tours you can book. And there are lots out there that pretty much cover every island combination you can think of, so that’s definitely one way to go!
Planning a trip to Greece: How much time you should spend in Greece
As much time as possible! Don’t hesitate to use all of your PTO for your Greece vacation because every minute is worth it.
Coming from the US, I wouldn’t spend less than a week and a half in Greece. When you factor in the long international flight, the time change, plus the extra time it takes to get to the islands, anything less than a week would seem super rushed.
Ideally, you’ll have at least 2 weeks, but it would be easy to spend months there if you could swing it!
But let’s say you only have 10 days, you could technically fit in Athens and one or two other islands. I recommend making it to Santorini because it’s just so awesome!
A sample 10-day Greece itinerary that includes Santorini might look something like this:
Days 1 – 3: Athens: As I mentioned, there’s so much to see in the capital, not to mention some really cool day trips from Athens that are well-worth doing. I recommend staying at least a few days.
Days 4 – 6: Santorini: Santorini is about a 40-minute flight or an 8-hour ferry ride from Athens. Obviously, flying is the quickest way and the best option if you only want to spend at least 3 days there. Although, I would totally support the decision to spend all of your remaining vacation days on this magical island!
Days 7 – 9: Crete or Naxos: If you want to make it to another island, Mykonos is a popular option—only takes 2 hours when you take the high-speed ferry from Santorini. But like I said, I’ve heard it’s not nearly as beautiful as Santorini and you can skip it unless you really want to party.
Instead, I would head to Crete or Naxos.
You could also just spend days 4 – 9 in Santorini. That’s what we did because we really wnated to maximize our time at the Mystique, a luxury hotel I’d been dying to stay at for years. The experience was incredible and I’ll be writing up a post all about it soon!
Day 10: flight back from Athens
As you can see, even with 10 days, the itinerary feels pretty rushed if you’re trying to make it to two different islands. If you don’t want to feel like you’re hopping on a plane or ferry every 3 days, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with just choosing one or two destinations and chillaxing!
If you have several weeks, you can certainly add more islands and take your time. There are plenty of things to do (or not do, if that’s the point of your vacation!) at any Greece destination you choose, so just go with the flow and take it at your own pace.
Planning a trip to Greece: What to pack for Greece
You probably don’t want to hear this—and it’s a hard one for me too—but pack light!
No, really, you’ll want to take the least amount of luggage with you as possible. Greece is full of narrow, cobblestone streets, and trying to roll bags around is not easy or fun!
Plus, remember that you’re going to see tons of cute things you’re going to want to buy while on your Greece vacation. Shopping is always on my list of must-do activities, so I always leave extra room to bring goodies—like a stylish sun hat, a gorgeous new sun sundress, a fabulous pair of sandals, or whatever other must-have Greek apparel I can find—back home with me.
Having said that, you’ll want to pack your essentials. And, honestly, it’s not like there’s anything that you can’t buy in Greece if you forget to bring something along!
Greece is a casual place, so I would avoid packing bulky items like hairdryers, straighteners, and things that. Greece has a predominantly casual Mediterranean vibe, so it’s a perfect place to go au naturale!
For clothing items, I recommend packing basics that are easy to mix and match. And it’s mostly hot and sunny in Greece, so you’re better off going for a light, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen.
Ladies, here’s a sample packing list for everyday warm Greece weather wear:
- 1-2 pairs of shorts
- 1 maxi skirt or pair of linen pants that you can dress up or down
- 3-4 t-shirts or casual tops for daytime sightseeing
- 2-3 summer dresses that you can wear for daytime or dress up for a nice dinner out
- 1 little black dress in case of a fancy night out on the town!
- 1 light jacket or cardigan for chilly seaside evenings
- Swimwear—I can’t help myself and I always overpack different swimsuit options
- 1 sarong or beach coverup
- 1 small purse or clutch that you can take out for the evening
Here are some essentials you’ll want on hand as you travel Greece:
- A tote or bag that’s big enough to carry daytime essentials like a water bottle, sunscreen, phone, wallet, etc.
- A travel towel for the beaches
- Phone charger
- Travel adapter for European plugs
- Power bank which is useful when you’re out all day—especially if your phone is also your photography equipment!
What about shoes? I always want to go overboard here, but really, there’s no reason to pack more than 3 pairs. You’ll definitely want a pair of comfortable walking shoes, like sneakers, a pair of sandals that pair well with either shorts or with a little black dress, and some wedges for dinner.
Remember those cobblestone streets we talked about? Yep, a total nightmare for high heels, so leave those gorgeous heels at home!
Booking accommodations in Greece
Booking options throughout Greece run the gamut from mega-budget hostels to ultra-luxury hotels. You really need to consider your budget and figure out what kind of Greek vacation you want.
If you’re going on your honeymoon and looking for a romantic getaway, booking one of those picture-perfect hotels with private jacuzzis overlooking the Aegean is worth the splurge!
If you like to check out AirBnbs, there are so many options for Airbnb bookings—whether you’re on the mainland or any of the islands—and reviews of super hosts are really helpful.
There are some incredible Airbnb options in Santorini that range from villas to private cave homes with breathtaking caldera views. You can peep my Airbnb Santorini list here.
Whichever accommodations you decide are best for you, just make sure that you research and book well in advance. Greece is a really popular travel destination for tourists around the world—especially during those peak months we talked about—and your dream place can book up quickly.
Planning a trip to Greece: How to get around the Greek islands
If you’re island hopping, ferries are the most common way to travel between the Greek isles. But, be aware that there are many different ferry companies that cover many different routes, so you’ll need to figure out which islands you want to see and research your options accordingly.
I highly advise you to check the ferry travel times between the island destinations you choose. In many cases, flying is a huge time saver, and you’ll want to consider booking a flight. They’re usually more expensive, but worth it, especially if your precious vacation time is already limited.
Greek carriers—like Aegean Airlines—offer daily flights to most of the Greek islands from Athens. You can find budget flights on other airlines like RyanAir and Sky Express depending on where you want to go. If you plan well enough in advance, you can snag a great deal!
We took the ferry from Athens to Santorini and after that experience I would say, we definitely should have flown. I thought the ferry would be a nice experience and we’d be able to enjoy some fresh air and views but that was not the case. We were cooped up inside, and flying would have been shorter.
For travel within the islands, you always have access to public transportation like local buses. Greek road transport isn’t always the most reliable, but it’s an option if you don’t want to rent a car.
As for taxis, they’re available all over Greece. They’re pretty infamous for scamming unsuspecting tourists, so just be sure you know what you’re getting into. Like, always make sure that the driver turns on the meter or mutually agree on a price before getting into their cab.
Using money in Greece
The currency in Greece is euros. I recommend having some euros when you enter the country so that you have some cash on hand for any small expenses, like a taxi ride or buying bottles of water.
But don’t worry about taking a ton of cash with you—in fact, it’s safer if you don’t. Most places in Greece take all kinds of credit cards at hotels, restaurants, and shops. If you’re in a smaller town off the beaten track, you may have a harder time finding an ATM but, otherwise, you won’t have a problem finding access to cash if you need it.
Well, friends, I hope you’ve found this Greece trip planner helpful! The good news is that Greece is so beautiful, you can’t go wrong with any of the places you decide to visit.
Just take it all in and enjoy every minute!
I’m excited to share that I’m part of a pilot program with Google! As one of Google’s paid early testers for their Thank with Google pilot program, I’m testing out an experimental feature that allows you to purchase a virtual sticker and directly show your appreciation for content on my site. As a reader, you can choose from a variety of stickers, and every time you send a paid sticker, you can add a personal message. For me, these virtual stickers translate into direct revenue to support the work that goes into the content that you enjoy on my blog.
You can find the Thank with Google feature in multiple places on my site. If you try it out, let me know what you think! Thank you as always for your support.
Planning a to Greece? Check out my other Greece travel guides here.
The best time to visit Greece is the shoulder months like May, early June, and September.
The best places to see in Greece are:
If you’re island hopping, ferries are the most common way to travel between the Greek isles. For travel within the islands, you always have access to public transportation like local buses. You can also grab a taxi.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.