Where can you go if you have one week in Greece and you want to relax somewhere without traveling around much? Our suggestions is to choose of the Greek islands, and to spend your whole week there. The islands we recommend have options to keep you both relaxed and entertained. Above all, you will be able to enjoy the famous Greek sun and sea .
Choose ONE of these destinations:
- Kefalonia with option to spend time in Lefkada and Ithaki on day-cruise
- Corfu with option to visit Butrint, Albania on day-cruise
- Rhodes with option to visit Symi on day-cruise
- Kos with option to visit Bodrum, Turkey on day-cruise
- Samos island with option to visit Kusadasi, Turkey, and Patmos on day-cruises
- Naxos with option to visit Koufonisia on day-cruise
- Paros with option to visit Antiparos on day-trip
- Santorini with option to visit Ios, or Anafi, or Folegandros on day-cruise
- Mykonos with option to visit Delos, Tinos, Paros, Naxos on day-trip
This would be a good itinerary for those who would prefer less travel and more relaxing and exploring in one place.
Each destination will enchant you with beautiful beaches, lively towns, traditional villages, and archaeological sites.
While island-hopping is a popular activity in Greece, you can have a great experience staying in just one island and perhaps taking small day-trips to the surrounding areas or islands.
We chose these particular islands because moury personal experience is that they are large enough, or offer enough variety to warrant an extended stay.
We know there are plenty more islands worth staying at. We have not included them here, either because we haven’t been there yet (this website only includes places we experience first-hand), or because we have to keep these web pages a manageable size.
All of the destinations in this itinerary contain a bit of everything: beautiful towns and villages, fantastic beaches, enough area to explore with a car, and a few options to explore on day-trips around them.
Kefalonia is a classy island that could keep you busy with it’s towns and beaches for more than a week if needed, while Corfu would be impossible to explore entirely in such a short period of time. Kefalonia is an island we recommend for quiet and family vacations.
If you choose Corfu, stick to one part of the island. The north is more suited for family vacations, the west packs some of the best beaches, while the south is famous for the nightlife and party beaches.
If you choose the North of the island, it would be closer to a day-cruise to Butrint, Albania across the bay for an optional day-trip.
Crete is very large and we would never recommend trying to explore the whole island on one trip. We have visited Crete four times in five years and we have yet to explore the whole island.
Some of the best beaches of the Crete are located on the west coast, so choose to split your time between Chania and Kissamos for better access to them.
From Chania you can go on a day-long hike through the Samaria gorge, and from Kissamos rent a car and drive to Elafonissi and Falassarna beaches. You can reach our current best beach in Greece, Balos via a day-long cruise from Kissamos.
If you choose the center of Crete, you can spend the entire time in Heralklion, although splitting your time between the big city and the south (perhaps Matala or Agia marina) would be a better idea.
There are plenty of archaeology around the area to keep you busy every day, and tons of beautiful beaches in Crete to relax. Read more about ancient Crete.
For extreme partying, the nearby Hersonissos/Malia seaside resorts could be heavenly for those who prefer tanning while sleeping on the beach by day and partying all night.
Eastern Crete is much more quiet (with the exception of the very busy town of Agios Nikolaos) and it too has some beautiful beaches.
If quiet and minimum driving around is your goal, head for the sleepy town of Sitia, or the smaller village of Palekastro that’s very close to the beaches of Kouremenos, Chiona, Vai, and Erimoupoli.
Rhodes is also a very large island, but you can easily roam around with a car (not a moped) if you have a week at your disposal.
Rhodes town is as beautiful as it is busy. Same goes for the towns beaches, although you might want to drive to some of the more inaccessible beaches around the island.
Kos island is a bit smaller, but it has the advantage of being the hub for several day-long trips to Bodrum (Turkey – the ancient Greek port of Halikarnassos), the volcanic island of Nisiros, and the sponge-diving communities of Kalymnos. You could actually split the week between these islands and even Rhodes.
Samos is a large island with beautiful beaches and extensive history. From Samos you’ll be well positioned to take short trips to Kusadasi (ancient Ephesus) in Turkey, and the island of the Apocalypse, Patmos.
All of the above islands are far from Athens and it would take a whole day just to get to them if you sail by ferry. It would be best to fly to these islands instead, but tickets sell well ahead of time so planning ahead will serve you well.
A bit closer to Athens and half-a-day’s sailing from Pireas, the islands of Naxos, Paros, Santorini, and Mykonos are close enough, and pack enough activities and interest to warrant a whole week’s worth of visit to each.
They are also close enough to each other to be able to visit a couple of them in one visit (see our island hopping itinerary).