Our trip planner is designed to help you organize your Greek holiday, especially if you’ve never been to Greece. Deep down, traveling to a new country is a very simple exercise. In this page, we will help you sort out the major choices. We will help you sort the three planning stages: Choosing your destination, booking your tickets and hotels, and preparing for your trip.
Choose your Travel Destination
You define what you want to do during your holiday, choose the appropriate places to visit, book your tickets, and prepare to travel.
Once you define your interests, the rest should be a lot easier. If you are not sure, and you’d rather choose by location, visit the other pages of this site to see if something inspires you.
Choosing a destination by defining a “destination” might seem like a circular argument, but in real life one way to travel is to be inspired by a photo, a story, or by the history of a place.
We often say “I’d like to be there some day” or “places I’d like to see in this life”, assured that the destination itself is the goal. Greece won’t disappoint in that respect.
There are a myriad of inspiring, unique, and spectacular places that can act as the inspiration and a spectacular backdrop for a wonderful holiday.
Visit our Best of Greece recommendations to see if some of these exceptional destinations can inspire you to spend a few days there.
Also, take a look at our recommended travel itineraries and trip ideas
I like swimming
If swimming, tanning, and relaxing by the beach is your first priority, Greece won’t disappoint. There are beaches for all styles and desires.
While the mainland has many, you probably need to plan your itinerary around one or more Greek islands.
Some of the best beaches of Greece can be found on Crete, Mykonos, Naxos, Kos, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Corfu, Lefkada, Skiathos, Rhodes, and Elafonissos.
On the mainland there are many places with fine beaches, but in general they are spread apart so you won’t be able to visit more than one or two comfortably on one trip.
Chalkidiki in Macedonia, Preveza on the west coast, and Pelion on the east coast offer a good sampling of fine beaches bunched close to each other, while Peloponnese, Eubea, Thassos, Amorgos, Samos, would be fine destinations if swimming is your priority.
We have compiled a collection of pages with information about beaches in Greece. It contains our favorite ones in the best beaches of Greece section.
If your time is limited to one week or less, choose one of the smaller islands since most offer more than one beach.
Within one week you can actually pack a couple of islands in your itinerary comfortably, but if you have longer time available, you can contemplate an expanded travel itinerary.
Read more about swimming in Greece, and our reviews of Greek beaches
Peace and Quiet
If you enjoy quiet time and you just plan to get away from it all, combining this priority with fine beaches could make you feel like you landed in paradise.
While most fine beaches are well known and attract big crowds, there are many gems that are either hard to get to, or haven’t been discovered yet. Most islands have a hot-spot where everyone gathers leaving other parts to solitude.
As a general rule, the quiet destinations are way far away from the big cities of Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra, Heraklion). But “far” is relative and Greece is a small country.
If you have your own boat you can pick your own quiet beaches, usually in the side of islands where roads and cars can’t reach. If you don’t have a boat, choose one of the smaller, or the least “touristy” islands in Greece.
Places like Karpathos, Kythira, Koufonisia, Amorgos, Symi, or Antiparos would offer serenity that in some cases borders on isolation.
Even the most quiet of spots in Greece get packed with visitors in August.
Mid-may to mid-june is a perfect time to enjoy Greece away from big crowds, but September is usually too cool to enjoy swimming.
Party till morning
Partying has a long tradition in Greece.
While the ancient Dionysian festivals were wild and packed with cultural events, modern parties have dropped the “culture” part altogether so they can enjoy the “party”without overexerting the brain.
Extreme party-spots in Greece are usually places where people under 30 frequent and enjoy.
Such places have also surrendered all architectural good taste to wild development, but after the fifth drink that doesn’t seem to matter much, does it?
Ios island, Faliraki in Rhodes, Chersonnisos/Malia in Crete, Laganas in Zakynthos, Tolo in Argolis, and Benitses or Kavos in Corfu are the best known wild youth partying towns.
Every summer they get packed with low budget travelers who have only two things in mind: find a transient companion, and get really-really drunk (not necessarily in this order).
If you prefer a milder form of partying will find it in every island and coastal town. Mykonos of course is the upscale party capital of Greece, and a favorite hangout of socialites.
Ancient Greece: Art, History, and Culture
On the opposite end of the scale, Greece is also a great destination if you are interested in ancient history, art, and culture.
If we accept the wild claim that western civilization has a birth place and time, it would be hard to argue that ancient Greece wasn’t it.
But even if we reject that wild claim, it would be equally hard to argue that ancient Greek thought, art, and culture, hasn’t dominated western civilization for over two thousand years.
But even if you don’t care about the deeper meaning of the significance of ancient Greece, you should at least let yourself enjoy the magnificent products of Greek civilization.
Hard-core ancient history enthusiasts will be living in wonderland every time they lay their eyes on the plethora of ancient ruins, archaeological sites, historic places, and of course, ancient art and architecture.
We have compiled in one page the most significant places of ancient Greece that we feel everyone should see while in Greece.
The best ancient sites include the Acropolis of Athens, Mycenae near Nafplio, Delphi oracle, Olympia, Vergina, and Knossos in Crete.
The best archaeological museums to consider include the Athens National Archaeological Museum, Heraklion Museum, Delphi Museum, and Olympia Museum.
Many of these historical sites warrant a trip around the world to enjoy them. It helps appreciate them better of you know a little bit about the history of Greece.
Cruising the Greek islands
Even though through our articles we advocate and enjoy independent travel, we understand the value of kicking back and doing nothing while a luxury boat takes you around the most spectacular islands of Greece. We have enjoyed a few ourselves.
The Aegean is one of the most popular cruising destinations in the world, and cruise ships for all styles and wallets sail through its water every summer.
The itineraries are identical between most cruises and include seven, four, or three-day cruises with destinations such as Mykonos, Santorini, Patmos, Kusadasi (Turkey), Istanbul (Turkey).
These are the staple islands, and some add other popular destinations that include Crete (Heraklion), and Rhodes, but rarely other ports like Skiathos, Volos, or Nafplion.
In general, you can expect decent comfort, tons of free food and drinks (for a flat fee), and limited time in each port of call.
Most of the cruise lines offer deep discounts in cabin tickets, but have interesting ways of enticing passengers to sign up for extras like bus tours in each destination.
From our experience, the bus tours are of good value in places like Kusadasi, Patmos, and Heraklion, but you can safely skip them in favor of a leisurely walk around towns like Mykonos and Santorini.
You will also find advertisements for one-day Saronic gulf cruises out of Athens, but we can not recommend them.
From our experience, they offer extremely limited time to enjoy each port, while the ammenities on board are extremely limited and of low value.
A better alternative would be to use the local ferries to enjoy Aegina, Poros, and Hydra on a day-trip out of Pireas (the port of Athens). You will end up with much more time in each destination.
Somehow, adventure travel is not something that Greece is known for. That’s in large part due to the fact that Greece is a small country and it would not be easy to find spots where civilization hasn’t crept in.
If hiking and trekking can be considered adventures, there are plenty to do in Greece. Many islands offer ancient footpaths one can follow for hours, and there are mainly gorges and canyons that offer different degrees of difficulty to trekkers.
The most well organized (and promoted) is Samaria gorge in southern Crete, but the same island is home to dozens of little known and sometimes very dangerous gorges, especially in the south. Read more about hiking Samaria Gorge.
Another well known gorge is Vikos gorge in Epiros.
If you decide to undertake a trip through the gorges of Greece, make sure that you are well prepared, that you travel with company and with a qualified guide that can take you through and show you the most interesting routes safely.
There are several rivers in northern Greece and the interior of the Peloponnese that are offered for Kayaking and white-water rafting.
Again, our advice would be to search a qualified guide for such adventures because local conditions can trump even experienced adventure seekers.
One thing to always remember is that adventures come with an inherit risk. It is not uncommon to read news stories about tourists who had to be rescued (at best) by Greek authorities. Use local guides to minimize these risks.
A bit of everything
Of course, you don’t have to confine yourself in one of the above categories.
The beauty of Greece is that it can offer more than one experience for one trip. You don’t have to settle just for swimming, or culture, or adventure. You can do everything, every day!
You can go hiking through winding footpaths early in the morning and end up swimming at a deserted beach at the end of the path by mid morning.
Then you can enjoy a beautiful meal for lunch. Afterward, take a nap and read a book in the when you wake up. Go bar hopping at night, and take an excursion or day-cruise the next day to a spectacular archaeological site or museum.
The best part is, you can do all of it in just about every destination you choose.
That’s really what makes Greece such a unique place for a memorable vacation: the fact that you get to travel the many different dimensions of life as you always dreamed.
Spring and Summer
To avoid huge crowds and congestion, choose to travel in early summer (late may and early June).
At this time, the sun shines constantly, the sea is warm enough for swimming, and the chances of rainy days are low. In addition, the oppressive heat of July and August is rare.
The heat of the summer is the time when millions of people from around the world visit Greece, and it’s by no means a bad time to schedule a trip.
July and August guarantee extensive sunny days, heat waves that make the cool sea so much more inviting, and more fun seekers to mingle with.
August transforms the entire country into the domain of pleasure. In addition to tourists from abroad, the majority of the Greeks vacate urban centers to return to their roots in the villages and islands.
While many travel guides mention September as a good time to travel to Greece, our experience is that it’s a hit or miss time to visit Greece.
One the one hand, most vacationers return to their homes so prices go down, crowds dissipate, and you get more space to yourself.
On the other hand, after mid-September, the weather changes abruptly toward more wet and cool days and nights.
Toward the end of September, swimming is not a persistent option any longer, and after October, you’d be hard pressed to find hotels and restaurants that are open.
Fall is wet and cool, so activities like hiking and archaeological site visiting would be much more comfortable.
Winter in Greece is cold and bitter.
Those who only visit Greece in the middle of the summer would have a hard time comprehending how cold it gets. But that’s one of the most beautiful aspects of the Mediterranean climate: you get to experience the full force of each of the four distinct seasons.
One of the main issues with winter travel in Greece is the fact that the vast majority of Greek dwellings and hotels are not prepared for the cold the way northern European homes are. So you will feel the cold with a bit more severity even indoors.
But there there is solace in that the Greek winter is very short and the bitter cold days only last from December to mid-February.
If you plan your vacation for the winter, you should know that swimming is not an option at all.
Read a bit more about the weather in Greece and about what to pack so you can make better informed decisions, but do make reservations ahead of time because the vast majority of hotels, especially in islands are all closed (Athens and the big cities are not a problem).
Book your Trip
In our own travels, we always book our trip through online travel agents. We have more control and we can do our search from the comfort of our own computer.
But it’s not only about comfort, it’s also about having more control. It’s easier to check prices, places, hotel locations, and everything else while connected to the whole web .
It is more work on our end, but it’s also what makes the trip much more tailored to our needs.
If you don’t want to book your own flights and hotels, you can always head for your nearest travel agent.
Over the years we learned that booking directly with airline companies doesn’t guarantee better prices. More often than not, airline companies make special prices available to online and brick and mortar travel agents in return for booking certain number of seats for them.
This is just a general understanding and it doesn’t even approach the complexities of airline seat and hotel room pricing of course.
Plan for Your Travel After Booking
If you have already booked your vacation, it’s never too early to begin preparations for traveling.
There are several things you can do before you go that would make your vacation much more enjoyable, and packing for Greece appropriately would ensure a comfortable time there.
This travel guide to Greece can give you some idea what to expect in terms of what to pack, prices, safety, money, and swimming in Greece among other topics.
Learn more about Greece facts, and everything you need to know before you go. All these topics appear in our tips & advice section.
Let the fun begin!