Tips for going to Greece?

We are going next month. We’ll have 11 days in country. We’ve done Europe quite a bit, so I am set on getting a SIM card, getting Euros (still have ~250 Euros from the last trip), etc. I’m a little rusty post-covid but prior to that I was used to getting on a plane every other week and going international 2-3 times per year.

So far the plan is to do one day at Acropolis with a 4 hour guided tour, leaving the remainder of the day for the museum and trying to see anything the tour omitted - which may not be enough time and we have some time near the end of the trip that’s unscheduled still.

And then a day trip to Delphi, we’ll just do a bus tour where we don’t have to plan anything.

Then Meteora. I see that there are day trips, but you spend like 9 hours on a bus and 3 hours actually seeing the monasteries, feels like a terrible ratio. We plan on taking a bus or train up and doing a sunset tour, and then the next day we can kind of wing it. See anything we saw and wanted more of, or maybe check out one we didn’t get to see, then head back late afternoon.

And then we’re going to an island. We are looking for relaxing beaches, and it looks like Mykonos and Santorini are generally very crowded with the Instagram folks in the summer. So we settled on Naxos, we’ll fly out around noon, stay a little over 48 hours, then hop back to Athens.

That leaves us about 1.5 days that we don’t have anything planned.

We’re staying just south of Acropolis. Any thoughts on the itinerary, recommendations for restaurants, places to avoid, etc etc etc, all greatly appreciated.

My advice will be the same as I’ll give to anyone going anywhere:

  1. Don’t schedule all your time. You’ve already got 1.5 days without anything planned. I recommend leaving that open. You can book something when you’re there, or take the time without anything firm and just wander around some open-air market without a deadline. You don’t have to optimize every moment of your trip.

  2. Don’t plan to spend every moment with the other people you’re traveling with. You’ve already said “we are going next month.” I mean, you may like the other person/people, but at least offer to spend half a day, or a day, without them. I’ve done this several times, where I go on trips with others and have at least a day or two without them. It works out well for both sides.

  3. Buy one souvenir and take just a few pictures. The more stuff you carry home, the more diluted the impact of each will be. The more time you spend with your phone in front of your face, the less time you’ll spend actually making memories. Besides, are you going to look at those pictures again anyway? Nope. Are you going to show them to someone? Nope. Are you going to print them? Nope. Are you going to post them on Facebook for the social credit? Yep, but that’s such a fleeting experience and you’ll be so outraged that Aunt Becky didn’t like your picture of that little cafe that reminded you of her hometown, despite the fact that you tagged her in it, that such a snub will pollute your memories and destroy your mental scorecard of the trip. Don’t be like that.

  4. Get lost. Ask locals where they go. Try to find things that are off the “10 Best X” lists or whatever. The 10 Best lists drive a lot of people and it ends up being crowded and artificial. Maybe go to a small stage theater with a production in a language you can’t understand. I did this once in a French-speaking city (>25 years ago) and I loved it. Didn’t understand a thing about the play, but the experience was, indeed, memorable.

  5. Make sure to come home. Don’t get scammed, kidnapped, or do something so stupid because you didn’t know the rules that you end up in jail.


+1 for all but especially #1. I plan a full day for my partner to just not do anything if we are traveling more than a couple time zones, and having everything scheduled results in feeling like we must do all the things because they’re paid for.

Take a few hours and just wander, and yeah, #4, get (a little) lost. Not dangerously so of course depending where you are.

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Santorini will be crowded but don’t let that discourage you from visiting this incredible place. Be sure to take a day trip to the ruins at Akrotiri as it will be less crowded there than the towns along the caldera. Cruise ship folks get disgorged at Fira but most just hang out in Fira and the other caldera towns.

I agree with your suggestions on the Athens area, especially Delphi. It can be done with public transportation: a tour is unnecessary. If you do want to do tours I would suggest checking out the Tours By Locals site for Greece. Even if you don’t use one of their great guides the tour descriptions are helpful to set out your own itinerary.

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Would also mention that Samos is a very quiet island with lovely beaches and you can do a nice day trip from there to Ephesus in Turkey.

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Agree. We have one day in Athens where we plan on going to the beach but we won’t be there all day and will have time to wander around our neighborhood. We tried the whole ‘let’s schedule 12 hours worth of crap every day’ and it didn’t work for us.

I generally buy two things: a fridge magnet and an antique. I have an old porcelain street sign from Paris, a 1956 rally race poster from Spain, and a ca ~1930 magazine from Cuba that I framed, amongst other things.

We try to do this. It’s fun to go all Jas and go to a Michelin restaurant, sure. When we went to Rome, ditkaworshipper (not a local, admittedly) told me about a hole in the wall that sells one thing (porcetta), the whole store is like 9’ wide. It was amazing, just pork and bread for like $8, totally amazing.

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I loved Crete.


It might be too ambitious for 1.5 days, but a potential option is Nafplion (sometimes spelled many different ways there, including Nafplio and Nauplio). It’s an ancient city on the Peloponnese Peninsula. It’s a relatively short bus ride from Athens.

Why there? It’s a lovely Byzantine city on the water with a nice harbor side plaza and walk. It’s pretty cheap and charming. You’ll see mostly Greek tourists there. It’s got a large castle over the town you can hike up to. It’s also a convenient base to take very short bus rides to 2 other spots: Epidaurus with it’s massive and well preserved ampitheater, and Mycenae with it’s fortified citadel.

ETA: just googled Nafplion and found this page that will give you a little idea about what it’s like: 14 Best Tours & Things to Do in Nafplio, Greece

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Some greek wine is decent, but I had a strong aversion to retsina. It’s white wine flavored with pine resin. Get a glass to try it if you must, but I recommend not getting a bottle/carafe until you have tried a sip.

I haven’t been to Greece in decades, so most of my experience is out of date. But i agree about retsina bring an acquired taste. And i also recommend the Greek salad. At least when i was there, it was a bowl of chunks of fabulous tomato, seasoned with some kalamata olives and feta cheese and a little olive oil. There was rarely any lettuce. But the tomatoes were just fabulous. My favorite food in Greece.

Also, i really enjoyed just wandering around ancient olive groves. I came upon a lot of them looking for old monuments and temples and other ruins that were open to the public. But often, the best part of seeing the “ruin” was the walk up a hill clad in olive trees.

I love a good tomato, which is hard to find. But I’m guessing based on time of year I might be able to drum up some good tomatoes!

I enjoy a breakfast of greek yogurt, granola, and honey anytime, but it tasted especially great in Greece.

Pretty much locked in, we fly out Sunday. Got a few long days but I think we have a good balance with some open time to just walk around, do some shopping, maybe check out the Plaka area.

Day one, land at 8AM. Customs, get SIM cards, get lunch, check in at the flat. Probably crash for a few hours. Nothing planned, check out the neighborhood, buy some groceries.

Day two: Acropolis, long day

Day three: Delphi bus tour, long day

Day four: sleep in a bit, go to a local beach for a few hours, walk around the neighborhood and hunt for dinner

Day five: Train to Meteora, chill there for a few hours, sunset tour, long day

Day six: half day tour of monasteries, train back to Athens, long day

Day seven: got an e-bike tour from noon to 3:00, hit up an antique shop, open time to walk around

Day eight: maybe more antiques, or doing a hop on hop off bus, only plan is a food tour at 5:00

Day nine: flight to Naxos island at 1:00, beach, dinner

Day ten: beach, lunch, tour a castle, beach

Day eleven: walk around the town, beach, fly back to Athens at 7:00

Day twelve: fly home

My universal recommendation for travel with major differences in time zones is to try to get your body clock on local time as soon as possible. For Europe where most flights land in the AM like yours, this means I try to be outside in sunlight as much as possible on day 1. I will allow myself a nap if needed, but try to limit it to an hour or less. I’m definitely dragging day 1, but usually am on a proper schedule for the rest of the trip.

If I take a long nap on day 1 it takes my body a couple days longer to adapt to local time. YMMV.

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I’ve had similar results. We generally do take a one hour nap upon arrival, and then the goal is to stay up until 10PM or so. Any time I’m traveling, the first night I typically don’t sleep super well, so day two is usually decent, but day three is when I really feel normal again.

Yeah, for Europe try to catch a nap on the flight and then have a big old cup of coffee when you land and force yourself to stay up until at least 8 PM local time and then you’ll be more or less acclimated by day 2.

That’s the best I can ever seem to do, I’m jealous of the people that get on a plane and just pass out. If I can nod off for a couple of hours that’s a win for me. The noise-cancelling headphones do help. I really have trouble nodding off unless I’m very still, so I can’t sleep well in planes, trains, or automobiles.

When I was young I used to drink a fair amount of alcoholic beverages on the overnight flights as it helped me fall asleep. The next day I felt lousy but attributed it to jet lag whereas it was actually a hangover. By age 40 I smartened up enough to have no more than a glass of wine with dinner on the overnight flights and I felt much better the next day even with much less sleep.

I can usually catch several naps on a long Europe overnight flight. It helps but I’m still dragging on day 1.