6 Days in Greece
What we did: Athens—Lycabettus Hill, Temple of Zeus, Acropolis, Aeropagus (Mars Hill), Ancient Agora, Panathenaic Stadium, The Plaka
Santorini—explore Fira & Oia, hike from Fira to Oia, Byzantine Castle Ruins, sunset cruise with Sunset Oia
Where we ate: Athens—Atitamos Mezedopoleio, Platanos Taverna
Santorini—Pito Gyros (x3), Lolita’s Gelato, Sunsets Restaurant (need reservation- ask for a table on the balcony for sunset), Apsithia, Patisserie Medevio (dessert)
Where we stayed: Athens—Hilton Athens
Santorini—Lava Cave Suite in Oia (it included a daily maid service, breakfast, and our magical jacuzzi- we also got a discounted rate since it was the off season)
Foods to try: moussaka, gyros (be sure to get one with fries in it!), souvlaki, baked feta, baklava, saganaki
Things of note: We only spent about 24 hours in Athens, and it was enough time for us to explore the main historical sites… we downloaded the Beat app on my phone which was also really helpful to get around the city quickly (it’s what they use for taxis instead of Uber).
We went in the middle of May… Santorini was VERY crowded during the day when the cruise ships were there— I can’t imagine going in peak season when there would be double the cruise ships (yikes). You can check the cruise ship schedule online in advance to find out how busy it will be, but I definitely would try to avoid the crowds as much as your schedule allows! It also got chilly at night on the island, so make sure to have a sweater or jacket at dinnertime.
day one: athens
After loving our time in Amsterdam, we landed in Athens in the late afternoon and took a taxi straight to our hotel to drop off our bags before heading to our first Greek restaurant: Atitamos Mezedopoleio. We were definitely spoiled with this first meal because every bit of it was absolutely delicious. The waiter insisted on bringing us a sample of their dessert despite our refusal, and I now understand why— it is in the top 3 desserts I’ve ever tasted (we tried to ask the name of it but didn’t catch it; the dessert was similar to baklava…only way better).
With the sun setting quickly, we grabbed another cab up to Lycabettus Hill and hurried to the top to catch the last glimpses of the beautiful sunset over Athens while taking in the vastness of the historic city.
day two: athens/Santorini
The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and headed to our first stop of the day: the Temple of Zeus. Thanks to the advice of some friends, we took advantage of the nonexistent ticket line at the Temple of Zeus to go ahead and buy the historical sites package so that we didn’t have to wait in the much longer lines at the Acropolis. (I think the tickets were around 30 Euro each, but the ticket included all of the sites we visited except the Panathenaic Stadium).
From there, we walked past Hadrian’s Arch to the Acropolis and started making our way to the top, stopping every so often to read about the ruins we passed along the path. The crowds grew as we got closer to the top, especially once we reached the Temple of Nike (note: there are bathrooms at the top if you need them). We tried to take in all of the sights at the Acropolis, then we walked back down the hill to Mars Hill/Aeropagus. This was probably our favorite place in Athens, as we marveled at the spot Paul preached these words written so long ago about the same God we serve today:
After taking our time at Mars Hill, we walked through the Plaka and stopped for lunch at Platanos Taverna and then grabbed gelato on our way to the Olympic Stadium. We did have to pay a small entrance fee at the stadium, but walking through the site was a pretty neat experience (they also hand out audio guides which were helpful in understanding the Olympic history there). We wrapped up our day of soaking in history and walked back to our hotel to grab our bags before taking a taxi to the airport, giddy about our upcoming time on the island of Santorini!
Our driver was waiting for us as soon as we landed at the (very small) Santorini airport (we opted for the transportation service that our airbnb provided as an option). The roads were pretty curvy from the airport to Oia, but we were busy taking in the beautiful island and cute little houses scattered across the landscape. After being dropped off at the edge of Oia, a porter was ready to carry our luggage through the crowded main street and down the many steps to our airbnb (Bless him). We were immediately blown away by the beauty of Oia and couldn’t believe we got to stay in a little slice of heaven for the next few days. After settling into our place, we walked over to Pito Gyros (for what would be our first of three meals there) and quickly ate our delicious gyros on our walk back to our airbnb to settle in for the night.
day three: exploring oia & fira
We slept in our first morning in Oia, already enjoying the slower pace of the island and opened up the front door to our first breakfast delivery (included with our airbnb). We ate on our little balcony while sipping the most delicious fresh orange juice I’ve ever tasted, then got ready for the full day ahead. We wandered around our neighborhood & up by the blue domed churches for some pretty views of Oia, grabbed gelato at Lolita’s (the first of many times) and then walked to the bus stop.
We took the public bus to Fira, where my little sister (Isabelle) was spending her last day on the island with a college leadership program. We walked to Isabelle’s hotel from the bus stop and then she led the way through Fira to a lunch spot (with more amazing views). After lunch, we all wandered through the charming little town and down random alleys, soaking in the beautiful scenery and snapping photos before stopping for (more) gelato and coffee. Shortly after, we said goodbye to my sister (she was leaving for Italy the next day) and hopped on the bus back to Oia.
Taking a minute to rest our feet at our airbnb, we then headed over to Sunsets Restaurant for our dinner reservation that night. (Actually, we walked into the wrong restaurant two different times before finally finding the right one.) But all of the confusion was so worth it, because that night we ate our very best meal of the trip. Kevin ordered the moussaka and I got the chicken (which was basically covered in queso)…both meals were out of this world, and the view of the sunset was perfect (not to mention, you don’t have to fight the crowds below). It was the perfect ending to our first full day in Santorini!
day four: sunset cruise
The next day we repeated more of the same morning routine, but we then had a sunset cruise booked with Sunset Oia (we booked the Platinum Cruise). What we didn’t realize until closer to time was that it was basically an all-day adventure, because we were the first pickup stop at 11 AM. Since the cruise didn’t actually start until 4 PM, we knew we would be hungry so we went ahead and grabbed an early lunch at Pito Gyros (It’s obviously disgusting and we hated the food there… said no one). After a quick lunch, we walked to our pickup spot and proceeded to ride the bus around the whole island until we picked up the rest of the passengers. They dropped us off at Vlychada port where we waited a bit before finally getting on our boat and we were able to enjoy the rest of the day on the Aegean Sea.
It was really beautiful to see Santorini from the water; we made several stops and Kevin jumped in at the hot springs, but the water was pretty cold and I was already chilly on the boat, so I opted out. At one of the last stops, we ate a delicious meal on the boat and chatted with our fellow passengers about soccer and weddings and the best Chicago burgers. After dinner, we made our way down the coast before finding our boat’s spot in Ammoudi Bay to watch the best show of the night: the Santorini sunset. It was a “pinch me & make sure I’m not dreaming” kind of night.
day five: hiking from Fira to Oia
Our last full day in Santorini, we soaked in another slow morning with our unreal caldera views, ate lunch once again at (you guessed it) Pito Gyros, and took the bus to Fira. Once in Fira, we started our 6.5+ mile hike back to Oia!
The views along the path were INCREDIBLE and the hike was probably the highlight of the trip for me (despite all of the sweat and blisters). We also made some friends along the way (shoutout to Alie & Pat!) and ended up walking the whole way with them, trading pictures and travel stories along the way. We got lost once due to construction, but the path was otherwise easy to follow. Along the way, we marveled at the beautiful views, commented on the crazy-nice luxury suites we passed, and stopped for lots of water breaks. We parted ways with our Colorado friends while we stopped for coffee on the outskirts of Oia and then headed back to our airbnb to rest our feet and relax in the jacuzzi. (On the way back to our airbnb, we may have also grabbed ice cream and cake at Patisserie Medevio to replenish some of our calories.)
Note: If you are planning on doing the hike, I would definitely pack snacks and water bottles (We used this bag and brought along my Swell and a disposable water bottle). There are a few places to stop along the way, but there aren’t many chances. (This guide is clutch if you decide to do the hike.)
After a brief rest, we dined slowly at Apsithia and soaked in more gorgeous views before we headed back to the airbnb while taking in glimpses of our last Santorini sunset of the trip.
Day 6: Greece to Amsterdam
We enjoyed our last Santorini breakfast, packed up our bags, and walked over to the Byzantine Castle ruins on our final morning in Greece. On the way, we wandered by Atlantis Books (unfortunately it was closed but even the outside was adorable!) and made mental notes to come back there on the next trip. After memorizing the beautiful views from the castle, it was time to check out of our airbnb and head to the airport…we had a long day of travel ahead of us back to Amsterdam so we could catch out flight back home the next day :(
Note: The Santorini airport is very small— they only let you enter an hour before your flight, but there is a place to get food right outside of the airport. If we had known that we would be fighting for seats/standing once we got inside, we probably would’ve stayed outside a lot longer than we did.
We absolutely loved our time in Santorini…the views, the people, and the food all made for an unforgettable experience, and it definitely made the top 3 places I’ve ever visited!