Dreaming of an island hopping adventure in Greece?
I’m sharing my exact 2 week itinerary, with honest reviews about each place.
Greece is an expansive country, one that will take me a lifetime to explore and another lifetime to write about. I was lucky enough to be able to get a little taste in June for two weeks. I started in Athens and made my way through 4 of the Cycladic islands. The Cyclades are a cluster of 200+ islands in the southern Aegean, situated between the Greek mainland and Turkey. *According to Greek mythology, Poseidon, God of the sea, enraged at the Cyclades nymphs, turned them all into islands.
This area, (as well as the rest of Greece) is rich in history, displaying human settlements dating all the way back to 5000 BC. It's filled with gorgeous sandy beaches, hidden coves, blue domed churches, perfect blue water and delicious food. Each island has it's own unique character and charm. Let me take you on my adventure....
Athens - Day 1 & 2
Naturally, most trips to Greece start with a landing in Athens. I would recommend staying a couple of days here, making time to visit the landmarks of this ancient city. We arrived in the early morning after taking an overnight flight from Pearson International Airport in Toronto. We hadn't got a wink of sleep on the plane so we were immediately jetlegged but knowing we had 6 hours to kill before we could check into our hotel, we tried to make the best of it. We didn't want to waste 6 hours in Athens so we strapped on our massive backpacks and toured around. It was already incredibly hot in the city and the day had just begun, I knew I was going to love it here. If you do not already know, I love the unbearable heat, so any opportunity to sweat and work on my tan is A-OKAY with me! In my opinion, Athens is a typical European city. It's full of character with a mix of old and new. Smokers fill the charming cafe's and a mix of locals and tourists fill the gritty streets.
What to do in Athens
Parthenon/Acropolis Dedicated to the goddess Athena and constructed in 447 BC, this incredible structure is unavoidable. It is situated above the city on top of a hill, almost keeping watch over Athens. We spent several hours walking among the ancient ruins. It is a MUST DO.
Museums We had intended to go to the Acropolis Museum but we simply googled 'museum' and it directed us to a different one. It turns out we went to the National Archaeological Museum but it was still lovely. I am not a huge museum person but I did appreciate looking at all of the ancient artifacts and statues. Apparently the Acropolis Museum is the best one. I will have to go next time.
The changing of the guards ceremony is pretty cool to watch. The ceremony happens every hour, on the hour. Throughout history, the guards have become symbols of bravery and courage for the Greek people. They dress in traditional uniforms and perform a ritual ceremony.
Monastiraki Situated in the heart of Monastiraki, our hotel, Mansion Hotel had a great location, comfy beds and a beautiful rooftop that overlooked the Parthenon. There are soooo many restaurants here, every one we went to had incredible veg options and tasty specials.
This is the heart of the city center. Great atmosphere, food and lots of little shops. It makes for a nice walk and is buzzing with people.
If you are taking the ferry to any of the islands, you will likely be leaving from Piraeus Port. It took us approx 30 mins from the heart of Athens via metro to make it to the port. We arrived quite early, since our ferry was one of the first heading to Mykonos that morning but already old men were sitting along the coast, participating in a game of cards.
Mykonos - Day 3 - 7 Mykonos is a no-brainer stop on the Cycladic island-hopping trail. Of all the islands on my island-hopping adventure, Mykonos was definitely the most memorable. My boyfriend and I had a total of 5 days in Mykonos, which made for ample amount of time to explore all of the nooks and crannies. Please see my full review on Mykonos here.
Naxos - Day 8 & 9
Naxos is the most family-friendly island of all the Cyclades. It was a chill stop while island hopping in Greece. There wasn't a whole lot to do but eat, drink, walk/drive around and lay on the sandy beaches. We rented a car to explore but realized most of the island was farmland. We still had fun driving around the old gravel roads, watching the cows and goats graze on the rugged landscape. Visible from the port is the ancient gate of a 6th century BC temple of Apollo located on the islet of Palatia. According to mythology, this is where the god Dionysus met Ariadni. It makes a great spot to watch the sunset or overlook the views of Naxos Town.
Ios - Day 10 & 11
When most people think of the Cycladic Islands of Greece, places like Mykonos and Santorini usually come to mind, BUT there are so many other (over 220) amazing and unique islands worth exploring, specifically Ios! Ios was my favourite island. It was incredibly picturesue, not too busy and was very affordable. Please see my full review on Ios here.
Santorini - Day 12 & 13
Every summer, dreamy photos of jet setting Instagrammers vacationing in the luxurious cliff side villages of Santorini invade my feed. Iconic white washed churches with bright blue doomed roofs, overlooking the backdrop of the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, all the while, teetering on the caldera of a volcanic rim. It is truly a site for sore eyes. But behind those edited and carefully selected photos, sits the real Santorini. Please see my full review on Santorini here.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my Greek adventures. I am confident I will return in a couple of years to explore more islands and other areas of main land Greece. If you have any questions about my 2 week trip to Greece OR any recommendations of other amazing areas of Greece for when I return, feel free to hit me up via private message or leave a line in the comment sections below!