Our 2019 trip to Greece was even more spectacular than our first and this 10 day itinerary includes a lot of adventure in Athens, Crete and Santorini. We like to hike so we incorporated this into our trip. For those that like adventure, hiking and lots of activity, this trip is for you!!
Why We Choose Athens, Crete and Santorini for our Greece Trip.
There are so many places to go to in Greece, so why Athens, Crete and Santorini? We chose Athens because there were still so many places we wanted to visit that we didn’t see last time. Crete was chosen because of the diverse landscape, great hikes, beaches and culture. Finally, we picked Santorini because we love Santorini!
In Athens we again chose to stay at Electra Palace in the historic Plaka Area because of its close proximity to where we wanted to go and we like the hotel’s rooftop pool and Acropolis view. We also absolutely loved this area last time we were here and wanted to enjoy it again. In addition, Athens is a good beginning and ending spot in Greece. After a long flight it is a good place to re-group. Also if you spend the first and last night in Athens you won’t have to worry about missing the next leg of your trip or your flight home if for some reason you have been delayed. We also liked the familiarity and visited some of the same places as 2018.
Crete is a beautiful island and has many areas we wanted to hike and discover. We decided on Crete because there is so much to do and see there. In essence, Crete has it all, mountains, villages, beaches, gorges, waterfalls, historic places and great resorts too. We had also heard that Crete has amazing food and we found this to be true! In addition, the people of Crete have a reputation of hospitality and authenticity which we experienced wherever we went. We choose to stay in both Chania and Elounda as they were good central places near where we wanted to go. We did have to do a bit of driving, just remember to make sure you have an International Drivers License if you want to rent a car.
We choose Santorini again this trip because we love it. It is the feeling we get when we are there looking over the caldera upon the glistening sea. We did not have time to hike from Imerovigli to Oia last trip and we wanted to do this as well as see more of Oia and also hike down to Amoudi Bay. We also wanted to explore more of the island on our own. Santorini is not a large island but there is so much to see and do there. They have the best Fava and Tomato Fritters as these particular Fava Beans and Tomatoes are unique to Santorini and only grow there. The taste of both are unique!
10 Day Greece Itinerary:
This Athens, Crete and Santorini itinerary contains a lot of links to click on for more information on the places we visited in Greece. The links are to other blog posts I wrote or other internet connections.
Day 1 Athens
- Arrive by Plane.
- Check in at Electra Palace, same place we stayed last year located in the Plaka Area.
- Lunch in the Plaka. We ate at the same place as last year, The Old Tavern of Psarras, only this year enjoyed eating outside on the Plaka Steps. The Plaka Steps is an area that has restaurants built up on the hillside in addition, table and chairs are set up on the steps.
- Exploring Anafiotika. This charming area is a historic place in Athens that is reminiscent of a Greek Island. This area is so much fun to wander around in. Remember though, people live in this area so be respectful and stay on the public sidewalks.
- Visiting Ancient Agora and Temple of Hephaestus was a lot of fun. The Temple of Hephaestus is so beautiful. It is located in the Ancient Agora which was once a gathering and market place.
- Gelato at Da Vinci, near the Agora. We had Gelato here twice on our first trip so made this a must stop visit!!
- Wandered around the Plaka Area in Athens. In general, we just love exploring here!
- Swimming and sunset viewing at Electra Palace. Part of what we love about this hotel is the view from the pool! As can be seen, there is a good view of the Acropolis from here also.
- Dinner at Adrianos. We happened to find this place by just wandering around. We ate outside where we enjoyed Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) and Saganaki (Fried Cheese). You can find both of these everywhere we went in Greece and each area has it’s own version. We love Saganaki and for this reason ate a lot of it on this trip!
- Wandering around Athens at night is really something we enjoy. We enjoy the lights and sounds, coupled with just being there makes for a great evening.
Day 2 Crete
- Sunrise hike up Philopappos Hill, Athens. We woke up before the break of dawn to hike up Philoppos Hill. The walk was lovely, although steep. Good cardio before breakfast. Not to mention, the views and sunrise were beyond amazing! A definite activity if you like to hike a bit and enjoy sunrises.
- Breakfast Electra Palace. They have a nice buffet not to mention an Acropolis view.
- Fly to Chania, Crete.
- Rental car at airport. We rented a SUV as some of the places we drove to advised this.
- Check in and Swim at Hotel, Domes Nuroz in Chania. Our plane was delayed so we just stayed at our lovely hotel and swam in the sea.
- Dinner at Siroccos Restaurant next to Domes Nuroz. We had a seaside view here.
Day 3 Crete-Hiking
- Breakfast Domes Nuroz Hotel, Chania. They have a nice buffet in a nice setting.
- Drive to Balos Beach about an hour or so from our hotel. The drive at the last part was a winding dirt road with occasional goats crossing.
- Hiking Balos Beach in Crete is a must do! Down is not too tough but up is quite the work out. Moreover, you are rewarded with a beautiful scenic hike and if you look around you will find pink sand!!
- Visiting Elafonisi. The Beach at Elafonisi is known for its pink sand, unfortunately there was a storm shortly before we arrived so the sand wasn’t as pink as we had hoped, had the sun been out I am sure the beach would have shown more pink color! Regardless, we still enjoyed the beach!
- Dinner Domes Nuroz Hotel. This was right at our hotel. Didn’t get photos though.
Day 4 Crete-Hiking
- Breakfast Domes Nuroz. Nice Buffett which included lots of different breads and spreads!
- Hike to Katholiko Monastery. Above all, this was my favorite hike on this trip. Loved the history and then hiking to the sea. The trail was rocky and it was hot but very doable with careful footing. We were informed absolutely no swimming once you reach the sea and looking at the rocky shore we totally agreed.
- Hike to Seitan Limania Beach. This beach was amazing but quite tricky to get to. The drive wasn’t too bad but the short hike in was steep and slippery. Going up was actually better than going down.
- Dinner at Kuzina Galerie. We enjoyed our dinner here plus it was just across the street from our hotel.
Day 4 Crete-Hiking
- Breakfast Domes Nuroz.
- Hike to Kourtaliotiko Gorge Waterfall. This waterfall was a bit of work to get to with lots of steps going down, then of course we had to go back up! Glad we stopped to see it though!!
- Hike to Preveli Beach and Palm Grove. This is another awesome hike in Crete! After you hike down to the beach, via many steps, you reach a beautiful beach with a river from the Kourtaliotiko Gorge flowing into the sea. Wear some water shoes though, as there are lots of rocks in the sea here! Also take a walk in the Palm Grove Forest!
- Moni Preveli Monastery. We did not take the tour here as we were short on time but wish we had. All in all, I love these ancient buildings.
- Lunch. We are not sure where we ate, but it wasn’t far from the Monastery heading North. Once again, we were hungry and saw a spot to eat at so pulled over. A great place to pick!! We loved this place! Food was fantastic and generous!! As can be seen, view was amazing!!
- Explore Chania Harbor. Chania Harbor is in old town Chania and is also a fun place to check out. We enjoyed walking along the harbor and also out to the Venetian Lighthouse. We ran out of time so didn’t see as much as we would like but regardless, loved the charm and vibe of the area.
- Dinner at Gallini Restaurant in Chania Harbor. We found this place earlier in the day and loved the way it looked so made reservations. Not to mention we loved the owners hospitality and had a great time here! Great food!
Day 5 Crete-Exploring
- Breakfast Domes Nuroz. We again enjoyed the Buffett.
- Knossos Ancient Minoan Ruins. These are the oldest ruins and in addition the most spectacular in Crete. Above all, this is an awesome place to spend a couple of hours!!
- Lunch at Taverna Stefanis in Krasi, Crete. Driving through the mountains in Crete we came across this quiet little taverna. Of course, we just had to stop. We had the most amazing lunch and in addition dessert!
- Windmills of Lassithi. While driving to Elounda we passed these beautiful windmills. Together with the beautiful countryside they were pretty cool.
- Elounda Peninsula All Suites Hotel. We loved everything about this hotel. In addition to a spectacular view, the room was immaculate and the staff friendly and informative. Not to mention there is a great pool, beach, spa and restaurants. There is no doubt we definitely will be staying here again!
Day 6 Crete-Exploring
- Breakfast Elounda Peninsula Hotel. The buffet breakfast was awesome as was the early morning view over the sea. In addition, you could also order from the menu as well.
- Boat from Plaka, Crete to Spinalonga. Conveniently, this is just a few minutes drive from our hotel.
- Explore Spinalonga. This is another must do. We had such a great time here. Spinalonga is an island off of Crete that was once used for Lepers. There is an abandon village there they lived in. The island was also a Venetian Fortress in more ancient times so we explored the entire island all the way to the top of the Fortress!
- Boat back to Plaka.
- Snack at Plaka at a taverna called Epico. This is just up the steps from where the boat dropped us off. We had French Fries and Tzatziki with Bread.
- Swim, Snorkel, Jet Ski back at our Hotel. We decided to relax by the pool that went out into the sea when we returned. All in all, it was a great afternoon!
- Returned our SUV to hotel next to Elounda Peninsula as arranged with car rental. In fact, this worked out very well.
- Dinner Elounda Peninsula. We had dinner at the Greek Buffet here and then walked around the grounds and pools before bed. We enjoyed a drink at the Beach Bar and then called it a night!
Day 7 Santorini
- Breakfast Elounda Peninsula Hotel. Since we had to catch an early boat they made us a ‘to go’ breakfast with breads, fruits, meat and cheese. Very nice.
- Ferry to Santorini.
- Check in Astra Suites. We again chose to stay here during our time in Santorini as we just love this place. You can’t beat the views! The service and amenities are fantastic. It is almost like we have our own little house here!!
- Walk from Imerovigli to Fira. We enjoyed this 30 minute walk in 2018 and decided to do it again! Plus we were looking for a place to eat!
- Lunch at Pirouni. This restaurant has a great view of the caldera and wonderful food. It is located in Firostefani, just shortly before you get to Fira. We had amazing Fava and Tomatokeftedes (fried tomatoes). These are both very addictive and so very delicious
- Exploring Fira. We enjoyed walking through Fira. First along the Caldera and then we weaved through the narrow streets.
- Swim at Astra Suites. We returned in time for a swim and cocktail at our hotel.
- Dinner at Astra Suites. Dinner at Astra Suites is a special treat. The food was beyond amazing and the service wonderful. The star of the night was the sunset over the Rock of Skaros.
Day 8 Santorini-Hiking
- Breakfast at Astra Suties. Even though we were full from the night before we still had room for breakfast! Breakfast is brought to your room each morning and served on your own patio.
- Hike from Imerovigli to Oia. We were ready to go after breakfast. This hike was something we have been looking forward to since we left in 2018! It did not disappoint. The views were stunning and we enjoyed the 5 mile hike.
- Lunch at Roka. This out of the way restaurant was perfect after a long hike. We had breads, dips and meatballs. Just enough and very tasty. The view was nice as well.
- Self tour at Oia. We loved this town and enjoyed winding around the streets and looking for all of the blue domes and windmills! So much fun!
- Hike to Amoudi Bay. Even though the day was hot, we decided to take the over 175 steps down to Amoudi Bay. We were glad we did and enjoyed seeing Oia looking jp from down by the bay.
- Snack at Sunset Amoudi. Of course we were hot and tired when we reached the bottom and decided we needed a snack! We didn’t seem to have any problems with our appetites on this trip!
- Taxi ride back to Astra Suites, cost 45 Euros.
- Dinner at Anogi. We ate here in 2018 so we knew it was good. In addition, it is just a few minutes walk from our hotel.
Day 8 Santorini-Dune Buggy Day
- Breakfast at Astra Suites. We again ate this outside our room on our patio!
- Dune Buggy self tour of Santorini. We were a bit tentative about Steve driving around in Santorini as the traffic can be crazy, but we were assured that it was the slow time of year and it was a Tuesday so we would be fine. Just be back before late afternoon traffic. So off we went. (You will need an international driver’s license to drive these). Oh this was so fun!!!
- Pyrgos. Pyrgos was once a large fortress with a village built around it. You can still see much of the fortress and walk to the top. It was hot though with little shade. We loved this cute little village and enjoyed exploring it.
- Ancient Thira. Next on our list was Ancient Thira. Dating back to BC times this ancient city is on top of a mountain. We took a curvy narrow stone road to the top only to find out that it is closed on Tuesdays! Guess we will have to come back some day!!
- Lunch at Amalthia in Kamari. With a stroke of luck, we found this spot just driving by. We liked the looks of it and they advertised Souvlaki Plates, which we were hungry for. Highly recommend it! Staff was knowledgeable and we enjoyed chatting with them. Food was fantastic at a great price!
- Kamari. This town is set on a black beach. We enjoyed strolling on the promenade once we figured out it wasn’t the road. Oops!!
- Return Dune Buggy at our hotel. Astra Suites had arranged this for us.
- Transfer ride to Amoudi Bay cost was 45 Euros.
- Dinner Amoudi Bay. We ate at Sunset Amoudi, same place we ate at when we were here yesterday. We sat on the top terrace and enjoyed the sunset.
- Transfer ride back to Astra Suites
- Walk to Fira at night. We again enjoyed a walk to Fira and enjoyed the excitement of the town at night. Totally different vibes than in the day!
Day 9 Athens-Exploring
- Breakfast Astra Suites.
- Hike up Rock of Skaros. This is the large rock in front of our hotel. There was once an ancient fortress built around the rock. Ruined by several earthquakes, you can still see some of it as you hike. Beautiful hiking with lots of steps!!
- Plane to Athens. Just a note on Santorini airport. It is crazy but better described as organized chaos. You don’t arrive 2 hours early as in the US. Basically if you are early you will wait outside until it’s time and it is very hot and crowded. We were fortunate for our tour agency to get us there at just the right time and we showed airport personnel our tickets and were moved to the front!
- Transfer to Electra Palace.
- Swim at Pool.
- Dinner at Old Tavern of Stamatopoulus. Originally a grocery store. back in 1882 this taverna was delicious. We sat on a terrace and enjoyed the wonderful food and live music. This is place we will be sure to come back to! We were told about this place by a couple from New Jersey while at Santorini Airport!!
- Eat Gelato at DaVinci’s again and wandered around Athens at night, one of our favorite things to do!
Day 10 Athens-Exploring
- Sunrise hike up Lycbettus Hill. We had heard the view from the top of this tallest peak in Athens was incredible and we heard right! We left before dawn so we could see the sun rise.
- Breakfast Electra Palace
- Temple of Zeus. The temple of Zeus was once larger than the Parthenon. Several columns remain.
- Lunch at Tavern of Psarras. We really do enjoy eating here!
- Swim at hotel pool.
- Dinner at Daphnes. We found this upscale restaurant at the base of the Acropolis and found the food to be very good. We especially enjoyed the cheese tray.
Fly Day Home
- Breakfast Electra Palace.
- Transfer to Plane.
- Fly Home.
I hope you enjoyed our 10 day trip through Athens, Crete and Santorini Greece. It really is a great place to travel. We had a 14 day trip planned for 2020 but there’s a good chance it will have to wait until 2021! So stay tuned for my next Greece trip Sept 2021 to Athens, Crete, Naxos and Santorini! We still have so many more historic sites to visit, trails to hike, beaches to enjoy and most of all a lot more food to eat!!!
Something else I would like to mention is while in Crete we fell in love with their honey and olive oil! Check out my post on Greek honey!
Planning for a trip is always fun! It adds to the anticipation and helps keep you on track when you get there. Accurate resources are a must and if you use a travel agency using someone you trust is invaluable. I spent a lot of timing planning where to go in Greece and what to do and see in Athens, Crete and Santorini.
Our travel agent True Trips Greece came highly recommended to us. They are located in Greece so know all the ins and outs. They arranged all of our hotels, transfers (car, local air and ferry) and some of our activities once we arrived in Greece for our entire 10 day trip for Athens, Crete and Santorini.
My favorite internet sites for Greece are as follows:
- Greeka.com This site has so much useful information and is a great resource for Greece.
- Visit Greece From Home This is a new site and I did not use it planning my trips but recently came across it.
- Santorini. com is a great resource for Santorini. Lots of background information in addition to information you wouldn’t normally find.
Guide Books and Maps
I am a big believer in having guide books and maps. They come in handy Greece and I used them for Athens and Crete, didn’t find a great one for Santorini though. Maps especially as GPS wasn’t the most reliable in Crete.
- Rick Steves Pocket Athens guidebook and found a lot of useful information in it. There is also a pocket map.
- Top 10 Athens (DK Eyewitness Travel Guide) It includes a top 10 list of restaurants, museums, things to do etc. It also divides into top 10 of each area. This is my favorite guide book. It does come with a pocket map.
- Athens Street Map which was more in-depth and very useful.
- Top 10 Crete (DK Eyewitness Travel Guide). Just like the Athens guide this book includes a top 10 list of everything and also comes with a pocket map.
- National Geographic Crete Map. I like this map as it was easy to read and accurate. It was also sturdy and didn’t fall apart.
For More Detail on the Activities and Places We Traveled in Athens, Crete and Santorini, Greece on You Can Follow These Links:
Other Greece Trips
Diary of a Gen-X recommendations for hotels, restaurants, activities or tour companies are based on our own experiences. We do not receive compensation for recommending at any of these nor are we affiliates of any hotels, restaurants, activities or tour companines. We are an Amazon affiliate so if you purchase the tour books or maps we do get a small commission at no cost to you.