How to Plan a Trip to Greece 2024: 6 Things You Need to Know

By Carper | Updated Jan. 22, 2024

With its picturesque islands, sun-soaked beaches, and rich history, Greece stands out as one of the top vacation destinations in Europe. It is particularly popular for celebrating momentous occasions, such as anniversaries, birthdays, and honeymoons.

Imagine being amazed by the breathtaking sunsets in Santorini, strolling leisurely through the Acropolis of Athens, which has withstood the test of time for thousands of years, and marveling at the majestic wonder known as the "Castles in the Sky" — Meteora.

However, planning a trip to Greece could be overwhelming. Read on to discover the essential things you need to know before embarking on your Greek adventure.

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1. The Top 5 Places to Visit in Greece

In addition to its many beautiful islands, Greece also has breathtaking inland scenery. For first-time visitors, we have carefully selected the top five must-see places for you as follows.

1) Santorini

Old Town of Oia at sunset, Santorini, GreeceOld Town of Oia at sunset, Santorini, Greece

Santorini, a mesmerizing volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, is renowned for its stunning sunset views and distinctive wine, attracting visitors from around the world every year.

While most visitors opt to stay in Fira town, we highly recommend basing yourself in Oia when in Santorini. Not only is it a mere 15-minute drive from Fira but it also offers an excellent vantage point for both sunset and volcanic coastline views. 

By staying in Oia, you could fully enjoy your trip by avoiding extra disruptions or hassle. Moreover, Oia's proximity to Ammoudi Bay makes boat trips easily accessible and you could also indulge in watery fun in the crystal-clear waters of Armonia Beach.

2) Athens

Athens View from Top with Mount Lycabettus, GreeceAthens View from Top with Mount Lycabettus, Greece

As the capital city of Greece, Athens offers a unique blend of ancient history, cultural richness, and modern vibrancy. 

The most iconic symbol of the city is the Acropolis, a monumental hill overlooking Athens, which is also a must-see for first-timers to catch a glimpse of its glorious past.

You would not want to miss out on the spectacular view from the top of Mount Lycabettus, witnessing the entire city bathed in an orange glow during sunset. When night falls, the vibrant nightlife lights up, creating an energetic atmosphere that should not be overlooked.

3) Crete

Panoramic view of Balos bay, Crete island, GreecePanoramic view of Balos bay, Crete island, Greece

Crete, the largest island in Greece, is a popular destination for families and couples due to its versatile offerings. Whether you're seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, Crete has something to offer for everyone.

For first-time visitors, we recommend choosing Chania as your base. It boasts well-developed facilities and allows easy access to multiple attractions within a short distance, making the most of your time and enabling you to explore various sites conveniently.

For instance, breathtaking Balos Lagoon is just an hour's drive away, while picturesque Elafonisi Beach, known for its pink sand, could be reached within 1½ hours.

4) Meteora

the Holy Trinity Monastery on top of the cliff, Meteora near Kalabaka, Trikala, GreeceThe Holy Trinity Monastery on top of the cliff, Meteora, Greece

Meteora, often referred to as "Castles in the Sky," is famous for its extraordinary natural rock formations and ancient monasteries that appear to be suspended in the air.

You would be amazed by the towering rocks and medieval monasteries, some of which are still active now, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of natural scenery and cultural heritages.

5) Mykonos

Sunny beautiful Mykonos in GreeceSunny beautiful Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, ranked as one of the world's top tourist destinations, is renowned for its vibrant nightlife and stunning beaches.

From the lively Paradise and Super Paradise beaches, known for their vibrant beach parties, to the serene and family-friendly Ornos and Agios Stefanos beaches, there is a wide range of options to suit your preferences.

2. Best Times to Visit Greece

Find out your best time to visit GreeceFind the time that suits you most to visit Greece

Greece is a year-round destination that could offer benefits whenever you want to visit.

Generally speaking, the best times to visit Greece for the best weather conditions are April to early June and September to October. During these months, temperatures average about 24°C (75°F), and you would avoid long wait times and high prices.

If your main purposes are island-hopping and relaxing on beaches, then your best time to visit Greece would be between May and October, when the seawater is warm. However, it's best to avoid the busier summer months from late June to August.

For budget travelers, November to March could be your best time since this is the low season to visit Greece, with the lowest prices and the fewest tourists. Most businesses on the islands would be closed during this period, so sticking with cities for sightseeing or celebrating festivals are popular choices.

To save unnecessary expenses and plan a smooth journey, it is highly recommended to reserve your flights and accommodation 3–6 months in advance and gain an early-bird discount. Or you could simply contact us at Global Highlights and we would customize a private tour just for you.

3. How Long to Spend in Greece

Although you could easily spend weeks and even months in Greece, 7 days would be enough for first-timers to experience the main highlights briefly. 

Typically, we would recommend that you visit Athens combined with one or two islands to gain a more comprehensive experience. Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete are the most popular choices.

  • Athens: A minimum of 2 days is suggested for Athens — one day for the Acropolis and Mount Lycabettus and the other for a city tour.
  • Santorini: We recommend staying in Santorini for at least 2 days, with 1 day to view the caldera and a stunning sunset, and 1 day for a boat tour to explore the old volcano and then relax on a beach.
  • Mykonos: Spend 1 day in Ano Mera village and enjoy the vibrant beach nightlife. You could spend another day on a trip to an island nearby, such as Delos or Syros.
  • Crete: You would need at least 2 days to visit the best that Crete offers — one day for Gramvousa, Balos Lagoon, and its beach and another to visit Heraklion Town and the Knossos Palace.

Below are two of our best-selling 7-day itineraries in Greece, popular with couples and families who wish to create lifelong memories.

Idea 1) 7-Day Classic Greece Trip with Aegean Islands

enjoys the view over the town of Mykonos island, Cyclades, GreeceThe view over the town of Mykonos island, Cyclades, Greece

Days 1–2: Santorini

After your first day of arriving in Santorini, you would ride a gondola to Fira town, where you could stroll around to admire the white-washed buildings and engage with locals.

Then, you would be transferred to Oia for afternoon tea, waiting for one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

You would spend another day there to savor some local wine with fresh fruits, then embark on a boat tour to explore the caldera and enjoy a sunset from a different perspective.

Days 3–4: Mykonos

Taking a ferry from Santorini to Mykonos, you would visit the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, which was built in the 14th century, and the windmills, then have dinner along the Little Venice harbor with a stunning sunset.

The second day in Mykonos would be free for you to explore this island however you want. We recommend Ano Mera village, which is a typical Greek-style building complex.

Days 5–7: Athens

Conclude your trip in Athens, with 1 day for a city tour visiting the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, and Syntagma Square. You would also hike up Mount Lycabettus to see the panoramic view of the city of Athens and the beautiful sunrise, and then go to Monastiraki Flea Market to experience the local culture and daily life.

Idea 2) 7-Day Greece Family Vacation

Family of four on european vacation on the edge of pool in Mykonos, GreeceEnjoy a family vacation in Greece

Days 1–5: Crete (Balos Beach and Balos Lagoon, Elafonisi Beach — a beach with pink sand, Samaria Gorge, Heraklion Town, and Knossos Palace)

Days 6–7: Athens (the Acropolis and its museum, Syntagma Square, Mount Lycabettus, and Monastiraki Flea Market)

This itinerary contains beaches, natural beauty, historical wonders, and the chance to engage with locals. It also saves the trouble of changing hotels repeatedly, making it perfect for families with teenagers to celebrate a graduation or a birthday.

For a special experience, we would arrange a cooking class for you and your family to learn how Greek cuisine is made and to work together for your delicious meal.

If you have further ideas, please feel free to contact us at Global Highlights. We would be happy to personalize a private family tour for you, ensuring a hassle-free and tailored experience.

4. How Much Would a Trip to Greece Cost?

Typically, a private tour in Greece would start at a cost of $500 per person per day based on a group of 2–4 people. This price includes a private guide, car, domestic transfer fares, a full-day itinerary, attraction tickets, and 4-star hotels. Please note that international flights are not included in this cost.

However, prices may vary depending on the time of year. For instance, during the peak season (July–August) and festivals like Christmas, prices may increase by 50% due to the higher demand.

To secure the best deals, it's recommended to book flights and hotels 3–6 months in advance. Contact us at Global Highlights for a customized private tour with all the bookings done for you to match your budget.

For a detailed cost breakdown, check out How Much Does a Trip to Greece Cost?

5. How to Get Around in Greece

To maximize your time in Greece, we suggest three transportation options: flights, ferries, and private transfers.

  • Flights: Greece boasts multiple international and domestic airports, enabling swift travel between cities and eliminating uncertainties associated with sea travel between islands. Although flights could be the most efficient way of traveling, you may require a transfer to Athens as a connecting hub.
  • Ferries: For convenient island-hopping, ferries provide the most suitable mode of transportation since flights may have restrictions and limitations. It's important to note that ferry availability decreases significantly during Greece's low season from November to March, leading to the possibility that there may be no ferry connections between the islands for days or even weeks during this time.
  • Private transfers: Choosing private transfers allows you the freedom to travel at your own pace without adapting to fixed schedules, granting you the maximum flexibility for your itinerary. To enhance your experience and avoid unnecessary trouble, we highly recommend using private transfers for daily excursions and city tours.

Reach out to us at Global Highlights and we would relieve you of the burden of route planning and navigating, creating a customized private tour for your preferences.

6. Do I Need a Visa to Visit Greece?

To visit Greece for tourism purposes, travelers from a few countries are required to obtain a visa. Citizens of countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada enjoy visa-free entry for tourism.

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