Planning the perfect Greek islands itinerary is often top of the list for visitors to Southern Europe. Year after year, Greece tops the list of best holiday destinations in Europe. Could it be the friendly locals, the amazing cuisine, or the gorgeous islands that bring visitors back?
Of course, it’s all of the above, but Greece has so much to offer to a first-timer that it can often be confusing knowing where to start. Don’t worry we’ve got you covered with this Greek island hopping itinerary showcasing the most iconic destinations in Greece.
Read on to discover the perfect way to spend 7 to 10 days in the Greek islands.
How Many Days in the Greek Islands?
With 227 inhabited Greek islands to explore, you could spend a lifetime exploring golden beaches and white-washed towns.
There are six major groups of islands in Greece, and most travellers choosing a first-time Greek islands itinerary will opt for the famous Cyclades.
Of course, the delightful Dodecanese, the iconic Ionian (like Kefalonia and Corfu) and the sleepy Saronic islands are all worth their own trips. But ferries often link islands in the same group, so sticking to one chain will be easier and will allow you to effortlessly hop from island to island.
In my experience, 7 days in the Greek islands will serve as a snapshot into this amazing corner of the world.
But if time allows it, you should try and spend at least 10 days in the Greek islands – the sleepy villages, warm evenings and views from the ferries are intoxicating and addictive!
Getting To & Around the Greek Islands
Most visitors to Greece will arrive at Athens International Airport, the largest in the country. Get your bearings in the capital then head to the port of Piraeus, then onto the islands. Santorini and Mykonos airports also serve European arrivals in the busy summer months.
The obvious, and the most iconic and idyllic way to make your way around your Greek island hopping route is using Greece’s extensive ferry network.
Ferries run frequently, and price affects quality and journey time. Slow boats are cheaper, but SLOW – whilst fast boats are more expensive and quicker. But note due to bad weather, fast boats generally only run during the summer.
You should book any peak-season ferries well ahead of time, tickets for fast boats can sell out well in advance. You can book ferries online here.
On the islands, public transport in peak season is quite efficient, so unless you want to get off the beaten track, you shouldn’t need your own transport. If you do decide to rent a car, you can browse options here.
7-10 Day Greek Islands Itinerary
So, pack your flip flops, get your best Instagram hat, and make sure your camera is charged as we’re about to embark on the ultimate Greek island-hopping itinerary!
If you only have 7 days in the Greek islands, it’s perfect for a classic Athens-Santorini-Mykonos itinerary (with a stop on another island as well). If you have 10 days, you will have more time to visit even more islands.
Day 1 – Athens
Athens, the vibrant, unorthodox, love-it-or-hate-it capital is where most Greek adventures start.
The first stop during your day in Athens is the Acropolis. Visible from across the city, with temples dating back nearly 2,400 years, the jewel in the crown is the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the city’s namesake Athena.
Heading downhill from the Acropolis, investigate the Ancient Agora, littered with statues and ruins including the incredible temple of Hephaestus.
Exploring atmospheric Monastiraki square will lead you down alleys to shops filled with everything as well as delightful tavernas. There are plenty of accommodation options in this area.
A must-see is the changing of the guard at the parliament. Every hour the elaborately dressed presidential guard, the Evzones, march in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier.
For dinner, explore the hip Athens neighbourhood of Psiri, stopping at the delicious Lithos Tavern, before drinks at 360 Cocktail bar, with illuminated views of the Acropolis.
Where to Stay in Athens
Athens Ivy Suites – If you’re visiting Athens on a mid-range budget then this hotel is a good option. They have a number of clean and comfortable rooms on offer, a great location for seeing the highlights of the city and a terrace with beautiful panoramic views. Click here to check availability
The Modernist Athens – Luxury travellers will love this 4-star hotel in Athens. Located in the perfect spot for exploring the highlights of the Greek capital, they have a number of bright and modern rooms available and plenty of other amenities to enjoy. Click here to check availability
101 Adrianou Apartments – This aparthotel gives you the convenience of having your own flat while staying in Athens with the amenities of a hotel. They have a range of fully-furnished apartments on offer and a location perfect for exploring the Greek capital. Click here to check availability
City Circus Athens – This hostel is a great option for those pinching pennies in Athens (or who simply want a social atmosphere). They have both private rooms and dorms available, a great location and they organise social events for guests, as well. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Athens hotels!
Day 2 – Mykonos
Start early and head to the port of Piraeus, before boarding a high-speed ferry destined for the Island of the Winds, Mykonos.
Your first stop should be to explore the beautiful main town of Chora. A maze of winding alleyways filled with shops, churches and whitewashed houses with painted shutters.
Explore the waterfront, stopping to admire the Paraportiani church, which is five separate chapels that are all built together. Look out for the island’s mascot Petros the Pelican, who can often be found taking an afternoon walk in this area.
Little Venice is full of restaurants and cocktail bars with excellent views over the water. Mykonos is a foodie heaven, but book ahead in the summer months – try M-Eating or Eva’s Garden for delicious cuisine.
There are a myriad of cute pensions and hotels in Chora, ideal for couples. If you want something more luxurious head to Elia beach, or if you like to party stay at Paradise Beach. There are countless beautiful beaches on Mykonos so you can’t really go wrong.
Where to Stay in Mykonos
Panormos Village – This lovely hotel located on the North Coast of Mykonos is a great option for those looking for a mid-range option on the island. They have a range of wonderful rooms on offer, have breakfast included each morning and there is even a swimming pool for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
ELA Boutique Hotel & Spa – This boutique hotel located close to Elia Beach is fantastic for those looking for a great luxe option in Mykonos where cost isn’t a factor. They have a number of rooms available, a great terrace and breakfast served each morning. Click here to check availability
Alissachni Mykonos – Located in the village of Psarou, this luxe hotel is perfect for those after the high life in Mykonos. There are a range of suites available, some rooms include private pools and/or hot tubs and there is breakfast available daily. Click here to check availability
MyCocoon Hostel – Solo and budget travellers will love this hostel in Mykonos. Offering both dorms and private rooms, they also have a swimming pool and an on-site bar — perfect for making friends while island hopping in Greece! Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Mykonos!
Day 3 – Mykonos
With a full day to explore, start early to discover all that Mykonos has to offer!
If history is your thing, take a guided tour of Delos. A 30-minute boat ride from Mykonos, this island is an archaeological site and is the birthplace of gods Apollo and Artemis.
A package including return boat trip, guide and ticket is well worth the cost and will take up about four hours of your day. You can book the guided morning tour here.
If beaches are more your thing, don’t worry because Mykonos has you covered there too! The southern coast of the island has beaches for every taste – from family-friendly Ornos, to raucous Paradise Beach, and LGBTQ-friendly Super Paradise. The beaches can all be explored via the Mykonos water taxi.
Day 4 – Paros
Today we’ll be taking our foot off the gas a little and taking a morning ferry across to idyllic Paros.
You’ll arrive in Parikia, the biggest town on the island of Paros, and the most central location to stay. The town is a jumble of gorgeous alleys filled with bougainvillaea, delightful cafes to grab a frappe and seafront tavernas and bars.
Be sure to check out the mighty Ekatontapiliani – the Church of 100 Doors. This church complex is steeped in legend and rumour has it there are 99 visible doors, and one hidden door. When the hidden door is found, Constantinople will return to Greece!
Check in and then jump on the public bus over to Santa Maria beach. This organised beach has great restaurants, watersports, excellent tunes and drinks flowing throughout the day.
Where to Say in Paros
Hotel Dina – Located in the heart of Parikia, this mid-range hotel has the perfect location for exploring all Paros has to offer. They also have a myriad of clean and comfortable rooms available and there is even free parking available if you have a car. Click here to check availability
Paros Palace – If you’re looking for a luxury option in Paros then this plush hotel in Parikia village is an excellent choice. They have a number of beautiful rooms on offer and countless amenities to ensure your stay is a memorable one. Click here to check availability
Nautilus Apartments-Suites – Those after their own space in Paros will love this aparthotel on the island. There are a number of fully-furnished flats on offer that can suit all kinds of group sizes and they have a great location for exploring the island. Click here to check availability
Paros Backpackers – This hostel is a great option for those looking for to visit Greece on a budget. They have a range of both dorm beds and private rooms available, a swimming pool and excellent common areas. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Paros hotels!
Day 5 – Paros
Paros has some of the clearest water in Greece, and getting out to explore the many coves & beaches is a must. Jump on an organised boat tour and head out for a day on the waves – many of the tours include a BBQ lunch onboard.
Did you know that Paros is one of Europe’s best windsurfing destinations? The east coast of the island can be very windy and is a great spot to try this fun sport.
If you fancy exploring on foot, get the small ferry over to Antiparos to check out the island’s many cave systems. More hiking opportunities can be found in the interior of Paros around the hilltop village of Lefkes, checking out Byzantine ruins, and ancient stone paths.
For dinner, you must head to the tiny fishing village of Naoussa where you can get some delicious traditional Greek cuisine. Nestled in a cove protected by a Venetian fort, you’ll find seafood tavernas all along the waterfront serving beautiful food well into the night.
Day 6 – Santorini
Heading south, today we will head off to maybe the most iconic Greek island and hop on a ferry to Santorini.
Actually an archipelago of five islands, Santorini was shaped when the original volcanic island of Strogili erupted over 3,500 years ago, leaving us with a series of smaller islands. Nearly all visitors will stay on the main island of Thera – the only other inhabited option being the laidback Thirassia.
Most travellers will stay in the capital of Fira, on the southern black sand beaches of Perissa or Kamari, or in the expensive but enchanting cave houses of the village of Oia.
Both Fira and Oia are on the caldera, the cliffs that are left from the old eruption, and you can find restaurants and cafes in both towns to gaze out at the incredible views at sunset.
Where to Stay in Santorini
Kalimera Hotel – Mid-range travellers will love this family-run hotel in Santorini. Situated close to a number of sandy beaches, they have a number of clean and comfortable rooms available, there’s a swimming pool and breakfast is included daily. Click here to check availability
Seaside Breeze – This luxury hotel is a great choice for those looking for something fancy on their Greek island hopping route. They have both standard rooms and larger suites available – all with their own balcony. There is also a terrace, pool and breakfast daily for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Remezzo Villas – If you’re looking for a luxury option during your time in Santorini, then these villas are an excellent option. There are a range of suites to choose from along with a daily breakfast, swimming pool and outdoor terrace. Click here to check availability
Caveland Hostel – Situated in a small village on the island, this hostel is perfect for those visiting Santorini on a budget. They offer both dorms and private rooms and there is even a swimming pool for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Santorini!
Day 7 – Santorini
Santorini has so much to explore, and if this is the final day of your 7-day Greek islands itinerary it will certainly be one to remember!
Wherever you are on the caldera, your eyes are often drawn towards the two imposing volcanoes jutting from the water. If you’re feeling active you can join a great day tour that will take you on a hike up the active Nea Kameni, and then swimming in the thermal mud springs at Palea Kameni.
Afterwards, you can take the cable car from the old port up to Fira for one last shopping trip in town to grab some unique souvenirs.
If you are heading back to Athens to end your trip, you grab a quick one-hour flight that will take you straight to Athens International Airport, thus maximising your last day in Santorini!
Day 8 – Ios
If you’re lucky enough to be continuing your Greece itinerary beyond the Athens-Mykonos-Santorini route, then today it’s only a short 40-minute ferry ride to the nearby island of Ios.
A relatively unknown option compared to the likes of Mykonos and Santorini, Ios is famous in its own right. The first tourists visited in the 1960s and were hippies that camped on the beaches, stayed with locals and made makeshift homes in caves.
Now it is famous for its excellent restaurants, eclectic nightlife scene and its mix of raucous and relatively untouched beaches.
There are plenty of great value pensions in Chora, the main town, but if you want to be relaxing on the sand, then you should stay at Mylopotas Beach.
Mylopotas is a beautiful white sand beach, where you can get involved in beach volleyball, watersports, or just lounge on a hammock, iced coffee in hand and watch the world go by. You’re on holiday after all!
Where to Stay in Ios
Homer’s Inn Hotel – This cosy inn in central Ios is the perfect place for mid-range visitors to this island. They have a number of lovely rooms on offer and a great location for exploring all Ios has to offer. Click here to check availability
Levantes Ios Boutique Hotel – Those looking for luxury will love this plush hotel. They have a number of wonderful rooms to choose from, a gorgeous pool for guests to enjoy and a location perfect for exploring the incredible island of Ios. Click here to check availability
Hide Out Suites – These suites are perfect for those who’d like their own space on Ios. They have a range of different fully-furnished properties on offer along with an excellent location for exploring the island. There are also plenty of plush amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Francesco’s – If you’re island hopping in Greece on a budget, then this hostel is a great option. They offer both dorms and private rooms, they have great common areas and a fantastic location on the island. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Ios hotels!
Day 9 – Ios
Today, why not head to the interior of the island, where you can find the tomb of Homer, the poet responsible for the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Heading further afield you can find the super sleepy beaches of Magganari and Psathi where you can feel like you’re the only person on the whole of the Greek islands.
But as you are in Ios, it would be rude not to sample the nightlife. Start with some drinks at dinner, and then head into the main town around midnight – there are plenty of tiny bars dotted around the old town.
All have their own unique twist, be it Slammer, where they slam you on the head whilst wearing a crash helmet, Shush the silent Disco or Coo which plays funky R&B well into the wee hours.
Day 10 – Ferry to Athens
For the final day grab a tasty brunch at Hellenic Social in the old town and then head down to the port.
Jump aboard the ferry, it’ll take around four hours on the fast boat back to Athens. Stay in Monastiraki again, and if you aren’t up for exploring too far, grab some last-minute souvenirs on Adrianou street, featuring everything from olivewood backgammon sets to beautiful artisan jewellery.
For a relaxed experience, head to Mnisikleous street, known as the steps, where cafes and eateries have cushions and chairs right out on the street steps – it is very relaxed and bohemian.
Finish your evening with drinks at The Clumsies, one of the best cocktail bars in all of Europe – what a way to wrap up your 10-day Greek island-hopping itinerary!
Have More Time?
If you are lucky enough to have more time to spend in Greece, why not extend your trip to include a visit to Greece’s largest island Crete? This massive island is perfect for road-tripping and is dripping in culture, history and amazing beaches.
Alternatively, you could simply visit a few more islands in the Cyclades, including loves Milos, Naxos or Sifnos. Planning a trip to these islands is a little bit more off the beaten path than some of the other islands mentioned above and are the perfect addition on any trip to Greece.
The Saronic islands are only a short ferry ride from Athens (the closest island, Aegina, is only 40 minutes from the capital), and are a far more low-key experience than some of the busier Cyclades islands.
So, there you have it, the perfect way to spend 10 days in the Greek islands. You’ve seen the most famous, the most beautiful, the laid back and the craziest places in the Cycladic islands. But don’t worry, you have another 223 islands to come back and explore!
Are you planning a trip to the Greek islands? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!