I am so excited to finally share the fantastic experience we had on our summer vacation in Greece. It was 9 days of great weather, the most delicious/fresh food and extremely nice people, not to mention the gorgeous, unique places we got to visit. As I said in one of my Instagram posts, I have re-added Greece to our bucket list and I can’t wait to go back. We visited two islands: Mykonos and Santorini and finished our trip in Athens.
The good thing about flying from Philadelphia is that there are direct flights to Athens. We landed in Athens on a Friday, than waited for our connection to Mykonos. It was my birthday weekend, so I was bursting with excitement.
We took a quick 45 minute flight to Mykonos. Mykonos is known for its great parties and since it was my birthday weekend, we decided to start our trip there.
We got picked up at the airport and headed straight to our hotel. On the way there, I noticed that every house was bright white. I was so intrigued about the maintenance behind it. Then, we learned that painting the houses in white is actually a requirement from the island’s government. That includes the colors of the shutters and doors as well, which are light blue, dark blue, grey, green, yellow, brown and red. It sounds very strict, but it does make the island unique.
Our hotel was a 20 minute drive from Mykonos Town. One important thing you should know is that taking a taxi is incredibly difficult there. There are only 30 taxis in the whole island, so the wait could be long and the ride a little pricy. That’s why most tourists rent ATVs. This way you can explore the island at your own pace not having to worry about it.
We visited all the beaches. There is an affordable water taxi that takes you to all of them leaving from Platis Gialos. It’s only 8 euros round trip per person or 20 euros to ride back and forth all day.
Our favorite beach was actually the one where our hotel was located in, Platis Gialos. It had a great atmosphere, with tons of hotels and restaurants on the beach. You can rent two beach chairs and an umbrella for 15/20 euros and enjoy the beautiful view listening to some DJs in the area playing house music.
Platis Gialos is within walking distance to Paraga. Paraga is also worth seeing, but be aware of some nudity. In Paraga, we visited Scorpios, a sophisticated beach club. We actually celebrated my birthday there. We had a blast! The place is beautiful and has a pretty unique environment. So worth it
Paradise and Super Paradise are the most popular party beaches on the island. They are well known for their wild, fun parties, more like Vegas style, which attracts a huge crowd especially in the summer.
Elia is the furthest of all. There is not much to do there to be honest. It is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little bit too secluded for our taste. It’s also more expensive.
MUST VISIT PLACES IN MYKONOS
One of my favorite spots in the entire island. The windmills can be seen from every point of the village of Mykonos, also called Chora. I was really looking forward to watching the sunset at the windmills and it did not disappoint me. It was for sure one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
Little Venice is located within walking distance from the windmills, a short one per say. It is the most romantic spot in the island. There you can find many restaurants right near the water, which allows you to enjoy the beautiful sunset Mykonos has to offer while enjoying the fresh Greek cuisine.
Do yourself a huge favor and get lost in Mykonos Town. It’s just so unique and beautiful. You will walk through these cute little allies that will lead you to great restaurants and locals’ residences. You’ll be able to enjoy the Cycladic architectural style and character that have remained intact, thanks to the island’s strict building regulations.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the Myconian Ambassador while in Mykonos. It’s located within a few minute walk from Platis Gialos. The staff was warm, welcoming and very helpful. Our room was spacious, comfortable and had a unique modern design. We also had balcony with a Jacuzzi, where we enjoyed an amazing view of the sea. We really enjoyed our stay there and I totally recommend it.
WHERE WE ATE
Caprice – It’s located right below the windmills. Great option if you want to enjoy delicious seafood watching the sunset.
Kounelas Fish Tavern – Fresh seafood dishes are their specialties, but they also serve other kinds of meat. It has a beautiful and family friendly environment.
Maereio – This is a cute, small family restaurant. One of the oldest ones in the island. It’s well known by its true Greek Myconian dishes. They do not take reservations though. You have to get there a little early to guarantee your table.
Pasta Fresca Barkia – I am a big fan of Italian food so obviously this one was my favorites. Very cute and unique set up, with a pasta stand right outside the restaurant to show the different pasta styles available, which are all handmade. You can actually watch them prepare the pasta every day after 6pm.
Mykonos was amazing in general. Totally worth the visit. We stayed there for 3 days and for us it was the perfect amount of time. The island is small so we got to explore pretty much everything.
Ahhh Santorini! I left a little piece of my heart in that cute little island, so I am totally going back someday. It’s easy to say that it was one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. I feel a little sad when I think about it because it does not feel like I enjoyed it enough. We stayed there 3 days, but in my opinion 5 days is a must if you want to explore and enjoy everything.
We took a Jet Ferry boat from Mykonos to Santorini. Convenient is the word I would use to describe it. It was just so easy and fast. It was only a 2 hour ride and I recommend it for sure! We purchased the tickets online in advance and the only thing we had to do is arrive at the port a little bit early to pick them up. Piece of cake!
We stayed in Imerovigli, this gorgeous little village built right off a cliff. Imerovigli is around a 20 minute walk from Fira, the capital of Santorini, and a 15/20 minute ride to Oia. It was for sure the perfect location for us because it wasn’t as busy as the villages I mentioned above. We had the most fantastic view of the caldera at our hotel. I still remember not believing my eyes once we got there. It looked fake.. surreal!!
MUST VISIT PLACES IN SANTORINI
Oia was the first place we visited. Fun fact, the letter “o” is not pronounced in the name Oia which we didn’t know of course. I could not wait to get there. It was love at first sight lol. It is the perfect place to get lost! Walk up and down narrow streets admiring the beautiful and unique architecture, visit galleries, shops, restaurants and taverns and of course, take lots of pictures. I was just obsessed with the white windmills, the blue cupola with white washed wall churches and the houses in the village.
On the west side, you will see the Byzantine Castle Ruins. It is actually the perfect spot to watch one of the most famous sunsets in the world. One thing you should keep in mind is to arrive early to save a good spot. It will get very crowded once the sunset time approaches (around 8:40pm in early June). We waited an hour and a half and it was so worth it.
Amoudi is a small Aegean port located 350 steps down from the village of Oia.
There are a few ways to get to the bay. The most common is to take the stair case that starts right below the Byzantine Castle Ruins. Make sure you watch your step and bring water with you. It is slippery and kind of tiring, especially in the heat of summer. I believe it took us around 15 minutes to go down. Even though the way down was tiring, it was beautiful seeing Oia from a different angle. The other two ways are by boat and taxi.
Going back up is not easy. On our way down we sighted some people going up gasping for air. To avoid that, you can ride a mule (which could be kinda fun, not my thing tho lol) and, what most people don’t know is that you can actually ask one of the restaurants to call a taxi for you. And guess what? The ride is only 5 euros and will take you to the bus station area. So worth it, my goodness! I felt so bad for the people I saw almost dying going up on foot.
There are many restaurants in Amoudi Bay and seafood is their specialty, of course. We actually had dinner there one day.
RED BEACH (Akrotiri)
We reserved one full day to explore the two most popular beaches of Santorini. We rented an ATV that day. Exploring the island on our own pace was so much fun. Driving to the beaches from our hotel was actually pretty easy, but we made sure we brought a map with us and got directions from our hotel staff. We started by the Red Beach, in Akrotiri.
Once we got in there we parked in front of the Archaeological Site and walked over to the beach (5 minute walk). The way the crystal clear blue sea meets the red rocks of the beach is so cool looking. The beach is composed of volcanic sand and pebbles. Very unique and beautiful to look at, but they’re not the white/golden sand beaches that are found elsewhere in Greece. We hung there for a bit, took some picture and waited for the water taxi to go to the Black Beach. The water taxi was only 3 euros round trip per person.
Getting to the Black Beach is only possible by water taxi (FYI it comes and goes every hour), where you board at the Red Beach. As I mentioned above, it costs only 3 euros round trip per person. I believe the boat ride between beaches is 15/20 minutes and it is absolutely beautiful. The Black Beach is really neat. There’s no sand from where the waves break to the shore, just black volcanic pebbles. You can rent 2 chairs and an umbrella for 10 euros and it also includes restaurant service. We had lunch there and it was great.
If you’re adventurous, make sure you explore the cave there. Well, my husband went on his own and said it was worth it. The water was too rough and since I am not the best swimmer, I got scared and swam back. Unfortunately our GoPro was dead, so he was not able to get pictures. Bummer.
As I mentioned above, the water taxi comes and goes every hour, so once we were done we waited for the next one and rode back to the Red Beach where we had parked our ATV.
As I was saying, our hotel was located in this cute small village called Imerovigli. It is a beautiful area that faces the caldera. From our hotel we were able to see the church of Ai-Stratis, in the center of the village. You can walk all the way up and get beautiful pictures from the top of the church (so worth it). Another famous site of Imerovigli is the ruins of a Venetian Castle, Skaros. There is actually a trail that takes you there if you’re interested in taking a closer look and getting some pictures.
Fira is the capital of Santorini. Our hotel was located within walking distance from there. It was a little busy since it was getting closer to the sunset. It attracts a younger crowd due to its bar lounges and restaurants. Fira is also a great spot if you want to have dinner watching the sunset. We did that and it was amazing.
Unfortunately we were not able to visit the hot springs (remember what I said? 3 days is not enough ugh). But since it’s something I wish I could’ve done I will tell you guys a little about what we learned. There are actually different cruise ships that take you to the volcano island, hot springs and even a little further to watch the sunset in Oia. It all depends on the package you purchase. We are totally doing that next time we visit Santorini.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the Chromata Hotel. It was by far the most amazing hotel I have ever stayed in. We experienced outstanding amenities and service from our arrival to our departure. It’s a small hotel, with only 27 rooms, and because of that, your stay feels more reserved and private.
At Chromata hotel you will also find the amazing Chroma, cocktails bar and lounge restaurant, at poolside. It’s well known by their romantic gourmet dining, where guests can enjoy the sunset with a breathtaking view to the volcano.
WHERE WE ATE
Chroma at Chromata Hotel – We had lunch there a couple of times and dinner one night. Everything tasted so fresh and delicious. As you can imagine, I had a lot of Greek salad while in Greece, but they had the best one. The food presentation is impeccable.
Niki Restaurant in Fira – We watched the beautiful sunset while having dinner at Niki Restaurant. They have this open deck dining area right off the cliff. The food was good, but it did not impress us.
Sunset Ammoudi Taverna – This is a great spot in Amoudi Bay. They offer a large selection of fresh seafood, Mediterranean and Greek dishes. They have a friendly environment and great service.
Akro at the Black Beach – We had lunch there while hanging out at the Black Beach. Food was simply fresh and delicious. My husband even considers their burger one of the best he’s ever eaten.
We finished our trip in Athens and stayed there for 2 days. Our hotel was in such a great location and we were able to walk to all the main sights.
After our hotel check-in, we immediately walked to the Acropolis. Our hotel staff showed us where to go on the map, so it was pretty easy to get there (about a 15 minute walk). We arrived there around 1pm and it was pretty hot, so I’d recommend you plan on going early in the morning or late afternoon if possible, since it’s a little bit of a hike to get to the top.
As you can imagine, the Acropolis is pretty amazing. Being there knowing how old the remains are is crazy. The historical pass will cost you 30 euros and will give you access to the Acropolis, Pantheon, Erectheion, Temple of Athena Nike and Temple of Zeus. We learned that a lot of it has actually been replaced by replicas in order to keep everything in good condition. The Caryatids at the Erectheion for example, are all replicas and there are 6 of them. You can find 5 of the original ones at the Acropolis Museum and 1 at a museum in London.
Besides the Pantheon, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erectheion, you will also see the remains of the Theater of Dionysus and the Theater of Herod Atticus, which was kept in pretty good shape. In fact, it is still active and open to concerts and other events.
A couple of blocks from our hotel, there’s Ermou Street. It is closed to traffic and it’s the best area to go shopping. If you go all the way down you’ll see the Monastiraki Flea Market. It’s not really a flea market, but on Sundays you will find a lot of people selling antiques since the stores are closed. To get there you cross the Monastiraki Square to the left. Make sure you go to a roof top bar in this area at night as well. The view of the Acropolis all lit up is pretty nice.
MUST VISIT PLACES IN ATHENS
They are located within walking distance from each other.
- Acropolis of Athens (Pantheon, Erechtheion, Temple of Athena Nike
- Theater of Dionysus
- Odeon of Herodes Atticus
- Temple of the Olympian Zeus
- Hadrian’s Arch
- Hadrian’s Library
- Panathenaic Stadium
Temple of the Olympian Zeus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Acropolis Museum is a few minute walk from the Acropolis area entrance. It’s an archeological museum and there you can see historical pieces found in the Acropolis of Athens. The museum is built over a large archeological site. There’s a transparent glass surface at the entrance, where the visitors can see the excavations below. You’ll be able to explore all three floors in about an hour since the museum is not that big. What impressed me the most was the original statues of Caryatids from the Erectheion (5 of them). They were kept in such a great condition; it amazed me.
It’s the most popular street for shopping. You’ll find stores such as Zara, H&M, Nike, Forever21, Swatch, Pandora and some Greek brands. As I mentioned above, the street is closed to traffic, so it’s a nice spot to just walk around if you’re not interested in shopping.
It’s a charming old historical neighborhood of Athens with tons of bars and restaurants. Most of the streets have been closed to traffic, so you see a lot of people walking around. Worth checking it out.
It’s a good shopping area as well, plus you’ll get a great view or the Acropolis.
ROOF TOP BARS AND RESTAURANTS
We went to 2 roof top bars in the Monastiraki Square area and we loved it: 360 Cocktail Bar and A for Athens. We actually had dinner there too and the food was pretty good. Both of them have a beautiful view of the Acropolis, which is all lit up at night.
SIX DOGS (FAVORITE BAR)
This is one of my favorite bars ever! It’s a beer garden and has this young/laid back environment that I loved. You looked around and saw everybody pretty much so relaxed and having a great time. I tried a couple of their exotic cocktails. They were amazing. Finding it is a little tricky though. It took us a good half hour even following the map, which was so odd considering that I am really good at finding places with a map in hand. So if you don’t know the area, it’s easier to just get a quick taxi.
It’s the highest point in Athens. You can see the entire city from up there. This one is a little further, so you will need to take a taxi. Once you arrive, you’ll need to take a lift to the top, which costs 7 euros per person (includes the way down as well). At the top, you will find a restaurant and this cute little church.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the NJV Athens Plaza. It’s a beautiful modern hotel located in Athens’ Syntagma Square, right in front of the Parliament Building. It was such a great area. As I mentioned above, you can walk to the Acropolis (0.5 miles) and all the other Ancient Sights from there. Our room was spacious and very comfortable. We had a great stay and I highly recommend it.
WHERE WE ATE
Plaza Lounge – This café was located at our hotel lobby. The food was great.
Six Dogs – We ate a snack there at happy hour. They have a great selection of beer and cocktails at a good price. I had their avocado toast and it was amazing.
360 Cocktail Bar – Great fun and friendly environment with a view. We had dinner and some drinks there. We had a great time. If you’re planning on having dinner there, make sure you make a reservation in advance so you can get a good table facing the Acropolis.
Orizontes Lykavittos Restaurant – It’s located at the top of Lykavittos Hill. The food was tasty and very affordable.
A for Athens – There I had my last Greek Salad of the trip (so sad). We had a lot of fun. The service was great and the food was so delicious. I’d recommend you to call ahead and make a reservation as well.
Athens was great. Staying in such a good location really made it easy to see everything. We had some difficulty transitioning from being in such unique, beautiful islands to a busy city like Athens, but we really enjoyed exploring it. We couldn’t go to Greece and not see Athens. It’s a pretty neat historical city.
I hope you guys enjoyed the tips above and found them useful. Please, feel free to reach out with questions or thoughts you may have. Thanks for stopping by!
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