Planning holidays in Greece for first timers means deciding on a range of top travel options throughout the country. Here’s a rundown of my suggestions and the best time to go.
Holidays in Greece for First Timers
It’s a great problem to have. What to do during your first trip to Greece? There are so many islands, so many inspiring pictures of coastal towns. How much time would you like to spend in the Greek capital of Athens? To help you out, here are my top travel suggestions as a local for anyone trying to plan holidays in Greece for the first time and when to go.
Top Travel Experiences: Holidays in Greece for First Timers
Explore Ancient Athens
I am a bit biased because I live here but… Athens is a truly special city break destination to discover while in Europe. Athens is a definite must-explore city especially if it is your first time in Greece.
I recommend spending at least two or three nights – at least – in the Greek capital. Visiting the Acropolis is a must, for the views, the energy and the ancient history. If you love museums, take time out to visit the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Stroll through the Old Athens districts of Monastiraki and Plaka. Experience the best view of Athens, out to the sea and to the islands, from atop Lycabettus Hill.
Check out my Athens travel section on this blog for more on what to see, eat and do.
Tip: Spending more than just a few days in Athens? Head to the beach and palm tree fringed Athens Riviera (just 25-minute drive south) where you’ll feel like you are on a Greek island.
Consider Day Trips from Athens
There are some great day trips you can plan for if want to see something more than a metropolis. Think about visiting an island that is less than two hours away via ferry. Check out my posts about the Saronic islands for ideas. The northern Cycladic islands are popular for a two night stay or more.
Also, you can join a tour or drive to some scenic and historic coastal towns on the Peloponnese. With its stunning shore and impressive castle, the first capital of Greece called Nafplio is a great option. It is just a 1.5-hour drive away. Check out my earlier post: Top Things to Do in Nafplio.
Visit Beautiful and Unique Santorini
Santorini is one of the most unique island destinations in the world. Why? It boasts such a stunning landscape of whitewashed buildings that cascade down steep rocky island cliffs as if from a dream.
Santorini surrounds a sunken caldera that sparkles in the most azure of colors. Sunsets are spectacular. Restaurants are top notch. Santorini is a wonderful stop for the romantic and highly recommended when it comes to planning holidays in Greece for first timers.
If you want to spend more than a week on an island, head to Crete. It is a huge mass of land and getting from one destination to another equates to long commutes. I suggest choosing a home base and exploring from there by car.
Why Crete? It has some of the most beautiful beach landscapes in the country including Elafonissi. Crete’s gastronomy is very much respected and revered in Greece and I must say Cretan food is some of the best Greek dishes I’ve had. Check out my blog section dedicated to Crete to learn more about what to do and see and where to stay.
Enjoy Energetic and Cosmopolitan Mykonos
Mykonos is an island with it all! That’s why it continues to be a popular choice for holidays in Greece for first timers.
It is home to amazing hotels and villas, some of the finest restaurants on the Greek islands and a beautiful main village perfect for shopping, dining and strolling. From beach parties, trendy cocktail bars, nightclubs packed with party crowds and venues that welcome the top international DJs, Mykonos summer nights are unlike anyplace else in the world. Strip all that night time buzz away and it is simply a beautiful island blessed with gorgeous beaches and views that can only make one relax.
Go Greek Island Hopping
Another travel experience to consider for holidays in Greece for first timers is hopping around the Greek islands. The Cycladic islands, known for their whitewashed cubist architecture, are perfect for this – Mykonos and Santorini included.
Depending on the amount of time you have, you can hop between the Cyclades with a ferry or rent your own boat/yacht. The Saronic islands are also a great option for this too. These islands, closest to Athens, are just as charming and very relaxed.
Of course, if you want to experience all the above and don’t have the time during your first time in Greece, there is always the second vacation in Greece. There are more islands from the “unknown” to the more known, mountain and coastal towns and foodie experiences to fit in.
When to Go for Holidays in Greece for the First Time
In my opinion, the best months to travel in Greece are the shoulder season months of June and September. There are less crowds and the weather is still great. However, July and August are nice because it is so hot you’ll appreciate the feel of the sea even more – if you don’t mind crowds. Generally, the weather in Greece starts to get warm in May and lasts through October with August being the hottest. In the summer, note that the Cycladic islands can have windy days.
Have you visited Greece? Would you add anything to my list of travel experiences to consider for holidays in Greece for first timers?