Only 8 days to visit Greece? Yikes!
I almost didn’t plan this trip to Greece because I didn’t think I would have the time to visit everything that I wanted. I wanted to see Athens, Santorini, Crete, another one or two islands, Delphi, Meteora, etc., and I wanted to do it slowly. That would be impossible to do in 8 days! There’s never enough time for travel. In the end, we decided because Greece was on our bucket list, and our time living in Europe is limited, that we would regret not making this visit to Greece. We were going.
Knowing ourselves, and having experience traveling as a photographer, we know we like to spend at least three nights in one location. With three nights in most places, you don’t have to rush to see everything in one day, you don’t have to interrupt your kids schedules as much, and you have three chances for a nice sunset. We decided to spend three nights in three different locations and were glad we did. The baby was about six months old at the time of the trip.
We visited Athens, Santorini, and Meteora.
You wouldn’t have to do this in the order that we did, and you can change the mode of transportation between Athens and Santorini. We wanted to take the ferry one way to or from Santorini, but if you have time you can also take the ferry both ways, or with less time you can fly both ways. I think it even would have been cheaper if we had taken a round trip flight to Santorini.
Sample Itinerary 8 days in Greece:
This is what we did. We generally don’t do anything before noon. The baby wakes up late, and we are slow to get our stuff together for the day.
Day 0: Flew to Athens. We arrived very late, so we don’t really count this day.
Day 1: Athens. Had lunch at Mani Mani, the best meal of our trip. One of Mike’s colleagues is from Athens and recommended it. We loved it. It’s a little hard to find but worth the effort. Toured the Acropolis Museum and had a coffee at the outside terrace. The museum is VERY baby friendly. They even have a baby changing/nursing room with comfortable chairs that were clean and nice. Planned to tour the Acropolis but was too late, so we went to the temple of Zeus instead. Watched sunset (wait, no, we were too late because someone forgot her tripod and someone else decided he was hungry) from Filopappou Hill.
Day 2: Full day in Athens. Decided to use the light in the place we were staying to give Jackson a photo shoot. Watched the changing of the guards. Walked through the National Garden, and toured the original Panathenaic Olympic Stadium. Spend the afternoon at the Acropolis, and watched the sunset from Areopagus, otherwise known as Mars Hill.
Day 3: Woke up really early (for us) and caught the 7:30 am Blue Star Ferry to Santorini. Since it was October and not the height of high season, our boat was relatively empty. There was lots of space to relax both inside and out. You can purchase reserved airplane seats if you’re traveling in high season. Picked up our beat-up-but-cheap rental car and eventually found our hotel in Firostefani. We stayed at Efterpi Villas and while it was a somewhat splurge compared to our normal budget, the view and location were worth it. On our balcony that evening we enjoyed some local wine while watching the sunset and practicing our forgotten Chinese with the neighbors. Slightly regret choosing to relax that evening instead of taking sunset shots, because it was the best sunset of our visit. You can’t really do both.
Day 4: Leisure morning at the hotel. We explored Fira but were put off by the cruise crowds. Fira is the main town, where the cruise ship passengers are dropped off, and much more touristy (ok, well, the whole island is touristy, but Fira was a touristy level we had not seen since visiting Lijiang in China.) Drove to Akrotiri, a really interesting ancient village, and checked out the red beach. That evening we explored Imerovigli, having read that it was very photogenic. Unfortunately, that evening was cloudy and sunset was unremarkable.
Day 5: Another leisure morning at the hotel. Drove to Pyrgos and explored the village streets. On the way back we stopped at Santo wines. The view is spectacular, and the wine is good. The only thing I didn’t like is just how mass-touristy the winery is set up (it’s a cooperative of most the vineyards on the island, so there aren’t many alternatives). It was great; they had plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view, but because they do seem set-up for the large tour group crowds, the experience isn’t personalized at all. When you order a wine tasting, you are just given a sheet of paper with the descriptions of what you’re drinking. In the evening, we drove over to Oia for sunset. This is THE shot on Santorini, but the trick is to shoot in the town for sunset, then move out to the viewpoints for blue hour. Most of the tourists will take a selfie at sunset and then they all clear out within ten minutes. Don’t forget a tripod!
Day 6: Explored around the hotel. Flew back to Athens, rented a car, and drove to Meteora. Had dinner at the hotel, and drank local wine.
Day 7: Explored the monasteries and scouted sunset locations in Meteora.