If you only have one week in Greece, it might be tempting to get away to a Greek isle, or even just to explore the capital for the duration of your trip. While both are certainly appealing options, first-time visitors might enjoy a whirlwind trip packed with incredible Greek destinations. Start in the capital of Athens, but don’t miss out on other stunning stops along the way. From the history and mystery of Delphi to the sporting heritage of Olympia, this Greece itinerary is packed with unforgettable attractions throughout this ancient country.
You’ll almost certainly start your trip in Athens, home to the country’s biggest international airport. Begin at the Acropolis, the ancient high city that boasts some of the world’s most incredible historic structures. Tour the Parthenon, admire the Temple of Athena Nike and be sure not to miss the Propylea. If you want to continue the historic adventure, spend some time at the National Archeological Museum, the New Acropolis Museum or the National Art Gallery. In the center of the city, stroll through the stunning and green National Garden, a retreat in an urban destination where you can picnic among flowers as well as Greek statues that are hundreds and even thousands of years old.
As you pass through the Peloponnese region of Greece, don’t miss out on a quick stopover to see some of the most important destinations. Corinth, for instance, is home to a ruined city and landmarks like the Roman Odeum and the Temple of Apollo. In Mycenae, you can tour 4,000-year old ruins at the Mycenae acropolis and then visit the Mycenae Archaeology Museum. At the seaside village of Epidaurus, you can even catch a show at the ancient Epidaurus theater, which still stands and hosts events.
If you want to stay a night in eastern Peloponnese, make it in Napflio. This coastal destination boasts beautiful sandy beaches, and the downtown is full of romance and ideal for honeymooners or couples. Even if you’re traveling solo, you’ll love the 18th century Venetian buildings standing alongside ancient Green structures. Tour the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation Museum, admire the incredible 17th century Palamidi fortress and get a glimpse at traditional life in the charming fishing village of Psaromachalas.
In 776 B.C., the very first Olympic Games were held in the event’s namesake, Olympia. Today, Olympia is a mecca for lovers of sports, and you can see some ruins signifying the exact location of the earliest games. The Olympic torches are lit around the clock at Olympia, and you can admire them from a distance day or night. Also of interest to a thirsty traveler is the fact that Olympia is home to a fantastic winery, letting you tour a vineyard and then sample the local vintages along with regional culinary specialties.
In ancient times, Delphi was regarded as one of the most important destinations in the world. As the home of the oracle for the god Apollo, Delphi was shrouded in mystery and spirituality. Today, you can visit what remains of the Temple of Apollo and walk through incredible ruins like the Sanctuary of Apollo and the Sanctuary of Athena. Since Delphi is located in the countryside, it is also a popular spot for travelers to stretch their legs and enjoy the great outdoors. Admire the Greek countryside from a rented bicycle, or go for a jog through gorgeous fields.
The Greek city of Kalambaka isn’t full of ruins or museums, but it is still the perfect place to spend a night of your one week in Greece. That’s because it is the gateway to Meteora, an incredible attraction that you have to see to believe. Meteora means the middle of the sky, a name derived from the rock pinnacles that surge upwards. At the top of these magnificent rock formations are a collection of 24 monasteries, some of which date back to the 14th century. It is easy to see why these men of God chose to live, work and pray here: at such an impressive elevation, it can feel like you are closer to the sky than to the city of Kalambaka below.
Before your whirlwind adventure through Greece ends, head back to Athens for a final night of vacation. Although you might have been there at the start of the trip, there is still tons to see. If you need some souvenirs, hit the upscale shops at Kolonaki or the affordable street vendors in Plaka. Spend some time admiring the lesser-known but impressive collection at the Museum of Greek Folk Art, or take a scenic ferry ride from the port of Piraeus. Of course, no trip would be completed with sipping some ouzu at a local taverna with the local residents.
Day 1: Arrive in Athens, sleep in Athens
Day 2: Explore Athens, sleep in Athens
Day 3: To Nafplio via Corinth, Mycenae and Epidaurus, sleep in Nafplio
Day 4: To Olympia, sleep in Olympia
Day 5: To Delphi, sleep in Delphi
Day 6: To Kalambaka (Meteora), sleep in Kalambaka
Day 7: To Athens, sleep in Athens
Day 8: Fly home