Islands in Greece | The Perfect 10-day Itinerary
Are you planning on going to the islands in Greece for a 10-day roundtrip? Many people often ask us which islands in Greece are the best to visit. We made this itinerary for 10 days, where you keep traveling between the islands to a minimum and have all the time to enjoy the Greek island life.
Greece Islands – 10 Day Itinerary:
Day 1 – 3: Santorini
Day 4 – 5: Paros
Day 6 – 7: Naxos
Day 8 – 10: Mykonos
When you’re spending several days on each island, you’ll have enough time to visit all the highlights, enjoy the sunsets, and relax on the beaches. In between the islands, it is recommended to travel by ferry.
Greece has always fascinated us. In 2019 we traveled for almost 3 months through the country. We visited a large part of Greece’s mainland, but also many different islands. Including the islands, we recommend in this itinerary.
We share the unique things to do on each island and our own experience. At the end of this article, we’ll explain the best way to go around the different islands. So let’s find out the latest highlights for your 10-day itinerary around these sunny Greek islands!
Santorini (Day 1 – 3)
One of the most famous and unique islands located in the Aegean Sea is Santorini. The island is one of a kind, located on an old volcanic crater. Santorini is known for its stunning sunsets and lunar-like volcanic landscapes.
It is a must-visit for everyone traveling around the Greek islands. And because Santorini is, after the island Crete, the furthest away from the mainland, I recommend starting your roundtrip at Santorini.
Many major cities in Europe offering direct flights to Santorini, which makes the island convenient to travel to. Of course, it is also straightforward to go to Santorini using a Greek ferry. However, for this 10-day itinerary, I recommend flying into Santorini. When you start the roundtrip between the other islands, you’ll travel by ferry. Which is often the easiest and fastest way of traveling between the Greek islands. Not every island has an (inter)national airport.
Highlights of Santorini – Sunsets
Everyone who has ever search for an image of the Greek islands has probably seen a picture of the Santorini sunsets. It is by far one of the most famous sunset spots in Europe.
But I feel it is a bit overrated. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely beautiful. But the number of people it attracts! Damn! Every evening thousands of people are watching the sunset in the small village Oia together. I didn’t even know that so many people would fit together on this small island!
It has something special, though, watching a unique sunset with thousands of people on a small Greek island. But honestly, I’m more a fan of the more remote areas for watching a sunset, a romantic getaway. Like Meteora in the northern part of the Greek mainland, or the Sahara desert in Morocco.
We followed the herd, as you sometimes do, and watched the sunset in Santorini together with many other travelers. I have to admit it was absolutely beautiful!
Best Sunset Places in Santorini
There are many places on Santorini where you can see a beautiful sunset. However, the most popular locations are the renowned villages of Oía and Fira. From where you can see the sunset while looking over the white houses with scenic blue roofs. Both villages will be swamped with people during the sunset, but we’ll give you a few tips to have the best experience, and maybe even avoid the crowds!
Skaros Rock, a scenic rock formation where you can easily walk to, and from where you’ll have a splendid view. Skaros Rock is located close to the village of Fira. You’ll reach the place by following the Ekklisia Theoskepasti hiking trail (link opens Google Maps). It is more like a convenient walk than a challenging hike. The walk takes a few minutes before reaching the Theoskepasti orthodox church, which is located on top of the rock.
Sunset while Wine Tasting
Santorini is known for its many wineries. Visit a few of the wineries for wine tasting is a great thing to do in Santorini! Many of the wine estates have luxury terraces, which all offering a fantastic sunset view.
I selected Venetsanos Winery, which is easy to reach from Fira. The winery is surrounded by the unique nature of Santorini, built halfway into a hillside. It gives the estate a unique vibe. Their sunset terrace opens daily (between the 1st of May and the 31st of October) from 18:00 – 21:00 hours.
Venetsanos Winery is a perfect place for combining beautiful sunset views with excellent dining and wine tasting. It is also an ideal place to avoid crowds because they have a limited amount of tables on the terrace. You’ll need to have a reservation, which they recommend making at least 48 hours in advance. Find more information on their website.
The village Akrotiri located in the southwest of the island is also a famous place to watch the sunset. It is often less crowded – during the peak season, it still can be busy, though – then Oría of Fira. Akrotiri is best to reach while driving yourself or with a taxi. I would recommend renting a car or scooter to reach this part of the island. You’ll have all the time to look around and find a beautiful place along the road to enjoy the sunset.
A few recommended places close to Akrotiri (link opens Google Maps) are Akrotiri Panoroma Bar, Akrotiri Sunset View, Akrotiri Lighthouse. The lighthouse is the most western point of the island. From this side of the island, you’ll have the best views over the caldera.
Tips For Experiencing The Best Sunset In Santorini
Watching the sunset in Santorini is one of the most popular things to do when visiting the island. It can be overwhelming with all those people trying to find the best sunset spot at the same time. To make your experience more convenient, we have a few tips so you can experience the best sunset while in Santorini.
- Be Prepared:
It sounds silly, but there are many different spots where you can watch the fantastic Santorini Sunset. So make sure you decide where you want to see the sunset. Maybe even pick a restaurant or café, and make a reservation.
- Be on time:
With so many people ready to enjoy the sunset at the same time, you better be on time at your favorite sunset place to secure your spot. And with ‘be on time,’ I mean at least an hour before sunset.
- Take your time after sunset:
At many places, especially within the village Fira and Oía, it is swamped with tourists during sunset. We experienced that right after sunset, almost everyone wants to leave at the same time.
So bring a sweater in case the wind gets up, and wait for a while. After like 20 minutes, the crowd is gone, and you can walk at a relaxing pace to your favorite restaurant.
Things To Do In Santorini
Santorini is much more than a beautiful sunset. But with sunny weather conditions almost every day, the splendid sunsets are something you can experience daily. And with 3 days in Santorini within your 10-day itinerary, you can even pick different places!
Luckily there’s much more to do during the day in Santorini. Here’s a list of the best things to do!
Swim in the Aegean Sea during Sunrise
The eastern part of Santorini is often overlooked. It is the part of the island where most locals live. You’ll find a relatively quiet beach on this side of the island. Monolithos Beach, a black volcanic beach where you can relax without the enormous crowds. It is perfect to go here at dawn, go for a morning swim, and enjoy the sunrise.
It is a rocky beach, and with the sea urchins on the bottom, it is recommended wearing protective water shoes. Make sure the water shoes have a thick sole so that if you step on an urchin or a sharp object, it won’t go through quickly.
I think it is worth investing a few dollars for good quality water shoes. The water shoes from Heeta (check price on Amazon) are known for their quality, comfortable fit, and quick drying.
Kitesurfing at Monolithos Beach
Monolithos beach is not only a perfect place for relaxing or enjoying the sunrise. The bay, and often steady winds, make it an ideal place for kite & windsurfing. Depending on the wind conditions, it can be both a surf spot for the beginner and advanced kitesurfer.
Visit Red Beach
Red Beach is a very popular destination to visit. It is a unique place, walking along the red cliffs towards the sea. I found it a bit overrated. The beach is often overcrowded, and somehow the sea isn’t as crystal clear as at other places around the island. Still, it is something you’ll need to see while being at Santorini.
Swim at Zoodochos Pigi (Ammoudi)
Ready for a rocky walk? Zoodochos Pigi is probably the best place for swimming. The water is calm and crystal clear. You need to do a bit of walking, though!
First, you’ll walk from Oía all the way down to Ammoudi. When you reach the restaurant, you’ll need to follow the path to the ‘beach.’ It is not really a beach, more a place from where you can easily enter the water. Once in the water, it is time to relax and enjoy the scenery!
Explore the villages Oía and Fira
The second best thing to do in Santorini, after watching the splendid sunsets, is exploring the unique picturesque villages. Both villages are known for their whitewashed houses, with blue rooftops, and narrow streets.
The houses are built into the cliffs and on top of the cliff.
Fun Fact! The Greeks built the houses in a cascading style to create extra wind protection
Go Wine Tasting
Wine producing in Santorini, it goes back to ancient Greek times. The volcanic soil and mild climate are perfect conditions for wine production. During the middle ages, the Santorini wines became very popular after the Venetians brought back the wines to the European mainland.
For a long time, wine production was the most important source of income of Santorini (Today it’s tourism, of course.) Santorini is a world-famous wine production island and produces to most popular Greek wines.
You can easily go around the island and visit several wine estates. However, it is, of course, not allowed to drive after you had a few wines. So it might be more convenient to go on a guided wine tour, where transport is included. It is best to ask at your hotel or accommodation to book this tour.
Some of the most famous wine estates in Santorini are Venetsanos, Gaia Wines, Argyros, and Domaine Sigalas.
Volcanic Hot Springs (Nea Kameni)
The Santorini Hot Springs, it is a must-visit while in Santorini. Right in the middle of the caldera, you’ll find the famous volcano Nea Kameni. It is possible to walk up the volcano, but it is even better to swim in the surrounding waters.
Known for its warm temperature and healing minerals, the volcanic waters are very popular among locals and visitors. Swimming in the waters feels like visiting a luxury Spa.
It is easy visiting the volcanic island Nea Kameni with a guided tour. You can hop on a boat that sails from Santorini to Nea Kameni. The tour is available in both a half-day and full-day tour. During the peak season, it can be very busy, so you might want to book in advance, which you can easily do via your hotel.
Hotels in Santorini
There are many hotels and apartments you can choose in Santorini. This is a full list of accommodations available on Booking.com.
When you want to stay in Oìa and enjoy the beautiful sunsets from your hotel room, we recommend staying in Hotel Canaves Sunday Suites or at Aris Caves. Both accommodations offering luxury rooms with splendid views.
Paros (Day 4 – 5)
It is straightforward to get to Paros, leaving Santorini. Several ferries depart multiple times a day. Depending on the ferry, the journey takes between 2 to 4 hours. It is important to book ferry tickets in advance, so you know sure that you have secured your spot. We found the best website to book ferry tickets is via direct ferries.
Paros is a popular island to visit. Initially known for its marble equerries, which were used for building many houses on the other islands. Today, Paros is known for its many beaches, great hiking trails, and traditional cultural vibe. And best of all? It is way less busy than many other Greek islands!
The most famous villages in Paros are Parikia and Naousa. When you arrive at Paros with the ferry, you’ll arrive at Paros Port, which is located at Parikia. It is more like a large dock for the ferry. Ferry stops are very short, so it is important to be on time at the dock. Although the timetables are often not too strict, when the ferry arrives, you’ll only have a few minutes to hop on or off!
Best Things To Do in Paros
Paros is the perfect island for relaxing and experiencing the traditional Greek culture.
You won’t find as many tourists at Paros as in Santorini, so it is much easier to go around the island.
Except for relaxing at one of the many beaches, Paros is also perfect for hiking and exploring the traditional Greek cuisine.
Hiking in Paros
The landscape at Paros is something between mountainous and hills. Let’s leave it with small mountains, much easier 😉
A famous hike in Paros is the old route from Parikia to Punda Beach. The complete route takes up to 18 kilometers, but it’s also possible to walk a part of the route.
When we were at Paros, we stayed in the village Marpissa, which is close to Punda Beach. We walked from Marpissa to the famous village Lefkes via the old route. A hike over rough terrain, which is around 5 kilometers of length, you can use this link to see the map on Google Maps. With the often high temperatures, we felt the hike was long enough, so we hopped on the bus back to Punda Beach for a refreshing dive.
Recommended Gear for Hiking
When you go hiking, it is convenient when you can use proper material. Especially when you go hiking in warm countries like Greece you must prepare before leaving. Wearing the right shoes, clothes, sun protection, and bringing enough water are essential to enjoying a hike.
For hiking shoes, we recommend Merrel’s Women Hiking Shoe or Merrell’s Men’s Moab Hiking Shoe. Both shoes are lightweight, waterproof, and have a comfortable fit.
We don’t use specific hiking clothes, just a shirt and shorts that have a comfortable fit does the trick! However, for extra sun protection, next to the sunscreen, we also use a Buff Original as a bandana (and sweatband).
It is essential to know that in many South European countries, it is not recommended to drink tap water in remote areas. Always ask at your hotel or accommodation if you can drink the tap water before use. When we’re on an island, we always drink bottled water. Because on many islands, the water filtering systems are not always clean.
When you want to go for extra safety, it is recommended to treat the water with a SteriPen Water Purifier (check price on Amazon). It destroys over 99.9% of all the bacteria in the water!
Visit Traditional Villages in Paros
Parikia and Naousa are the most famous villages in Paros. Both villages are typical postcard villages. The whitewashed houses, narrow streets, located directly at sea. It’s fantastic to walk around and exploring local life.
When you’re in Naousa, make sure to go winetasting at Moraitis Winery, the best wine estate at Paros!
Parikia village is known for its beautiful sunsets. According to many travelers, its even more special than Santorini sunsets. But that’s probably because Paros is less busy, and thus feels more authentic.
Marpissa is located more in the southeast of the island and a village where most local life. Great to walk around and explore the white cobblestone streets, without many tourists around.
Our favorite village in Paros is Lefkes. Lefkes is like everything you’ll expect from a traditional Greek village. Make sure to stop at the central square for a nice cup of coffee or refreshing fresh lemonade.
Relax at the Beaches in Paros
Paralia Logaras and Punda Beach, both located close to Marpissa and Piso Livadi, are the best beaches for a relaxing beach day in Paros.
The beaches are located in the southeast part of the island, and on a clear day, you can see the neighboring island Naxos from the beach. The sea street in between the two islands creates a quiet sea for most of the time. Making it an ideal place for swimming, stand up paddleboarding, and/ or kayaking.
Hotels in Paros
In Paros, you’ll find many different accommodations. We recommend staying in Parikia, Nouasa, or close to Marpissa. It is perfect staying close to the beach, so you can go smoothly go for a swim.
Recommended stays in Paros are Kosmitis Hotel in Naousa. In Parikia, Villa Katerina is a perfect accommodation with luxury rooms. Ventu Luxury Suites is probably the most luxurious place where you can stay in Paros, close to the village Marpissa.
5 Travel Must-Haves For Every Traveler
These items are must-haves for every traveler, and I can highly recommend them without any hesitation:
This lightweight hammock is made of ultra-light parachute silk material. The hammock fits in a small portable bag and is very-easy-to you use. You can relax comfortably anywhere: on the beach, by the lake, in the forest, campsite, your hotel, Airbnb and even at home!
The North Face Backpack:
This is a high-quality, versatile, and practical daypack from one of the best brands in the world. It is a perfect choice, no matter what kind of travel plans you have.
Oasis Kindle E-reader:
A waterproof E-reader for unlimited reading while traveling. It is a must-have for every traveler that enjoys reading. This E-reader has an adjustable warm light to shift screen shade from white to amber. It also works with Audible, so you switch effortlessly from reading to listening.
Sony Noise-canceling headphone:
A world-leading noise-canceling headphone to make your travel trip more comfortable and less exhausting. One of the best travel products out there. Either for listening to music, podcasts. Or to block all the noise during traveling, for example, when you’re in an airplane.
GoPro HERO 8:
We’ve been using a GoPro camera since the first generation came on the market. It is our go-to travel camera ever since. Perfect for making the best pictures and memorable videos. It’s easy to use, waterproof and fits in your pocket or daypack. The new generation has a built-in stabilizer so that videos will be even better quality!
Check out our recommendations page for more travel gear and recourses.
Naxos (Day 6 – 7)
It is the largest island of the Greek Cyclades islands, and according to many travelers, the most beautiful one. I personally think it depends on what you’re looking for, and when you visit the islands.
Naxos is a beautiful island, with lost of traditional villages and fantastic nature. But it can also be very windy and cold on Naxos. However, the island has some of the longest sandy beaches in Greece, which makes it perfect for a few relaxing days during your island hopping roundtrip.
Traveling by ferry is the most convenient way to reach Naxos. The ferry ride between Paros and Naxos takes less than one hour. So it is straightforward to travel between the neighboring islands.
Highlights of Naxos
Naxos’ history dates back to the Neanderthal era. Archaeological excavations found traces of their activities on the island. Naxos also had an important role during the classic centuries, starting around 800 BC. Many historical and ancient sightings are found on the island, which makes Naxos ideal for a historical island tour.
But let’s start with a restaurant first. I love eating at local places, but in Naxos, we’ve been to one of the most idyllic restaurants. Located right at the beach, under a big tree, you’ll find the terrace of Paradiso Taverna. A local restaurant that’s serving traditional food since 1978! (don’t worry, everything is freshly made daily ;)).
We told you about the ideal sunset places in Santorini, which are jam-packed, the quiet Paros where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets as well. But the most romantic place must be Paradiso Taverna. Enjoying a traditional dinner while looking at the sunset.
Hiking at Naxos
With the highest mountain in the Cyclades, Naxos is the perfect island for some fantastic hiking trails. Many hiking trails are connecting the traditional villages on the island. This is ideal, so you can easily stop for a refreshing drink at one of the many cafes or a refreshing dive in the sea.
The best hiking is, of course, hike up Mountain Zas, named after the Greek god Zeus. Zas Mountain peaks at 1004 meters above sea level. You’ll have a fantastic view on top of the mountain, from where you can look all over the neighboring islands! Hiking the hill can be challenging, so make sure you prepare in the right way. By bringing the right hiking gear, like we discussed before.
When you’re not an experienced hiker, it might be wise to go hiking with a local guide who can show you the way. It’s also a nice idea when you’re experienced, you might learn some new things about the island!
The island of Naxos is known for its many white sandy beaches. It even has the longest sandy beach in the Cyclades. This beach is called Plaka (not to confuse with the famous district in Athens, though.) Other famous beaches at Naxos are Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Orkos. All these beaches are known for their white sand, crystal clear waters, beautiful views, and perfect swimming conditions.
The famous beaches are all located on the west side of the island. Naxos’ eastern side is much more windy, which makes it less ideal for a relaxing beach day.
Watersports at Naxos
Ideal kite and windsurfing conditions are found at Mikra Vigla beach. The beach is on the western side of the island. Because of the onshore winds its ideal for kite and windsurfing.
Several surfing schools are offering lessons and rental gear.
Scuba Diving is also a popular activity in the waters around Naxos. You’ll find many dive sites that are interesting because of the different shipwrecks, caves, and coral reefs. Naxos Diving Center is Padi certified, and offers several diving courses, and guided diving trips.
Hotels in Naxos
When we were in Naxos, we stayed in Aggidia Guesthouse, which was an ideal place for us. It is a bit away from all the villages, but we liked the quiet area. And we were there with our own car, which made it convenient to go around the island.
When you’re want to stay more central, Studio Athina Plaka, close to Plaka Beach, is a recommended hotel/ studio to stay.
Mykonos (Day 8 – 10)
The last stop for this itinerary is the island Mykonos. Known as a party island, the Ibiza of Greece. Mykonos is great for party’s, you’ll find many clubs on the island, but there’s much more to discover. Mykonos is known for its famous beaches, with crystal clear waters and white sand. Many Traditional Greek Windmills are located the coastline of Mykonos town, and of course, Little Venice, with traditional houses located directly at the sea.
The ferry from Naxos to Mykonos takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on the ferry. Ferries leave multiple times a day, but it is recommended to book ferry tickets in advance. Especially during the peak season when it can be very busy.
Highlights of Mykonos
We just told you about the things that are Mykonos famous for, and of course, these are some of the highlights on the island. However, Mykonos is like a big open-air museum. Mykonos is very popular and, together with Santorini, one of the most visited islands of Greece.
Because of this popularity, you’ll find many guided tours which are massively overpriced. It is much better exploring the island on your own, together with your travel companions. If you decide to go for a guided tour, I would recommend finding a private tour. This way, you get much more attention from the guide, which results in a better experience.
Mykonos is a busy island, but it’s safe and straightforward to drive around yourself with a rental car or scooter. The only thing you’ll need to take into consideration is that gas is much more expensive on the islands than on the mainland.
One of the most famous highlights of Mykonos. The picturesque houses and terraces are located next to the sea. You can easily walk around and explore the cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses.
The traditional windmills have become a trademark of Mykonos and also the Greek islands. Located next to little Venice, looking over the old port of the island. It is another picturesque place you’ll need to visit while in Mykonos.
When you’re into Greek history and mythology, a visit to Delos island must definitely be on your list!
Delos is a small rocky island just outside the bay of Mykonos. According to Greek Mythology, Delos island is the birthplace of Apollo. The Greek god of music, truth, and light. Also, Appollo’s sister, Artemis, the goddess of hunting, is born on the island.
The ancient Greeks built amazing temples to honor their gods. Many are still in good shape, which makes them interesting to visit. Some temples and buildings dating back to 7th century BC!
Visiting Delos island is only possible by taking a boat from Mykonos. I recommend asking around at the many tour companies for the best price. Prices for a roundtrip vary between € 20,- to € 50,-. So it can be worth it to ask around for the lowest price.
Beaches in Mykonos
There are many different beaches on the island. Most of them offer sunbeds and beach umbrellas, which aren’t free of charge. Prices can vary depending on the beach and beach clubs.
There’s a big difference in beaches on Mykonos. Almost all the beaches have fantastic scenery, but when you’re looking for a quiet beach to relax, it’s not that easy to find. But we found one! Paralia Kalo Livadi was, at least when we were there, very relaxing. No loud beach clubs, free sunbeds, and even trees where you can hang your own hammock! (which we obviously did, we use this lightweight hammock from La Siesta. Ideal for traveling, check the price on Amazon.)
Hotels in Mykonos
You actually can’t go wrong booking a hotel in Mykonos. Make sure to check the customer reviews, and decide which location you want to stay. You might want to doublecheck if the location is close to a nightclub or something. When you’re looking for a quiet place to stay, you probably don’t want that.
How To Book Your Island Hopping Tour
Traveling between the islands in Greece is straightforward. With many ferry connections leaving multiple times a day, you can easily plan the best route that fits you the most.
There are basically two ways you can book your island hopping tour. You can go for an all-inclusive tour via a travel agency like Tui. Booking this way of traveling you’ll know that all the essentials things like transport and accommodation have been taking care of.
Another way to arrange this trip is by booking your flights before, and maybe a hotel for on arrival. You can arrange everything else during the trip, which gives you a lot of freedom in when and where to go.
Both alternatives are convenient. Just pick the one that’s suits you the best.
Recommended Travel Companies
Either way, for both ways of traveling, I can recommend these travel companies, which makes your life much more comfortable.
It is one of the largest travel companies in Europe. They offer several roundtrips throughout the Greek islands, and also direct flights from almost every major city in Europe. When you’re looking for an all-inclusive island-hopping holiday, and want to book with a European or British travel agency, Tui is your best bet. Check out their latest offers on this website.
Traveling throughout the Greek islands, you must travel by ferry. It is the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way going around the Cyclades. We always book our ferry tickets using Direct Ferries. I recommend using Direct Ferries when you’re not booking an all-inclusive holiday. We found that they offer the best prices in the market, and often have the best deals available. You can find the latest prices by visiting their website.
World Nomads Travel Insurance
You’re not traveling without insurance, are you?! It is essential to have insurance while traveling. I can recommend WorldNomads, which is one of the best and best coverage travel insurance available.
When you’re traveling around Greece, you might be interested in reading one of our other articles, which you can find here.
A visit to Greece is also perfect to combine with a visit to Italy or other countries in Europe. We wrote several articles about Italy which you might find interesting.
Articles we recommend reading are A City Guide to Athens (Athens is a must-visit!) and 15 Best Greek Islands when you’re looking for more Greek island inspiration.
When you’re also traveling to Italy, you might want to read What is Rome Known For?, and The Best Sicily Itinerary for 10 days.