The Athens – Santorini – Mykonos itinerary is very popular for first time visitors who have a week in Greece. Here are some travel tips to help you plan a 7 day Greek vacation.
Plan your Greece trip to Athens – Mykonos – Santorini
Santorini, Mykonos and Athens are three of the best known destinations in Greece. Millions of people from all around the world visit every year to enjoy the ancient history, the beautiful, diverse landscapes, the delicious cuisine, and the overall vibe.
The three destinations are very different from each other. Athens, the capital city of Greece, is renowned for the ancient sites and vibrant city center. Mykonos is best known for its fantastic sandy beaches, luxury beach clubs and nightlife. Santorini is famous for the volcanic landscapes, white-washed churches with blue domes, and iconic sunsets.
There’s various combinations of the Athens – Mykonos – Santorini itinerary you can put together. However, it can be quite complicated! As an Athenian who’s traveled a lot around Greece, I’d love to share with you some local advice, so that you can make the most out of your vacation.
My first tip is that there’s little point in visiting Mykonos during the off-season, which is roughly from November to March / April. Most businesses are closed, and even the nearby UNESCO site of Ancient Delos is not open at this time of year.
So, here are some travel tips and suggestions for your 7 days in Athens, Santorini and Mykonos!
Where are Athens, Mykonos and Santorini in Greece?
Greece is a small country in south Europe, close to Italy and Turkey. It’s divided into mainland Greece, and various groups of islands, known as “the Greek islands”.
Athens, the Greek capital, is located on mainland Greece. Mykonos and Santorini are two of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, and they are located to the southeast of Athens. Here is a map.
Santorini, Mykonos and Athens all have international airports as well as ferry ports, and they are very well connected. Here is how to travel between them.
How to travel between Athens – Mykonos – Santorini
You can either fly or take a ferry between Athens and each of the popular Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini.
You should note that there are no direct flights between Santorini and Mykonos. The best way to travel between Mykonos and Santorini is by ferry.
The best order to visit Santorini, Mykonos and Athens
In my opinion, the best possible order to minimize travel time, would be to land at Athens International Airport, fly directly to Santorini, then take a ferry to Mykonos.
From Mykonos, you then have a choice of a ferry or a flight back to Athens, which will be your last destination. This way you will make the most of your time, and enjoy a hassle-free trip.
If you are flying to Greece from Europe, check for direct flights to Santorini. This way, you could potentially arrive in Santorini, and return to your own country from Athens.
Towards the end of this travel guide, I’ve gone into detail about flying to Greece, flights from Athens to Santorini and Mykonos, and your various ferry options. It is definitely worth spending some time looking at this section to get your head around the logistics of putting the itinerary together!!
How long to spend in each destination
With 7 days in Greece, I would suggest that you spend 3 days in Santorini, 2 days in Mykonos, and the rest of your time in Athens.
This is the perfect balance if you want to enjoy the best of all three destinations. In addition, if you are jet-lagged after your trip, you can relax at your Santorini hotel room and take it easy.
How to spend a week in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini
And now, let’s take a look at a detailed itinerary for Athens, Mykonos and Santorini:
Day 1 – Arrival in Athens / Santorini
- Arrive in Athens, onward flight to Santorini, check in your Santorini hotel
- Evening in Santorini – You can explore the area you are staying, or choose to see the iconic sunset from Oia, or your hotel’s balcony!
Day 2 – Santorini
Take one of the numerous tours in Santorini, such as:
- Sailing tour in Santorini: Book your volcano sailing tour here
- Santorini winery tour: Book your winery tour here and taste the famous local wines and Greek cuisine
- Scuba diving experience in Santorini: Book your scuba diving session here
After the end of your tour, you can spend a few hours on one of the black beaches, such as Perivolos, Kamari or Perissa. Or you can head to Oia for the famous sunset!
Day 3 – Santorini
On your last day in Santorini, you could consider hiring a car and exploring Santorini on your own. Have a look at this article about driving in Greece first! You can use a platform called Discover Cars to find a Santorini rental car.
Start by visiting the ancient site of Ancient Akrotiri, and reach the iconic Red Beach and the lighthouse which are nearby. You could then drive to traditional villages like Pyrgos, Messaria, Emporeio and Megalochori.
If you’d rather not drive in Santorini, you could use the public buses, or even take a private sightseeing tour of Santorini.
Day 4 – Santorini to Mykonos
- Ferry to Mykonos, check in your Mykonos hotel
- Walk around Mykonos Town, see the iconic Little Venice and the famous Mykonos windmills
- Have a dinner in Mykonos Town
Day 5 – Mykonos
If you are going to Mykonos, you should definitely take a trip to Delos, the sacred island of Ancient Greece. It is the birthplace of Gods Apollo and Artemis in Greek mythology, and one of the most fascinating ancient sites in Greece.
- Half day trip to Delos island, including a stop at the uninhabited Rhenia island: Book your Delos tour here
- Spend the rest of the day on one of the amazing Mykonos beaches and enjoy the lively ambiance at the beach bars
Day 6 – Mykonos to Athens
- Ferry / flight from Mykonos to Athens, check in your Athens hotel
- Evening stroll around the famous Plaka neighborhood in Athens
- Dinner and nightlife in Psiri area
Day 7 – Athens
Full-day sightseeing in Athens:
- Take a guided tour of the ancient ruins in the Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Acropolis Museum: Book your Acropolis guided tour here
- Visit the Ancient Agora
- Pass by Syntagma Square and see the Greek Parliament and the Changing of the Guards
- Stroll through the National Gardens and onto the Panathenaic Stadium
- Dinner and drinks at a rooftop bar / restaurant in Athens
At this point, if you have extra time and you don’t have a flight home, here’s a suggestion on what to do on your last day in Athens:
Athens sightseeing and flight home
- Morning tour to Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion: Book your Cape Sounion tour here
- Spend the afternoon shopping in Athens – here are some ideas for souvenirs from Greece
- Late evening flight back home
This 7-day itinerary will give you a good balance of history, culture, beaches, shopping as well as some free time. Of course, you can add attractions and activities according to your preferences.
Accommodation in Santorini – Mykonos – Athens
And now, let’s have a quick look at the best areas to stay in Santorini, Mykonos and Athens.
In my experience traveling in Greece, Booking.com offers more properties and, actually, better value than AirBnB or other similar platforms.
Where to stay in Santorini
Santorini is a crescent shaped island. The east side is full of black sand beaches, while the west side is right on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the sunset. If, like most visitors, you want to stay at a sunset view hotel in Santorini, you will have to stay somewhere on the west coast.
The best areas to stay in Santorini if you want to enjoy the stunning views and sunsets from your hotel are the famous Oia, Fira, Firostefani and Imerovigli. Fira and Oia are more crowded, whereas Firostefani and Imerovigli are quieter.
Before you book your Santorini hotel, please read the hotel descriptions very carefully. Some of these properties are built at the edge of the cliff, so you’d have to climb several sets of stairs to get to your room!
Here are a few great hotels in Santorini with sea view:
Hotels in Oia Santorini
Oia is the most famous sunset spot in Santorini, and it’s located at the north end of the island. It can get very busy with cruise visitors, so if you are traveling during summer you might find it too crowded. Regardless, here are some top-rated hotels in Oia:
Hotels in Imerovigli Santorini
Imerovigli is my favourite area with sunset views of Santorini, as it’s quiet and yet not too far from Fira, the capital. These are some of the best hotels in Imerovigli:
- Atoles Retreat
- Iliovasilema Hotel
- Dreams Luxury Suites
- Absolute Bliss
- Altana Heritage Suites
- SantAnna Luxury Suites
- Starlight Luxury Seaside Villa & Suites
Hotels in Firostefani Santorini
Firostefani is just a short walking distance from Fira, so it’s ideal if you want to be close to the main town but have some peace and quiet.
Hotels in Fira Santorini
Fira is the main settlement in Santorini, and where buses depart from to all other areas. If you want to stay close to all the museums, shopping, action and nightlife, Fira is your best bet.
Finally, if you prefer to stay at one of the beach resorts, look for accommodation at the areas on the east coast, like Kamari, Perivolos and Perissa. You won’t have the sunset views, but you’ll see some pretty amazing sunrises!
Where to stay in Mykonos
Mykonos has one main town, called Mykonos town, and several beach resorts. There is plenty of accommodation everywhere on the island, so it all comes down to your preferences.
Remember that Mykonos is an exclusive island. Accommodation prices are among the highest in Greece, but they go hand in hand with the levels of luxury and service. Here are some of the best hotels in Mykonos:
Hotels in Mykonos Town
Hotels close to beaches in Mykonos island
- Santa Marina – Ornos
- Kensho – Ornos
- Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort – Agios Ioannis
- Alissachni – Psarou
- Mykonian Mews Luxury Suites – Psarou / Platys Gialos
- Lyo Boutique Hotel – Super Paradise
- Manu Mykonos – Agia Anna
Where to stay in Athens
The best areas to stay in central Athens include Plaka, Koukaki, Monastiraki, Psiri and Thissio. These areas are walking distance from most of the famous attractions such as the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the Ancient Agora.
Of course, you should expect these neighborhoods to be busy and vibrant, especially during the peak season! Here are a few great properties to stay in central Athens:
- Triple A – Ideal for a couple, close to lots of tavernas, restaurants, bars and nightlife
- Auntie’s Home – Fantastic location for a party of up to 5 people
- Dreamin Athens – Another great choice, they also have bigger apartments for up to 6 people
- The Marble Suites – A bright, spacious suite right in the middle of everything
- Fos Residential Apartments – Some of them offer an exceptional view of the Acropolis
- Acro+Polis – If you don’t mind a few stairs!
Please note that there are certain areas in central Athens that many visitors consider to be less safe, such as Omonia, Metaxourgio and Exarhia. It’s true that these areas can feel intimidating to a certain degree. In addition, they are further out from the main sights, so you might prefer to avoid them, given your limited time in Athens.
Greece travel logistics
So, this was your example 7-day itinerary for Greece and where to stay. And now, as promised, here is some detailed information on the flights and ferries you’ll need to get around in Greece during your week-long vacation.
Flying to Greece
International flights arrive at the Athens airport year-round. There are flight connections with the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Santorini and Mykonos also have international airports. During spring, summer and autumn, there are direct flights to these famous islands from many European countries. There are, however, no direct international flights from USA, Canada or Australia into Santorini or Mykonos.
Arriving in Athens
Passengers arriving from the US, Australia or Canada, will often land in Athens. If this is the case, my suggestion is to immediately fly out to Santorini, and spend your time in Athens at the end of your trip. This way, if there are any ferry delays or other unforeseen circumstances, you won’t risk missing your flight back home.
When booking your onward flight, allow for at least 2.5 – 3 hours for customs clearance and other airport procedures, especially if you have checked luggage.
Tip: If you are flying to Greece from outside Europe, you can also look for flights from any European city to one of the islands. For example, you could fly from the USA to London, catch an onward flight to Santorini, take a ferry to Mykonos, and finally make your way back to Athens. Or you can find flights to Mikonos Greece, go to Santorini afterwards, then fly to Athens.
Flights between Athens and Santorini / Athens and Mykonos
In summer 2023, there are two companies flying on both the Athens – Santorini and Athens – Mykonos routes: Aegean / Olympic, and Sky Express. In addition, the low-cost Ryanair flies to Santorini, and Volotea flies to Mykonos.
Each of these flights takes about 40-50 minutes – though sometimes there may be delays, so you should definitely allow some extra time. You can check all available routes on Skyscanner, and book your air tickets directly on the company websites.
Which domestic carrier should I choose in Greece?
As a rule, Aegean and Sky Express offer more comfort and better service. Aegean has received multiple awards over the years, and is generally considered the best Greek airline.
Ryanair and Volotea might offer better budget options, but some of the add-on costs are unclear to begin with. In addition, they often fly out at awkward times of the day.
One thing you should know is that there are several types of airplanes flying the Athens – Santorini and the Athens – Mykonos routes. Whichever company you choose, have a look at the seating areas / airplane specs before you book your plane tickets.
Some planes have four seats in a row, which means two seats either side of the aisle. These planes are much smaller, and can feel claustrophobic for some people. There are also planes with six seats in a row – three per side. These are bigger, and feel more comfortable overall.
Every airline has several luggage options, so make sure you choose the one which is appropriate for you. Airlines can be very strict about weight limits, especially when the flights are full. However, if you are visiting Greece in summer, you can comfortably travel with hand luggage only.
Here is my guide on what to pack for Greece for each season. Whatever you do, don’t forget to bring comfy walking shoes for our cobblestone streets!
Ferries from Athens to Santorini and Mykonos
Athens has two main ferry ports, Piraeus and Rafina. This means that you could choose to take a ferry to Santorini or Mykonos if you wanted. There are ferry connections year-round.
There are many daily ferries during the summer months, which is the peak season in Greece. You will also have a lot of choice during spring and autumn, which is the shoulder season. In winter, which is the off-season, there are fewer routes.
You can check all ferry routes and book your tickets here: Ferryscanner
Ferry routes between Athens, Mykonos and Santorini
Choosing a ferry in Greece can be mind-boggling if you’ve never visited Greece before. This guide will walk you through the entire process!
Generally speaking, there are two types of ferries: the fast ferries / high speed ferries, and the slow ferries.
Most travelers with limited time in Greece usually prefer to take the high speed ferries. Here is an indication of how long the fastest ferries take:
- Athens to Santorini – 4 hours 45 minutes (flight time: 50 minutes)
- Santorini to Mykonos – 2 hours (there is no flight from Santorini to Mykonos)
- Mykonos to Athens – 2 hours 10 minutes to Rafina port (flight time: 50 minutes)
While there are usually multiple ferries per day, tickets can get sold out. If you are traveling during the peak season, you should definitely book your ferry tickets in advance.
Passenger-only SeaJet ferry in Greece
Which are the best Greek ferries to travel on?
When you compare ferries, you will notice that they have many different features. Here’s a quick overview of things to consider.
To begin with, you’ll notice that the fastest ferries are much more expensive than the slow ferries. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s really a question of time vs money.
However, not all of the fast ferries are born equal. Broadly speaking, there are two types of fast ferries – those that carry passengers and vehicles, and those that only carry passengers.
The passenger-only ferries are smaller, and are generally less comfortable to travel on, as they can be affected by the strong meltemi winds, which are common in summer. This can result in a very bumpy ride, and it won’t be enjoyable for anyone, especially if you get seasick easily.
In case of very strong winds, the ferry ride may be delayed, or even cancelled. I’ve personally had very few ferries cancelled in my entire life, but it can happen. This is why you shouldn’t book a ferry to Athens on the same day that you are flying back home.
You should know that ferry delays are fairly common – I’ve had several ferry delays of 1-2 hours in the past, and even longer. Again, this is usually due to the winds. Hopefully it won’t happen to you, but leave yourself enough wiggle room, just in case.
Best ferries on the Santorini – Mykonos route
Let’s take a look at the popular route Santorini – Mykonos. In summer 2023, there are usually 7-8 ferries per day, and they are all high speed ferries – no slow ferries run on this routes.
As you can see from the table below, some of these ferries carry vehicles, while others don’t. Passengers-only ferries are indicated by a car symbol crossed with a red line.
If you are traveling from Santorini to Mykonos in 2023, it’s best to take one of the bigger ferries that carry vehicles, such as the Worldchampion Jet or the Power Jet.
Note that all of these high speed ferries have designated seats, and all seating is indoors. There is no deck area, and you are not allowed to sit outdoors. However, there is air-conditioning, a restaurant / snack bar, comfortable seating, toilets and more amenities that will make your journey more comfortable.
If you have heavy luggage, you will be asked to leave it at designated areas near the entrance of the ferry. While I’ve actually never heard of luggage being lost on a ferry, please make sure you don’t leave any of your valuables behind.
Last tip: If you are traveling on a windy day, consider taking some Dramamine pills or ginger tablets, to avoid getting nausea.
What else should I do if I can spend longer in Greece?
Travelers with an extra day or two could allocate them to whichever destination appeals the most. Have a look at these other travel guides that will help you decide:
- How many days in Santorini do you really need
- A wonderful experience kayaking in Mykonos
- How to spend three days in Athens
- Best things to do in Athens
If you can spend even longer in Greece, e.g. two weeks, you could add another Greek island in the Cyclades to your itinerary. Some of the most beautiful Greek islands include Tinos, the neighboring island of Mykonos, Andros, Naxos or Milos.
If you want to see another part of Greece, you could visit one of the Dodecanese islands, like Rhodes, or the Ionian islands, like Corfu. To get there from Mykonos, you would have to catch a flight to Athens, and then an onward flight to the other island.
Do you need some more inspiration? Have a look at this article with 22 beautiful places in Greece.
FAQs about the Athens – Santorini – Mykonos itinerary
Here are a few questions that readers have asked in the past:
How do I get from Athens to Mykonos and Santorini?
There are two ways from Athens to either Mykonos or Santorini: by flight from the Athens International airport, or by ferry from either Piraeus or Rafina port in Athens. The best way to get from Mykonos to Santorini is by highspeed ferry.
Is it better to go to Mykonos or Santorini first from Athens?
If your first stop is Athens, it doesn’t really matter which of the two islands you visit first. It’s best to check all available ferry schedules in advance of your trip, and see the timings that suit you the most. With that said, consider visiting Santorini first, followed by Mykonos, and leaving Athens for last – this combination minimizes travel time.
How far is Athens from Santorini and Mykonos?
Flying time from Athens to either Santorini or Mykonos is about 45-50 minutes. The fastest ferries from Piraeus port to Santorini take about 5 hours. Ferries departing from Rafina port in Athens take just over two hours to get to Mykonos.
How many days do you need in Athens Mykonos and Santorini?
Anywhere from 7 to 10 days is a good amount of time to experience Athens, Mykonos and Santorini. If you only have 6 days or less, it’s best to stick to just two destinations, for example Athens and Santorini.
What is the best way to travel between Greek islands?
The best – and often the only – way to travel between the Greek islands is by ferry. There are hundreds of different types of ferries connecting the Greek islands. However, note that certain island combinations would require a mix of flights, or flights and ferries.
What’s the best way to plan an island hopping trip in Greece?
If you are planning an island hopping Greece trip, it’s generally best to stick to islands that are close to each other on the map. Here are a few articles with more tips:
- The Greek island groups
- Island hopping in Greece on a budget
- Island hopping in the Cyclades
- Islands close to Santorini
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens and I hope you’ve found this Athens – Santorini – Mykonos guide useful. Please leave a comment if you have any questions! Also, have a look at this article with more travel tips for Greece. Follow me on FB and Instagram for more inspiration about Greece.