Josh and I went to Greece in 2012. We were in Turkey and planning to stay there for another week before heading on to Bulgaria and Romania when we realized that we were absolutely miserable. Turkey was (1) hot, (2) had very few budget options, (3) filled with touts and scammers, (4) political conflict with Kurdish PKK was projected it would escalate into an armed conflict. Any of these individual downsides would’ve been overlooked if the places we visited had great sites, culture, or nightlight. However, rural Turkey leaves you pretty underwhelmed. All of these things made leaving our itinerary and escaping to some place beautiful, peaceful, and cheap seem very appealing. So we conducted a google search and eliminated most places based on travel cost. The winner ended up being Rhodes, Greece. From there, we went to Santorini, Athens, and Thessaloniki before going on to Romania and Bulgaria.
Anyways, since it was a whirlwind trip, we didn’t have time to plan much. But we have always talked about going back to explore more islands. I got a peek into this dream trip recently when I helped some friends plan their honeymoon to Greece. While planning their trip, it sort of became my dream trip. So, here’s what I would do if I could go back to Greece.
(1) See more islands
Greek islands are amazing. There are so many to choose from. All of them have their own attributes that make them unique, so it can be hard to choose. However, you can’t really go wrong. Top on my list are Milos, Hydra, Naxos, Ios, Kos, Mykonos, Crete, Karpathos, and Patmos.
(2) See some Greek theater
This is not available everywhere, but some places have traditional Greek theater that combines history with drama. Santorini has a particularly interesting one where you watch theater and eat traditional Santorini tapas. I’m super curious about what “Santorini tapas” is.
(3) Take a Greek cooking class
Have you ever had Greek food? It’s amazing. And one of my favorite parts about Greece. Impress your friends and family by learning how to make some delicious meals while learning about the culinary culture.
(4) Stay in an Airbnb
I understand that some people are iffy about Airbnb. There are some ethical considerations that should definitely be taken into account. That said, a lot of the places I have found in Greece are either people renting out their homes or locals renting out property. I would feel good about renting out an Airbnb in Greece. Besides, they have some amazing ones at good prices. There are homes where you walk like a foot out your door and are in the ocean. There are apartments with beautiful sunset views you could only get at an overpriced resort. There are studios overlooking ancient ruins. It’s really easy to find an Airbnb in an amazing location for a wide range of budgets. I’m a cheapo and sometimes they are even less than hostels and way nicer.
(5) Take a boat trip around an island
Most islands have amazing boat trips that take you to parts of the island you can only reach by boat. For example, in Santorini, you can see the inside of the volcano or go on a glass bottom boat tour and see the collapsed caldera. The trips range in affordability, from $30 – $100 a person. It seems pricey, but they are all day trips that include lunch and beverages. It’s fun to have a relaxed trip where you soak up the sun and chill on the beach. But it’s also important to learn about the places you travel and experience the geography and culture first hand.
(6) Rental car or moped before getting on island
Josh and I had a miserable experience winging it for car rental in Santorini. We walked to the nearest car rental from our hostel. The owners barely spoke English and we got swindled out of some money. Our first car ended up dying and we were told it “had water in the gas tank” (we had just filled up the tank). Our second car was a success, but we didn’t get refunded for the gas we put in the first. Gas ain’t cheap on a small island, so we lost like $100 total. There are lots of reputable companies from whom you can rent and their offices are often conveniently located near the ferry port.
(7) Outdoor movie theater projected on Acropolis
That sounds amazing, right? Thision Open Air Cinema in Athens plays English movies projected onto the back of the Acropolis. Grab a gyro and hang out!
(8) Take a wine tour
I love wine tours. You get some good booze and small snacks for a great price. This sounds even better to me in a foreign country where you can learn about their wine history, industry, and local culture. Santorini, Rhodes, Samos, and Limnos islands all produce wines from grapes only found in Greece. The regions of Naousa, Menea, and Mantina also have indigenous wines to show-off.
(9) Go to Meteora
Google it. You will understand.