From the must-see ancient monuments (the Acropolis in Athens, the stadium in Olympia, and the site of the Delphic Oracle on the slopes of Mount Parnassus) to the famous isles (Mykonos, with its snow-white houses and trendy all-night bars, and volcanic Santorini, with its amazing harbor and sheer cliffs) to less famous places that not all visitors know about when they come to Greece (but fall in love with when they discover them) -- we're going to show you how to see all this -- and also keep some time for discoveries of your own. Here's how to do it in 2 weeks.
Day 1: Athens & the Archaeological Parkway
Settle into your hotel, then go for a walk along the Archaeological Park, which runs from Syntagma Square around the Acropolis; the new Acropolis Museum; past ancient Athens's shopping and civic center, the Agora; and into the Plaka, the heart of old -- and touristy -- Athens. Do what the Athenians do and stop for cappuccino, pastries, cheese, or yogurt at Oraia Ellada, a Plaka shop with a restaurant that offers a drop-dead-gorgeous Acropolis view. Browse through the old and new Greek folk art on view before continuing your walk past, endless shops selling T-shirts, olive oil soap, and refrigerator magnets and night lights in the shape of the Parthenon. For lunch, sit under the plane tree as you enjoy roast lamb at Platanos Taverna, or grab a souvlaki at Thanasis. Feeling revived? Stop at the little Museum of Popular Greek Musical Instruments, just a few feet away. Listen to recordings of Greek music and enjoy the peaceful garden. The slumbering tortoises there may remind you it's siesta time. Go to your hotel for a nap before you head out again for a nighttime stroll back to the Acropolis (even if it's closed, it's great at night when it's usually illuminated). For dinner, if you had a big lunch, you could just have a bite at one of the many fast-food cafeterias on Syntagma Square. Point to what you want and leave your phrase book in your pocket. If you're feeling energetic and missed it at lunch, head into the Plaka to eat at one of our suggestions for old-time "authentic" tavernas above.
Day 2: Museums & Mount Likavitos
Visit the National Archaeological Museum to see sculptures, gold, and other impressive artifacts and -- if you get there just as the doors open -- as few tour groups as possible. Then head to the Acropolis, but first grab a snack at one of the kiosks on the slopes (fresh orange juice and a cheese pie anyone?). Spend the rest of the day enjoying the sprawling National Gardens and watching elderly women feeding stray cats, courting couples, and children chasing each other along shady paths. Then have dinner at Aegli. Or ride the cable car up Mount Likavitos before walking back down for drinks in Kolonaki Square. Try dinner a short walk away at To Kafeneio, a great place to enjoy the bustle of Athens's most fashionable neighborhood.
Day 3: Mykonos & Paradise
By plane or ship, go to Mykonos. Settle into your hotel, then take a bus to one of the beaches outside town. Paradise attracts partiers who love loud music with their sun and sand, while Ornos is a quieter beach preferred by families. There are plenty of cafes on either beach for lunch. Back in town, get lost along winding streets and ogle the window displays of jewelry, cutting-edge clothes, and sling-back shoes. Perhaps end up at Caprice in Little Venice for a dry martini and good people-watching. Before dinner, walk to Mykonos's three waterside windmills. You won't be alone, but even with a crowd, this is a great spot to take in the view back across the harbor. You'll see Little Venice's chic, chicer, and chicest bars, perched vertiginously over the sea. If you want to alternate chic with casual, try the fish at Kounelas on the harbor, where you'll vie for a table with locals -- and longtime Mykonos visitors.
Day 4: Mykonos & Delos
Take an early boat from Mykonos to Delos. Remember to bring sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat so you can spend several hours admiring the acres of marble ruins in this ancient religious site and market. There's a snack bar by the museum, but you'll do better bringing your own food and picnicking in a patch of shade cast by the ancient monuments. When you get back to Mykonos, enjoy some shopping. Don't miss the fabulous jeweler's LALAoUNIS shop here. For dinner, sample the mezedes and grilled fish (or meat) at the Sea Satin Market, past the windmills at Kato Myli, overlooking the sea. If you want to see the sun come up, there are lots -- and lots -- of bars, cafes, and hangouts where you can spend the hours until dawn.
Day 5: Santorini & Akrotiri
Head to Santorini next, by plane or ship. If you go by ship, you'll sail into the deep harbor with its high cliffs streaked with lava from the volcanic eruption that tore the island in half around 1450 B.C. -- this is one of the world's great travel experiences. Check into your hotel and rent a car, or sign up for a tour of the ancient site of Akrotiri, often called the "Pompeii of Greece," if it has reopened. If not, go to ancient Thira, perched on a mountaintop . Then take in the Boutari Winery, where the tour usually includes enough snacks and samples of local wines for a light lunch. In the evening, do what everyone does in Fira: Wander along the narrow streets before having drinks and dinner. For an inventive, memorable meal in a beautiful setting, make reservations at one of the best restaurants in all of Greece: Selene.
Day 6: Ancient Thira & Kamari
Explore the island by car, tour, or the extensive local bus system. See the cliff-top site of ancient Thira before heading down to the famous black-sand beach at Kamari for a swim and lunch at Camille Stefani taverna. Back in Fira, see the reproductions of the beautiful Minoan wall paintings of Akrotiri in the Thira Foundation. In the evening, while tour buses take hordes of tourists to see the sunset at Oia, head to the village of Imerovigli and watch the sunset over a medieval fortress. Then, head on to Oia and try Katina's an excellent fish place in Ammoudi, Oia's minuscule port.
Day 7: Athens to Olympia
Return early by plane or hydrofoil to Athens, and pick up your rental car. (You'll drop it off in Thessaloniki.) Head across the isthmus of Corinth into the Peloponnese for a night in Olympia. En route, consider a detour to ancient Corinth for a glimpse of the Temple of Apollo and a snack. Back on the road, stop for a swim; the beaches at Rio, outside Patras, have better-than-usual parking. After your long drive, check in at Olympia's Hotel Pelops or the larger Hotel Europa; both have excellent restaurants.
Day 8: Ancient Olympia
Have the buffet breakfast at the hotel. Spend the day seeing the site of ancient Olympia and the three superb museums, the little Museum of the History of the Excavations in Olympia, with its 19th-century photos documenting the temple's discovery; the Archaeological Museum; and the astonishing wealth of bronze dedications now on view in the new Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity. and. The evening meal at either the Europa or Pelops (by prearrangement) will be better than any served at the mostly tourist-trap places in the village of Olympia.
Day 9: Olympia to Delphi
Try to revisit Olympia's majestic sprawl once more in the early morning before driving from Olympia past the bridge that soars across the Gulf of Corinth, then head inland to Delphi. Along the way, pick one of the beaches on either side of the Gulf of Corinth for lunch and a swim. In Delphi, stroll past the ancient site and enjoy the view across the olive groves to the sea, but save your exploring for tomorrow. For dinner, head to the Epikouros Restaurant on the main drag or to the village of Arachova to sit outdoors and enjoy the succulent grills at Taverna Karathanassi or Taverna Dasaryiris. Both are by the cafes in the main square with its lovely freshwater springs.
Day 10: Sanctuary of Apollo
At Delphi, you'll see the Sanctuary of Apollo, with the massive temple of Apollo and a well-restored stadium and theater, and the Delphi Museum, stuffed with some of antiquity's greatest treasures. After a full day's exploration, drive north toward Kalambaka, site of the monasteries of the Meteora. If you want to break up your journey, spend the night en route; lively Lamia, about halfway between Delphi and Meteora, has decent hotels and lots of ouzeries and grill restaurants.
Day 11: The Meteora & Dion
The monasteries of the Meteora give a glimpse of what monastic life must be like -- in a setting of incredible natural beauty. The buildings seem to grow from the craggy rocks that soar up to 300m (984 ft.). Don't miss the frescoes of the Garden of Eden in the 14th-century monastery of Ayios Nikolaos Anapaphsas. Drive to Dion and stay in the modest Hotel Dion or the more sybaritic Dion Palace Resort Hotel on the beach at Litochoro. The Dionysos restaurant is a good choice for lunch or dinner. Then, visit the site of Dion, in the foothills of Mount Olympus, where Philip and Alexander trained their armies. There are lots of shady trees for a picnic lunch.
Day 12: Vergina & Pella
Drive from Dion to Thessaloniki, stopping at the royal tombs at Vergina and Pella, former Macedonian capital and birthplace of Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. The museum at Vergina exhibits the gold items found in the royal tombs. When you get to Thessaloniki, drop off your rental car: Having one here is a real inconvenience! Enjoy a drink in Aristotelous Square and a stroll along the harbor. Settle into your hotel, then head out for home-style cooking at Thanasis.
Day 13: Thessaloniki
Spend the day strolling the city's streets, taking in the famous White Tower, ancient monuments, and Byzantine churches. Make a visit to the Archaeological and Byzantine museums, located next to each other. Take a bus or cab up to Ano Poli, the old Turkish quarter above the modern city. Enjoy the restored houses, the little churches, and the views over the city and out to sea. Stop for lunch in a cafe before strolling back down to the harbor. For dinner, try Krikelas, one of the trendy places in the Ladadika district, where old warehouses are boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. If you like night life, you're in luck: Thessaloniki's cafes and discos go all night.
Fly back to Athens. End your trip with a final stroll beneath the Acropolis.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.