Mighty Life List
Sep 10 2009

Tips for Your Trip to Greece

Before I left for Greece, you guys sent in amazing advice, so I thought I’d return the favor. These places were the highlights of our trip.

Athens

Palia

Palia Taverna tou Psara
This was our first meal in Greece, and we returned for our last night as well. Overall, the Plaka neighborhood is touristy, but this place is tucked away from the gelato-wielding mobs. Our travel book called it the best fish tavern in Athens, and the fish is certainly fresh and simply prepared. The real draw, however, are the romantic outdoor tables winding up the steep roadside, and the glow of the Acropolis above. Had Aubrey not been busy feeding scraps to the cat under our table, she would certainly have succumbed to my advances.

acrop

The Acropolis
Climb to the top, if only to use Laura’s line, “This whole city is ruined!” High comedy folks. Tip your bartenders, we’ll be here all week.

amuse

Acropolis Museum
All kinds of artifacts from the Acropolis are on view, but the design of the museum itself is fascinating. The building is elevated above an Athenian city dating back to prehistoric times, which was unearthed during construction. Transparent panels in the floor and a large viewing deck reveal the ruins beneath. There’s also a tasty, reasonably priced restaurant on site, though after you’ve climbed the Acropolis, you’d probably give them your first born just to sit in an air conditioned dining room.

Santorini

Dream Island Hotel
We were looking for a nice, reasonably priced room near the bars and restaurants on the caldera, and this is it. We spent most of our time gazing out over the ocean while we read by the pool, but all the action is about a three-minute walk up the street, and there are no big hills between you and town. The rooms are comfortable, and cost about half of what many neighbors charge. Breakfast is included, as is a ride to and from the airport or ferry, and the proprietor is kind and helpful. Thumbs up.

ampelos

Ampelos Wine Bar
Fabrica Center in Fira
This was one of the best meals we had in Santorini, where many of the restaurants rely more on crowd turnover than quality ingredients to keep the tables full. Good wine here too.

francos

Franco’s
This is a splurge, but come on — a bottle of wine, a lawn chair overlooking the sunset, and a classical music soundtrack? That’s a quality evening. Don’t sit too near the speakers, or your conversation will be drowned out by the crescendos.

katina

Taverna Katina
Ammoudi Port near Oia, Santorini
Our day trip to Oia was one of the loveliest days we spent on Santorini, and our lobster spaghetti meal at Taverna Katina was the best meal of the trip. Plus, you can’t beat that view. Look for the orange chairs.

gelato

Il Gelato d’Oro
Santorini
We had this handmade gelato nearly every day after lunch.

Then we chugged some bacon fat, and ordered some deep-fried cheese.

Naxos

irene

Pension Irene II
This is where we stayed on our last-minute detour to Naxos. It’s a budget place, but it had a cute little pool (which I’ve made much more dramatic in the photo above). Also, a well-stocked kitchenette, if you like to prepare your meals. Great deal.

Maros

Maros
On Paparrigopoulou close to the court square of Hora Naxo
Everything here is good, but try the Naxos Sausage.

Sunbeam Toy Store
Also on Paparrigopoulou, close to the court square of Hora Naxo
I nearly cried with relief when I saw this store. It’s stocked with every kid-gift you’d ever want to bring home from Greece. Mostly wooden and handmade toys meant to spark imaginative play, but the reproduction tin toys are also magic. It was, I kid you not, open until 1 a.m., but I urge you to head in before you go out drinking. Aubrey almost bought a tambourine for the ferry.

Mykonos

tagoo

Hotel Tagoo
Hands down, the best room (and pool) you’ll get for the price on Mykonos, but be prepared to join the community if you stay here. The owner wants guests to be acquainted with one another and to have a great experience on the island, so she hosts an orientation every evening to introduce everyone and share tips. If you prefer to be incognito on your trip, that won’t be particularly possible, but if you like lots of guidance from a local in the know, go for it.

Paraportiani

Paraportiani
Agia Moni Square
A local recommended this place to us as “Yanni’s, with the green chairs.” We searched in vain, until a shop owner nearby finally told us that Yanni was the owner’s name. Ah! Worth the hunt. Excellent ingredients, everything made by hand. The vegetable soup was a tonic after two weeks of excessive Ouzo and gyro consumption.

My Do-Over Itinerary

While we were in Greece, we visited Athens, Santorini, Naxos (by accident when our original ferry was canceled), and Mykonos, all of which were lovely. We lingered too long on Santorini, and didn’t have enough time on the other islands. If I had it to do over, my perfect itinerary would look like this:

-Fly into Athens and take a half day or so to decompress if you’re coming from far away.
In the cool of the early morning, visit the Acropolis, then the Acropolis museum for lunch, perhaps a walking tour of the major sights in the late afternoon or the next morning.
-Fly to Santorini and stay either in Fira, or Kamari beach if you’re on a budget.
-Stay for three nights, and rent a car one of the days you’re there so you can visit Oia, and drive around the island.
-Ferry to Naxos, rent a car immediately, stay for two nights and see what you can.
-Ferry to Mykonos, two or three nights there enjoying life, driving around.
-Ferry to Athens the day before you have to catch your flight home.

And that’s it. If you missed your chance to share Greece tips the first time around, please let us know about your favorites in comments. Thanks again for your help in planning my trip.

Intel is making my site more interesting by sponsoring my Mighty Life List. They funded my trip to Greece so I could cross another dream off my list. Thanks, guys!

13 Responses to “Tips for Your Trip to Greece”

  • Laura Says:

    It looks like an amazing trip! My life list is still mostly a jumble of ideas at this point, but Greece is definitely in there somewhere — and I will be coming back to this post for recommendations when the time comes.

  • Nicole Says:

    was lucky enough to go to Greece for an academic/business trip a few years back. Thanks for the ideal itinerary, will keep it in mind if I ever make it that way again. Will you be taking Brian back at some point?

    and will you please, PUHLEAZE, tell us how French Laundry went?

  • Nicole Says:

    oops, BRYAN, sorry!

  • Rachel Says:

    We ate at Taverna Katina in May during our trip to Greece! It was a highlight and a fabulous meal during two weeks of great food; the best place on the water there. Ammoudi was so romantic in the evening.

    We stayed in Imerovigli just outside Fira, but if or when I return, I’d like to stay in Oia. We liked the beach at Kamari so much that we spent two full days relaxing there.

  • Jeannie Says:

    Lovely!!

    I’m hoping for an Italian tour on our next assignment, so trips to Greece will be a breeze and we’ll have A LOT of time to enjoy it all.

    I also wanted to tell you that I got your book in the mail today! My husband and I have been enjoying it immensely as I read snippets aloud. Bravo!!!!

  • Kim Says:

    Sorry, but I’ve been waiting for the pictures of sunrise over the Aegean. Are they on Flickr?

  • kym b Says:

    your tips are fantastic, thank you. we are planning a trip there for our 15th anniversary.

  • lani Says:

    Agree wholeheartedly. Would spend very little time in Athens – just enough to see the important things. One day. Then spend the rest of your time elsewhere. Wish I would have known you were headed to Santorini. There’s a really great place to stay – Stelio’s Place. The best place we stayed while there and quite affordable – turned out to be a great little secret. There’s soooo many neat places to see in Greece. I very much enjoyed our trips to Olympia and Corinth, too. Been there twice. Hope to go back again someday.

  • Long Story Longer Says:

    Thank you so much! I collect tips like these and save them for whenever I happen to travel next. I saved tips for Italy and China for years and got to act on them a couple of years ago. I’ll definitely appreciate this info when the time is right :)

  • Work Says:

    What an exciting trip! Greece is such a great place.

    This post is wonderful. Thank you for posting!

  • chiquita Says:

    We skipped Naxos on our honeymoon 5 years ago, so I’m hoping to get back someday. We took a bus to Oia on Santorini, it was pretty easy and convenient. No car rental needed.

    I don’t have an interest in Mykonos bc of its reputation as a “party island” but maybe that is just me.

    thanks for the tips!

  • mar. Says:

    We have been to Santorini twice and absolutely hated Fira, the second time we avoided it all together. Far too touristy and in the summer also extremely busy.

    We much preferred Oia and I can really reccomend Nostos apartments. Though, I must say, almost any room looking out across the Caldera will be spectacular!

    Greece is such a lovely place to visit, and such good food!

  • Ashley Says:

    I’ve been eagerly awaiting your Greece posts! I spent a month in Athens in 2004 covering the Olympics. When the Games ended, my husband and I visited a tiny island called Hydra (no cars allowed — just donkeys!). It was beautiful!