Best Five Days in Greece: Top Itinerary For Beginners

Woman walks down steps on resort in Oia Santorini, Greece.

The Best Five Days in Greece for First-Timers

I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to explore Greece’s historical sites and visit many of its outstanding beaches and places of beauty. From the picturesque Greek islands – to the ancient ruins of the mainland, I am well-positioned to offer insights into the best five days in Greece – with full itinerary for beginners!

Greece is a stunning country that has so much to discover, you’ll never get bored. But, most of us have time limits when we travel, which is why I’m going to look at how you first-timers can optimise your time in this glorious country.

Wide view of the stunning Theatre of Dionysus at the Acropolis, in Athens, Greece.

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Whether you’re interested in exploring the famous ruins of Athens or soaking up the sun on sandy beaches, I’ve got you covered. I’ll also provide tips on how to get around, where to stay, and what to see and do in each location.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Greece and want to make the most of your time, keep reading on for top itinerary on what to pack into your five days. With my expert guidance, you’ll have an unforgettable adventure in one of the most beautiful countries in the world!

Table of Contents: Best Five Days in Greece

Best Five Days in Greece – Itinerary

If it’s your first time in Greece, you’ll want to plan your trip with care, keeping in mind what interests you the most.

Naturally, you’ll want to visit Greece’s capital city, Athens. But, there are also many day trips you can take from Athens, where you can explore further afield, roaming the wonders of Greece’s mainland.

For example, you can visit the wonderful city of Delphi, nestled on the slope of Mount Parnassus, or discover the ruins of Cape Sounion, all of which I discuss below.

And, many people don’t realise that there are plenty of gorgeous islands close to Athens easily accessible in just a couple of hours. Just a ferry ride from Greece, these islands have sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, ancient sites and charming towns.

Preparation and Transportation

For a smooth Athens exploration, plan ahead by researching visa requirements, booking accommodation in advance, and learning basic Greek phrases (no swear words, leave that to the locals!)

Consider renting a car for flexibility, download offline maps, and have a backup physical map for navigation. Inform your bank about your travel dates, carry some cash, and pack according to the weather forecast – usually hot hot hot during high season.

The following five-days in Greece itinerary perfectly suits first-time visitors who have limited time but want to see as much as they can during their stay. Be prepared to experience the best of Athens and the mainland, travel to the pretty islands of the Saronic Gulf and venture further east to the Cyclades islands and visit popular hot spots such as Santorini and Mykonos.

Best Five Days in Greece: Map

Five Days in Athens: Day One – Athens

Choose this Private 5-Star Tour of the Acropolis and visit the stunning Parthenon Temple (pictured).

On the first day of your trip, I recommend spending time in Greece’s capital city. As one of the most ancient cities in the world, Athens has so much to see, like ruins of temples, arenas and markets where there are lots of shopping opportunities.

In fact, Athens is like a giant museum unto itself, it seems like on every street corner you’ll stumble into incredible historical ruins where you can learn about the life of the ancient Greeks. Even Syntagma Metro Station contains an archaeological collection in its little underground museum!

During your first day in Athens, naturally the Acropolis and the ancient Agora are must-see attractions, as well as the Acropolis Museum. You can also wander around Monastiraki Square and the flea market, or take a stroll through the Plaka neighbourhood and the old town. If you have enough time, you can also visit the Syntagma Square and watch the changing of the guards.

Athens is a city steeped in history and culture, and it’s the perfect place to start your five-day adventure in Greece. There are many popular tours in Athens to choose from, but if you’re looking to explore the city on your own, here are some must-see attractions that you can visit in a day.

View of classical statue of Socrates in front of the National Academy, Athens, Greece.

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No visit to Athens is complete without a trip to the Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous landmarks in Greece. This renowned, ancient citadel perched on a rocky outcrop in the heart of the city known as Acropolis Hill, stands as an enduring symbol of classical civilisation and architectural brilliance.

Originally constructed in the 5th century BCE during the Golden Age of Athens, the purpose of the Acropolis was to serve as a multifaceted centre of civic and religious life. One of its purposes was to honour the goddess Athena, the city’s patron deity through the Parthenon, which also houses a colossal statue of Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin).

Along with the Parthenon, you’ll want to visit the Propylea and the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheum, otherwise known as Temple of Athena Polias. There, you’ll find one of the most famous features, the Caryatids which are five female statues as columns, supporting the Erechtheum’s porch (The Porch of the Maidens). The sixth can actually be found in the British Museum after being taken by Lord Elgin in the 19th century!

Other fascinating sites include the Theatre of Dionysus, a prototype of Greek theatres, situated on the Acropolis’s south side. Also check out the Herod Atticus Odeon, a stone Roman theatre structure nestled on the southwest slope of the Acropolis. Inside the Museum, you’ll find many of the artifacts found on the site.

General view of Hadrian's Arch in downtown Athens, Greece.
The famous Hadrian’s Gate in busy downtown Athens.

Agoras and Hadrian’s Gate

The Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora, and Hadrian’s Gate are iconic historical sites in Athens each contributing to the rich tapestry of the city’s ancient past and a must-visit during your five days in Greece.

Let’s start with the Ancient Agora, which can be found at the base of the Acropolis in the oldest part of the city, Plaka. A sprawling open space built roughly in the 6th century BCE, the Ancient Agora served as a political, social and commercial centre of the city-state.

It hosted the stoa, a colonnaded walkway where philosophers like Socrates and Plato engaged in intellectual discussions, and the Bouleuterion, where the council of citizens met to deliberate on matters of state. The iconic Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best-preserved ancient Greek temples, graces this site, offering a glimpse into the city’s religious life.

The Roman Agora, dating back to the 1st century BCE, was a commercial and administrative hub during the Roman period. Situated to the north of the more ancient Athenian Agora, this space featured a bustling marketplace, administrative buildings, and the majestic Tower of the Winds, an octagonal clocktower and weather vane that still stands today. The Roman Agora reflects the enduring influence of Roman architecture and governance on Athens.

Hadrian’s Gate, also known as the Arch of Hadrian or Hadrian’s Arch, is a monumental gateway that stands between the Ancient and Roman Agoras. Built in 131/132 AD, it served as a tribute to the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s benefactions to Athens.

Wide view of the Parthenon, Athens, Greece.

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The Temple of Zeus

General view of the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens Greece.
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The Temple of Zeus, also known as the Olympieion, is located southeast of the Acropolis, not far from the city centre. This ancient temple is situated in the historic district of Athens and is a popular archaeological site and tourist attraction, a must-visit during your five days in Greece!

Unsurprisingly, the Temple was initially dedicated to the Greek god of Olympus, Zeus. Built around 2,500 years ago, it stood as one of the largest and most impressive temples in the ancient world, adorned with ornate Corinthian columns and even housed a colossal gold and ivory statue of Zeus!

Sadly over the centuries, the temple fell into disrepair, and much of it was destroyed due to various factors, including invasions, earthquakes, and the removal of its materials for other construction projects.

Today, only a few massive columns and scattered ruins remain, offering Athens’ millions of yearly tourists a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage.

National Archaeological Museum

If you’re interested in Greek history and culture, don’t miss the National Archaeological Museum. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts from ancient Greece, including sculptures, pottery, and jewellery. Highlights of the collection include the Mask of Agamemnon and the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient Greek computer.

If you’ve time, other attractions to see in Athens include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma Square and the Monastiraki flea market. Plaka is brilliant for shopping and dining with its charming streets and traditional Greek architecture.

You may even consider visiting a bar for wine tasting or taking a food tour to experience the local cuisine. There are many private food tours to choose from if you are looking to enjoy Greek cuisine with an experienced guide.

Five Days in Athens: Day 2 – Delphi or Cape Sounion

General view of Athena Pronaia Sanctuary at Delphi, Greece
Book this Delphi Private Day Tour from Athens and visit the awe-inspiring Athena Pronaia Sanctuary.

On day two of your five days in Greece, you’ll want to venture further afield than Athens and opt for a trip to explore the mainland.

There are so many amazing day trips from Athens you can experience, it can be hard to know which to choose! Luckily, I can point you in the direction of two of the best day trips that offer a glimpse into ancient history and mythology.

These are…wait for it! The City of Delphi and Cape Sounion. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see both in the same day, so you will need to pick one.


Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular day trips from Athens.

An archaeological site located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, Delphi was considered the centre of the world in ancient times and is dedicated to the god Apollo. The site includes the Temple of Apollo, the Theatre, the Stadium, and the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia.

You’ll also want to visit the Delphi Archaeological Museum and Site, which served as the seat of Pythia, the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (the Oracle of Delphi).

To visit Delphi, you can drive yourself by renting a car, or book a day tour that included transportation, a guide, and entrance fees.

I recommend this private day tour to Delphi from Athens, where you’ll get to explore all of the key attractions of Delphi and have lunch in the village. You’ll also get to stop in the mountain town of Arachova before returning to Athens.

If you’re a Spartan enthusiast, you’ll want to secure your spot on this private full-day tour to Thermopylae and Delphi from Athens. You’ll enjoy private transportation to visit two sites in one day, and have the chance explore the historic battlefield and museum at Thermopylae, the site of the legendary 480 BCE battle between the Persian empire and the Greek city-states led by King Leonidas I of Sparta.

Your author at Poseidon’s Temple at Cape Sounion!

Cape Sounion

If you choose to visit Cape Sounion instead, you’ll have the opportunity to see the Temple of Poseidon, which was built in the 5th century BCE and is dedicated to the god of the sea. The temple is located on a rocky promontory overlooking the Aegean Sea, and the views at sunset are simply  breathtaking.

Getting to Cape Sounion is also possible by public transport or by hiring a car and going on a road trip. But, if you want to save time you can book this essential Athens and Cape Sounion Poseidon’s Temple, private day tour and visit two places in the same day with a knowledgeable guide to show you around.

Overall, whether you choose to visit Delphi or Cape Sounion, you won’t be disappointed. Both destinations offer a glimpse into ancient history and mythology and are must-see attractions in Greece.

Blonde author standing at Cape Sounion with the Aegean Sea in the background. Cape Sounion is a must-visit your best five days in Greece tour.
Me at Cape Sounion. What a gorgeous view over the Aegean Sea!


Nafplio promenade with palm trees and white boats and Bourtzi fortress on small island in Peloponese, Greece
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If neither of the above tickles your fancy, another option for day two of your five days in Greece is to explore the Peloponnese, a large peninsula in southern Greece.

An easy way to explore this region is to book this private tour and visit some of the most famous historical sites of ancient Greece, such Mycenae, Epidaurus, and Nafplio.

Mycenae is an UNESCO World Heritage Site with impressive ruins of palaces and tombs from the Mycenaean civilizationEpidaurus is famous for its ancient theatre, where you can still watch performances today and Nafplio is a beautiful town with a Venetian fortress, a picturesque harbour, and the best restaurants and cafes.

Top Tourist Tip: In Nafplio you can visit the church where the most illustrious Greek politician in Europe, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was assassinated in 1831.

Five Days in Athens – Day 3

A view of the beautiful Greek island, Hydra. There is a fishing boat on the foreground and some local architecture on the background. The view is from the sea as the cruise ship embarked in Hydra.
A view from the sea of the beautiful island of Hydra – no cars allowed!

On day three of your five days in Greece, I highly recommend taking a day trip to the Saronic Islands. These islands are located in the Saronic Gulf and very easy to visit from Athens. There are several islands to choose from, but I suggest visiting Hydra and Poros.


Hydra is a charming island with a rich history. The island is car-free, so the only means of transportation allowed are donkeys, horses, and bicycles. Upon arrival, you’ll be stunned by the cute 18th-century captain’s houses and a waterfront of restaurants and cafes.

The island is also known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and colourful architecture. Be sure to take a stroll through the town and visit the Historical Archive Museum of Hydra to learn more about the island’s history.


Poros is another picturesque island that’s worth a visit, with its blue waters and lush pine forests. You can take a walk around the town and visit the clock tower, which offers stunning views of the island. The island also has several restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy local cuisine.

Author sipping a cocktail at the Inn on the Beach bar, overlooking the Saronic Gulf, Aegina island, Greece.
Enjoying a cocktail on the island of Aegina– a popular destination for those with just five days in Greece.

Hop-on-and-off ferry tour of Saronic Islands

If you want to visit more islands than just Hydra and Poros, you can take a hop-on-and-off ferry tour of the Saronic Islands. This tour will take you to several islands, including Aegina, Agistri, and Spetses. You can explore each island at your own pace and hop back on the ferry when you’re ready to move on to the next island.

Aegina is my particular favourite. Famous for its pistachios and the Temple of Aphaia, it is just an hour ferry ride from the port of Piraeus in Athens. My highlight was taking a trip around the island on a horse and then tasting one of the elaborate ice creams on offer by the waterfront.

Selection of delicious ice creams on Aegina island, Greece, one of the best islands to visit from Athens.
Which ice cream flavour is your favourite?

Five Days in Athens: Day 4 – Mykonos

View of crystal water, boats and harbour in Mykonos, Greece.
Stunning view over the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea at Paralia Beach, Mykonos.

For your fourth day in Greece, I’d advise you to explore the beautiful island of Mykonos. As the closest island in the Cyclades from Athens, it’s a good choice if you’re up for a bit of island hopping.

Mykonos is definitely a party island, so if you visit during high-season, the island will be fun, but packed. Be warned!

When I first visited Mykonos, I’d heard so much about its beautiful beaches, lush bars and restaurants, so I was excited to finally see it for myself. I stayed in the southernmost point of the island above Paradise and Paraga Beaches in a local family-run bed and breakfast.

In the mornings I’d be woken up by a cock crowing and look out onto the hills where I’d see chickens and donkeys grazing and generally doing their thing. By midday, I’d be in a glamorous restaurant having lunch (Scorpios along with Santa Marina, a Luxury Collection Resort, being two of my favourite places).

It was the contrast between the rustic and the glamorous that I enjoyed most about Mykonos and why I’m looking forward to my next visit with anticipation!

Me enjoying Mykonos, smiling with a view over the sea.
A gratuitous picture of me, at Paraga Beach. Just look at that crystal water!

If you are travelling to Mykonos by ferry and only have one day, your time needs to be put to good use. So, as the main ferry port is three kilometres from Mykonos Town, on the west coast, you may not want to travel south like I did. So, for a whistle-stop trip to Mykonos, here’s what I suggest.

Mykonos Town

Mykonos Town, or Chora, is famous for its winding streets, whitewashed buildings, and colourful doors and shutters. The beautiful churches and chapels scattered throughout the town, are particularly impressive. Don’t forget to visit the famous windmills which were initially constructed by the Venetians in the 16th century.

There are also great shopping options with many attractive shops and stalls for you to browse and choose souvenirs, gifts, beachwear and more.

Delos Island Excursion

After your morning in Mykonos Town, you can take a boat trip to Delos Island, one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. Delos was once a thriving city and port, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is home to some of the oldest cities in Greece and is steeped in ancient history such as the famous Terrace of the Lions and the Temple of Apollo.

Rest of the Day

Before you jump on the ferry and continue your trip exploring Greece, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing on one of the island’s many beaches. Close to Mykonos Town, you’ll find Megali Ammos Beach and the Old Port Beach, two brilliant options for a relaxing afternoon in the sun.

Top Tip: If you decide you want to spend extra time in Mykonos and stay for the night, you can experience one of these most delightful sunsets you’ve ever seen!

View of Mykonos sea at Pinky Beach at dusk
A view of the Aegean Sea, Mykonos at dusk. Simply breathtaking.

Five Days in Athens: Day 5 – Santorini

The photographic village of Oia, Santorini.

It’s day five in Greece and your time is nearly over. So, where do you go? Naturally, you’ll take a trip to Santorini, one of the most famous Greek islands. Known for its stunning sunsets, amazing views and honeymoon resorts, even if you don’t have a ton of time on your hands it’s worth paying a visit.


On arrival, you’ll want to explore the charming village of Oia. This is one of the most popular areas in Santorini, known for its iconic white buildings with blue domes. It’s a great place to take a stroll and admire the stunning views of the Aegean Sea. Oia Castle is a great spot to watch the sunset.


Next, head to Fika, a small village located on the east coast of the island. This village is known for its traditional architecture and narrow streets. Pay a trip to the Blue Domes of FikaB a group of three blue-domed churches that are a popular spot for photos.

Best Beaches in Santorini

Finally, you’ll want to pay a visit to the best beaches in Santorini. The island is known for its gorgeous beaches, including Kamari Beach, Perissa Beach (the official black sand beach of Santorini) and Red Beach.

You could also take boat trip to the nearby island of Thirassia, which has more top beaches to visit.

Overall, Santorini is truly a magical place, and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Greece. If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Santorini, I would definitely recommend Oia or Fira.

Santorini can get quite expensive during peak season as it’s very popular with honeymooners and the Instagram crowd, so you may want to go off-season to get the best deals.

Best Five Days in Greece: Tips for Travelling in Greece

Travelling to Greece can be an exciting and unforgettable experience. With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. But, like any trip, it’s important to be prepared and informed. Let’s take a look at a few tips to keep in mind for your five days in Greece.

Is it Safe to Rent a Car in Greece?

Yes – driving in Greece is one of the best ways to see the country. If you’re looking for a car rental in Greece, Athens airport is one of the most convenient places to rent a car. Discover Cars has several Athens airport car rental options for you to choose from.

Remember that driving in Greece can be a bit chaotic so take care to be extra cautious.

Public Transportation

Athens has a well-developed transportation system that makes it easy to get around. The most popular way to travel between islands is by ferry, and there are many different companies to choose from. If you’re travelling during peak season, it’s a good idea to book your ferry tickets in advance to avoid any last-minute stress.

For getting around on the mainland, there are buses and trains that connect major cities and towns. Taxis are also widely available, but it’s important to make sure that you’re not being overcharged. The Athens subway system is safe and efficient, yet can be a bit dirty and graffiti ridden.


There are many different types of accommodation options in Greece, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels. If you’re travelling during peak season, it’s a good idea to book your accommodation in advance to ensure that you have a place to stay.

Keep in mind that some of the more popular islands can get quite crowded during the summer months, so it’s a good idea to do your research and book early.

If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, consider staying in a traditional Greek guesthouse or “pension”. These are typically family-run and offer a more personal touch to your stay. Another option is to rent an apartment or villa, which can be a great choice if you’re travelling with a group or looking for a bit more privacy.

Food and Drink

Greek cuisine is world-renowned for its fresh ingredients and bold flavours. From souvlaki to moussaka, there’s no shortage of delicious dishes to try.

When dining out, keep in mind that it’s common to share dishes family-style, so don’t be afraid to order a few different things and try a bit of everything. Mezedes are small plates of food that offer the perfect opportunity for you to work out what food you like best.

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In terms of drinks, Greece has a rich wine-making tradition, and there are many different varieties to choose from. Ouzo, a traditional Greek liquor, is also a popular choice.

Selection of images including chicken souvlaki, loukoumades and Greek sesame bread rings

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Best Five Days in Greece: Final Thoughts

The itinerary included here may seem pretty action-packed, but ultimately it’s up to you what you choose to do, keeping in mind your own preferences.

Are you someone who likes to take your time exploring an area? If so, maybe you’ll want to spend more time on Mykonos and cut out Santorini. Or, maybe explore Mykonos and Santorini and cut out the Saronic Islands. You can mix and match the options to suit your taste.

Whatever you end up doing, you’re guaranteed to love your five days in Greece so much you’ll be back within the year!

View of Parthenon at Acropolis, Athens, Greece with tourists below.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the top Greek islands to visit for a five-day trip?

Greece has over 6,000 islands, so choosing which ones to visit during a five-day trip can be overwhelming. However, some of the most popular islands for a short trip are Santorini, Mykonos, and the Saronic Islands. These islands offer stunning beaches, picturesque villages, and delicious local cuisine.

How can I make the most out of a five-day trip to Greece?

To make the most out of your five-day trip to Greece, it’s important to plan ahead. Prioritise the historical attractions and ruins you want to see and create a realistic itinerary. Consider taking a guided tour to learn more about the history and culture of the country. Also, be sure to try the local cuisine and immerse yourself in the Greek way of life where you can.

What are some must-see attractions in Athens for a five-day trip?

Athens is home to many must-see attractions, including the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Ancient Agora. Other popular sights include the Roman Agora, the National Archaeological Museum, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Plaka neighbourhood for bustling restaurants and shops.

How many days do I need to fully experience Greece?

Greece has so much to offer that it’s difficult to fully experience the country in just a few days. To truly immerse yourself in the culture and history of Greece, it’s recommended to spend at least 10 days exploring the country. But, a shorter trip can still provide a taste of what Greece has to offer.


For over a decade I've been exploring the beauty of Greece and, over time, I've fallen in love with the wonders of this rich, lively culture. And I want to share my discoveries with you! From where you should stay to the best day trips, restaurants and beaches - you're in the right place to experience the best of Greece!

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