Dreaming of your first Greece vacation? Let me show you exactly how to plan a trip to beautiful Greece like a pro!
This post about how to plan a trip to Greece for the first time was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Have you been dreaming of a Greek vacation since you watched Mamma Mia! and want to know how to plan a trip to Greece?
With over 6,000 islands, 18 UNESCO sites, and more than 250 days of sunshine every year, planning a Greece vacation is an excellent idea.
But if this vacation is your first time in Greece, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. It can seem like Athens has hundreds of must-see archaeological sites, and you might be having trouble separating the Cyclades from the Sporades Islands!
Figuring out the best way to travel around Greece on a relaxing island-hopping adventure is very difficult when planning is stressful.
Don’t worry; this is an easy Greece trip-planning guide that will cover absolutely everything you need to tick off when planning a Greece vacation so you can have an unforgettable trip.
15-Step Guide on How To Plan a Trip to Greece
Step 1: Check Your Passport and Visa Requirements for Greece
One of the first things to know before going to Greece is the passport and visa requirements. You don’t want to realize one of your kids’ passports is about to expire as you are checking in for your flights!
Tourists need at least six months of validity on their passports when entering Greece.
Since Greece is part of the Schengen Area, most North Americans only need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver (being rolled out in 2025) before traveling to Greece.
However, most tourists from other countries might need a different visa. You can check how to get a Schengen visa to enter Greece depending on your country in this link.
This will give you 90 days of visa-free travel in any of the 27 Schengen countries in Europe.
Step 2: Figure out the Length of Your Trip to Greece
The next step of how to plan a trip to Greece is to decide how long you want to stay in Greece.
Due to paid time off restrictions, school breaks, and other responsibilities, you likely already have a rough idea of how long you can spend in Greece.
Ideally, you’d spend at least four or five days in Greece. Any less, and it’s not worth the long-haul flight!
The best way for first-timers to see beautiful Greece is to spend around 10 days to two weeks there. You’ll be able to see mainland Greece and some of the island groups and get a feel for the country.
Step 3: Research the Best Time to Travel to Greece
One of the key steps of how to plan a trip to Greece is choosing the best time of year. Weather and availability of public transport/accommodation are the most important factors.
Greece has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. August is the hottest month with average temperatures of 84°F/28.7°C and January is the coldest at 50°F/10°C.
Visiting big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki in winter is the best way to save money and beat the crowds. However, many restaurants, hotels, and ferries suspend operations on the Greek islands during the low winter season.
The overall best time to visit Greece is during the shoulder seasons of April – June and September to October. Temperatures are warm but not unbearably hot, and all businesses are open but not packed with crowds.
Step 4: Choose Your Greece Destinations
Now it’s time for the fun part of creating your Greece travel plan! Where do you want to go?!
If you want to visit Greece in 4 days or 5 days, stick with Athens where most tourist areas are. It’s easy to fly into, and you could still take a day trip to a nearby island like Aegina or the UNESCO site of Delphi.
Planning a Greece 7-day itinerary? Spend half of your time in Athens and the other half on one island. You could fly to the largest island of Crete or take a fast 5-hour ferry to Santorini from Athens.
Building a 10-day trip to Greece or even a two-week vacation gives you much more flexibility. It would allow you to explore the main towns and some islands as well.
This is how to travel in Greece on a longer trip: stay in Athens for a few days before exploring a group of islands via ferry. Here are some popular suggestions:
- The Cyclades – Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Santorini
- The Sporades – Skiathos and Skopelos
- The Ionian Islands – Corfu plus Zakynthos, Lefkada, Ithaka, and Kythira
- The Dodecanese Islands – Kos and Rhodes
One of the best tips when traveling to Greece is to check the ferry schedules. Find the quickest and easiest ferry journeys, as that will narrow down your options!
You can also check out private boat trips to these Greek islands here.
Step 5: Create a Budget for Your Greek Vacation
No Greece trip planner can give you an exact figure for how much your Greece vacation will cost. How much you will spend depends on the size of your family, the time of year you are traveling, your travel style, and the length of your trip.
However, Trip.com estimates that a 7-day trip to Greece costs, on average, $1,435 – $3,720+ per person.
You can absolutely figure out how to plan a wonderful trip to Greece on a budget. Swap some of the more expensive and popular islands for other islands in the same group. Visit Paros instead of Santorini or Mykonos.
Public transportation could also be an option for most people, especially if they’re traveling alone or in a smaller group without little children.
Booking ferries, flights, and accommodation in advance will save you money (and stress!) too. You can even book overnight ferries to save money on accommodation.
Step 6: Book Your Flights to Greece
Speaking of booking flights, now you have a rough plan for your Greece vacation, you can start booking everything.
There are direct flights from New York City, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia to Athens. It’ll be easy for you to figure out how to visit Greece by flying if you live near those hub airports!
You should also consider connecting flights to other big travel hubs in Europe, like Hamburg in Germany or London in the UK, which fly to many other airports in Mainland Greece.
Step 7: Plan Your Greece Vacation Itinerary
How to plan a Greece trip and create the best Greece itinerary depends on where you’re going. Here is some inspiration:
How to plan a trip to Athens – Stay in a central neighborhood and get a combo ticket to save big bucks on visiting the Acropolis and other ancient sites.
- How to plan a trip to Santorini – Take a sunset cruise to avoid the crowded viewpoints. Don’t miss the Santorini Volcano or the Red Beach.
- How to plan a trip to Crete – This is Greece’s largest island, so rent a car to get around. Visit the port town of Chania, visit the Pink Beach, and check out the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion with links to the Minotaur myth.
- How to plan a trip to Italy and Greece – Mix big cities with countryside visits for variety. Check out Rome, the Tuscan countryside, Venice, and the Italian Lakes, as well as Athens and two or three islands. Choosing places with good transport connections is essential.
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Step 8: Book Accommodation in Greece
The next step when you plan a trip to Greece is to find and book accommodation. While short-term rental apartments and hotels are ideal in big cities, resorts and villas are better on the islands.
All tourists in Greece need to pay an extra tax on their accommodation. This ranges from 50 cents to €4, and it’s per room, per night.
Step 9: Organize Ferries and Rental Cars
If you’re staying in Athens or Thessaloniki for a short break, you might not need to organize any extra transport in advance. Use subways to get around the city, and small group tours are easy day trip options.
Booking ferries is essential when planning an island-hopping trip! Search your routes on FerryHopper and organize them far in advance because they can sell out in peak season.
Renting a car makes sense when staying on one of the larger islands like Crete. You’ll need to have an International Driving Permit, but you can pick these up from AAA for around $20.
But if you’re staying on smaller islands, consider using taxis or buses. Roads aren’t well-maintained, and other Greek drivers can be a little unpredictable!
Step 10: Purchase Attraction Tickets and Plan Activities
It’s great to be flexible but there are some attractions and activities in Greece that it’s worth booking ahead to make sure you don’t miss out.
If you want to take any tours or small-group day trips, book those first. It’s easier to fill a two-hour gap in your itinerary than a whole day!
You will avoid long lines in the baking sun, and if you book a guided tour, you’ll get even more out of your experience.
Step 11: Get Travel Insurance for Your Trip to Greece
Buying travel insurance as soon as you book your flights will ensure you’ve protected everything you spend on your entire trip. But at the very least, get it before you fly so you’re protected if you have a medical emergency!
Check your credit card benefits, as you may already have some coverage.
Step 12: Figure out Phone, Credit Card, and Currency
Greece uses the Euro as currency and one of the best top tips is to bring cash as well as credit cards. Smaller vendors tend to prefer cash for low-cost purchases.
Note that American Express is not widely accepted in Greece, so have a Mastercard or Visa handy as a backup.
If you need data, consider getting an eSIM before you fly so you can use the internet when out and about in Greece. Check that your plan includes Italy if you are visiting both countries.
Step 13: Watch Movies and Read Books Set in Greece
You might spend so much time planning your trip to Greece that you forget to get excited about it! One of the best ways to combat that is to watch fun movies and read books set in Greece.
Of course, watching the Mamma Mia! movies again for the 50th time totally counts.
Some book recommendations are Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières, The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak, and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, which is a retelling of The Iliad from a woman’s perspective.
Step 14: Pack the Right Outfits for Your Greek Vacation
Greece in the summer can be super hot so you need to pack wisely. Bring sunglasses, a large floppy sunhat to shield your face, and super comfortable sandals.
You’ll walk everywhere in Greece, and your feet will swell in the heat!
Cute sundresses were made for the Grecian islands. Choose light and flowy fabrics that will look nice in photographs while protecting your skin.
Step 15: Go To Greece!
Once you’ve finished all the steps of this travel planner, you’re finally ready to enjoy the Greece vacation you worked so hard on.
Learn to say ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ in Greek and eat as much delicious, local Greek food as your stomach will allow.
Planning a Trip to Greece FAQs
How much does an average trip to Greece cost?
So, how much is a trip to Greece? It will completely depend on your travel style, the size of your family, and the length of your vacation.
However, Trip.com states that the average 7-day Greece trip costs around $1,435 – $3,720+ per person. Working out how to travel to Greece on a budget is also doable!
Also note that while tipping culture is not popular among the locals, it’s expected among tourists, so you might want to factor that in your budget.
When should I start planning a trip to Greece?
How early you should plan a vacation to Greece usually depends on the time of year you a traveling there. If you’re traveling to Greece in the summer, booking your flights and accommodation one year in advance isn’t too early.
You can afford to be more spontaneous when you plan a trip to Greece in the shoulder seasons. This is also the time when there are fewer tourists since most visitors arrive between July and August.
How many days in Greece is enough?
One of the best tips for traveling to Greece is to spend at least five days there. This will give you enough time to visit Athens and take a day trip or two.
If you want to plan a Greece vacation that includes an epic island-hopping adventure, spend at least 10 days there. Booking 14 or 15 days is perfect if you have the vacation time!
How To Plan a Trip to Greece Wrap-Up
Figuring out how to plan a trip to Greece on your own or with family isn’t that difficult once you have a checklist you can follow.
You’ll know how to plan a Greece vacation without falling into common pitfalls, like booking accommodation on two islands far apart. Or visiting at the wrong time of year!
Tasting fresh feta cheese and delicious Greek olives while watching a stunning sunset will make your efforts to research the best way to travel to Greece worth it.
Go ahead and plan your own visit and have a great time in beautiful Greece with the best itinerary you could come up with!