Winter in Greece can offer anything from mild , sunny days on the islands to snowy, cold days on the mainland. The best part about visiting Greece during winter is the possibility to experience the country as it’s not seen by the tourists who only come here during summer. After the crowds are gone, you get to experience everything at a slower pace, soaking up the scenery and sights. Not to mention that visiting Greece during winter also lowers the cost significantly.
The hotel and hostels rates are cheaper but, on the down side, you won’t be able to take the ferry between all the islands, although some routes still operate during winter and especially from the mainland to the Cyclades.
- you will be flying in and out of Athens
- staying in budget hotels or hostels is preferred over high-end hotels
- you will make use of the free entry days at museums
Day 1-5 Athens
Before you leave, make sure to pack the appropriate clothes for winter . Unless you plan to go skiing – and this itinerary doesn’t include it – you can get away with a warmer jacket and jeans. Layers are your friends during winter in Greece.
Once in Athens, take the metro (or bus) from the airport to the center. Check in , rest a bit and then take a stroll in the area. It’s best to choose to stay somewhere between Plaka and Monastiraki, the latter being a cheaper choice. Both areas are close to the sights and you can spend all your time just by walking from sight to sight.
Arrange for a free walking tour on your first day. After three hours walking in Athens you’ll get a feeling of what sights are close by and how to plan your time. Once the tour is finish, stop at a café near the Acropolis for something to eat and drink. Cheaper options are found closer to Monastiraki square.
My advice would be not to miss the Acropolis, the Greek Agora and the Roman Agora. They can be visited during a day. Other interesting sights are the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Zappion and Hadrian’s Arch.
And you’ll also want to spend some time checking out the small shops which dot the Plaka area all the way to Monastiraki square. The Monastiraki flea market is a good place to look for interesting trinkets but you can find cheap clothes and jewelry, too.
Price wise, allow for €200 / double room room for 5 nights in a 2-star hotel (in Plaka). Book at least a month in advance , though.
Day 6-10 Santorini
Book a flight to Santorini on Aegean Airlines and expect to pay from € 69.64 / person. The flight departs Athens at 10:55 a.m. It’s best to be flexible when choosing the day because a day an make the difference between almost €70 and almost €120.
You can consider renting a car for your stay here. Drive to Akrotiri and visit the famous ruins of the Minoan city buried by a volcanic eruption. Then you can visit the Archeological Museum in Fira. You can also put on your walking shoes and follow the path to the scenic village of Oia.
Drive to the beach of Perissa. And since it’s winter, you’ll have it all to yourself. Visit the medieval village of Piros with its Venetian castle.
Price wise, allow for €100 / double room for 4 nights in a 2-star hotel in the center of Fira. Book at least a month in advance, though.
>>read more about Getting from Athens to Santorini
Day 11 -14 Thessaloniki
Book a flight to Thessaloniki on Aegean Airlines and expect to pay from €112.64 / person. The flight goes through Athens , though. Alternatively, you can fly back to Athens and take a train to Thessaloniki.
You can find free walking tours ideas and maps online (which you can easily download onto your smartphone) or you can ask at the hotel / hostel for ideas. Don’t miss the White Tower and the Archeological Museum. The Roman ruins are also interesting to visit, especially after you saw what’s left of them in Athens, too.
Stroll the Modiano Market and visit some museums. Take advantage of the free things to do in Thessaloniki in order to keep the budget low.
Price wise, allow for €105/ double room for 3 nights in a 2-star hotel in the city center.
>>read more about Getting from Athens to Thessaloniki
Day 15-16 Meteora
You can take the bus, the train or rent a car for the trip to Meteora. You need to book a room for a night in Kalampaka (the city closest to Meteora) in order to experience the area at its best. Expect to pay from €30/ double room / night in a 2-star hotel right outside the city limits.
Visiting the monasteries is an incredible experience but you need to ask locally which of them are open. Some monasteries have been turned into museums, while others still function as monasteries. Great Meteoroon is the oldest monastery and is currently a museum, while Holy Trinity is the hardest to reach but offers the best views.
>>read more about Getting from Thessaloniki to Meteora
Day 17 Athens and flight back home
Take the train, bus or rental car to Athens and prepare for your flight back home. You might need to spend another night in the capital, though.
>>read more about Getting from Meteora to Athens
You can also plan this trip as follows:
- Day 1-5 Athens
- Day 6-10 Santorini
- Day 11 Athens
- Day 12-13 Meteora
- Day 14-17 Thessaloniki