Updated: Jul 17
If you're thinking about going to Greece for your honeymoon you are absolutely right!
One of the best things about Greece is everywhere you turn there is beauty, from the white cobble streets and homes, gorgeous pink flowers, and blue domed churches; the Greeks are incredible about making the ordinary extraordinary.
We chose to start our honeymoon in Greece for the beautiful beaches, fresh seafood, boating adventures, stunning landscapes, and the fun energetic island spirit. And we can truly say it not only lived up to all our expectations, but exceeded them from day one!
When should you go?
We decided to make the journey the day after our wedding, May 21st and stayed until June 2nd. One of the biggest perks of going at this time was avoiding the massive summer crowds and of course saving money! The less touristy islands of Milos and Paros are still pretty empty, and it feels like you're a part of the local community. In Santorini, before 8am you can walk the streets and not see a single other person on the way to the bakery. The weather is nearly perfect, requiring light jackets in the morning and evening, with ideal beach temperatures midday. The one drawback of going so early in the season is that the Mediterranean Sea is not warm like say the Caribbean Sea for example, its still pretty cold but definitely swimmable! We still managed to swim at all the beaches, and had lots of fun snorkeling. However if you prefer to swim in bath water (like me) this is something to consider when planning.
On one of the party catamarans most of the females did not go in the water due to the colder temperatures, the upside being we all got to bond on the boat, making some incredible friends from around the world!
You could go mid-June but it seems like we snuck in right before the high season. After Memorial Day and once kids are out from school there is no telling how crazy things can be! But if you have to go at this time, I'd suggest spending more time at the smaller, less crowded islands such as Paros and Milos.
Another ideal time to go would be September when the weather is warm, the ocean is warmest at 73-81F, and the tourist season is ending. Its also grape harvesting month which would be an exciting tradition to experience!
The Island Hopping Debate
One of the hardest things to decide when going to Greece is what islands to choose. There is no right or wrong, it just depends what kind of trip you're looking for and how much time you have on your hands. What I loved about the itinerary we made is I felt like we got a ton of different experiences in a short amount of time. It required a good bit of travel throughout the trip, and lots of exploring and adventuring. We tend to pack in as much as we can, but if that's not your style then you can scratch any activity your not into, and spend the day relaxing at the beach!
We chose to visit Paros, Santorini, Milos, Kalabaca, Delphi, and Athens!
We left out Mykonos, because a lot of people have said Paros is a smaller less touristy version that is just as beautiful and both have great nightlife.(Nightlife was not a huge priority to us for on our honeymoon). We also left out Crete, due to it being further away from the other islands, and so big, we hope to come back and take a week to explore in the future! There are so many other islands, it just came down to research, geography, and making choices.
3 Nights in Paros
We flew from Savannah to Dulles to Athens to Paros, and while it was a very long 20 hour trip I would absolutely do it again. Paros was such an ideal Greek island to start our honeymoon. Its picturesque fishing villages were incredible and definitely live up to the internet hype. It's a quieter island, with incredible food, nice beaches, and good shopping. And of course tons of cats!
Where we Stayed/ Getting around
We arrived at the small Paros airport and were greeted by our airbnb hosts, as well as a representative from the car rental company. We followed our airbnb host back to the home so we would not get lost, and he gave us a tour of the house, which he stocked with a bottle of wine, cheese, bread, jam, yogurt, cereal etc. Going through airbnbs allowed us to save a lot of money throughout the trip, and gave us a more authentic experience. At many of the places we stayed our airbnb hosts helped us to arrange transportation and activities. They helped us to find a car rental company that was extremely affordable just 25 euros/day. We chose to get around by car, and it was extremely easy, and safe. The roads in Paros are well paved, and navigation is not difficult. We chose to fly from Athens to Paros to save a day of travel as the flight is only 45 minutes vs a 3-5 hour ferry ride.
3 Nights in Santorini
Let's face it you absolutely need to go to Santorini if visiting Greece. The sunsets in Oia are crowded but insanely beautiful and something you will remember forever. Three nights is ideal, as half your first day will likely be taken up from the ferry ride. In 3 days you can take a party catamaran, visit the wineries, explore Oia and Imerovigli, and get a good idea of what the island is all about. I wouldn't spend longer here since it is more expensive, and the beaches aren't anything special compared to the smaller islands.
Where we Stayed/ Getting around
We stayed at a beautiful airbnb in Imerovigli, that helped us to set up our wine tour, and catamaran cruise and arranged transportation for us. We decided not to rent a car here, and I'm glad we made that choice! I'm not even sure where you could park, and as you approach Oia, the driving gets a little sketchy. I'd recommend staying in Imerovigli because you have the stunning ocean view, blue domed churches white houses, and its very walkable. It has lots of restaurants but a little less hectic than Oia. Our airbnb host told us to go to Oia for the sunset and get out. We agree that's great advice, the shops, and restaurants are very overpriced and nothing special in my opinion. If you have time check out the Oia port, as its beautiful, has nice restaurants with great sunset views, and you can take a donkey back up the hill.
3 Nights in Milos
Milos is everything! Think white washed rocky coasts, fresh food, laid back culture and new places to explore everywhere you look. If you want to feel alive, disconnect from the rest of the world and appreciate what's around you go to Milos! If you're looking for a huge party island Mykonos is better.
Where we Stayed/getting around
We stayed at this beautiful airbnb! It was a stunning minimalist room that overlooked the ocean, and was the perfect private spot to watch the sunset. Our hosts were wonderful, helping us to order food to our room our first night, gifting us a bottle of wine, and bringing a fresh loaf of bread to the room each morning. It can be a little tricky to get here but the key is to follow google-maps. The road is mostly paved until the very last few KM. If you go to Milos make sure to rent a car with 4 wheel drive and be prepared for some adventuring. If you book an airbnb anywhere be prepared for some bumpy unpaved roads. You can definitely avoid unpaved roads if you book a hotel, but what's the fun in that you came to this island for an adventure! There are so many beautiful landscapes and beaches in Milos we found it best to just drive around the island, park and explore. While you're here you absolutely need to do a snorkeling catamaran and see some of the gorgeous caves Milos is know for!
2 Nights in Kalabaca
After enjoying island life, you may be ready for some new scenery, and some history. This is why you absolutely need to go visit Meteora. It's not really talked about but the views are breathtaking, and who knows how long these formations will stay standing?! We stayed in Kalabaka for two nights, and spent our first day visiting the monasteries at Meteroa, and the second day visiting Delphi, and the Acropolis. Yes we packed it in!
Where we Stayed/Getting around
We rented a car for this trip and stayed at the Divani Meteora Hotel. This hotel was in the perfect location, right next to the monasteries. It does not have the breathtaking view of some of our other stays, but you come here to see the monasteries which are the view! Meteora was about a four hour drive from Athens, but was very scenic and we barely saw any other cars on the road once leaving the city. We got some information and a map from the hotel, then went out for some dinner in town, which was completely walkable from the hotel! We spent the next day visiting all the monasteries but Holy Trinity. During each day of the week usually one monastery is closed for cleaning, etc, but you can still see and photograph it from outside! The third day we woke up early and made the 3 hour drive to Delphi, then drove 2.5 hours to the Acropolis. After we dropped our car at the airport before our 7Pm flight. It was a lot in a short period of time, but absolutely worth it. The downside was we did not have time to take tours at the Acropolis or Delphi. We just explored ourselves, and learned a lot from the Delphi museum.
Driving in Athens is like driving in any city, its hectic but you also have to watch out because there are so many motorcycles that like to weave through traffic. Staying in Athens may be a better idea if you don't feel comfortable driving, and you could book a day trip tour to Meteora and travel by train. However, it is difficult to also get in Delphi without a car, and most day tours to Meteroa only allow you to two or three monasteries instead of all six. You definitely don't need to see all 6 but you absolutely do need to see the sunset from Sunset Rock! Its breathtaking, and really gives you an idea of why Meteora is such a special place, you feel the grandness and brilliance of the world around you.