Greece is divine. The warmth, history, food, people and beachy towns were enchanting. While next time I plan on island hopping, you can experience authentic Greece in just seven days with this guidebook.
Thousands of Greek Islands. Thousands. And so little time. When it came time to itinerary planning my most recent European holiday, I opted to spend six nights in Greece and eight in Italy. With little time, I crowdsourced where to go and what to see which had me in a car, exploring the vast and spectacular Peloponnese Peninsula.
With seven days and six nights, here’s what I recommend for those that want a well balanced trip—big city, historical sights and time oceanside.
Days One and Two: Athens
Our time in Greece began in Athens, but if it better serves you, you could skip Athens and prolong your time elsewhere (I suggest Nafplio and Patras) or spend the two days in Athens at the end of your road trip.
Athens is a sprawling city with much to offer. If you’re ambitious you can certainly see the primary sights in just two days. We purchased one heavily discounted pass that provided access to:
- Ancient Agora
- Roman Agora
- Temple of Zeus
- Aristotle’s School
- Hadrian’s Library
- Kerameikos Ancient Cemetery
Over the two days we managed to visit the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Library, but the admission of just the Acropolis was worth the ticket cost alone. When you visit the Acropolis arrive early to get in line and be part of the first entrance allowance. This way your photos will have fewer people and you’re better able to avoid the heat.
We also visited Athens National Garden, the first cemetery of Athens (both are near the Temple of Zeus), Pláka, Anafiótika, Monastiráki, Central Municipal Athens Market, the changing of the guards and the Acropolis Museum.
The Acropolis was the highlight for me—it’s a spectacle. As for eating, try the chicken risotto at 33 All Day – Bar – Restaurant. And stay curious. By doing so we were lucky enough to peek inside some beautiful churches and have some engaging conversations about politics with the locals.
Day Three: Corinth, Loutrarki & Nafplio
After picking up our rental car we were off to Corinth to view the mighty Corinth Canal on our way to Nafplio, known as one of the most romantic cities in Greece.
The Canal caused my knees to wobble a little—the height and water below—but is worth the stop. Adventurous wanderers can bungee from the bridge into the Canal. From the Canal the comprehensive tourist visitor center suggested a pit stop for lunch in Loutrarki. We dipped into the somewhat desolate municipality for lunch, then headed onward to our destination of the night, Nafplio. If you have the time to explore, I’m sure the area picks up with its crystal clear ocean access, just not where we stopped. I highly recommend Paladar Restaurant. Their French fries were the best I’ve ever had.
As we carried on towards Nafplio, we stopped at Acrocorinth and Larissa Castle Argos to take in the views and history. Both are terrific opportunities to stretch your legs and take in some fresh air and history.
Nafplio oozed soul. It’s just the right size with a promenade, lined with a cactus covered wall, a beach with warm ocean access, cliffs for jumping, and an incredible ocean “pool” that allowed for wading. The city center featured live musicians for hours the night were there, the cobblestone surrounded restaurants were packed and I had the very best gelato in Europe. Try the kaimaki kataifi flavour from Retro Latteria after dinner and wander the pension (small, family owned hotel) lined streets.
We took our time leaving Nafplio the next day. Before hitting the road, I suggest the fig and orange salad with feta from Taverna Vyzantio.
Day Four: Mystras & Gytheio
The drive from Nafplio to Mystras was windy and all the way up. We climbed and climbed away from the sea and inland to our stopping place for the night. We stayed in a small, clean and cool bungalow, right below the imposing castle, high on a cliff. Being inland, Mystras was a different vibe than we were used to, but drew me in. I could feel the energy sleeping beneath the towering hill.
Once we settled, we took off to Gytheio to spend some time at breezy Mavrovouni beach, then took off for an authentic Greek dinner at Kyra Matoula, complete with homemade panna cotta. Be warned: there was no English speaking at this restaurant and parking was tough. If you’re looking for more options, and English speakers, try Gytheio harbour. We drove by and took in the bustling stretch on our way back to Mystras for the night.
Day Five: Patras
Keen to get back to the beach we departed early, driving straight through to Patras. Upon arrival at our hotel, we were fortunate to be upgraded to a seaview room. From there, we promptly put on our suits and headed for lunch before a swim. Not only was our hotel oceanfront, it had a pool and sprawling grass lawn, and was walking distance to a couple of lounges. We spent the afternoon between the water and lounge before getting ready to drive into downtown Patras for dinner.
Patras was unusually quiet, but it was a Sunday in August, a time when many locals have the day off or time off for summer. We found the one busy pedestrian street and settled in for a bite before climbing the steps to Patras Castle to take in the sunset.
Day Six: Nafpaktos & Galadixi
When we woke, we walked the beach once more before crossing the Rion-Antirion Bridge on our way to Nafpaktos before spending the night in Galadixi.
We visited the Venetian Castle of Nafpaktos then had lunch—deep-fried, whole fish on Pasani beach. You won’t need much time in Nafpaktos to cruise the streets on foot. From there we drove the most beautiful stretch of the road trip to Galadixi.
Galadixi was small and laidback. We checked out O Tafos tou Lokrou (a tiny rock cave with a view) went for a swim, then had the best meal we ate in Greece at Ab oVo Restaurant. The service was top notch and the chicken with gnocchi dish was so good that my travel companion ordered a second. We drank in the night over a few bottles of prosecco. Don’t miss this gem if you’re ever in Galadixi.
Day Seven: Delphi & Rafina
Driving from Galadixi we made the trek back towards Athens where we were flying out of that night for Rome, Italy. We took a planned pitstop at Delphi to take in the ruins and Delphi Archaeological Museum. It was incredibly busy with tour buses arriving filled with day trippers from Athens.
After a few hours, we landed back in Athens and had a coffee and smoothie at Paralia Artemidos Beach in Rafina before checking in at the airport.
Know Before You Go
- Driving is on the right-hand side in Greece.
- Speed limits didn’t seem to be observed and signaling wasn’t common.
- We passed through many toll booths. They accept cash and card. The most we met were heading into Patras and heading back to Athens from Galadixi. The most costly toll was for the Rio–Antirrio Bridge at €13.70. Plan ahead as to not cross it twice.
- Parking was free everywhere we went. What a treat! In Nafplio there are parking lots near the city center, but avoid driving into the city center as the cobblestone roads are narrow and crowed with pedestrians.
- Keep Euros on hand to pay nightly city tax. Not all cities charged in Greece, but Patras, the third largest city in Greece, did.
This itinerary suited us well keeping us outside, on foot, and enjoying many outstanding meals. For more suggestions on how to spend your time in the Peloponnese don’t miss 3 Reasons Why The Peloponnese is an Epic Dream Destination in Greece.
Deana is a writer, content marketer, operations manager, and big dreamer. For her, travel amounts to architecture gazing, market shopping and people watching at sidewalk cafés. Most importantly, when traveling she wanders endlessly on foot.