If you’re wondering, “Can I travel to Greece right now,” the answer’s yes—and it’s just as dreamy as you imagine! But, don’t just take our word for it. Instead, read on for the inside scoop from expert Greek Tour Director Christiane, who recently led one of the first 2021 departures of our A Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini tour.
Here, she gives her firsthand account of what it’s like to visit Greece as the world reopens, and explains why the best time to visit Greece is now.
Tour Director Christiane (back, center) and her group cruising around the Santorini caldera at sunset
Greece is open for travel! This was the most exciting news I heard since April 2020. It meant that I could once again do what I love the most: share my passion for travel, and especially the Greek culture, history, food, music, and way of life, with our Go Ahead travelers from around the world.
Thinking of Greece usually brings to mind whitewashed houses, blue sea and skies, ancient temples, and stories filled with mythological heroes and vengeful gods. And this is exactly what my travelers would see during our A Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini tour.
My first group arrived from the U.S. and everyone was super exited to be able to tour again. Our tour included ancient Athens and two of the most iconic Cycladic islands: Mykonos and Santorini. We were ready!
Christiane’s photo of the (almost empty) Acropolis—fewer crowds are just one of the perks of visiting Greece right now!
The streets of the Psiri neighborhood in Athens, captured by Tour Director Christiane
You’ll get more time to soak in history and joy of life in ancient Athens
Everyone loved walking around the famous Parthenon temple on top of the Athens’ Acropolis without the usual crowds. That’s when it hit us: The best time to visit Greece is now, 2021, the year when the world started opening up again!
Because Athens was less busy than usual, we not only explored the historic sites, but also had time to shop in the old town (the Plaka), which is filled with iconic restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. We even explored Psiri, a working-class neighborhood that has been re-developed over the past 20 years, and is now one of the trendiest places in Athens.
Old buildings have been restored and turned into restaurants, bakeries, and bars, many with live Greek music. I invited everyone to end our stroll through the colorful streets by tasting Bougatsa, which is a delicious pie filled with either vanilla cream, sweet cheese, or sometimes meat, at the oldest Bougatseria in town. The pie is cooked on the premises and is served hot covered in powder sugar. A treat for all!
A fishing boat in Mykonos (and just-for-you views that you’ll enjoy if you travel to Greece right now)
Fancy a dip? Paradise Beach in Mykonos is one of the best places to visit in Greece!
You can explore Mykonos, a jewel in the Aegean Sea, without the crowds
Mykonos is called Greece’s designer island and Chora, the main town, is filled with chic shops, boutique hotels, restaurants, and bars. Once again it was wonderful to explore the town without the usual crowds.
Mykonos has become increasingly popular since the 1950s, and is known for its beautiful beaches and summer party atmosphere. It is considered Greece’s St. Tropez, which is why many well-known celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Heidi Klum visit here every year. Matt Damon even filmed in Little Venice during the Bourne Identity movie!
The picturesque, narrow, traffic-free streets run between a jumble of whitewashed houses, which are typical of the Cycladic architecture that dominates the island. The highlights we visited included:
- Little Venice, famous for its 18th-century fishing houses that drop into the sea. Most of the houses are now occupied by restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. Little Venice is a favorite place to have a morning coffee or enjoy a cocktail while watching the sunset.
- The iconic Kato Myli grain windmills overlook Little Venice, which date back to the 16th century. All have a distinctive round shape.
- Panagia (Virgin Mary) Paraportiani church, which actually contains five churches. Built gradually during the 14th, 16th, and 17th centuries, the unique building is located at the entrance to the old Kastro neighbourhood of Chora.
- Paradise Beach. There are many beautiful beaches on Mykonos, but this is one of most famous—it’s one of the best beaches to visit during free time in Greece. Before noon, one can find many empty sun beds, and it’s always enjoyable to swim in the crystal-clear waters.
You’ll have the opportunity to visit Delos, a sacred island of antiquity
The island is only accessible by a 30-minute boat ride from Mykonos. Visiting the island on an added Delos excursion is optional, but well worth it for history buffs. Delos is the mythical birthplace of the gods Apollo and Artemis, and is a true archaeological treasure.
Delos is steeped in myths, of which its preserved temples are the silent witnesses. Inhabited since 3000 BC it was between 900 BC and 100 AD that Delos became a major cult center where Dionysus and Leto, mother of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, were worshipped.
Just one unforgettable view Tour Director Christiane and her group saw in Santorini (this very same vista is waiting for you in Greece right now!)
Houses leading down to the Santorini caldera, snapped by Tour Director Christiane
There will be fewer people around as you uncover Santorini, a living volcano
After our super comfortable, air conditioned ferry transfer to Santorini, we started our island visit with a delicious lunch before exploring part of this unique island. Again, having fewer visitors on the island made this an even better experience. Everyone agreed on the highlights, with the Caldera cruise and Akrotiri scoring the most points:
- Walking through the excavation of the ancient town of Akrotiri with our excellent guide.
- Driving through parts of the island of Santorini, where there are unusual low-level vineyards.
- Chilling with a coffee or cocktail on top of the Santorini caldera. We admired the stunning views over the sea and of the white-washed houses perched along and partly down the cliff.
- Enjoying the optional Santorini Caldera Cruise & Dinner, which is a must! Sailing in the crater, which dates back to one of the most powerful eruptions in history, is breathtaking. On the caldera cruise catamaran, the party starts a few minutes after leaving the small port. Music, dancing, three swimming stops (one at the warm, underwater springs), followed by a traditional Greek barbecue with souvlaki, Greek Salt, and the tasty tzatziki dip. Plus, free wine and soft drinks for all. The cruise ends with watching the spectacular Santorini sunset from the boat. Usually a very emotional moment for all… just because.
Christiane’s group in Oia
Fewer crowds at iconic sites, more time to explore local neighborhoods—yep, there’s no doubt about it, now is the best time to visit Greece! But, whether you travel this year or have your heart set on a future trip, Tour Director Christiane said it best: “After seeing Greece, you will fall in love with it.”