When we knew Ben was graduating soon, I knew that I didn’t want to just get him any present. This has been a long time coming and I knew I wanted it to be super special. My grandma gifted me with a trip when I graduated high school and I knew I wanted to carry on that graduation tradition with Ben, too.
Let me start off by saying that I know what you’re thinking… Most flights to Greece cost $1,500-$2,000 for just one person round trip so how the heck did we manage to take our entire trip for under $3,500? After checking flights randomly one day in September, I found crazy cheap roundtrip tickets on Google flights to Greece. After calling the airlines because I seriously couldn’t believe the price (they couldn’t believe it either and we all had a good laugh) I ended up booking the tickets within six hours of finding them. We scored our round trip flights to and from Greece for BOTH my husband and I for $1,300. I know, a total God-thing.
One tip that I definitely have for trying to find cheap flights is to subscribe to email subscriptions like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Pomelo Travel. Although I didn’t use them for this specific trip, they are a great way to find and score super cheap tickets when that wanderlust feeling starts coming back!
So let’s get right on into it! Want to know our tips, tricks, and everything we loved, learned and even disliked about our trip to Greece? Anddddd want to see all the photos taken from both my phone and my camera? Then just keep on scrolling :)
Athens (day 1/2)
After about 13 hours of travel from Chicago to Athens, we landed tired and feeling like we were in desperate need of a shower. This portion of the blog is going to be super simple and quick because honestly, we weren’t huge fans of Athens. I think between the fact that it just truly wasn’t our ‘scene’ and because of alllllll the bad luck/hiccups that we had there at the beginning and end of our trip, we just told ourselves that we will most likely not be back to this part of Greece. We did, however, love the airbnb prices in Athens (we payed $92 for our first stay and $48 for our last at the end of our trip) and the parthenon was pretty cool despite the quite expensive entry fee. Other than that, though, we weren’t fans of Athens itself.
Santorini (days 3-6)
After spending an evening and the night in Athens, we got up early to grab our ferry and man, it was an adventure. Bright and early at 6am, we dealt with the language barrier in a taxi where he thought I said ‘airport’ but instead said ‘Pireas Port’ which are on opposite sides of city. *Palm to face* because I seriously knew I needed to show him the name from on my phone, but didn’t and definitely recommend doing that when trying to find something, go somewhere or just even get around the language barrier in general. Thankfully after we realized all the confusion, we arrived just 5 minutes before the ferry took off. I sprinted to the counter, grabbed our tickets and we got on just in time for takeoff.
The ferry, as you can tell, is seriously beautiful. It’s fully stocked with drinks and food to purchase, most have outlets for you to charge your phone and electronics, spacious seating and they have AC which was really nice. It was definitely different than our only other ferry ride which is the one that takes you from NYC to Staten Island. That one is…. mmmm… not so nice. We rode on Golden Star, SeaJet and Fast Ferries and recommend them all! We booked ahead for all our ferries before we even arrived and are SO glad we did! You can book all your ferries ahead of time here.
Once we made it to Santorini, we grabbed a taxi and headed to our resort in Fira called Callia Suites. This is easily one of the nicest places we’ve ever stayed with the nicest and most helpful staff, yummy breakfast and INCREDIBLE accommodations. We ended up being upgraded for free to their executive suite and we were definitely not mad about the insane upgrade, hot tub and all. They also helped with booking reservations and made our time in Santorini seriously just perfect.
Like seriously, doesn’t it look amazing?!
After getting in, we decided to explore a little bit so thankfully our resort was about .2 miles from downtown Fira so we walked up and started to explore.
The next day we had our concierge set up a reservation for us at Santo Wines, which is one of the places that I read soooo much about prior to our trip. Because the islands are surrounded by a volcano and built on volcanic rock, the grapes they grow are amazing and extra special. Santo Wines did NOT disappoint in the food, wine or the view. This view speaks for itself, and dang, it was incredible.
The following day we woke up early, ate breakfast at the hotel and started our long (over 6 mile) hike to Oia. We decided to get some exercise instead of taking the bus or a taxi (and save some money) and it was so worth it. Also, this breakfast was out of this world, and I would go back to Greece just for it.
Although the hike was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be, the view made it all worth it. It was definitely the most beautiful hike that either of us has ever taken. So much so that we actually decided to trek back for a total of about a 13 mile hike that day. If you’re wanting to do this while you visit, definitely account for a whole day. It’s very rigorous and takes you up and down legit mountains.
Once we got to Oia, though, the hike seemed so small in the back of our minds. Oia was beautiful, picturesque and blessed us with the most incredible coffee and food that we filled our bellies with. If you’re ever in Oia, definitely head to Flora. It’s along the main walkway with an amazing view and they sell the BEST freddo cappuccino (a traditional Greek coffee drink) that we’ve ever had. We dream about it. It’s pictured above and even typing this now, I’m drooling.
Later that night after a long hike back, we adventured in downtown Fira above the square, grabbed some Mexican from Los Tres Amigos because it was Cinco de Mayo and then went back for some much needed hot tubbing.
Flora — Obvi. They have the best feddo cappuccino that we had while in Greece and Ben and I still talk and dream about it! Lol I promise you won’t be disappointed and the view is phenomenal.
The hike — From Fira to Oia or vise versa.
Lucky’s — If you stay in Fira, you HAVE to get at least one gyro/meal at Lucky’s. Being on a budget we tried to eat cheap for most meals and splurge every few days. Lucky’s was amazing and for two of us with 2 gyros and 2 waters totaled about $7, which is crazy cheap for Greece.
Santo wines — Nuff said.
Mykonos (days 6-9)
After riding the ferry from Santorini to Mykonos, we arrived and thankfully grabbed the first cab we found because it turns out that there are only 30 on the entire island, which blew our minds. Our hotel was right in Mykonos town and ended up being in the perfect location for us - walkable everywhere within the town, but outside just enough that you didn’t hear the loud parties at night. The Myconian Inn ended up being perfect for everything we needed, the staff was incredible and Mami, the cat who lived at the hotel, made our stay so much more enjoyable.
For three days we just walked around, adventured into shops, ate some of the best food, drank the best fresh squeezed juice of our lives and took our time wandering throughout the town.
We loved checking out the windmills and unlike everything I had read, we got lucky and thankfully there were barely any people there snapping pictures, too.
My favorite part about Mykonos Town is that everything is all connected by alleys and little sidewalks. We walked for hours and hours exploring and seemed to always find something new around every turn.
Cosmo Cafe is definitely one of our most highly recommended spots for anyone traveling to Greece in general. It was so quaint and their food was so refreshing and affordable! Their fresh squeezed juices were sooo yummy, their fruit bowls were to die for and we loved their sandwiches and omelets!
Another favorite spot of ours in Mykonos Town was definitely Popolo. It was crazy cheap and exactly what we needed when we just wanted a simple meal. We loved their turkey sandwich and fresh juice!
Sun Bum is by far my favorite sunscreen and all that we ever use. It was a must protecting our skin in Greece. Plus, it’s cruelty free, gluten free and vegan and leaves your skin feeling glowy, not sticky, safe from the sun and it smells amazing!
The blooms during this time of the year were INSANE. Everywhere we turned there was another massive bundle of them. I obviously took an annoying amount of pictures.
For our very last meal in Mykonos we wanted to have a traditional Greek dinner so we splurged and ended up at Alegro. It was right on the water and was highly rated so we gave it a try and we instantly knew why! Although we weren’t huge fans of the calamari, the hot chocolate and our meals were so yummy! Plus you just couldn’t beat that view!
Remember Mami, the cat that I mentioned earlier? Well this is her. She was so dang sweet and would sleep right outside our door until she heard me walk out of the room in the morning to let the hotel know we were ready for breakfast. She’d cry and cry until I’d love on her and sit down so she could hop on my lap and snuggle. Most of the time when we travel out of the country I try not to pet any stray animals, but Mami was very well taken care of by the hotel and so well loved there. She was literally the highlight of every morning while we were in Mykonos and it was honestly so hard leaving her.
After we had our last breakfast at the hotel, we packed up and snuggled Mami just a little longer before we had to leave. My heart still misses her so so much.
Our hotel arranged a taxi for us so that we for sure made it to our ferry on time and then we headed from Mykonos back to Athens (Spata specifically) to stay the night before heading to the airport the following day to head home.
The way home (day 10)
As most of you know, we had a few hiccups on the way back home, but we agreed that we were just glad to be back when it was all said and done. This trip was truly unforgettable and so hard leaving the true paradise that Greece is. We had the BEST time in Santorini and Mykonos and we seriously cannot wait to go back someday.
And snuggle Mami again… hehe.
Tips + Tricks
If you’re planning a trip or are hoping to plan one in the future, we came up with a bunch of tips and tricks that we wish we would’ve known, are glad we researched before or even just little things to help your trip go a little smoother.
Rearching pays off — I booked our hotels/resorts through booking.com after researching each area and the pro’s and con’s of each. We ended up staying in Fira in Santorini because we could hike to Oia, take the bus for 2€ or grab a taxi with no problem. Plus, it was WAY cheaper to stay in Fira than Oia. I think next time we go, though, we’ll probably splurge and stay in Oia to see where we like staying more. Also, food is crazy pricey in Greece so research the best places to go before you get there that way you don’t end up wasting money on bad food.
Resorts are the way to go — Airbnb’s are nice and usually you can find a good deal, but dang, we totally were obsessed with staying in our resorts and hotels. They were SUPER affordable and totally exceeded our expectations. They took care of everything we needed and make the language barrier no big deal. If you don’t mind the inconvenience and the struggle of things sometimes or if you’re on a suuuuper tight budget then the airbnb option is probably the best one for you. We just loved being able to tell them to make reservations for places, booking excursions, and getting all the best local recommendations.
Take a million pictures and videos — Walk around, take it in, take photos and don’t feel bad about it. Ben and I were both so in awe that we would stop every few feet sometimes just because around every corner is just incredible.
Stay at least 3 days — If you want to get the full Greece island experience, I recommend spending at least 3 days in Santorini and Mykonos. We could have probably done both in 2 days but it would have been mad chaos and not nearly as fun. We are excited to try out some different islands next time we go, too!
Come during May — All the research I did about coming during the time of the year that we did was SPOT. ON. I read a million blogs and watched a ton of youtube videos where people came July-September and everyone said it was so crowded you couldn’t take a single picture without people everywhere and it was extremely hot. I’m convinced we came during the best time of the year! Our trip was from May 1-10 and it was the perfect weather. Chilly at night and sometimes periodically throughout the day in the shade/wind, but was also warm and beautiful! 70-80 degrees on average the whole time we were there and there were very little crowds.
Try new things — Although their food may be a little different than what you’re used to, don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous and try something new! That is one of our favorite parts of traveling abroad.
Animal lovers unite — One little thing that we wish we would’ve done was bring healthy treats and toys for the animals we met along the way. We definitely will do that next time. I know, that’s so ‘extra’ but we regret not bringing anything for them.
Take the ferries — Instead of flying from island to island, which can get very expensive, we totally recommend riding on the ferries. All 3 ferries we took were beautiful, spacious and had everything we needed right onboard. We paid $300 for all three of our ferry trips for 2 people to give you an idea of how inexpensive it is.
Food’s expensive — Plain and simple. Do your research before you go for the best cheap/splurge meals and don’t just hop into a place with a good view. Most of the time, it’s the view that you’re paying for and a crappy meal so know before you go!
Taxis are expensive — This is the only portion of the trip we went over on our budget for (thankfully we had a portion set aside for this specific reason). Definitely try and book them ahead of time through your resort, hotel or even your airbnb. For an even cheaper route, take the bus or metro.
Buy water at a market — The water in Greece is actually not terrible, but we definitely recommend drinking out of bottles. Every restaurant we went to gave us a bottle when we sat down, which was super nice. If you’re going to buy water, we definitely recommend going into a local market or store. They’re WAY cheaper than anywhere else.
Bring at least 1 international adapter per person — Nuff said.
Extension cords are a must — Along with bringing an adapter, you definitely need an extension cord. It allows you to charge multiple things using one cord and is just super helpful on the ferries since some of the plugs are up by the ceiling.
Wear warm clothes for travel — I’m always cold so I wore a jacket and yogas on the last ferry to head back to Athens and wish I would’ve brought a blanket as well. It was freezing to the point of feeling uncomfortable and I really wish I would’ve packed a second sweater in my carry on.
Tipping is different there — Tipping on card usually goes to restaurant and not waiter (messed up, I know) so be sure to bring extra cash to restaurants to tip. Also, the tip amount is much smaller (5-10%).
Always pay in euro on card — If asked whether you’d like to pay in euros or dollars when using a card to pay, always choose euros to avoid paying more.
Know that the conversion rate sucks — When exchanging dollars to euros they rob you in the conversion rate and the worst part is that you can’t do anything about it. Just be prepared ahead of time.
Arrange any taxis — If you’re staying at a hotel or a resort, have them arrange your taxis for you. It’s much easier that way.
Be aware of ferry cancellations — If the weather’s bad, ferries can be cancelled. We were grateful enough that it never happened to us, but there were many people at our resort that weren’t able to leave right when they were supposed to originally so just be prepared.
Athens can easily be done in a day — Athens doesn’t have a ton to do so we recommend only staying there a day at the most.
Pricey Acropolis — To enter the acropolis it’s 20€ per person. The worst part is that we only spent an hour total there, but I guess we can say that we’ve seen the Parthenon, right?
Where was my favorite? — The long awaited question has been, “Which place is your favorite?” and I honestly think that I have to say Mykonos. Although Mykonos is a party town and we don’t personally party, I thought it was just incredible and if I had to choose one place to go back to, it would hands down be Mykonos.
Bring external chargers for phones — Self explanatory and just super helpful when you’re gone from your room all day.
Getting around was easier than we thought — Even though we didn’t pay for an international phone plan and our phone’s were on airplane mode the entire time, we were still able to see where we were walking on google maps, which was suuuuper helpful.
Breakfast included is the way to go — If you’re on a budget and aren’t wanting to break the bank on your trip, invest in a room at a hotel or resort that includes breakfast. Meals in Greece can be quite pricey so finding somewhere where breakfast is included was a game changer for us!
The most well taken care of animals — I knew going into this trip that it was going to be hard to see all the strays, but what I didn’t know is that the animals are very well taken care of and the people in the community, regardless of whether they own pets or not, leave food and water out for them. The hotel we stayed at even paid to have Mami spayed and always makes sure she has food/water. They’re very loved and were the most loyal animals we’ve ever seen!
Last, but certainly not least — Do your research and create a budget before going. This was VITAL to our trip not only going smoothly, but also when trying not to spend an arm, leg and kidney just to enjoy your time there.
What we can’t wait to do next time
Beach day — Mykonos especially is majorly known for their beaches and beach resorts so next time we’d definitely love to do a beach day and chill in a cabana while there.
Sailing cruise and catamaran — Ours was cancelled due to super strong winds so we’ll definitely do that next time!
Maybe a cruise? — After leaving we agreed that we’d loveeeee to do a cruise to Greece at some point and would for sure love to island hop a bunch more.
I so so hope this was helpful and encouraging! I poured so much time and love into this blog post and I can’t wait for y’all to experience Greece, too! It’s truly incredible.
Last but not least, if you own your own business, this is specifically for you. One of the best things about owning my own business and traveling has got to be the perks of my business travel credit card. This card has given Ben and I free trips, stays, excursions, etc. all while using the card on travel that I’m already purchasing. I’ve got a link to give you 80,000 free points if you sign up for the card using this code. Click the link below to get started earning those points!