Planning for your honeymoon or looking for a breathtaking destination?
You can consider Greece where it is one of the most romantic places in the world. You can walk down the streets in Santorini (one of Greek islands) and enjoy the picturesque Oia with whitewashed buildings and calderas in Aegean Sea. Or you can catch a mystical sunset in Meteora where an ancient monastic community and rare geological phenomenon of sandstones coexist in absolute harmony.
Besides its admirable nature, you can learn about its ancient history of human civilisation that began 4,000 years ago. The Greeks were great philosophers, warriors, writers, actors, athletes, artists, architects and politicians. Most airlines will bring you to Athens, the capital of Greece and also the heart of Ancient Greece. You must explore the Acropolis of Athens, which is situated on a 156-metre hill and you will notice the greatest architectural and artistic monument, Parthenon, which was dedicated to the Greek goddess of war, Athena.
Those were some of the places that my wife and I visited. Our home is designed with cycladic style that has whitewashed walls and gentle curves with contemporary aesthetics. Santorini is our dream vacation and our trip was spontaneous and relaxed over two weeks. It is fairly easy to commute around Greece without self-driving by taking public buses, mass rapid transit, railway, ferry and domestic flights. If you plan to rent a car, remember to obtain an international driving permit.
Where We Stayed
- Athens - Andronis Athens (€97.62 per night with free continental breakfast) and Oscar Hotel (€49.60 per night with breakfast; near railway station)
- Mykonos - Villa Oceania (€238.50 per night for one-bedroom apartment with sea view)
- Santorini - Caldera Stories (€315.17 per night with caldera view and outdoor hot tub)
- Thessaloniki - Grand Port Suites (€54 per night with breakfast; near railway station)
- Kalabaka/ Meteora - Katia's House (€55 per night with kitchen; near railway station)
Our review of Villa Oceania (Mykonos) - 9.6 / 10
As its location is near the port, there is complimentary port transfer for us. Its area is serene and quiet neighbourhood. It has a nearby grocery store that allows us to cook our home country's delights (e.g. Singapore Curry and Bak Kut Teh) as we bought cooking paste over. From its location, we can catch the amazing sunset and sailing boats berthing at the port. The apartment is spacious and allows us to unpack our belongings. The shower area is small and not divided by glass screen, only by shower curtain; water could spill out easily when showering.
Our review of Caldera Stories (Santorini) - 9.6 / 10
The location is serene and has a breathtaking view of the caldera. It has a nearby bakery/cafe for food and grocery. The room is very clean and the bed is facing the impressive calderas. However, the floor can be dusty due to strong wind outside, the host could have provided disposable slippers. The host is helpful to provide info on amenities and mode of transport. Breakfast was delivered on time to our room. We are grateful to the host, Fotis Papakanellos for providing free airport transfer to us.
Our review of Katia's House (Kalabaka/ Meteora) - 10 / 10
The apartment is very near the railway station and it is fully equipped with cooking cutlery. The host has provided several types of jam for our self-made breakfast. We are grateful for the host to provide a short car ferry to the railway station as we have heavy luggage. Simple instructions on the usage of the water heater could have been informed at the beginning of our stay or displayed in the house.
Things to See & Do
- Acropolis Museum
- Ancient Agora of Athens
- National Archaeological Museum - the largest museum in Greece
- Panathenaic Stadium
- Benaki Museum - featuring the history of Greece culture through its priceless collections
- The Jewish Museum of Greece - traces the history of the Jewish community in Greece
- Plaka - excellent place for shopping souvenirs and eating Greek food
- Mary Poppins Theme (Little Kook) - a dessert shop
- Paradise Beach - the party starts at 4.30pm every day
- Windmills of Kato Mili
- Aegean Maritime Museum
- Boni's Windmill
- Archaeological Museum of Mykonos
- Old Port (Chora) of Mykonos Town
- Oia - a very photogenic town with an array of small shops, restaurants and cafes; with spectacular views of the rest of the island and calderas
- Fira - the capital of Santorini; you can visit Folklore Museum and Archaeological Museum of Thera
- Megalochori village - you can visit Symposion by La Ponta, which is a cultural center offering an immersive experience of music and mythology
- White Tower Museum - houses permanent exhibition on Thessaloniki from the age of its founding in 316/15 B.C. to the present
Arch of Galerius and Rotunda - a cylindrical structure was built in 306 AD by the Roman tetrarch Galerius, who intended it to be his grave; initially it worked as a temple but the god is unknown
- Museum and Archaeological of the Roman Forum
- Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
- Museum of Byzantine Culture
- Thessaloniki Olympic Museum
- Radio Museum
- Water Museum
- War Museum
- Meteora (meaning "hovering in the air") - impressive rock formations with monasteries built on top of them; the first monks of Meteora arrived back in the 14th century; it is a pilgrimage to a holy place for all Christians around the world; presently, there are six active monasteries:
- Holy Trinity
- St. Nikolaos Anapafsas
- Great Meteoran
- St. Stephen's
(See Meteora Map)
- Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum
- Museum of Hellenic Culture & History of Meteora - you will learn about the history of Greek education and learning and you can also sign up for a 45-min crash course on Greek language
What to Eat
Greeks are foodies. It is a strong social custom for Greek family members to gather around the table to enjoy prepared meals by the housewife. The word, "gastronomy" derives from the Ancient greek word, "γαστρ" (stomach) and "νομία" (laws that govern), and hence it literally means "the art or law of regulating the stomach". The holy trinity of ancient and modern Greek cuisine is bread, oil and wine. Olive oil is the most important. Greeks are the world's biggest olive oil consumers with an average of 20 litre per person annually, while Spanish have an average of 12 litre, Italians 9 litre and Americans 0.8 litre.
You may try the following Greek dishes:
- Cheese-spinach Pie
- Tzatziki Dip
- Greek Salad
- Chicken Schnitzel
- Stuffed Vegetables / Stuffed with Meat
- Greek Pastitsio
- Pan Fried Pork Meat
- Briam (Eggplants, Zucchini, Peppers)
- Greek Mousaka
- Lentil Soup
- Spinach with Rice
Greek Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce
If you have enough of their Mediterranean food after several days like us, you can try the following Asian restaurants at Athens:
- East Pearl
- Attic Moon
- Fuyunlong Restaurant
- Wok Dragon Express
- Noodle Bar
If you are in Thessaloniki, you can visit these restaurants:
- TianTian China Restaurant - we had to order what they shared with us as they did not have menu
- China Wok Time
- Samurai Asian Cuisine & Sushi
- By Sea - You can book tickets from several ferry companies (e.g. Sea jets and Blue Star Ferries) to Greek islands by boarding at Piraeus in Athens. You can take Sea Bus (i.e. ferry) in Mykonos from new port to the old port or paradise beach.
- By Train - You can easily commute within the city of Athens via their metro train. The tickets are priced differently (e.g. €1.40 for 90-min, €22 for 3-day). Between cities in Greece, you can book their railway tickets via Trainose. It cost us €15.20 per person from Thessaloniki to Kalabaka (nearest town to Meteora) and €18.30 per person from Kalabaka to Athens.
- By Bus - You can take their public bus (starting from €1.80 per person) in Santorini to their towns like Fira and Oia. The frequency is about 40-min. Alternatively, you can book a taxi via Aegean Taxi app.
- By Cab/Taxi - The cab fare from Athens Airport to City Center is fixed at €38 (05:00-24:00) or €50 (00:00-05:00). You can contact this friendly & professional driver (Dimitris Kentros) in Mercedes car if you are going to Airport or Piraeus with your luggage: +30 6949 53 50 65 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- By Air - You can choose Aegean Airlines as they have more flight options at reasonable prices. We booked a flight from Santorini to Thessaloniki at a price of €172.71 per person (incl. 1 baggage of up to 23kg)
- By Self-drive - Greek law requires a foreign driver to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as a state-issued driver's license to operate a vehicle in the country. For Singaporeans, you can apply from Automobile Association of Singapore and the fee is S$20. The IDP is valid for one (1) year from date of issue and is not renewable.
Emergency Telephone Numbers:
- Police - 100
- Emergency Call Number - 112
- Fire Brigade - 199
At Andronis Athens hotel, they provide several travel guides and one of them is Rick Steves Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese. We found it very useful and comprehensive. Additionally, Rick Steves has an mobile app that contains his audio guides and interviews for various places of attraction. We have turned on his audio guide when we visited the ancient ruins like Acropolis and Agora. Rick brought life to the Ancient Greece.
Every place provides nuggets of wisdom that are universal and applicable in our lives. Below are some of the Greek philosophy:
- Noble descendance is good, but it is a thing of the past. - Plutarch
- Work amasses huge essence, but makes life a burden. - Epicure
- You must surmise what cannot be seen by what can be seen. - Solon
- Know yourself. - Socrates
- Nothing in excess. - Chilon of Sparta
- Everything in moderation. - Cleobulus
- Everything flows. - Heraclitus
- No pain, no gain. - Aristotle
- Love, invincible in battle. - Sophocles
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