Top 5 Best Experiences to have in Athens, Santorini & Crete!
Greece is a series of idyllic islands surrounded by jet blue seas and covered in dainty white buildings, and you will find crumbling ruins, engaging museums, and pretty coastal towns aplenty. The land of Greece is full of ancient mythology, archeology, history, art, and philosophy. A trip to this fascinating country must be at the top of your Bucket List!
Our family recently returned from Athens, Santorini, and Crete. While exploring the mainland of Greece is planned for a return trip, we did spend two nights in Athens before spending 4 nights on the island of Santorini and another four nights in Crete. Here are our family's Top 5 Best Experiences we had while visiting Greece:
Acropolis & Acropolis Museum Tour
The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments (UNESCO World Heritage Site) are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization. They form the most significant architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. Our focal point was The Parthenon, known as the history of Western civilization and a symbol of Democracy!
Each building on the Acropolis has a magnificent story to tell. Together with our expert guide, Sotiris, we explored history through his extraordinary storytelling of Greek Mythology! We visited The Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Great Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Theater of Dionysus...
After the Acropolis tour, we walked down the hill and entered the Acropolis Museum. The Museum holds the title of one of the best museums in the world. It houses every artifact found on Acropolis Hill and the surrounding slopes. It is a must-visit for anyone who wishes to truly understand the magnificence of the ancient Temple of Athena, the Parthenon. During the Acropolis Museum tour, Sotiris spun a tale to help us travel back in time and become an ancient Athenian family for a day.
The Acropolis Museum became our home, battlefield, and workplace, the stage on which our everyday life and customs unravel. It was incredible!
Archeology Tour & Wine Tasting
We spent a relaxing day discovering the scenic island of Santorini. Santorini is known as the island of Thira and is the haven of honeymooners looking to get away from it all in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Scattered throughout your view with traditional Cycladic homes and beautiful blue-domed churches, you feel like you are inside a postcard. The churches gleam white under the hot Greek sun, contrasting beautifully with the deep blue seas.
We, of course, could not pass up seeing the island's famous black beach or tasting some signature wines unique on the island. We also stopped in Akrotiri to tour the famous Minoan Bronze Age settlement. The archeology site has many remarkably well-preserved remains of vibrant Frescoes and artifacts. After the tour, we headed to two different wineries to experience the island's wines and learn about their unique farming techniques. The grape vines are grown in nests close to the ground, unlike the European vines or ones grown in the United States.
Private Sunset Catamaran Cruise
We set sail on a private Lagoon 500 catamaran experience around the beautiful island of Santorini with spectacular views of the cliffs, beaches, and the volcano. We anchored three times to swim and enjoy different areas inside the caldera while sailing. The first stop was near the Red Beach for a refreshing dip. At the second stop, we gazed upon the White Beach, Black Mountain, and the lighthouse in Akrotiri. We also snorkeled and swam in the famous volcanic Hot Springs and felt the unique energy of its waters. We finally stopped at Thirassia island, a quiet remote island, and then ate a lovely dinner of seafood and Greek delicacies with wine and dessert on board. It all ended with the spectacular Santorini sunset!
Perry Jackson Experience & Pottery Making
In Heraklion, Crete, we experience a day inspired by Percy Jackson's book series. We started the day by visiting an important archaeological site in Crete, the Minoan palace of Knossos. Our tour guide spun the tail of the Cretan Labyrinth and its mysteries from a mythological and historical point of view. She focused on making the story exciting and engaging but also straightforward and easy to understand for those who had some knowledge of Greek Mythology and those of us who didn't.
Following the archaeology tour, we headed to a private interactive workshop on Minoan-Style Pottery, conducted by a rewarded Potter and Artist, Vassilis Politakis, specializing in recreations of Minoan pottery. Our two boys, Sam (18), and David (15) loved the opportunity to learn how to make pottery from the rocks they smashed into clay.
Our Day at a Cretan Farm in Zaros the traditional way of Cretan life. We baked bread in a wood oven, made traditional Cretan "tyrozouli" cheese, cooked several conventional Cretan dishes, and learned the ancient way of "raki making" at the traditional still. Velina & Michalis created a special place for us that made us feel like we were family!
After the exciting day on the farm, we enjoyed the Cretan delights, homemade raki and wine, and of course, the handmade pies we made in the courtyard of the house. The simple life was a beautiful experience! If you want to learn more about the Cretan culture, agriculture, and traditional production methods, this is the place for you. If you are inspired to experience any of this for yourself, CLICK HERE to get started!