Greece is a country known for its whitewashed buildings overlooking turquoise seas, and its rich history dating back thousands of years. It has become the perfect summer destination for all ages and prices, with many places to visit.
Over summer break, my best friend and I decided to go abroad for three weeks to Europe. Neither of us had ever left the continent without our parents accompanying us, so we had to plan everything without outside influence or help.
Athens International Airport is the most convenient to fly through. When searching for the cheapest airfare, try to use student websites such as Student Universe or STA Travel. These websites give special rates for college students, not only for flights but also for hotels. I paid 380 dollars for a flight from LAX to Athens. Round trip flights could cost about 700 dollars.
As a student, I would advise staying in youth hostels whenever possible. Hotels can be nice, but hostels are cheaper and allow you to interact with other young travelers from all over the world.
Hostels are an easy way to find the best ‘happenings’ in the area you are staying, and each one usually offers tours or bar hops to show you the sights. Through the website, Hostelworld, you are able to set your prices, ratings, and types of rooms for your specific wants and needs.
Packing can also be very difficult when going on foreign trips. For this three-week trip, I took a carry-on and a regular sized backpack, which held more than enough clothes and needed items for Greece as well as Amsterdam’s colder climate. Carry-ons make trips easier because you do not have to check in your baggage on flights and they are lighter to pull on Europe’s busy, cobbled streets.
Planning your destinations within Greece is easier. The ultimate rule is to not plan. Not planning allows you to have the freedom to shorten or lengthen your stay in each city or region depending on how much you enjoy it.
My friend and I made the mistake of booking our return flight home from Amsterdam since we planned to tour many countries, but we fell in love with Greece and didn’t want to leave. Book a flight home only if you are sure of your final destination on your trip.
Since it’s best to fly into Athens, this is where your trip should begin and finish. Two days is enough time to spend in the city of Athens, focusing most of your time in Monastiraki and Plaka. These sections surround the Acropolis, the temples, museums, and markets of the inner city.
Most of the nicer restaurants and bars will be located in this area as well. If you are able to extend your time, find day trips to Nafplio, the Temple of Poseidon, and/or the Oracle. From Athens’ port of Piraeus, cheap ferries can take you to the islands for about 20-70 euros.
For college students, Mykonos and Ios are the main islands for the hardcore partiers. Mykonos is located about four hours away from Athens by ferry and is known for its spectacular windmills along the Aegean Sea.
Paraga Beach Hostel is the perfect place to stay during the day or night, putting you right in the middle of all the action. The best nightclubs are located on Paraga Beach or Paradise Beach, about a 10-minute walk from the hostel, where the famous Tropicana Beach Club is located. Do not miss Little Italy, the Windmills, and Armenistis Lighthouse while on the island.
Frequented by young Australians during the summer, Ios is known for its insane summer season beginning in May and ending in September. This is when parties rage for 24 hours a day, such as Swedish Midsummer (June 22, 2018).
Far Out Beach Club and Hostel is located on the main beach, Myloplatas, and is surrounded by many other venues and hotels. The beach boasts a selection of bars, water sports, and day beds for rent. At night, make sure to venture to the main town of Chora for delicious street gyros for dinner before heading to popular bars such as Escobar, Alt Shot Bar, Circus Bar, and Lost Boys.
For something tamer, Santorini is a beautiful destination for spending your time outdoors. The ancient towns of Akrotiri and Thera allow you to venture into the past to see the ruins of the Greek Empire before the volcanoes destroyed the cities.
For the famous sunsets, Oia is the town to be in, but make sure to find a place an hour in advance, due to the Disneyland-sized crowds. One of our favorite experiences was to take a day-long boat tour throughout the Caldera to snorkel and hike around the active volcano on the island.