Greece was my dream destination. My husband and I went to Athens, Naxos, and Santorini, but here, let me focus on my beautiful adventures in Athens and Naxos.
Walking through a park at the base of the Acropolis
Best Time to Visit:
The peak season is summer, but we weren’t keen on crowds and queues. So we went in January. We also got a travel package for a stress-free holiday.
Our Winter Vacation in Greece
Days 1-2: Athens
Modern Athens, with the Temple of Zeus right smack in the middle.
We flew into Athens and stayed at Central Athens Hotel. As its name suggests, the hotel is in the middle of the tourist area — many of the top things to do in Athens were within walking distance.
The first task was to eat! After lunch, we visited the National Archaeological Museum. It has an extensive collection of sculptures and artefacts. I was especially intrigued by the frescoes, well-preserved mural paintings discovered in ruins.
National Archaeological Museum
Address: 44 Patission St, Athens 10682
Opening hours: 8 am to 8 pm (Tuesday to Sunday); 1 pm to 8 pm (Monday)
Getting there: ΖΑΠΠΕΙΟ bus stop / Monastiraki Metro Station / Taxi
The ‘Spring Fresco’ some 3,500 years after being buried by volcanic ash.
Nightlife was vibrant at Adrianou Street and the Plaka, as patrons buzzed about the restaurants and shops. I especially liked the Greek turquoise jewellery and mini pottery. Later, we chilled at the hotel’s rooftop bar and enjoyed an unobstructed view of the Acropolis — a definite positive for the hotel in our books.
Adrianou Street is busy even in winter
The next day’s itinerary was the Acropolis, the centre of ancient Greek civilisation. Some sites that stood out were the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Erechtheum, and of course, the Parthenon. The Parthenon was undergoing restoration but was still a striking sight up close.
Athens weather in the winter was perfect for all the walking and climbing. No complaints about sweat and humidity!
Address: Athens 10558, Greece
Opening hours: 8 am to 8 pm daily, with slight changes according to season
Admission fee: €20; Reduced €10 (1 November – 30 March)
Multi-site pass: €30; Reduced €15 (e.g. Acropolis, Hadrian’s Library, Roman Agora, Kerameikos). Valid for 5 days.
The Parthenon and us
Days 3-4: Naxos
On the third morning, we went to Piraeus harbour for our 5-hour ferry journey to Naxos. The island boasts the most beautiful beaches of the Cyclades, and the view from our room didn’t disappoint. It was scenic everywhere. Too bad it was too cold to swim.
We love our hotel, Naxos Resort, as it was 5 minutes away from town by car. So easy to get around Naxos!
A pink-hued sunset from the beach at Naxos Resort
Food in Naxos was good! There was more seafood, and the dishes had homelier flavours than in Athens. We frequented Maro’s Taverna and had some of our best meals there!
Greek salad at Maro’s Taverna. Salads never tasted so good!
Old Town, the part of the town that is… well, old. Medieval, in fact. Some parts looked like they came out straight from Lord of the Rings.
There were only my husband, some cats, and I roaming the narrow winding pathways. Although I appreciated the quiet, I admit that summer might be the better and livelier season to visit Naxos, when the town market is open.
A quiet moment in an Old Town courtyard
Temple of Demeter
The Temple of Demeter and its winter-green surroundings.
You can actually hire a taxi or car and drive around the large agricultural island. We took a taxi because we weren’t confident on navigation. On our second day, we visited the marble Temple of Demeter deep inland. It has many unusual features. For example, its square floorplan is unlike the rectangular build of other Greek temples. It was insightful, but we were more taken by the surrounding landscape and its dewy lustre.
Temple of Demeter
Address: Drimalia 84302
Opening hours: All day
Getting there: By car
When we returned to town, we visited Kastro, a 13thcentury castle-now-museum. Then we searched for locally made goods like soap and cinnamon infused olive oil.
We also walked up to Portara, a majestic marble doorway at the entrance of the harbour. It was imposing against the stormy sky, and I’m amazed it’s still standing today!
Cinnamon sticks galore at Naxos.
There’s no hurry in laidback Naxos.
Day 8: Athens
Back in Athens for our flight home, we visited the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Monastiraki flea market. We also ventured into the modern part of the city to buy back local produce and pastries. Bags of figs and apricots at a fraction of the price in Singapore!
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Address: Athens 10557, Greece
Opening hours: 8 am to 8 pm
Admission: €6; Reduced €3
Getting there: 10-minute walk from the hotel
Freshly baked goodies at an Athens bakery.
The Temple of the Olympian Zeus, with the Acropolis in the background.
We went to Greece with three aims: to visit the sites, to soak in the scenery, and to enjoy the delectable cuisine. All were successfully achieved, and we couldn’t be happier!
Greece: Know Before You Go
Read up on basic Greek history to appreciate the significance of the locations.
If you prefer fewer crowds and less sweating, consider visiting off-peak season, especially Athens.
Check out lesser-known islands besides Santorini or Mykonos. Each island has its own signature experience.
There’s a bit of travelling between locations, so get a Greece travel package. It will save a lot of hassle and ensure comfortable stays.