Mainland Greece itinerary – Ultimate 7 to 10 day Road Trip

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Trying to work out the best mainland Greece itinerary?

This 7 to 10 day Greece mainland itinerary is all about jaw dropping scenery and sublime coastal destinations. You’ll witness the majestic monasteries at Meteora and stay at the Ionian seaside resort of Parga. Plus you’ll see some of Greece’s most iconic beaches and blue caves.

This Greece road trip itinerary is also perfect for those looking for a cheap Greece itinerary.

I’ll also give you some seriously handy Greece travel tips to help things run as smooth as possible.

road trip taking in the coast of Lefkada - mainland greece itinerary

Mainland Greece Road Trip – drive details

  • Distance covered: 1250 km approx
  • Drive hours 16.5 hours
  • Estimated fuel cost: $210 EUROS
  • Road tolls: numerous ( varied costs anywhere from 1.5 Euro to 9 Euros)

At around 2 euros per litre, fuel was not our cheapest cost, so getting a fuel efficient rental car at a decent price sure helped keep costs down.

Discover Cars – Athens Airport

Greece road tolls are relatively quick and easy to get through

Road tolls are inevitable unless you stay off the main roads and that would be a big mistake. The freeways are your lifeline to getting from point A to B in the quickest time possible. Where you go in-between is up to you, but stick to the freeways for a hassle free road trip.

Tip: throw all your loose change in the console to use on tolls as you go.

7 to 10 day Greece itinerary

Wondering what a 7 to 10 day road trip in Greece looks like?

Day 1 & 2

Looking out toward the monasteries of Meteora on our mainland Greece itinerary. With high cliffs and dense trees in the valley.


Day 3 & 4

The gorgeous town of Parga showing the many colorful houses nestles on the shoreline on our mainland Greece itinerary


Day 5 & 6

The iconic porto Katsiki beach with high cliffs surrounding a azure ocean on our mainland Greece road trip


Day 7 & 8

Zakyonthos island iconic ship wrech on the beach. Greece 10 day road trip.


Day 9 & 10

A shot of Athens and acropolis during dusk. 10 day Greece road trip.


One week in Greece itinerary option

For those short on time and wanting only to do the 7 day Greece itinerary, my recommendation is 1 night in Meteora, Lefkada and Athens. This brings your Greece road trip back to 7 days.

Why you should do a Greece Road Trip and skip the island hopping.

This Greece itinerary will give you the best of both worlds. Being able to travel by car in Greece and also see some of the islands as you go.

As a travel agent, I get to plan epic trips every day for people, and Greece is definitely a bucket list destination for many. But not everyone wants to island hop the usual places.

This epic road trip around Greece also included 3 island stops. These includes Paxos & Antipaxos as part of a day tour and also Zakynthos Island for 2 nights via the car ferry.

Some of the advantages of doing a road trip include:

1. Having the flexibility to go where you want

2. Not having to wait for delayed buses and lose precious time

3. Avoid crowds if needed and go somewhere quieter

4. Find those hidden gems and gorgeous road side stops

5. Explore at your own pace

6. See so much more

Are you doing Greece on a budget?

This incredible Greece itinerary was not without it careful budget planning.

We had included a bucket list 2 week trip to Egypt seeing all the best Egypt experiences. The flight is only 1.40 hrs from Cairo to Athens.

Its understandable you don’t want to miss any of the best things to do. So saving enough money to fully enjoy your time here is important right!

I recommend reading my How to save money for travel.

Also, you might like A cheats guide to saving money while traveling.

Day 1 & 2 Greece Road Trip – Meteora

Out first place to visit is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meteora. It is one of the most visited attractions on mainland Greece and is simply mind blowing.

On arrival into Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos) you’ll pick up your rental car and head north toward Meteora.

Or, if like us you get in late, stay a night close to the airport. This way you’ll start your road trip in Greece the following morning without having to beat any jet lag.

Drive time: 4.10 hours / 375 km

Car rentals: Discover Cars

Car rental in Greece is pretty cheap when you look in the right places. Discover Cars gives you an overview of all the well known and local car rentals places. So we ended up with a mid size sedan for 168 Euros for the 10 days.

Accommodation: San Giorgio Villa

Located in Kalabaka at the base on Meteora in a quiet and charming location, the property offered a gorgeous view and quaint neighborhood to explore. The little local tavern was the perfect place to down a cold beer and mere steps from our hotel.

For all Meteora accommodation check out for the best deals.

view of Meteora and neigbourhood as seen from out hotel
The view from our Meteora hotel – San Giorgio Villa
Our quaint little neigborhood in Kalabaka, Meteora
Near our hotel in Meteora – so cute

Meteora Monesteries

Picture centuries old Monesteries perched high into the sky amid towering rock pillars.

Each monastery is generally closed one day of the week (summer season) but not all the same day. For winter visits, check the opening times to plan your day ahead of time.

There are 6 incredible holy places to see. These include:

  • St Stephen’s Nunnery – 9 am to 1.30 pm & 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm / closed Monday
  • Great Meteoron Monastery – 9 am to 3 pm / closed Tuesday
  • Raussanou Monastery – 9 am to 4.30 pm / closed Wednesday
  • Holy Trinity Monastery -10 am to 4 pm / closed Thursday
  • Varlaam Monastery – 9 am to 4 pm / closed Friday
  • Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery – 9 am to 5 pm / open every day
a view of three monasteries on Meteora

Looking out across the landscape, it is hard to imagine how you actually access some of the monasteries, as they appear to rise up out of nowhere. But the walkways and ascending stair cases carved into the rock face will lead you to a magical and spiritual place.

I suggest doing as many monasteries as time allows. We ended up visiting four and spent the remainder of our time wandering the village and main township, eating moussaka and drinking more cold beers.

Also, I can’t compare all monasteries as I didn’t do every one, but my favourites were Holy Trinity (steep but incredible scenery) and Varlaam.

If you are only here for 1 night I suggest leaving Athens as early as possible and doing 2 to 3 monasteries that afternoon after you arrive.

Tips for visiting Meteora

  • take cash to pay your entry costs -3 Euro each
  • no skirts or dresses above the knees, no shorts and no sleeveless tops allowed.
  • be prepared for some steep staircases / take good walking shoes
  • check the photography requirements / look for signage. At most places you can’t take photos inside. The outer grounds are fine.
  • car parking is limited during the summer season. Consider a tour or be patient if driving.
  • take water and snacks

Rather do a guided tour: Meteora Half Day Small Group Tour – Viator (from 43 Euro)

Day 3 & 4 Greece Road Trip – Parga

Our Greece itinerary took us to Parka as seen here. With houses nestles on the shore line.
The picture perfect town of Parga on the Ionian Sea.

Parga is a picturesque town nestled on a stunning azure bay along the northwest coast of Greece. It is also the gate way to some of the islands including Paxos, Antipaxos and Corfu.

As soon as I read about how much the locals love Parga, I knew we had to go. Located on the Ionian Sea, Parga is ridiculously pretty and a must for your 10 day Greece itinerary.

Drive time: 2.34 hours / 186 km

We headed off early to make our way to Parga via a dramatic and windy mountain range. Make sure you have a full tank of fuel as stops were limited along the way.

Accommodation: My Suite Boutique Hotel

We couldn’t have got it any more perfect. Situated above the township, this ultra modern hotel offered a gorgeous view of the ocean which we took full advantage of during the late afternoon. The rooms were stylish and the bedding very luxurious. Yet the pricing was very reasonable for those who like to travel on a budget. Sumptuous buffet breakfast was included in our stay.

We ventured out for dinner to the most beautiful outdoor setting. It was here I had the best lamb kleftiko of my life, and away from the crowds of the town. In fact we appeared to be the only tourists which only made our experience even more enjoyable.

For all Parga accommodation check out for the best deals.

hotel My Suites at Parga
My Suites is located high above the town with incredible views
king size bed at My Suites Parga
King size bed at My Suites – affordable and luxurious
enjoying the view of the sea from out outdoor setting
Enjoying the view from our outdoor setting in complete serenity
front of Oasis Tavern in Parga
Just a short 2 minutes walk to Tavern Oasis from our hotel

Parga – by the water

Our arrival just before midday gave us time to explore the town for the remainder of the day and get settled into our accommodation.

Famous for its incredible beauty of several fantastic beaches, I recommend exploring along the waterside.

Head down to the boat ramp along the Parga promenade. You’ll find an array of cute stores and cafes to explore. Grab an gelato and sit by the water, enjoying the cool ocean breeze.

For some beach time, head to the southern and northern sides of town. Each offers a day of relaxation and water filled fun.

Town beach is easy to reach but will be quite packed for this reason. Alternately, drive a short distance out of town toward Lichnos for plenty of beach space to enjoy.

beach umbrellas adorn the beach at Parga
Town Beach Parga
beach goers on the sand with in Parga
Perfect conditions for some beach activity
a quiet beach at Parga
Lichnos Beach is much quieter and only 3 km east of Parga

Day trip to Blue Lagoon, Paxos & Antipaxos

I booked this trip well ahead of time as it sells out quite quickly.

Book via Get Your Guide – Paxos & Antipaxos with Blue Caves

heading out from the boat ramp at Parga in our boat

We got a wonderful shot of Parga as we sailed out of the bay. The boat had plenty of room to sit and relax and a wonderful atmosphere of cool sailing vibes.

We cruised for around 45 minutes in beautiful conditions. The boat was definitely the best sailing vessel on the water from what I saw.

Voutoumi Beach – Anti Paxos

people walking the stairs off the boat on Antipaxos Island
Enjoying the refreshing waters around Anti Paxos

Our first stop was Voutoumi Beach, an incredibly beautiful location. The boat pulled up just offshore and off loaded the ladders. Our swim or snorkel around the shoreline was simply incredible with the bluest of water and a lovely temperature. We had a good 30 minutes here before setting off again.

Blue Caves

swimming in the bluest of water on our tour to Paxos Island
entering the blue cave via boat

Our next stop was the Blue Cave off Paxos Island.

Another gorgeous location, we swam the short distance from the boat into the caves. I happily floated in the deeper water wanting to stay out as long as possible.

Once we were back on board the captain carefully maneuvered the boat in under the cave system for a closer look.

The cruise continued along the coastline taking in the amazing protruding rock formations jutting out of the ocean.

Paxos Island

boats along the harbor at Paxos
The port of Paxos is full of restaurants and boutique shopping

Around midday we landed on the island of Paxos. It was a great chance to spend a good 2 hours shopping, having lunch and sitting back with a drink in hand taking in the views.

I absolutely loved the generous amount of free time we had to explore on out own.

From here we sailed back to Parga, enjoying the cool coastal sea breeze as we went.

I highly recommend this tour but be sure to book in advance to avoid it selling out.

I booked this tour via Get Your Guide. It is a whole day (8 hours) for around 35 Euros. See more below.

Paxos and Antipaxos Cruise with Blue Caves.

Tips for visiting Parga

  • Fuel up before heading off as fuel stops from Meteora to Parga were non existent for much of the drive.
  • Book your boat tour in advance and avoid any disappointment
  • stay out of the hustle and bustle and visit the quieter spots for an authentic stay
  • pack your swim wear
  • don’t sweat it trying to find a park in town, just pay at an all day car park

Day 5 & 6 Greece Road Trip – Lefkada

coastal views on Lefkada

My original trip to Greece did not include Lefkada. But once I saw that it was home to Greece’s famous beach Porta Katsiki, it became all too apparent I had to extend our itinerary.

Drive time: 1.13 hrs / 85 km (circling the island was an additional 2.30 hrs / 86 km)

Lefkada is an island easily accessible via a long causeway. Once on the island we turned right and began an epic trip along the coast. We would be circling the island over the next 2 days taking in some of the best scenery of our entire trip.

Accommodation: Vergina Star

The hotel we stayed provided a sea view at an affordable price. While the room was nothing special, it was clean and comfortable. We also had free breakfast provided, a good bonus.

Also, the area was close enough to make a quick departure to our next stop the following day.

For all accommodation in the area go to Lefkada hotels on

Vergina Star hotel, Lefkada
Vergina Star was a lovely budget hotel with free breakfast
sunrise at Lefkada
A morning sunrise looking out from our balcony

Coastal lookouts

The entire island is scenic with several road side viewing stops. You’ll be high above the coast for a lot of the drive around the island which makes it extremely attractive. Each stop provided yet another jaw dropping scene worth several photos.

The roads on the western side of the island are windy, so take it easy as you go. There are several parts that get pretty tight too, just another reason to slow down.

our mainland Greece itinerary took in the gorgeous waters of Lefkakda

Porto Katsiki

I don’t think I have ever seen a beach as dramatic as Porto Katsiki. I’m seriously taken aback by its beauty.

The moon shaped beach on the edge of a tremendously high cliff line is as stunning as the pictures I have seen online.

It’s a few minutes walk from the carpark via a staircase down to the sand. I’m immediately in the water. There is virtually no shade so going for a swim is a must.

If you want to stop somewhere to eat then Cafe Panorama is a great spot only a few minutes drive from the beach.

a side view of Porto Katsiki beach with towering cliff and azure waters
The absolutely stunning Porto Katsiki
looking down onto Porta Katsiki beach
Just look at that water!


As you make your way around the island, you’ll spot the little town of Vasiliki on the western side well before you reach it. The coastal drive is quite stunning with vast blue ocean on the horizon.

Part of the southern coast of Lefkada, Vasiliki is a lovely short stop for dinner, especially beach side at one the many open air restaurants.

After a feast of prawns we walked the beach where hundreds of sailing boats were situated. The town is particularly popular for sailing and today it’s perfect conditions.

beach with people on sun lounges and mountains in the background
The relaxing beach of Vasiliki on the western side of Lefkada
wind surfers on the water in the glistening light on our mainland Greece itinerary
Wind surfing is a popular activity at Vasiliki

Want to explore the area on the water?

Why not join the most popular boat tour during your visit.

Explore Ionian Sea with 50 shades of blue on Makedonia Palace – though Viator from 45 Euro.

Tips for Visiting Lefkada

  • expect drive times to take longer due to the windiness of the roads
  • head in a counter clock wise direction where you will be descending more than you are ascending.
  • leave time to explore the villages along the way and beach side stops
  • during the high summer season there is a beach side cafe at Porto Katsiki beach.
  • roads along the west coast can get rather narrow so slow down to let others pass

Day 7 & 8 Greece Road Trip – Zakynthos Island

Zante Port

The island of Zakynthos is home to another one of Greece’s most famous attractions, Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach). But it can only be reached via boat. So of course, that’s where we are headed because it is simply unmissable.

As we leave Lefkada behind with wonderful memories, it is time to board our ferry from Killini Port for the short 1.15 minute cruise to Zakynthos Island.

Yes we are taking the car!

The bonus of taking our car to Zakynthos is such an advantage. It means we can stay out of the main town of Zante and find a nicer and more secluded spot to ourselves.

Getting the tickets was easy online and then collecting our passes at the port office. Make sure you pre book your car as the ferry only goes every 3 to 4 hours.

Drive time: 3.5 to 4 hours / 250 km

ferry coming into Killini port on the Greece mainland
The ferry coming into port at Killini on the mainland
inside the ferry boat shows people on  lounges
Inside the ferry, a modern and comfortable ride
the ferry coming into Zante Port, Zakynthos Island
The ferry at port in Zante (Zakynthos)

Because we stayed close to the northern tip of Lefkada we got off the island in good time. Arriving at the port of Killini we had an hour to spare before the ship departed. I boarded on foot and let my husband line up with the other cars. It was all a very easy process.

The ship is quite modern and a very comfortable ride. They have indoor and outdoor seating, plus food outlets and lots of space.

Once we got into port on Zakynthos our accommodation was around 30 minutes down the east coast.

Accommodation: Kavos Psarou Studios and Apartments

I loved my stay here. So wonderfully secluded next to the beach and olive trees, and a great central location for exploring.

The boutique hotel features beach side villas as well as small apartments and lovely coastal breezes.

You’ll find quiet beach side taverns with areas of the beach all to yourselves.

For all accommodation, go to

a sunset view from our apartment on Zakynthos Island
The view from our balcony at Kavos Psarou Apartments

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach) & Blue Caves

You might not know, but you must do a boat tour to Shipwreck Beach because it’s the only way to get there. The good news is, there are several tours going out to the island’s most famous attraction.

To book this tour with Viator: go to Zakynthos 3 hours trip to Shipwreck beach and Blue Cave . From 35 Euro per person.

But there is one advantage to having a car. You can make your own way to the port on the northern side of the island rather than taking a bus transfer. This will save you heaps of time as well as money. Plus, you’ll get to explore the island along the way.

The drive to the port is filled with epic scenery and we spot a wonderful hill top restaurant that will be a great lunch stop on the way back.

Port Vromi lookout
Heading to the Port Vromi along an incredibly scenic road.

Shipwreck Beach

Finding our tour boat was super easy as it’s right on water side, and there are only a couple of tour operators here. We set off from Porto Vromi, taking us 20 minutes to reach Navagio Beach. We disembarked and had a whole hour to enjoy to ourselves.

The wreck here is that of MV Panagiotis, which ran aground back in 1980. Since then it has become a tourist hotspot, and while I would agree the beach is way too overcrowded it is still very exciting to see it. Plus, it is only one of three other stops we will be seeing today.

Update: due to rock falls caused by earth quakes there is no beach access for the 2023 season. You will still visit the area for photos.

MV Panagiotis Shipwreck
the bluest of water at Shipwreck Beach
Yet another inviting beach in Greece
Shipwreck Beach Zakynthos shows the remina of the wrech washed up on shore

Blue Caves

Our next stop is the Blue Caves. We are not swimming here today because it’s a little choppy, but instead our small boat tour manages an impressive maneuver inside the cave.

A little further along the coast we find better conditions and can swim up to the beach from the boat.

Much of out trip is spent hugging the coast and we get to see some impressive cliffs and rock formations.

Our final stop is a gorgeous little cove that is well protected. This part of the coast is simply sublime with towering cliffs, protruding pillars rising form the ocean and secluded bays of the bluest water.

All in all this was the best value you could find in a tour that accesses some of the island most beautiful beaches and coves.

To book this tour with Viator: go to Zakynthos 3 hours trip to Shipwreck beach and Blue Cave. From 35 Euro per person.

amazing rock formation
Epic coastal scenery
the boat entering Porto Stenitis on Zakynthos Island
Porto Stenitis, our final stop for a swim

Navagio Beach scenic photo stop

If you have seen photos of Zakynthos, you have already seen this particular photo stop.

As you head back form the port, you’ll need to drive the short distance to the lookout as it is not on the same road back. It’s only a short detour so very much worth it.

It’s no wonder it is so Instagram worthy, just look at it.

Luganas Beach

OK, let’s talk about Luganas Beach because it is one of the islands most popular beaches.

On the southern side, Luganas is heavily trafficked. The beach is rows and rows of seating and everyone appears to be sitting on top of each other. This is certainly not my cup of tea, but may be yours. So seeing you have a car, take a look for yourself and see what you think.

a bust beach with rows of beach lounges at Zakynthos Island on our Greece road trip

Zanta Shopping

On port side in Zante town is the main shopping district with many streets to explore.

I recommend saving this for your pre-departure before you reboard the ferry. Apart from many wonderful boutique stores for dreamy Mediterranean resort clothing, you’ll also find jewelry, souvenirs and much more.

Be sure to check out Odos Alexandras, just tow blocks back from the harbor for jewelry, leather goods, clothing and much more.

Tips for visiting Zakynthos

  • Stay out of the main towns unless you like plenty of nightlife
  • Book a boat cruise from Porto Vromi rather than from the port of Zante. This way you’ll be able to explore more on your own plus save time and money.
  • book your boat tour in advance for guaranteed availability
  • Visit the lesser frequented taverns and seaside establishments where the atmosphere is chilled out vibes.

Day 9 & 10 Greece Road Trip – Athens

looking down on the city of Athens from the Acropolis on our mainland Greece road trip

Athens here we come!

Our final two days will be discovering the historic landmarks of Greece’s capital, Athens.

You can depart the island on either a morning of afternoon ferry that you have pre booked.

The drive from Killini Port to Athens is not too far and the freeway into the city is as direct as you can get.

Drive time: 3.10 hrs / 287 km

We’re dropping the car off rather than driving around the city of Athens. It’s heavily congested and I’ve heard nightmare stories of trying to drive everywhere. Instead we’ll use the hop on hop off bus to get around. If you are not confident with crazy traffic conditions, leave the car behind.

Accommodation: Central Hotel

I can not recommend enough Central Hotel in Athens. The rooms were very nice, but it is the roof top bar and restaurant overlooking the Acropolis that gets the “wow” factor. You must go there during the day and even more so at night for astonishing views.

Located in the old park of Plaka Athens, the area has great shopping, it’s close to the bus stop and it’s a clean and safe neighborhood.

See all hotels in Athens on

our king size bed at Athens Central hotel
Central Hotel Athens – the perfect central location in Athens
roof top bar at Athens Central hotel looking out toward the Acropolis
Roof top scenery overlooking Acropolis
the Acropolis at night lit up on our mainland Greece itinerary
Make your way to the roof top bar at night for epic views

Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour

The hop on hop off bus is the only way to get around. Save yourself time by taking the bus that takes you to all the top attractions. Buy a 24 or 72 hour pass.

There are 3 lines but the Athens line is the only one that goes all year. Piraeus & Beach/ Riviera Line only operate from May to October.

Highlights of the Athens Line:

  • Acropolis & Panthenon
  • Acropolis Museum
  • National Museum
  • Syntagma Square
  • Temple of Zues
  • Ancient Olympic Stadium
  • National Gardens

You’ll see so much more with on board commentary via your personal audio headset. Tickets are cheap at around 20 Euros, so it’s good money spent.

Buy your tickets through Viator: Hop on Hop off Bus Athens

hop on hop off bus in Athens

The Acropolis

Sitting high on a limestone hill in Athens, the Acropolis can be seen from various vantage points. It is truly a wonder that must be seen.

This religious site is centuries old and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

There is an entry fee into the grounds, and with an estimated 16,000 people per day passing through its gates, pre booking your ticket is a definite time saver.

Big crowds at the Acropolis

Tips for visiting Athens

  • ditch the car and take the hop on hop off bus
  • stay in Plaka – Athens best area for tourists due to its shopping, cleanliness and safety. It’s also a great area to explore on foot.
  • stay at a hotel which has a roof top bar for incredible views of the Acropolis at night- such as Central Hotel

Conclusion to 7 to 10 day Greece itinerary

Road trips are my absolute favorite and this mainland Greece itinerary certainly lived up to all the hype. With so much freedom and so many wonderful surprises along the way.

This 7 to 10 day Greece road trip is a great way to explore independently.

Don’t forget to book your accommodation because you’ll always get the best pre paid deals and availability that way.

I also think you don’t necessarily need to worry about cooking because the food here is quite cheap and so delicious.

Here is a run down of the hotels we used which were well priced and in great locations. They were away from the heavy traffic areas which I sometimes think are too touristy.

Be sure to plan ahead and have a fabulous time.