A perfect Santorini 2 day itinerary for first time visitors! Things to do in 2 days in Santorini include sunset views in Oia, volcano trip, winery tour and more!
Santorini 2 day itinerary
Planning a trip to Santorini? This guide will help you choose what to see and do with 2 days in Santorini Greece, including:
The Greek Island of Santorini
Santorini is one of the Cycladic Islands of Greece, and arguably its most attractive. A combination of rugged natural beauty, whitewashed houses, and stunning sunsets produce an almost romantic atmosphere.People from all around the world choose to either get married or take their honeymoon here. Others take advantage of budget airline connections to take 2 days in Santorini as a short break.
Quite often, it is part of the classic Greek vacation itinerary of Athens – Mykonos – Santorini.
I've been fortunate to have visited Santorini a couple of times now. That's one of the benefits of living in Greece! As a result, I've created this Santorini itinerary for 2 days based on my own experiences.
Before I jump in with my suggestions of the best things to do in Santorini, I'll mention a couple of tips that will help you plan your trip.
Best time to visit Santorini
Peak season in August can be very busy, and also expensive. You have been warned!
Budget travellers to Santorini might like to consider early season in April and late season in October/November. This way, you will experience all of the beauty of Santorini, with none of the crowds.
I've written a complete guide on the best time to visit Santorini with a lot more information.
Stay in Fira or Oia on Santorini?
The two most popular areas to stay for two days in Santorini, are Fira and Oia. These are the two largest settlements on the island, and have plenty of accommodation to choose from.
Most people choose to stay in Fira or Oia, but there are other options. If you would like to stay closer to a beach for example, Kamari might also be a good option. Looking for a Santorini sunset hotel then check out this article!
What to see in Santorini
You can visit most of the main Santorini attractions in 48 hours. My advice, would be to divide each day of your Santorini 2 day itinerary into three parts, which are morning, afternoon, and evening. You can then slot in these 6 recommendations of things to see and do in Santorini as you see fit.
I've included some additional information at the bottom for people planning longer trips to Santorini. Here, you'll find ideas for 3 day Santorini itineraries, and some extra suggestions for 4 and 5 day stays.
1. Visit Ancient Akrotiri
Ancient Akrotiri is the most significant archaeological site in Santorini. Destroyed by a volcanic eruption and buried underneath the ash in 1627 BC, Akrotiri is a bronze age Minoan settlement.
Due to the fact it was buried, many frescoes and objects have survived through to this day. Today, you can visit this large complex which is now covered by a purpose built building. It has a walkway all the way around so that you can see the remains of the buildings.
You can visit Akrotiri archaeological site during your 2 days in Santorini, by booking a tour, hiring a car for a day, or using local transport.
2. Red Beach Santorini
This is close by to Akrotiri, and so you could tie a visit to the two together. Red Beach has a stunning setting, with its red volcanic sands backed by imposing cliffs. It is quite a small beach, and so gets crowded during the peak season.
If you are visiting Red Beach Santorini in the off-season of early spring and late autumn, you may get the beach almost to yourself, although the Aegean Sea might be a little too cold to swim in for some at that time.
Warning – Visitors to Santorini are being discouraged from spending time on Red Beach due to safety concerns. It doesn't seem to stop people though! Read my blog post mentioned above for more details.
If you like snorkelling, you will love it here. To find out more about other places to swim, take a look at my lovingly researched guide to Santorini beaches.
3. Visit the Santorini Volcano and Hot-springs
Some people say that it is worth it, and other that it is not. Personally, I enjoyed the half day trip to see the volcano and hot-springs, although the volcano was my favourite part. You can also take some good photos of Santorini from the boat as you leave.
I'd say that the volcano is a must-visit if you have the time, and there are plenty of tours to choose from at different times of day. I've been on two different tours now, and they both followed the same basic itinerary.
Additionally, when compared to other activities, accommodation, and restaurants in Santorini, the volcano tour offers great value for money.
4. Hiking From Fira to Oia in Santorini
In my opinion, this is one of most worthwhile things to do in Santorini. The caldera walk will help you enjoy the island away from the majority of tourist crowds, and you'll enjoy some incredible scenery.
If you are visiting in either the spring or the autumn, the Santorini hike will be manageable no matter what time of day you start. If visiting in the summer, you might want to start early morning or late afternoon.
My advice would be to time the Santorini walk so as to finish in Oia for the spectacular sunset.
The hike is not a technical one, and takes you through many different villages along the Caldera. It takes between 3-4 hours, and you should remember to bring along water, hat, and sunblock!
Find out more here – Hiking from Fira to Oia in Santorini.
5. Brewery or Winery Tour
Greece has a great micro-brewery scene, and Santorini has a couple of their own. I have tried a number of these beers at different food exhibitions in Athens, and Donkey Brewery from Santorini has some excellent brews.
You don't need to book in advance, and they will happily show you around the brewery. Beer not your thing? There are plenty of Santorini wine tours to choose from instead, and wine tasting is one of the top things to do on the island for many people.
6. Explore Oia and watch the Santorini Sunset
Oia is quite literally a picture-postcard perfect town. Its iconic blue-domed churches and white-washed buildings are simply stunning. Wandering around Oia to find the next incredible photo opportunity is one of the must-do things in Santorini!
It is also the place to end a day watching a sunset, and enjoying an evening meal. With 2 days in Santorini, you should try to enjoy a sunset in Oia at least once.
It can get quite crowded at the traditional sunset spot, so arrive with an hour or so to spare in order to get a good position!
If you want to book a Santorini restaurant with a sunset view, you'll need to reserve WELL in advance, especially in August.
Of course, picture-perfect Oia isn't the only place to watch a sunset in Santorini. Wherever you are, the atmosphere and sunset seems amazing!
Santorini Itinerary for more days
It does without saying that there is a lot more to see in Santorini, and so staying longer than 2 days is always recommended! I would say that a stay of 5 days is really the maximum you would really want to consider.
2 full days, or even 3 days in Santorini is probably the ideal amount of time. Here's some suggestions if staying for longer on the island.
3 Days in Santorini
An extra day on the island gives you the opportunity to see underneath the tourist veil a little. Hiring a car would be a good idea, as it would enable you to visit the less touristy villages on Santorini.
Pyrgos is one such town you might consider adding into your Santorini 3 day itinerary. It is little frequented by tourists, and is situated inland. There's a Venetian fort you can climb up above the town which has lovely views all around.
Emporio is another village you could visit during 3 days in Santorini. It's famous for the old churches and windmills, and is a good stopping place when visiting nearby Perissa Beach, which is notable for its black sands.
This is a nice area for families to visit as well, and the tavernas here are a lot more relaxing than their busier counterparts up on the caldera of Santorini!
Day Trips from Santorini
With 4 days in Santorini, you might consider throwing in a day trip or two. I've already mentioned the volcano cruise, but there are also many other options available.
Take to the water for a sailing trip around the island, and combine it with a sunset for the ultimate cruise in Santorini. Visit a winery, or see how fava is harvested and made.
Take a look at these great day trips from Santorini for more inspiration. You might also be interested in these boat tours in Santorini.
Santorini to Mykonos
Many people plan to visit Mykonos either before or after Santorini. A popular route for a vacation in Greece seems to be Athens – Santorini – Mykonos for example. You have a couple of options on getting to Mykonos from Santorini, with the best one being the ferry.
The Santorni to Mykonos ferry doesn't take long, and you can easily book the tickets using Ferryhopper. The chances are you might want to book the ferry to Mykonos from Santorini well in advance though, particularly if you are travelling in peak season.
Take a look here for more information: Greek Island-hopping
Santorini Travel FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about Santorini Island:
Is 2 days enough in Santorini?
2 days in Santorini is enough time to see the highlights, enjoy a couple of sunsets, and get a feel for the island. A longer stay in Santorini will give you a fuller experience and enable you to see more.
What should I not miss in Santorini?
The things to do in Santorini that should be on everyone's itinerary include:
- Watching the Sunset
- Walking around Oia
- Enjoying the caldera views
- A winery tour
- Day trip to the volcano
- Hike from Fira to Oia
- Red Beach
- Akrotiri Archaeological Space
Is Santorini expensive?
Accommodation is the main expense when staying in Santorini, but surprisingly, there is accommodation for all budgets, especially of you avoid high season in August. I have personally rented very nice places for less than 50 Euro a night in Santorini with kitchen facilities in both November and July.
Do I need a car in Santorini?
If you just intend to spend time in the two main towns of Oia and Fira, you will not need a car to get around. If you wish to see more of the stunning Santorini Island though, renting a car, scooter, or ATV will give you a lot more flexibility and freedom than relying on the public transport bus service.
What is the best area to stay in Santorini?
The best areas to stay in Santorini are the towns along the caldera such as Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, and Firostefani. These towns provide great views of the volcano and sunset. Families and budget travelers may prefer to stay on the opposite coast near the Perissa resort town.
When should you avoid Santorini?
When visiting Greece and Santorini, it's best to avoid the month of August if possible. This is the very busiest month in Santorini, and not only does the island feel crowded, but accommodation prices can sky rocket.
More info on what to do in Santorini in 2 days
There are of course plenty of other things to see and do on Santorini, but this gives you the basics. For more information on what to do in Oia, you might like to check out this post on exploring Oia.
You can also sign up for my free, in-depth travel guides to Santorini Island and the rest of Greece.
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Related: Best time to go to Greece
Dave's a travel writer from the UK who's been living in Greece since 2015. As well as writing this 2 day Santorini itinerary, he's also written hundreds of other travel blog posts about the Greek islands and other destinations in Greece. Follow Dave on social media for travel inspiration from Greece and beyond:
38 thoughts on “2 Days in Santorini – A perfect first-timer itinerary”
Your website is fabulous. Thank you for all the good tips. I am arriving in Athens at the end of a cruise. So I will probably be off the ship around 8 or 9 AM. I have 4 days before I have to travel back to the US. I would like to see both Athens and Santorini. Should I take 2 days for Athens and 2 for Santorini or 1 day in Athens and 3 days in Santorini? I plan to fly to Santorini so I can maximize my time there and I will be flying back to the US from Santorini.
Any help you could provide would be much appreciated.
Good idea with flying – and great you can fly back out of Santorini!
I think I would choose to stay in Athens the one night. That would give me the first day in Athens (let’s say by the time you’ve checked into your hotel you are out sightseeing at midday). So Acropolis and Acropolis museums easily visited, along with one or two other places, potentially the Agora.
I’d then get a flight from Athens to Santorini at say 14.00 if possible, which would give me another morning in Athens before check out and going to the airport. Perhaps a walk around Plaka, see the Changing of the Guard something like that.
The remaining time in Santorini.
Enjoy your time on the cruise and in Greece!!
Thanks for your blog… It really gave me an idea how to maximize a 2-day stay in Santorini.
Anyway, any recommendations on a good airlines to take from Athens airport to Santorini? All the available airlines have bad reviews and i just want to have some good advise on the best one among the worse. We cant be delayed going back to Athens on the 3rd day to catch our flight back to New York.
Thanks and more power!
If there are Aegean flights on the day you want to travel, that would be my number one choice.
As always with flights nowadays, double check your luggage allowance!
I’m coming to Santorini on July 3 from Heraklion (Crete) on a morning ferry that reaches Santorini at 10:15 am. And my flight back is on July 5 at 9:15 pm. So, I have at least 2.5 to 3 days worth of sightseeing at Santorini.
As per your suggestions on your website, this is what I have. Can you please let me know your thoughts? I’m pretty active and outdoorsy and I’m willing to take on more things:
Hiking from Fira to Oia
Potentially walk down Ammoundi for a swim?
Watch sunset at Oia (maybe from Pelekanos?)
Dinner at Oia (Is there a local bus I can take from Oia back to Fira?)
Back to Fira for the evening/night (watch a concert?)
Bus tour of Akrotiri and Red Beach (via Get Your Guide; starts at 10:00 am; Finishes at 5 pm); Includes winery too
Evening at Oia
– Watch second sunset (probably from Ammoudi Fish Tavern or 1800-Floga)
– Take a local bus back to Oia for another sunset watch
– Anything else to do??
Not sure what to do? Options are:
a) Visit to Kamari, Or just Perissa beach (Hike up for views)
Visit to Ancient Thera
Or (b) Take a tour (via Get Your Guide) to ‘Volcanic Islands Cruise with Palea Kameni Hot Springs’
Not sure if I’ll have time for 3rd sunset bofore my flight back at 9:15 pm?
It sounds like you have a pretty solid plan there!
A couple observations –
Day 1: it sounds like you are going to do the walk almost straight away, which will put you in the peak heat of the day. If you are used to the heat you may be fine, but it might be worth swapping the walk until later and checking out Fira for a little while first. If you do go straight into the walk, you will have earned the swim!
Day 2: I have heard something about an Atlantis Experience opening
For the bus: check with your hotel on arrival for local bus timetables and also when the last bus may be. There’s always taxis of course.
Day 2: Not sure if you need to book tables at these places – it might be worth checking.
Day 3: I’d suggest the volcano tour, as you also get great views of Santorini from the sea as well.
Samir here again. I am interested in doing the Fira-Oia walking trail. I am staying at hotel in Oia. Few questions:
1) I read that it is better to do Fira to Oia rather than other way around. any thoughts?
2) Is it common to do this trail on your own or is it better to take a local walking tour – I would prefer doing on my own but wanted to check if there are any pecularities that I should be aware
3) What is the best site to find map (start point, stops etc) of this trail
The walk is best done from Fira to Oia – check my article here: Fira to Oia hike
I would suggest taking a bus/taxi to Fira, and then walking back from there.
There’s absolutely no need for a guide – it’s fine to do it yourselves. My guide should give you enough pointers to get going. If you struggle to find the beginning of the path (I took photos of the signposts so you know what to look for), just ask someone and they’ll help.
Must say, you have made quite an interesting and knowledgeable site. I am travelling with my wife and 14 year old son. I will be reaching at 11.30 by ferry from Mykonos on 31 May and then take late evening flight from Santorini on 2nd June, so effectively have 2.5 days. I am staying at Oia. Can you recommend an itinerary for 2.5 days. More than historic as a family we would like more scenic places. Also we don’t plan to rent a car, so what would be the most ideal way to travel around. Would you recommend booking a day or half day trip with some travel agency (if so please suggest which one) and spending rest of the time travelling on own. Many thanks in advance.
Check out my main guide to Santorini: Santorini Travel Guide
You should be able to put together something from there.
The afternoon hike you mentioned previously is one idea. Perhaps a volcano boat tour on one day is another.
Thank you for all of the comprehensive information that you provide. I will be in Santorini for 3-4 days and would like to do a guided tour of the city. However. I am having trouble selecting a tour company. I would like to see all of the historic spots among others popular tourist spots. I really don’t feel comfortable going it alone. Can you provide any suggestions of a guided tour company that provides transportation and a knowledge tour guide.
I hope you are well and enjoying what’s left of the weekend!
I would suggest for Santorini, you could choose to take a series of half or full day tours.
My prefered platform to use is Get Your Guide as I find them to be very reliable, and the system easy to use.
You can look at some of the Santorini tours here:
Santorini Private Tours
and more ideas for Santorini day trips here:
Santorini Day Trips
How long does the bus take to travel from the Santorini Airport to Akrotiri? It appears to go via Fira. How many kilometres is it?
The bus to Fira from the airport takes around 25 minutes.
As far as I am aware (although you may have researched this more than me!!), you’d need to change buses at Fira.
The bus from Fira to Akrotiri takes around 30 minutes.
Thanks so much for this amazing blog!
We are going to be traveling to Greece from April 20th to April 27th. We have booked our flights to land in Athens on 20th around 11.30PM and leaving from Santorini around 11.30PM on 27th.
I have a 9 year old that is an ancient ruins fan, and a 13 year old who loves water and beautiful places. My plan was 2 full days in Athens (4.21 and 4.22), a day trip to Delphi and Olympia (4.23). Can I do Olympia and Delphi in a day?
Then, we fly down to Santorini early morning 4.24, and spend four days in that area. Based on your advice, we plan to make a day trip to the volcanoes and hot springs, 2 days on Santorini. That still gives us an extra day. Should I use that in Santorini or in the Athens area?
Can you please advice on this tentative itinerary? My flight within Greece has not been booked yet, and I can do so based on your input.
Also, can we get into the ocean for a swim? Would it be too cold? I would have loved a snorkeling expedition, but the water temperature makes me hesitate.
Thanks so much!
Hope you are well, and thank you for the kind words about the travel blog!
In answer to your questions:
1. The day trip to both Delphi and Olympia on the same day is not possible. In my opinion, the Delphi day trip is the better of the two. You can read more info – Delphi day trip from Athens.
2. I would use the extra day in Athens. That way you could potentially take another day trip out of the city. A full list of day trrips from Athens here – Day tours from Athens.
3. Swimming might be for the brave perhaps, but it’s difficult to tell. On the volcano trip, you go via hot pools, so you can swim in them during the trip for sure. Perhaps choose a hotel with a pool if possible, as the water might be warmer for you!
The snorkeling trips may offer wet suits when the waters a colder.
Have a fantastic time in Greece!
Thanks for the quick reply Dave!
About the hike from Fira to Oia, we are going to be staying at the Manos small world, which claims to have beautiful sunsets. Any comments?
Also, since we would be staying on the Fira side, should we take a bus to Oia, and then walk back? Would it make any difference?
Do we need a rental car while in Santorini for 3 days?
Thanks so much!
I’ve never stayed there so you’ll have to let me know after your stay whether it had a good sunset spot or not!
Although you’re staying in Fira area, I still think it would be better to walk toward the sunset at Oia. That way, you’ll have seen it from more than one spot.
You don’t have to rent a car at all, but I think it’s a good way to get around. You could probably get away with just hiring the car in Santorini for the one day.
So happy to find your travel guide! My husband and I will be in Sifnos June 20-23 for a wedding. We are considering visiting Santorini June 23-24 with a late evening flight to Athens on the 24th for an early morning flight home on the 25th.. Would this be enough time to see Oia and Akrotori? If so, where would you suggest we stay for one night. It has been suggested that we spend this time exploring Athens rather than Santorini.
Thank you for your time,
It’s a tricky one, and i think it really comes down to how much you have your heart set on Santorini. My guess is, most people have it in a higher position on their wishlist than Athens.
In short, yes you can easily see both Oia and Akrotiri on the 23-24 (even assuming you arrive on Santorini midday on the 23rd).
I’d suggest staying in Oia given your circumstances.
It would probably be better to hire a car on the 24th, take it down to Akrotiri, and then see a few more places of interest on the way back. Arranging to drop the car at the airport after you’ve finished with before catching the plane would work nicely.
For your overnight stay in Athens, given your late land and early departure (if I understood your dates correctly), I think it best to stay at the Sofitel Airport Hotel. It’s the only hotel near Athens airport.
If you do decide to visit Athens instead, check out my 2 day itinerary.
Have a good time at the wedding, and enjoy your time in Greece!
I am looking to do an Island hop the week of April 21-28, 2019 (falling on Easter coincidentally). I am thinking of 7 days total and hopefully hitting Santorini and Mykonos for the longer e day stays with day trips to some of the smaller islands. For example: Santorini (2) – Milos (1) – Paros/Antiparos (2) – Mykonos (2). What would you suggest is the best itinerary sequence taking into consideration Ferry transport logistics? Your help is much appreciated!
Is that Greek Easter or Western Easter – they occur on different dates for most year.
7 days is great. I would consider not doing quite so much hopping though, and choose betweenMilos and Paros.
The reason is, I recently spent a week on Milos, and still didn’t have time to see it all! In fact, it’s my new favourite Greek island.
Check out my guide to Milosfor more info.
So, I would do something like Milos – Santorini – Mykonos – but the order you do the islands would depend on how long you wanted to stay in each one.
Thank you for all the helpful info!!
I will be in Santorini in a week for 2 full days. Any tips on hiring a car with a driver to cover most territory in the amount of time given. If it’s not too late of course.
And how are the driving conditions on the island? Based on my experience around Sithonia and Thessaloniki I was glad I wasn’t driving there, the countryside especially seemed confusing to me.
Not sure my 2 kids with be thrilled about the hike between Thira and Oia,
although to me hoofing it sounds ideal. We are staying in Oia.
I appreciate all the suggestions!!
I think you will find driving on Santorini a lot easier than the cities in mainland Greece!
That said, it really depends what you want to do and where you are staying. Maybe you won’t even need a car for one of the days, in which case taking a local bus and a taxi might be better.
It will perhaps be hot to do the hike, especially with unwilling kids! Why not try an evening cruise instead to see the sunset and the island from the waves. There’s normally plenty of swimming opportunities as well!
Thank you so much for the information in planning our 2 day trip to santorini
We (2 couples) reach on 16th July in the evening and plan to walk from Fira to oia and have a sunset dinner in Oia at Pelekanos
On 17th we plan to take a sunset cruise. The day is still undecided
On 18th I am thinking to take the private trimaran catamaran cruise as it’s supposed to be the fastest vessel and looks adventurous. Would this be too much sailing for 2 day visit?
We leave for Athens on the 18th night by plane.
What are the other places you suggest we should add..
Your itinerary sound very good to me!
I think whether you take two sailing trips on Santorini really depends how you feel about sailing. For example, I’m not great on the water, so one would be enough!
The private tour looks great fun though, and probably one you’ll remember for a long time!
Take a look here for more day trips on Santorini
For ideas for your Athens itinerary take a look here – What to do in Athens
We will be in Santorini for two days coming from Athens – reach by 8:00 AM and leave the next day at 4:00 PM. We have booked a rental car from the Thira airport and our hotel reservation is at Kamari. Do you think we can do follow your itinerary ? What do you suggest please ?
Yes I am pretty certain you can follow the itinerary. Your priority should of course be the Santorini sunset though, as you only have the one evening to see this!
With this in mind, you might be able to shave a little time off from Akrotiri, and consider skipping the brewery if you run out of time.
We are a family of 5 (all adults), and will be in Santorini for 2 days in Sept.
Would you recommend renting a car while we are there, or use Cabs/Buses for transport?
I think with 5 of you it might be easier to rent a car. Perhaps depending on how you plan your time though, you might only need it for one day.
Thnx for your input…..we will rent a car.
We plan to do some of the things you suggest on your site for a 2 day trip……visit Akrotiri; hike from Fira to Oia; see sunset from Oia; visit Santo Winery; maybe visit a brewery; spend some time in Oia and Fira. We may not need a car of some of these activities, but it will be convinient to have one.
If there is any activity/sight you feel I have missed that we should do / see while in Santorini, ….please recommend. I have always found your input very vaulable.
Thnx for your guidance.
I think you have everything pretty much covered, unless you want to squeeze in a volcano boat tour somewhere along the way.
Nice article. We’re planning a 2.5 days trip to Santorini in June’18 . We’ll be landing in Santorini around 14:30 on Day-1 and have booked our stay along with a car in Perissa. Our return flight is at 23:55 on Day-3.
Could you provide some inputs on how should the given time be planned ? Perissa to Oia is 23kms . How can we plan Fira-Oia hike in such case ?
Perissa is a lovely area to stay in, so I’m sure you will like it there!
It does, of course, make the hike a little more complex. I think the best idea, would be to drive to the beginning, hike to the end to see the sunset,and then get a taxi or bus back to pick up your car again.
Of course drive to Akrotiri, but also you could easily visit most of the small towns and villages over a couple of days, as Santorini is not big.
The Volcano tour I wonder if it is worth doing. In my opinion, for your 2.5 days and the fact you have a car hired, I think it would be best to go for a nice drive around the island to see areas other tourists never really spend time exploring.
We are traveling to Santorini in the month of March. We will be staying there for 3 days. Would suggest any sunset view restaurants?
I hope you enjoy your time in Santorini in March!
Oia is the best place for restaurants with a sunset view, and there’s a list of the top 10 sunset view restaurants in Santorini here.
I will be traveling to Greece in early October, 2017. Upon landing in Athens, will do a half day tour. Next day depart for a 2 day tour of Delphi and Meteora. Return to Athens for a day of sightseeing then dinner. Next day, fly to Santorini for 2 days. Plan a 3 or 4 hr day tour of island on 1st day. 2nd day, an afternoon cruise. Day of departure, I plan on relaxing at the hotel until check out, then then going down to port to ride the cable cars up the hill/cliff. Afterwards, do a walking tour of Fira which will include lunch. Depart for athens later that night. Fly home the next day. What are your thoughts regarding itinerary?
Your itinerary sounds great – it follows a route and timing that many people choose. A walking tour (I’ve seen a couple of interesting walking photography tours in Santorini) is a great way to get those memorable shots of the blue domed churches and incredible views!
In October, the weather is at the turning point, so there might be a slight chill in the air, especially in the evening.
I’m sure you already have a list of what to see and do in Athens, but here’s a couple of links that you might find useful –
Have a great time in Greece!