19 days in Istanbul, Athens & Crete Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Europe travel planner
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Istanbul, Turkey
— 4 nights
Athens, Greece
— 5 nights
Elounda, Greece
— 2 nights
Heraklion, Greece
— 2 nights
Chania Town, Greece
— 4 nights


Istanbul, Turkey — 4 nights

Queen of Cities

A physical and cultural bridge between Europe and Asia, the transcontinental city of Istanbul serves as a living reminder of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires.
Istanbul is known for sightseeing, historic sites, and museums. Your trip includes some of its best attractions: admire the landmark architecture of Hagia Sophia Mosque, delve into the distant past at Basilica Cistern, browse the eclectic array of goods at Kapali Carsi, and get engrossed in the history at Topkapi Palace.

For photos, reviews, ratings, and more tourist information, read Istanbul trip planner.

Vancouver, Canada to Istanbul is an approximately 17-hour flight. You'll lose 11 hours traveling from Vancouver to Istanbul due to the time zone difference. Traveling from Vancouver in August, expect Istanbul to be somewhat warmer, temps between 34°C and 25°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 12th (Sat) to allow enough time to fly to Athens.
Museums · Historic Sites · Shopping · Neighborhoods

Athens, Greece — 5 nights

The Birthplace of Democracy

One of the world's most ancient cities, Athens remains Europe's undisputed historical and cultural capital.
Get out of town with these interesting Athens side-trips: Nafplio (Eklektopolio, Ieros Naos Evaggelistria, &more) and Mycenae (Archaeological Site Mycenae & Lion Gate). There's lots more to do: steep yourself in history at Acropolis of Athens, delve into the distant past at Ancient Agora of Athens, pause for some photo ops at Temple of Olympian Zeus, and admire the masterpieces at Benaki Museum.

Plan my day in Athens using traveler tips and tourist information provided by Inspirock.

Getting from Istanbul to Athens by flight takes about 4.5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. The time zone difference moving from Turkey Time (TRT) to Eastern European Standard Time (EET) is minus 1 hour. In August, Athens is a bit warmer than Istanbul - with highs of 39°C and lows of 29°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 17th (Thu) to allow time to fly to Elounda.
Historic Sites · Museums · Neighborhoods · Spas
Side Trips

Elounda, Greece — 2 nights

Long a sleepy fishing settlement on Crete's northern coastline, Elounda today serves as a major travel destination, drawing vacationers with a blend of unspoiled natural scenery and luxury resorts.
Start off your visit on the 18th (Fri): pause for some serene contemplation at Church of Afendis Christos, see what you can catch with Christina Boat, and then explore the ancient world of Gournia Minoiki Poli. Here are some ideas for day two: delve into the distant past at Archaia Poli Tis Lato, don't miss a visit to Panagias Keras Church, then explore the activities along Lake Voulismeni, then stop by Maria & Vangelis - Unique Handmade Creations, and finally stroll through Spinalonga (Kalydon).

To find photos, traveler tips, where to stay, and tourist information, read Elounda route planner.

Fly from Athens to Elounda in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry and bus; or take a bus. When traveling from Athens in August, plan for little chillier days in Elounda, with highs around 32°C, while nights are about the same with lows around 29°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Sat) to allow time to drive to Heraklion.
Historic Sites · Tours · Outdoors · Wildlife
Side Trips

Heraklion, Greece — 2 nights

Crete's largest city, Heraklion remains best known for its proximity to a sprawling Bronze Age archaeological site, once the center of a vanished Minoan civilization.
Kick off your visit on the 20th (Sun): take an in-depth tour of Heraklion Archaeological Museum, then stop by Inspira, then explore the ancient world of The Palace of Knossos, and finally observe the fascinating underwater world at CRETAquarium. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: get a new perspective on nature at The Natural History Museum of Crete, then take an in-depth tour of Historical Museum of Crete, then relax and rejuvenate at Aegeo Spas, and finally relax in the rural setting at Snail Farm and Fun.

To see traveler tips, more things to do, other places to visit, and tourist information, read Heraklion route builder website.

Traveling by car from Elounda to Heraklion takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. In August, plan for daily highs up to 34°C, and evening lows to 26°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 21st (Mon) so you can catch the shuttle to Chania Town.
Museums · Historic Sites · Spas · Parks
Side Trips

Chania Town, Greece — 4 nights

The place where Cretan and Venetian cultures merged in the 13th century, Chania Town attracts throngs of tourists with its well-preserved medieval harbor.
Get out of town with these interesting Chania Town side-trips: Elafonissi Beach (in Elafonissi), Royal Octopus DIVE CENTER (in Kolymbari) and Kastro Gramvoussas (in Gramvousa). The adventure continues: wander the streets of Rethymnon Old Town, see the interesting displays at Greek National Football Museum, delve into the distant past at Archaeological Site of Ancient Aptera, and take in the waterfront activity at Old Venetian Harbor.

To see ratings, more things to do, maps, and tourist information, you can read our Chania Town trip planner.

Traveling by shuttle from Heraklion to Chania Town takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. In August in Chania Town, expect temperatures between 36°C during the day and 26°C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 25th (Fri) so you can catch the flight back home.
Outdoors · Parks · Beaches · Tours
Side Trips

Crete travel guide

Beaches · Ruins · Nightlife
Great Island
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete offers travelers more than just sun, sea, and sand. Famed for its warm hospitality, outstanding infrastructure, and contrasting landscapes, the island represents one of the world's richest areas in terms of history and culture. Crete burst onto the world scene over 4,000 years ago, when it served as the center of the Minoan civilization, one of Europe's earliest organized societies. Despite the island's wealth of developed beaches, the traces of the mysterious and enchanting Minoan empire remain Crete's top attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world. The island capital Heraklion provides an ideal base for exploring a renowned Minoan palace complex, the site of Europe's oldest city.