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In many ways, this is a tale of two countries -- the mainland, rich with antiquities and unusual landscapes, and the islands, scattered across the Mediterranean. So you'll need ample time to take in the sights (and travel between them). Explore Athens for three days, ogle the Meteora monasteries for two, then live the isle life, dedicating three days to cozy Hydra and four to postcard pinup Santorini.
Pictured here, an iconic view of Athens: The Parthenon lords over the acropolis.
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Book Athens's Hotel Grande Bretagne not just for its rooms (though they're lovely) but for its crowning glory: expansive roof decks featuring a pool, restaurant, and a couple of bars with views of the Acropolis on one side and Mount Lycabettus on the other.
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What to Do
Get your history on at the new Acropolis Museum, then take time for recess: Shopping in the trendy Kolonaki district, sipping ouzo on Gazarte's terrace in the Gazi 'hood, and supping at Michelin-starred Spondi, shown here. When you make a reservation, ask pretty please for a table in the garden, where the romance factor is off the charts.
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Monasteries built precariously on the tops of crazy-high rock spires? Definitely something you've got to see. Rent a car and drive the five hours northwest. The refuges date back to the 14th and 15th centuries; four of the original 24 are still in use and are now UNESCO sites.
Where to stay: The Dellas Boutique Hotel where rooms with views of the rock formations cost a little more. Luckily, rates are all-around so affordable you can upgrade sans guilt.
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What to Do
Go up stairs and across a bridge to get to the scenic and serene Roussanou Monastery.
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Just over an hour from Athens by boat, this little island is one very special corner of the world: an artists' enclave, flush with bougainvillea, with no cars or motorcycles allowed. How to get your luggage up the hill? Hire a man with a donkey.
Hydra’s main town -- also called Chora, which means, well, "town" -- winds down a hill to surround the island's picturesque harbor.
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Where to Stay
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You’ve seen it a thousand times in photos, but nothing compares to the real thing. Yes, the whitewashed villages top the volcanic cliffs like a dusting of powdered sugar. No, you didn’t bring enough memory cards.
Perched on the cliffs in northern Santorini, the village of Oia is more mellow than the island's club-happy capital, Fira -- in other words, just right for honeymooners.
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Where to Stay
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Plan Your Trip
When to Go
Weather- and crowd-wise, late spring and early fall can't be beat.
How to Get There
Fly to and from Athens. To reach the islands, take a ferry (which is slower and cheaper) or a hydrofoil (faster and pricier). Find the schedules at ferries.gr.