The travel bug has bit me hard again!
I’ve been planning my end-July to mid-August vacation for a few months now. With my Schengen visa application finally approved, I can now officially declare that I’m going to Greece + Qatar this year! And here’s a draft itinerary we’ve put together:
Doha, the Pearl of the Arabian Gulf
[Image Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius]
Day 1: Singapore – Doha – Rafina
Upon reaching the Qatar’s capital city, we will embark on a 3-hour Doha city tour. Places we will visit:
– The Pearl-Qatar: A high-end neighborhood standing proud on a man-made island, coming straight from one of Aladdin’s wishes I suppose.
– Katara Cultural Village: A cultural hot-spot showcasing the best of Qatari heritage.
– Souq Waqif: A traditional marketplace where I can shop for handicrafts, spices and other souvenirs. But what I’m looking forward to most are the colorful floating umbrellas along some of the passageways.
– Museum of Islamic Art: Where over 1,400 years of Islamic art will be showcased. This is also where I will gaze at the beautiful Doha skyline pictured above.
I think I may end up liking Doha more than Dubai, which I previously dubbed as “Disneyland for grown-ups”. For one, Doha seems to do a better job balancing its modernization efforts with preservation of its cultural roots. And while its modern spectacle wouldn’t rival Dubai in superlatives, it wins when it comes to harmonious-looking urban planning.
After Doha, we will continue to Athens International Airport, where we will depart for Rafina Port to stay for the night.
Hopping Around the Greek Islands:
Mykonos, Paros, Santorini
[Image Credit: Pedro Szekely]
Day 2: Rafina – Mykonos
Our Aegean Sea’s first stop will be the picturesque Mykonos. We will pass by landmarks such as Agias Kiriakis, Panagia Paraportiani Church, Alefkandra (a.k.a. Little Venice) and the beautiful windmills of Kato Milli. If time permits, we hope to squeeze in Ano Mera village, where the atypical red-domed monastery of Panagia Tourliani can be found.
Day 3: Mykonos – Paros
After a quick chillaxing on Agios Stefanos beach, our ferry will depart for Paros. Paros is home to many charming white-washed villages such as Parikia, Lefkes and Naoussa—all of which are on our bucket list.
Day 4: Paros – Santorini
We have designated plenty of time in Santorini, so our itinerary may still change. But our current plan for first day is to hike along the famous caldera route, starting from Fira through Firostefani, Imerovigli, Finikia and ending with the world-famous sunset spot at Oia.
We also hope to spot the famous blue-domed churches, which name escapes us because there are just too many blue-domed churches at Santorini! But after hours of Internet research, we’ll place our bet that they are the ones called Agios Spyridonas and Anastaseos.
Day 5: Santorini
This is the day we’ll be exploring the beautiful beaches of Santorini. The day’s itinerary is still tentative, but roughly it looks like this for now: Pyrgos twin churches – Akrotiri – Red Beach (Kokkini Paralia) – White Beach (Aspri Paralia) – Vlyhada Beach – Black Beach (Perissa) – Mesa Gonia.
Day 6: Santorini
We’ll take the caldera boat tour for our final day at Santorini, with stops at Palea Kameni, Nea Kameni and Thirassia. At night, we will head to the port for our overnight transfer to mainland Greece.
Meteora’s Gravity-Defying Monasteries
[Image Credit: Danel Solabarrieta]
Day 7: Santorini – Piraeus – Kalambaka
From Piraeus port, we will take a train to Kalambaka, where we plan to take a sunset tour around Meteora. Meteora, which literally translates to “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above”, houses 24 Eastern Orthodox monasteries built at the top of gigantic rock pinnacles. This breathtaking masterpiece is the one site I’m looking forward to most.
Day 8: Kalambaka – Athens
After a quick visit to Kastraki village in the morning, we will take a return train to Athens. This is also our buffer day to do Meteora tour in the morning in case we arrived a little late the day before.
Initially, we wanted to cut short our time in Santorini and/or Athens for a visit the amazing Zakynthos Beach, but we realized connecting Zakynthos Beach with any other place in our itinerary is a daunting task. Hence, we are thinking of possible stopovers along the Kalambaka–Athens route (Delphi? Arachova Village?), or even other nearby attractions around Kalambaka. Kindly share your thoughts if you have an advice.
Athens, Civilization’s All-Time Classic
[Image Credit: Christophe Meneboeuf]
Day 9: Athens
Basically, this is the day we bring out our inner archaeologist to explore the classic architectural masterpiece at the Acropolis. A visit to Parthenon is definite, but we’re considering Temple of Olympian Zeus, Temple Of Poseidon and Erechtheion too.
Day 10: Athens
Not sure yet! Probably shopping at Plaka, channeling our culture vulture self through museums or visiting one of the temples we missed the day before? We’re open for suggestions! At midnight, we will transport to the airport for our overnight flight to Singapore.
Day 11: Athens – Doha – Singapore
I really hope this would be a great trip!
What do you think about our Greece cum Qatar itinerary? Any attractions which you would recommend dropping or adding?