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Wanderlust Wednesday - Greece

Why Greece?

There a reason 27 million people visited Greece in 2016. The country has something for everyone. Looking for a landscape dripping with history and rich architecture? Greece has you covered. Want rolling countryside filled with grapes and olive trees? You've got it. Beautiful ocean views? You betcha. All of this can be had for a relative steak right now. The greenback has lost some ground to the Euro in the recent months, but the conversion rate for traveling to Europe is still in our favor. Couple that with the relatively low cost of Greek goods (you can eat and drink on a budget for about $15 a day), and you have yourself a winner. 

Things To Do:

1. Visit the Temple of Apollo - The temple was build in the 7th century B.C. You'll see some beautiful country side on the 3 hour bus ride from Athens, which will set you back about $20. The site itself should be relatively calmer, as fewer tourists make the trek to the location.

2. Check out Acropolis - Located above the city of Athens, Acropolis is a grouping of several ruins. The most famous of the group is the well known Partheon. We'd recommend doing this towards the evening. The views of the city will be gorgeous, and the grounds are a bit less touristy. If you are looking for a way to kill some time during the day, check out one of Athens' beach clubs for some R&R.

3. Enjoy the Islands - You don't want to spend all of your time in the city. We'd recommend hopping on a local cruise that will take you to 3-4 islands. That'll give you a taste of Greek way of life without having to worrying about navigating the coast via planes, trains, and automobiles. A 4-5 day cruise will take you to places like Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Crete, and Patmos, allowing you to see some of the amazing Greek ocean side.

How to Get There:

First, you'll need a flight. Using GoogleFlights, we were able to price out flights for $650 round trip from Chicago to Greece on multiple airlines through next year. Look at going in June or September for warm, but pleasant weather. September is also grape harvest time, so the country side will be alive with activity. Tourist season is heaviest in July and August. If you're able to book an American Award Saver from the US to Europe, you'll only need 60,000 American Airlines miles. Barclaycard offers a co-branded American Airlines card that comes with a 60,000 mile bonus after you make your first purchase. You'll need excellent credit to qualify and the card has a $95 annual fee. With that being said, you should be able to squeeze at least $500 in value out of the bonus points. If staying in the U.S. is more your style, the bonus would net you 4 round trip flights in the U.S. American's award chart can be found here.

Second, you'll need some cash. Bank of America offers a Premium Rewards card that comes with a 50,000 point bonus after you spend $3,000 in 3 months of account opening. Points are worth 1 cent a piece, so you're looking at $500 in statement credits to help pay for your day-to-day expenses. If you're in Greece for 7 days, you should expect to have about $150 - $225 in food expenses, depending on how much you splurge. That'll leave you with another $350 - $275 in cash rewards for excursions and other entertainment. 

Finally, you'll need hotels.We'd recommend Starwood properties, which have 20 locations scattered throughout Greece. Starwood runs their card business through American Express. You'll earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months from account opening. There are a handful of category 3 and 4 hotels in Greece that can be had for 7,000 points a night. The Sheraton Rhodes Resort on the South Aegean looks like a winner to us!

Wanderlust your way to Greece. Use points. Send us a postcard.