Greece on Points and Miles


I just got back from my yearly sister’s trip with my sister, Julie. We have gone to Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Hawaii together. Last year we had planned a trip to Greece and London, but COVID happened. London is still difficult, so we changed the trip to Italy. This is the first time my sister had gone to Europe and the first time she used points/miles for a lay-flat business seat. I was so excited for her to see how it was done. Being able to show my sister Greece on points and miles was going to be a blast!

A couple of years ago, Alex and I went to Greece with another one of my daughters, Lindsey. We loved, loved, loved it, so my sister had no problem convincing me to go back. That time we went to Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos. I wanted to go back to Santorini (because who wouldn’t?) but also wanted to pick another Island to see. I finally picked Paros, but there are so many I’d like to go to – it’s hard to go wrong with a Greek island!! Being able to return to a beautiful spot like Greece is possible because of points and miles.



My sister applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, and then she referred her husband to the card. She then transferred some points to United to book her ticket. Our trip to Greece on points and miles was happening – in business class! Woo hoo!

I had Avianca LifeMiles, which is also a part of the Star Alliance. Years ago, I signed up for the Avianca Vuela Visa Credit Card and got miles. I used these points for my flight. You can also get LifeMiles by transferring Membership Rewards to them. The AMEX Platinum Card, AMEX Gold Card, or AMEX Green Card are all earned Membership Rewards.

I was able to get the same flight as my sister but for only 63k miles. Sometimes there is not as much business class availability with Avianca LifeMiles, but I can usually find something if I am flexible. Previously, I used them to book a United seat to Maui, but the price was the same as if I’d gone through United.



Screenshot Avianca Award Flight


I have had such good luck with United in flying to Europe. I’ve used United miles to fly to Greece previously and also to Italy. My lay-flat seat cost me a whole $72.05 in taxes and fees. With both of us getting our tickets using credit card miles, we were ready for our sister’s trip to Greece!


Flying from Chicago

I could have flown from Denver on an award flight but would have had a very long connection time. I decided to take a positioning flight to Chicago with a cheap cash flight instead. My sister did the same and we met there to start our trip.



One of my favorite parts of traveling is airport lounges. I am a huge airport lounge geek, so I arrive early at my home airport in Denver to have a meal and spend some time in the Denver Centurion Lounge. I was super excited to be flying out of Chicago because my favorite type of airport lounge is there – United Polaris Lounges! They are amazing! Beautiful with amazing buffets and even food you order from a menu. I got to Chicago and heard the Polaris lounge was still closed due to COVID – a major bummer!

We ended up just going to the regular United Club Lounge and had a wrap, chips, salsa, a soda, and a cookie and called it good. United Club Lounges have been pretty bad during COVID – basic prepackaged food. I was so sad that I couldn’t introduce my sister to the Polaris lounge!


package buffet food

Currently, the United Clubs are only serving prepackaged food.


Business Class Seat on Lufthansa

My sister has never flown business class, and I think I was more excited than her to see her try it out. I excitedly showed her our amenity kits, menus, and how the seat would lay out flat. One of my favorite parts of our sister’s trip to Greece using credit card miles was having her see all the possibilities available with points and miles!


Woman sitting in airline seat

It was so fun having my sister experience business class on our sister’s trip to Greece!


Dinner choices were veal medallions, halibut, or polenta with mushrooms. We both picked the veal and it was pretty dry and unimpressive. I almost always get a great meal in business class so this was disappointing.


Dinner on an airplane flight

I miss that they don’t have dinner served in courses right now.


Our flight was only 8 hours long, so I was anxious to get to sleep. I put my seat into a flat-lying position, covered up with the blanket, put my eye mask on, and looked like a mummy ready to sleep together with the face mask. I slept pretty well for at least 5 hours. Sadly, my sister didn’t sleep at all. Too much excitement? Too much going on in the cabin?

Breakfast was delicious – yogurt with berry acai on top, fruit, and nuts served with croissants, fresh orange juice, and more fruit. We ate, and before we knew it, we were on the ground. We were so excited to finally arrive and get this trip to Greece using credit card miles going!


Transiting through Munich Airport

We walked off the airport and through what we thought was the main terminal.  Prior to going to our gate, we had a short wait through customs. They checked our passports and COVID vaccination records (by the way, I brought only a copy of mine and a copy with a QR code from the hospital where I received them), and we were through. Easy, peasy.

About an hour before boarding, we headed to Lufthansa’s Business lounge. They did have a requirement for an FFP2 mask to enter, so we had to go to the pharmacy to buy this type of mask in order to enter. Once in there, we noted a nice array of drinks, food, ice cream bars, Bavarian pretzels, and snacks.


Food options in airport lounge

The Lufthansa Business Lounge in Munich had some great food options.

Lufthansa Flight to Santorini

Business class in Europe often consists of regular seats with the middle seat being marked off. This is how our flight to Thira was. The leg space was not anything remarkable at all. As we were waiting to board, they offered a business class upgrade for 150 Euros – about $165. I didn’t see anyone jump up for that, and I can see why.

Our flight time was a quick two and a half hours. They served us some cold meats, a roll, and some Bavarian cream with raspberries which was delicious.


Landing in Santorini

We made arrangements with our Airbnb host to have someone pick us up at the airport. True to his word, George had arranged for a taxi driver – it cost us 30 Euros to travel from Thira (where the airport is) to Oia (where the magic that is Santorini is). One funny thing happened here. The guy who met us told us to stand at a certain point, and that he’d meet us in 5 minutes. We saw him 5 minutes later approach two older women and start to carry their bags. I immediately thought that maybe he’d forgotten what we looked like and was taking them. Sure enough, their meeter ran up, and we saw them look at names and realized he had grabbed the wrong two older women! Moral of the story: make sure you watch your driver! It could have been a long time for us to get to Oia!


People holding signs outside an airport

This is the scene outside the Santorini airport where you meet your driver.


Santorini airport is small, and the customs was quick! I’d say we did the 30-second customs glance at the airport. There was no formal setup, just some people quickly making sure you’d been vaccinated and a cursory glance at your passport and Greece locator form.

I’d say that one of the things that I was most surprised about is how few people were wearing masks. Even our taxi driver did not have one on. I saw fewer than 10% of the people in the streets wearing masks and anticipated seeing more than that.



Our Airbnb was a cute little dome house centrally located in Oia. There are few chain hotels to use points on in Santorini, so we decided to do an Airbnb and split the cost. I checked into the Marriott Mystique, but it was way more points (85K) than I wanted to use. We had a few 50K Marriott certificates but decided to use them in Italy. There are also some Hyatt options that you can book using points; both run 40K points a night. We saved our Hyatt points for our Italy stay.

To be honest, at first, I was disappointed with my choice of lodging. It is about a 5-minute walk to the center of Oia, where I stayed before, and I wanted that “ah-ha” feeling every time I walked out the front door. However, our space was newer and larger, and we had a plunge pool, lounge chairs, and some nice peace and quiet. Once I got used to it, I kind of loved it. The first night I would wake up a few times and think, “I’m in Greece again!” So fun!


Room with white couches and blue shutters

Our cute little Airbnb in Santorini, Greece!


Sunset over ocean with white buildings

Sunset views from our balcony!

I have had nothing but great experiences with Airbnb in Greece. The key is to book with a super host. They are amazing and help with making transportation requests. Both times we had a bellhop meet us to carry our luggage and show us to our place. Both this place and the last Airbnb I stayed in last time were great experiences.


Things to Do

On the first day in Oia, we just wandered the town. Oia is breathtaking. Seriously, at every corner, you want to take a picture. I am pretty sure I took the same picture over and over again.  But I never got tired of it. It has been warm and pretty humid both times I have been there, so having a plunge pool this time was nice.


Two women standing before ledge on cobblestone street

We enjoyed meandering the streets of Oia, Santorini.


I have to admit that I am the worst ethnic eater. Last time our favorite restaurant was Roka. I had delicious chicken and rice and a feta salad there but looking at the menu this time was a disappointment. Squid, octopus, and lamb don’t do it for my sister, who is even pickier than me, or me! We settled on pizza at Skiza. It was really good, and we had a beautiful view. We finished it off with Banoffee pie, one of my favorite desserts.

Walking around and enjoying another breathtaking view at every turn was so pleasant. We took pics, had lunch, and returned to our cute apartment to read, swim a little, and nap.


White houses set above blue sea


One of the most popular activities in Oia is watching the sunset each night. Bus loads of people come in the early evening just for this activity. My sister, Julie, was amazed at the throngs of people all walking to the west to scout out the best place to view the sun going down.


Group of people gathered near white houses

The most popular activity in Santorini is watching the sunset!


We opted to take advantage of everyone being in one place and headed to dinner at Pitigyros. The chicken gyros and Greek salad were delicious, and the service was great. I couldn’t eat all of my salad, and the server was concerned I didn’t like it. Really, all the people we’ve met in Greece have been so kind. One of the nice things is that so many people speak English, so that is not a problem.


White stacked houses overlooking blue sea

Bring all your white and blue clothes to match the scenery!


Catamaran Cruise

I thought I had booked the same Catamaran Cruise we went on last time. I didn’t. The first clue was when the driver drove out of Oia toward Fira. Oops! Turned out I booked a different one. It actually ended up being interesting to go through some other towns. And the cruise was great – great food, swimming, snorkeling, and catching some rays.

The highlight was when we sat down for lunch and were seated opposite two young couples on their honeymoons. They had been speaking Spanish all day, so we thought we were the only Americans on the boat. Turns out the guys were from Cuba, and the girls were from the Dominican Republic, but they all live in Miami.

My sister started talking to them about earning points and miles for their trips. They love to travel and were instantly intrigued. Suffice it to say; I was in my element, teaching all about using credit card points and miles. We had the best conversation, and I think we even have new followers – I can’t wait to see where their new hobby takes them! Going to Greece on points and miles and then getting to talk about it is this blogger’s dream!


Ferry to Paros

After three nights in Oia, we took a ferry to Paros, another Greek island. I definitely wanted to go somewhere different on this trip to Greece, so I researched a few islands and came up with Paros.

We made our ferry reservations weeks early at FerryHopper. Our taxi (arranged by our Airbnb host) took us to the port in the morning, about one hour earlier than our departure. You can arrange a pick-up service from Ferry Hopper also.

There are lots of people everywhere going to different destinations by ferry. Our taxi driver was great about pointing us in the right direction. We headed to the terminal and found seats, and suddenly everyone stood up to get in line, so we joined.

The ferries approach, people and cars come off, and other cars and people come on. It is a quick process, so you must be ready to move. As you enter the ferry, before you take your seat (assigned), you drop off your luggage on a rack or in a corner and cross your fingers that it’s there when you come back. (It always feels a little weird, and I did notice some people with small luggage by their seats).


Red and white ferry with people waiting

Ferries travel between the Greek islands and are a great transportation option.


The ferries are nice, with comfortable seats, air conditioning, and food and beverage available. They even had the middle seats blocked off for COVID, and everyone had to wear a mask and show proof of vaccination or negative test (although they barely glanced at them). We spent about 64 Euros for two people for our trip.


Lodging in Paros

Our hotel sent a driver for us, so he was there with a sign. I actually made a major goof regarding our lodging. I had booked the most adorable Airbnb in an amazing location, and two weeks before we were to leave, I realized I had booked the wrong dates! Scrambling to find another location, I finally settled on a midrange hotel where I used some Capital One Venture points on.

We stayed in the fishing village of Naousa, about 10 minutes from the ferry. When I first got to the hotel, I have to say I was disappointed in the area. We changed and went to a  beach, and I was thinking, “What’s so great about Naousa?” Before we went back to our hotel, we walked to the town center’s main harbor, and that’s when I thought, “Wow! This is just so adorable!” Picture-worthy views at every corner.



The beach. That was our activity three days in a row. We rented beach loungers at Agioi Anargyroi Beach and read, swam, and relaxed for three days! Bliss.


Two beach loungers near ocean

Relaxation at its finest.


The food was great in Paros! We had pizza and carbonara on our first night at Pastello near our hotel. The second night we ate at Giacomo Paros, I had the best filet and mashed potatoes, and my sister had chicken and a Caesar salad. Finally, we ate at Meltemi Restaurant and had pasta and chicken. The prices were really reasonable, and we had really good meals.


White buildings, table settings and sea

We had the most beautiful dinner views in Greece!


Woman in red dress sitting on ledge



Woman sitting in white chair near white buildings



Every view in Greece is so gorgeous.


Grey cobblestone streets with white buildings


White building with blue shutters

We loved all blue and white


Flight From Paros to Athens

Our flight from Paros to Athens was from such a tiny airport. We flew Olympia Air, and it was only a 40-minute flight. There is only one flight that goes out from it about every two hours so you don’t have to get there very early. We did have to show our vaccination cards and passports but once we landed in Athens, we showed nothing.

Once we got to Athens, we had a six-hour layover before we headed to Venice. Now a six-hour layover would be horrible but we had airport lounge access so that made all the difference. Actually, we could have airport lounge hopped to kill the time but we just went to the two best lounges. Greece on points and miles is great but the icing on the cake is being able to  relax in airport lounges during a long layover.

I have Priority Pass Lounge Access that would have gotten my sister and me into the other two lounges. I also just got United Premier Gold status so that gives me Star Alliance Gold status, opening a lot of business lounges to me. We ended up going to the Lufthansa Business Lounge and the Aegean Business Lounge. Both were nice and had a great supply of individually portioned food. We were quite impressed with our options and didn’t spend anything on food that day until we got to Venice.


Room with food on counters

The opportunity to go to an airport lounge for free food and beverages makes traveling much more enjoyable.


Bottom Line

Our sister’s trip to Greece was fabulous! The ability to use credit card miles and points to reduce our costs made it even better! Our food was wonderful, we had magnificent views on both islands, we relaxed, swam and enjoyed every second. We were surprised that there was still a lot of travel despite the upsurge in COVID and, although many people, including us, wore masks in crowded areas, many didn’t. If Greece is on your bucket list, keep it there. It is a magnificent country with friendly, kind people and a joyful place to vacation in. Greece on points and miles is attainable!




White stacked houses overlooking blue sea

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  1. Jamie says:

    Thank you for all your tips and details that you share!
    I am wondering if you have any suggestions on two islands that our children would enjoy seeing? Ages 3-19. Thanks in advance!

    • Pam says:

      We haven’t been to all the islands but I would think children would enjoy any of them. The beaches are wonderful for children, Athens has so much history, and Crete has a ton to offer (according to one of my daughters). Santorini can get pretty busy but is breathtaking – you only need a couple of nights there. Mykonos is known as a party destination but we just didn’t go there at night and Paros is also gorgeous and pretty chill.

      • Jamie says:

        Thank you! I have been reading your posts to help start looking into planing our family trip. I noticed you mentioned booking through United. When you do that are you going directly to the United website?

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