B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Sunday, 3 Sep 2017: Arrive Athens; Welcome Dinner (D)
Arrive at your convenience but no later than 3:30pm. Use local transportation to the hotel. Hotels for this tour are simple, comfortable, accommodations in good locations. Relax or go exploring until we meet in the lobby of the hotel at 6:00pm for our Welcome Meeting. After introductions we'll have dinner together to get better acquainted and discuss the upcoming tour. Overnight Athens - 2 nights
Monday, 4 Sep 2017: Orientation Walk; Acropolis & Parthenon Visit; Acropolis Museum (B)
Athens is one of the world's oldest cities, with a recorded history that spans more than 3,400 years. This morning we'll take an orientation walk of the city to get our bearings and then we're ready to discover the most famous of Athens’ eight hills: the Acropolis, the ultimate architectural and artistic expression of the ancient Athenian spirit. We'll visit the Parthenon, built for the Goddess Athena in 447 BC. This Greek temple, despite the gradual state of ruin and damage, still symbolizes the key ideals of harmony and balance that defined the Classical style of Greek architecture. And we'll visit the Acropolis Museum, built over an archaeological dig site with an impressive view of the Acropolis from the third floor. The remainder of the day and evening is free for further exploration. Your Tour Leader will have an itinerary if you'd like to join her or feel free to strike out on your own.
Tuesday, 5 Sep 2017: Travel to Kalambaka, Gateway to the Monastaries of Meteora (B)
Today we travel by train to Kalambaka, a town built at the foot of the majestic grey rocks and the gateway to the spectacular monestaries of Meteora. Interestingly, this city is extremely modern, having been rebuilt after the Nazis burned it to the ground in WWII. Overnight Kalambaka - 2 nights
Wednesday, 6 Sep 2017: Monasteries at Meteora (B,D)
We spend the day visiting the serene and spiritual "hanging" monasteries of Meteora. Prepare to be awed. The World Heritage site of Meteora, literally "middle of the sky," is an extraordinary place. From the 11th century in an area of nearly inaccessible sandstone peaks, hermited monks settled on massive pinnacles of smooth rock. Today, only 6 of the estimated 24 original monestaries survive. Afterward, we'll enjoy dinner together tonight.
Thursday, 7 Sep 2017: Ancient Delphi and the Temple of Apollo (B)
Today we travel by coach through gorgeous mountain scenery to Delphi to tour the ancient city at the base of Mount Parnassos. This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes ancient buildings like treasuries, a stadium, a gymnasium, an altar, hippodrome and the Temple of Apollo, dating to the 4th century BC. Over the years, war and earthquakes have destroyed the site but the ruins still standing offer fantastic insight into the lives of the ancient Greeks. Delphi is more than just another collection of ruins in a country that is full of them; in ancient times it was considered the center of the known world, the place where heaven and earth met. Overnight Delphi - 1 night
Friday, 8 Sep 2017: Náfplio - One of Greece's Prettiest Cities (B,D)
Today we travel to Náfplio, often described as one of Greece's prettiest towns, to explore the narrow, cobblestoned streets. According to mythology, the town was founded by Náfplios, the son of Poseidon. The town’s history can be traced back to the prehistoric era when soldiers from here participated in the Argonautic expedition and the Trojan War. We'll take a short boat trip to the fortress of Acronafplia, the historic rock at the foot of Palamidi hill, and climb to the top of the tower to enjoy phenomenal views looking back over the bay to Argos and out into the Saronic Gulf. Dinner together tonight. Overnight Náfplio - 1 night
Saturday, 9 Sep 2017: Free Day in Náfplio; Overnight Ferry to Crete (B)
Today is free to spend enjoying the area as you wish. There is a plethora of ancient sites within easy reach of Náfplio. Perhaps you'll opt to visit Epidavros and its famous Ancient Theater, one of the best preserved classical Greek buildings still in use today due to its incredible acoustics. Or maybe you'll want to visit Mycenae, the fabled city of Homer’s King Agamemnon and the place where one of the first civilizations in the world began. After traveling back to Athens by coach late this afternoon, we'll board an overnight ferry to Crete.
Sunday, 10 Sep 2017: Free Day in Chania, Crete (D)
We arrive in Crete early this morning, pulling into Chania's Venetian harbor. This is perhaps Crete's most picturesque city, a place where different civilizations have flourished throughout the centuries. Enjoy the day relaxing at one of the many harbor-side cafes or wander the maze-like streets of Old Town with its fascinating blend of ancient and modern Turkish and Venetian architecture. Your Tour Leader will have suggestions for things to do and see. We'll regroup for dinner together this evening.
Monday, 11 Sep 2017: Samaria Gorge Hike; Overnight in Agia Roumeli (B,L)
We'll travel by bus to the famous and rugged Samaria Gorge and spend the entire day hiking through the area. This trek is considered a "must do" while on Crete and takes about 6 hours to complete. The first part of the walk is the steepest but the path is well maintained. After about an hour's descent, we reach the bottom of the gorge and follow the riverbed. We'll spend the night in a charming remote fishing village that is situated where the gorge meets the sea. They'll be plenty of time for swimming in the clear waters or just relaxing on the beach. Overnight Agia Roumeli - 1 night
Tuesday, 12 Sep 2017: Ferry to Loutro; Cooking Class (B,L)
Today we take a quick ferry to the charming village of Loutro, blessed with majestic scenery, friendly people and a peaceful atmosphere. This is a magical place...small and stunningly beautiful. We'll enjoy a cooking class given by a local family who will share secrets of home-cooked Cretan cuisine and we'll lunch on the wonderful results of our efforts. This afternoon is a good time to stroll around the bay or simply relax on the beach. Overnight Loutro - 2 nights
Wednesday, 13 Sep 2017: Free Day in Loutro (B,D)
Spend the entire day exploring this stunning area. Visit the castle and ruins on the hill above the village, enjoy a swim and tasty meals at quaint cafes, or hike the Aradine Gorge, one of the most popular walks in western Crete. Perhaps you'll want to rent a kayak to explore secluded beaches and coves. Your Tour Leader will have suggestions of things to do and will help pair travelers with similar interests.
Thursday, 14 Sep 2017: Knossos - Oldest City in Europe (B)
Today we'll travel by ferry and bus to Irákleion to tour Knossos, a city ruled by King Minos and believed to be the oldest city in all of Europe. We'll explore the ancient palace and surrounding area, which for centuries was considered only a mythical city and legend until is was uncovered in the 1900s by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. Overnight Irákleion - 1 night
Friday, 15 Sep 2017: Ferry to Santorini; Free Afternoon (B)
We'll hop a ferry to beautiful Santorini today to enjoy two relaxing nights on Greece's most popular island. Fira, the main town, clings to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). The town offers breath-taking views of multi-colored cliffs, sugar-cube architecture and great shopping. Be sure to see the sunset, said to be one of the most beautiful worldwide. Overnight Santorini - 2 nights
Saturday, 16 Sep 2017: Free Day in Santorini; Farewell Dinner (B,D)
Enjoy a free day to explore this Aegean paradise. There are few places where you can enjoy exquisite views while perched on the rim of a massive active volcano in the middle of an indigo sea! Perhaps you'll want to take a volcano tour or simply make your way to the crater's rim to take in the breathtaking view. We'll regroup tonight for dinner and reminisce about all we've seen and done on this "best of Greece" tour.
Sunday, 17 Sep 2017: Return Home (B)
Sadly, our Grecian adventure comes to an end. Schedule your departure at your convenience, remembering you will need to be at the airport 2.5 hours before your flight departs. Most flights out of Santorini depart in the evening, giving your extra time to enjoy the beauty of this island retreat.