Pack your gear and get ready for a 16-day active adventure across mainland Greece and the islands of Crete, Santorini, and Naxos. Spend a night in Athens, then head to Nafplio for an e-bike tour and Kardamyli for standup paddleboarding and snorkeling. In Chania, jump on a Trikke tour and hike through Samaria Gorge, then in Heraklion, join a 4WD safari along an ancient Minoan trail at sunset. Finish with a sea kayak in Santorini and, with the energy you have left, a trek up Mount Zas in Naxos.

Highlights

  • Explore Greece's capital, Athens, on a half-day tour
  • Trek to Profitis Elias, the highest point of Mount Taygetus
  • Cycle through the Laconia countryside and visit a honey farm
  • Discover the White Mountains on an epic Jeep tour
  • Ride a horse around one of the calderas in Santorini

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Half-Day Tour of the Capital Athens
Day 2 Transfer to Nafplio, Explore the Coastal City on Your Own Nafplio
Day 3 E-Bike Tour Across Nafplio Nafplio
Day 4 Standup Paddleboarding & Snorkeling in Kardamyli, Transfer to Sparti Sparti
Day 5 Hike to the Summit of Mount Taygetus Sparti
Day 6 Visit a Honey Farm, Cycle Through Laconia, Transfer to Athens Athens
Day 7 Fly to Chania, Trikke Tour Through the City Chania
Day 8 Hike Samaria Gorge, the Largest in Europe Chania
Day 9 Visit Anoskeli Winery & Olive Mill, Discover the White Mountains Chania
Day 10 Transfer to Heraklion, Sunset Safari Along an Ancient Minoan Trail Heraklion
Day 11 Explore the Diktaion Andron Cave & Sfendili Village Heraklion
Day 12 Transfer to Santorini, Sunset Catamaran Cruise Santorini
Day 13 Coastal Kayak Tour, Caldera Horseback Ride Santorini
Day 14 Ferry to Naxos, Watch the Sunset at the Temple of Apollo Naxos
Day 15 Hike to the Summit of Mount Zas Naxos
Day 16 Depart Naxos  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens, Half-Day Tour of the Capital

Start your visit to Athens by watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony in Syntagma Square

Welcome to the bustling capital of Greece, Athens! Meet your driver outside the airport for a transfer to your hotel. After refreshing, set off on a half-day tour of the city, starting at Syntagma Square, where you can watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Continue to the upscale neighborhood of Kolonaki to admire the mix of neoclassical and modern buildings and pop in and out of the high-end boutiques lining the streets. Move on to another iconic neighborhood, Exarchia, known as the rebellious quarter of the city.

Learn about the neighborhood's bohemian culture and radical history while admiring the lively street art. Follow your guide to the Psiri neighborhood next to sample local delights at one of the many ouzeries, traditional Greek taverns that sell a liquor called ouzo and mezedes, small finger foods. After refueling, head to Monastiraki, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Wander down the narrow alleys of antique stores, boutiques, and quaint shops. End the tour with a visit to the Monastiraki Flea Market to browse the collection of vintage clothing, handmade crafts, and quirky collectibles.

Day 2: Transfer to Nafplio, Explore the Coastal City on Your Own

Stroll along Nafplio's waterfront promenade to find a spot for lunch

After just one night in Athens, it's time to transfer two hours to the coastal city of Nafplio, nestled on the Peloponnese peninsula. When you arrive, the rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish. Those who want to relax can head to Neraki Beach, just outside the city. Admire the crystal-clear waters, golden sand, and lush hills, then rent a sunbed or lay on the sand to unwind. If you get too hot, take a refreshing swim in the Argolic Gulf. When you're ready to return to the city, walk along the Arvanitia Promenade and take in the picturesque backdrop of azure waters and rugged cliffs.

Those who want a more active day can hike to the three fortresses guarding the city—Akronafplia, Palamidi, and Bourtzi—through a scenic circular route. Start in the heart of Nafplio and follow the trail uphill to Akronafplia Fortress, where you can discover remnants of medieval walls and gates. Continue to the Fortress of Palamidi, which you'll explore tomorrow. For now, enjoy panoramic views of the gulf's glittering water, then walk to the pier to take a short boat ride to a nearby islet. Disembark and admire the octagon-shaped Bourtzi Fortress built to defend the city from naval attacks.

Day 3: E-Bike Tour Across Nafplio

Ride along Nafplio's narrow cobblestone streets at the end of a five-hour e-bike tour exploring the surrounds

Get ready for an active adventure, as today, you set off on a 12-mile (20 km) e-bike tour through the city, starting at the Church of Agios Spyridon. Admire the whitewashed exterior and distinctive red-tiled roof, then jump on your bike and pedal uphill to Karonis Distillery to learn how ouzo and tsipouro, a distilled spirit, are made. Continue to the Fortress of Palamidi on the hilltop, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the city and the surrounding Argolic Gulf. Wander through the 18th-century Venetian fortress to discover the well-preserved walls, imposing gates, and impressive bastions.

Finally, it's time to cycle downhill so you can take a break on the golden sands of Paralia Karathonas. Lay on the shore or take a refreshing swim in the sparkling water before getting lunch at one of the seaside taverns. Once you've refueled, follow the coast back to Nafplio and cycle through the Old Town. Ride along the narrow cobblestone streets to discover a captivating blend of neoclassical architecture, vibrant bougainvillea-covered facades, and inviting squares. After five hours of cycling around the city and its surroundings, return your e-bike and stroll back to the hotel to relax.

Day 4: Standup Paddleboarding & Snorkeling in Kardamyli, Transfer to Sparti

Learn how to standup paddleboard to discover the hidden beaches and coves around Kardamyli

Trade one coast for another this morning as you set off on a 2.5-hour transfer to Kardamyli, a picturesque town on the Mani peninsula. When you arrive, put your bathing suit on and meet your guide at Kardamyli Harbor for an introduction to standup paddleboarding. Learn how to paddle, turn, stop, and stand up on your board until you're ready to try on the water. Paddle down the coastline, taking in the picturesque beaches and rocky coves. Remember to look down at the fish swimming below your board in the clear-as-glass water.

Follow your guide to enchanting coves and hidden beaches, where you can take a break on the sand or jump off the cliffs if you're feeling adventurous. When you get hungry, enjoy a delicious picnic on the shore, helping you refuel for your next activity—snorkeling. Dive beneath the water's surface and discover the rich ecosystem below, looking out for damselfish, sea bream, moray eels, and even sea turtles if you're lucky. After a day on the water, dry off and transfer two hours inland to the city of Sparti, located in the ancient city-state of Sparta, and check in to your hotel.

Day 5: Hike to the Summit of Mount Taygetus

Follow the rocky path up Mount Taygetus to Profitis Ilias

Lace up your hiking shoes and set off on a trek to Profitis Elias, the highest peak of Mount Taygetus. Start at Taygetos' Spilios Loukas, a mountaineering refuge at 5,085 feet (1,550 m), where you can follow your guide into the fir forest. As you get higher, the air becomes colder, and the vistas become more impressive. Be sure to look for glimpses of the Laconian Gulf, the distant Pindus mountain range, and the summit you're trying to reach. When you arrive at the top, after two to three hours, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Visit the small chapel dedicated to Prophet Elias to celebrate your accomplishment before returning down the mountain along the same path and enjoying a traditional Greek lunch. After relaxing at your hotel in Sparti, venture out to the city's main square, Plateia Tertseti, in the evening. Pop in and out of the shops or sit down for a drink while watching locals go about their daily lives. When you get hungry, visit one of the many tavernas to try local delights, like moussaka, an eggplant casserole made with minced meat and béchamel sauce, or fasolada, a hearty bean soup.

Day 6: Visit a Honey Farm, Cycle Through Laconia, Transfer to Athens

Learn how farmers harvest honey, pollen, and royal jelly at a farm in Laconia

Leave the city behind this morning as you hop on a half-day cycling tour through the Laconia countryside to visit a family-run honey farm. Follow your knowledgeable guide through the farm to learn about the meticulous steps involved in honey production. Watch the bees at work in their hives and discover how honey, pollen, and royal jelly are extracted using traditional techniques and modern equipment. Then, you can sample the honey made on-site, savoring the bees' hard work.

After exploring the farm, it's time to discover more of the countryside on two wheels. Mount your bicycle and follow the path winding through lush olive groves, expansive vineyards, and charming villages. Watch as your guide points out ancient ruins and Byzantine churches dotting the landscape while you cycle. In the afternoon, return to Sparti to grab your bags and meet your driver to transfer back to Athens. After the 2.5-hour drive, settle into your hotel to relax for the evening.

Day 7: Fly to Chania, Trikke Tour Through the City

Explore Chania's winding alleyways on a Trikke

After breakfast, head to the airport for a one-hour flight to Chania on the island of Crete. Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel, where you can refresh before your two-hour Trikke tour of the city. Jump on the three-wheeled electric vehicle and start your adventure in the Old Town, where you can weave through labyrinthine alleys and along Byzantine walls. Watch as your guide points out landmarks like Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque, the Ahmet Ağa Minaret, and Etz Hayyim Synagogue, showcasing the city's rich religious history. 

Then, head to the Venetian harbor, park your Trikke, and take in the far-reaching views of the shimmering sea dotted with traditional fishing boats and a towering lighthouse. Jump back on and ride down the cobblestone streets of Aggelou and Theotokopoulou to discover centuries-old architecture, creative boutiques, and art studios. End the tour at the majestic Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, which blends Venetian and Ottoman architectural styles. Step inside to see the religious artwork, intricate iconography, and ornate frescoes before returning your Trikke.

Day 8: Hike Samaria Gorge, the Largest in Europe 

Cross over the turquoise Tarraios River on your hike into the Samaria Gorge

Today's active adventure is a 9-mile (14 km) full-day hike through the largest gorge in Europe, Samaria Gorge. After breakfast, meet your driver outside the hotel and transfer 1.5 hours to the island's southern side to start the guided hike at the elevated Omalos Plateau. During the first half of the trek, you'll descend along a rocky stairway carved into the limestone cliff down into the heart of the gorge. When you get to the bottom, cross the tranquil river and hike past the village of Samaria, which was abandoned in 1962 when the area was declared a national park.

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The trail ends in the coastal village of Agia Roumeli, where you can relax on one of the nearby beaches or refuel with lunch at a seaside tavern. When it's time, take a one-hour ferry ride to the port to catch a bus back to your hotel in Chania. In the evening, wander along the waterfront promenade of Akti Tompazi to admire the coastline and find somewhere to eat dinner. Start with a traditional Cretan appetizer, dakos, a fresh salad with tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil, and herbs. Then, follow with a fresh seafood dish or bardouniotiko—slow-cooked lamb or goat.

Day 9: Visit Anoskeli Winery & Olive Mill, Discover the White Mountains

Indulge in a wine and olive oil tasting before your Jeep adventure to the White Mountains 

Set off on a full-day adventure combining culinary delights with natural wonders, starting at Anoskeli Winery and Olive Mill, just 30 minutes outside the city. Explore the vineyards and olive mill, then witness the precise processes involved in making delicious, organic wine and olive oil. Learn about the indigenous grape and olive varieties that thrive here, then sample five local wines and extra virgin olive oil served with bread. End your visit in the boutique, where you can pick up a bottle of wine or olive oil to take home.

After exploring the winery, jump in a Jeep and drive 30 minutes uphill to Lefka Ori, also known as the White Mountains. Drive through valleys filled with olive trees and along deep gorges like the Sebronas Gorge. Sit down for a traditional Cretan lunch in Samaria National Park, where you can enjoy another look at Samaria Gorge. After dessert, jump back in the Jeep and drive down the mountain, stopping at an altitude of 3,300 feet (1,000 m) to take pictures of the sheer cliffs and rich flora before returning to your hotel in Chania.

Day 10: Transfer to Heraklion, Sunset Safari Along an Ancient Minoan Trail

Follow an ancient Minoan trail to watch the sunset over the Afendi mountain range

Say goodbye to Chania this morning as you transfer two hours down the coast to Heraklion, the capital of Crete. Check into your hotel and relax until this evening's five-hour sunset safari along an ancient Minoan trail, starting at the Aposelemis Dam. Follow the dirt tracks lined with olive groves and orange trees inland until you reach the quaint village of Kastamonitsa, nestled in the Afendi mountain range. Wander along the cobblestone streets to a local taverna, where you can sample tsikoudia, known as raki in eastern Crete—a grape-based brandy unique to the island.

Continue down the track through the surrounding foothills of the mountains to reach the perfect spot to watch the sunset. When you arrive, sit down for a picnic with a glass of Prosecco and fresh fruit salad while the sun begins its descent. Watch the sky transform into soft hues of orange and red as the sun slowly disappears behind the mountain's rugged silhouette. When darkness falls, return to the village to enjoy a selection of traditional appetizers and entrees paired with a glass of wine. Once you're full, head back to your hotel in Heraklion to rest. 

Day 11: Explore the Diktaion Andron Cave & Sfendili Village

Zeus Cave
Follow the boardwalk into the Cave of Diktaion Andron to admire the stalactites and stalagmites

Enjoy another full-day guided tour exploring Crete's natural landscapes, this time with a visit to the Lasithi Plateau and the Cave of Diktaion Andron, believed to be the birthplace of Zeus, the god of the sky and weather in Greek mythology. Follow the boardwalk through the dimly lit cave and witness the colossal stalactites and stalagmites adorning the floor and ceiling. After exploring the cave and learning about its associated myths, continue to Sfendili, an abandoned village sitting in the reservoir lake of the Aposelemis Dam.

The water level fluctuates, so when it recedes, you can wander through the ruins of this once-prosperous village. End the tour at the nearby Panagia Kera Kardiotissa Monastery, perched atop the Dikti mountain range. Enter the 14th-century Eastern Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary to discover the elegant architecture and vibrant frescoes, then take in the panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. Before you return to Heraklion, browse the on-site museum filled with Byzantine paintings and meet the nuns who call this sanctuary home.

Day 12: Transfer to Santorini, Sunset Catamaran Cruise

Cruise down Santorini's spectacular coastline at sunset on a luxury catamaran

Exchange one pristine island for another as you transfer to the airport this morning to catch a 2.5-hour flight to Santorini, one of the Cyclades islands in the southern Aegean Sea. Meet your driver at the airport for a transfer to your hotel. Relax until this evening, then venture down to Ammoudi Bay for a five-hour sunset cruise on board a luxury catamaran. Cruise to the Santorini Hot Springs and take a dip in the therapeutic volcanic waters for 30 minutes. Back on board, cruise past the towering Indian Rock to White Beach, named for its pristine white cliffs.

Jump in the crystal-clear Aegean waters to swim or snorkel, then head to Mesa Pigadia, another beach down the coast. Enjoy a leisurely swim while your crew prepares a delicious Greek-style barbecue on board. Savor the meal as you cruise to Red Beach, another aptly named beach with its rust-colored cliffs and crimson-hued sands. Admire the surreal volcanic terrain from the boat, or go for one last swim while the sun sets around you. When darkness starts to fall, cruise to Vlychada Marina to disembark and return to your hotel.

Day 13: Coastal Kayak Tour, Caldera Horseback Ride

Ride a horse through the village of Megalochori to reach a nearby caldera

Return to the sea this morning to see more of the island, this time from a kayak on a three-hour tour. Paddle along the pristine coastline, passing distinct rock formations, a towering Venetian lighthouse, and some of the beaches you swam at last night. Take regular breaks from paddling by jumping in the water to swim or snorkel. Look out for colorful fish, moray eels, crustaceans, squid, and sea turtles below the surface. After a few hours of paddling, head to the shores of Kambia Beach to enjoy a light picnic surrounded by rugged cliffs and turquoise waters.

In the afternoon, explore part of the island on horseback. Head to Megalochori, a traditional Greek village, where you'll learn to ride a horse safely. When you're ready, set off on a two-hour horse ride past blue-domed churches and historic mansions to reach the caldera created by a series of volcanic eruptions. Ride along the caldera's rim, looking out at the ravines and gorges until you arrive at an ancient quarry carved into the cliffside. Your guide will highlight remnants of Minoan civilization, providing a historical touch to your leisurely ride before returning to the village.

Day 14: Ferry to Naxos, Watch the Sunset at the Temple of Apollo

Watch the sunset behind the iconic Portara, honoring the god Apollo and goddess Artemis

Pack your bags and meet your driver in front of the hotel for a transfer to the port, where you'll catch a two-hour ferry to Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades islands. Settle into your hotel and enjoy its amenities before this evening's sunset walk. When it's time, meet your guide to stroll the narrow streets of the old town. Often called the "Playground of the Gods," Naxos is believed to be where the king of the Olympian gods, Zeus, grew up. Learn about this rich history as you wander down alleyways and stop at scenic viewpoints to admire the glittering Aegean Sea.

End the tour at the iconic Temple of Apollo to see the remnants of this sixth-century BCE landmark. The only thing still standing is the Portara, a colossal marble doorway overlooking the water, making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset. Listen to the rhythmic lull of the waves while the sun slowly begins its descent, painting the horizon in warm hues of orange and pink. When darkness falls, return to the Old Town for dinner at one of the tavernas of your choice. Savor fresh seafood dishes like grilled octopus, marinated anchovies, or traditional Greek seafood platters to end the night.

Day 15: Hike to the Summit of Mount Zas

Trek to the summit of Mount Zas, the highest peak in the Cyclades island group

Enjoy a nourishing breakfast at the hotel this morning to prepare for your 4-mile (6.5 km) hike to the summit of Mount Zas, also known as Mount Zeus, after the god believed to have been born there. Start with a transfer to Danakos, a picturesque village at the foot of the mountain. Visit the small white chapel at the trailhead, then begin the ascent along the rocky terrain. On the hike, look out for an ancient marble inscription to Zeus, glimpses of traditional whitewashed houses in the distance, and the ruins of ancient churches lining the trail.

When you reach the summit, the highest peak in the Cyclades at an elevation of 3,293 feet (1,004 m), you'll be greeted by panoramic views of charming villages, rolling hills, and the Aegean Sea. On a clear day, you can also see some of the surrounding Cycladic islands. After taking in the view, trek down the mountain along the same path and transfer back to your hotel to relax. In the evening, wander the old town to sample the cheeses of Naxos, such as graviera (similar to gruyère) and kefalotiri, at a restaurant along the waterfront promenade. 

Day 16: Depart Naxos

Relax on the golden sands of Plaka Beach before your flight today

After spending 16 days hiking, swimming, cycling, and horseback riding across Greece and its islands, your adventure comes to a close today. If you have time before your flight, head to Plaka Beach to relax and soak up some last-minute sun. Lay on the soft golden sand or swim in the turquoise waters, then visit one of the beachfront tavernas to savor more delicious Greek food. Just keep an eye on the clock, as a driver will meet you back at the hotel to transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Active Adventure in Greece: Hiking, Cycling, Swimming & Kayaking - 16 Days
Map of Active Adventure in Greece: Hiking, Cycling, Swimming & Kayaking - 16 Days