Make the most of your trip with this adventurous itinerary around the mainland and Corfu. First, see Athens from a different perspective on a bike tour of its neighborhoods. Then head north to the monasteries atop the cliffs of Meteora. Hike through the mountainside villages of Zagori, and learn to cook a traditional three-course meal before hopping the ferry to beautiful Corfu for some hiking, biking, and kayaking around the island.

Highlights

  • Discover Athens on two wheels
  • Hike up to the clifftop monasteries of Meteora
  • Trek through the Zagori stone villages
  • Explore the natural corners of Corfu

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner Athens
Day 2 Good Morning Athens Bike Ride Athens
Day 3 Train to Meteora and Hike Kalabaka
Day 4 Travel to Zagori Zagori
Day 5 Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike Zagori
Day 6 Zagorian Cooking Workshop Zagori
Day 7 Ferry to Corfu Corfu
Day 8 Corfu Town by Bike Corfu
Day 9 Paleokastritsa Hike Corfu
Day 10 Corfu Sea Kayak Tour Corfu
Day 11 Return to Athens, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner

Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis
Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis

Welcome to Greece! You'll begin your trip in Athens, home to both the iconic Acropolis and so much more. The mythology of this spectacular city precedes it, with towering temples to Classical deities and the ruins of ancient marketplaces rubbing shoulders with lively nightlife, crowded flea markets, and contemporary cuisine. Make the most of your time in the city at some of these spots:

  • Check out the views of the can't-miss Parthenon. (Pro tip: The Parthenon is the temple, the Acropolis is the hill.) This temple to Athena has enchanted visitors since its construction was completed in 438 BC. It's probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of ancient Greece and is visible from many of the city's high points.
  • Stop at the sprawling National Museum for a crash course in ancient iconography. Be sure to seek out the room housing the Antikythera mechanism, essentially an ancient astronomical computer.
  • Visit a smaller archaeological site at the Tower of the Winds, then stroll down neighboring pedestrian Aiolou Street to stop at shops and cafes. 
  • Find your perfect souvenir or sun hat in the busy stalls of the Monastiraki flea market. 

In the evening, you'll sit down to enjoy either a welcome dinner with views of the Acropolis or wine tasting in a bar in downtown Athens.

Day 2: Good Morning Athens Bike Ride

Get around on your new wheels
Get around on your new wheels

Say kalimera with a good morning bike ride around the city. You'll wheel past many of the highlights of the city over the course of 3.5 hours, complete with a coffee break at a cafe. Your guide will tell you about all the spots you pass, such as the Panathenaic Stadium, National Gardens, the Agora, Keramikos, and of course the Acropolis, along with insider tips on the best spots to eat and drink in Athens and plenty of breaks to take in the views.

Put those tips into practice by spending the rest of your day in the posh Plaka district, also known as the neighborhood of the gods. One of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the area features neoclassical architecture in both its homes and shops. When hunger strikes, find a spot at one of the outdoor tables lining the streets. Diners feast on Greek favorites such as the classic horiatiki salad, souvlaki, lamb dishes, and more. Go mezze-style to try them all.

For photography enthusiasts (or those who prefer to sleep late), it is also possible to take the bike ride in the late afternoon rather than the morning, when the soft light is great for pictures.

Day 3: Train to Meteora and Hike

Up on the clifftop
Up on the clifftop

Travel by train across the Central Greece countryside for a day among the famous monasteries of Meteora. These religious buildings sit atop rock formations that are more than 60 million years old. You'll tread the same paths that monks used for hundreds of years to reach these holy places, perched close to 1,000 feet in the air above the canyons of the Pindos range. Before the paths were constructed, the monastery residents used nets and rope ladders to hoist goods (and sometimes their fellow clergy) to the clifftops. 

The roughly five-hour train ride will take you from Athens through the rural landscape to Kalabaka, the town gateway to Meteora. Once you've arrived, you'll explore the Meteora rock formations and monasteries on foot with today's hike, taking you through both nature and religious history.  

Cover the paths used by some of the monasteries' first monks, enjoying views of the area's unique geological features in the Meteora valley while your guide tells you about the region and its past. You'll also stop at either the Great Metereon or Varlaam monastery.

You'll hike for roughly four hours, covering about 5 miles (8 km) of easy to medium terrain.

Day 4: Travel to Zagori

Stone river bridge
Stone river bridge

After breakfast, head to the fairytale Zagori Villages. This cluster of more than 40 hillside villages hides its well-preserved stone structures among the snowcapped mountain peaks, rivers, and gorges of Pindos, built amphitheatrically amid unspoiled landscapes.

Whether you choose to linger under the trees, explore old monasteries, or visit the stone mansions of well-known residents, you're sure to find something to enchant you. Though Zagori is most popular as a winter destination, the mountain towns are equally as charming amid autumn foliage or in spring and summer when the peonies and hydrangeas bloom.

Many of the villages are on the List of Traditional Settlements of Greece, a testament to their unchanged nature over the years. Your local specialist will provide you with a custom guidebook to help you decide where to wander.

Day 5: Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike

Sunrise in Vitsa
Sunrise in Vitsa

Discover the rest of the Zagorichoria, villages of Zagori, in the Pindos mountains, the ideal spot for fairytale exploration. 

Due to the unique flora and fauna present in the region, it's been designated a national park with strict preservation rules. You'll take an easy guided half-day hike (great for families), taking in views of the surrounding scenery and learning about the history and culture of the region. It's a beautiful walk among the stone houses, small farms, and river bridges, which were built with a special technique believed to be unique to the region.

Stop at the sixteenth-century Monastery of Pagia Spiliotissa for some bonus exploring, built atop a rock overlooking the Voidomatis river. The village of Vitsa makes an ideal stop for lunch, especially if you can find the area's mushroom-hunting expert. Spend the rest of your day resting and enjoying the slow pace of life in this region.

Day 6: Zagorian Cooking Workshop

Zagori mushroom rice
Zagori mushroom rice

Venture up to the village of Aristi to learn about the Zagorian culinary tradition, known for its rich flavors. You'll work with an expert to create three courses of Zagorian cuisine from freshly picked ingredients. Then sit down to enjoy your results with a glass of local wine. You'll start with a fresh salad, followed by one of the famous Zagorian pies, then the main dish made with meat from local farms and a dessert.

In the evening, stay around Aristi and explore the village. Stroll around the stone houses, across mule paths and Ottoman-era bridges, and scope out the folkloric artists' galleries and central square.

Day 7: Ferry to Corfu

The bay at Paleokastritsa in Corfu
The bay at Paleokastritsa in Corfu

Today you'll head down to the sea, with a boat transfer to the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea. Watch for the many species of marine mammals that call the surrounding waters home on your way, and see why Odysseus was able to recuperate from his mythological journeys here.

You'll enter the city past its two guardians of the Old Fort and New Fort. The former was built in the thirteenth century and is surrounded by a seawater moat. It hides a slew of iconography, including the Porta Sopranza, winged lions of Saint Mark, and the Doric-inspired Church of St. George behind its walls. The New Fort on the northwestern border, meanwhile, boasts cubist military architecture.

You'll receive a personal guidebook from your local specialist to enhance your explorations on your arrival. See the sandstone beaches, Pompeiian-inspired Achillion Palace, Pontikonisi Island, and Mon Repos aristocratic villa and gardens with local tips close at hand.

Day 8: Corfu Town by Bike

Rooftop views
Rooftop views

Coast through Corfu Town on this two-hour bike tour covering roughly eight miles (13 km). Much of the town was built within the fortress walls for security purposes in the medieval era, creating the meandering kantounia, the narrow alleys between the tall buildings, that distinguish it today.

The route starts at the Douglas monument, a column dedicated to the former Commissioner of the Ionian Islands Howard Douglas. You'll pass the varied architectural features and colors of the town along the coastline as your guide tells you its stories. End at the Venetian Old Fortress on its rocky sea promontory.

Visit the restaurants of Old Town for lunch and sample noumboulo smoked pork loin, a Corfiot specialty similar to prosciutto.  Browse through the evening, then head back up to the Old Fortress walls to take in the sea view as the sun sets.

Day 9: Paleokastritsa Hike

Clifftop views from Paleokastritsa
Clifftop views from Paleokastritsa

Hike up to the famous Paleokastritsa Monastery, one of the most famous sites on the island. This guided hike is of medium difficulty level and should take roughly four hours. The still-working monastery was founded in the 12th century, though the current buildings only date back to the 18th. Its carved ceiling covers multiple Byzantine relics, along with a souvenir shop where you can purchase olive oil or kumquat liqueur made by the monks. Visit the flower-filled courtyard, where throwing a coin in the well is believed to guarantee your return to Corfu.

In addition to the monastery, the neighboring Bella Vista viewpoint is the best place to stop to take in the scenery.  Continue down through the cypress trees to St. George Pagoi beach to lounge on the shore or take a swim if weather permits, though be warned: they gave it a name that means "ice" for a reason! Recover with an afternoon nap and relaxed evening in the Old Town. 

Day 10: Corfu Sea Kayak Tour

Pontikonisi Island
Pontikonisi Island

Spend a leisurely morning exploring the town before you set off on today's aquatic adventure. Your guide will create a custom itinerary for your sea kayak tour along Corfu town whether you want to stop at a few area highlights or jump in the water for snorkeling.

Some sea kayaking tour sights include:

  • The Old Fortress
  • Garista Bay
  • Mon Repos
  • Pontikonisi Island, also known as Mouse Island due to its diminutive size and one of Corfu's trademark sights as the home of the Pantokrator Monastery
  • Anemomylos
  • Mon Repos Park

You can also visit Liston Arcade when you return to shore. Inspired by the Parisian Rue de Rivoli, it's perfect for an afternoon stroll accompanied by gelato. The meandering kantounia, small, narrow streets, display the many European influences around the island.

Day 11: Return to Athens, Depart

Wave to the city
Wave to the city

Time to say farewell to Greece. You'll head back to Athens after breakfast to catch your flight, either home or onward to your next adventure.

Map

Map of Adventurous Athens, Central Greece, and Corfu - 11 Days
Map of Adventurous Athens, Central Greece, and Corfu - 11 Days