- Hike up to the clifftop monasteries of Meteora
- Trek through the Zagori stone villages and bridges
- Explore Corfu's beautiful Paleokastritsa Bay
- Go on a sea kayaking excursion around the island's Old Town
|Day 1||Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner||Athens|
|Day 2||Train to Meteora and Hike||Kalabaka|
|Day 3||Travel to Zagori||Zagori|
|Day 4||Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike||Zagori|
|Day 5||Ferry to Corfu||Corfu|
|Day 6||Paleokastritsa Hike||Corfu|
|Day 7||Corfu Sea Kayak Tour||Corfu|
|Day 8||Return to Athens, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner
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: Train to Meteora and Hike
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 3: Travel to Zagori
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 4: Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike
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 5: Ferry to 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 6: Paleokastritsa Hike
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 7: Corfu Sea Kayak Tour
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
- 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 8: Return to Athens, Depart
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.