Northern Greece stretches across more cultures and terrains than any other region in the country. After arriving in Athens, you'll head to Thessaloniki, with some of the best food and wine in the country. From here, you'll go hiking and river rafting on the mainland and then ferry to Corfu island for beaches, kayaking, and a Jeep safari toward ancient monasteries.

Highlights

  • Roam the streets of historic melting pots Thessaloniki and Corfu Town
  • Find peace amid the pristine monasteries and natural splendor of Zagori Villages
  • Descend into adventure while hiking Vikos Gorge, the deepest in the world
  • Raft and kayak through sun-glittering Greek waterways
  • Appreciate the timeless magnificence of the Parthenon amidst the modern bustle of Athens

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens Athens
Day 2 Athens to Thessaloniki Thessaloniki
Day 3 Explore Ano Poli Thessaloniki
Day 4 Thessaloniki to Zagori Villages Zagori
Day 5 Hike Vikos Gorge Zagori
Day 6 Voidomatis River Rafting Zagori
Day 7 Zagori Villages to Corfu Corfu
Day 8 Corfu Jeep Safari Corfu
Day 9 Hike Mount Pantokrator Corfu
Day 10 Corfu Sea Kayak Tour Corfu
Day 11 Return to Athens, Museums, and Farewell Dinner Athens
Day 12 Depart Athens  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens

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. 

Spend your evening exploring the up-and-coming Pangrati neighborhood or amid the nightlife and mezze of the Psyrri district.

Day 2: Athens to Thessaloniki

Walkable streets in the city center
Walkable streets in the city center

Take a quick flight to history-rich Thessaloniki in the north. 

The day is yours to explore with a self-guided walking tour, so you can pick and choose based on your interests and time of arrival. You'll start with history, scoping out the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Byzantine churches and the Roman agora, which hosted traders from around the Mediterranean for thousands of years. 

Continue to the modern food and flower markets amid the riots of color and flavor on view. Don't miss the opportunity to sample the bougatsa, a typical semolina-based dessert. Keep going on to the crypt of Saint Dimitrios, a subterranean space recently discovered below the church. You'll learn about the range of cultures that have shaped Thessaloniki as you go, including Ottomans, Christians, and Jews.

End your trip at the top of the White Tower. This fifteenth-century structure is one of the city's most famous landmarks and its unofficial symbol, and is home to both a history museum and views across the water.

Day 3: Explore Ano Poli

Sunset at the castle
Sunset at the castle

After breakfast in the city, head out to Ano Poli (Upper Town). Many of the city's main defensive structures were built here due to its hilltop position overlooking the city. It's also the only section of the city to have survived the great fire in 1917, preserving much of its history, and fringed by the original city walls. Some highlights include:

  • The Alaca Imaret, a fifteenth-century Ottoman monument decorated with the original ceiling frescoes that now hosts art exhibitions.
  • The Church of Osios David, a fifth-century Christian church that features a mosaic of the vision of Ezekiel and a rare depiction of an adolescent Christ.
  • The Byzantine Castle of Thessaloniki, also known Heptapyrgion or Yedi Kule, and former prison.
  • The peacocks of the 14th century Vlatodon Monastery.

Listen for the rebetiko music coming out of the tavernas, and take some time to stop and listen while lingering over a meal and taking in the views over the city and Aegean Sea.

In the late afternoon, take a relaxing stroll along Thessaloniki's seafront promenade, before settling into one of the city's excellent restaurants for dinner. Nea Folia and Sempriko are just a few of the numerous options.

Day 4: Thessaloniki to Zagori Villages

Mountainous terrain in Zagori
Mountainous terrain in Zagori

After breakfast in Thessaloniki, head to the fairytale Zagori Villages, roughly a four-hour drive from the city. This cluster of 48 hillside villages hides its well-preserved stone structures among the snowcapped mountain peaks, 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. Your local specialist will provide you with a custom guidebook to help you decide.

Day 5: Hike Vikos Gorge

Vikos Gorge
Vikos Gorge

After breakfast, you'll head from Vikos Gorge to Drakolimni for a day trip. As the deepest gorge in the world, Vikos is home to impressive natural paths that you'll explore with your private guide. Available routes range from four to eight hours of hiking. Cross the gorge, hike out to Drakolimni, or explore nearby villages and bridges. No matter which route you take, you'll take breaks for photos and a traditional picnic snack, including fruit, an energy bar, and a piece of local pie.

Return to Zagori and keep basking in the fairytale scenery well into the evening.

Day 6: Voidomatis River Rafting

Rafting on the Voidomatis River
Rafting on the Voidomatis River

Today, you'll get to see the Zagori region's scenery from a different perspective with a rafting adventure—suitable for beginners—in the deep waters of the Voidomatis River. You'll learn the secrets of the river and its surroundings from your guide as you flow with the rushing (albeit relaxed) waters over the course of your five-hour journey.

Don't miss the dramatic arch of the bridge of Kleidonia, also known as the bridge of Voidomatis, in Kleidonia village.

Day 7: Zagori Villages to Corfu

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

Today, you'll have one more breakfast in the mountains before you 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, and Mon Repos aristocratic villa and gardens with local tips close at hand.

Day 8: Corfu Jeep Safari

Old Perithia
Old Perithia

After breakfast, you'll head to the Corfiot upland villages with this road tour through Corfu's rugged mountains. You'll drive though idyllic countryside to Kato Korakiana village, followed by Agios Martinos, Lafki, and the remote Old Perithia. Stop to purchase snacks and snap some photos along the way in one of the villages. Old Perithia is particularly attractive, listed as a "Designated Area of Natural Beauty."

Get back on the road to reach the highest point of the island on Mount Pantokrator, reaching nearly 3,000 feet. Visit the monastery for 360-degree views of the island and even across to the mainland.

Your return trip will take you through the traditional villages at Strinilas and Spartillas, then back to the coast and main road at the resort of Ipsos. You'll be escorted by an expert guide, with stony trails, shady olive groves, and island views all the while.

Day 9: Hike Mount Pantokrator

Mount Pantokrator
Mount Pantokrator

Today you'll ascend Mount Pantokrator on your own steam. This approximately four-hour hike takes you up the island's highest peak, named "almighty" for a reason. The dramatic island views from the top and trails along the way are worth the work. Your hike will begin and end in upland Spartilas village, giving you time to explore rural Corfiot life.

Spend your evening exploring the World Heritage-designated Corfu old town. Modeled after the city of Naples, the Italianate houses radiate Venetian elegance as laundry hangs from crisscrossing balconies. Scope out the scene in Spianada Square, the largest in the Balkans.

Day 10: Corfu Sea Kayak Tour

Explore islets off the coast of Corfu
Explore islets off the coast of Corfu

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, Museums, and Farewell Dinner

National Archaeological Museum
National Archaeological Museum

Return to Athens after your final breakfast. Once you've returned, use your afternoon to scope out some of the museums you may have missed earlier in your trip. The city has a whole slew to be explored, depending on what specialty speaks to you.

For more history and mythology:

  • Acropolis Museum
  • National Archaeological Museum
  • Museum of the Ancient Agora
  • Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos

Find some fine arts at:

  • Benaki Museum
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • National Gallery

Go off the beaten path at:

  • Museum of Cycladic Art, where you can also buy some truly unique souvenirs
  • The digital interactive museum at the Platonic Academy, next to the site where the actual Academy stood
  • Museum of Ancient Greek Technology in the center of Athens, featuring a working model of the Antikythera mechanism, the first analog computer 

Museum tickets and guided tours can be arranged upon request.

In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner in the Plaka district, complete with traditional dishes, wine, and Greek music under the shadow of the Acropolis.

Day 12: Depart Athens

Wave to the city
Wave to the city

Time to say farewell to Greece. Enjoy your final Athenian breakfast before your transfer to the airport.

Map

Map of Athens, Northern Greece, & Corfu Adventure - 12 Days
Map of Athens, Northern Greece, & Corfu Adventure - 12 Days