Whether you're taking in the seaside from the coastal forests of Skopelos or gazing down from the clifftop monasteries of Meteora, this nine-day itinerary has panoramic views to spare. Start atop the Acropolis and site of a famous Spartan battle at Thermopylae, then ship out to the island of Skopelos for three days of beaches and cinematic perspectives with a Mamma Mia location tour. Return to the mainland with a trip up to Meteora before you return to Athens.

Highlights

  • Hear and tour the mythology of the Acropolis
  • Embrace your inner dancing queen on Skopelos island
  • Climb to the clifftop monasteries of Meteora

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner Athens
Day 2 Acropolis and Ancient Greek Mythology Tour Athens
Day 3 Mount Pelion & Thermopylae Volos
Day 4 Travel to Skopelos Island Skopelos
Day 5 Explore Skopelos Skopelos
Day 6 Mamma Mia and Skopelos Highlights Tour Skopelos
Day 7 Travel to Meteora Kalabaka
Day 8 Return to Athens, Sunset at Cape Sounion Athens
Day 9 Depart Athens  

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: Acropolis and Ancient Greek Mythology Tour

Ancient columns
Ancient columns

Experience the ancient stories surrounding you with today's guided mythology tour. You'll meet your guide and storyteller at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, then head to landmarks around the city including the Acropolis, ancient cemetery at Kerameikos, and the Agora. The myths that founded the city and are featured in its retellings for generations will accompany as you go, with stories of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Dionysus, and more. Hear both the stories themselves and the historic facts behind them, adding resonance to the archaeological ruins you will visit during this four-hour tour.

Make your way over to explore the Acropolis Museum on your own after your tour (or join a guide if you'd prefer). Named one of the ten best museums in the world by National Geographic, this modern museum houses a multitude of artifacts removed from the hill of the Acropolis for safekeeping to provide insight into ancient religious practices and daily life. Linger for lunch in the museum's cafe, with views of the artifacts' former hilltop home.

As night falls, you may be able to visit the Athens Observatory to learn about the constellations overhead and take a look through the telescope. Its hours vary seasonally and by day of the week.

Day 3: Mount Pelion & Thermopylae

Mount Pelion
Mount Pelion

Hit the road early today to continue your journey. Your first stop is Thermopylae, where Leonidas of Sparta battled the Persian army in 480 BCE.  It's now transitioned to a more relaxing way of life, taking its name's translation of "hot gates" a bit more literally for its therapeutic sulphur hot springs.

Continue to the coastal city of Volos and take in both the sea and mountain views as you stroll along the city streets and pedestrian waterfront path. Volos's central port once tied together trade from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, an influence you can still see as you walk through its squares. Stop in one of the tsipouradika to sample the local alcoholic specialty of tsipouro, a dstilled brandy made from wine press pomace, and its accompanying mezze small plates.

You'll also visit the green landscapes and stone villages of Mount Pelion. You'll start with the area's traditional villages, including Makrynitsa, Vyzita, and Milies, home to a famous traditional local train on the Pelion narrow-gauge railway. You'll then continue on to Tsagarada and Agios Ioannis on the Aegean coast.

In addition to its scenery, Mount Pelion is also known for being the mythological home of the centaurs, creatures who were half-human, half-horse. Keep an eye out in the greenery and you never know what you might spot.

Day 4: Travel to Skopelos Island

Protected island cove
Protected island cove

Set sail for Skopelos in the Sporades island group today. Legend has it the island was founded by Peparethos, son of the god of wine Dionysus, and Ariadne, princess of Crete. In antiquity it was known for its wines; now it's better known as the filming location for Mamma Mia. Either way, revelry awaits. 

Skopelos town is the island's capital, seated on a hill on the northern coast. With its medieval castle, stone houses, narrow streets, and Byzantine churches, the town encapsulates what it means to be a typical Greek island community.

Day 5: Explore Skopelos

Views from the harbor
Views from the harbor

In addition to its main town, Skopelos is also home to three other main settlements.

Traditional Glóssa is the second biggest settlement on the island, also known as "the tall village” according to the poet Papadiamantis—probably due to the many ruins of ancient towers discovered in the area. It is distinctive for its traditional, noble character and the ruins of ancient towers and buildings that have been discovered around the area.

Nearby Palió Klíma is also known for being especially picturesque, despite the damage it suffered during the earthquake of 1965. Néo Klíma, also known as Élios, is a newer town, built in just 1981 below the forest of Vathias and near Hovolos beach.

Day 6: Mamma Mia and Skopelos Highlights Tour

Agios Ioannis church atop its cliff
Agios Ioannis church atop its cliff

Today's six-hour guided tour will take you around to all the island highlights, with a special focus on the ones that brought Skopelos onto the big screen in Mamma Mia

You'll start at the Agios Ioannis chapel, where the film's wedding scene was filmed. Hike up all 199 steps to get to the top or just relax on top of the nearby rocks and take in the views.

Stop at an olive press in Glossa village to learn about Skopelos olive oils as you make your way to Kastani beach. At the beach, you'll hear more about the filming on the island as you relax in a beach bar on the sands where 10 days of filming took place and have the chance to hop in the water.

Your next stop is Agnontas beach, for more swimming or lunch in a beach taverna. Then head back to Skopelos town, but make sure you keep an eye out for Cape Amarandos and its signature three trees protruding into the water on the way.

Day 7: Travel to Meteora

Up on the clifftop
Up on the clifftop

Head across the Central Greece countryside to visit the famous monasteries of Meteora. These clifftop monasteries, including Megalo Meteoron and Agios Stefanos, sit perched atop high rock formations but are still inhabited and used by monks and nuns today. The area has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the largest pilgrimage sites in Greece.

Meet your guide for three hours among the monasteries. You'll see all six of the monasteries, with visits inside one or two of them for a glimpse of what the ninth-century monastic life may have been like.

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.

Day 8: Return to Athens, Sunset at Cape Sounion

Temple of Poseidon
Temple of Poseidon

Return to Athens in the morning. After you've settled back into the city, you'll be transferred down to the Athenian Riviera, full of both history and stunning island views. Your adventure will take you along the coast to visit the Temple of Poseidon, while being provided with historical background on the way. The views overlook the Saronic Gulf, with one of the best sunset views Greece has to offer. Sip a complimentary beverage and take in the sunset while you listen to music and immortalize the moment with a Polaroid-style photo.

You'll be transferred back to your lodging in the evening just in time for a late (Greek-style) dinner. Or, if you're not ready to call it a night, you can request a drop-off at some of the most popular beach bars to dance until the sun comes up.

Day 9: Depart Athens

Wave to the city
Wave to the city

Time to say farewell to Greece. Enjoy your final Athenian breakfast and sneak in some last-minute exploring before your transfer to the airport.

Map

Map of Central Greece & Skopelos Exploration - 9 Days
Map of Central Greece & Skopelos Exploration - 9 Days