- Tour a working olive grove
- Sample the wines of Nemea
- Learn to cook Cycladic cuisine
- Hike through island history on Tinos and Mykonos
|Day 1||Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner||Athens|
|Day 2||Visit Mycenae and Nafplio||Nafplio|
|Day 3||Shepherd for a Day||Nafplio|
|Day 4||Nemea Winery Exploration||Nafplio|
|Day 5||Olive Experience||Nafplio|
|Day 6||Ferry to Tinos||Tinos|
|Day 7||Tinian Culinary Workshop||Tinos|
|Day 8||Tinian Ancestry Route Museum Tour||Tinos|
|Day 9||Ferry to Mykonos||Mykonos|
|Day 10||Farm Visit and Mykonian Dinner||Mykonos|
|Day 11||Explore Authentic Mykonos||Mykonos|
|Day 12||Ferry to Naxos||Naxos|
|Day 13||Naxos Food and Castle Tour||Naxos|
|Day 14||Explore Apiranthos Village||Naxos|
|Day 15||Return to Athens, Cooking Class||Athens|
|Day 16||Depart Athens|
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: Visit Mycenae and Nafplio
Start the day early with a guided trip back to a true classic. You may recognize Mycenae from its role in Homer's Iliad: It was home to the famous Helen, whose Mycenean husband King Agamemnon led his people to war when she left him for Paris of Troy. See its Cyclopean walls, whose construction method is still a mystery. They got their name due in part to the belief that only the mythical Cyclops would have been strong enough to lift their boulders.
You'll pass through the Lion Gate with your guide to enter the ruins of the city, wandering past the tombs of Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra and the Treasury of Atreus.
You'll go on to Nafplio, one of the prettiest seaport towns in the Peloponnese peninsula and once believed to have been founded by the son of Poseidon. The town was the first capital of the new Greek state after the war of independence in the 1800s. You'll take a guided stroll through the old town, where you'll pass statues honoring significant figures from Nafplio's history, Ottoman fountains, and Venetian architecture along the winding streets, topped off by the Bourtzi Castle in the middle of the harbor.
Later, don't miss the climb up 1,000 steps to see the view from the Palamidi Castle. Spend a relaxing evening wandering the quiet streets or walking along the waterfront.
Day 3: Shepherd for a Day
Get a taste of a simpler life when you become a shepherd for the day on this guided experience. You'll head back into the countryside to visit a local farm, stopping at some area highlights on the way. Once you arrive at the farm, you'll meet both its owners and its more diminutive residents. You'll get to experience aspects of life around the farm, milk the goats and sheep, and even try to play the shepherd's flute.
Chat with the owners over coffee and dessert about what you've learned. You'll finish with a tour of the nearby area, where you'll learn about Greek herbs and other plants and animals.
For your final food experience of your trip, go for the gkogkes. This traditional regional pasta is shaped like a seashell and most frequently topped with local cheese and hot oil. Or grab some Corinth raisins for a taste of Greece to snack on during the rest of your travels.
Day 4: Nemea Winery Exploration
Spend your day among the wineries of Nemea, one of the country's most important wine-producing areas. They're especially known for their Agiorgitiko wine, believed to have been first grown from a vine brought by the god Dionysus. These grapes, which are similar to Merlot, are considered to be one of the finest Greek red varietals and have grown in the region for thousands of years—possibly since the 4th century BC. The ancient red wine called Fliasion was also believed to be produced in this area.
You'll visit three wineries to observe the wine-making process and stroll through the vineyards. And, of course, sample the varietals along the way, along with a lunch of local cuisine with wine pairings at one of the stops.
If you find yourself fondly remembering any particular bottles later that you wish you'd purchased, the local cooperative also operates an outlet where many of the wines are available.
Day 5: Olive Experience
Greece has been enjoying the benefits of olive oil for centuries, and now you can take part in this culinary tradition. You'll begin after breakfast with a drive out to a rural village roughly 5 miles (8 km) outside of Nafplio. Visit the local owners to see how the olive oil-making process works and learn about its steps, as well as meet some of the farm's other inhabitants with a sheep-milking session.
Next, visit the groves themselves, enjoying a picnic experience underneath the shade of the trees and lunch in a family taverna. If you arrive in the harvest season, your experience will even include picking olives in the orchard alongside the workers.
Head back to town in the late afternoon, where you'll have a new appreciation for your dinner's ingredients. Top it off by buying a bottle of wine in a local shop to take home. You're in one of the most notable wine areas of Greece, after all. Look for an Agiortiko or another native grape varietal.
Day 6: Ferry to Tinos
Take an early ferry to Tinos, one of the most overlooked islands of the Cyclades. Tinos has remained under the radar for many years, overshadowed by its celebrity neighbor of Mykonos and seen mainly as a religious destination. Those who continue to believe that, however, are missing out on an island with fascinating history and culture, winding streets, great outdoor activities, and glittering beaches.
The imposing Panagia Evangelistria should not be overlooked, as Tinos is also known as the island of the Virgin Mary. Its icon is believed to have healing powers, and the annual August pilgrimage is a key part of the island's identity as churchgoers crawl on their knees toward the temple as a sign of piety.
If pilgrimage isn't quite your scene, there are also nearly 80 windmills to be explored, Venetian ruins, hiking at Exomvourgo mountain, and beaches for any moods. Try the island's craft beer from Nissos brewery or sample the cheeses at the shop belonging to the Cheese Cooperative of Tinos. Keep an eye out for the many painted dovecotes around the island as well, small white pigeon homes dotting the countryside of which there are nearly 1,000.
Day 7: Tinian Culinary Workshop
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Visit an aromatic garden and harvest fresh ingredients as part of this culinary experience. You'll learn the stories of some Greek recipes, then cook them yourself with expert instruction. Enjoy the fruits of your labor al fresco, as you consume your creations under the trees and arched alleyways accompanied with local wines and the scent of the herb garden.
Spend your evening in the main Tinos town and take advantage of the many cafes and tavernas along the seaside or in the interior. Complete your island culinary education with louza, a cured pork that's been refined by Tinians over years of practice, and rich volaki cheese balls and kariki cheese aged within pumpkin skins, similar to a stilton or roquefort. See if the menus offer fourtalia, a fresh Cycladic dish similar to an omelette made with fresh local eggs, sausage, and potatoes, or dishes made out of the signature Tinian artichokes. Complement them with a glass of crisp, light Tinian wine or Nissos beer brewed right on the island.
Day 8: Tinian Ancestry Route Museum Tour
Get to know the history, art, and archaeology of Tinos with today's guided tour.
You'll start at the Sanctuary of Poseidon, one of the ancient world's most important sanctuaries to the sea god, which was shared with worship of Amphitrite, eldest of the Nereids and queen of the sea. Next up, the Archaeological Museum, followed by the Museum of Tinian Artists.
This island is the homeland of renowned great artists of marble carving such as Gyzis, Lytras, Chalepas, Filippotis and Sochos, who have been the last famous names to have held the baton of the island’s marble-carving tradition. According to legend, the famous sculptor of the ancient times, Fidias, had taught the secrets of his art to the locals. Your tour continues at the home-turned-museum of one of the most famous of those sculptors, Yannoulis Chalepas.
Walk the streets of the main town of Tinos in the afternoon. You'll pass small bridges and fountains, churches, old homes, and the famous painted Tinian dovecotes.
Day 9: Ferry to Mykonos
You'll take a ferry in the morning to Mykonos, one of the most famous islands in the Cyclades. Known for its glitzy restaurants and nightlife, art scene, and jet set crowds (it was recently home to a Gucci pop-up boutique), Mykonos is one of the most quintessential Greek isles.
Your first day's itinerary is up to you. You'll receive a personalized list of tips for exploration, but some highlights include:
- If you need to get your toes in the sand immediately, head to remote Agios Sostis beach to find your own isolated paradise.
- For a more active experience, Ftelia Beach is known for its excellent windsurfing.
- Stroll through Little Venice, an 18th-century neighborhood where colorful former captains' mansions and seaside restaurants seem to sprout straight from the sea. It's also right next to the island's famous hillside windmills for great photo ops.
Day 10: Farm Visit and Mykonian Dinner
The morning is yours to explore, so head to a beach to lounge or stroll through the cosmopolitan streets, scoping out the boutiques that draw the island's stylish crowd season after season.
In the afternoon, you'll pay a visit to a traditional farm. Talk to the farm's caretakers to learn about how vegetables are grown on the islands and how the livestock are raised, and even say hi to the animals.
As the sun begins to set, you'll sit down to a traditional dinner. You'll be welcomed into a local Mykonian household for the meal, where you'll experience the traditional Greek way of life, culture, and cooking. Hear all about their stories of the island's culture and history as well as their own family history, over authentic dishes and free-flowing local wine (for the older crowd).
Day 11: Explore Authentic Mykonos
Today, you'll sneak away from the cosmopolitan side of this island to discover Mykonos' authentic heart, touring charming villages, little harbors, and remote beaches with your expert guide. You'll start with a panoramic viewpoint of Mykonos Town to capture the perfect 360 degree shot. Then, head to the port of Agios Ioannis, a protected harbor where fishing boats now launch. Hear the stories of its namesake saint, including a church dedicated to him and the cell he was held in that are now home to an annual festival.
Next, you'll go through the island's agricultural and livestock country, past cultivated fields and animals grazing. At Ano Mera village, you'll explore a farm with its superintendent and even have the opportunity to help out with some farm work or say hi to the animals. You'll also sample a light lunch with products grown right there in the fields. After lunch, the colorful village square awaits, including a monastery tour and stroll through the open-air market.
From there, the shores of Kalo Livadi, Kalafati, and Aghia Anna all await your camera lens as you pass them on your way to learn about the island's history at the site of former mines. The now-abandoned structures used to mine lignite from the island's soil. Wrap your tour up on the picturesque narrow streets of Mau, home to the Mykonos dam.
The evening is yours to spend as you will, whether you want to relax by the sea, wind away the hours with a sundowner in Little Venice, or dance the night away on the boardwalk of Paradise Beach.
Day 12: Ferry to Naxos
Time to ferry over to bustling Naxos after breakfast. With an active main town where you can shop and admire the Venetian architecture, a historic Kastro (castle) area, and expansive beaches, the island offers opportunities for both laidback relaxation, as well as water or land activities. The rest of the day is yours to unwind as you choose. Try out some of these options:
- Hike up to the summit of Mount Zas, the mythological childhood home of Zeus, the ruler of the gods, and the highest point in the Cyclades.
- Head inland to the town of Chalki, home to the island's oldest market and a petite, shady square perfect for whiling away the afternoon. Stop at the kitron distillery to sample the local liqueur and learn about its distillation process over the years.
- Visit the Temple of Demeter at Sangri on your way. Multiple deities of fertility were worshipped here, particularly the goddess Demeter. The temple was constructed in 530 BC, during the tyranny of Lygdamis, and represents a precursor of classical Athenian architecture.
- Stroll to the Portara, the entrance to the Temple of Apollo. Construction on the temple began in the sixth century BCE but was never finished, but the still-standing entranceway has become one of the hallmarks of the island. You can find it on the islet of Palatia, just over a causeway from the heart of Naxos Town (Chora).
For dinner, wander up the hill through the streets of the Kastro neighborhood to pick out your favorite of the area's tavernas, where you can sample the island's fresh produce in its best forms.
Day 13: Naxos Food and Castle Tour
As the largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos is home to a wide range of agriculture in addition to its tourist industry. Livestock live alongside the western farms, home to the famous Naxian potatoes, and mountainous areas full of olive groves provide the staples of Greek cooking.
Your guide will take you through winding lanes of the main Naxos town to sample some of the products of those fields. You'll sample five different Naxian cheeses along with kitron, a traditional liqueur distilled on the island. You may also stop at a candy shop and learn about confectionary production or visit a wine shop to taste Greek varietals. Then, continue on to a historic tour of the Venetian Castle.
Spend the evening continuing to wander the Castle district and put your newfound knowledge to use in the many tavernas on the hillside. For great views over the town and across to neighboring Paros, check out 1739 Terrasse Cafe.
Day 14: Explore Apiranthos Village
Today, you'll have an opportunity to travel to the village of Apiranthos. This fantastical spot is situated at the foot of the Fanari Mountain, the island's third-highest peak. Also known as the Marble Village, its winding streets and traditional architecture have been nearly untouched since the days of the Venetians, as has its language. The local dialect is believed to contain both ancient Greek and Byzantine elements.
Most of the village can only be accessed on foot. Have a coffee on the pedestrian-only main street and soak in a slower pace of life, and get lost in the village's winding pathways that crawl up and down the mountainside. Don't miss a visit to the nearby Agia Kyriaki church, located within hiking distance beyond the village. This former Byzantine church is best known for the remnants of its historic murals.
If you're looking for a break from Greek food in the evening, the seasonal Picasso Mexican restaurant on Plaka beach has been drawing loyal visitors to its fresh fajitas and margaritas for more than 20 summers.
Day 15: Return to Athens, Cooking Class
You'll head back to Athens in the morning after breakfast.
Once you've settled in, spend your afternoon acquiring some take-home skills with a cooking class. You'll visit a contemporary multi-use space home to four shops in one—a coffee house, pie shop, creamery, and kitchenette—and the perfect setting for your lesson. Discover local products from around Greece and experiment with traditional recipes to create your own twist on the classics. And, of course, sample all of it. Savor the fruits of your labor on the rooftop while taking in views of the Acropolis and surrounding Plaka neighborhood.
The evening is yours to spend as you will, whether you want to sneak in some last-minute souvenir shopping in Monastiraki or visit the wine bars of Koukaki for an end-of-trip toast.
Day 16: Depart Athens
Time to say farewell to Greece. Enjoy your final Athenian breakfast before your transfer to the airport.