Take a week getting out into nature in the Peloponnesian peninsula with this itinerary designed for older kids and teenagers. Start in Athens, where you'll juxtapose Classical myths with modern street art. Then head to the historic warrior city of Sparta to explore its ancient castles before you finish your trip in the seaside city of Nafplio with a kayak tour over a sunken city.

Highlights

  • Tour the Athenian street art scene with an artist
  • Explore ancient castles in Acrocorinth and Mystras
  • Bike around the seaside town of Nafplio
  • Sea kayak over the sunken city of Epidaurus

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens & Explore the City Parks Athens
Day 2 Acropolis & Ancient Athens Mythology Tour, Athens Street Art Tour Athens
Day 3 Transfer to Sparta & Hike the Castle of Acrocorinth Sparta
Day 4 The Castle-Town of Mystras Sparta
Day 5 Sparta to Nafplio & Bike Tour with Swimming and Picnic Nafplio
Day 6 Epidaurus Guided Tour & Sunken City Sea Kayaking Nafplio
Day 7 Return to Athens & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens & Explore the City Parks

Views from Athens' Hills
Views from Athens' hills
Welcome to Greece!
 
Trade the bustling markets and ancient sites of Athens for a little reprieve in nature to help you settle in. Greece's lively capital is home to its fair share of peaceful and verdant parks and hills, all reachable within the city center.
 
From the hill atop Mt. Lycabettus, you'll enjoy sweeping, panoramic views of the ancient city, including the famed Acropolis Hill and the Saronic Gulf. Avoid the long lines at the funicular and follow one of the innumerable paths to the top. Along the way, you'll pass several viewpoints and pockets of green to enjoy a rest, picnic, or game of frisbee. The park feels like a different world despite being in the middle of buzzy Athens.
 
For a different perspective, Philopappos Hill just southwest of the Acropolis is one of the best places to get those perfect city views. On top of the hill, you'll find a mausoleum dedicated to its namesake: a famous mogul and benefactor of Athens. Philopappos lived in the city from the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Along with the nearby slopes of Pnyx and Nymphs, the hill is a favorite amongst Athenians and visitors alike and a great spot for a pleasant walk or picnic.

Day 2: Acropolis & Ancient Athens Mythology Tour, Athens Street Art Tour

Exploring Acropolis Hill - Photo from Alternative Athens
At the Parthenon

Discover the endless history of Athens with a mythology tour through the heart of the city. Your guide will share captivating stories from ancient Greek mythology and expose the real-life events and characters behind them.

After meeting your guide and learning a bit about what the tour entails, you'll set off into the world of ancient Greece. You'll start at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, then make your way to the Theater of Dionysus and world-renowned Acropolis. Here you'll find some of the city's most famous sites, including the Temple of Athena Nike, the Temple of Erechtheion, the Propylaia, and the spectacular Parthenon

As you visit these historical places, your guide will help bring ancient myths to life. You'll learn the popular and secret stories about Greek gods and heroes, such as Zeus, Athena (goddess of wisdom and protector of Athens), Poseidon (god of the sea), and more. 

As you continue the tour, you'll head into the Ancient Agora, democracy's place of birth and where great philosophers, like Socrates, spoke. Explore the perfectly preserved Greek temple, Hephaisteion, and hear more mythical stories about other popular characters, including Theseus and the Minotaur, Hera (the wife of Zeus), and Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty).

Next, get a little more modern as you learn why Athens is a street artist’s paradise. You'll examine all different methods, including tagging, bombing, stencil, and painting, and learn about some of the city's 2,000+ street artists. From iconic images beloved by Athenians to controversial pieces, you'll explore the city's iconic street art scene, its history, and the greatest players.

Your local guide (a street artist themself) will show you some of the most interesting pieces in unusual places. Some neighborhoods support and showcase art more than others, but each district has its own style. You'll experience everything from authentic grit in abandoned industrial spaces to formal techniques in exhibition centers. Your guide will help you understand how each artist and each piece relates to Athens' current social and economic situation.

Day 3: Transfer to Sparta & Hike the Castle of Acrocorinth

Fortress at Acrocorinth
Fortress at Acrocorinth

Transfer to Sparta today. In addition to its own history as the famous warrior state, Sparta is well positioned for a visit to the unique Byzantine city of Mystras, one of the most important centers of the Byzantine empire, or Mount Taygetus, the Peloponnese's highest peak. 

You'll stretch your legs with a hike to the top of Acrocorinth, one of the biggest castles in Greece. This moderate hike takes you past unique natural springs to incredible views of the sea and surrounding countryside. Along the way, your local guide will share interesting stories about the area's history, geology, and cultural significance, including its "hidden" path to Penteskoufi, the very top of the fortress.

Follow natural routes through the hillside and up rocky terrain, passing under several defense gates, and you'll see why the castle's location is not only cultural but also strategic. At the top, visit the castle ruins scattered around the hill with a scenic mountainous backdrop. You'll find old, preserved walls and remnants of temples, theaters, and more. If you can make it to the very top (the trail is quite steep), it's worth the effort, as the views are spectacular.

Day 4: The Castle-Town of Mystras

The Despots Palace, Mystras
The Despot's Palace in Mystras
Discover the historic Mystras Castle, also known as the "wonder of the Morea," an imposing fortress that was once the capital of the Byzantine state. Erected in 1249 CE, the castle is the most important Byzantine monument in Greece, sprawling across a steep mountainside. It was originally erected as an amphitheater around an existing fortress before it was conquered by the Byzantines, then later occupied by the Turks and Venetians.
 
You'll enjoy walking through this preserved archeological site led by a local expert guide. Mystras is very atmospheric and photogenic, set into three distinct zones representing different historical eras. You'll tour the Upper City (Ano Chora) with the Despot's Palaces, the Lower City (Kato Chora) with the Metropolis, and the Outer City (Exo Chora). Your guide will share important historical information and detail what daily life was like in the city.

Day 5: Sparta to Nafplio & Bike Tour with Swimming and Picnic

Family Cycling in Nafplio - Photo from MAMAKITA
Family cycling in Nafplio [Photo from MAMAKITA]
Take a comfortable transfer from Sparta to Nafplio, a drive of roughly two hours.
 

Once you arrive, get active with your family and enjoy a bike tour through the scenic city. Starting at Palamidi Castle, you'll ride downhill through the countryside, with plenty of photo ops along the way. Your guide will share interesting stories about the region's history, culture, and mythology. Your destination is a picturesque sandy beach, where you'll enjoy a traditional picnic of Greek meze (similar to appetizers or tapas). After lunch, hike up to a chapel for views of the Argolis Gulf and enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea.

The evening is free for you to explore Nafplio at your leisure, the first capital of modern Greece and one of the country's most beautiful towns with its mix of Venetian, Ottoman, and Greek architecture.

As you gaze across the sea and down into Nafplio's Old Town, get your bearings and try to spot a few of the other must-see sites. The Fort of Bourgi sits on a small island right in the middle of the harbor. You can take a short boat ride to the islet, circling the area to enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

Look for a red-tiled dome to find the Vouleftikon Building, the very first Greek Parliament. Nearby is Constitution Square, also known as Syntagma Square, the main plaza in Nafplio. It's a lively spot in the city with many restaurants, bars, and cafes to enjoy. It's also a great place to people-watch under the sycamore trees and witness typical Greek life. 

Stop at the Kompoloi Museum to learn about a popular local craft and find beads from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Greek traditions. You can also view Catholic and monastery rosaries. As dusk nears, take a stroll along the port to watch the sunset. The port also offers a great viewpoint of Palamidi Castle and features a few cafes, bars, and gelaterias.

Day 6: Epidaurus Guided Tour & Sunken City Sea Kayaking

Kayak over the Ruins at Epidaurus

Discover the unique history and significance of the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus. Your guide will take you through the ruins, starting with the Temple of Asklepios and the Temple of Artemis. You'll then visit the Tholos, the Ceremonial Hall, the Stadium, the Greek Baths, and the Stoa. You'll learn about how the site functioned in terms of medicine, often compared to a hospital or "holistic therapeutic center." The entire complex is a significant testimony to the healing devotions of ancient Greeks and Romans.

Next, you'll visit the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, known for its perfect acoustics and for being the best-preserved theater of its time. The Greeks performed many plays here, during celebrations and events, and as part of the Sanctuary's regular healing traditions. During the summer months, you can watch a play on Friday or Saturday evening, as part of the Athens & Epidaurus Festival.
 
Get a different perspective on these ancient sites with a kayak tour of the sunken city. As you follow the coastline, you'll paddle over the ruins of Epidaurus, which was built in 1200 BCE. You may know it better as Argolida’s Lost Atlantis. Here, you'll find an entire metropolis preserved under the sea. After stopping at an isolated beach, you can snorkel and take underwater pictures of the ruins.

Before heading back, enjoy a homemade picnic and some free time at the beach. You can snorkel, swim, sunbathe, or play on the sand.

Day 7: Return to Athens & Depart

Roman Agora in Athens

Wave goodbye to Greece as you return to the Athens to catch your flight home or onto your next adventure.

Map

Map of Greek History, Nature, and Culture for Families: Athens & the Peloponnese - 7 Days
Map of Greek History, Nature, and Culture for Families: Athens & the Peloponnese - 7 Days