Helen of Troy may have made a dramatic exit from Mycenae, but you may find yourself wanting to stay a little longer with this 10-day itinerary packed with historic sites. Whether you're atop the Acropolis, strolling the Venetian streets of Nafplio, or wandering the former palace halls at Mycenae, you'll be surrounded by stories to fuel your afternoon daydreams as you conclude your itinerary with four nights on the island of Zakynthos.

Highlights

  • Listen to Greek myths at the Acropolis
  • Get hands-on with the Iliad at Mycenae
  • Discover the history and Venetian architecture of Nafplio
  • Sail to the shipwreck beach on Zakynthos

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner Athens
Day 2 Acropolis and Ancient Greek Mythology Tour Athens
Day 3 Travel to Nafplio, Guided Walk Nafplio
Day 4 Mycenae and Epidaurus Day Trip Nafplio
Day 5 Ferry to Zakynthos Zakynthos
Day 6 Zakynthos Boat Cruise Zakynthos
Day 7 Explore Zakynthos Villages Zakynthos
Day 8 Zakynthos Wine Tasting Zakynthos
Day 9 Return to Athens, Sunset at Cape Sounion Athens
Day 10 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

Ruins of Ancient Greece
Ruins of Ancient Greece

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: Travel to Nafplio, Guided Walk

Navarchon Square, Nafplio
Navarchon Square, Nafplio

Today brings you to Nafplio, one of the prettiest seaport towns in the Peloponnese peninsula. 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. 

After you've settled in to your accommodations, you'll meet your guide for a stroll through the old town. You'll pass statues honoring significant figures from Nafplio's history alongside Ottoman fountains, and Venetian architecture along the winding streets, topped off by the Bourtzi Castle in the middle of the harbor. Accessible only by boat, the castle was built in the 1470s to defend the city from pirates, and it still keeps watch at the entrance to Nafplio Bay.  Learn about the diverse cultural influences on the city's history along with its architectural features at spots like the Vouleftikon building and Town Hall before you climb up 1,000 steps to see the view from the Palamidi Castle.

Once you've finished your tour, wander the Vasileos Konstandinou pedestrian street to take you across the old town, ending in Syntagma Square, also known as Constitution Square, where you can choose between a variety of tavernas for dinner.

Day 4: Mycenae and Epidaurus Day Trip

The Lion Gate at Mycenae
The Lion Gate at Mycenae

Travel back in time to the well-preserved archaeological sites of Epidaurus and Mycenae, both deserving of their UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

You may recognize Mycenae from its role in Homer's Iliad: It was home to the famous Helen, whose Mycenean husband 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 to enter the ruins of the city, wandering past the tombs of Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra and the Treasury of Atreus. Don't skip the onsite museum, full of artifacts of everyday life in the city.

Next, you'll visit the small ancient city of Epidaurus, which was one of the most visited healing centers in the world during its peak. The sick would travel to the Sanctuary of Asklepios, the god of medicine and healing. They would spend the night in the temple's sleeping hall in hopes that the deity would appear in the dreams with a diagnosis and cure for their condition, whatever it may have been. 

You'll also see the city's third-century theater, one of the best remaining examples of its type due to the excellent acoustics and aesthetic arrangement. It was originally designed for musical and singing competitions, and is the largest stone resonator in the world. Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides all had plays performed here.

Depending on the timing of your trip, you may be able to catch a performance on the ancient stage.

Day 5: Ferry to Zakynthos

Zakynthos town and harbor
Zakynthos town and harbor

Head to Kyllini port in the morning to hop a ferry to Zakynthos. Also known as Zante to the Italians or "Flower of the East" to the Venetians, the third-largest Ionian island awaits. 

The southern coast of the island is lined with resorts and sandy coves and beaches, while on the western side forested cliffs sweep down into the sea. It's also home to the first Greek national marine park due to its regular egg-laying visits from loggerhead sea turtles. 

The main Zakynthos town is also home to plenty of on-land attractions. Start at the church of Agios Dionysos, the island's patron saint, then walk the restaurant-lined Strata Marina along the water down to Solomos Square. Stop in the Post-Byzantine Museum or just linger in the square taking in its characteristic island architecture.

Day 6: Zakynthos Boat Cruise

Navagio Beach
Navagio Beach

See the island from an aquatic perspective with this full-day boat ride. Cruise around to Zakynthos's many secluded coves and clear waters for six to seven hours.

Start off with an overland drive of just under an hour to the Skinari Cape. Once there, hop on a small speedboat to sail past beaches and resorts to the distinctive geographic formations of the Blue Caves, where you'll stop for photos and a swim. Then continue on to drop anchor at Smuggler's Cove, also known as Shipwreck or Navagio beach, where you'll swim and take in the views of this popular spot, home to the wreck of the Panayiotis on its white sands. 

Boat back to the Skinari Cape, then board a bus up into the hills for a bird's eye view of the shipwreck. You'll have the options to stop for lunch at a taverna and a winery tour and tasting as you make your way back to town.

In the evening, head to Aghios Markos square, once the meeting place of Greek revolutionaries in 1797. Follow Alexandros Romas street out of the square and through town, taking in the arcades of the main commercial center of the city.

Day 7: Explore Zakynthos Villages

Coastal cliffs from Kampi
Coastal cliffs from Kampi

Head inland on today's expedition to the hidden corners of Zakynthos as you travel over the scenic roads to traditional villages. You're in charge, so pick whatever destination points pique your interest.

Capture the views from the island's highest point in the Vrachionas mountains, stop for lunch or a sunset view at clifftop Kampi, or swim in the deep turquoise waters of Makris Gialos beach.

If you're more a village visitor, see the market and monastery of Anafonitria, the old homes in Exo Hora (some of the few to escape the 1953 earthquake), or the highest village on the island at Gyri. The villages of Keri and Maries are known for their rural island life, or you can explore the island's agriculture in northern Volimes or resort scene at Argassi.

Day 8: Zakynthos Wine Tasting

Goumas Estate
Goumas Estate

Head out to Maries village to visit a tranquil local vineyard for today's wine tour. You'll be surrounded by all the trappings of provincial life amid olive, pear, and peach trees. The vineyards were originally planted in 1900 and revitalized in 1987, and the winery has kept growing and expanding its operations since as they work with other vineyards to build up the reputation of Zakynthos wines.

Learn about Ionian varietals such as augoustiatis and robola and the characteristics and history of wine on the island before you try four different wines under the guidance of a dedicated sommelier. The tastings will be accompanied by an assortment of snacks over the course of two hours.

Make your way up to the Bochali village over the main Zakynthos town in the late afternoon or evening to take in the views of the sunset or city lights over the harbor. Visit what remains of the Venetian castle in the pine forest or Byzantine icons in the church of Zoodos Pigi, or linger over a meal in a restaurant with panoramic views of the island.

Day 9: 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 10: 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 Historic Peloponnese and Zakynthos - 10 Days
Map of Historic Peloponnese and Zakynthos - 10 Days