- Get hands-on with the "Iliad" at Mycenae
- Sample the wines of Nemea
- Visit the castles of Mystras and Monemvasia
- Follow in the footsteps of ancient athletes in Olympia
- Sail to the shipwreck beach on Zakynthos
|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||Nemea Winery Exploration||Nafplio|
|Day 6||Nafplio to Sparti & Mystras||Mystras|
|Day 7||Travel to Monemvasia||Monemvasia|
|Day 8||Pylos & Palace of Nestor||Pylos|
|Day 9||Olympia Archaeological Site to Nafpaktos||Nafpaktos|
|Day 10||Ferry to Zakynthos||Zakynthos|
|Day 11||Zakynthos Boat Cruise||Zakynthos|
|Day 12||Explore Zakynthos Villages||Zakynthos|
|Day 13||Zakynthos Wine Tasting||Zakynthos|
|Day 14||Return to Athens, Sunset at Cape Sounion||Athens|
|Day 15||Depart Athens|
Day 1: Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner
Welcome to Greece! You'll begin your trip in Athens, home to 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, and the Acropolis is the hill.) This temple to Athena has enchanted visitors since its construction was completed in 438 BCE. 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 Antikythera mechanism's room, 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 cafés.
- 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 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
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, the ancient cemetery at Kerameikos, and the Agora. The myths that founded the city are featured in its retellings for generations, with stories of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Dionysus, and more. Hear both the stories and the historical 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 10 best museums in the world by National Geographic, this modern museum houses many 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 café, 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
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 settling into your accommodation, 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 and 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. You can choose between a variety of tavernas for dinner.
Day 4: Mycenae and Epidaurus Day Trip
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 partly 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 city's ruins, 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, 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: 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, similar to Merlot, are considered one of the finest Greek red varietals and have grown in the region for thousands of years—possibly since the 4th century BCE. 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. There will also be time for 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.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Nafplio to Sparti & Mystras
Greet the day with a morning walk along the Nafplio promenade. Cafés overlook the Bourtzi Castle, giving you the perfect view for your final hours in the city.
Your next stop is Sparti, the modern city carrying on the legacy of ancient Sparta, the Classical civilization once known for its military power, strict discipline, and armies of partners. Your guide will take you through the archaeological site where the ancient civilization once stood, now surrounded by peaceful olive trees. Stop at the Museum of Olive Oil next to get better acquainted with Greece's favorite ingredient and learn about the industry's history. Browse the bookshop and café or wander through the outdoor exhibit area. You can also stop to visit the Leonidas Monument, a statue of Sparta's famous king, on the road to Mystras.
Arrive in Mystras for the evening and take advantage of its hillside restaurants to see Sparta from above.
Day 7: Travel to Monemvasia
After breakfast, you'll continue onward to Monemvasia on the coast. Once only reachable by boat, this medieval town was carved out of the rock on which it stands, rising from the sea. Saunter through the cobblestone streets and see the dramatic sea views and architecture that will take you back to another era. Explore the cobblestone streets with a walk to the Upper Old Town. You'll be rewarded by bird's-eye views of the town and southeastern Peloponnese and a visit to the superbly preserved twelfth-century church of Aghia Sophia. Or pay a visit to the lighthouse and see cannons once used to defend the town from pirates.
Dine on a terrace overlooking the Upper Old Town and Byzantine castle of Aghia Paraskevi, complementing the views with local Malvasia wine. Linger into the evening for after-dinner cocktails in the town's stylish yet cozy bars.
Day 8: Pylos & Palace of Nestor
Head to the Palace of Nestor in "sandy Pylos," as it was known in Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey." The palace is one of the best-preserved Mycenean sites of its time, including the primary structure of the palaces and a larger Late Helladic settlement, with remnants of the fortified walls.
You'll stay in the seaside town of Pylos on the southwest Peloponnesian coast. The town rises amphitheatrically around the Navarino Bay (named for the Italian name for the town). Visit the ruins of the Old Castle nearby or the archaeological site at the New Castle, which has been restored to include museums and Byzantine churches. If you'd rather spend your day reclining, visit Voidokoilia beach, whose smooth sands and turquoise waters make it a popular spot.
Day 9: Olympia Archaeological Site to Nafpaktos
Explore the site of the first Olympic Games at the archaeological site of Olympia. There's plenty to cover—it's one of the largest sites in the country, surrounded by wild olives and plane trees. Your comprehensive guided tour will take you under the grand temple columns, past the Sanctuary of Olympian Zeus, and through the onsite Archaeological Museum.
There will also be free time after the tour to explore the site. Scope out the treasuries, sacrificial altars, and stadium once used by the ancient world's best athletes. The natural landscape surrounding the area is also full of opportunities for a day hike if you'd like to put your muscles to use. Once you've completed your explorations, head north over the Rio-Antirrio Bridge across the Gulf of Corinth—one of the world's longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges. You'll spend the night in Nafpaktos overlooking the gulf's waters and the town's castle. Spend your evening exploring the town's charming streets.
Day 10: Ferry to Zakynthos
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 island's southern coast is lined with resorts and sandy coves and beaches, while forested cliffs sweep down into the sea on the western side. 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 linger in the square taking in its characteristic island architecture.
Day 11: Zakynthos Boat Cruise
See the island from an aquatic perspective with this full-day boat ride. Cruise around to Zakynthos's many secluded coves and clear waters. 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 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 option 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 city's main commercial center.
Day 12: Explore Zakynthos Villages
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 the resort scene at Argassi.
Day 13: Zakynthos Wine Tasting
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 14: Return to Athens, Sunset at Cape Sounion
Return to Athens in the morning. After you've settled back into the city, you'll transfer 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 Greece's best sunset views. Sip a complimentary beverage and take in the sunset as 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 15: Depart Athens
Time to say farewell to Greece. Enjoy your final Athenian breakfast and sneak in some last-minute exploring before your transfer to the airport.
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