Hike, bike, and paddle your way around the Greek mainland with this 13-day itinerary. Begin in Athens, where you'll see all the sights from two wheels. Then stretch your legs with hikes in the mountains of Meteora and Zagori. Take a refreshing dip in the lakes of the Peloponnese before heading for the coast for a sea kayaking excursion. Finally, reward your hard work with a sunset at the Temple of Poseidon.

Highlights

  • Hike up to the clifftop monasteries of Meteora
  • Find peace amid the villages and natural splendor of Zagori
  • Swim under waterfalls and in mountain lakes in the Peloponnese
  • Bike through the history and Venetian architecture of Nafplio

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner Athens
Day 2 Good Morning Athens Bike Ride Athens
Day 3 Train to Meteora and Hike Kalabaka
Day 4 Travel to Zagori Zagori
Day 5 Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike Zagori
Day 6 Voidomatis River Rafting Zagori
Day 7 Explore Nafpaktos Nafpaktos
Day 8 Triple Swim in the Peloponnese Xylokastro
Day 9 Travel to Nafplio Nafplio
Day 10 Nafplio Sea to Mountain Cycle Nafplio
Day 11 Karathona Beach Kayaking Nafplio
Day 12 Return to Athens, Sunset at Cape Sounion Athens
Day 13 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: Good Morning Athens Bike Ride

Get around on your new wheels
Get around on your new wheels

Say kalimera with a good morning bike ride around the city. You'll wheel past many of the highlights of the city over the course of 3.5 hours, complete with a coffee break at a cafe. Your guide will tell you about all the spots you pass, such as the Panathenaic Stadium, National Gardens, the Agora, Keramikos, and of course the Acropolis, along with insider tips on the best spots to eat and drink in Athens and plenty of breaks to take in the views.

Put those tips into practice by spending the rest of your day in the posh Plaka district, also known as the neighborhood of the gods. One of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the area features neoclassical architecture in both its homes and shops. When hunger strikes, find a spot at one of the outdoor tables lining the streets. Diners feast on Greek favorites such as the classic horiatiki salad, souvlaki, lamb dishes, and more. Go mezze-style to try them all.

For photography enthusiasts (or those who prefer to sleep late), it is also possible to take the bike ride in the late afternoon rather than the morning, when the soft light is great for pictures.

Day 3: Train to Meteora and Hike

Up on the clifftop
Up on the clifftop

Travel by train across the Central Greece countryside for a day among the famous monasteries of Meteora. These religious buildings sit atop rock formations that are more than 60 million years old. 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. 

The roughly five-hour train ride will take you from Athens through the rural landscape to Kalabaka, the town gateway to Meteora. Once you've arrived, you'll explore the Meteora rock formations and monasteries on foot with today's hike, taking you through both nature and religious history.  

Cover the paths used by some of the monasteries' first monks, enjoying views of the area's unique geological features in the Meteora valley while your guide tells you about the region and its past. You'll also stop at either the Great Metereon or Varlaam monastery.

You'll hike for roughly four hours, covering about 5 miles (8 km) of easy to medium terrain.

Day 4: Travel to Zagori

Stone river bridge
Stone river bridge

After breakfast, head to the fairytale Zagori Villages. This cluster of more than 40 hillside villages hides its well-preserved stone structures among the snowcapped mountain peaks, rivers, and gorges of Pindos, built amphitheatrically amid unspoiled landscapes.

Whether you choose to linger under the trees, explore old monasteries, or visit the stone mansions of well-known residents, you're sure to find something to enchant you. Though Zagori is most popular as a winter destination, the mountain towns are equally as charming amid autumn foliage or in spring and summer when the peonies and hydrangeas bloom.

Many of the villages are on the List of Traditional Settlements of Greece, a testament to their unchanged nature over the years. Your local specialist will provide you with a custom guidebook to help you decide where to wander.

Day 5: Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike

Sunrise in Vitsa
Sunrise in Vitsa

Discover the rest of the Zagorichoria, villages of Zagori, in the Pindos mountains, the ideal spot for fairytale exploration. 

Due to the unique flora and fauna present in the region, it's been designated a national park with strict preservation rules. You'll take an easy guided half-day hike (great for families), taking in views of the surrounding scenery and learning about the history and culture of the region. It's a beautiful walk among the stone houses, small farms, and river bridges, which were built with a special technique believed to be unique to the region.

Stop at the sixteenth-century Monastery of Pagia Spiliotissa for some bonus exploring, built atop a rock overlooking the Voidomatis river. The village of Vitsa makes an ideal stop for lunch, especially if you can find the area's mushroom-hunting expert. Spend the rest of your day resting and enjoying the slow pace of life in this region.

Day 6: Voidomatis River Rafting

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Today, you'll get to see the Zagori region's scenery from a different perspective with a rafting adventure—suitable for beginners—in the deep waters of the Voidomatis River. You'll learn the secrets of the river and its surroundings from your guide as you flow with the rushing (albeit relaxed) waters over the course of your five-hour journey.

Don't miss the dramatic arch of the bridge of Kleidonia, also known as the bridge of Voidomatis, in Kleidonia village.

Day 7: Explore Nafpaktos

Harbor views
Harbor views

Today, you'll check out Nafpaktos, formerly known as Lepanto. This town on the Corinthian Gulf was once the scene of a dramatic 16th century sea battle, where the Ottoman navy was nearly destroyed by the combined Spanish and Venetian Holy League fleet, one of the largest sea battles in Western history and considered by some to mark the beginning of the Age of Sail.

Visit the hilltop Venetian castle or stroll around the historic port for a scenic view of the now-calm harbor. The Fethiye mosque is the largest Ottoman-era mosque in the city, complemented by the old mansions along the streets. Make your way to western Psani beach starting at the port if you'd like to recline for the day, or head just a bit farther out to Chiliadou or Monastiraki beaches.

Pick out a table with a sea view in the central square for your evening dining and people-watching.

Day 8: Triple Swim in the Peloponnese

Forest stream
Forest stream

Head to the northern region of the Peloponnese to dive into three different bodies of water, each with its own charm to offer.

Start out with an easy trek on Mount Helmos up to a waterfall. Then over to Lake Tsivlou to dive into the turquoise waters of a tranquil alpine lake and enjoy your lunch on its shores. You'll end on the colorful pebbles of Pefkias beach, named after its neighboring pine forest, sun on your face and a smoothie in hand.

Especially active travelers have the option to bike down the 22 miles (35 km) from the waterfall down to sea level, then meet the van for a transfer the rest of the way to the beach.

Day 9: Travel to Nafplio

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. 

Take a stroll through the old town, where 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.

Visit 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. Don't miss the climb up 1,000 steps to see the view from the Palamidi Castle, or visit the scenic Arvanitia path along Acronafplia, which lives up to its translation of "the edge of Nafplio."

Day 10: Nafplio Sea to Mountain Cycle

Your wheels for the day
Your wheels for the day

Explore Nafplio's surrounding areas even further today under the power of two wheels with a cycling tour. A guide will take you past the highlights of the city and stunning views of the Argolic Gulf on this somewhat challenging route. You'll ride for roughly 4 hours, starting in the town, then heading out across fields and hills to ride along the beach.

Take it easy in the afternoon with a stroll through the city and a visit to the Komboloi Museum. You'll likely have noticed these strings of "worry beads" throughout your Greek travels, and now is your chance to learn about their history and purchase a quality set of your own. Visit the Vasileos Konstandinou pedestrian street to take you across the old town, ending in Syntagma Square where you can choose between a variety of tavernas for dinner.

Day 11: Karathona Beach Kayaking

Skimming the surface
Skimming the surface

Swap your pedals for paddles with a four-hour kayak tour in the waters of the gulf. Get in the water at Karathona beach to circle some of the bay's best spots. You'll get a perfect distance view of the Palamidi Castle before you come in for a visit to Bourtzi Castle, complete with panoramic perspective on the city. Take a break for fruit and photos in a small church along the way.

Once you've dried off, head back into town for an evening wander. See if you can find P.D.O. olive oil from Lygourio, near Epidaurus, to bring home the best of a Greek favorite. When hunger strikes, seek out fresh local seafood on coastal Bouboulinas and Miaouli streets or try the local specialty dish of bogana, which features a hearty mix of lamb and potatoes.

Day 12: 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 13: 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 Mainland Greece Adventure Trip - 13 Days
Map of Mainland Greece Adventure Trip - 13 Days