- Hike up to the clifftop monasteries of Meteora
- Find peace amid the pristine monasteries and natural splendor of Zagori
- Swim under waterfalls and in mountain lakes in the Peloponnese
- Bike through the history and Venetian architecture of Nafplio
|Day 1||Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner||Athens|
|Day 2||Good Morning Athens Bike Ride||Athens|
|Day 3||Athens Street Art Tour||Athens|
|Day 4||Fishing Boat Adventure in the Saronic Gulf||Athens|
|Day 5||Train to Meteora and Monastery Tour||Kalabaka|
|Day 6||Meteora Hike||Kalabaka|
|Day 7||Travel to Zagori||Zagori|
|Day 8||Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike||Zagori|
|Day 9||Zagorian Cooking Workshop||Zagori|
|Day 10||Voidomatis River Rafting||Zagori|
|Day 11||Explore Nafpaktos||Nafpaktos|
|Day 12||Triple Swim in the Peloponnese||Xylokastro|
|Day 13||Travel to Nafplio||Nafplio|
|Day 14||Coast and Palamidi Castle Foothills Hike||Nafplio|
|Day 15||Nafplio Sea to Mountain Cycle||Nafplio|
|Day 16||Karathona Beach Kayaking||Nafplio|
|Day 17||Return to Athens, Sunset at Cape Sounion||Athens|
|Day 18||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: Good Morning Athens Bike Ride
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: Athens Street Art Tour
Athens has Classical art around every corner, but the city isn't stuck in the past. Street artists have been calling the city home for years, with both established players and new talent popping up all the time. Your insider artist guide will take you through neighborhoods that support and showcase this art form, showing you both the art itself and how it relates to local issues.
Continue your wandering into the afternoon to pick up some souvenirs for yourself or anyone stuck at home. Grecian sandals and jewelry are especially popular, as is the frequently spotted evil eye motif.
Day 4: Fishing Boat Adventure in the Saronic Gulf
Hop onboard with a professional fisherman to get up close and personal with the Saronic Gulf. You'll start in Athens' port suburb of Piraeus in Pasalimani, the port's hub for small fishing boats. Board a kaiki, a traditional fishing boat, where your fisherman guide will teach you all about their fishing techniques. Take in the scenery as you sail out to your first fishing grounds, where you'll observe traditional paragadi fishing methods.
Your second stop will be Fleves island, where you can put these lessons into practice with a provided fishing rod or join the fish instead, with a swim in the clear waters. Lunch will be served onboard (fish included, naturally) before you head back to check the paragadi for any fresh catches. The day's spoils will be divided for you to take back with you and enjoy later at your leisure.
Once you've returned to shore, check out Piraeus in the evening light before you return to the city center. Stroll through Pasalimani, then stay for a drink or two in one of the open-air cafes along the Gulf of Zea.
Day 5: Train to Meteora and Monastery Tour
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. You'll meet your guide and private transfer up to Meteora itself for three hours among the monasteries. You'll see all six of the monasteries, with visits inside one or two of them for a glimpse of what the ninth-century monastic life may have been like. There will also be stops for photos and other detours along the way before you make your way to your accommodations in Kalabaka for the night.
Day 6: Meteora Hike
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.
In the evening, relax and rest up in Kalabaka, or admire the beauty of the monasteries and surrounding rock formations from a scenic viewpoint as the sun sets over the mountains in the distance.
Day 7: Travel to Zagori
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 8: Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike
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 9: Zagorian Cooking Workshop
Venture up to the village of Aristi to learn about the Zagorian culinary tradition, known for its rich flavors. You'll work with an expert to create three courses of Zagorian cuisine from freshly picked ingredients. Then sit down to enjoy your results with a glass of local wine. You'll start with a fresh salad, followed by one of the famous Zagorian pies, then the main dish made with meat from local farms and a dessert.
In the evening, stay around Aristi and explore the village. Stroll around the stone houses, across mule paths and Ottoman-era bridges, and scope out the folkloric artists' galleries and central square.
Day 10: Voidomatis River Rafting
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 11: Explore Nafpaktos
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 12: Triple Swim in the Peloponnese
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 13: Travel to 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 14: Coast and Palamidi Castle Foothills Hike
Wear good walking shoes for today's adventure. You'll start with 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 its 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, and it still keeps watch at the entrance to Nafplio Bay. Then, warm up your leg muscles with a climb up 1,000 steps to see the view from the Palamidi Castle.
You'll meet your guide in the afternoon at the harbor lighthouse to hike underneath the castle's towers. The scenic trek will take you along the Arvanitia path along Acronafplia, which lives up to its translation of "the edge of Nafplio." Go all the way to Karathona beach as you learn about the history of the city and its invasions. Feel free to stop at the hidden beaches along the way or take a break at one of the bars. Then, continue to the foothills surrounding the castle, with views of the Artemision mountain as your reward for all that walking.
Day 15: Nafplio Sea to Mountain Cycle
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 16: Karathona Beach Kayaking
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 17: Return to Athens, Sunset at Cape Sounion
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 18: 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.