- Hike up to the clifftop monasteries of Meteora
- Find peace amid the pristine monasteries and natural splendor of Zagori Villages
- Swim under waterfalls and in mountain lakes in the Peloponnese
- Bike through the history and Venetian architecture of Nafplio, a seaside town so pretty it was believed to be founded by Poseidon's son
|Day 1||Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner||Athens|
|Day 2||Train to Meteora and Hike||Kalabaka|
|Day 3||Travel to Zagori||Zagori|
|Day 4||Zagori Bridges and Villages Hike||Zagori|
|Day 5||Explore Nafpaktos||Nafpaktos|
|Day 6||Triple Swim in the Peloponnese||Xylokastro|
|Day 7||Travel to Nafplio||Nafplio|
|Day 8||Nafplio Sea to Mountain Cycle||Nafplio|
|Day 9||Return to Athens, Depart|
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: Train to Meteora and Hike
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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: Return to Athens, Depart
Time to say farewell to Greece. You'll head back to Athens after breakfast to catch your flight, either home or onward to your next adventure.