On this 16-day road trip across Greece, you'll see historical sites, sample local flavors, and discover beautiful castles and monasteries. Spend a few days in the capital, learning about the Acropolis and enjoying the culinary delights of the modern era. Then, drive along the Peloponnese and Mani peninsulas to sample wine in Nemea, explore several archaeological sites, relax on pristine beaches, and discover picturesque villages before ending your journey back in Athens.


  • Set off on an ancient Greek mythology tour in Athens
  • Drive to seven charming towns, villages, and cities 
  • Visit the site of the first Olympic Games in Olympia
  • Stop at the Palace of Nestor on your way to Pylos

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner Athens
Day 2 Acropolis & Ancient Greek Mythology Tour Athens
Day 3 Food Tour of the City's Street Food Stalls & Markets Athens
Day 4 Drive to Nafplio, Explore the Coastal City on Your Own Nafplio
Day 5 Sample Local Wines from Three Vineyards Around Nemea Nafplio
Day 6 Visit the Archaeological Site of Mycenae & the Ancient City of Epidaurus Nafplio
Day 7 Drive to the Archaeological Site of Sparta & Mystras Mystras
Day 8 Explore the Archaeological Site of Mystras Mystras
Day 9 Drive to Monemvasia on the East Coast of the Peloponnese Monemvasia
Day 10 Drive to Areopoli, Explore the Mani Peninsula's Charming Villages Areopoli
Day 11 Drive to Pylos via the Palace of Nestor Pylos
Day 12 Drive to Nafpaktos via the Olympia Archaeological Site Nafpaktos
Day 13 Explore Nafpaktos on Your Own Nafpaktos
Day 14 Drive to Galaxidi via the Archaeological Site of Delphi Galaxidi
Day 15 Visit the Monastery of Hosios Loukas, Drive to Athens Athens
Day 16 Depart Athens  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner

Spend your first evening in Greece enjoying a glass of wine overlooking the iconic Acropolis of Athens

Welcome to the vibrant capital of Greece, Athens! Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel. After settling in, the day is yours to spend as you wish. A good place to start is Syntagma Square to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then, visit the National Archaeological Museum for a crash course in ancient iconography. Be sure to seek out the room housing the Antikythera mechanism, essentially an ancient astronomical computer. If you want to shop, visit the Monastiraki Flea Market and navigate the narrow alleys lined with stalls.

Finding the perfect souvenir here shouldn't be hard, as there's a wide range of handmade goods, quirky collectibles, and traditional Greek artifacts. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Acropolis of Athens, perched atop a hill overlooking the city. Climb to the top and enter through Propylaea, the monumental gateway, to discover the ruins of towering columns, ancient temples, and intricate sculptures. 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 the downtown core.

Day 2: Acropolis & Ancient Greek Mythology Tour

Admire the Doric columns of the Parthenon within the Acropolis of Athens

Dive into the city's rich history today, both real and mythological, on a four-hour tour. Start at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, dedicated to the god of sky and thunder, then head to landmarks around the city, such as the Acropolis, the Kerameikos Archaeological Site, and the Ancient Agora of Athens. The myths that founded the city and are featured in its retellings for generations will accompany you as you go, with stories of the gods and goddesses. Hear both the stories themselves and the historical facts behind them, adding resonance to the archaeological ruins.

If you still have the energy, make your way to the Acropolis Museum on your own after the tour. This modern museum houses a multitude of artifacts removed from the Acropolis for safekeeping as well as to provide insight into the religious practices and daily life of the city's ancient residents. 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 one of the telescopes. 

Day 3: Food Tour of the City's Street Food Stalls & Markets

Try some delicious deep-fried doughnuts in Syntagma Square

You might want to skip breakfast this morning, as today's adventure is a culinary tour across the city. Revisit Syntagma Square to sample the best of what the city's street food stalls have to offer, like a classic souvlaki skewer or loukoumades (deep-fried dough balls drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon or powdered sugar). Learn about the Mediterranean diet and its potential benefits while strolling the city streets in neighborhoods you may not have discovered yet and bustling open-air markets.

Venture into Varvakios Market, the largest and most popular fish, meat, and vegetable market in the city, and explore the city's main spice street. Sample olive oils, honey, cheeses, cured meats, and olives from around the country. Everything from baklava to gyros are available to appeal to even the pickiest eaters. Spend your evening in the Koukaki neighborhood, nestled at the foot of the Acropolis, to unwind in the off-the-beaten-path wine bars, where you can sample a wide selection of Greek wines amid friendly crowds.

Day 4: Drive to Nafplio, Explore the Coastal City on Your Own

Climb 999 steps or drive up to the Fortress of Palamidi for panoramic views of Nafplio

Start your road trip this morning with a 1.5-hour drive to the coastal city of Nafplio, nestled on the southernmost tip of the Peloponnese peninsula. Park at your hotel and refresh in your room before venturing out to explore the area on your own. A good place to start is Bourtzi Fortress, accessible only by a short boat trip from the harbor. The castle was built in the 1470s to defend the city from pirates, and it still keeps watch at the entrance to Nafplio Bay. Disembark and wander around the well-preserved grounds, enjoying panoramic views of the city behind you and the Aegean Sea in front.

After taking a boat back to the main island, visit another iconic fortress, the Fortress of Palamidi. Climb up 999 steps or enjoy a leisurely drive to the top to discover the network of bastions, tunnels, and ancient structures. In the evening, wander down Vasileos Konstantinou, a pedestrian-only street lined with charming boutiques and local shops. Continue down the toad until you reach Syntagma Square, also known as Constitution Square, where you can choose between a variety of tavernas for dinner to sample local delights like grilled octopus or taramasalata, a creamy dip made from fish roe.

Day 5: Sample Local Wines from Three Vineyards Around Nemea

Fruit of the vines
Tour three vineyards around Nemea and sample delicious wines made on-site

Spend your day among the vineyards of Nemea, one of the country's most important wine-producing areas. The village is known for its agiorgitiko wine, believed to have been first grown from a vine brought by the god Dionysus. These grapes, which are similar to merlot, are considered to be one of the finest Greek red varietals and have grown in the region for thousands of years—possibly since the fourth century BCE. The ancient red wine called fliasion was also believed to be produced in this area.

Visit three wineries in the area to observe the winemaking process, stroll through the vineyards, and, of course, sample the varietals along the way. You can also enjoy a lunch of local cuisine with wine pairings at one of the vineyards. 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 for you to take home.

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Day 6: Visit the Archaeological Site of Mycenae & the Ancient City of Epidaurus

Enter the Archaeological Site of Mycenae through the iconic Lion Gate

Step back in time today with a 26-minute drive to the Archaeological Site of Mycenae, which you may recognize from its role in Homer's "Iliad." This was home to Helen, whose Mycenaean husband Menelaus and his brother King Agamemnon led their people to war when she left him for Paris of Troy. Enter at the iconic Lion Gate and wander past the tombs of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra and the Treasury of Atreus. See the ancient 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.

In the afternoon, visit the ancient city of Epidaurus, which was home to one of the most visited healing centers in the world during its peak. The sick would travel to the Sanctuary of Asklepios in the hopes that the god of medicine and healing would appear in their 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. Depending on the timing of your trip, you may be able to catch a performance on the ancient stage in the evening.

Day 7: Drive to the Archaeological Site of Sparta & Mystras

Explore the ruins of Sparta, an ancient city-state in modern-day Sparti

Start your day with a morning walk along Nafplio's promenade to visit one of the cafés overlooking the water and Bourtzi Castle, giving you the perfect view for your final hours in the city. After breakfast, drive 1.5 hours to 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. Follow your guide through the Archaeological Site of Sparta, where the ancient civilization once stood, now surrounded by peaceful olive trees.

Stop at the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil next to get better acquainted with Greece's favorite ingredient and learn about the history of the industry. Browse the bookshop and café or wander through the outdoor exhibit area. When you're ready, jump back in the car and drive seven minutes uphill to Mystras, a small town situated on the slopes of Mount Taygetos. On the way, stop at the Leonidas Monument, a statue of Sparta's famous king, before settling in at your hotel. In the evening, sit down at one of the hillside restaurants to enjoy a meal overlooking Sparti. 

Day 8: Explore the Archaeological Site of Mystras

Wander through the UNESCO-listed Archaeological Site of Mystras

Set off on an expedition over the slopes of Mount Taygetos this morning to the UNESCO-listed Archaeological Site of Mystras, showcasing the well-preserved ruins of a once-flourishing Byzantine city. Wander along the labyrinthine pathways to discover impressive churches, intricate frescoes, and medieval fortifications. Explore the Palace of the Despots to picture the sense of opulence that once characterized the city's residences. Enter the palace's well-preserved rooms to get an up-close look at the blend of Byzantine and Gothic architectural styles.

Continue to the Hagia Sophia, not to be confused with its namesake in Istanbul. This medieval church is home to colorful paintings depicting scenes from biblical narratives and saints, showcasing not only the skill of Byzantine artists but also the civilization's rich religious history. End the tour at one of the viewpoints to take in the lush landscape of the Peloponnese region. In the evening, stroll through the old town at the foothills of the archaeological site and choose one of the local eateries serving traditional Greek food for dinner. 

Day 9: Drive to Monemvasia on the East Coast of the Peloponnese

Wander to Monemvasia Lighthouse and enjoy panoramic views of the Aegean Sea

Trade the ruins and mountains of Mystras for the coast this morning as you drive 1.5 hours south to Monemvasia. Connected to the mainland by Monemvasia Bridge, this medieval town was carved out of the rock on which it stands, rising up from the sea. Saunter along the cobblestone streets and see the dramatic sea views and architecture that will take you back to another era. Walk up to the upper town, where you'll be rewarded with a bird's-eye view of the town and southeastern Peloponnese, then visit the well-preserved 12th-century Hagia Sophia Holy Orthodox Church.

Step inside to see the colorful frescoes, Intricate iconography, and religious artifacts before returning to the coast to see Monemvasia Lighthouse, perched on a massive rock. Look out at the glittering sea and nearby cannons that were once used to defend the town from pirates. In the evening, dine on a terrace overlooking Gefyra (the lower town) and the Byzantine Castle of Aghia Paraskevi, complementing the views with local Malvasia wine. Linger into the evening for after-dinner cocktails in one of the town's stylish yet cozy bars.

Day 10: Drive to Areopoli, Explore the Mani Peninsula's Charming Villages

Wander along the cobblestone streets of Monemvasia, stopping in charming squares

After just one night in Monemvasia, it's time to jump back in the car and drive 1.5 hours to Areopoli on the west coast of the Mani peninsula. Don't stop in the city just yet. Instead, keep driving through the restored town to the surrounding villages, expanding into the prefectures of Lakonia and Messenia. These villages boast stone tower houses, rocky sea cliffs, and town streets waiting to be wandered. Drive to Oitylo, the previous capital of Mani and once a popular pirate target. Then, continue to Limeni, a picturesque fishing village where the traditional houses run to the edge of rocks above the sea.

Stop in one of the seafood tavernas for the catch of the day and visit the tower house of the Mavromichalis family, who played a significant role in the Greek War of Independence. Return to Aeropoli to settle into your hotel and wander the narrow cobblestone streets of the town named after Ares, the god of war. Visit the main square to see the statue of Petrobay Mavromichalis, then venture into the stone alleyways to see the tower houses, churches, shops, and tavernas. Keep an eye out for the Towers of Mani, built in the late 13th century.

Day 11: Drive to Pylos via the Palace of Nestor

Relax on the crescent-shaped Voidokilia Beach

Pack some snacks, as today's drive north to Pylos, a charming town on the shores of Navarino Bay, is three hours. Stop 20 minutes outside of town at the Palace of Nestor, one of the best-preserved Mycenaean sites of its time. Explore the primary structure of the palace complex and the late Helladic settlement, which still has remnants of its fortified walls. After discovering the expansive grounds, complete the drive to your hotel, where you can refresh after the long road trip. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish, so if you just want to relax, head to the crescent-shaped Voidokilia Beach.

Lay on the golden sands to soak up the sun, or go for a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters. Those who want to explore the area can hike up to the Old Navarino Fortress, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the pristine beach and turquoise bay. Wander through the fortress, built in the 13th century by the Franks, to see the stone walls, towers, and arched passageways. In the evening, sit down for dinner at one of the al fresco cafés or tavernas in Plateia Square. Sample local specialties, like ladenia (a savory pastry similar to pizza, topped with tomatoes, onions, and herbs).

Day 12: Drive to Nafpaktos via the Olympia Archaeological Site

Stop at the Archaeological Site of Olympia on your drive north to Nafpaktos

Drive two hours north up the coast this morning to the site of the first Olympic Games at the Archaeological Site of Olympia. There's plenty to cover, as it's one of the largest archaeological sites in the country, surrounded by wild olives and plane trees. Your comprehensive guided tour will take you under grand temple columns, past the Sanctuary of Olympian Zeus, and through the on-site museum. There will also be free time after the tour to explore the site on your own. Scope out the treasuries, sacrificial altars, and stadium once used by the ancient world's best athletes.

The natural landscape surrounding the site 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, continue the drive north over the Rio-Antirrio Bridge, crossing over the Gulf of Corinth, one of the world's longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges. After two hours of driving, you'll arrive in Nafpaktos, a charming town nestled on the north shore of the gulf. Spend your evening wandering down the waterfront promenade lined with tavernas and restaurants offering panoramic views of the water to find somewhere for dinner. 

Day 13: Explore Nafpaktos on Your Own

Explore the 15th-century Venetian Castle of Nafpaktos on your own

Spend a day exploring Nafpaktos at your own pace. An excellent place to start is the Venetian Castle of Nafpaktos, perched majestically on a hill overlooking the town and the Gulf of Corinth. Originally built by the Venetians in the 15th century and later reinforced by the Ottomans, the castle showcases both distinct architectural styles. Wander through the complex, looking out at the ancient gateways, towers, bastions, and ramparts. 

Those who want a relaxing day can visit Psani Beach to bask in the sun, take a leisurely swim in the calm sea, or relax under the shade of colorful beach umbrellas. Then, explore the area from the water with a boat cruise across the gulf. Head to the port and jump on board to cruise past rolling hills, picturesque villages, and historic sites. Try to time the cruise just right so you can watch the sunset over the water before returning to land. 

Day 14: Drive to Galaxidi via the Archaeological Site of Delphi

Explore the expansive Archaeological Site of Delphi, stopping at the Athenian Treasury

Follow the gulf for 1.5 hours today as you drive to the Archaeological Site of Delphi, once home to the priestesses of Apollo, who ancient Greeks believed could predict the future. When you arrive, set off on a guided tour through the sprawling archaeological site, with stops at the Athenian Treasury, the Temple of Apollo, and the expansive theater. Follow the ancient footpath once used by worshippers of the god Pan, who started from the temples of Delphi and proceeded to Corycean Grotto for their religious rites.

Stroll downhill to the Archaeological Museum of Amphissa to find the bronze charioteer of Delphi, the marble Sphinx of Naxos, and what may be the first recorded notation of a melody once inscribed on the walls of the Athenian Treasury. After exploring the site, drive 15 minutes to the popular mountain resort town of Arachova at the foot of Mount Parnassus for lunch, enjoying grilled formaella cheese amid the traditional stone-built houses. Then, drive 45 minutes to the small port town of Galaxidi, your destination for the evening. Wander among the neoclassical houses and harborfront to find your ideal dinner spot.

Day 15: Visit the Monastery of Hosios Loukas, Drive to Athens

Stop at the Holy Monastery of Hosios Loukas on your drive back to Athens

Your penultimate day in Greece takes you one hour east to the Holy Monastery of Hosios Loukas, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Byzantine art and architecture. The hillside monastery was founded in the 10th century by the hermit Saint Luke, whose tomb is still in the chapel today, and has two churches awaiting your exploration. Continue 30 minutes east to the town of Livadia for lunch. Although there are plenty of café and tavernas, the best spot to eat is next to the Kryas Livadeia Springs, a hidden gem surrounded by lush vegetation.

After refueling, walk along the clear water or take a refreshing dip in the spring before hiking up to the Medieval Castle of Livadia on the southern side of the city. Wander through the 13th-century structure to admire the mix of medieval and Ottoman architectural elements. Head to the well-preserved walls and towers to take in the panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. When you're done exploring, jump back in the car and drive 1.5 hours to Athens, where you can relax for the rest of the evening.

Day 16: Depart Athens

Browse the Benaki Museum's vast collection of artifacts before your flight home

Your 16-day road trip around Greece comes to a close today, so you can spend your last few hours in the city exploring on your own. Revisit iconic landmarks like the Acropolis or head to the Benaki Museum to browse the collection of ancient sculptures, Byzantine icons, traditional costumes, and ancient artifacts. Don't miss the extensive Islamic art gallery, where you can see an array of artifacts from different periods and regions in the Islamic world. When it's time, meet your driver back at the hotel to transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Mainland Greece Road Trip - 16 Days
Map of Mainland Greece Road Trip - 16 Days