Take a week to drive through the mythological territory of mainland Greece with this itinerary. Your seven days will start and end in Athens, covering the historical sites and sprawling castles of the Peloponnese along the way.

Highlights

  • See the Classical sites at Mycenae and Epidaurus
  • Visit the Byzantine castle of Mystras
  • Seek the oracle at Delphi
  • Explore the first stadium at Olympia

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Welcome Dinner Athens
Day 2 Acropolis and Ancient Greek Mythology Tour Athens
Day 3 Corinth, Mycenae, Nafplio, and Epidaurus Nafplio
Day 4 Castle of Mystras Mystras
Day 5 Olympia Archaeological Site to Nafpaktos Nafpaktos
Day 6 Visit Delphi, Travel to Galaxidi Galaxidi
Day 7 Return to Athens, Depart  

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 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: Acropolis and Ancient Greek Mythology Tour

Ancient columns
Ancient columns

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, ancient cemetery at Kerameikos, and the Agora. The myths that founded the city and are featured in its retellings for generations will accompany as you go, with stories of Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Dionysus, and more. Hear both the stories themselves 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 ten best museums in the world by National Geographic, this modern museum houses a multitude of 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 cafe, 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: Corinth, Mycenae, Nafplio, and Epidaurus

The Lion Gate at Mycenae
The Lion Gate at Mycenae

Hit the road to Nafplio after breakfastwith a slew of stops on the way. The first is the Corinth Canal, a nearly four-mile-long waterway (6 km) connecting the Ionian and Aegean seas, built in 1890. You can see the ancient Diolkos on its western edge, where boats used to be transported by land.

At the site of ancient Corinth, you can visit monuments such as the Peirene Fountain, the watering hole of the winged Pegasus; Temple of Apollo; and Bema of Saint Paul, the site of the apostle's trial. Or visit the Acrocorinth castle, whose history dates back to the seventh century BCE.

You may recognize your next stop of 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 in part 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 ruins of the city, wandering past the tombs of Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra and the Treasury of Atreus.

Carry on to your evening destination of Nafplio, where you'll spend time strolling through the city's squares. Call it a day here to explore within the city, or head back out for the afternoon to nearby Epidaurus. The small ancient city was 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, and 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. 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.

Day 4: Castle of Mystras

Ruins at Mystras
Ruins at Mystras

Today, you'll embark on an expedition over the slopes of Mount Taygetos to the Byzantine citadel of Mystras. This fortified town in Morea was built as an amphitheater around a fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. It was conquered by the Byzantines, Turks, and Venetians over its history before the city was abandoned in 1832.

The medieval ruins are still standing and ready for you to explore, complete with UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Its three zones now represent different eras in its history: the Upper City and Despot's Palaces, Lower City and Metropolis, and Outer City. You'll want to spend at least three hours hiking around the steep hillside.

Day 5: Olympia Archaeological Site to Nafpaktos

Fields of Olympia
Fields of Olympia

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 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, 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 waters of the gulf and the town's castle. Spend your evening exploring the town's charming streets.

Day 6: Visit Delphi, Travel to Galaxidi

Temple of Athena at Delphi
Temple of Athena at Delphi

Seek out the oracle as you continue to the ruins of Delphi, once home to priestesses of Apollo who Ancient Greeks believed could predict the future. You'll take a guided tour through this sprawling archaeological site, with stops such as the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo, and expansive theater.

Explore the ruins or venture up an 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, surrounded by the valley of olive trees and views of the Corinthian Gulf and peaks of the Peloponnese on your way. 

Head indoors to explore the museum, a short downhill walk away. Wander through its halls to find the bronze Charioteer of Delphi, marble Sphinx of Naxos, and what may be the first recorded notation of a melody once inscribed on the walls of the Athenian Treasury.

You'll stop at the popular mountain resort town of Arachova at the foot of Mount Parnassus for lunch, including grilled formaella cheese, amidst the traditional stone-built houses. Then continue onward to Galaxidi, your destination for the evening. Wander among the neoclassical houses and two small ports to find your ideal dinner spot.

Day 7: Return to Athens, Depart

Wave to the city
Wave to the city

Time to say farewell to Greece. Head back to Athens after breakfast to catch your flight or ferry, either home or onward to your next adventure.

Map

Map of Mainland Greece Road Trip - 7 Days
Map of Mainland Greece Road Trip - 7 Days