Spend six days seeing the sights of Athens and Thessaloniki with this exciting itinerary. Begin in the capital, where you'll be welcomed with a local wine tasting, followed by a jaunt around the Acropolis. You'll tour the city's young, vibrant neighborhoods and markets, and learn to cook a traditional meal as you look out at the Athenian skyline. Then fly north to Greece's second city, where you can appreciate its fascinating architecture on a walking tour of all the hot spots.

Highlights

  • Learn about the ancient Greeks at the Acropolis
  • Visit some of Athens' more modern neighborhoods
  • Go sightseeing on a walking tour of Thessaloniki
  • Cook a delicious traditional Greek meal

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens, Welcome Wine Tasting Athens
Day 2 Ancient & Modern Athens Tour Athens
Day 3 Athenian Cooking Class & Dinner Athens
Day 4 Athens to Thessaloniki Thessaloniki
Day 5 Thessaloniki Walking Tour Thessaloniki
Day 6 Return to Athens, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens, Welcome Wine Tasting

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 drink to your upcoming adventure with a wine tasting in a bar in downtown Athens.

Day 2: Ancient & Modern Athens Tour

See every facet of the city
See every facet of the city

Span the centuries of the city on today's guided tour. Over the course of about seven hours, you'll cover thousands of years, starting with a review of the Acropolis and Agora, where you'll learn the history, philosophy, and politics of ancient Athens. 

Jump forward to the present, where Athenian art, style, and cuisine are being reborn amid their traditional influences. You'll see the colorful flea markets of Monastiraki, along with the street art, design, and vintage clothing stores of Psyrri. 

Get a taste of those traditional influences as you venture into the Varvakios Market, the largest and most popular fish, meat, and vegetable market in the city, and explore the city's main spice street. You'll sample olive oils, honey, cheeses from around the country, cured meats, olives, and more. End in the Plaka district, one of Athens' oldest neighborhoods, where souvenir shops balance with local life. You'll cap off the experience with lunch in a traditional taverna at the foot of the Acropolis.

If you haven't had your fill of adventuring during the afternoon, spend your evening in the Koukaki neighborhood. This area's off-the-beaten-path wine bars will introduce you to a wide selection of Greek wines amid friendly crowds.

Day 3: Athenian Cooking Class & Dinner

Craft an afternoon spread
Craft an afternoon spread

Spend your morning as you like — perhaps strolling the cobblestoned streets of charming Plaka, the neighborhood next to the Acropolis. Get a taste of Greek life as you wander the colorful lanes lined with shops and quaint cafes.

Don't fill up on too much food, because this afternoon it's time to learn how to make it yourself.  You'll visit a contemporary multi-use space home to four shops in one—a coffee house, pie shop, creamery, and kitchenette—and the perfect setting for your lesson. Discover local products from around Greece and experiment with traditional recipes to create your own twist on the classics. And, of course, sample all of it.  Savor the fruits of your labor on the rooftop while taking in views of the Acropolis and surrounding Plaka. 

The evening is yours to explore as you will. Maybe the vibrant streets and shopping of Monastiraki are calling your name, or the cocktail bars of bohemian Psyrri are more your style.

Day 4: Athens to Thessaloniki

Walkable streets in the city center
Walkable streets in the city center

Take a quick flight to history-rich Thessaloniki in the north. 

The day is yours to explore with a self-guided walking tour, so you can pick and choose based on your interests and time of arrival. You'll start with history, scoping out the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Byzantine churches and the Roman agora, which hosted traders from around the Mediterranean for thousands of years. 

Continue to the modern food and flower markets amid the riots of color and flavor on view. Don't miss the opportunity to sample the bougatsa, a typical semolina-based dessert. Keep going on to the crypt of Saint Dimitrios, a subterranean space recently discovered below the church. You'll learn about the range of cultures that have shaped Thessaloniki as you go, including Ottomans, Christians, and Jews.

End your trip at the top of the White Tower. This fifteenth-century structure is one of the city's most famous landmarks and its unofficial symbol, and is home to both a history museum and views across the water.

Day 5: Thessaloniki Walking Tour

The Rotunda at the Galerius Palace Complex
The Rotunda at the Galerius Palace Complex

Today you'll explore Thessaloniki's many sights on foot. Start your tour at the top of the mid-century modern OTE Tower in the Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center, one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. From here you'll enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the city while your guide explains its historical background. You'll also have a chance to sip on traditional Greek coffee and nibble on some snacks before continuing on.

Head down towards the Ottoman-era White Tower on the waterfront, where your guide will share tales of its gruesome history. Next, you'll make your way to the ruins of the 4th-century Galerius Palace at the heart of the city. You'll explore the throne room, the atrium, the basilica, and the Arch of Galerius. Continue on to the impressive Rotunda, which is said to be the best-preserved pantheon outside of Rome. A close look at the walls will reveal spectacular mosaic work.

Finally, you'll visit the Byzantine Church of St. Panteleimon and the tiny Church of the Savior, which is also called the Chapel of the Transfiguration of Christ, where you'll learn about their historical significance to Thessaloniki. 

Spend your evening at your own pace.

Day 6: Return to Athens, Depart

Wave to the city
Wave to the city

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.

Map

Map of Urban Adventures and History in  Athens & Thessaloniki - 6 Days
Map of Urban Adventures and History in Athens & Thessaloniki - 6 Days