Check-in to your hotel and spend the afternoon getting a sneak peak at mythical Athens, a city crammed with ancient wonders and busy with modern, urban soul. Later, meet up with your fellow travellers and Tour Rep back at the hotel. Wrap up the day on the shady slopes beneath the Acropolis and jump start your trip with an optional dinner in the rustic district of Plaka, where traditional tavernas spill out onto the pavements. Tonight's festive atmosphere is perfect for getting to know your group and Tour Manager over local wine.
Step back in time in Europe's oldest city to the birthplace of democracy. Get the run down on the Parthenon and the Acropolis from our expert Local Guide, as you wander around the famous columns above the city sprawl. Then we check out the first modern Olympic Stadium from the 1896 Games. Travelling across the Peloponnese, past rugged mountains, cypress trees and citrus groves, the group drops by the impressive man-made Corinth canal. Next up is epic Mycenae, a former military stronghold. Unravel 4000 years of history with your Tour Manager and get inside the legend with a visit to Agamemnon's Palace. You'll learn about the heroics, myths and curses connected to this site. Check out the impressive Acronafplion citadel that looms over Greece's original capital, Nafplio, where we stop by for free time and lunch. Park yourself at a portside café or a grill-house in the narrow streets of the old town and order local specialties, like fried shrimp or koutsomouris (small red mullet). Tonight, we pull in to the hometown of the Olympic Games and UNESCO World Heritage site, Olympia. Finish up the day with a couple of drinks at the hotel by the pool.
This morning our Local Guide shows off the important sites of the first Olympic Games in 776BC and gives you the run down on this sporting sanctuary. Take a seat in the impressive 45 000 seat stadium and get a look into ancient beliefs with a visit to the Temples of Zeus and Hera. After a lunch stop in a traditional Greek village, watch rural Greece go by from the coach, before crossing the Corinthian Gulf and arriving in Delphi. Delphi is one of Greece's most important sacred destinations and a scene stealer. After dinner round up some friends and discover Delphi's casual bars, where you can try out the national drink, ouzo.
With lush valleys and a cliff-side position on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus, Delphi is all about spine-tingling views and incredible ruins. Learn how this spectacular site was the centre of the universe for Ancient Greeks and a place of prophecy, as your Tour Manager leads you through the limestone columns of the Sanctuary of Apollo. Afterwards we head back to Athens where the tour winds down this afternoon in the heart of the city at Syntagma Square, home to the Greek parliament. Make the most of another night in Athens, before you depart for your Greek Island cruise in the morning.
Board the ship and enjoy the facilities, great ocean views and good company as we cruise to Turkey's largest city. While we cut through the water you'll get to enjoy meals while getting to know everyone. Tomorrow when we arrive at Istanbul you can expect mosques, beautiful palaces, delicious spices, wonderful smells and a bustling city filled with over 13 million people. It will be an awesome eye opening experience.
Today, we wake up in port of Istanbul! With a day here, there's plenty of time to get a real feel for this cultural melting pot where East literally meets West. You'll get to see an incredible mix of sights in this diverse city. Why not begin with a ME Time optional tour of Istanbul and get an insider's angle on the city with our Local Guide, who'll show off the city's core sites. Cross the Galata Bridge for stunning views, check out Emperor Constantine's Hagia Sophia and then eat at the magnificent Topkapi Palace, former home of the sultans. You'll then be presented with one of the city's major draw cards, the stunning Blue Mosque. It's an amazing building with a series of domes and minarets dominating the skyline, complete with a breathtaking interior of tens of thousands of blue tiles. After that, head right into the heart of the city and journey through several kilometres of shops at the Grand Baazar. It's an unforgettable shopping experience, where tacky trinkets and authentic treasures are sold side by side. Test out those haggling skills with carpets, jewellery, spices, music, electronics and more, the place is buzzing, so make sure you've got your bargaining hat on.
Today we set sail to the resort town of Kusadasi and shop in the town's colourful bazaar. This gorgeous city, which sits beside the Guvercin Ada peninsula, thrives over the summer. You'll get to rummage through the Grand Bazaar and go local bargaining for leather goods, jewellery and or local crafts. Otherwise meet up with the our Local Guide for a ME Time optional to ancient Ephesus, a stunningly preserved city that Mark Antony and Cleopatra once visited.
Today we cruise to the quintessential Greek island, Santorini, world-famous for its simple blue and white buildings, spectacular island sunsets and breathtaking natural scenery - the result of a massive volcanic eruption centuries ago. Get filled in on Fira, dramatically perched on the edge of the crater. You'll get to see all the beautiful iconic buildings and meet the friendly locals. As the group explores its narrow streets, get tips on the best places to pick up a piece of Santorini's famous jewellery or where to try out the delicious local specialty, domatoktedes (fried tomato balls). Our recommendation would be Ristoni if you get the chance, the scallops and Salmon or the baked feta cheese isn't a bad shout. In the evening you'll get to relax with your crew and watch the sun set over the island… a truly unforgettable experience!
Today we dock on the shores of Crete, the largest of the Greek Islands, where we'll spend our time exploring the capital, Heraklion. A city filled with monuments and buildings from the Venetian, Ottoman and Modern Era's, as well as memorials and scars from the WW2 battle of Crete. Go on a ME Time optional to the Palace of Knossos where the Local Guide will tell you the story of this 4000 year old mythical Minoan Palace and explain where the minotaur (half-man/half-bull) was slain. But if Palaces aren't tempting you, not to worry! There are loads of other things to see and do in this town as it is filled with historic buildings, traditional Greek stores and old ruins, which you'll no doubt stumble across as you explore the town.
Get set to island-hop your way to heaven starting with a visit to Rhodes, regarded as one of the most beautiful & popular Greek Islands. You'll get the option to explore this fortified medieval town, witness amazing sea views & pristine clean beaches. Later we cruise to another spot where we can offer you the real Greek island experience, as we stop at the picturesque Island called Simi or Ano Symi. This little untouched beauty has a population of only 2500, almost all local residents. So you'll get to live like a local, totally unwind and practice the traditional Greek island way of living. Get into some Traditional Greek Tzatziki, some saganaki cheese, have a glass of wine or two and make the most of paradise.
First, we stop off at the relaxed kidney shaped Chios. This pretty island might be small but it has a large amount of history that goes back to at least the Neolithic era (beginning at 10,200 BC). We then prepare to spend the evening on Aegean's party paradise, Mykonos. Hang out on this island, famous for its azure seas, golden beaches, cosmopolitan atmosphere & young, vibrant party culture. First we'll make our way to picture-perfect Cycladic paradise of Mykonos town. Soak up the atmosphere as we wander through the tiny cobbled streets & whitewashed houses, enjoy “Little Venice” and indulge in a drink at a harbour side bar with the famous windmills as the backdrop. Then if you're feeling game, you could opt for a trip to Paradise Beach, world renowned for its warm water & party vibe.
Disembark after breakfast and transfer into central Athens where the tour ends once you arrive.