Spotlight on Greece plus 3 day Greek Island Cruise
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.
Athens to Olympia
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.
Olympia to Delphi
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.
Delphi to Athens
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.
Athens to Mykonos
Today, board a typical Greek ship to Mykonos and take advantage of the amazing views across the Aegean, full of rocky islands. Mykonos is famous for its blissful beaches and party culture. No matter what you’re after, chances are this island has got it! You’ll soon understand why this happening hub draws people from all walks of life, from jetsetters to backpackers. In your free time, head into Mykonos town and wander through the maze of tiny streets lined by whitewashed, cube-shaped houses. Maybe grab a table for lunch in the village and feast on fresh local specialties, like olives, feta and tzatziki dip. Chill for the afternoon with friends on the island’s world famous beaches and cool off in the azure waters. Wrap up the day with a drink at one of Mykonos’ hip bars and watch the sun go down. But don’t stop there, toast the start of the cruise back on board and hit the ship’s nightclub with the group.
Cruising to Patmos via Kusadasi
In the morning, wake up to the Turkish port town of Kusadasi. Rummage through the Grand Bazaar and go local bargaining for leather goods, jewellery or local crafts. Otherwise hook up with the group and our Local Guide for an optional excursion to ancient Ephesus, a stunningly preserved city that Mark Antony and Cleopatra once visited. Our next port of call is Patmos, with its sacred spots and wild countryside. Get the background from your Rep on why this island attracts both pilgrims and holiday makers. Explore the monasteries, traditional settlements and country churches. Get into the spirit of the island with an optional excursion that takes you to Patmos’ UNESCO World Heritage sites: the 11th century Monastery of the Apocalypse and to the Grotto of St. John – the hilltop cave where John the Apostle lived for many years.
Cruising to Santorini via Crete
Today we start the day off with a visit to the biggest of the Greek Islands, Crete. Choose an optional excursion to the Palace of Knossos where our Local Guide will tell you the story of this 4000 year old mythical Minoan Palace, where the minotaur (half-man/half-bull) was slain. Next up: Santorini. This island will make your jaw drop with its stunning natural beauty – the result of a massive volcanic eruption. From the water look up at the iconic blue–domed, whitewashed churches. Once we’re back on land, head up the cliff and the twisting stone steps, save your breath on a donkey ride or take it easy in the cable car for views of neighbouring volcanic islands. Your Rep will fill you in on Fira – dramatically perched on the edge of the crater - as the group explores its narrow streets. Get tips on the best places to pick up a piece of Santorini’s famous jewellery and where to try out the delicious local speciality, domatoktedes (fried tomato balls). Otherwise head to one of the distinctive black or red sand beaches, and soak up the breathtaking scenery. You could jump on an optional boat ride out to the active volcanic island of Nea Kamini. Cruise past lava formations and get up close to the active crater.
Arrival into Athens
Disembark after breakfast and transfer into central Athens where the tour ends once you arrive.