Mediterranean Explorer: Greece, Italy & Spain Vacation

A 10 day trip to Greece, Italy & Spain 
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The Mediterranean is so much more than just a beautiful sea, as it is from this region that great civilizations have come and gone, and their beautiful landmarks still stand proud. Artistic movements have flourished and left behind riches, and the islands and cliffside villages welcome you in while the vineyards and cities have dramatic positions over water. This 10-day Europe trip celebrates the Mediterranean and its treasures, with private guides leading the way in Athens, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, and Barcelona.

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General Information

Photos
The town of Plaka, Greece with Acropolis Hill standing high in the background
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Athens, Rome, Vatican City, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Isle of Capri, Barcelona

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Athens – Immersed in a 16th- and 17th-century Greek Neighborhood

Plaka has distinct energy as a maze of whitewashed alleyways leads you to small squares and churches. Rows of small shops line both sides of the streets, often their wares spilling out onto cobbles. Families walk and gather on the squares while groups of friends bring chatter to restaurant tables. You can hear the sound of plates smashing, and bells chiming and smell the indulgence of fresh produce as if a hint of olive oil permanently hangs in the air. Then you will look up and see the Acropolis looking down, in an illuminated state from dusk onwards. Plaka remains very Greek, and your hotel is located here, an ideal base for an easy first evening exploring.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Athens – All the Highlights of the Acropolis and Agora

Marble streets reveal a timeless history as temples stand upon them, expertly preserved and majestic in size. Huge slabs of stone lay in ruin and imposing statues line the street as court and temple remains can be seen everywhere. You will be in the Agora, a place where local life unfolded, beneath the bastion of the gods, the Acropolis. The history is impressive, but you were expecting that, just as you were likely expecting the sculptures and artistic details. But you really cannot prepare yourself for the size of the temples and monuments, as these are not small structures, but masterpieces on an enormous scale. There are some good shaded restaurants around the Agora, so you can have lunch with a view before continuing on up the hill.

It is usually hot in the middle of the day, so you will head first to the Acropolis Museum, an air-conditioned complex stuffed full of sculptures and ruins that have been rescued from here and other sites across Greece. Walking high above the city, you will follow in the footsteps of legend as wingless goddesses look at you from beside the temple. Corinthian columns seem to rise miles above your head, and the stone is cracked but not bowed, which evoke the age of this world in another world. Stay on the Acropolis until dusk and have dinner nearby, before settling in for the night to catch your early flight.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Rome – Gladiatorial History to Italian Baroque

Comparing Athens to Rome is one of the highlights of the Mediterranean. Yesterday’s Greek temples will be fresh in your memory as you walk the Roman Forum and admire the Colosseum. In less than 24 hours, you will have connected the two great civilizations, walking the path of gods and now gladiators. The nearby Pantheon is another iconic sight, to be contrasted with the Parthenon yesterday. Wander through Rome, and you will find a city that is not frozen in a time of empire, and the afternoon will show that Rome was not built in a day.

Baroque architecture was pioneered here and illustrates the elegant style made ornate with all manner of flourishes. You will first go exploring with your local guide, beginning with two churches designed by rival Roman architects. The most enjoyable Baroque highlights are the city piazzas. At these places you can rest your legs, sipping on drinks on outdoor terraces and watching the city roll by. Exploring further, you will begin to connect the other eras, your guide telling tales from the time of the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Almost every building is an attraction in the central city, but it is not too crowded here as central Rome is mostly pedestrianized, and you will not need to rush to fit everything in.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Rome – The Eternal City and the Vatican

After yesterday’s early flight and full-day guided tour, today is left free for some personal city exploration. You might want to take a carriage ride into Trastevere, where the smell of home cooking is intoxicating. Perhaps travel 30 minutes along the coast to a ruined Roman fishing village, or you could hit the shops or relax on the piazzas. Late this afternoon, your guide will take you to the Vatican just as the museums are closing. You will have near-exclusive after-hours access to all the galleries and chapels. The art truly comes alive without jostling for space amongst other people, so you can sink your senses into Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, gawp at the splendor of Raphael's Rooms, and find your own favorite place amid the world’s greatest art collection. It will be dark and pretty late when you are back in central Rome, which is just when the locals are heading out to dine.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Naples to Amalfi Coast – An Authentic Gritty City and an Evening of Bliss

Naples is rough around the edges. Paint is chipped and peeling, and the grandeur is faded but unbowed, especially where the city meets the Mediterranean. Palaces and stately townhouses reflect in the water surface, as locals mill around the newly constructed promenade. Spend the morning looking around with a typical Naples pizza for lunch, likely to be on the best you will eat in your whole life. From there, continue down the coast, weaving onto a headland then around a broad peak to the Amalfi Coast, your serene base for the next three nights. Your hotel will look down on the Mediterranean, and everything you need will be within walking distance, particularly restaurants and cafes that have never served anything other than authentic fare.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Amalfi Coast – Free Day To Relax on the Mediterranean

Stand on the terrace and feel the breeze pass your ears. Listen for the village sounds of elderly women chatting on a corner or a bell distantly ringing. Take to the streets and follow the smell of coffee, cappuccino the classic choice before midday. Follow the village steps all of the way down, and you will soon reach the water, where cafes look out to returning fishing boats with perfect places to relax. Walk up, and a cliff-side path will connect you to the next village, and the one after that. Walking between them you will enjoy unrivaled views of the Mediterranean, as well as olive groves that now grow here. This day is left entirely free for your chance to enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere and slow pace of life.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Amalfi Coast – Sorrento and the Isle of Capri

More picturesque old villages are nearby, located on the opposite side of the headland. The most famous of these is Sorrento, much larger than those on the Amalfi Coast, where timeless vernacular architecture sets the scene for the super-yachts that lull in the harbor. But that’s for later, as first, you will take the boat to the Isle of Capri, an island getaway since Cleopatra’s time that is still a destination that captures the hearts of many. Beaches lull beneath a mountain’s slopes as ruins crumble elegantly across the island. The harbor is as lovely as any on the Mediterranean, and from the short island getaway, you will spend the afternoon and evening in Sorrento to explore at your own pace before dining at a restaurant slung high above the water.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Barcelona – Surrounded With Culture in the Catalan City

After three nights in leisurely Amalfi, you will likely be ready to start jumping around the sights again. After a short drive to Naples, you will fly direct to Barcelona, touching down with most of the day left for exploring. Your guide will meet you at the airport and customize a city tour to your interests. But before that begins, you will want to take a moment to drink coffee on an outdoor terrace, watching how Catalonia is so different from Italy and Athens. The architecture, language, and food are obviously different, but the contrasts along the Mediterranean are just as much about feeling. Everywhere has its own energy, and in Barcelona, it is an energy that will take you along for the ride.

Walk along the promenade, and you will feel the city’s balmy summer ambiance. Wander into Barrio Gotic and get lost amid the boutiques and wine bars. Follow La Rambla past street musicians and performers, and then ascend towards a castle and viewpoint. Barcelona’s famous architecture is another direction for exploring, and your guide can show you some of La Sagrada Familia’s secrets before you visit some of Gaudi’s early works and the magnificent Palau de la Musica Catalonia. With a handcrafted day at your disposal, you could also be searching for art, checking out the football stadium, or heading out to the monastery at Montserrat. Along the way, you will be exploring different Barcelona neighborhoods and eating some incredible food.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Barcelona – Vineyards on the Med and More of Barcelona

Vines rise from the harsh rock on Catalonia’s slopes as the Mediterranean brings cool air that has grapes moving softly with the breeze. Vineyards are tucked away between the vines, mostly converted farmhouses that retain the charm of old age. This is Penedes, a wine region revered around the world, and it makes bubbles. 90% of Spanish Cava comes from here, and the good stuff comfortably rivals Champagne. Travel here in the morning, and you hear the enviable sound of corks popping. Tour a winery and go tasting with a view, before stopping at a larger vineyard for a lunch with wine pairing.

It will be an easy half-day tour, although note that you may also consider Priorat if velvety red wines are more your taste. You will be back in Barcelona as locals are waking from their siestas, and there will be time to continue the sightseeing from yesterday. You can join in the energy around La Rambla and Barrio Gotic, where there is a wine bar built into old Roman ruins. Or you could head down to the beach, which gets really lively at this hour. A final evening in Barcelona and you will want to be along the Mediterranean, dining on Catalan cuisine, watching how the water changes color at dusk. You know this sea well by now, and you will want to come back someday as the Mediterranean always reveals new treasures.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Barcelona – Departure

This day is left free other than a private airport transfer to meet your outbound flight, so you can enjoy one last leisurely morning of wandering what is likely one of your favorite cities in the world.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$2,545
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.