Best of Ancient Greece in a Week Itinerary

A 8 day trip to Greece 
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This is the ultimate one-week historical tour on the Greek mainland and will cover all of the legendary ruins and magnificent sites. Piece together the Greek storyline around Athens and Peloponnese for an incredible week spent through the country’s best ruins and relics. Ruined Corinth, mythical Olympia, Apollo’s sanctuary at Delphi and different acropolises. From ancient civilization to medieval enchantment, you can also discover the Meteora monasteries, coastal Nafplio, and enigmatic Plaka.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Athens, Acropolis, Erechtheion, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Beule Gate, Acropolis Museum, Parthenon, Theater of Dionysus, Plaka, Anafiotika, Monastiraki, Ancient Agora, Temple of Athena Nike, National Archeological Museum, Athinas Street, Peloponnese, Corinth, Roman Odeum, Temple of Apollo, Mycenae, Mycenae Archaeology Museum, Epidaurus, Epidaurus Theater, Nafplio, Palamidi Fortress, Psaromachalas, Olympia, Delhi, Temple of Apollo, Sanctuary of Apollo, Sanctuary of Athena, Kalambaka, Meteora

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Athens – The Ancient Agora and Not So Ancient Greece

Athens sprawls, with neighborhoods stretching out beneath the hill. From almost anywhere in the city you can see the Acropolis, with the hilltop ruins illuminated after dusk. It’s a compass point from which to indulge in the country’s history, and just one glance at the Acropolis is enough to have you hooked. Even after a long flight, those majestic columns give you energy, getting you excited about the history that is to be uncovered. Meet your guide at the airport and travel into the city, beneath the Acropolis then beneath the hill, where your hotel is located in the Plaka neighborhood.

Archaeological ruins are just footsteps away, including what is left of the Ancient Agora tucked between 17th- and 18th-century houses and the forested hill. It’s the Temple of Hephaestus that commands your attention first, as complete as any historical structure in the whole of Greece. But as you walk, you can go beyond this photogenic sight with the  Altar of Zeus Agoraios, a headless sculpture marking the Odean of Agrippa entrance. Haphazard stone shows where markets and stoa used to stand, while the wings of a goddess and more of the inspiring Greek columns. Spend the afternoon in the Agora, and then walk back to Plaka, where the atmosphere seems unchanged for 300 years. Small cafes, crowded restaurants, elegant squares, and tiny stores – Plaka is a living piece of history to be enjoyed over this and tomorrow evening.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Athens – More Than the Acropolis When Exploring the Athen’s Highlights

This morning you ascend, and through Beule Gate you go with relics scattered along the winding trail skywards.  Take in the Temple of Olympian Zeus, 14 of its 104 Corinthian columns still standing with one column sleeping on its side. Athens grows silent as you rise, the city din replaced by a soft humming breeze. At first, the temple columns appear small, and slowly they grow in stature. Soon you will be on the Acropolis, walking amid thousands upon thousands of marble stones, gazing up at the enormity of ancient Greece. This was the land of the gods, and many memoirs suggest sanctified space, not to mention misunderstood stories and histories.

Secrets whisper from the Parthenon with tales of maidens sculpted into the Temple of Athena Nike. At the Propylaea, you can feast on a time of gods and myths. The Acropolis is almost always busy with visitors, so do not come here looking for perfect pictures as there are much better destinations for this later on the tour. Come to luxuriate in the scale of an ancient civilization, especially when you almost get neck-ache from looking up at the columns so often. With a full day, you can dedicate time to the New Acropolis Museum, a place that pieces together monuments and stories partially destroyed by time. Some places in the Acropolis have been restored, while others have been left untouched, and all those other pieces that blew down over the centuries can be seen in the museum.

You might need to rest after the Acropolis, and your guide will plan your visit around the tour bus crowds, which often means going in the reverse order to what most itineraries or logic would suggest. Even so, by mid-afternoon, it will be time for a rooftop terrace or an afternoon nap. It will be later in the afternoon when Plaka comes alive, local families going for a walk through the mazy streets. Your guide will ensure that you are orientated, showing you the main walkways and sights. Then into the evening, you can pick from the excellent cafes and restaurants.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Corinth to Mycenae to Nafplio – Exploring the Peloponnese Region

Corinth stands in a redolent state of ruin. Columns have crumbled, splitting into giant chunks that lie on the ground. Stone has fallen, forming small piles outside archways and colonnades. Some Corinthian columns remain tall and true, compass points on your visit to this ruined city. You are now in Peloponnese, with an early start meaning you get ahead of the Athens tour buses. Cities like Corinth really evoke the glory or Ancient Greece, and they are so much more impressive when there are only a handful of other visitors. The silence gives you time to think, headspace to contemplate the city in its heyday.

Mycenae is typically empty, and it is located down a worn footpath, on top of granite boulders with impressive beach views. The signs are not very good here, and most independent visitors turn around, unsure of where the Mycenaean acropolis hides. You are with your guide so you will step confidently into a mythical world of ruins from four millennia ago. It will be very different from the temples and odiums witnessed so far, clearly demonstrating the jump between 2,000 BC and 500 BC. Thick stone slabs suggest the city’s size, and there is much to admire, particularly if you are fond of taking photos. After hopping to these two destinations, you can continue to nearby Nafplio, traveling forward 3,500 years to Venetian townhouses.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Nafplio – Epidaurus and a Coastal Town of Elegance and Romance

Nafplio is all color and charm, a fishing town that has absorbed disparate influence. Buildings have been added over the centuries, but without destroying what came before. In this one town, you can really connect the eras, starting in the Tiryns, where excavations show the town’s Mycenaean origins. Much of Homer’s work has its roots here, and the guide narrates lines from Iliad and Odyssey as you start to explore. Then it will be to Acronauplia and the remains of an entire city on the hill. Next, it will be to the Venetians, who left behind a fortress and a series of townhouse-lined streets.

All this architecture and history has found a harmony as if it is normal that a Venetian fort should be next to a Greek citadel and Mycenaean cave dwelling. With two nights in Nafplio, you will have plenty of time to walk through the harmony, as well as discovering the cafe-lined coast. But before this on day four, you will gaze down on arguably the most impressive structure of them all with the Epidaurus theater. It will be unpolished yet virtually complete, row after row of steps with views heading out across the valley. Nafplio has dozens of sights, Epidaurus has one, but that one stays with you for eternity. With a full day in the area, you might also want to visit Psaromachalas, a fishing village that provides a break from the history.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Olympia – Legendary History and Local Vineyards

Traveling across Peloponnese, you will turn through the valleys. Rough, weather-beaten mountains dominate the horizon while goats wander on arid paths. Sometimes a village appears, barely more than a cluster of houses and an Orthodox church. You pass farmers and vineyards, and then cross a mountain pass and twist towards a place that is mostly hidden from the world, Olympia. Here, the columns are shrouded in moss while the theater is slowly being overtaken by grass, with clumps of green tucked between steps. Temples and houses are in ruin, but unlike many other places, you get to walk inside, picking your way through piles of stone and sculpture.

From the Olympia mystique, you spend most of the afternoon at a nearby winery, following a hearty lunch with a tour of the vineyard. They have been producing here since before the first Olympic Games, so sip on a couple of varietals before returning to Olympia at dusk. The Olympic torches are more impressive now, transforming the lost ruins into a fairytale scene, and of all the sites in Peloponnese, Olympia at night is the finest for enthusiastic photographers. And with all of the sites in Greece, there is something about Olympia’s untouched, nature-dominated state that makes you truly understand the age of this civilization.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Delphi – Village Life and the Apollo Oracle

Your journey continues with more rich vistas and mountain villages as you start looping back towards Athens. Delphi is the day’s destination, and its history is unrivaled. For the ancient Greeks, Delphi was the naval center of the world. Here lived Pythia, the oracle that Apollo and other gods would consult. While that sounds like a fanciful tale, one glimpse at Delphi, and you can sense why such a place would be chosen. The ruins hide in a remote mountain valley, protected on three sides by peaks, its amphitheater offering an untouched view down through the valley. With your historian guide, you can visit the Sanctuary of Apollo, Sanctuary of Athena, and what still stands from the Temple of Apollo. Then you indulge on the mystery by staying in a country cottage nearby, imagining a time when this really was the center of the world.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Kalambaka – Exquisite Monasteries and Rock-Carved Wonder

One destination left to go, and once more you will ascend to traverse the centuries. As Greece changed, the people changed their impression of gods. Christianity came to the fore as Apollo and Zeus faded into mythology. From the 14th-century onwards, monasteries were built upon the rocky pinnacles of Meteora. Two dozen of them have survived, magnificent creations that seem to stand in the sky. Red tiles and smoking chimneys can be found on narrow pinnacles, at a monastery only accessible by one narrow bridge. Upon a rocky cliff is another, peering out over a forested valley.

Some of the 24 monasteries are substantial, with many sanctified rooms filling the entire cliff. Other pinnacles are but slithers, topped with structures that defy logic. These are monasteries that seem impossible, inspiring awe at every angle.  They have been featured in Game of Thrones and became villainous lairs in James Bond, as well as being in Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. They just do not seem real. Six can be visited by road, and these are the most popular. The highlight is the one or two you visit on foot, small but beautiful structures in mind-boggling locations. After a day in Meteora, you will spend the night in Kalambaka nearby, where there is enough contemporary comfort to complement the views.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Kalambaka to Athens – Departure

From Kalambaka, it will be a road journey back to Athens and your outbound flight. There will be time to freshen up at an airport hotel before taking to the sky. For late departures, you may want to visit a final Meteora monastery before heading out.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Price 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.