Delights of Deities: Greece Cultural Tour

A 14 day trip to Greece 
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Whether enthusiastic about art or a connoisseur of antiquity, your custom-tailored history and culture tour of Greece will immerse you in working archeological excavations and living history, picturesque coastline and the thrill of exploration. Secluded ancient monasteries soar above the valley, and the images of the Parthenon loom above Athens. The lingering voice of the Delphi Oracle whispers myths of Classical history and legend becomes tangible along the ramparts of Mycenae. From the staggering columns on the Temple of Poseidon to the charming villages emerging from the Pelion Peninsula, the promise of celebrated heritage showcases the timeless beauty of Greece on this 14-day trip to Greece.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Athens, Olympia, Delphi, Thermopylae, Meteora, Volos, Cape Sounion, Pelion Peninsula, Mount Olympus, Thessaloniki, Skopelos

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

 

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Athens – An Introduction to Athens with a Classic Heritage Dinner

Athens has become the center of the Ancient Western World attracting visitors from around the globe interested in stepping back in time to experience the layers of history. Remnants of ancient civilization cap the famous Acropolis summit which now overlooks contemporary neighborhoods filled with neoclassical architecture and homes reflective of the Cycladic migrants who moved to the city in the 19th century. Your flight will land at Athens International Airport, and your private transfer will greet you upon arrival. The city shines and shimmers with ancient temples that reflect Greek and Roman history, as well as golden mosaics that reference more than a millennium of religious Byzantine tradition.

After relaxing in the comforts of your luxury accommodation, you will meet your guide in the lobby for an exceptional evening that will blend Greek culture and cuisine. An easy walk to the ancient neighborhood of the Plaka will highlight the depth of history hidden in Athens. The antique houses were built over ancient foundations established during the city-state’s Golden Age. You will enter a private home to find a table positioned over a glass floor looking down into an active excavation site, and your dinner will begin with the aroma of kalamaki grilling over an open flame and boiled greens known as horta simmering on the stove with olive oil, lemon, and feta.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Athens – Discover the Ancient Marvels of Athens on a Full Day Tour

In the morning, the Parthenon glints in the sunlight atop the Acropolis as the symbol of Western Civilization for nearly 3,000 years. The Church of the Holy Apostles rises above the vast complex of the former Agora highlighting the ways in which medieval history overtook the ancient life of the city. After breakfast, you meet your guide in the Syntagma Square Metro Station for an introduction to the ancient wonders of the city.

You will begin at the small museum on the first floor of the metro where a glass wall reveals the layers of the city’s history uncovered during the station’s construction process before the year 2000 Olympic Games. Your guide can show you a small tomb that helped to reference the area’s original placement outside of the ancient city walls, as well as road markers leading to the port of Piraeus. Archeologists and construction workers discovered upwards of 50,000 artifacts dating back to the eleventh century BC, including three intact clay pots that once held wine.

You will continue to the Acropolis to explore the variety of ancient structures that adorn the slopes and the summit with your guide, who will officially introduce you to the Parthenon. The most famous Greek temple was erected between 447 BC and 338 BC as a shrine to Athena, the patron goddess of the city. You can see the section of remaining stories told in the reliefs along the metopes depicting scenes like the Birth of Athena from the head of Zeus.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Athens – Enjoy a Full Day Immersive Classical Tour to Cape Sounion

The new day in Athens begins with an immersive tour of the ancient Greek world on display inside the National Archeology Museum. The neoclassical structure embodies the original founding of the gallery in the 19th century spanning more than 86,111 square feet with 11,000 artifacts. The comprehensive overview of Greek civilization dates back to the sixth millennium BC exemplified by the fascinating gold-plated Mask of Agamemnon. The stunning object was discovered at Mycenae, a once powerful kingdom and home to the former ruler who led the Greek troops against Troy during the Trojan War. Your eyes will hardly know where to land, and you will spend an engaging time alongside your guide as you take it all in.

You will then leave Athens in the afternoon bound for the edges of Cape Sounion, connoting the southernmost tip of the Attica Peninsula. Elegant restaurants line the shores overlooking the stoic turquoise Aegean Sea. You will soon reach the incredible Temple of Poseidon set atop a craggy cliff at 200 feet above sea level. The structure was built between 44 and 440 BC out of marble stone and represents the reverence the ancient Greeks had for the sea god. The sunlight glints against the impressive white columns, of which 15 out of the original 34 remain standing at 20 feet tall. At sunset, the sheets of light reflect against the marble turning the ancient edifice shades of pink and orange above the cobalt water.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Olympia – Visit the Ancient Ruins of Corinth and Unique Mycenae

At breakfast, the aroma of freshly brewed Greek coffee fills the dining room accompanying the sweet scent of fresh oranges and apples. As you depart Athens, you can spot the Parthenon one last time poised with dignity above the city. You will then venture through the contemporary city of Corinth to reach the ancient ruins, where your guide awaits your arrival. The extensive remains date back to the Roman period with the city’s foundations poised as the original Greek city-state. The impressive archeological site reveals the remains of one of the Classical Western world’s most powerful cities boasting a collection of preserved temples, baths, and a basilica.

Cypress and oak trees grow around the edges of the site near the base of the ancient Corinth Acropolis. Seven gigantic columns made from limestone account for the remaining elements of the Doric Temple of Apollo, which was first erected in the 6th century BC over an earlier religious structure. Take a look inside the Corinth Archeological Museum for insight into the excavations of the site embodied in the pottery, ceramics, and mosaic floors on display. The intricate geometric design of the mosaic found in a Roman Villa wraps around the central figure featuring the head of Dionysus.

The ancient stronghold of Mycenae symbolizes the point at which Greek history and mythology meet. The city of Agamemnon wraps around a hillock with remnants of the dramatic wall in place. The Bronze Age settlement utilized cycloptic stone weighing upwards of six tons to form defenses more than 42 feet tall and nearly 23 feet thick. The defining feature of the wall remains the Lion Gate, known for the solid construction and large reliefs of two large lionesses flanking a central pillar. While not much remains of the former kingdom, the ruins act as a window into the factual lives of Mycenaeans while also inhabiting a place in mythology.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Delphi – The Remains of Famous Olympia before Reaching Delphi

Your day will begin with a full day exploring the marvels of ancient Olympia on a private guided tour. Oak trees sporadically grow around the historic site filling the air with a mixture of herbaceous bark and parched earth. The city gave rise to the original Olympic Games taking place every four years as a part of the elaborate celebrations thrown for Zeus, king of the gods. The Temple of Zeus contains only ruin with the foundations built around 470 BC. The entire structure was crafted in limestone and covered in stucco with marble used for sculptures and roof tiles. The sculptures on the pediments and metopes depicted the 12 labors of Hercules.

Walking through the Ancient Stadium offers an ambiance of awe emanating from the rich history spreading across the plain to the foothills. At its peak, the stadium could seat up to 20,000 spectators in seats crafted from mud. A series of vaulted passageways connected the stadium to the sanctuary of Zeus, while the facility also hosted the Hera Games in which women would compete and named in honor of the goddess Hera. Inside the well-curated exhibits of the Archeological Museum, your guide points to the statue of Hermes of Praxiteles, which was erected in the fourth century BC out of Parian marble.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Thermopylae – Listen for Signs of the Oracle and Find Traces of Persia

The ancient city of Delphi sits on the slopes of Mount Parnassus above the Gulf of Corinth at over 1,935 feet above sea level. The scent of pine accentuates the spirited ambiance of the former city known for hosting the sanctuary of Apollo and the renowned oracle. The wealth of ruins along the Sacred Way speak to the importance of the city during the classical period of ancient Greece combining the affluence of history with the quixotic charm of legend.

The Sacred Way continues to act as the main pathway through town leading from the entry gate up more than 656 feet to the celebrated Temple of Apollo. Votives and treasuries connected with cities across the Greek mainland once lined the road. While the initial monuments that were dedicated to their patrons, kings, or populations have vanished, their base still survive. Your guide will lead you to the Temple of Apollo where the Doric columns recall the original structure from the 4th century BC. The typical Classical architectural details inform the inner shrine where the priestess would share the words of the Oracle, as told to her by the god Apollo.

After visiting with the Oracle of Delphi, you will venture north to Thermopylae for deeper insight into the battle of Leonidas and the brave 300 against the troops of Persia. Thermopylae in Central Greece overtakes a serene valley leading to the Aegean Sea by way of the Spercheios River. The once narrow passage allowed the small band of Spartans to keep the legendary army of Xerxes at bay while waiting for more Greek forces. A monument to Leonidas was erected in the 1950s depicting the Spartan king in full armor standing opposite Kolonos hill.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Meteora – Full Day Traversing the Hanging Monasteries of Meteora

The splendors of Meteora dangle above the vast plain atop weathered rock formations nearly 985 feet above sea level. The distinctive images strike a dramatic image above the lowland towns with flights of steps traversing the towering cliffs to reach the six out of 24 remaining monasteries built approximately a millennium ago. You will begin your exploration at the largest complex, the Great Meteoron Monastery, which was founded in the mid-14th century. The church glints with the typical gold highlights of Byzantine frescoes adorning the walls surrounding the tombs of Athanasios and Ioasaph who helped build the structure.

Traces of the original ladders used to climb the rock face remain just below the monastery grounds. The small tower with a timber roof hosts the remains of the winch used to haul visitors to the summit and continues to hoist supplies to the monks when necessary. The Monastery of Varlaám stands atop a 1,225-foot tall precipice with a staircase of 195 steps. The complex was founded in the early-16th century at the site where the hermit of Varlaam lived. The church contains numerous frescoes including the fascinating depicting of the Virgin and Child, as well as the Crucified, and the Pantocrator decorating the nave and on the dome.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Volos – Relish the Heart of the Gorgeous Pelion Peninsula

In the morning, you will make your way to the great natural beauty of the Pelion Peninsula, where according to Greek mythology, the 12 gods of Olympus would spend their summers. You will soon reach the northern edge of the stunning landscape at Volos, the largest city and capital of the region. The architecture captures 19th-century charm with wooden balconies and colorful facades leading to the collection of pastry shops, cafes, and restaurants lining the waterfront. Small, bright fishing boats wade in the gentle water of the marina and ferries bound for the islands of Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos weigh anchor along the docks.

Pine woodlands cover the nearby mountains, and the Archeological museum encapsulates the historical marvels of the region. Less than three miles outside the city center brings you to the ancient site of Dimini. The late-Neolithic settlement began around 4800 BC and lasted until the Bronze Age. Traces of streets and houses continue to rise out of the landscape, in addition to a Mycenaean beehive tomb. The recent uncovering of the castle remains closer to the shoreline have inspired the theory Dimini is in ancient Iolkos, from where Jason and the Argonauts departed on their quest for the Golden Fleece.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Volos – Venture to the Charming Villages of Pelion at your Leisure

Take your time exploring the hidden treasures of the Pelion Peninsula for a chance to wander into the new villages and bask in the gorgeous scenery of the region that is often overlooked by travelers. The picturesque town of Portaria stands amid waterfalls and budding greenery with a prosperous history deriving from silk. Large, elegant mansions with wooden balconies and tiled roofs connote the influence of wealth on the local aesthetic while the scent of grilling octopus and herbaceous liqueur known as raki filters out of the taverns encircling Taxiarchon Square.

The woodlands that surround contrast with the whitewashed homes, the red-tiled roofs, and the sparking blue waters of the Aegean Sea for a beautiful view from every angle. Wander outside of the village along the marked path to reach the natural waterfall of Karavos. The café near the splashing pool fills the air with the scent of coffee fading beneath fragrant pine emanating from the trees offering a serene ambiance overlooking the elegant architecture of the town. Continue to the town of Makrinitsa, often referred to as the “Balcony of Pelion,” due to its location at the top of verdant cliffs providing a marvelous panorama of Volos and the Pagasitic gulf.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Volos – Embrace the Welcoming Outdoor Activities of the Pelion

Mount Pelion rises above Volos reaching 5,328 feet above sea level acting as a natural barrier between the inland Magnesia and the Aegean. The gentle slopes hold a plethora of winding trails that attract hikers while the pebbled, tranquil shoreline beckons to the beachgoers. Begin your outdoor exploration of the peninsula at Zagora, a cultural village atop the eastern slopes of the region overlooking the azure Aegean Sea. The central, small church hosts a spectacular altarpiece crafted in the 18th century. Apple orchards grow around the village and fill the air with a subtle sweetness amid the traditional homes with ornamental windows. The library contains one of Greece’s largest collections of rare books with fascinating 10th-century publications coming a long way from the initial 48 books the former school started with in 1767.

You will continue to the village of Tsagarada to see a 1,000-year-old plane tree rising out of the central square. The remarkable stump has a circumference of 42 feet, and the houses around town nearly blend into the surrounding dense vegetation of chestnut trees. A pathway leads through the woods for a relaxing stroll eastward to the sea leading you from the cultural charms of the Agioi Taxiarches Church to the white pebbles and sand of Damouchari Beach. The secluded bay glows with crystal clear turquoise and azure waters attracting the eyes of Hollywood and acting as the setting for the film “Mamma Mia.” A stone path runs parallel to the sea offering stunning views of the small dock, bordering rocky cliffs, and the ruins of the old castle. You can easily imagine the scene where “Dancing Queen” takes place as everyone jumps off the dock into the water.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Mount Olympus – The Picturesque Beauty off the Pelion Coast

Set sail on a local ferry in the morning bound for the island of Skopelos, another location at which “Mamma Mia” was filmed. The inherent beauty of the island catches your eye from the water, where azure and turquoise hues of the Aegean brush against the white stones of the shoreline. Pine forests and vineyards climb the slopes of the inland mountains, and ravishing mansions decorate the coastline while sand and pebbled beaches offer comfort to sunbathers as authentic Greek traditions continue to shape each day.

A network of mule trails wind through the olive groves connecting the villages, villages, and sporadic homes where you find panoramic views of the bay overlooking those that are kayaking near to the steep cliffs. Skopelos Town acts as the island capital and boasts an authentic charm with whitewashed houses and narrow winding lanes set beneath the crumbling 13th-century Venetian fortress. Exploring the castle will unveil the remains of a 7th-century basilica built over a 9th-century church, which was constructed atop a temple initially dedicated to Athena. The pathways weaving through the ruins eventually lead to the top of the wall for a magnificent view sweeping across the island.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Mount Olympus – Travel Mount Olympus for a Half-Day Excursion

You will follow the thread of Greek mythology to the base of Mount Olympus, home of the gods and seat of Zeus. The pantheon of Greek religion retains its sense of awe-inspiring the imaginations of visitors eager to reach the summit, search for the 1,700 different plant species, or find wolves, deer, and jackals hiding in the thickly forested slopes. Mist often shrouds the peak at 9,573 feet above sea level while the aroma of pine emanates from the woodlands along mountain’s middle slopes.

An early start gets you onto the slopes for a full day guided excursion up the impressive heights of the landscape. A series of several deep gorges make the prominence of the mountain appear larger as it covers 193 square miles. The pathway to the top summit is narrow weaving around sharp rocks before reaching the peak of Mytikas. A visitor’s book awaits those who make the journey, as well as breathtaking views spanning the rolling green hills sweeping from Thessaloniki to the cobalt waters of the Aegean Sea. You feel like Zeus standing above the land humans able to watch the drama of mortality play out.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 13: Thessaloniki –Cultural Exploration of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is considered Greece’s second city combining a history of rich multiculturalism and enticing cuisine. Your guide will lead you through a heritage tour of the city beginning with the Byzantine walls, which surround the neighborhood of Ano Poli, one of the few areas to survive the fire of 1917 resulting in a fascinating display of authentic Macedonian and Balkan architecture lining the narrow streets. The walls of the original fortress date back to the fourth century BC with the Byzantine refurbishments taking place as early as the third century AD.

Umbrella pine trees tower over the bicycle and walking paths along the New Waterfront where locals stroll, relax near the waterjet fountains, or enjoy a spectacular view to the peak of Mount Olympus in the distance. You will continue to the Arch of Galerius, a 4th-century monument celebrating the victory of the Persians and acted as the town’s main entrance. Reliefs depict scenes from the different campaigns held during the reign of Emperor Galerius offering a distinct perspective of often overlooked artwork typical of the sophisticated aesthetic of the times.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 14: Thessaloniki – Depart for Home

The renowned Thessaloniki Archeology Museum opens its doors to the public in the morning offering insights into the marvels of history with sculptures from the Archaic era to works from an Ionic temple dating back to the sixth century BC. Artifacts from Neolithic settlements and Macedonian coins capture the imagination accentuated by the discovery of an original statue of Alexander the great crafted out of bronze. You can spend the morning taking it in, and then your private transfer will greet you in your hotel lobby when you are ready and escort you to the Thessaloniki International Airport for your flight home.

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.