Experience the quintessential luxuries of Greece on this 10-day tour meant to show you the thrills and frills of antiquity, from the mainland to the islands, where Western Civilization began. Let the wonders of the modern world collide with the sensations of a rich and cultured history reflected in the stellar ruins and opulent beaches, whitewashed houses and stunning panoramas. The extravagance of Greece isn’t just in its grandiose modernity but within the country’s elegant past and lavish nature....
Athens - Luxurious Dreaming
Step into the luxuries of history with your arrival in Athens, the capital of Greece and the cradle of Western Civilization. Olive trees climb along the golden hills that surround the capital. As you journey to Athens’s center you can see the pillars of the Acropolis rise above the city, the blue and white of the Greek flag flowing in the breeze. The streets begin to narrow and the passing cars start to dissipate. Remnants of ancient history stand tall around the city, from the pillars and arches to busts and writings, all prominently displaying their proud cultural identity and connection to modern Athens. Discover the gems of Athens at your leisure as you stroll through the historic city as if in a dream.
Pass the Panathenaic Stadium; the marble seats and around the stretch of field that runs along the main Athenian road which was used when Athens hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Taste the candied baklava: flaky puff pastry stuffed with rich almonds and drizzled with the natural sweetness of honey. The scent of roast lamb floats along the cobblestone streets of the Plaka, the pedestrian road of Old Athens. For a perfect introduction to the luxurious life of Greece enjoy dinner over the cobblestone streets with the vibrancy of Athenian life pulsating around you at Kalamaki. The grilled saganaki cheese gives a rich taste and buoyant texture and a truly luxurious body to bite into. The fairy lights float over the walkway, the city life passes you by, and you settle into the treat of contemporary flavors and the splendor of history wrapped up in present Athens.
Athens - An Affluent History
Today you will journey deep into the past with a tour of the historic city of Athens, including the new Acropolis Museum. With a narrative that has shaped the entirety of Western Civilization spanning a period well over 2,000 years, you will be surrounded by wonder, awe, and inspiration, knowing that the art and ruins of Athens predate even that of ancient Rome. Begin with your visit to Syntagma, also known as Constitution Square. Displayed within the metro station below are remnants of Athens, from the pipelines to old roads, from pre-Christian homes to a Byzantine burial ground. The glass display prominently shows the layers of the evolution of the city, beneath the plush modernity of Parliament, which was once King Otto the I’s palace. At the hour you can watch the changing of the guard. The soldiers that stand before parliament are dressed in standard cultural uniforms on Sundays: loose white shirts, large sashes, and shoes that resemble soccer cleats, complete with tacks positioned beneath the soles, once valued as a weapon during hand-to-hand combat.
Climb the old stairs of Acropolis Hill on your way to the base of the collected architectural masterpieces of the city, constructed during the Golden Age of Athens. There is a distinct scent of marble and earth; the sheen of the polished rock mirrors the sunlight. The sound of the crowd is replaced with the silent awe of the historic structures that have persevered through time and over occupation. Walk through the Propylaea, the monumental gateway that welcomes you into the collective temples that overlook the ancient streets and existing sprawl. Stroll through the walkway, beneath the towering pillars that stand proudly around you, the off-white color giving you another sense of the stained history that fills each crevice of the city. The pillars open up and you step onto the top of Acropolis Hill where several temples decorate the plateau including the eminent Parthenon dedicated to the goddess Athena, from whom the city of Athens was named. The open air of the plateau is almost taken away leaving you breathless as you sight the extravagant pillars of the Parthenon, the engraved triangular pediment displaying horses, people, and daily life dedicated to serving Athena. The affluence of Ancient Greece is written on the walls of the ancient hill, standing on the central mountain of the city that gave Athens a panorama of oncoming villages and peoples.
Crete - The Grecian Urn in a Venetian Town
Today you will depart from Athens waving goodbye to the statues and pillars of ancient history. Fly from the mainland to Greece’s largest island, Crete where you will experience the blissful wonders of the food, people, sites, and towns of the western part of this unique island. Arrive in Rethymnon, a picturesque Venetian port city with the inviting stretch of the largest warm, sandy beach in Crete. The old port sits colorfully along the water’s edge. The buildings shine reds and blues meant to guide fisherman home from a long outing at sea. The lighthouse stands tall at the edge of a jetty, both to provide guidance to ships in the evening darkness and once used as a barrier to keep unwanted ships from entering the port. The water within the harbor is crystal clear giving you a view to the deepest rock formations below making it look as though the ground swirls in the gentle wake of the water.
Stroll through the seaside city to see the evolution of Rethymnon, from the Venetians to the Ottomans, where the thin cobblestone streets meander like alleyways between the stone buildings. The Neratzes Mosque has arrow-like archways, quintessential to the Moorish influence, the golden bricks raising the interior into a dome. The mosque was originally constructed as the Holy Virgin Church; however, now a minaret towers over the three domes of the structure in an impressive display of dominance and grace. The Fortezza overshadows the edges of the city overlooking the water and on guard for pirates and Turks. The sweet sea laps at the ends of the harbor as a plethora of boats, from large yachts to individual fishing vessels, bob along the walkway. Tables mark the vibrant café and restaurant life that encircle the port. Relax next to the water with a glass of Rakomelo, a distilled spirit made and loved by Cretans. Every family is said to have their own recipe boasted to be the best, and is made from grapes and infused with the delightful candied flavor of honey giving you a proper and comfortable taste of the island.
Crete - Greece’s Venice and the Wealth of Wandering Waters
Today you will continue your exploration of Western Crete. With all of Crete at your whim today you can venture through the hills of Rethymnon province, along the quaint villages that speckle the hillsides, and into the Venetian port town of Chania. Similar to Rethymnon, the buildings of Chania are colorful along the harbor with lively restaurants. People call to you offering all day cruises on the sea or a free glass of wine which you can enjoy while you sit along the water’s edge and watch the passersby. The glassy water gives you a cinematic view into the lives of the minnows that linger in the nearby waters in hopes of breadcrumbs. The lighthouse stretches out into the center of the harbor opposite the Venetian fortress. The narrow passageways of the city give you a change to get lost amongst the beautiful stone buildings, manicured vines wrapping up and around the antique structures, where tables are set in the most random and tight places giving every possible corner a secluded and unique essence; the island of Crete, after all, is known for its sensational food.
While wandering through the cobblestoned alleyways you can see the connection with Venice, the rich architecture, the hidden stores, the tight spaces opening to bright sky and vast area. Within the stretch of streets you feel like you’ve been transported to Morocco. The minaret towers over the street and each store fills a tiny space, and each alleyway is dedicated to a particular trade, from shoes to jewelry, kitchen supplies to purses. The streets blossom with a mixture of the hidden sea and sweet Greek coffee. You can hear the horse carriages clopping through the avenues giving the old city the feeling of a fairytale and you the blissful protagonist.
Crete - Pink Sand like Gemstones
Another day on the sensational island of Crete brings ample opportunity to discover the breathtaking wonders of the island. Why not spend some time within the island’s natural beauty, stretched out on the pink sand of Elafonissi Beach. The water is as clear as air, slowly fading to turquoise in the distance. The reflection of the light on the water adds a special rose color along the shoreline, making the sand look like gemstones twinkling and winking at you. The water is cool on your toes giving you reprieve from the hot sand. You can watch your feet sink slowly beneath the powder as the water surrounds you. The gentle wash of the sea drifts through the air. Whether sitting comfortably in on the shores or delighting in a cooking class learning to prepare and indulge in traditional Cretan dishes, take advantage of the day to ensure the best sense of Grecian gratification.
Crete - Past Palace Extravagances
Your final day in Crete should be spent luxuriating in the variety of life that the island offers to locals and visitors alike. Whether in the mountain villages, where traditional dress and dialect continues to thrive, or within the not-to-be-missed Minoan Palace of Knossos, spend your day strolling along the harbor of Rethymnon or beyond the steps of time and the ages in Herkalion. Knossos Minoan Palace is known notably as the site of the Minotaur, the half man, half bull born to Queen Pasiphae. The air is filled with stone and history while colorful murals continue to decorate the remaining walls of the palace, including the mural of a bull, deep red on a background of blue, rushing through the surrounding mountains. The palace itself was the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan civilization that dates to around 1900 BC. Large pots line the confines of the palace, situated in corners and stretching beneath halls, chiseled with geometric shapes and some standing almost six-feet tall. The structures grow over a long area eventually giving way to shallow steps, connoting a royal entryway where horses and people would stroll into the opulence of the welcome gate. Although the labyrinth of the Minotaur may not be present, the mystique and affluence of the palace remains.
Santorini - The Opulent Myth of Whitewashed Homes Comes True
Today you will board the hydrofoil at Heraklion leaving behind the island of Crete and making your way along the gorgeous water to the illustrious island of Santorini. As the ferry pulls closer to the cliffs you can see the glow of the famous whitewashed buildings lingering over the sea, their bright blue crowns imitating the water below. The terrain looks rugged and russet. You board your transfer from the port and meander up the cliff and into the highland watching the whitewater brush against the rocks. The scent of tanned earth and rich volcanic soil fills the island. You traverse the winding, narrow roads of the capital Fira until you arrive at the charming and small town of Oia, pronounced “Ee-ah.” Look out over the cliff side and you can see the caldera sitting in the center of the crescent shape of the island. The whitewash makes the mountainside radiant.
Wander through Oia, the fresh and rich grilled seafood makes your mouth water. The marble pathway extends from the road to the edges of the village where hotels and homes climb down the mountains. Sit at the casteli, the once giant fortress that stands at the top corner overlooking the water below. On the opposite side of the island you can see the silhouette of the lighthouse. The twisting pathway beneath you guides the famous donkeys from the small harbor to the lower tiers of Oia. Infinity pools stretch over empty air. The breeze brings with it the fresh sea; sailboats glide along the water in almost every direction. Look behind you and you can see the images that grace the postcards that you have stared at for most of your life: classic Santorini with its glow of the whitewalls and blue roofs standing in contrast to the mountains beyond.
Santorini - The Golden Sunset
Leisure is at its finest on the cliff side of Santorini where the pools are as cool as a cucumber and the view is unparalleled. The quiet of the morning reaches a pinnacle of a noiseless breeze giving you nothing but the private currency of relaxation. The gleam of the sun off of the white facades gives the day an extra warmth. The rocky cliff spices the air before you are taken to the opposite end of the island for the stunning sunset cruise to come. The yacht shines in the afternoon along the aquamarine water. The crew is friendly and kind. The wind swoops against the bluffs and over the sea. The sail catches the breeze taking you out along the island’s outskirts. Look up and see the pillar of the lighthouse standing at the edge of the precipice. The red beach is marked with oxidized sand climbing the rock face giving a stellar intensity to the shore. The white beach blushes with limestone that travels down onto the black bank.
Dive into the water, the refreshing and calming cool of the sea is the most comfortable you have been in the ocean. Look down and notice the sensational clarity of the sea. Feel the warmth of the hot springs drifting from the active volcano beneath the caldera. Pass the hermit that lives on a tiny island where the remnants of the previous eruption jut from the water in pitch-black rugged stones as if reaching from the ocean floor to the sky. The ocean air becomes redolent with grilled seafood: fresh squid and tuna; roasted vegetables, zucchini, bell pepper, and eggplant. The salty and velvety aroma of grilled feta fills the boat as you dine amidst the serene water and looming islands. The sun begins to set and casts an orange luminescence along the horizon. The light doesn’t drift but sinks leaving a trail of color in its wake before the night pulls its shade over the sky and you return to shore.
Santorini - Luxurious Findings of the Ancients
The island is yours to explore on your final day in Santorini, which gives you the unfettered beauty of choice. From a hike along the island’s meandering cliffs to an exploration of the far to reach towns, there is no limit to what you can see or do within the border of the stellar crescent. A visit to Akrotiri, known as the Pompeii of Greece, is always a favorable idea. The Minoan settlement was smothered in volcanic ash during the Theran eruption around 1600BC, keeping the city in remarkable shape, and is also said to be the inspiration for Plato’s myth of Atlantis. The city grid remains in place with pottery and intact archways, drainage systems and even three-story buildings. Frescos continue to document the art of everyday life, with boats and farmers, boxing youths and women at work. Traversing the streets of the city gives the spine chilling sensation of the well-preserved life. The rich display of the decorative pottery, spiraled with geometric shapes and shades, gives one last opulent look at the ashen city before the museum site comes to a daily end.
Santorini - The Quality of Life
Today brings with it the end of your luxurious exploration of Greece; you will make your way to the Santorini airport and into the skies for your journey home. The white and blue buildings of the island wink in the sunlight as you glide higher over the sea. Your time has brought you through the beauty of antiquity, onto the settlements of Venice, within the natural splendor of the terrain, and to the luminescence of whitewashed homes that turn orange in the fading daylight. Greece has provided you with all of its splendors and the opportunity to appreciate the ideal luxuries of living, the joy of food, the majesty of history, and slowing down enough to revel in a remarkable sunset.
- Walk in the footsteps of history with a visit to the distinguished Acropolis
- Pay a visit to the wondrous Knossos Minoan Palace known to be the home of the infamous Minotaur
- Relax along the clear waters of Crete and marvel at its Venetian influences
- Stand along the beach of Elafonissi where the sand glitters pink as if it were paved in gemstones
- Experience the postcard perfection of the white and blue buildings of Santorini
- Luxuriate in a sunset cruise around the crescent island and hot spring caldera of Santorini
- Traverse the ashen-preserved ruins of the Grecian Pompeii, Akrotiri, said to be the basis for Plato’s story of Atlantis
Indulge in the quintessential luxuries of Greece on this 10-day vacation in Greece tailored to show you the opulent history, rich modernity, and lavish landscapes of Athens, Crete, and Santorini. Open the door to the cradle of Western Civilization where the most sought after temples adorn the central hill of Athens within the Acropolis. Venetian ports continue to decorate the Cretan Sea. Beaches sparkle with pink sand, some with red walls, others with white cliffs. Swim in the natural hot springs of an active caldera. In Greece it’s about the essential luxuries of living: the beauty of food, the sensations of history, and taking the time to enjoy a spectacular sunset.
Begin your exploration of Greece’s exquisite luxury with your arrival in Athens. The Acropolis stands tall, which lingers over the city on one of the oldest inhabited areas of the Greece and overlooks what was once the entirety of ancient Athens. Be guided through the city’s past, from modernity to ancient history, where the open air is as much of a museum as the New Acropolis Museum nearby. Explore the opulent remnants of the temples that glorified and celebrated the gods held most dear by the collective city of Athens.
Transfer to Western Crete where the largest of the Greek Islands brings with it the majestic blend of Greek culture, with Venetian city planning and Moorish styling. Immerse yourself in your surroundings where the Venetian influence is well received and easily viewed along the meandering alleyways. Visit Elafonissi Beach and experience the pink glow of the sand along the shore. Enjoy your time discovering the lavish remains of the Knossos Minoan Palace, home of the Minotaur, and exploring a large stretch of fantastic ruins from centuries before the Athenian civilization flourished.
Hydrofoil to Santorini where you can watch the sun reflect off of the classic whitewashed homes that decorate the cliff side. The cool breeze blows along the crescent shape of the island. Traverse the outer expanse of Santorini on a sunset cruise where the crystal blue water brings the mist to your face and the bountiful grill on the boat brings fresh seafood to the plate. Your final day on the island is at your leisure to roam the beauty of the terrain as you see fit; a gorgeous experience is a visit to the ancient city of Akrotiri, known to be Greece’s Pompeii. The ash covered city remains intact and a spectacular site to see, filled with luxurious history, rich tapestries, and a magnificent story to tell.
Your journey through Greece is fully customizable and is meant to share with you the essential luxuries of Athens, Crete, and Santorini. The best time to visit is in the fall, between the months of April through October. Read reviews for travel agents for Santorini and Greece to see what other travelers enjoyed while on their customized vacations in Greece.
$5,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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