Thessaloniki - Kalambaka - Delphi - Olympia - Corinth - Mykonos -
Kusadasi - Patmos - Rhodes - Crete - Santorini - Athens
October 4-18, 2020 (15 days)
✔ Explore the birthplace of Western civilization where ancient myths and modern influences collide on a journey from Thessaloniki through Central Greece, the Peloponnese, the Greek Islands and Athens.
✔ Discover three of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in Olympia, Ephesus and Rhodes, as well as the UNESCO-listed sites of the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi, the monuments of Thessaloniki, the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus and breathtaking Meteora.
✔ Experience the spectacular beauty of Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete and Santorini on a 4-night cruise, and enjoy the relaxed lifestyle, delicious cuisine and warm hospitality of these glorious islands.
Depart for Greece.
After arrival at Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia, transfer to your hotel. Free time to relax before dinner. (D)
The vibrant port city of Thessaloniki is considered Greece’s cultural capital, with a continuous 3,000-year-old history, where old and new cohabit wonderfully. Embark on a panoramic tour, starting with a drive to the upper part of the old city walls for the commanding view of Thessaloniki below. Then visit St. Demetrius Church, known for its early Byzantine mosaics.
Depart for Vergina and discover the unique museum created in the Great Tumulus covering the royal tombs of Macedonia. View the astonishing findings from the tomb of King Phillip II, Alexander’s father, and feel the thrill of the greatest discovery of the 20th century. Return to Thessaloniki for dinner. (B, D)
Vergina © H. Kakarouhas, GNTO
Start your journey south and stop in the charming village of Palaios Panteleimonas, on the slopes of Mount Olympus. Explore the picturesque village with its cobbled streets, stone houses, red-tile roofs, the square with the sycamore trees and the restored church of Aghios Panteleimonas.
Continue to breathtaking Meteora and visit one of the Byzantine monasteries perched on its stony peaks. Late afternoon arrival in Kalambaka. (B, D)
Meteora © Steve Wall
Drive through the towns of Central Greece, including Trikala and Karditsa, and cross the Thessalian plain. Stop at Thermopylae, where the statue of Leonidas commemorates the historic battle of 480 BC between the 300 Spartans led by Leonidas and the Persian army of Xerxes composed of thousands.
Continue to Delphi, centre of the ancient world, where the priestess Pythia pronounced her famous oracles in the Temple of Apollo. Visit the Archaeological site of Delphi, including the museum. Overnight in the small waterfront town of Itea. (B, D)
Temple of Apollo, Delphi © GNTO
Cross the cable-stayed bridge from Antirion to Rion and travel via Patras to Olympia. Visit a local olive farm and olive grove.
This afternoon, discover the famous site of Olympia, home of the ancient Greek sanctuary site dedicated to the worship of Zeus, in whose honour the Pan-Hellenic Games were held every four years from 776 to 393 BC. (B,L,D)
Olympia © GNTO
Today drive through the central Peloponnese to Corinth, one of the major cities of antiquity. Corinth was protected by a 20km long wall and was made up of three parts – the acropolis on the hill (Acrocorinth), the city itself on a lower plateau, and its port Lechaion. Visit the museum and explore the remains of lower Corinth; see the Agora, with its archaic Temple of Apollo, vaulted shops, Roman temples, public latrines and fountain houses. Take the Lechaion Road to the North Harbour. Late afternoon check-in at a seaside hotel. (B, D)
Ancient Corinth © Moustafellou, GNTO
This morning, tour the ancient site of Epidaurus – the Sanctuary of Asclepius, ancient God of healing. See the best-preserved ancient theatre in all of Greece, famous for the harmony of its design and its remarkable acoustics, accommodating 12,000 people. Continue to the seaport town of Nafplio, the first capital of the newly born Greek-State (between 1823 and 1834) where Frankish, Venetian and Turkish conquerors left their mark on the town and influenced its culture, architecture and traditions throughout the centuries.
Discover Nafplio’s ancient walls, medieval castles, monuments, statues, Ottoman fountains and Venetian and neoclassical buildings.
This afternoon, proceed to Mycenae and explore the remains of the prehistoric citadel fortified with the Cyclopean Walls, the Lionesses’ Gate, the Mycenaean Palace and the Tomb of King Agamemnon. (B, D)
After an early breakfast, transfer to the port of Piraeus and embark on a 4-night cruise to the Greek Islands and Turkey.
Set sail before lunch for Mykonos, arriving by early evening.
Mykonos combines the dazzling white beauty of a typical Cycladic island with a sophisticated international jet-set atmosphere and an active nightlife. Stroll at leisure through the whitewashed, flower-decked alleyways to the sculpture church of Paraportiani or along the waterfront of ‘Little Venice’ to the well-known windmills for an unparalleled photo op. Sail for Kusadasi, Turkey at 11:00 p.m. (B, L, D)
Celestyal Olympia © Celestyal Cruises
This morning, call at Kusadasi, starting point for your excursion to the ancient city of Ephesus. Tour the spectacular ruins of this once great city which was founded in the 10th century BC and is still being excavated. Walkthrough history along marble streets lined with wonderful public buildings – among them the Baths of Scholastica, the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the theatre. The site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the massive Temple of Diana, also attests to the scope and magnificence of this city under Greek and Roman rule. Stop at a local rug-making facility before returning to the ship.
Set sail and arrive in the afternoon at the beautiful, rocky island of Patmos, Greece. Enjoy free time in the port of Skala or join an optional shore excursion to visit the island or the Monastery of St. John the Evangelist and the Grotto of the Revelation. Return to the ship and set sail for Rhodes at 9:00 p.m. (B, L, D)
Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Patmos
Morning arrival in Rhodes, famed for its medieval stronghold built by the Crusading Knights of St. John. In ancient times, another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the legendary Colossus of Rhodes, bestrode the harbour entrance. Visit the Temple of Athina on the majestic Acropolis of Lindos, with the blue Aegean sea beneath it and the whitewashed artists’ colony at its foot. Enjoy a short walking tour through the medieval city to the Citadel of the Knights.
Free afternoon in Rhodes. Set sail for Heraklion, Crete at 6:00 p.m. (B, D)
St. Paul's Beach, Lindos © GNTO
Dock in Heraklion. Free time to walk to the town centre or join an optional excursion to the Minoan Palace of Knossos, legendary home of the Minotaur. Late morning departure to Santorini.
Arrive Santorini in the afternoon. You may walk up 584 steps or take a mule or the cable car up to the white-washed town of Fira, perched high on the rim of the ancient volcano, the eruption of which, in 1,600 BC, literally buried a flourishing Bronze Age town which has now been excavated at Akrotiri. Free time to explore Fira or join the optional excursion to the picturesque village of Oia with its famous blue-domed churches. Return to the ship for your 9:30 p.m. sailing for Piraeus. (B, L, D)
Oia, Santorini © Tom Grimbert
Disembark after breakfast and depart for Marathon, where the citizen-soldiers of Athenian won a legendary victory over a powerful invading Persian army in the first Persian War in 490 BC. View the burial mound, which marks the last resting place of 92 victorious Athenian defenders.
Continue to Athens – the birthplace of Classical Greece, and therefore of Western civilization. Explore the Acropolis, the ancient ‘high city’ of Athens. Built in the 5th century BC, it is the most accurate reflection of the splendour, power and wealth of Athens at its greatest peak, the golden age of Perikles. Visit the iconic Parthenon, dedicated to the city’s goddess Athena. (B, D)
Morning tour of the National Archaeological Museum, which houses the world’s finest collection of Greek antiquities. Then discover the highlights of modern Athens: pass by the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Parliament House, the Presidential Palace, Panathenaic Stadium, Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Academy, the University and the National Library.
Afternoon at leisure; stroll around the cobblestone streets of historic Plaka, or relax in Greek style with a beer or Ouzo. Celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a farewell dinner at the hotel. (B, D)
Transfer to Athens International Airport for your flight(s) home. (B)