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History is everywhere you look in Greece's lively capital. Gods and goddesses glow alabaster white in the Mediterranean sunshine, for centuries having watched over the place where western civilisation was born. Since this is a place of beginnings, it's a fitting place to start your discovery of ancient lands. But first, you'll be transferred to your hotel in the city before exploring Athens your way and enjoying all its characteristic xenia which will make you feel completely at home.
All the treasures of Athens are brought to life this morning. You'll join an expert Local Specialist who'll share the history, myths and legends of places you've always wanted to see like the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch where Socrates once questioned ancient Athenians' understanding of the meaning of life. Imagine that with every step you take exploring the Acropolis, you're standing in the very place where the ancient Greeks once shaped world views, political ideologies and philosophies that have stood the test of time. Standing just as tall today are the ancient ruins of the Parthenon and the stadium built for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. What better way to spend the rest of your day than soaking up the sizzling energy of Athens with its fun-loving locals? Of course, that could mean indulging in a feast of Greek souvlaki or gyro at a traditional taverna, with a bit of opa thrown in for good measure.
Get ready for island-style living as you embark on your idyllic Aegean cruise. You're in for sun-kissed days, laidback lunches and the beauty of the Greek Isles you've only dreamt about, over the next four glorious days. Set sail for Mykonos and keep your eyes peeled for its 16th-century windmills that overlook the island's capital, Chora, and its glistening bay. There's no better way to explore 'Little Venice' than getting lost in its maze of cobblestone lanes lined by whitewashed houses and tumbling cerise bougainvillea. Take a break and spend some time with the locals in a café or bar, sampling some of the favourite ouzo before you get going on the next leg of your journey.
The ancient Greek city of Ephesus is the highlight this morning. You'll see the former Mediterranean trading centre first-hand - an astoundingly well-preserved collection of ancient buildings that hint at what was once a powerful city. Walk down Curetes Street past the homes of rich Ephesians to the Library of Celsus and imagine its ancient residents gathering within the marble walls. Return to the comfort of your cruise ship and sail to Patmos where the Book of Revelation was written by St. John. This is where the Apostle is said to have recorded his Revelation from Jesus. On an Optional Experience, you'll have an opportunity to join many Christian pilgrims who visit the Cave of the Apocalypse.
Prepare for an encounter with one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World today. Arriving in Rhodes, a complimentary Shore Experience will lead you along the path of religious knights who once conquered the island of Rhodes. These Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem ruled the island from 1310 to 1522 and you'll hear all about the island which became a bastion for Christianity in the East, defying pirate raids and Turkish sieges for centuries. There's time to explore it for yourself as you trace the thick stone walls, gates and cobblestone lanes of its capital before returning to your cruise.
Sailing overnight, you'll arrive early just in time for an exploration of Crete's ancient capital and Europe's oldest city, Heraklion. If you choose to join and Optional Experience, the rise and fall of the Minoan civilisation and culture will keep you captivated as you explore the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, with its ruby red entrance and charging bull fresco. You'll learn about the ancient city's long history from Neolithic times to the invasion of Crete by the Greeks, as well as the myth and legend that gave rise to the Minotaur. Then trade history for epic sunsets as you continue to Santorini where you could choose an Optional Experience to the stunning clifftop village of Oia, passing quaint villages and sun-kissed vineyards along the way.
The islands of the irresistible Aegean will want to keep you in their warm embrace forever, but it's time to return to Athens this morning and you'll be glad you did. Get your final fix of this vibrant city your way. For history buffs, there's time to get stuck into those ancient sites you weren't able to see when you first arrived. Or perhaps you'll want to head to Monastiriki for antiques and Greek handicrafts or explore the lanes of Plaka under the shadow of the Acropolis in search of a buzzing café with your name on it. However you choose to spend your evening, make sure it's filled with aragma, the small joys of life.
Your epic adventure through ancient lands has sadly come to an end. You've seen all the historic sights, kicked back and enjoyed the local hospitality in the glittering Greek Isles and discovered ancient capitals and stunning island landscapes. It's time to say a fond farewell to newfound friends before catching a transfer to the airport for your return flight. Find out more about your free airport transfer at costsavertour.com/freetransfers.
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Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.
Take a relaxing trip down to the southernmost tip of Mainland Greece to see the fifth-century B.C Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. See if you can spot where Byron carved his initials on one of the temple’s sixteen columns. Marvel at the sheer rugged beauty of the coastline and the ancient temple perched above a 197-foot drop down to the Aegean Sea below. Stand above the site of the world’s first lighthouse, overlooking an area steeped in classical Greek history, ever since the tragic King Aegeas threw himself from the rocky precipice into the sea below, thereby giving his name to the Aegean Sea.
Adult Price: € 45
Enjoy a lovely dining experience at a wonderful restaurant located in the lively area of Psiri. Dining is “meze style,” giving you the opportunity to taste many Greek cuisine dishes, which are served in the center of the table. Also enjoy the local free-flowing wine! Afterward, see the Acropolis beautifully illuminated as you return to your hotel. (Casual dress)
Adult Price: € 50
This is an evening excursion to a taverna in the center of Athens. Enjoy excellent traditional Greek food in a lively atmosphere while being entertained by dances and music from all parts of the country. Wine, beer and soft drinks are also included. Although the venue does have an official ending time, guests are more than welcome to stay on in the taverna, to join in with the local residents! (Casual dress)
Adult Price: € 55
The slopes of Parnassus Mountain are home to Delphi, home to the Oracle and the center of the universe for the ancient world. Visit the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Stadium & the Temple, as well as the museum of Delphi - home to over 10,000 artifacts, including the famous bronze Charioteer. In addition, you will also pass through the typical mountain Greek village of Arachova - famous for its cheese, matured in nearby caves, and for its flokati rugs.
Adult Price: € 100
The shore-experience with the coach and your Local Specialist sets off from Chora. Next stop at the south, the leeward beach of Ornos, a picturesque fishing harbor which is a popular anchorage and then on to the small beach of Agia Anna and Kalafatis beach. During the trip back to Chora, you will visit the traditional village of Ano Mera and the monastery of Panagia Tourliani, founded in 1542. The pretty village square is the perfect spot for a short break. Returning to Chora you will stop at Paraportiani. A few feet down you will meet the Mykonos Folklore Museum, which is housed in an old two-storied merchant baron’s house. You continue towards the “Little Venice” of Mykonos, Alefkandra, with its windmills and the almost otherworldly sunsets.
Adult Price: € 67
We visit Patmos a UNESCO “World Heritage Monument” and enjoy a panoramic guided tour of the island, a magical visit to the Grotto of the Apocalypse, where it is said St. John the Apostle wrote the Book of Revelation. We reach the medieval town of Hora to enjoy a leisurely walk, marvel at the views of the Monastery of St. John the Evangelist, and culminate our tour at Scala the port of Patmos where we enjoy a welcoming coffee, tea or refreshment.
Adult Price: € 67
The ancient city of Knossos the residence of the wise King Minos and the Minotaur, with constant habitation from the Neolithic era until the 5th century A.D., is beyond doubt the land that “gave birth” to the first civilization of Europe, the Minoans. The palace of Knossos spreads around a large Central Court. You will reach the awe-inspiring Throne Room, the fresco of the “Prince of the Lilies”, the imposing Grand Staircase, the Queen’s Megaron. Walking through the apartments of the Knossos palace and observing the finds even as a visitor, you will feel part of this cultural heritage. There is time for a stop in the city of Heraklion before boarding the ship again.
Adult Price: € 74
Our drive through the crescent-shaped island offers unsurpassable views of the lace-like caldera, the little islands of Thirasia, Palea and Nea Kameni. Our route takes us through Fira, the island's capital, past small traditional settlements of Firostefani and Imerovigli arriving at the beautiful and romantic village of Oia. Iconic Cycladic architecture of white-washed houses, blue-domed churches and blue shutters, buildings that look like they are trickling down the islands’ cliffs await. Time at leisure in spectacular Oia, to stroll through the marble-paved alleys, to gaze at the gorgeous shops, find and capture perfect pictures moments. After our time at leisure, we return to the ship.
Adult Price: € 74
You can marvel at Santorini's towering cliffs as tender boats convey you to the port at Athinios, where the coach waits to take you to Santorini’s most significant archeological site, the village of Akrotiri. We will stop at the ruins of the island’s famous windmill for photos, and to enjoy the incredible panoramic view. On to Akrotiri where you’ll have a chance to explore this ancient village – its amazing ruins will take you back in time. These advanced people built two- and three-story homes and grew crops, and you will marvel at the remnants of the houses, shops and workshops that surrounded the village square thousands of years ago. Akrotiri had been a bustling town, but its inhabitants abandoned it before the Thira eruption, a mystery archeologists and historians are still trying to solve. The ash from the volcano buried the city, preserving many of its structures and some of its incredible frescoes. Driving to Fira, the capital of Santorini and its largest town, visit the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, also known as the Church of Ypapantis, famed for its elegant construction and its beautiful frescoes, painted by Santorini artist Christoforos Assimis. Stop in Fira to shop and enjoy a coffee or a snack, or you can take the Santorini Cable Car, the teleferik to the port below, an incredible descent of more than 200 meters toward the deep blue waters of the caldera. Our tender boats will be ready, once you disembark from the teleferik, to bring you back to the ship.
Adult Price: € 74
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