This is where it all began - the literature, art and laws that have shaped western civilisation as we know it today. You won't need to imagine great philosophers debating their truths in the corridors of the Agora, between the columns of the Parthenon or with the Oracle of Delphi. You'll get to see where this happened first-hand on this 8-day adventure to the heart of ancient empires and the sun-kissed shores of the Greek Isles.
Athens was once the centre of the world and for a short spell it will be the centre of yours. On arrival, transfer to your hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring the Greek capital your way. Evidence of the city's former status as the cradle of western civilisation can be seen around every turn, so lace up your walking shoes and pound the pavements in search of the artistry, architecture and archaeological treasures that have made Athens a popular stop for history lovers. Later, meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers.
Today you'll come face-to-face with the impressive ancient backdrop that followed you throughout yesterday's solo sightseeing - the Acropolis. A Local Specialist joins you for a sightseeing tour through what remains of the ancient citadel, including the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena. View the Panathinaiko Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch, stopping at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to admire the curiously clad Evzone guards. Later, follow the road taken by the ancient Greeks who once sought the wisdom of the Oracle, arriving in Delphi for your overnight stay.
Walk the Sacred Way to the Temple of Apollo - the same path that Alexander the Great once tread, demanding to hear that he would conquer the entire ancient world. Your Local Specialist will reveal the ancient site's captivating history and some of the Oracle's prophecies, many of which would eventually come true. You'll also discover Delphi's fame as the host of the Pythian Games, dedicated to Apollo and the arts. A scenic drive takes you to Thermopylae, most notably the site of the heroic defence by King Leonidas and his brave Spartans against the invading Persians. Later arrive in Kalambaka, where you dine tonight at your hotel.
The mystical monasteries of Meteora cling almost implausibly to the rounded rock towers that overlook Kalambaka. Joining a Local Specialist this morning, you'll visit this heavenly Eastern Orthodox complex, built by monks in the 14th century to stave off attacks from the invading Turks. Return to Athens later this afternoon where the rest of the day is free to do as you wish. An Optional Experience this evening could see you indulge in tasty traditional cuisine. Join your new friends for a taverna evening including dancing and drinks.
Set your watch to the laid-back pace of the Greek Islands, boarding your three-night cruise through the Aegean where your only priorities will be good food, good friends and good times. With that in mind, your first stop ticks all the boxes as you enjoy your time on Mykonos rambling through the narrow streets of Chora, sharing the sun-dappled courtyard with lazy cats and welcoming locals. You could choose to join an optional countryside tour with a Local Specialist, visiting several of the island's beaches, the 16th-century monastery at Ano Mera and Little Venice with its brightly painted wooden balconies overlooking the old harbour. Your cruise sails east to Turkey through the night.
A brief brush with the Turkish coast transports you back in time to what remains of the incredible ruins of Ephesus. Walk down the pillar-lined Curetes Street towards the ornate façade of the Library of Celsus and view what remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the World's Seven Ancient Wonders. Your next stop is Patmos, most famously the location where the disciple John wrote the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. See the Grotto of the Apocalypse first-hand when you join an Optional Experience with a Local Specialist, with time in medieval Hora to stretch your sea legs.
Europe's oldest city comes to life on your visit to the Palace of Knossos in Heraklion on the island of Crete. Walk through its imposing northern entrance and admire the bright wall paintings that were restored at the turn of the 20th century, revealing insights into Minoan civilisation several thousand years before Christ. The dramatic volcanic landscape of Santorini rising out of the deep blue Aegean is our final destination today. You'll have time to join an Optional Experience to some of the island's villages which cling to the volcanic cliffs, including Oia with its distinctive white buildings and blue-domed churches which vie for the best views over the caldera.
And just like that we're back in Athens after an exhilarating encounter with ancient Greek history and laid-back island life in the Aegean. You've seen the haunts of Socrates, Aristotle and Plato and admired many of the world's greatest ancient treasures. Close the curtain on stories that span several millennia as you disembark your cruise ship and transfer to the airport.
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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.
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 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
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 whitewashed 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 656 feet 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