Greece: Marvels of God and Nature

In this incomparable journey, you’ll truly see some of the marvels of ancient and modern Greece. Starting in Athens, explore the monuments that have stood testament to time, including the crown of Athens’ Golden Age, the Parthenon, and the nearby Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. Further afield, head to Delphi where the Oracle of Apollo, the Pythia, delivered the God’s messages in antiquity, and to Meteora to marvel at the mountaintop monasteries that house priceless works of Byzantine art. The Iliad will come alive as you visit King Agamemnon’s Mycenae, while Greek tragedies are still being performed today at the nearby Theater of Epidaurus. Round out your adventure with three days in Santorini, perhaps the most spectacular of the Greek Islands, and if time still allows, explore Crete on an optional extension, the largest Greek Island and one of the most dramatic.

Degree of Difficulty - Three Paws

Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.

Weather Reports - When To Go

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Greece; specifically May, June, September and October. Conditions are perfect between Greek Easter and mid-June, when the weather is pleasantly warm in most places and beaches and ancient sites are relatively uncrowded. Mid-June to the end of August is high season and is very hot – the beaches are crowded and the ancient sites are swarming with tour groups. Conditions are once again ideal in September until the end of October. November to February are the wettest months and it can get surprisingly cold. Snow is common on the mainland and in the mountains, and it occasionally snows in Athens. But there are also plenty of sunny days and it is quiet during this time of year.

Days 1/2/3 NEW YORK/ATHENS

Fly overnight to Athens, where you are escorted to your luxurious hotel. Your welcome dinner tonight will be at trendy Psiri. Enjoy delicious Greek cuisine, and sample “ouzo,” a Greek aperitif, and regional wines. Next day, explore some of Athens’ most important sites including the Parthenon, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Royal Palace, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the exciting new Acropolis Museum. Your hotel is a landmark in Greek hospitality with modern amenities and warm service, elegant décor and sublime views. ROYAL OLYMPIC HOTEL. (Meals Aloft; D; B)

Day 4 ATHENS/DELPHI/KALAMBAKA/METEORA

Start your journey of exploration to the great sites of classical Greece with a visit to Delphi. Visit the Archaeological Museum, one of the finest collections of historic art and artifacts in Greece. The star attraction is the larger than life Bronze Charioteer. The museum’s galleries represent a fabulous treasure trove of sculptures, artwork and priceless gifts offered to the sanctuary by wealthy devotees of the Greek gods. Continue to Kalambaka, a small country town situated at the point where the river Piniós emerges from the Pindos range onto the Thessalian plain. It lies close to Meteora, famous for its rock-top monasteries. Residing in the higher point of the region, Meteora Hotel offers the opportunity to admire the incomparable beauty of the natural landscape. METEORA HOTEL. (B)

Days 5/6 KALAMBAKA/METEORA/ATHENS

Today you visit two of the hill-built world renowned Meteora monasteries. Within the monasteries are portable icons, miniatures, ecclesiastical robes, utensils and crosses, all of them excellent examples of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art. You will also see rare editions and manuscripts. Return to Athens and en route visit Thermopylae and the Leonidas Monument, which commemorates the battle in 480 B.C. between Leonidas’ 300 Spartans and Xerxes’ Persian Army. The next day, visit the Benaki Museum of Greek Civilization, and immerse yourself in Greek art and material culture in a geographical and evolutionary context, from prehistory to the present. Also visit the Gennadius Library at the American School of Classical Studies, which is a center for the study of Greece since the end of Antiquity. This afternoon, an hour’s drive along the scenic coastal road takes you to Cape Sounion; here lies the Temple of Poseidon on one of the most stunning spots on earth. Returning back to your hotel you will stop for a barbecue dinner at Vari outside Athens. ROYAL OLYMPIC HOTEL. (B; B,L,D)

Day 7 NAUPLION/MYCENAE/EPIDAURUS

This morning’s drive takes you to Nauplion. With its marble pavements, looming castles and remarkable homogeneous architecture, Nauplion is the most elegant town in the Peloponnese. Afterwards, visit the Palace of Agamemnon, the Treasury of Atreaus, and the tomb of Clytemnestra in Mycenae. Your sightseeing is concluded with a visit to the ruins of Epidaurus, which include the foundations of the Temple of Asclepius, a sanctuaryof Egyptian gods, a sports stadium, odeon and bath complex. But without doubt, the major attraction is the wonderful theatre, with its legendary acoustics which amaze and delight 21st century audiences as performances are still held in this hallowed place. ROYAL OLYMPIC HOTEL. (B)

Days 8/9/10 ATHENS/SA NTORINI

Leave Athens behind, board your flight and brace yourself for fabulous Santorini, regarded by many as the most spectacular of the Greek islands. Upon arrival you are transferred to your hotel for the next three nights. On your second day here visit the Archaeological Museum with its fascinating collection, models and wall paintings from the Acrotiri excavations. Next, visit The Museum of Prehistoric Thira, which houses the findings belonging to one of the greatest regional civilizations of the prehistoric world. Your next stop is Oia and en route visit the village of Pyrgos, a village comprised of traditional houses built around a Venetian Castle and offering a panoramic view of the Aegean Sea. Built on the Caldera rim, Oia Village is an excellent example of Cycladic architecture. Accompanied by your guide, explore the village walking along the cobblestone streets and the white washed houses. During your stay you will visit a local winery for a wine tasting. The traditional and colorful architecture at your accommodations enhances the spacious surroundings. All rooms are tastefully decorated in the Cycladic style and offer modern comfort. HOTEL EL GRECO. (B Daily)

Days 11/12 SANTORINI/ATHENS/NEW YORK

Sadly find yourself at the airport for you short flight back to Athens. You will be transferred to your hotel where the rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the amenities of your hotel or do some sightseeing of your own. Tonight enjoy a festive farewell dinner at a restaurant in the Plaka area. The next morning, your journey comes to an end as you are transferred to the airport for your return flights home. You have just experienced a unique world, one that combines the thrill of ancient civilizations, warm hospitality and amazing natural beauty. ROYAL OLYMPIC HOTEL. (B,D; B, Meals Aloft)

OPTIONAL POST EXTENSION TO CRETE

Continue your unique journey in Crete, the southernmost and largest island in Greece, where snow-capped mountains, rolling hills and varied coastline set the stage for rich culture and a dramatic past. Arrive in Heraklion, the largest city in Crete. Explore the ruins of Knossos Palace, the seat of ancient Minoan culture, and continue to Rethymnon with its Venetian buildings, and Chania, a lovely city with eclectic influences. Here, too, you can see yet another testament to Crete’s historic importance – the Fortress of Frangocastello, built in 1340. Discover natural wonders like legendary Lake Kournas and Kotsiphos Gorge. A treasure trove of charming villages, ancient ruins, churches and history, Crete is indeed the perfect ending to your adventure.

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • Domestic air transfers (Athens/Santorini/Athens) on the main program.
  • Hydrofoil tickets from Santorini to Heraklion on the Crete post extension.
  • Flight between Chania and Athens on the Crete post extension.
  • Superior accommodations throughout as indicated or similar.
  • All transfers by air-conditioned motor coach or minibus, depending on size of group.
  • Services of English-speaking cultural guide throughout the tour.
  • Meals included: Welcome dinner, breakfast daily and a farewell dinner; all other meals as specified in the itinerary. (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All admission fees.
  • Wine tasting at a local winery in Santorini.
  • Gratuities for baggage handling, hotel tips and taxes.
  • Passport wallet and baggage tags.
Prices starting at $3,995. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.