Welcome drink in Athens; full buffet breakfast daily; 6 lunches; 11 three-course dinners with wine
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
ATHENS, GREECE. Welcome to Athens! At 6 pm, meet your traveling companions for a welcome drink with your Tour Director.
ATHENS. Sightseeing with a Local Guide features a visit to the world-famous ACROPOLIS, perched high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the city. Here, see the Parthenon, the Erechtheum with its Porch of Maidens, and the Temple of Athena Nike. Enjoy a panoramic view that includes glimpses of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Theater of Dionysus, and the beautifully preserved Theseum, where Socrates taught. Later, a city orientation tour features the Parliament House and a picture stop at the Panathenaic Stadium. Built in the 2nd century AD, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble, and was host to the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896. The rest of the day is at leisure. Tonight, perhaps join an optional dinner outing to sample local fare.
ATHENS–CORINTH–MYCENAE–EPIDAURUS–NAUPLIACross the spectacular Corinth Canal, then visit ANCIENT CORINTH, where St. Paul preached. Two highlights today: MYCENAE, where 19th-century excavations reveal impressions of the splendors so vividly described by Homer. Admire the Beehive Tombs, known as the Treasury of Atreus, Lion Gate, Europe’s oldest known monument, remains of Agamemnon’s Royal Palace, and the impressive fortifications of the Citadel. Also visit the museum. Then, a short drive to EPIDAURUS for a tour of its amazingly well-preserved 2,300-year-old open-air theater. Overnight in nearby Nauplia.
NAUPLIA–OLYMPIA. Spectacular scenery on the way through the Arkadian Mountains. Then, spend the afternoon in OLYMPIA, where athletes of antiquity competed in honor of the king of deities. Learn about the history of those original Olympic Games as you walk among the impressive remains of the Gymnasium and the Temples of Hera and Zeus. Also visit the MUSEUM that displays Praxiteles’ magnificent statue of Hermes. Tonight, [LF] enjoy a COOKING DEMONSTRATION and learn how to make the traditional Greek tzatziki appetizer.
OLYMPIA–PATRAS–DELPHI. Via the busy seaport of Patras, proceed to mystic Delphi. The afternoon is devoted to a fascinating tour of the ancient sanctuary of the god Apollo in its dramatic setting on Mount Parnassus. Hear about the Oracle and tour the EXCAVATIONS. End the day with a visit to the ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM to admire the Charioteer, an extraordinary 5th-century BC bronze statue. A highlight this evening is [LF] a DANCE LESSON, where you’ll learn how to dance the sirtaki, made famous in the movie Zorba the Greek, accompanied by a glass of Ouzo.
DELPHI–METEORA AREA. Drive past Lamia and Trikala to Kalambaka in the unreal, fantastic landscape of Meteora with its rock-top monasteries. Visit VARLAAM MONASTERY, famous for its frescoes, and ST. STEPHEN’S MONASTERY, featuring a unique collection of icons and an incredible panoramic view. (Ladies should pack one long skirt, as shorts or trousers may be inappropriate when visiting the monasteries.)
METEORA AREA–THERMOPYLAE–ATHENS. Today’s highlight is a guided visit to THERMOPYLAE, the site of the heroic battle of Leonidas’ 300 doomed Spartans against Xerxes’ huge Persian army. On the way back to Athens, your Tour Director will tell you about Thebes, the setting of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and Marathon, where 10,000 Athenians defeated more than twice that number of Persian invaders in 490 BC. Tonight, you may wish to join an optional dinner at a local restaurant.
ATHENS–PIRAEUS/LAVRION (EMBARKATION)–MYKONOS. Head for Piraeus/Lavrion, where you will sail into the deep-blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Later, dock at the mountainous island of Mykonos with its characteristic windmills and dazzling white houses.
AT LEISURE ON MYKONOS. A whole day to do just as you please. Relax in the sun on one of the beautiful golden sandy beaches or take a short boat ride to see the archaeological ruins on the nearby island of Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC, Delos was known in ancient times as a sacred sanctuary and, later, as the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis. (B,L,D)
CRUISING: MILOS. This afternoon experience volcanic Milos, known as the “Island of Colors” for its spectacular colorful rock formations. This Cycladic island is most famous for its ancient statue of Aphrodite—the world-famous Venus de Milo, which is on permanent display in Paris’ Louvre. Milos is also renowned for its magnificent beaches, picturesque villages, and catacombs that are older than Rome’s. Time to wander around the marble-paved streets or maybe visit one of the many churches, like Panagia Korfiatissa, affording spectacular sea views of the Aegean. (B,L,D)
CRUISING: SANTORINI. This morning, call at SANTORINI (weather permitting), the “Black Pearl of the Aegean.” The included excursion takes you to the cliff-top village of Oia for one of the world’s most breathtaking panoramas. (B,L,D)
AT LEISURE ON SANTORINI. Colorful, sun-soaked beaches, stunning views, and tastings at famous wineries are yours for discovering in your free time today. Maybe stroll along the cobblestone streets and enjoy the local atmosphere. Another possibility: an optional excursion to Akrotiri, the magnificent Minoan Bronze Age settlement. (B,L,D)
CRUISING: HERAKLION, CRETE. Dock at Heraklion on the island of Crete. A few miles away is KNOSSOS, the center of the 3000 BC Minoan civilization. (B,L,D)
CRUISING: KUSADASI, TURKEY. Port of call today: Kusadasi on the Turkish coast. Visit the fascinating Greek, Roman, and Byzantine excavations of EPHESUS. (B,L,D)
LAVRION/PIRAEUS (DISEMBARKATION)–ATHENS. After breakfast on board, disembark at Lavrion/Piraeus and return to Athens. Tonight you may wish to join an optional dinner at a local restaurant.
ATHENS. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.