Joys of Greece
12 days with Alexander+Roberts Rating:
Day 1 Welcome to Athens
On arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the elegant King George Hotel. With a privileged location on Constitution Square, our luxury landmark has been welcoming distinguished guests for nearly a century. Museum, storied landmarks and the inviting shops and cafes of the historic Plaka district are all within walking distance. This evening, we’ll take you to one of our favorite Athenian tavernas for a congenial welcome dinner. (D)
Day 2 Glories of Ancient Athens
Inhabited for more than 7 millennia, Athens is a vibrant modern capital filled with some of the world’s most celebrated sites of antiquity. After breakfast, you’ll ascend the fabled Acropolis, the wooded rocky hill that dominates the center of the modern city. Upon its flat summit, you’ll find some of the greatest wonders of the Ancient World, standing in perfect harmony with their spectacular natural setting. Admire the graceful architecture of the Parthenon, dedicated to the Greek Goddess Athena, and behold the Erechtheion - built during the Golden Age of the city and famed for its statues of six maidens known as Caryatids.
Then tour the highly-regarded Acropolis Museum. Opened just 11 years ago, this strikingly modern landmark was built to exhibit nearly all of the artifacts excavated from the Acropolis. On the third floor is an exceptional display of the relief sculptures from the Parthenon frieze, depicting the Panathenaic Procession, a central celebration of Athens during Classical times. After sightseeing, the rest of the afternoon is yours to dine, explore and shop as you wish. This evening, we’ll take you to a performance at the outstanding new Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center – subject to the evolving performance schedule of this state-of-the-art facility. (B)
Day 3 The Temple of Apollo at Delphi
After breakfast and check out, leave the city behind as we take you on a scenic overland journey westward along the historic Peloponnese Peninsula. At the foot of Mt. Parnassus in a region of sublime natural beauty, you’ll visit the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary at Delphi, which had the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. According to mythology, two eagles were sent out by Zeus to find the center of the world; it was here that they crossed paths and for many centuries, Delphi was regarded as the cultural and religious center of the world and a symbol of unity for the Hellenic civilization. Encompassing some of the most sacred sites of Greek antiquity, your tour includes the Temple of Apollo, the Sacred Way, the Treasury of the Athenians and the Stadium built to accommodate 7,000 spectators!
End your sightseeing at the Delphi Archaeological Museum. Dedicated to the many artifacts unearthed at Delphi, its extensive collection includes the bronze Charioteer of Delphi, one of the most important statues of ancient Greece - cast at a time when aesthetic styles were transitioning from Archaic conventions to Classical ideals. You’ll spend the night at the stylish Hotel Kastalia, situated in the heart of the village of Delphi. (B+L)
Day 4 Monasteries in the Sky
After breakfast, depart Delphi to experience one of the world’s most awe-inspiring architectural assemblages. Here in central Greece, in a region of seemingly inaccessible sandstone peaks, medieval monks settled upon these towering pinnacles form the 11th century onwards. In the 1400’s, overcoming enormous logistical and engineering challenges, twenty four monasteries were built atop these “columns in the sky.” A century later, their remarkable frescoes heralded a key chapter in the development of post-Byzantine art. Only six of these ancient monasteries remain and today you’ll visit St. Stefanos. Built in the 15th century with sweeping views high above the Plains of Kalambaka, it is one of the few Meteora monasteries where nuns still reside - and the chance to engage with them adds a rich spiritual dimension to this historic site. Then continue to the lively port of Volos on the shores of the Pelion Peninsula and check in to the comfortable Hotel Xenia. (B+L+D)
Day 5 Untouched Villages of Pelion
As in ancient times, the hills of the Pelion Peninsula are deeply forested with chestnut, beech, olive and fruit groves. Its villages, too, exude a timeless air and you’ll spend this day with our engaging guide immersing in the region’s myriad charms. We’ll start our touring in Makrinitsa. This is one of the region’s most evocative villages, filled with winding cobbled streets, fine mansions and erstwhile noble residences embellished by tall windows and old stone walls. Situated on the side of a verdant mountain more than 2,000 feet above sea level, it’s often called the “Balcony of Pelion” and indeed the town’s main square is like a lovely terrace overlooking the surrounding hills and countryside . There are several frescoed churches from the 18th century to be explored and the village shops are known for their handicrafts and aromatic, locally-grown herbs. In the mountain village of Milies, you’ll visit the 18th-century Church of Taxiarchon, famed for its beautiful frescoes.
Midday finds us in the small village of Vyzitsa, sitting down to a traditional meal prepared by the village women exclusively for our group. After lunch, you’ll have leisure time to explore Vyzitsa at your own pace, strolling along its evocative cobbled streets and admiring its fine old homes. You’ll be back at the Hotel Xenia with time to refresh before dining on your own. Volos is not just a charming coastal port but also a vibrant university city. There are authentic tavernas, lively cafes and fine dining establishments, and our in-the-know guide is happy to offer personal dining recommendations and assistance. (B+L)
Day 6 The Ancient Sites of Volos
Steeped in myth and legend, the ancient Mycenaean city of Iolkos was famed as the birthplace of Jason, the leader of the Argonauts who journeyed to the shores of the Black Sea to secure the fabled Golden Fleece. Descending this morning toward the shores of the Pagasetic Gulf, you’ll join our expert guide to explore the archaeological site at Dimini. Heralded as one of the finest Neolithic sites in Greece, this ancient settlement was settled around 5,000 BCE and flourished for nearly 300 years. Excavations at Dimini have shed much light on daily life during the Neolithic Period and scholars also believe that it eventually grew to become the Mycenaean town of Iolkos.
For lunch, we’ll take you to one of our favorite restaurants in the modern city of Volos, celebrated for its culinary scene. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the Archaeological Museum, esteemed for its fine collection of artifacts excavated from the ancient sites around Volos; it’s the perfect summation of this morning’s foray into antiquity! End your day with an exclusive visit to the Volos Lyceum, where the staff will lead a private tour of the beautiful local costumes on display. Then return to the Hotel Xenia and enjoy this evening at leisure. (B+L)
Day 7 Across the Seas to Skiathos
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the pier to board the morning ferry. Travel across the brilliantly blue waters of the Pagasetic Gulf and into the Aegean Sea. On arrival on the idyllic island of Skiathos, your guide will take you to lunch in one of the lively tavernas – or perhaps to a local tsipourádika, known for their variety of delicious small plates, similar to tapas. Then check in to the Hotel Elivi, set in verdant hills overlooking the sea. (B+L)
Day 8 An Idyllic Greek Island
Skiathos is probably the most well-known and popular of the Sporades Islands, drawing visitors with its many lovely beaches, forested hills, ancient vineyards, and groves of fig, olive, plum and almond trees. After breakfast, join our engaging guide to explore a bit of the island, starting with the Old Town of Skiathos. By night, especially in the peak season months of July and August, the labrynthine streets are abuzz with residents and visitors out to enjoy the island’s celebrated cafes, bars, restaurants and nightlife. But at this morning hour, its narrow cobbled streets are quiet - and the handsome stone and whitewashed buildings that house the town’s popular shops, cafes and tavernas exude their timeless charm. Then heading into the fragrant pine and cypress clad hills that climb above the town, you’ll visit the Evangelistria Monastery. Founded in the 1700’s, its historic importance can be traced to the Greek Revolution of the early 19th century when a group of freedom fighters met here and flew the newly-designed Greek flag – a white cross agains a sky-blue background. After sightseeing, your afternoon is at leisure to enjoy as you wish. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a festive Farewell Dinner. (B+L)
Day 9 A Day on Skopelos
If there’s a bit of déjà vu as you step off the ferry on this nearby island, perhaps it’s because you recognize the photogenic town of Chora and the way it climbs the hills above the harbor from the hit movie Mama Mia. Now, with the film crew and celebrities long gone, the timeless ambiance of this idyllic island is once again palpable. Along with its abundant charm and beauty, the island is home to a number of medieval churches and you’ll join our expert guide this morning to explore a few of the most interesting and important ones. Tracing its history back nearly 1,000 years, the Church of Agios Athanasios is built on the ruins of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to Athena and its terrace offers superb views of the Aegean Sea; inside, you’ll discover breathtaking frescoes that date back to the 16th century.
You’ll also visit the island’s Folklore Museum; though not large, the museum is set inside a traditional island home, originally built in 1795, and filled with authentic period furnishings, clothing and artisan-made tools and ceramics. Your last stop of the day is a 17th-century nunnery set on a hillside amidst virgin pine forests. After sightseeing, return by ferry to Skiathos for a free evening. (B+L)
Day 10 Day at Leisure
This entire day is yours to enjoy the idyllic and tranquil beachfront setting of our luxury beach resort. If you’re craving a bit more action, you might also head into town where you’ll find lively wine bars, cafes and tavernas – offering fine views of the harbor or tucked away down winding cobblestone streets. (B)
Day 11 Back to Athens
Fly to Athens this morning and check in to the Hotel Sofitel, conveniently located across from the terminal. This afternoon, tour the Temple of Poseidon; dedicated to the mighty ancient Greek God of the Sea, these majestic and towering ruins are spectacularly perched at the tip of Cape Sounion overlooking the Aegean. Then after a festive farewell dinner of traditional Greek cuisine, we’ll take you back to your hotel. (B+D)
Day 12 Depart Athens
After breakfast, cross to the terminal for your onward flight. (B)
All This Included
From Athens, our off-the-beaten-path itinerary brings to life the ancient sites, romantic villages and idyllic islands you thought existed only in history textbooks or on the silver screen! With never more than 16 guests and our expert Trip Leader, you’ll enjoy enriching sightseeing, wonderful meals and authentic cultural engagement.
Athens: King George Hotel
Delphi: Hotel Kastalia
Volos: Hotel Xenia
Skiathos: Hotel Elivi
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.