Step back in time as you travel with your local leader to the Athens Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Prodromos monastery, where you’ll enjoy a coffee with a local monk.. Experience the romantic side of Greece when you stay in a gorgeous and traditionally decorated stone mansion in the medieval village of Dimitsana – your feature stay for this trip.. Visit the legendary theatres of the very first Olympic Games – the stadium, gymnasium, wrestling school, priest houses, temples and hippodrome.. Be amazed by the magical monasteries and ancient rock pinnacles of Meteora and learn about the natural and cultural history of one of Greece’s most extraordinary sights.
Much like a fine baklava, modern day Greece is layered with history so rich and complex that the only way to do it justice is to see it for yourself. Explore the country with a local leader and learn how the spectacular hanging monasteries of Meteora protected modern Hellenic culture from invading Turks, then trace a path through tumble-down ruins in Delphi. Visit the site of the world’s first Olympics, stop in at pretty seaside villages in Nafplion, and discover the secrets behind Greek honey and ouzo, all on this whirlwind adventure.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 2
Welcome to Greece! Your journey begins in Athens, Greece's storied capital. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel where you will meet your tour leader and group for a 6pm welcome meeting. There is a lot to do and see here in one of the world's oldest cities, so you may wish to arrive a few days early to allow time for exploration. The Archaeological Museum of Athens is highly recommended. After your meeting, head out for an included dinner with the group at one of Athen’s marvellous restaurants. Your leader will introduce you to some traditional Greek fare that’s a real treat for the taste buds, and perhaps you’d like to toast the beginning of the adventure with a glass of raki or ouzo.
Athens / Kalambaka
Today you’ll get to know ancient Athens during visits to two of the city’s most famous sites. Your tour leader will bring history to life as you visit Temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest temple in all of Greece. Then it’s on to the famous Acropolis, one of the Western world’s most important historical structures. Meet with an expert local guide who will provide profound insight into the history and legacy of the civilisations who lived in this ancient citadel. Start with an ascent to the top via the towering entrance, the Propylaia. Once inside, encounter the Parthenon – the greatest Doric temple in the ancient world. Later in the afternoon, drive north to the town of Kalambaka, nestled at the base of the striking Meteora Mountains. This evening you can choose to have dinner at the hotel or perhaps take a short walk into town and dine at one of the local tavernas.
Meteora / Kalambaka
After breakfast, travel into the hills for a walk through the incredible monasteries of Meteora. The ancient stone buildings, which sit precariously on soaring cliffs, make these mountains one of Greece's most extraordinary natural and cultural sites – there’s truly nowhere else in the world like it. Settlement of the area dates back to the 11th century, when hermit monks first settled in the hidden caverns of Meteora. Begin your hike at the nearby Kastraki village, see the ruins of the Pantokrator monastery, cross a lush forest and walk through the huge rocks of Meteora with your leader by your side to guide you and answer questions on the awe-inspiring landscape and the history behind it. You will have the opportunity to visit a number of the monasteries, one of which will be the Moni Varlaam (Varlaam Monastery) with its fine examples of late Byzantine frescoes. Return to Kalambaka in the afternoon.
Delphi / Itea
Enjoy breakfast before travelling to Delphi. On arrival visit the fascinating Sanctuary of Apollo in Ancient Delphi, home to the Delphi Oracle. Your leader will tell you that legend has it that Zeus released two eagles from different ends of the world, and Delphi was where they came together. Zeus then threw a Sacred Stone at this same point, making Delphi the centre of the world. Walk through the complex and explore the Temple of Apollo, the most important building of the site. This is where statues and offerings to the gods were housed, and where cult rituals took place. You will also see the Sanctuary of Athena, the 4th-century BC theatre and the well-preserved stadium during your visit. There will also be time to visit the Delphi Museum if you wish. Continue to your overnight stop in the small coastal town of Itea.
Itea / Olympia / Dimitsana
This morning, visit a family of local beekeepers to learn about honey production, see the beehives and of course taste some of the delicious local honey. Next, drive on to the archaeological site of ancient Olympia. Stop en-route at the village of Galaxidi or Nafpaktos for a visit to a traditional family-owned bakery offering stuffed pastries and famous sesame round bread. Chat to the owner and get a glimpse at local life. Olympia is a complex that once comprised temples and public buildings, and was the site of the first Olympic Games. Your leader will show you the main stadium, gymnasium, wrestling school, priest houses, Temple of Hera, Temple of Zeus and the hippodrome. Continue to the enchanting medieval village of Dimitsana, home to your feature stay accommodation for the next two nights. Sitting pretty at the base of the Arcadian mountains is the gloriously romantic stone guesthouse of En Dimitsani. Traditionally decorated rooms delight with modern comforts, cosy fireplaces and panoramic balconies. Settle in for an evening in lodgings just as gorgeous as their idyllic surroundings.
Central Arcadia / Dimitsana
Today join your leader for an exploration of the central part of the Peloponnese peninsula and the spectacular Lousios Valley. Walk deep into the valley to the incredible working monastery of Prodromos. This wood and clay structure, which has stellar views over the valley below, was built precariously into a rock face. Gain a special look into the lives of the local monks as they show you around on a tour of their home and offer you a coffee or the local specialty, the Greek delight. See the splendid 14th-century frescoes decorating the rock walls inside the chapel. Further along on the hike, visit the tenth-century Byzantine monastery of Philosophou. Learn how this monastery was the base for a secret school known as 'Kryfo Scholio', which was run by monks during Ottoman rule to teach Greek children their own language and religion. Later on, visit the medieval villages of Stemnitsa, Karitena and Andritsena. Return to Dimitsana.
Nafplion / Epidaurus / Athens
This morning drive to the delightful seaside town of Nafplion (Nafplio), the original Greek capital. Stop in for a tasting of Greece’s most celebrated drink – Ouzo. A taste of this anise-infused alcohol will take you straight to the heart of Greek culture. Chat to the experts and learn how Greece’s national drink is made. Enjoy some time to take in Nafplion’s charms. Perhaps explore one of the town's three fortresses, or head to the seaside promenade – lined with lively cafes and restaurants, this is a great place to watch local life unfold. Of course, your friendly leader will be on hand to offer suggestions. Later, continue to ancient Epidaurus (Epidavros), the most famous healing centre of the Greek and Roman world. The highlight of Epidaurus is the third-century theatre, one of Greece's best-preserved classical structures. The theatre has incredible acoustics and is still used today for major performances. Return to Athens in the afternoon.
Your journey comes to an end in Athens after breakfast. We are happy to book additional accommodation for those wishing to see more of the city, subject to availability. Please enquire at the time of booking.