Welcome to Greece! Transfer to your hotel upon arrival at Athens airport, where you may spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Our adventure begins with a tour of Greece's 3000-year old capital city, named after the goddess Athena. We start with a panoramic tour of important sites including the Panathenaic Stadium (where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896), Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Syntagma Square. Travelling back in time, we then enjoy a guided visit of the Acropolis, the ancient hilltop sanctuary housing the architectural masterpieces of Classical Athens: the Parthenon, Propylaia, Temple of Athena Nike, and Erechtheion. This is followed by a tour of the Acropolis Museum, recently voted one of the best museums in the world. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure in the old Plaka neighbourhood and maybe shop for some souvenirs on Ermou street.
Athens - Epidaurus - Mycenae - Olympia. After breakfast, we depart for the Peloponnese, the rocky peninsula home to many of Greece's greatest archaeological sites. First we stop at the gaping Corinth Canal, a narrow waterway separating the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. We continue to Epidaurus, a hub of ancient healing with a theater famed for its acoustics.
After a short seaside stop in Nafplion, we visit Mycenae, the ancient civilization described by Homer as "rich in gold" and excavated by Heinrich Schliemann. The site includes the towering Cyclopean walls, the beehive tomb of Agamemnon, and the famous Lion's Gate. In the afternoon, we cross the mountains of the Peloponnese to arrive in Olympia for dinner.
Olympia - Delphi. Built on the banks of the River Alfios, the lush green sanctuary of Olympia once housed the original ancient Olympic Games, held every four years in honour of Zeus. Today we enjoy a tour through its remains, including the Temple of Zeus, the Palaestra, and Phidias's workshop. We continue to the local museum, one of the richest in Greece with famous works such as the Hermes of Praxiteles. In the afternoon, we head return to mainland Greece, over the Rio-Antirio bridge, to Delphi for dinner.
Delphi - Kalambaka. The sanctuary at Delphi was revered in antiquity as a center of pilgrimage, home to the Pythia (oracle) in the Temple of Apollo. We will follow the Sacred Way, the path followed by ancient visitors through the sanctuary. We then visit the local museum, where we'll find the bronze Charioteer statue and the omphalos stone. Afterwards, we cross the mountains of central Greece back to the mainland, arriving in Kalambaka for our overnight stay.
Kalambaka - Athens. This morning we visit Meteora, a stunning World Heritage site where a series of towering rock formations shelter a number of sacred Eastern Orthodox monasteries. In the afternoon we return to Athens for the night, briefly stopping at Thermopylae, where King Leonidas and 300 Spartans made a famous last stand against the Persians in 480 BC.
Today offers free time to further explore the delights of Athens. Alternatively a optional tour to Cape Sounion and the temple of Poseidon will be available.
This morning transfer to the port for an exciting day cruise to the Saronic gulf islands. Our first stop will be the picturesque island of Hydra, well know to the international jetset. On Hydra you can explore the little cobble-stoned streets. You'll also have the opportunity to explore the Mitropolis at your own pace. Next, we visit the island of Poros with its clock tower facing the Peloponnese. Last comes Aegina, a weekend retreat for many Athenians. Make sure to buy some pistachios, as Aegina is world-famous for its production. A buffet lunch will be served on board, and on the way back you will have to opportunity to see and participate to some traditional Greek dances!
After breakfast this morning return to the port to board the elegant Celestyal Cruises ship and embark on a three night 'Iconic Aegean' cruise, from Athens to Santorini. We'll arrive in Mykonos this afternoon. Take advantage of the free shuttle service provide by the cruise line to explore the bustling Chora (Mykonos town) until late in the evening.
Mykonos - Patmos. Our cruise takes us to Turkey this morning, we sail to Kusadasi for an excursion to the town's covered bazaar and the ancient city of Ephesus, where the Temple of Artemis - among the Seven Wonders of the World - was once located.
Returning to the ship this afternoon, we continue back to Greece and the island of Patmos. Here we find the hilltop Monastery of St John and the Cave of the Apocalypse, where the apostle is believed to have witnessed the events of the Book of Revelation, an optional excursion to visit these places is offered.
Patmos - Rhodes. In the morning we arrive in Rhodes. An included 'medieval tour' takes in the sights of this World Heritage city, including the Acropolis of Lindos and the Citadel of the Knights (Old Town). Overnight, our cruise continues south to the island of Crete.
Rhodes - Heraklion - Santorini. We arrive in Heraklion, the capital of Crete, early this morning, where you have the option of an excursion to the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Immortalized in the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, this Bronze Age settlement stood at the heart of one of Greece's earliest civilizations. We reach the island of Santorini in the afternoon, where we leave our cruise and transfer to our hotel.
Enjoy a day at leisure in Santorini, an Aegean paradise widely considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Explore the whitewashed towns of Fira and Oia with their views of the volcano which birthed the island, watch the spectacular sunset from the black-sanded beaches, or cruise the caldera on a boat tour.
Our Greek odyssey ends today. Enjoy the morning at leisure before an included transfer to Santorini airport to meet your onward flight.