Athens & Crete
Arrive at the airport of Athens where our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. In the evening a “welcome” cocktail party will take place followed by a “welcome” dinner.
This morning you get acquainted with the city of Athens starting with the world renown Acropolis, where you can see the architectural miracles of the Golden Age of Pericles and Pheidias: the Propylea, the Nike Temple, the Erechtheum and, above all, the Parthenon (Temple of Athena). Have a panoramic view of the city and observe the Monument of Philopappus, the Pnyka, the Areopagus and more. You will also visit the new Acropolis Museum which has a total area of 25,000 square meters, with exhibition space of over 14,000 square meters, ten times more than that of the old museum on the Hill of the Acropolis. The new Museum offers all the amenities expected in an international museum of the 21st century. Walk down to the Agora, north of the Acropolis hill, and explore the excavational site. Admire the Temple of Hephaistus, the remains of the Odeon of Agrippa and the restored Stoa of Attalus, which has been turned into an exquisite museum with a number of artifacts, that you cannot find in other museums. Afterwards, walk to Kerameikos, the public cemetery of ancient Athens and study the interesting collection of exhibits in its small Museum, the grave stelae and other funerary monuments, which can be seen “in situ” at the archaeological site.
Begin with a bus-tour of Athens to see the landmarks of our capital; Constitution Square with the House of Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Old Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Residence of the Greek President and more. Spend the rest of the morning at the National Archaeological Museum, one of the finest in the world, whose collections offer a great overview of the long Greek history and of the ancient civilizations you will come across during your trip. The Cycladic figurines, the Mycenean treasures, and the Santorini frescoes are just a few of the collections that are not to be missed.
Your five-day classical tour of Greece begins with the scenic drive to the legendary canal of Corinth, where you stop for pictures. Drive on to the Homeric city of Mycanae to see the remains of this prehistoric acropolis, its Palace, the Grave Circles and the famous bee-hive Tombs. This was the kingdom of Atreus and his son Agamemnon, the leader of the Greeks in the campaign against Troy. Continue to Epidaurus which was known in antiquity as a healing center, a place where the god of medicine Asclepios was worshipped. Nowadays, thousands of people visit the area to admire its fantastic acoustics. In the afternoon we arrive to Olympia for dinner and overnight.
Spend the morning in Olympia, admiring the splendors of this unique place, where the ancient Greek ideas of unity, peace and fair play flourished. See the impressive ruins of Hera’s and Zeus’s Temples, the Leonidaion, the Workshop of the sculptor Pheidias and of course, the famous Stadium where the Olympic Games were held. Also visit the Museum with its new display of amazing pieces of sculpture and pottery and the architectural remains of the ancient edifices. Don’t miss the pride of this museum, the “Hermes” of Praxiteles, one of the most wonderful ancient statues ever made. Then go north to Patras and drive on the brand new “hanging” bridge which connects the Peloponnese with the region of Continental Greece, in order to reach Delphi. In the evening dinner and overnight in Delphi.
This breathtaking place was believed to be the “navel” (omphalos) of the world and Apollo’s most important and famous oracle was there. Follow the Sacred Way up to Apollo’s Temple, where his priestess Pythia delivered his oblique prophecies, marvel at the beauty of the landscape and study the remains of the Roman Market-place, the Treasuries (especially the restored Athenian Treasury), the Stoa of the Athenians, the Theater and the Stadium of Delphi, where athletic contests used to take place in honor of Apollo, the god of Light. Then, proceed to the exquisite Museum, which is full of masterpieces, all of them “ex votos” of the ancient pilgrims, who came to take the advice of Apollo. The pride of the Museum is the bronze “Charioteer” (Hniohos), one of the finest examples of classical sculpture of the “severe style”, but, of course, there is more to see: the Archaic Kouroi, the Sphinx of the Naxians, the Frieze of the Athenian Treasury, the Statue of Antinoos, and other excellent works of art. Continue to Kalambaka, for dinner and overnight.
Here you find scenery of unique and striking beauty: on top of huge granite pinnacles, you see the ageless Meteora Monasteries full of treasures of Christian art. See the amazing Byzantine monasteries of Meteora, perched on top of gigantic rock pinnacles and drive from Kalambaka to Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great and second capital of the ancient Macedonian kingdom, where you can see the fantastic Hellenistic mosaic floors, made of natural pebbles in the Museum and the excavational site. From Pella you continue to Lefkadia, to get a first taste of the impressive Macedonian tombs, and then on to Vergina (ancient Aiges), first capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. Here you see the tombs of Vergina and the breathtaking collection of golden artifacts, which were found inside these two unplundered tombs of Philip of Macedon and the Young Prince. Return to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight.
Today you can get acquainted with the city of Cassander, brother-in-law of Alexander the Great, which was built in 315 B.C. and named after his wife, the sister of Alexander Thessaloniki. Drive around the center of Thessaloniki to see some of the most famous monuments of the city, like the White Tower, the Arch of Galerius, the area of the Acropolis with the Byzantine Walls and others. Visit the Archaeological Museum, to see the treasures from the excavations in Northern Greece. Afterwards you drive back to Athens. On the way back, you view the legendary mountain Olympus, the Byzantine Castle of Platamonas, the beautiful Valley of Tembi, and the famous Thermopylae Pass, (with a stop at the Leonidas Monument, where the battle of the 300 Spartans took place). This evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner in Plaka.
You will be transferred to the Athens International Airport for your flight back home, full of wonderful memories from your journey.