The Grand Tour: 8-Day Sample Itinerary
Days 1 & 2: Athens, Cradle of Western Civilization
The antiquities of Athens bring to life the legends of Greek mythology and history. Travel up to the Acropolis, perched high above the city. Stroll the white marble halls of the Parthenon, just as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle did long ago. Visit Panathinaiko Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896. Walk through the forest of 56-ft. marble columns in the Temple of Olympian Zeus. View relics from these ruins at the National Archaeological Museum. Watch the crimson sunset over the majestic Temple of Poseidon. Enjoy the modern delights of Athens, such as meze and ouzo in a Greek taverna, and the upscale shopping and elegant cafes in Kolonaki Square.
Day 3: Peloponnese: Mycenae and Epidaurus
The Peloponnese is a treasure trove of castles, monasteries, and other ancient Greek sites. Begin in Mycenae, a military stronghold in 2 BC, and see the palace of King Agamemnon. Continue to the monumental amphitheater in Epidaurus, capable of seating 14,000 spectators and still in use today. For dinner enjoy the local culinary favorite cinnamon rabbit stew.
Day 4: Peloponnese: Olympia
Visit Olympia, ancient religious sanctuary and site of the ancient Olympic Games from 776 BC to 393 AD. The peaceful splendor of this ancient athletic playground comes not from buildings, most of which were destroyed by earthquakes, but from walking beneath the shady olive trees among the foundations, steps, and columns that remain. Take an afternoon jog in the stadium where the first Olympic races were held. See the re-erected column of the Temple of Zeus and the bronze dedications in the Museum of History of the Olympic Game of Antiquity.
Day 5: Delphi & Kalambaka
Perched on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus, above Delphi are the cliffs and crags of Mt. Parnassus and below is a plain of olive trees that stretches to the Gulf of Cornith – these vistas will make you see why the ancient Greeks believed it was the center of the world. Learn about Delphi’s long and glorious history as former site of the Pythian Games and religious sanctuary at the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, viewing its rich collections of architectural sculpture, statues, and objects donated.
Travel to the nearby village of Kalambaka for dinner. As you dine, marvel at the nearby Meteora rocks, which look as though the gods molded them by hand.
Day 6: The Suspended Rocks of Meteora
Visit the virtually inaccessible monasteries of Meteora, which means “suspended rocks.” Hermit monks lived in caves in the rocks in the 11th century , but fearing Turkish invasion they built these refuges on top of the doughy Meteora rock pillars. Ascending to the six remaining Greek Orthodox monasteries will as if you have ascended to the heavens.
Day 7: Athens
Take a scenic 1-day cruise of the Saronic Gulf Islands. Cruise by the ancient volcano of the Methana peninsula, the Aegina beach, the neoclassical buildings of Poros.
Day 8: Journey Home
Board your plane for a safe flight home.