Welcome drink in Athens; full buffet breakfast daily; 6 lunches; 11 three-course dinners with wine
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description, including admission charges where applicable.
Day 1 ATHENS, GREECE
Welcome to Athens! At 6 pm, meet your traveling companions for a welcome drink with your Tour Director.
Day 2 ATHENS
Sightseeing with a Local Guide features a visit to the world-famous ACROPOLIS, perched high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the city. Here, see the Parthenon, the Erechtheum with its Porch of Maidens, and the Temple of Athena Nike. Enjoy a panoramic view that includes glimpses of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Theater of Dionysus, and the beautifully preserved Theseum, where Socrates taught. Later, a city orientation tour features the Parliament House and a picture stop at the Panathenaic Stadium. Dating back to the 2nd century AD, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble, and was host to the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896. The rest of the day is at leisure. Tonight, perhaps join an optional dinner outing to sample local fare.
Day 3 ATHENS–CORINTH–MYCENAE–EPIDAURUS–NAUPLIA
Cross the spectacular Corinth Canal, and visit ANCIENT CORINTH, where St. Paul preached. Two highlights today: MYCENAE, where 19th-century excavations reveal impressions of the splendors so vividly described by Homer. Admire the Beehive Tombs, known as the Treasury of Atreus; the Lion Gate, Europe’s oldest known monument; the remains of Agamemnon’s Royal Palace; the impressive fortifications of the Citadel and visit the museum. A short drive brings you to EPIDAURUS for a tour of its amazingly well-preserved 2,300-year-old open-air theater. Overnight in nearby Nauplia.Today’s Distance: 132 mi / 212 km
Day 4 NAUPLIA–OLYMPIA
Spectacular scenery abounds on the way through the Arkadian Mountains. Spend the afternoon in OLYMPIA, where athletes of antiquity competed in honor of the king of deities. Learn about the history of those original Olympic Games as you walk among the impressive remains of the Gymnasium and the Temples of Hera and Zeus. Also visit the MUSEUM that displays Praxiteles’ magnificent statue of Hermes. Tonight, enjoy a COOKING DEMONSTRATION and learn how to make the traditional Greek tzatziki appetizer.Today’s Distance: 112 mi / 181 km
Day 5 OLYMPIA–PATRAS–DELPHI
Pass by the busy seaport of Patras, proceed to mystic Delphi. The afternoon is devoted to a fascinating tour of the ancient sanctuary of the god Apollo in its dramatic setting on Mount Parnassus. Hear about the Oracle and tour the EXCAVATIONS. End the day with a visit to the ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM to admire the Charioteer, an extraordinary 5th-century BC bronze statue. A highlight this evening is a DANCE LESSON, where you’ll learn how to dance the sirtaki, made famous in the movie Zorba the Greek, accompanied by a glass of Ouzo.Today’s Distance: 149 mi / 239 km
Day 6 DELPHI–METEORA AREA
Drive past Lamia and Trikala to Kalambaka in the unreal, fantastic landscape of Meteora with its rock-top monasteries. Visit VARLAAM MONASTERY, famous for its frescoes, and ST. STEPHEN’S MONASTERY, featuring a unique collection of icons and an incredible panoramic view.Today’s Distance: 155 mi / 249 km
Day 7 METEORA AREA–THERMOPYLAE–ATHENS
Today’s highlight is a guided visit to THERMOPYLAE, the site of the heroic battle of Leonidas’ 300 doomed Spartans against Xerxes’ huge Persian army. On the way back to Athens, your Tour Director will tell you about Thebes, the setting of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and Marathon, where 10,000 Athenians defeated more than twice that number of Persian invaders in 490 BC. Tonight, maybe join an optional dinner at a local restaurant.Today’s Distance: 236 mi / 380 km
Day 8 ATHENS–PIRAEUS (EMBARKATION)
Head to the port city of Piraeus, where your cruise ship awaits to whisk you into the crystal-blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
Day 9 CRUISING: ISTANBUL, TURKEY
This afternoon, arrive in Istanbul, founded as Byzantium more than 2,500 years ago. Catch glimpses of Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman sultans in the 15th century; Sultan Ahmed I’s Blue Mosque, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture; and Hagia Sophia, symbol of Istanbul.
Day 10 ISTANBUL
Another full day to experience this mesmerising gateway between the Orient and the Occident. A private tender boat will take you on your included CRUISE on the Bosphorus strait that divides Europe and Asia. Then back to dry land to stroll around the SPICE MARKET. Join a shore excursion to complete your visit in Istanbul. Your ship departs in the early evening.
Day 11 CRUISING: CANAKKALE
Enter the Dardanelles Strait and dock at Canakkale in northwestern Turkey. Choose from exciting optional excursions to learn about this strategic area which boasts Troy and Gallipoli, where wars have been waged throughout the centuries.
Day 12 CRUISING: VOLOS, GREECE
Back in Greece, explore lively Volos, the enchanting area where mythology’s centaur Chiron taught heroes such as Jason, leader of the Argonauts. You might enjoy visiting the archaeological museum, home to superb collections from the Neolithic, Hellenistic, and Byzantine eras.
Day 13 CRUISING: HERAKLION, CRETE
Discover Crete, the largest of the Greek islands. With an expert guide, visit KNOSSOS, center of the 3000-BC Minoan civilization. Stroll through the frescoed palace ruins with its ties to mythology’s King Minos and the terrifying half-man/half-bull Minotaur imprisoned in the labyrinth.
Day 14 CRUISING: SANTORINI, GREECE–MYKONOS
Visit two ports today. First (weather permitting) is SANTORINI, the “Black Pearl of the Aegean.” Don’t miss the included excursion to clifftop Oia, dramatically perched on the sheer side of the island’s caldera. With its brilliant whitewashed buildings, striking blue-domed roofs, and breathtaking views, this is Greece at its iconic best. Later, dock at Mykonos, where you’re greeted by the charming collection of windmills. Time to wander the narrow, shop-lined streets or to relax at a shaded taverna before returning to your ship.
Day 15 PIRAEUS (DISEMBARKATION)–ATHENS
After breakfast on board, disembark for a final day in Athens. Tonight is your chance to join an optional dinner outing to try the local fare.
Day 16 ATHENS
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.