Full buffet breakfast daily; 5 lunches, including lunch in Brindisi; 11 three-course dinners, including dinner at a local restaurant in Matera and Athens
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description, including admission charges where applicable.
Day 1 ARRIVE IN PALERMO, ITALY
Welcome to Palermo! At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner at your hotel.
Day 2 PALERMO
Sightseeing with a Local Guide features the ornate Piazza Bellini, Capo Market, the baroque Church of Immacolata, and a visit to the magnificent CATHEDRAL. Drive up to Monreale for a panoramic view of the Conca d’Oro and a visit to the 12th-century NORMAN CATHEDRAL, famous for its 50,000 square feet of precious Byzantine mosaics.
Day 3 PALERMO–AGRIGENTO–CATANIA
Arrive in Agrigento and meet your Local Guide for a spectacular walk through the magnificent VALLEY OF TEMPLES with its gigantic yet graceful Greek structures that miraculously survived 24 centuries of tormented history. Continue to Catania and enjoy an orientation walk in the center. In Piazza del Duomo see the lava stone statue of an elephant, the city’s symbol.Today’s Distance: 205 mi / 330 km
Day 4 CATANIA. EXCURSION TO SYRACUSE AND ORTIGIA
Head to Syracuse, birthplace of the mathematician Archimedes. Enter the ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE for a guided visit of the 5th-century-BC sparkling-white Greek Theater, the Garden of Paradise, the Ear of Dionysus, the Altar of Hieron II, the Roman Amphitheater, and the Cordmaker’s Cave. Another highlight is a visit to the pretty island of Ortigia.Today’s Distance: 93 mi / 150 km
Day 5 CATANIA–TAORMINA–COSENZA
Stop in the stunning hilltop town of Taormina, time to explore its streets and visit some sites. Cross the Straits of Messina by FERRY to reach mainland Italy for an interesting drive to the city of Cosenza. With your Local Guide discover the OLD TOWN. See the open-air museum and the contrastingly modern bridge by the architect Calatrava.Today’s Distance: 217 mi / 350 km
Day 6 COSENZA–MATERA
Drive to Matera famous for the sassi houses carved out of the rock. A special visit to CASA GROTTA has been arranged during your guided sightseeing. To top off the visit to this incredible town, dinner with local specialties has been arranged at a local restaurantToday’s Distance: 130 mi / 210 km
Day 7 MATERA–ALBEROBELLO–LOCOROTONDO–MARTINA FRANCA–LECCE
Today focus on the Itria Valley, one of Italy’s most fertile and beautiful valleys. Start with Alberobello where a Local Guide will take you for a walking tour of the town, and for a visit one of its unique TRULLI—whitewashed, stone, circular houses with pinnacled, conical roofs. Next, stop in the quiet hilltop town of Locorotondo, classified as one of the most beautiful borghi in Italy, then in lively, elegant Martina Franca. Continue to the “heel of Italy” and arrive in Lecce, where you will stay for two nights.Today’s Distance: 124 mi / 200 km
Day 8 LECCE
Admire the baroque buildings and squares during your walking tour with a Local Guide and understand why Lecce has been called the “Florence of the South.” Visit the impressive DUOMO and SANTA CROCE BASILICA. Later, an interesting optional excursion to Otranto is available.
Day 9 LECCE–BRINDISI–OVERNIGHT FERRY TO PATRAS, GREECE
Time to discover more of Lecce this morning before heading to the coastal city of Brindisi, endpoint of the Roman Appian way and the town from where Philleas Fogg left the continent in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. Lunch awaits in a local restaurant followed by a sightseeing tour of Brindisi. Later board your overnight FERRY and cross the Ionian sea to Greece.Today’s Distance: 37 mi / 60 km (excluding overnight ferry)
Day 10 PATRAS–ITEA
Enjoy the scenery as you approach busy Patras where you will disembark early afternoon. Take pictures of the Rion-Antirion Bridge, one of the world’s longest multi-span cable stayed bridges, crossing the Gulf of Corinth. Stop in Nafpaktos, a popular holiday destination and site of the Battle of Lepanto, beautifully located on a bay, before arriving at your hotel in Itea.Today’s Distance: 73 mi / 118 km
Day 11 ITEA. EXCURSION TO GALAXIDI
Learn about one of Greece’s most famous products—olive oil. The area around Itea is famous for its Amfissa olive trees which are protected by UNESCO. An OLIVE OIL TASTING with local specialties has been arranged for you. Later, stroll around the charming streets of the seaside town of Galaxidi, or sit in a seafront tavern and watch the world go by.Today’s Distance: 20 mi / 33 km
Day 12 ITEA–DELPHI–ATHENS
The morning is devoted to mystic Delphi. Meet your Local Guide and enjoy a fascinating tour of the ancient sanctuary of the god Apollo in its dramatic setting on Mount Parnassus. Hear about the Oracle and visit the EXCAVATIONS. Explore the ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM to admire the Charioteer, an extraordinary 5th-century BC bronze statue. Continue to Athens, Greece's proud capital.Today’s Distance: 125 mi / 200 km
Day 13 ATHENS
Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes 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, the Theater of Dionysus, and the beautifully preserved Theseum, where Socrates taught. Later, an orientation features the Parliament House and a picture stop at the Panathenaic Stadium. Built in 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, celebrate your journey with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 14 ATHENS–PIRAEUS (EMBARKATION)–MYKONOS
Embark in Piraeus, and sail into the deep-blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Later, dock at the mountainous island of Mykonos.
Day 15 CRUISING: KUSADASI, TURKEY–PATMOS, GREECE
Two ports of call today. First, Kusadasi on the Turkish coast. Visit the fascinating Greek, Roman, and Byzantine excavations of EPHESUS. Next stop at the tiny Greek island of Patmos, where St. John wrote the Revelation, and see the Grotto of the Apocalypse.
Day 16 CRUISING: RHODES
All day is dedicated to the island of RHODES. Explore the sights in the historic OLD TOWN with its ramparts and palaces built by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades. Next is LINDOS with the fabulous Temple of Athena. Sail from Rhodes in the evening.
Day 17 CRUISING: HERAKLION, CRETE–SANTORINI, GREECE
First port of call today is Heraklion on Crete. An optional excursion to Knossos, the center of the 3000 BC Minoan civilization, is available. Afternoon call (weather permitting) at Santorini, the “Black Pearl of the Aegean.” The optional shore excursion takes you to the cliff-top village of Oia for one of the world’s most breathtaking panoramas.
Day 18 PIRAEUS (DISEMBARKATION)–ATHENS
After breakfast on board, disembark at Piraeus and return to Athens.
Day 19 ATHENS
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.