Day 1 : Athens
Upon arrival in Athens, transfer to your hotel for overnight.
Athens alone is worth a trip to Greece.
The Acropole, the Parthenon, the National Museum, the Plaka area, the Syndagma (Constitution) Square alone are worth to go to Athens.
Athens, capital of modern Greece, at its foundation in 3000 B.C. was a small fortified village at the top of the Acropole. It owes its name to the Goddess Athena who won a fight against Poseidon.
Athens, today, counts about 4 million inhabitants. To discover the city, wandering in through the tiny streets and the popular areas are incomparable : bazaars, gardens, Byzantine churches and magnificent ruins remind the turbulent past and dynamical present of Athens.
Overnight in Athens.
Day 2 : Athens
Athens Sightseeing with Acropolis Museum :
From Tuesday to Sunday, all year round - Dep: 08:30 - Ret: 13:30
From the Acropolis to Omonia Square, with the half-day sightseeing and Acropolis museum tour you'll see all the famous sites of ancient and modern Athens on this comprehensive morning tour. Offering a perfect overview of the modern city, this guided halfday tour will help you get your bearings if this is your first visit to Athens.
The Athens half-day tour depart for a photo stop at Panathinaiko Stadium where the first Olympic Games took place in 1896. It is the only stadium built out of white marble. Proceed, passing by Zappeion and Temple of Olympian Zeus. You will then pass the Athens Trilogy which includes the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, and the National Library. Continue passing by National Garden, Hadrian’s Arc, St. Paul’s Church, Parliament, Tomb of the Unknown soldier, Schliemann’s House (Numismatic Museum), Catholic Cathedral, Old Parliament, Constitution Square ,Russian Orthodox Church, and finally ACROPOLIS (visit Propylae, Temple of Athena Nike, Parthenon, Erechtheion with its Porch of Maidens). Continue the expert guided Athens sightseeing and museum tour with a pleasant short walk passing by Herodion and Dionysos Theater, in order to visit the ACROPOLIS museum.
Avoid and skip the lines of the new museum. Main attractions such as votives, artifacts of every day life, statues from archaic period, Caryatids, and of course the Parthenon hall with the metopes, the pediments and the frieze will impress you.
Free afternoon to stroll the “Plaka” (old town) area.
After dinner, transfer to Piraeus where we will embark the overnight ferry to Heraklion, Crete. (Ferry schedules are changeable. If there is not an overnight ferry then you will stay in Athens on that night and take the ferry to Heraklion the other day.)
Day 3 : Heraklion
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own poetry, and music). Crete was once the centre of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe.
Visit to Knossos and the Archaeology Museum :
We'll start the tour in the morning with a visit to Knossos and its famous palace, a major city of the Minoan civilization 4,000 years ago. The palace is a few kilometers from Heraklion and covers more than 20,000 sq. meters (24,000 sq yd).
We'll continue with a visit of the town of Heraklion, with time for lunch and a short walk through its shopping center.
In the afternoon, there will be a guided tour of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, which contains some of the most important artifacts of the Minoan civilization and is considered to be one of the five most important museums in Greece.
Overnight in Heraklion.
Day 4 : Heraklion
More excursion possibilities from Heraklion:
Unknown Crete :
This tour will be an unforgettable journey through the countryside of Crete, to the unspoiled village of Zaros. After a short walk through the Zaros gorge, along a unique path full of trees, flowers, and herbs, and accompanied by singing birds, we will arrive at the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos, with the remarkable and well-known hospitality of its nuns. Lunch will be a delightful surprise, with fresh fish from a local fishery, served with Cretan specialties and unlimited house wine.
Southeast Crete :
This unforgettable tour of southeast Crete begins with a drive along the Gulf of Mirabello and then across the narrowest part of Crete, arriving at Ierapetra where we stop for a coffee break. We continue across the mountains to Sitia, a small and quiet town, and a short drive from there takes us to one of the most beautiful and renowned beaches of Crete, the palm tree beach of Vai. On the way back, we'll visit the extraordinary Monastery of Toplou. It looks like a castle in the desert, and is well known for the paintings of Kornaros. Some of the most important Cretan icons are found here.
The Samaria Gorges :
The famous Samaria Gorge is again open to nature lovers, after being closed for many months due to a landslide. For an unforgettable experience of the true, unspoiled natural beauty of Crete, there is nothing that can compare with a hike through the Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe. The entire trek takes about 5 hours of hiking. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the world! At the end of the gorge, you reach Agia Roumeli, a small fishing village. There, you can swim and enjoy the food in one of the local tavernas. In the afternoon, you'll travel by boat along the south coast to Chora Sfakion, where you will board the bus for the trip back to your hotel.
Overnight in Heraklion.
Day 5 : Heraklion or Santorini
Day at leisure in Crete or you may also consider a day tour by ferry to Santorini.
Also classically known as “Thera” and officially as Thira, the island of Santorini is located in the southern Aegean Sea about 200km (120Mi) southeast from Greece’s mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It is the most southern island of the Cyclades group of islands with a population of around 14.000.
Overnight in Heraklion or Santorini
Day 6 : Rhodes
Transfer to the airport and flight to Rhodes. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and time at leisure. If your time allows, you may wish to already stroll through the streets of the Castle and enjoy the Middle-Age atmosphere.
Rhodes : No trip to the island is complete without a visit of the wonderfully preserved Rhodes Town, a medieval centre (Castle of the Templers) complete with fortified walls and charming cobbled streets - a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. Take a trip to the Palace of the Grand Masters and the Colossus..
Overnight in Rhodes
Day 7 : Rhodes
You may consider any of these activities :
This picturesque village, ancient in history, located on the south east coast of the island. It is one of the most popular travel locations in Greece and the Mediterranean, because of the relaxed atmosphere, the friendly local inhabitants, and the pristine condition in which you find the town itself, and its well-kept beaches. The old town itself is a maze of picturesque narrow streets with most of the small shops openly displaying wares from unique clothes and jewelry, to pottery, custom made sandals and leather goods, and regional crafts. It’s as shopaholics dream and you can spend hours browsing through the shops or taking a break in the villages many restaurants and ethnic bars.
The Butterflies Valley :
In the western side of the island of Rhodes, approximately five kilometers south east of the village of Theologos (or Tholos), lies the Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloudes). This is one of the most attractive destinations on the island. During August, thousands of butterflies of the genus Panaxia (species Quadripunctaria Poda) overwhelm the valley in order to reproduce. During the rainy period, the Butterflies in the caterpillar stage remain in the Mediterranean thicket (arbutus, myrtle and rush) feeding on the foliage. As the end of the wet season approaches, towards the end of May, the final stage is concluded and the butterfly in all her perfection makes her appearance in the form recognizable to us all. They move constantly towards areas of highest humidity is greatest, always following the "water ways", as the dry period progresses, they finally arrive at the valley.
Overnight in Rhodes.
Day 8 : Marmaris
Today you will enjoy a complete day in Rhodes.
The Knights' medieval citadel, dominated by the towers of the Palace of the Grand Masters, forms the centre of the Old Town. Moats and two miles of walls surround this medieval castle. Eleven gates give access to the Old Town, which is divided into the Collachium (the Knight's quarters) and the Bourg (houses the rest of the population). As one of the finest walled cities in existence, the Old Town is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Palace of the Grand Masters permanently houses the Medieval Rhodes and Ancient Rhodes Exhibitions. Both of these exhibitions can be seen as part of a tour of the Palace of the Grand Masters. The medieval exhibition covers Rhodes from the 4th century AD to the Turkish conquest of 1522, and the ancient exhibition details 45 years of archaeological investigation on the island with a stunning collection of finds.
At the end of the day, ferry to Marmaris for overnight.
Overnight in Marmaris.
Day 9 : Kusadasi
In the morning, we depart for Selcuk and will visit the archaeological site of Ephesus and its area :
Meet at your hotel with your tour guide and driver and depart for the Shrine of Virgin Mary.
After a short visit of this site, we will proceed to the upper gate of Ephesus. The visit of this site is expected to take between 1,5 and 2 hours.
Ephesus, famous in antiquity for its Temple of Artemis - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - and later the home of St. John. As you arrive at Ephesus, enter the ancient site through the Magnesian Gate, follow your guide as you discover the monuments such as the Forum, the Odeon, the Library of Celsus, the Thermal Baths of Scholastica and the Great Theatre, built in the Greek era and reconstructed in the Roman period, which is still remarkable for its acoustics. Observe the symbols and ancient Greek inscriptions all around which can still be read. As your guided tour comes to an end, leave Ephesus along the Arcadian Way, where once Mark Anthony and Cleopatra rode in procession.
Driving back to Kusadasi, just outside Ephesus , you will notice the Basilica of St. John, erected over the grave of St John in the 6th Century AD by the Emperor Justinian.
Just downhill, lays the site of the famous Temple of Artemis, today in ruins.
If you wish, you may consider visiting the Terraces Houses (instead of the Shrine of Virgin Mary), an exhibit of several antique mansions representing lifestyle and decoration of the Antique period.
In the afternoon, we propose two alternatives :
1. You proceed with visit of archaeological sites such as the Basilica of Saint John, the Mosque of Isabey and the Archaeology Museum of Selcuk.
2. Take a lighter program and enjoy a tour to the old Greek village of Sirince where - while strolling the streets - you will enjoy fruit wine tasting and / or admire handmade household linen.
Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 10 : Cappadocia
In the morning, we will fly from Izmir to Cappadocia (direct or via Istanbul). Upon arrival at the airport of Kayseri, meet with your driver and join the group tour “Goreme” :
Program of the day :
Goreme Open Air Museum : Goreme was known, in the ancient times as Korama. The first references to it are in the early 7th Acts of St.Hieron, a 3rd C. saint, a native of Matianoi, or the modern Maccan. Goreme is an amphitheatre surrounded by steep cliffs leading to a pleasant, verdant valley, which puzzles every single visitor, by the interesting access to the many caves. The place we refer as the Goreme Open Air Museum is located in a small part of the whole valley and right next door to the modern village of Goreme. It is famous for its monastic complex of rock churches and chapel covered with frescoes.
At the end of the tour, transfer to your hotel and overnight.
Day 11 : Cappadocia
Early birds may want to enjoy a warm air balloon ride before continuing with the program:
Enjoy a unique Sunrise balloon ride and view the lunar landscape of Cappadocia. Balloon, though agreed for up to 20 passengers, are rarely taking off with more than 12 persons. Return to your hotel for breakfast before joining a group tour.
A choice: Kaymakli Underground City: Kaymakli is one of the largest underground cities in Cappadocia with eight stories. It covers an area of approximately 4 km2 /1.5SM. Visitors can see only about 10% of the city by going down a maximum of five floors. The population of Kaymakli is thought to have been about 3000.
Overnight in Cappadocia. Unless you prefer to already depart for Istanbul…
Day 12 : Istanbul
Today we will visit the capital of three empires, the only city spread over two continents, bridge between East and West... a metropolis full of surprises!
The highlights of this city, the must do’s are the Ayasofya Museum, the Topkapi Palace, the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, the Hippodrome…!
To better feel, live Istanbul, we propose a walking tour (max. 2km):
Our visits will start at the Saint Sophia, a basilica built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century. Once the symbol of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul and reconverted to a mosque, the Saint Sophia is today a museum and one of the architectural marvels of all times.
Just opposite the Saint Sophia, the Sultanahmet Imperial Mosque : this building of the 16th century is also known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles.
The Hippodrome was the scene of chariot races in the Byzantine times. The three monuments in the middle, the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine column and the Column of Constantine, are relics of these glorious times.
After lunch, we continue with the visit of the Topkapi Palace, the palace of the Ottoman sultans for about 5 centuries which today houses a marvelous collection of crystal, silver and Chinaware, robes worn by the sultans and their families, the imperial jewels, miniatures. Except from these you will also enjoy wandering in the gardens entering imperial rooms and salons.
Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 13 : Istanbul
The Bazaars and the Bosphorus :
For those who want to enjoy there time in Istanbul other than by visiting, we propose a tour of the famous Istanbul covered and Egyptian bazaars.
The Covered bazaar is a labyrinth of streets and passages counting more than 4000 shops where each trade has its own area : goldsmiths, carpet sellers, arts and crafts such as ceramic plates, copperware, brassware, onyx ware and meerschaum pipes. While wandering in this historical shopping mall, enjoy also shopping.
The covered bazaar is closed on Sundays, official and religious holidays. At the end of the Covered Bazaar, you will enter the Egyptian Bazaar also known as the Spice Bazaar.
After lunch, we will head for the Eminönü pier where we will embark a 2 hours cruise on the Bosphorus sailing up along the European shore and back along the Asian shore. The unique view of the Yalis (wooden mansions along the water), the Rumeli Fortress are among the attractions of this cruise.
Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 14 : Istanbul
For your last day, we propose at choice :
- A boat tour to the Princes' Islands, former land of exile of the Byzantine Princes and today a quiet holidays destination; - An excursion to either Bursa, first Ottoman capital, or to Iznik, the first consular city;
- A stroll through the new town “Taksim – Beyoğlu”
- Visit some of the famous museums of Istanbul such as the Fethiye and Chora museums or even the Dolmabahce palace.
- Enjoy a Turkish bath…
Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 15 : Home Sweet Home
After a last night and breakfast in Turkey, the time to return to the airport has come. For international flights the departure from your hotel will be 3 hours prior to expected take-off. Yet, you may be lucky and only need to depart in the afternoon. This may be an opportunity to visit the Museum of Archaeology and / or the Museum of Ottoman and Islamic Arts.
1. Depending the seasonality or some international events (congress, fairs...) prices of the proposed hotels may vary.
2. Due to closure days of some sites and museums, tours may be swapped to ensure the best running of your program. We have endeavored to show these in the program.
The Saint Sophia museum is closed on Mondays, official and religious holidays. This tour does not include the visit of the Harem. The Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays, official and religious holidays.