Highlights of Ancient Greece Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Greece
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AGM
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

9 Days Flight Inclusive
9 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Starting in the capital city Athens, we’ll visit some of the most significant archaeological sites in the country, including the Acropolis, Ancient Mycenae and Epidaurus. We’ll also visit the mediaeval castle town of Mystras, Ancient Olympia, where the first Olympic Games took place, Delphi, where heaven and earth met in the ancient world, and the unique 'stone forest' of Meteora, one of the largest Orthodox communities in Greece and the Balkans. At the same time we’ll cover a large part of mainland Greece, including the Peloponnese Peninsula and Central Greece, enjoying both the beautiful coastline and lush forests and mountains!

 

At a Glance

  • 8 nights 3-star hotels with en suite facilities
  • Travel by minibus

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the ancient sites of Mystras and Delphi
  • Visit Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games
  • Enjoy spectacular Meteora- 'columns in the sky'

Is This Trip for You?

This is a cultural trip of Greece’s major archaeological sites, combining coastal areas in the Peloponnese Peninsula with several mountainous areas and villages in Greece. Beautiful landscapes, incredible history and culture are the highlights of this tour. A fair amount of travelling (by minibus) is involved, ranging from 2 to 4 hours per day, well balanced though between sightseeing en route, visiting key sites, lunch breaks and some free time, usually upon arrival at each day’s destination. Most of the driving is on main roads, which are fast. In some places, we follow the provincial roads, which are also sealed.

The tour is not physically demanding, however at several sites (such as in Mystras, Delphi and Meteora), some walking is necessary to explore the places. At some of these archaeological sites we will be walking between 1-2 hours over some uneven terrain, therefore trainers (not sandals) are highly recommended for this trip.

Expect some early starts on departures November through March as many of the sites close at 3pm during these months and we want to insure there is sufficient time to visit them thoroughly.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Athens.

    There are no included activities today so you are free to arrive in Athens at any time. The group flight usually arrives into Athens in the early afternoon.

    Accommodation: Arethusa Hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Morning walking tour of Athens, including the Acropolis, the Museum of Acropolis and Plaka; afternoon free to explore Athens.

    This morning there is a walking tour of Athens, the historical capital of Europe and the birthplace of democracy, dating back to the Neolithic Age, and the archaeological sites of major interest, including the Acropolis and the Museum of Acropolis, also known as the city’s historical centre will be visited. This walk is actually a journey through history itself, where you will see classic ancient history and all other periods, the architectural evolution and all phases of the city’s development until the 21st century (Classic period, Romaic period, Byzantine, Ottoman occupation, Neo classic times and 20th century).

    The afternoon is free for you to continue to explore Athens on your own, your leader will be able to suggest where to visit. 

    Please note: During busy periods, the walking tour might take place in the afternoon when it is quieter and the morning will be free. 

    Accommodation: Hermes Hotel or similar

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    To Nafplio, visiting Ancient Corinth and Mycenae en route.

    After breakfast, we will depart to Nafplio. On the way, we will stop at the impressive Corinth Canal, which separates the Peloponnese from mainland Greece and connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Aegean Sea. We will then visit the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth, which was one of the major cities in the antiquity and an important trade centre. Located at the northern foothills of the Acrocorinth hill, around the Archaic Temple of Apollo, the site was first inhabited in the Neolithic period (6500-3250 B.C.). Extended excavations have revealed the Roman Forum, temples, fountains, porticoes, baths, latrines and various other monuments. We will also stop to admire the remarkable castle of Acrocorinth, one of the largest, if not the largest in Greece, located on the hill above Ancient Corinth, overlooking the ancient city.

    We will then continue on to the archaeological site of Mycenae, the kingdom of mythical Agamemnon and the most important and richest palatial centre of the Late Bronze Age in Greece. The archaeological site of Mycenae comprises the fortified acropolis and surrounding funerary and habitation sites, which are located mainly to its west and southwest. Most of the visible monuments date to the centre's great flourish period from 1350 to 1200 BC. Huge impressive Cyclopean walls surround the acropolis, which is accessed through the famous Lion Gate, a symbol of the Mycenaean rulers' power. The palace, a symbol of the power of Mycenaean rulers, dominates the citadel's highest point.

    We will continue to the picturesque town of Nafplio where we will spend the night.

    Accommodation: Rex Hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Morning visit to the fortress of Palamidi; afternoon explore Ancient Epidavros.

    Today we will visit the impressive Venetian fortress of Palamidi, overlooking the town. This fortress was initially fortified by the Venetians during the second Venetian occupation of the area (1686-1715). In 1715 it was captured by the Turks and remained under their control until 1822, when it was liberated by the Greeks. The most important monuments of the site that we’ll visit are the castle, the church of St. Andrew and the prison of “Kolokotronis”, a hero of the Greek Revolution.

    Next, we will explore Ancient Epidavros (approx. 45min drive from Nafplio), where the Sanctuary of the god-physician Asclepius, the most famous healing centre of the Greek and Roman world, is found. Besides the sanctuary of Asclepius, we’ll also visit the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, one of the greatest monuments of Ancient Greece. It is the finest and most renowned of its kind, perfectly combining acoustics with elegance and symmetrical proportions. 

    In the afternoon we will make our way to the town of Sparta, once a powerful city in ancient times, where we spend the night. 

    Accommodation: Lakonia or Maniatis Hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Morning explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mystras; afternoon to Pylos, visiting Ancient Messene en route.

    This morning we visit Mystras, the ‘wonder of the Morea’, the most famous castle and mediaeval town in Greece and a UNESCO Worldwide Heritage Site. Mystras occupies a steep foothill on the northern slopes of Mt. Taygetos, dating back to the 13th century. It is a Frankish castle that after 1262 came under Byzantine control and in the middle of the 14th century became the seat of the Despotate of Moreas. In 1460 it was captured by the Turks, but it was liberated again in 1821. It was actually one of the first castles to be liberated during the War of Independence. We will explore the site on foot, including several beautiful Byzantine churches with different architecture, most of them built between the 12th and 15th centuries, the palaces of the Mystras Despots and some urban buildings. Unfortunately the castle itself is closed for reconstruction so we are unable to visit it.

    In the afternoon, we will head towards Ancient Messene, one of the finest and best restored, yet still relatively unknown, archaeological sites in Greece. Lying in a fertile valley, below Mt Ithomi, in Central Messenia, the site was first inhabited during the Late Neolithic or the early Bronze age. Amongst the site’s monuments, we will visit the ancient theatre, the agora and the asclepion. The stadium and the gymnasium are among the most impressive and well-preserved building complexes in Ancient Messene and are sure to captivate you!

    We will then drive to the seaside town of Pylos, where we will spend the night.

    Accommodation: Hotel Karalis or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Morning explore the Castle of Pylos; afternoon visit seaside village of Methoni; to Olympia or Katakolo.

    After breakfast, we will visit the Castle of Pylos, which also hosts a fine exhibition and museum of underwater antiquities. Here you will find out more about underwater archaeology in Greece, how research, excavations and preservation of the antiquities take place. You will also see some contents from shipwrecks found in the sea near Peloponnese and Ionian islands.

    After this, we will visit the beautiful village of Methoni, on the southwestern most point of the Peloponnese peninsula. Picturesque Methoni overlooks the Ionian Sea and the island complex of Oinousses, and boasts a fine example of Venetian architecture in its castle.

    After lunch, we’ll drive all the way along the west coastline of the Peloponnese towards Olympia where we spend the night (approx. 2 hrs drive).

    Accommodation: Olympic Village Hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Explore Ancient Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games.

    After breakfast, we visit Ancient Olympia, the site that hosted the first Olympic Games. Dedicated to Zeus, the father of the gods, at the confluence of two rivers, in a lush, green landscape, near the west coast of the Peloponnese, Olympia is the most important religious and athletic centre in Ancient Greece. We will explore this major archaeological site, which includes the sanctuary of Zeus and the many buildings erected around it, such as an athletic premises used for the preparation and celebration of the Olympic Games, administrative buildings and other lay buildings and monuments (the Temple of Hera, the Council House, the Ancient Stadium and Gymnasium, the Altar of Zeus).

    After lunch, we will drive (approx. 3.5 hrs) to Delphi where we will spend the night. En route we will cross from the Peloponnese peninsula to mainland Greece and will have the chance to admire the cable-stayed bridge of “Rio–Antirrio”, a masterpiece of architecture!

    Accommodation: Nidimos Hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Morning explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Delphi; afternoon visit Arachova on the slopes of Mount Parnassus; to Meteora.

    In the morning, we will head to the UNESCO Worldwide Heritage Site of Delphi. We will explore this magnificent archaeological site on foot, the place that in ancient times was considered the centre of the world, the place where heaven and earth met. The history of Delphi dates back to prehistoric times when the myths of the ancient Greeks took place. According to mythology, it is here that the two eagles sent out by Zeus from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world, met. The sanctuary of Delphi, set within a spectacular landscape, on the slopes of Mount Parnassos, was for many centuries the cultural and religious centre and symbol of unity for the Hellenic world. Once at the archaeological site, we’ll have the chance to visit the Temple of Apollo, the Treasury of the Athenians and of the Siphnians, the ancient theatre, stadium and the ancient gymnasium as well as the Castalian spring that was considered the sacred source of Delphi.

    We’ll have lunch in the mountainous town of Arachova, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, one of the most picturesque and well-known winter destinations in Greece. We will have the chance to taste some of the local products, such as “formaella” cheese, produced only in Arachova. Please note, sometimes lunch might need to be taken en route to Meteora depending on the time of year. 

    After lunch, we head northeast to the UNESCO Worldwide Heritage Site of Meteora (approx. 4 hrs drive). Meteora is one of the largest Greek Orthodox communities in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. Situated over the town of Kalampaka, on the north-western edge of the Plain of Thessaly (in Central Greece), Meteora is one of the most imposing sights in Greece and a must-see for everyone visiting the country. Sandstone steep rocks, rising over 400 metres above the ground, were formed about 60 million years ago, as a result of a fluvial erosion, earthquakes and geological changes that followed over the centuries, and created this rare natural phenomenon and landscape. Besides being a marvel of nature, what makes Meteora even more astonishing are the monasteries spectacularly perched atop the rocky pinnacles. We aim to arrive in Meteora at sunset, going to several viewpoints where we can enjoy panoramic views over Kalampaka plain and the stone forest of Meteora.

    Accommodation: Hotel Meteoritis or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Meteora; afternoon to Athens and end.

    After breakfast, we will visit one of the cliff–top monasteries of Meteora and learn more about their history and monastic life. The area of Meteora was initially inhabited by monks who lived in caves within the rocks during the 11th century. In the late 12th century, a small church called the Panaghia Doupiani was built at the foot of one of the rocks, but during the Turkish occupation it became less secure so the monks climbed higher and higher up the rocks to protect themselves from different conquerors. Numerous monasteries were systematically built on top of the rocks so by the end of the 15th century there were 24 constructed in total; today only 6 of them are still active. The monks had to climb up ladders or use baskets and ropes to transfer the material for the construction of these monasteries and until 1920 this was the only means for getting supplies.

    After lunch, we’ll return to Athens (approx. 4 or 4.5 hrs drive) where our adventure will end. Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport in time for their flight to London.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels

On this trip we will stay at small, comfortable, family run hotels where possible, choosing traditional hotels that highlight the local architecture of each destination. Most hotels will offer free WiFi. Some hotels also have a swimming pool.

In Delphi the hotel offers unique views to the surrounding mountains. In Meteora, you may wake up admiring the rock pillars! In Athens, the hotel is near the city centre and the places of archaeological interest, so that you can explore on your own and enjoy the highlights of the city.

 Single accommodation is available on this trip for a supplement; see dates and prices.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from £225.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

Breakfast is included at all of the hotels.

Simple buffet style Greek breakfast consists of bread/toast, butter, jam, fresh juice, milk, local yoghurt, eggs and honey, and coffee/tea.

Other meals are not included, and we suggest you allow approximately €175-€250 to cover them, more if you include alcoholic or expensive fruit juice drinks with each meal.

Your group leader will normally assist in organising group meals at most stops so that you may benefit from better choice and good food.  For lunch and dinner we will go to different local tavernas and restaurants, where we can sample some typical Greek meze dishes, olives, fresh fish, vegetables…

Transportation

A comfortable air-conditioned bus is used throughout the trip.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

February to March and November/December daytime temperatures 10-18º, night time 5-9º; rain and chances of snow on high mountains.

April, May and October daytime temperatures 17-27º, night time 12-17º; small chance of rain; ideal time to see spring flowers.

June and September: daytime temperatures 20-30º, night time 18-23º; very dry and warm, ideal for swimming.

July: daytime temperatures 30-35º, night time 25-28º; very dry and hot, ideal for swimming.

Weather Charts

Athens

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 9 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of British Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 9 days starting and ending in Athens

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Athens in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

 

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight - please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Location start:
Athens
Location end:
Athens

What to Take

Essential Equipment

2/3 Seasons jacket for April and May departures

Light waterproof jacket (just in case)

Sunhat

Water bottle (please note that water is drinkable almost everywhere on this itinerary, and you can refill your bottles from the tap at restaurants and hotels.)

Swimming costume

Sandals or old trainers for swimming

Comfortable shoes or trainers.

The temperatures can sometimes be very high during the day in the summer (June to September); comfortable light clothing, sunhats, sunglasses and a high factor sun cream are highly recommended at this time of the year.

 

At time of writing the standard weight limit for hold baggage on the recommended international carrier for this trip is 20kg. We recommend packing only one piece of checked baggage.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Practical Information

Passport

Greece

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Certain European nationalities may be able to travel within Europe on their national identity card. Check carefully with the relevant authorities if you intend to do this.

Visa

Greece

British and other EU passport holders do not need a visa to visit Greece.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Greece

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

If you are a UK citizen and travelling in Europe you should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your Post Office. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance.

Local Time

Greece's Timezone:
Europe/Athens EET (GMT +02:00)

Electricity

Greece's Electricity:

230 Volts. Plug types C & F; establishments take European, two round pin, plugs.

Money

Greece's Currency

The national currency of Greece is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (September 2017) of approximately 1.1 to the GBP, 0.8 to the USD, 0.7 to the CAD, 0.7 to the AUD and 0.6 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

There are some ATM machines that can take Visa/MasterCard or Switch with your normal PIN number, but it is still recommended to travel with some cash. Major credit cards are accepted in most places.

 

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

We suggest you allow approximately €175-250 for food and drink.

Optional Excursions

Morning boat trip in Navarino bay, to the island of Sfaktiria. Price depends on the number of travellers that would like to join this activity, please discuss with the tour leader.

Afternoon wine tour & wine tasting in Olympia. €15 per person.

Tourist tax, €10-12 per room for the week to be paid locally (subject to change). 

Tipping

Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus, however, most of our clients wish to give a tip to their guides and in appreciation of their help and friendliness. This, of course, is in no way compulsory and depends on the service received. If you feel you would like to leave a tip, as a guide we would suggest a total of approximately €45 per person in total on this itinerary to be broken down as follows:
€20 for the leader
€10 for the driver

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.