Venture into the heart of ancient Greek culture on a pre-trip extension in Athens. See the Acropolis on an early morning walk, visit renowned museums, see major city landmarks, and dine on regional specialties—all in the company of guides who weave the narrative of life in this ancient city. Please call for pricing.
DAY 1 - U.S./Athens, Greece
Depart on an overnight flight to Athens.
DAY 2 - Athens
Arrive in Athens, and transfer to the Electra Palace Hotel, located in the shadow of the Acropolis. Following a buffet lunch, visit the new Acropolis Museum, which displays some of the finest sculptures and other art of ancient Greece. See the former royal palace (now the parliament building), along with a number of Athens' finest neoclassical buildings, and walk through the Temple of Olympian Zeus, built between the second century B.C. and the second century A.D. This evening, gather for a brief introduction to Greek history and mythology over cocktails. Dinner is on your own, allowing you to discover one of Athens' many delicious restaurants. Electra Palace Hotel (L)
DAY 3 - Athens
This morning is devoted to the Acropolis, and we avoid the crowds by getting there early. After visiting the site, we'll walk down the hill to the Agora, the heart of ancient Athens, and the focus of political, commercial, administrative, and social activity of the city. We'll have lunch in the Plaka, and take a guided stroll through streets lined with antique shops. Dinner tonight will be at a restaurant featuring Greek specialties. (B,L,D)
DAY 4 - Athens/Piraeus/Embark
This morning, continue our exploration of Athens at the acclaimed National Archaeological Museum. After a lunch of Greek meze, transfer to the port of Piraeus and embark the Sea Cloud. (B,L)
Crete Post-Trip Extension
Venture to the island of Crete to visit the palaces of the Minoans, stroll through picturesque seaside villages, and see the evocative ruins of Phaistos. Learn the early mythology of King Minos and the Minoans, and feel the ruins of ancient cities come to life in the company of our guides—all of whom are expert storytellers. Please call for pricing.
DAY 1 - Piraeus/Disembark/Athens/Crete
Disembark in Piraeus, and transfer to the airport for the flight from Athens to Heraklion. Check in to our hotel and enjoy lunch. Then hear an introductory talk about the island of Crete, Minoan culture, and the kings that ruled the island in Greek mythology. Enjoy dinner at our hotel this evening. Galaxy Hotel Iraklio or Aquila Atlantis Hotel (B,L,D)
DAY 2 - Crete
Today we focus on Minoan culture, immersing ourselves in the history of King Minos. We begin at the imaginatively reconstructed Palace of Knossos, which gives an indication of the advanced level of Minoan civilization. Then drive to the south coast for a stop in the beachside village of Matala. After lunch, visit the Minoan ruins of Phaistos Palace in spectacular hilltop setting. Return to Heraklion for dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 3 - Crete
Travel west to the Arkadi Monastery, site of a beautiful church where in 1866 Cretan resistance fighters set off a huge explosion rather than fall victim to Turkish invaders. It is venerated as a monument to the dignity and spirit of the Cretans. Continue to Rethymno, with its romantic harbor dominated by an impressive Venetian fortress. Enjoy time to explore on your own, visit the galleries, or have a coffee. Then travel to Chania for a walking tour of the old town, with its maze of ancient alleys and streets rich in Venetian history. After a light lunch at a waterfront restaurant, enjoy time to explore on your own before we return to Heraklion. (B,L)
DAY 4 - Crete/Athens/Home
Transfer to the airport for flight to Athens and connecting flights home. (B)