Venture to the rugged northern reaches of Greece to experience a lesser-known part of the country, where storybook villages dot landscapes rich with the vestiges of ancient civilizations. Venture into the minaret-dotted streets of Thessaloníki, once graced by the Romans and Byzantines. Then journey to the Pindus mountains and the town of Aristi, your base for exploring the quaint stone villages of Zagori. Sample award-winning vintages at a renowned winery, take a private tour of a 16th-century monastery, and bask in the natural beauty of this stunning region.
Day 1—Thessaloníki, Greece
Arrive in Thessaloníki, Greece’s second-largest city, and transfer to your Byzantine-inspired hotel overlooking Aristotelous Square. Venture into the city on your own or relax on your hotel’s elegant terrace, taking in views that reach to Mount Olympus on a clear day.
Electra Palace Hotel Thessaloníki
Day 2—Thessaloníki/ Vergína/Zagori
Head into the mazelike streets of Thessaloníki on a private tour of the city’s architecture, which includes modern buildings, Roman ruins, and Ottoman-era minarets. Explore sights such as the iconic white tower, the Arch of Galerius, and Agia Sofia. Visit the archaeological museum to peruse its Macedonian and Hellenistic relics. Then travel to Vergína, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Aigai, the first capital of the kingdom of Macedonia, where Alexander the Great was proclaimed king in 336 B.C. Discover the site’s intriguing history before continuing to Zagori in the Pindus Mountains. Settle into Aristi Mountain Resort and Villas, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World
designed in the traditional stone-and-slate architectural style of the region. This evening, dine on northern Greek fare at the lodge’s restaurant, Salvia, which bases its menu on seasonal local ingredients.
Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas (B, D)
This morning, embark on an exploration of the storybook villages of the Zagori region. Scattered throughout the foothills of the Pindus, these villages were flourishing trading posts in the Ottoman era, linked by ancient mule paths and charming arched stone bridges. Stroll the cobbled lanes of Dilofo, Kipi, Koukouli, and take in views of the Vikos Gorge as you make your way to Vradeto, the highest village in Zagori, and Kapesovo. Return to the lodge this afternoon and take a private tour of a nearby 16th-century monastery—an experience reserved exclusively for National Geographic travelers. Gaze at exquisite frescoed walls, and climb the bell tower as you learn about the monk who founded this small hermitage hundreds of years ago while seeking the solitude of the mountains.
Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas (B, L)
Travel to the Zitsa wine region for a memorable day amid the vines. Visit the Domaine Glinavos winery, known for cultivating rare, long-forgotten grape varieties. Learn about the winery’s history and take a private tour of the vineyards, production areas, and cellars. Then enjoy a tasting of varietals such as Devina, Malagouzia, Syrah, and Cabernet. As an alternative to the vineyard visit, opt to join a guided trek, followed by a rafting excursion along the Voidomatis River (additional cost). Back at the lodge, opt to unwind with a therapeutic oil massage at the spa.
Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas (B, D)
After breakfast, transfer to Ioannina and depart on a flight for Athens. Arrive in Athens, where you begin Day 1 of your Greek Isles Private Expedition.
Electra Palace Hotel Athens (B)
Rates May - October 2017
Prices are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability. Single traveler prices are available upon request. For 2018 price inquires please call our reservations specialists.
The internal flight between Ioannina and Athens is an additional $220 (subject to change).
A holiday surcharge may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals.