Ancient myths come to life on the shores of Greece, where the Aegean laps up against the relics of a great empire. Enjoy the insights of a private guide as you explore temple ruins in Athens and visit the Minoan Palace of Knossos in Crete. Spend an afternoon on a sailboat, take an optional cooking class, and enjoy free time to wander through galleries or watch the harbor from a waterfront café. Conclude your journey with three nights on incomparable Santorini.
Explore ancient Athenian ruins and Cape Sóunio’s Temple of Poseidon with private guides.
Alongside a private guide, visit the Palace of Knossos, the ancient capital of Minoan Crete.
Set sail on the Aegean, seeing Santorini’s sugar-cube villages and an epic sunset from the shimmering sea.
Itinerary - 9 Days
Day 1 — Arrive Athens
Arrive in Athens and transfer to your downtown hotel. Take a private tour of this timeless city, where some of the world’s most iconic and ancient structures dot a cityscape of modern architecture. See the Temple of Zeus, set behind the crumbling Hadrian’s Arch, and the Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first modern Olympic games. Climb to the Acropolis complex and discover its mystical temples, including the legendary Parthenon. Spend the rest of the day uncovering the treasures on display at the sleek new Acropolis Museum, home to nearly 4,000 ancient works. Electra Palace Hotel Athens
Day 2 — Athens/Cape Sounion
Explore Athens at your leisure this morning. Browse the lively markets and café-lined lanes of Monastiraki before strolling the ancient Agora, home to some of the city’s most well-preserved ruins. Or wander the charming alleyways of the historic Plaka neighborhood. This afternoon, take a private scenic drive along the Saronic Gulf coast to Cape Sóunio. Here, perched on a craggy cliff overlooking the glittering waters of the Aegean, find the aptly placed Temple of Poseidon. Enjoy expert insight into these ancient ruins from your private guide. Electra Palace Hotel Athens (B)
Day 3 — Knossos, Crete/Heraklion/Agios Nikolaos
Fly to Crete, an island with a long and vibrant history where locals cultivate and honor a unique cultural identity. Begin your exploration of the island on a tour with a private guide, discovering one of the island’s most impressive sites: the Palace of Knossos. These ruins mark the spot of Crete’s Minoan capital, once the center of Europe’s oldest known civilization. Next, go on a private walking tour through the coastal capital of Heraklion, stopping at the Archaeological Museum to admire the world’s most impressive collection of Minoan art. This evening, travel to your seaside resort, located just outside of Agios Nikolaos. St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas (B)
Day 4 — Agios Nikolaos
Soak in the serenity of the Aegean on a day at leisure in Agios Nikolaos. This colorful town offers the perfect opportunity to sit at an inviting waterfront café and watch local fishing boats pass through the harbor. Food lovers may want to take an optional excursion to a nearby village and participate in a private cooking class. Prepare Cretan specialties as you nibble on local cheeses and sip on wines from nearby vineyards. St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas (B)
Day 5 — Agios Nikolaos
Travel to the sleepy town of Plaka and take a traditional wooden fishing vessel to the small isle of Spinalonga. A fortified stronghold of the Venetians and later of the Ottomans, the island was converted to a leper colony during the early 20th century. Take a tour of this fascinating place with a private guide, learning about the day-to-day lives of its people who lived in near isolation through 1957. Back in Plaka, explore the town on your own before returning to Agios Nikolaos. St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas (B)
Day 6 — Heraklion/Santoríni
Return to Heraklion and board a ferry to Santoríni, a crescent-shaped archipelago created from the cliffs of a collapsed volcano cone. Settle into the Kapari Natural Resort—part of the National Geographic Unique Lodges collection— where beautifully restored cave-built rooms offer unobstructed views of the caldera’s indigo waters. Enjoy an exclusive outing to a local farm where much of the hotel restaurant’s food is sourced, and stroll through the fields and gardens with the owner, tasting freshly plucked produce along the way. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure, exploring the narrow lanes of Imerovigli or gazing out at the view from one of the lodge’s terraces. Kapari Natural Resort (B)
Day 7 — Santoríni
Trace the ridgeline of Santoríni on a guided tour from the southern to the northern tip of the crescent. Visit Akrotiri to see one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece and continue to the charming hilltop town of Pyrgos. Wander the village’s labyrinth of narrow corridors and tunnels, weaving your way up to the Venetian castle perched on its crown. Peek into some of the town’s 33 churches and seek out the Monastery of the Prophet Elijah to see its collection of icons, religious art, and ethnographic artifacts. Complete your panoramic tour in Oia, a stunning village of blue-domed churches and whitewashed terraces. Stroll the streets of this Cycladic gem and then savor lunch and a view on a charming veranda.
Kapari Natural Resort (B, L)
Day 8 — Santoríni
Explore Santoríni on your own today. Go for a hike just outside the lodge or relax with a book by the pool. Journey between Thira and Oia on foot, traversing a path where enchanting surprises—like candy-colored doorways and quirky stairwells—wait around nearly every bend. Late this afternoon, join a sailing excursion on the Aegean, stopping to snorkel and swim in inviting waters. Dine on deck as you watch one of the island’s famous sunsets. Kapari Natural Resort (B, D)
Day 9 — Santoríni/Depart
Transfer to the airport in Santoríni and catch your flight home. (B)
About Private Expeditions
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. Simply select a trip and decide whom you'd like to travel with and when you want to travel. We'll take care of the rest.
Prices are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability. Single traveler prices are available upon request.
The internal flight between Athens and Crete is an additional $200 (subject to change). International airfare to Athens and home from Santorini is not included in the expedition cost.
A holiday surcharge may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
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Other Important Details
This trip is available to children age 15 and over. Please contact our reservations specialists to customize this trip if your children are under 15 years.