On our relaxing tour of the Greek Islands, we spend 3 or 4 nights on each island, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the islands’ lifestyle and culture –

Greek Islands: May 15 - 30 2018 (16 Days)
We visit the idyllic islands of Paros, Mykonos, Delos, Naxos, Santorini & Crete....

LAND TOUR: $4,295 Canadian/person sharing, starts & ends in Athens, Greece
AIRFARE:Approx. $1,400 departing Vancouver to Athens, Greece (& returning from Athens to Vancouver) including arrival & departure transfer if arriving & departing on our group tour dates.
NOTE: You do NOT have to come to Vancouver to join this tour, please contact us for a quote to depart from other cities.

Can be combined with our tour to CYPRUS + THE GREEK ISLANDS for a 28 day tour: May 3-30 2018

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We love to visit these islands in May as this is when the spring flowers bloom & it is just before the busy tourist season! We travel between the islands by large, sea-going ferries – as the locals do. During our 4 nights on the little-visited island of Paros, we tour this lovely rural island and visit the surrounding islands of Mykonos, Delos and Naxos. We enjoy 3 nights on the picture-perfect island of Santorini, including a guided tour of 4,000-year-old Akrotiri and a boat trip to two tiny volcanic islands. On Greece’s largest island, Crete, we spend 4 days travelling the gorgeous mountains and coasts. We explore charming towns such asRythimnon and Hania and take guided tours of Knossos and Phaistos, sites from Europe’s oldest civilization – the Minoans. In Athens, we enjoy a guided tour of the city that is the ‘soul of Western civilization’.

SPECIAL NOTE: Flight cost estimates are based on flights originating from Vancouver. Airfare will be confirmed at the time of booking your flights and payment for the flights will be due at that time.

Limited to 24 participants
UPDATED November 17 2017

ITINERARY:

DAY 1 Tuesday May 15
Our group flights depart North America overnight to Athens.

DAY 2 Wednesday May 16
Today we arrive in Athens and transfer to our hotel. Overnight in Athens. Category B / 3 Star Arethusa Hotel or similar. Dinner is included if arriving in time.

DAY 3 Thursday May 17
ATHENS – PAROS

This morning we take the ferry from Athens’ port, Piraeus, to Paros, an island that lies at the centre of the Cyclades group. Paros will be our base for the next 4 days as we explore the island and travel out to other islands around about. This afternoon is free for you to explore the picturesque fishing town of Parikia.
First of 4 nights on Paros. Category B / 3 Star Pandrossos Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.

DAY 4 Friday May 18
VILLAGES OF PAROS

This morning our guide takes us on a walking tour of the main town – Parikia. Arcaded lanes lead us past Venetian-influenced villas and traditional white-washed island houses. The busy harbour is dominated by a fortified hill surmounted by the charming church of Ayios Konstandinos. The 13th-century Venetian fortification is still visible, incorporating sections of a 5th century BC Temple of Athena. Our focus is one of the most architecturally interesting churches in the Aegean. The Ekatondapiliani is also known as “The One-Hundred-Gated” Church. Enclosed by a great protective wall, it is made up of three interconnected churches, mainly dating from the 6th Century and extensively remodelled in the 8th Century. The oldest of the three churches, the chapel of Ayios Nikolaos, is adapted from a much earlier pre-Christian building dating from the early 4th Century BC. This afternoon we drive out with our guide around the island of Paros to visit typical villages, such as Lefkes and Piso Livadi and learn about the life of the ordinary village people. Naoussa is considered by many as the most charming harbour in all of Greece. Always in the distance is the highest point on the island, Mount Profitis Ilias.
Second of 4 nights on Paros. Category B / 3 Star Pandrossos Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.

DAY 5 Saturday May 19
DELOS & MYKONOS ISLANDS

This morning we travel by boat to the tiny but historically important island of Delos. This island was so important in the ancient world that the name of the island group “Cyclades” means “those islands around Delos.” The ancient fame of the island was due to the legend that Leto gave birth to the divine twins Artemis and Apollo here. When the Ionians colonised the island around 1,000 BC Delos was already a cult centre. Over the centuries, wealthy patrons embellished the island with temples and sanctuaries to the gods. Delos reached the peak of its importance under the Romans in the 3rd and 2nd Centuries BC. We land at the small harbour and take the Sacred Way to the Sanctuary of Apollo. Further on we visit the three Temples of Apollo and make our way via the Sanctuary of Dionysos to the Museum. In the residential area, known as the Theatre Quarter, we will see fine mosaics in the House of the Trident and the House of the Masks. After exploring the theatre, which could seat 5,500 people, we board our boat for a short ride to the picture-perfect island of Mykonos. Here we explore the main town whose convoluted streets and alleys were designed to confuse the pirates who plagued the Aegean. The waterfront Alefkandhra district is known as Little Venice because of its high, arcaded Venetian houses built right up to the water’s edge. This is a wonderful area to explore the sophisticated shops, art galleries, and cafes. Above the town of Mykonos are the island’s famous windmills, perched on hillsides as a backdrop to the cobalt-blue Aegean Sea. From here we make our way back to Paros.
Third of 4 nights on Paros by boat. Category B / 3 Star Pandrossos Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.

DAY 6 Sunday May 20
NAXOS ISLAND

Today we travel by public ferry to Naxos, the largest and most fertile of the Cyclades Islands. The town of Naxos has many beautiful Venetian-period buildings dating from the 13th to 16th Centuries AD when the island was central to the Venetian Duchy of the Aegean. This unique architecture is clustered within the walls of the Kastro fort. Originally the Kastro had seven towers, two of which we will see as we explore the fort with our guide. We also have time to wander the back streets and alleys of Naxos town before traveling out into the countryside. Naxos Island has the highest mountains in the Cyclades, the greenest countryside, and intriguing central valleys. One of the most famous products of the island of Naxos is the Citron liqueur. In the center of the village of Halki, is the first distillery of Citron, created by the family Vallindras in 1870. There we learn everything about the distillation of Citron and even have a chance to taste the famous Naxos liqueur. Returning to Naxos town we catch the ferry back to Paros.
Fourth of 4 nights on Paros. Category B / 3 Pandrossos Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.


DAY 7 Monday May 21
PAROS – SANTORINI

After free time on Paros, we travel by ferry to the spectacular island of Santorini (also called Thira) where the towns cling to the edge of the crater of a long-extinct volcano. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore Santorini’s main town – Fira.
First of 3 nights on Santorini. Category B / 4 StarDaedalus Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.

DAY 8 Tuesday May 22
SANTORINI (Akrotiri & Wine tasting)

After a relaxing start, we tour the extensive archaeological site of Akrotiri. This was certainly a major trading centre and the largest Minoan city outside Crete. From as early as 3,000 BC Santorini developed as an outpost of the Minoan civilization. However, around 1500 BC, the volcano erupted and a large part of the island sank below the Aegean Sea. For this reason, many people used to believe Santorini was the “Lost City of Atlantis” that Plato wrote of. We also drive to a popular winery where we will sample the products as the owners explain how they are made. Later, we visit Kamari Beach or “Black Beach” as many know it from the colour of the sand. Here we enjoy a lunch or a stroll along the waterfront which is populated with restaurants and shops. Later this afternoon you are free to explore Fira town or relax by the pool.
S
econd of 3 nights on Santorini. Category B / 4 Star Daedalus Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.


DAY 9 Wednesday May 23
SANTORINI (Volcanoes & Hot Springs)

After a relaxed breakfast we board our boat for a journey across the lagoon to the remains of Santorini’s volcanoes: Nea Kameni offers superb panoramic views of Santorini’s caldera while Palea Kameni has hot springs where we stop for a short visit and [optional] swim. At lunch time, before sailing back to the town of Fira, we visit Thirassia, a part of the island that broke away 3,500 years ago.
Third of 3 nights on Santorini. Category B / 4 Star Daedalus Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.


DAY 10 Thursday May 24
Santorini Free Day + Ferry Santorini to Crete

Today we have a free day to relax on Santorini. You might choose an optional excursion by local bus to the town of Oia, perched on the cliff side on the tip of the island. Shoppers can check out the excellent jewellery and souvenir shops in Fira town. You might like to visit the Museum of Ancient Thira, where the original frescoes from Akrotiri are on display. Today, due to the timing of the ferry, we include lunch rather than dinner. Late this afternoon we travel by ferry from Santorini to the largest of the Greek islands, Crete. Upon arrival at Heraklion port, we transfer to our hotel in town. Dinner is at your own expense today.
First of 4 nights on Crete. Overnight at Category B / 3 Star Atrion Hotel or similar in Heraklion. Breakfast & Lunch.

DAY 11 Friday May 25
Heraklion Museum + Knossos + Rethymnon

This morning we visit the Archaeological Museum with its excellent collections of mosaics, jewellery and other finds from the many ancient sites on Crete, including Knossos. This is a wonderful display of artifacts from the pre-Greek Minoan culture which reached its zenith around 1600 BC. Also on show here are the magnificent palace frescoes from Knossos. Later this morning, we visit one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, Knossos, dating from the second millennium BC. We explore the Palace of King Minos with its superb Royal Apartments, King’s Quarters and the Hall of the Colonnades. Here we see reproductions of the famous dolphin fresco and scenes of young warriors vaulting over charging bulls. Later we make our way along the north coast of Crete to the delightful Venetian town of Rethymnon where we have time for a short walking tour and some shopping before we continue along the north coast to the beautiful seaside town of Hania.
Second of 4 nights on Crete. Category A / 4 Star Kydon Hotel or similar in Hania. Breakfast & Dinner.

DAY 12 Saturday May 26
Hania Guided Tour + Western Crete

This morning our guide will help us explore the delightful Venetian streets of Hania. After our walking tour, we board the bus which takes us up to the ancient Roman ruins of Aptera where we have a spectacular view of Suda Bay and the surrounding area. From here we travel to a small village nestled in the mountains of Western Create where we stop at lunch time at a small taverna. We include lunch today. This evening is free to explore the alleys of Hania and find your own restaurant for dinner.
Third of 4 nights on Crete. Category A / 4 Star Kydon Hotel or similar in Hania. Breakfast & Lunch.


DAY 13 Sunday May 27
Monastery of Aghia Triada Mourtari

Today, we make our way to the Venetian monastery of Aghia Triada, built in the 17th century by two Monks who had embraced Orthodoxy. We then visit the Peninsula of Akrotiri which offers a magnificent view of the harbour and city. Here we visit the graves of Eleftherios and Sophocles Venizelos, famous father and son who were both Prime minister of Greece.
Fourth of 4 nights on Crete. Category A / 4 Star Kydon Hotel or similar in Hania. Breakfast & dinner.


DAY 14 Monday May 28
Phaistos + Southern Crete

This morning we drive south into the mountains that form the backbone of Crete to visit another very important Minoan palace site, Phaistos. This is believed to date from the same period as Knossos and shares many of the same features, including the huge storage jars set into the floors, the great courtyard with its monumental stairway, and the theatrical area. However, what makes Phaistos really special is its spectacular setting at the foot of a mountain overlooking the Plain of Messara. This afternoon we make our way down to the south coast and the Caves of Matala before travelling north again to Heraklion. Due to the timing of the ferry, we include lunch today. Dinner is at your own expense.
This evening we take the overnight sleeper ferry from Heraklion to Athens. Breakfast and Lunch.

DAY 15 Tuesday May 29
ATHENS

Our guided tour of Athens today takes us to the Acropolis Hill to see the Erechtheum and Parthenon. From the Acropolis, we see the Temple of Olympian Zeus, in its time one of the largest temples in the world, built in 132 AD by the Roman emperor Hadrian. After leaving the Parthenon, we visit the spectacular new Acropolis Museum located at the foot of the Acropolis. Later, we board our bus for a short tour of the city of Athens where we see the white marble Panthelic Stadium, built in 1896 in time for the first modern Olympic Games on the site of the original Stadium (330 BC). Our tour will also take us to the centre of modern Athens, located between Omonia Square and Syndagma Square. Later this afternoon you have time to explore some more of Athens’ many excellent museums or wander in the narrow streets of the Plaka market area.
Overnight in Athens Category B / 3 Star Arethusa Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.

DAY 16 Wednesday May 30
This morning we fly home to North America, arriving the same afternoon Those who wish to may add extra days in Athens before and/or after the tour. However, hotels in Athens are often fully booked a long time in advance. If you are considering booking extra nights please let us know as soon as possible. We can also organize 1 to 7 day tours of the Greek mainland, including classical sites such as Delphi, Mycenae, Olympia and the cliff-top monasteries at Meteora.

Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.