Ideal tour for those looking to visit some amazing sites without wasting time driving in & out of Athens, but instead overnight & enjoy beautiful, authentic “Greek” locations like Sparta & Mystras, Monemvasia, Nafplio town and Dimitsana village. Furthermore, you’ll be exploring Zagorochoria, Delphi, Dion, Vergina, Meteora, Tzoumerka. A great mix! Included is a great accommodation that you can’t experience in the big cities. For up to 7 people, but we can do bigger groups too as long as there are no “strangers” in your group!.
DAY 1: FROM ATHENS TO ANCIENT CORINTH – MYCENAE – EPIDAURUS – NAFPLIO
You will meet your private driver/tour leader at your Athens hotel for an 8:00 a.m. departure. On a short trip of no more than 1 hour, you enter the Mythical Peloponnese through the Corinth Canal for this “real Greece” experience. The Corinth canal is the first stop and then on to MYCENAE, home to some of Greece’s most famous ancient ruins.
Wander around the site & museum before hopping back in the vehicle and exploring the “old town” of NAFPLIO, the famous Venetian fortress of Palamidi with its 999 steps. Then head to EPIDAURUS, home to an ancient, beautifully preserved theater. Overnight at probably the most beautiful Greek town, Nafplio.
DAY 2: FROM NAFPLIO TO MONEMVASIA
Starting from Nafplio, our destination will be Monemvasia but -should you agree too- taking not the fast/shorter motorway route but exploring the glorious coastline of the East Peloponnese before climbing up the mountain range with several stops and lunch on the way.
Late afternoon and the evening is dedicated to the MONEMVASIA castle, where you will spend the night (if you book early enough to secure one of the great guesthouses of our choice) enjoying the atmospheric Monemvasia castle-town, the views of the castle, and the amazing blue water, plus food & drink.
Monemvasia town/castle is located on a small island linked to the mainland by a short causeway. The town walls and many Byzantine churches remain from the medieval period.
DAY 3: FROM MONENVASIA TO MANI – SPARTA & MYSTRAS
Leaving behind Monemvasia, there will be a long great day in the MANI Peninsula, one of the wildest and beautiful areas of Greece. A dramatic coastline of sleepy fishing coves and fortified villages like the beautiful Oitilo, Gerolimenas & Limeni. The amazing DIROS caves that you will optionally explore with a guide and a boat.
Lunch in one of the stone-built villages where Pirates were a permanent threat. Next is SPARTA, the ancient rival of Athens known for the fierce warriors! Wandering around the byzantine castle-town of MYSTRAS is probably the highlight of the day.
Overnight at lively Sparta or Mystras.
DAY 4: FROM MYSTRAS TO ANCIENT OLYMPIA & DELPHI
Breakfast and an early start for a long day with two UNESCO World Heritage sites to visit. But first a quick stop at Sparta to photograph the statue of King Leonidas of the famous 300. Then a 1h.30′ drive to ancient OLYMPIA to walk through the impressive ruins of the area where athletes trained and ran in the old stadium, just as ancient Olympians did after victory 3,000 years ago. Olympia hosted the original Olympic Games, founded in the 8th century B.C. Its extensive ruins include athletic training areas, a stadium, and temples dedicated to the gods Hera and Zeus.
You will also visit the world-famous Olympia museum and get the chance to see some unbelievable sculptures such as the sculpted decoration of the marble temple of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the famous Hermes carved by the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles.
We drive on to cross the amazing Rion Bridge which is one of the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges and the longest of the fully suspended type. It crosses the Gulf of Corinth linking the Peloponnese peninsula to mainland Greece by road.
The Archaeological Site & Museum of DELPHI, one of the most important in Greece, exhibits the history of the Delphic sanctuary with the most famous ancient Greek oracle. Its rich collections are comprised primarily of architectural sculptures, statues, and minor objects donated to the sanctuary. These reflect its religious, political, and artistic activities from its early years, in the eighth century BC to its decline in Late Antiquity. After exploring DELPHI, we finally overnight at a surprise location away from the many tourist traps of this highly touristy-spoilt area.
OPTION: CAVE OF LAKES & ODONTOTOS RACK RAILWAY TRAIN
Add an extra day&night and let us change the route towards Delphi to include what is a very popular and different experience. Instead of driving from Olympia to Delphi on the same day, overnight at a beautiful Arcadia stonebuilt mountain village to experience the following on the next day and while heading towards Delphi.
We shall be visiting the very popular CAVE OF LAKES.
Amazing lunch and drinks at the top of the ARCADIA mountain range.
After an amazing lunch, you’ll ride the ODONTOTOS RACK RAILWAY train from the top of the mountain to the coastline through the Vouraikos river/gorge.
We continue to cross the Rion bridge -the largest bridge in Europe- to visit Delphi in the evening and spend the night in the area as described on DAY4.
DAY 5: FROM DELPHI TO TZOYMERKA VILLAGES & LANDSCAPE (Pramada, Kalarytes)
If long, straight stretches of road are your thing, you might want to skip this tour and particularly Day5. In these regions the mountains are tall and the bends are many, which is a small price to pay for the sheer beauty you will encounter at every turn. You’ll enjoy some of the regions’ natural wonders with dense forests of fir and pine, towering peaks, pristine rivers, deep gorges, and of cource some of the most beautiful stone-built villages of Greece.
DAY 6: FROM TZOYMERKA TO ZAGOROCHORIA (Syrrako, Papigo, Monodendri, Aristi)
We leave behind this unique area of Greece to head towards METEORA stopping for coffee at the popular lively mountain town of METSOVO which is only 1 hour away from the famous monasteries.
Meteora (“suspended in the air”) was the hiding spot for the monks from the Romans. We explore two (or 3) amazing monasteries depending on your fitness and speed of exploring. We drive around the Meteora maze finding different spots to take amazing photos and enjoy the amazing views. Holy Trinity monastery was the filming location in the 1981 James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only” and several other movies were also shot at the Meteora monasteries. Not all monasteries are open every day. Each day one of them is closed. So we will plan accordingly and make sure you don’t miss any favorites.
We are having our first stop at The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoro, the biggest and oldest one of all. It was called the monastery that was “suspended in the air” (meteoro), because of the formation of the gigantic rock on top of which it was built. Our second visit is to the great monastery of St. Stephan. The Monastery of St. Stephan is a small church built in the 16th century and decorated in 1545. Only if you are fit and quick to explore, it will be possible to add one more monastery visit which would be the Holy Trinity or Varlaam monastery.
We leave Meteora to reach Vergina, to live the experience of a visit to the unique Museum, created in the Great Tumulus covering the royal tombs of Macedonia. Admire the astonishing findings from the tomb of King Phillip II, Alexander’s father, and feel the thrill of the greatest discovery of the 20th century. Only a few miles away is Biblical Veria where we will visit Saint Paul’s Bema from which he preached Christianity. We overnight at Veroia so in the evening you can stroll through the old Jewish neighborhood and the colorful market area.
DAY 8: FROM VEROIA TO DION – THERMOPYLAE – ATHENS
After your breakfast, we leave Veroia behind to start our drive back to Athens with our first stop at the Archaeological Park of Dion, the sacred city of the Macedonians, at the foot of mountain Olympus.
After your visit, driving to the south we will stop to stretch at Thermopylae, where you will admire the statue of Leonidas as a memorial of the battle between the 300 Spartans and the soldiers of the Persian Empire. We will arrive at your hotel in Athens around 17:00-18:00 but flexible depending on your plans.