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. All with great accommodation that you can’t experience in the big cities. For up to 7 (related only) people but we can do bigger groups too as long as you are related.
DAY 1: Corinth Canal – Mycenae – Nafplio – Epidaurus
At your hotel, meet your private driver/tour leader for your 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: Monemvasia Castletown via the Coastline & Parnon’s Mountain Range of East Peloponnese
Starting from Nafplio, our destination is 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 are dedicated to the Monemvasia castle where you will spend the night (if you book early enough to secure one of the great guesthouses) enjoying the magic atmosphere, the views of the castle, and the 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.
If you don’t make a last-minute booking overnight will be inside the atmospheric Monemvasia castle-town.
DAY 3: The Mani Peninsula, Sparta, and Mystras
Leaving behind Monemvasia, there will be a long great day in the MANI Peninsula, one of the wildest and most 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. Alternatively, you can skip the caves and opt for more exploring of the Mani landscape as far as Vatheia; a small settlement of stone towers and abandoned houses that became a ghost village, but in recent years, it has become one of the must-see destinations in the Mani Peninsula. Next is lunch in one of the stone-built villages where Pirates were a permanent threat.
Next is SPARTA, the ancient rival of Athens known for its fierce warriors! Wandering around the Byzantine castle town of MYSTRAS is probably the highlight of the day. Wandering around the Byzantine castle town of MYSTRAS is probably the highlight of the day. Mystras, the best-preserved example of a medieval walled town in the Greek region, is today a standing ghost city that fascinates the visitor with its castle, churches, and the palatial complex of the ruling Byzantine dynasty, bearing witness to its bygone greatness.
Overnight at lively Sparta or Mystras.
Option 1: Ancient Olympia and finish at the mountain villages of Arcadia
Breakfast and a morning visit to Sparta for the statue of King Leonidas and his famous 300 warriors. 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. See the temple of Hera and some unbelievable sculptures such as the statue of Zeus and the Hermes of Praxiteles. The city has the rare advantage of not having been destroyed or covered by later settlements. Ruins that have withstood the test of time and remain standing for travelers to marvel at.
Next, we carry on towards the Arcadia mountain range past Lagadia, the hometown of the best stone builders in Greece to end up in the mountain air and the view of Lousios gorge from DIMITSANA & STEMNITSA villages at 3,000 ft altitude. We overnight in a great stone-built guesthouse and explore the beautiful village before or after dinner.
This is the location where you can optionally consider spending an extra day and night to relax and also locally explore the villages and the cliff-hanging monasteries.
Option 2: Ancient Messene (not Mycenae!) and finish at the mountain villages of Arcadia
In size, form, and preservation, Messene is one of the most important cities of antiquity and one which still has a great deal to offer. It boasts not only religious and public buildings, but also imposing fortifications, houses, and funerary monuments.
From the spectacular remains uncovered through excavation – mostly in the last thirty years or so – it has become clear that Messene prospered and thrived until well into the Roman period.
The city has the rare advantage of not having been destroyed or covered by later settlements and of being situated in an untouched Mediterranean natural environment par excellence. This landscape combines the mountainous majesty of Delphi and the lowland riverine tranquillity of Olympia,
Yes, we can all agree that the alternative (option 1) is “Ancient Olympia” and a must-visit. However, for some, Ancient Messene is -maybe- only second best to the Acropolis and the Parthenon. But still even better for the visitor because of the size and the numerous findings! It is simply not so well-known and visited because of its remote location which is not an issue for this multi-day tour!
DAY 5: Cave of Lakes, Kalavrita Mountain Village for the Odontotos Rack railway, Rion Bridge, and Delphi
Normally, we will start with breakfast in the mountain air and the view of the Lousios Gorge before driving and crossing the mountains to visit the CAVE OF LAKES. Lunch at a village on the top of the mountain range before boarding the ODONTOTOS rack railway from the top of the mountain and through the gorge to the coastline. Back in the car to cross the Rio-Antirio huge bridge over the Corinthian Gulf and approach Delphi ready to explore the next day. Lunch in the mountains will be a great experience.
Before riding the train you will enjoy an amazing lunch at a unique location. No fixed menu! Authentic Greek food, location, and people; away from the tourist traps.
When we meet again at the end of the train route (55 min) we will be driving to cross the impressive Rion bridge -leaving the Peloponnese- and approaching Delphi for yet another great overnight location away from the tourist traps of the area around Delphi, ready to explore the next morning. Overnight at a surprise location to avoid the tourist traps of the Delphi area.
DAY 6: Delphi archeological site & museum
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.
Again, great lunch on the way to METEORA. If there are no unexpected delays, and although not part of the normal itinerary, we shall make the first visit to the amazing monasteries’ area to get a feeling of the amazing landscape with the sun setting down. Time permitting it may be possible to even visit one of the monasteries. Totally different lighting than the morning visit to follow the next day!
DAY 7: Meteora monasteries & Thermopylae
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 timing. We drive around the Meteora maze finding different spots to take photos and enjoy the amazing views. On the way back to Athens we stop for a great lunch & drinks always under the guidance of your tour leader.
We also stop to stretch at the battlefield of THERMOPYLAE and the famous 300 of King Leonidas of Sparta. Expect a return to Athens around 17:00 but flexible depending on your plans for the rest of the day. [© Eudaimonia Meteora Private Tour from Athens Greece]