Day 1: Corinth Canal – Mycenae – Nafplio – Epidaurus
Your private driver/guide will be at the agreed location for your 8:00 a.m. departure. On a short trip of no more than 2 1/2 hours, you arrive at the center of the Peloponnese for this “real Greece” experience. Corinth canal is the first stop and then on to Epidaurus, home to an ancient, beautifully preserved theater. Wander around the site & museum before hopping back in the vehicle and exploring the “old town” of Nafplio, and the famous Venetian fortress of Palamidi with its 999 steps. Then head to MYCENAE, home to some of Greece’s most famous ancient ruins. We leave Mycenae to drive and arrive at Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games.
Dinner & Overnight in the Olympia area. However, if you are the adventurous type and book early enough we can overnight at a unique mountain village location that has all the ingredients missing from touristy Olympia; authenticity, hospitality, excellent food & drink, a great evening out with the locals, and of course amazing views.
Day 2: Ancient Olympia & the ferry to Zakynthos island
We start from your hotel at 9.00 a.m. to visit the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia, the “Valley of Gods”. This is the birthplace of the most important athletic event of all time, the Olympic Games. You will have a chance to run down the original Olympic track and visit the museum.
You can walk through the impressive ruins of the area where athletes trained and ran in the ancient stadium; just as the ancient Olympians did after their victory 3000 years ago. In front of the Temple of Hera burns the Olympic Flame during the modern-day Olympic Games. You can also visit the world-famous 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.
Tour the monuments of the archaeological site, including the former gymnasium and Palaestra (where athletes practiced before competing), stadium, hotel & crypt. Let your imagination run to the times when Greece’s finest athletes strove to honor the gods through the Olympic ideal.
After exploring the Olympia site & museum, we will head to Kyllini Port to take the ferry for an hour’s ride (1:15), and approach the port of Zakynthos Town in the late afternoon. After check-in at your hotel, you have the rest of the day at your leisure to explore and have dinner.
Overnight in Zakynthos island.
Day 3: Explore Zakynthos by car and boat or car only (your decision)
Your tour leader will help see and enjoy the best of Zakynthos island. Expect some spectacular lunch and dinner places!
☼ Discover the color of love at the Blue Caves
☼ The Shipwreck beach
☼ Local delicacies
☼ The Zakynthos sunset from Kampi and/or Cave Damianos
☼ The port of Zakynthos from above
☼ The turtles of Laganas
We will drive towards the north side of the island, to explore and board the boat to visit the famous Navagio beach and the Blue Caves on the way back. At both locations, you will have the option of a swim. At Navagio you will spend about 45 minutes exploring and enjoying the beach whereas, at the Blue Caves, it will only be a quick stop for another optional swim. Depending on the weather, the boat tour of Navagio can be replaced by a tour of the south side of Zakynthos which is equally amazing with Marathonisi island and swimming with the turtles.
The above itinerary is very flexible and you have the following options although the weather could also decide for us:
☼ Exploring the island only from the comfort of our vehicle enjoying the coastline views, OR,
☼ Joining a 2-3 hour boat tour of the north or the south side of the island (depending on the weather conditions) and then exploring by our car for the rest of the day.
At extra cost, we can arrange for a totally private boat tour. You can always contact us to discuss this option in advance.
We could also be visiting the Shipwreck to photograph it from above or optionally extending our day to enjoy a sunset dinner at the cliffs on the west side of the island. It is a flexible day and we all need to be flexible!
The evening is for you to relax on Zakynthos island but make sure you get enough rest for an early start to catch our boat back to the mainland and head for Delphi and Meteora.
Day 4: Delphi via the Rion suspended bridge
After breakfast, we will take the ferry from Zakynthos port around 05:30 am!!! to get back to the Peloponnese mainland (Kyllini port) and continue towards Delphi after crossing over the amazing bridge of Rion – Antirion, one of the biggest in Europe. At Nafpaktos, a beautiful seaside small town, we will make a short coffee stop next to the water and the Venetian Castle/Port.
[Photo: Larry W. & Ashley O. – November 2019]
On the way to Delphi, we will be next to the coastline at all times also passing next to the beautiful Galaxidi seaside town!
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! Overnight next to Meteora.
Day 5: Meteora monasteries & Thermopylae battlefield
METEORA (“suspended in the air”) was the hiding spot for the monks from the Romans. We explore two (or three) 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. No fixed menu! Authentic Greek food, location, and people; away from the tourist traps.
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 to follow.
Expect a very flexible and personalized tour from us, with lots of authentic experiences, and great food & drink.