Greek Isles & Aegean Wonders

A Round-Trip Cruise from Athens


Join us as we explore Athens and the fabled isles of the Aegean. Discover ancient Grecian port cities, marvel at magnificent scenery and tour remarkable archaeological sites that showcase Greece’s glorious past.

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 Cliffside view on the island of Santorini.  Credit: Brett Andersen  Santorini at sunset  Cliffside Town of Oia.  Credit: Todd Sipes
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Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. View Special Air Rates/Services to learn more.

Feel the essence of the Aegean during our spring cruise when flowers dot the islands and the weather is pleasant—an ideal time to explore great centers of antiquity and six of the most renowned Greek Isles.

Highlights Include:

  • Athens: See the dramatic Parthenon and enjoy tours of the Acropolis and Benaki Museums.
  • Santorini: Visit the ancient site of Akrotiri, view Bronze Age artifacts at the archaeological museum, and meander through the whitewashed towns of Oia and Fira.
  • Crete: Learn about the Minoan civilization
at the Palace of Knossos.
  • Rhodes: Explore either the Old Town and Grand Master’s Palace or the Acropolis
at Lindos.
  • Delos and Mykonos: Step ashore at sacred Delos, birthplace of Apollo, and enjoy time on Mykonos.
  • Patmos: Marvel at the beauty and history of Patmos and explore its biblical link with St. John.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Smithsonian Journeys Travelers depart their gateway city on overnight flights for Athens, Greece.

Day 2 — Athens

Arrive at Athens International Airport and transfer to the deluxe InterContinental Athenaeum Hotel where accommodations await. The evening is at leisure to relax and enjoy the hotel.

Day 3 — Athens

Join fellow travelers on a full morning’s escorted tour of the ancient citadel of Athens, the Acropolis a World Heritage Site. Built during the “Golden Age” of Athens under the orders of the great statesman Pericles, the Acropolis represents the magnificent achievements of Athenian culture during this remarkable era. You will also visit the recently opened Acropolis Museum. The afternoon is free so let your interests be your guide and explore on your own. You may want to head to the Old Quarter known as the Plaka. This evening get together with fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception at the hotel. (B)

Day 4 — Athens

The day is free of planned activities so you can follow your own path and explore independently or take a full-day optional excursion to Delphi. One of the most important archeological sites in Greece, Delphi was inhabited as early as Neolithic times. By the Mycenean period, it was already an important religious center. Delphi was believed to be the center of the world, and its oracle was said to have the gift of predicting the future. People came from miles away to hear Pythias, the priestesses, make predictions as they muttered incomprehensible sounds in a state of trance. See the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian Treasury and the Delphi Archaeological Museum. Lunch will be included on the excursion. (B)

Day 5 — Athens and Piraeus

This morning check-out of the hotel and transfer to the port of Piraeus where you’ll embark the Aegean Odyssey. En route, stop to visit the Benaki Museum, dedicated to Greece’s artistic heritage. The museum, established and endowed in 1930, is housed in the Benaki family mansion. 

During the cruise a Smithsonian Journeys Expert will travel with you to offer exclusive lectures. Smithsonian Travelers will get to know fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Traveler’s Corner to exchange experiences and engage in lively conversation. Times and locations will be advised during the cruise. (B,D)

Day 6 — Hydra

A short cruise from Piraeus will take you to Hydra, a small island in the Saronic Gulf. It’s an off-the-beaten track and idyllic place free of autos, scooters and even bicycles. Let your interests be your guide as you follow your own path. There’s plenty of time to explore before the ship weighs anchor and sails for Santorini. This evening, gather with fellow shipmates at the Captain’s Welcome Reception. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Santorini

You’ll want to be on deck this morning to see one of the Aegean's most spectacular sights; the cliffs of Santorini rising from the great half-moon caldera of an extinct volcano. Explore the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri dating from the 16th century B.C. This ancient city was preserved under tons of volcanic ash and some historians hold the settlement, as well as the disaster that left it unknown to history, was the inspiration behind Plato’s story of Atlantis. Continue on to exquisite Oia, a village of whitewashed houses, blue domed churches and taverns carved into cliffs. Continue to visit the cliff-top town of Fira and the Archeological Museum. This evening join new friends at a private reception for Smithsonian Travelers. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Crete

As the great monuments of Egypt rose from the sand and before the Phoenicians became masters of the sea, another civilization was emerging on the island of Crete. Ideally situated between the Near East, Greece and North Africa, by 2,000 B.C., Crete had become the epicenter of Mediterranean commerce. The culture that developed on Crete we now call “Minoan” after the legendary King Minos. The Palace of Knossos was a remarkable complex, center of the ancient Minoan Kingdom and home to the mythical Minotaur. Sir Arthur Evans, the famed British Archaeologist who excavated the site in 1900 A.D. restored large parts of the palace in a way that makes it possible today to appreciate the grandeur and complexity of the structure. The original palace was destroyed during earthquakes, invasions and a volcanic eruption. Today, the restored palace offers a look at its former magnificence. Continue on to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum that showcases an extensive collection of artifacts of Cretan history. After a remarkable day, return to the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Rhodes

Upon arrival in Rhodes you have a choice of one of the following fascinating excursions:

The Old Town and Grand Master’s Palace

Take a leisurely stroll through the Old Town and discover some of the wonderful highlights of Rhodes. Travel from the port, past the old port of Mandraki to the site where the Colossus of Rhodes one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is said to have stood. Continue the tour to visit a stunning ensemble of Gothic architecture.  Visit an outlook known at Mount Smith with its Grand Master’s Palace. The Knights of Rhodes built this remarkable palace in the 14th century. Visit the Archeological Museum located in the former Knights Hospital where you’ll see many artifacts and statues some dating back to the 4th-century. The medieval city of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Acropolis at Lindos

Drive past picturesque villages with glimpses of the sea and a splendid landscape of orange and lemon groves, vineyards and ancient olive trees. It is no wonder that the ancient Greeks, Byzantines and the Knights of St. John all made good use of this remarkable Acropolis that dominates the small town and the bay below. Here you will find the ancient Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, a double-winged portico, a Byzantine church and the fortifications of the Knights of St John including the remains of the Governor's Quarters. The panoramic view is truly remarkable and includes St. Paul's Bay where the Apostle Paul is said to have sought shelter during a massive storm. Below the Acropolis there are the clustered whitewashed houses and the narrow streets of a delightful village.

After the excursions return to the ship for dinner and evening activities. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Delos and Mykonos

Explore the rocky island of Delos a World Heritage Site and believed to be the birthplace of the god Apollo. Pilgrims from all over the Greek world came to pay tribute to Apollo, making the island one of its most sacred places, a position retained throughout antiquity. In the early 19th-century excavations uncovered the remains of an entire ancient city. The most important of the antiquities found are the Naxos Marble Lions, three beautiful temples dedicated to Apollo and various houses with their splendid mosaic floors. Later in the day arrive at Mykonos where you can follow your own path and explore on your own. The island enjoys a vibrant mix of boutiques, whitewashed homes, bougainvillea and the ubiquitous windmills. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Patmos

Often called “Jerusalem of the Aegean,” Patmos has been an important and iconic pilgrimage site for centuries. At a time of Christian persecution, St. John lived in exile for two years in a small grotto on the island. Historians say it is here that he wrote the Fourth Gospel and dictated the Book of Revelation. Travel on to explore the 12th-century Chora and visit the Monastery of St. John the Theologian built on the ruins of the Temple of Artemis. Continue to visit the Grotto where St. John once lived. Enjoy some free time to explore on your own before returning to the ship. Gather with fellow Smithsonian Travelers this evening for a private pre-dinner Reception. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Kavala

After arrival at picturesque port of Kavala, principal mainland seaport of Eastern Macedonia, drive to the remarkable site of Philippi about eight miles inland. At the archaeological site you’ll walk in the footsteps of St. Paul and discover the place where he first preached Christianity. Visit the ruins of the ancient city, the two Basilicas, the Forum, the Jail of the Apostle Paul, and the Ancient Theater. On the return drive, stop to visit the place where Lydia of Thyatira was baptized. It is said she was the first convert to Christianity in Europe. Take some time and explore Kavala at your leisure before returning to the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 13 — Thessaloniki

This morning take your choice of one of the following shore excursions offered from Thessaloniki:

Thessalonica City Tour

This fascinating port city is the second largest in Greece and has its remarkable ancestry in Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman civilization. Founded by Cassander of Macedonia in 315 B.C. the city has thrived through its long history and is now a major, modern European city and an important hub of trade and commerce. During the shore tour, see the White Tower, the International Trade Fair grounds, University Campus, Galerious Arch, the Rotunda and take-in wonderful views from high atop the City Walls. Continue to visit the Archaeological Museum that showcases a stunning collection of ancient gold jewelry.

Byzantine Thessalonica

Second only to Constantinople, this city, also known as Salonica is a virtual open-air museum. During its history Thessalonica became an important part of the Byzantine Empire. At the Byzantine Museum, explore a remarkable collection of antiquities and learn how art and theology combined with politics and social structure. Continue to the basilica of Agios Dimitrios built in the 5th-century. After a fire destroyed it in 1917, the basilica was rebuilt and houses some of the finest examples of Greek mosaics. After visiting the Palace of Emperor Galerius, the 4th-century Rotunda and his Mausoleum. See the Agia Sofia built in the 8th-century and evocative of the Byzantine Hagia Sofia in Constantinople.

This afternoon there is a half-day optional excursion to Vergina. Visit the ancient city of Aegae said to be the first capital of Macedonia and a place where you will see the Royal Tombs and antiquities related to King Phillip II father of Alexander the Great.

This evening there’s dinner and entertainment aboard ship. (B,L,D)

Day 14 — Volos

Begin the day with a drive to Larissa the provincial capital. Explore the country of the Centaurs and the battlefield of Pharsalla where Julius Caesar defeated the army of Pompey the Great. Continue to see the wonders of the Meteora, huge granite outcroppings soaring hundreds of feet into the air and capped by remarkable Greek Orthodox Monasteries that are almost inaccessible. This World Heritage Site is a true and historic marvel. Visit the monastery of Agios Stephanos. Many of the buildings here are of great interest and the view of the surrounding monasteries and mountains is breathtaking. After returning to the ship, join fellow travelers for a Farewell Reception before dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 15 — Skiathos

Early this morning, the ship will arrive at the less traveled island of Skiathos. On this quiet island that’s off-the-beaten-path you will enjoy time exploring at your leisure. (B,L,D)

Day 16 — Return Flights to U.S. Gateway Cities

Arrive Piraeus in early morning and depart the ship for Athens International Airport for return flights to the U.S. (B)

Itineraries, included features and schedules are subject to change due to operational considerations.