Trace the spark of Greek genius—from the Cycladic and Minoan civilizations to the classical era—that blossomed in the Aegean and left an indelible mark on our heritage. 

Starting at: $6,392 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Acropolis of Athens  The Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens  Temple at Delphi  The view from the cliff-top on Santorini  View of church domes from cliff-top Fira on Santorini  The Palace of Knossos on the island of Crete. Credit: Gloria Baxevanis  Throne room in the Palace of Knossos  The Corinth Canal  The dramatic theater at Epidaurus  The Lion's Gate at Mycenae

Classical Greece

14 days from $6,392

Trace the spark of Greek genius—from the Cycladic and Minoan civilizations to the classical era—that blossomed in the Aegean and left an indelible mark on our heritage. 

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL VALUE

This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.

Overview

Trace the spark of Greek genius—from the Cycladic and Minoan civilizations to the classical era—that blossomed in the Aegean and left an indelible mark on our heritage.

Highlights Include

  • Athens and Delphi: Gaze upon the grandeur of the Parthenon and the Acropolis and see important artifacts at the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. At nearby Delphi, nestled on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, explore the ancient Sanctuary of Apollo, where the oracle presided over the ancient world; walk the marble Sacred Way; climb to the ancient theater, and visit the superb museum.
  • The Peloponnese: Travel south to explore the magnificent archaeological sites of Mycenae and Epidaurus, both World Heritage sites. Epidaurus is home to the Sanctuary of Asklepios and its 2,300-year-old theater known for perfect acoustics. Linked to Homer’s epics, Mycenae features the Tomb of Agamemnon and the Lion’s Gate. Other highlights include Ancient Corinth, Nafplion, Hydra, and the Corinth Canal.
  • Crete and Santorini: Fly to Crete, where you’ll tour ancient Knossos, the political center of Minoan civilization and legendary home of King Minos, the Labyrinth, and the Minotaur, plus visit the superb archaeological museum. Take a high-speed ferry to spectacular Santorini, where you’ll tour Akrotiri, once a flourishing Bronze Age Minoan town. Enjoy time at leisure to explore the towns of Thira and Oia.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart the U.S. for Athens, Greece

Day 2 – Athens

After a late morning arrival in the Greek capital, there’s time to relax at your hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, there are no group activities or meals planned for today.

Day 3 – Athens

On this morning’s tour visit the city’s most important sites, including the 5th-century Acropolis and Parthenon, and the renowned Acropolis Museum. Also, take a walking tour of Hadrian Street and the Plaka district.

Then the afternoon is at leisure for independent exploration; ancient sights, monuments, and museums abound. Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 4 — Delphi

Today’s excursion takes you to central Greece to explore Delphi, one of the most beautiful and celebrated ancient sites. Nestled between twin cliffs on a slope of Mount Parnassus and spilling out onto the Sacred Plain, Delphi is where the oracle representing the revered god Apollo presided over the ancient world.

See the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo; walk the marble Sacred Way, and climb to the 4th-century B.C. theater still in use today. Also visit Delphi’s museum that houses the bronze “Charioteer,” one of antiquity’s greatest statues.

After lunch in a local restaurant, return to Athens late afternoon. (B,L)

Day 5 – Athens / Corinth / Peloponnese

Travel today by coach to the Peloponnesian Peninsula, Greece’s southernmost region separated from the mainland by the Corinth Canal. En route visit the ruins and museum of Ancient Corinth, one of the country’s largest cities in antiquity that was demolished by the Romans (B.C. 146), who then rebuilt it a century later. Today, only low stone walls, foundations, and several Corinthian columns remain as testimony to the mighty city that once flourished here. The site boasts a strong connection to Christianity: Paul wrote his two letters, First and Second Corinthians, here; and you see the altar where he preached.

Later you will visit Mela's olive oil factory to learn about the history of olive oil production – Greece consumes more olive oil than any other country – and to enjoy a light lunch and tasting.

This afternoon reach your resort hotel on the Peloponnesian coast and dine there tonight. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Epidaurus / Mycenae / Nafplion

Among the highlights of this morning’s visit to the vast archaeological site and museum of Epidaurus: the 2,300-year-old theater, a masterpiece of Greek architecture known for its perfect acoustics and still in use today. Long associated with healing and medicine, Epidaurus comprises one of the most complete sanctuaries remaining from antiquity.

This afternoon tour the imposing ruins at Mycenae, a World Heritage site that represented the pinnacle of civilization from the 15th to the 12th centuries B.C. A key influence on the development of classical Greek culture (and hence Western civilization), Mycenae also is linked to Homer’s epics, Iliad and The Odyssey. See the Tomb of Agamemnon, with what was the world’s highest and widest dome for more than a thousand years; and the Lion’s Gate, the only known Bronze Age monumental sculpture in Greece.

Then visit nearby Nafplion, a gem of a Venetian/Byzantine town with picturesque narrow streets, fortifications, and a bounty of waterfront cafés – and where you enjoy an afternoon at leisure.

Tonight dine together at a local taverna. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Peloponnese / Hydra

This morning travel to the port of Ermioni, where you board a private boat for the ride to Hydra, the car-free Saronic Island where donkeys provide the transportation.

After lunch together at a local taverna, there’s free time to enjoy this picturesque island as you wish. Late afternoon return to your resort for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

Day 8 – Peloponnese / Heraklion, Crete

En route to Athens, this morning stop to see the Corinth Canal, cutting at sea level through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean. Continue on to the Athens airport for the 50-minute flight to Crete, arriving mid-afternoon in Heraklion, the Cretan capital.

After checking in at your hotel, enjoy an afternoon at leisure; this evening take a walking tour of the Venetian and Ottoman-influenced town center prior to dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 9 – Heraklion / Knossos

Today visit one of Greece’s greatest museums, the Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum housing artifacts from 5,500 years of Cretan history, from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The museum is especially renowned for its Minoan collection, much of which was excavated from the palace of Knossos – your next stop. The political center of Minoan civilization and legendary home of King Minos, the Labyrinth, and the Minotaur, ancient Knossos is considered Europe’s “oldest city” and the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete.

Following your tour and lunch, return to Heraklion for a visit to Koules Fortress, the well-preserved 16th-century bastion at the entrance to the old port. Then the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration. (B,L)

Day 10 – Heraklion / Spinalonga / Agios Nikolaos

After an hour’s drive this morning, board a private boat for a cruise through the Bay of Elounda to Spinalonga, a former Venetian island fortress later occupied by the Ottomans then used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957.

From here travel to the colorful harborside town of Agios Nikolaos, with its galleries, shops, cafés, tavernas, and tiny Lake Voulismeni, where, legend has it, the goddess Athena once bathed. (B)

Day 11 – Crete / Santorini

Depart this morning by high-speed ferry for Santorini, southernmost of the Cycladic islands. Once believed to have been the legendary lost island of Atlantis, Santorini today attracts both Greeks and visitors alike with its stupendous setting of cubiform whitewashed houses sitting atop the jagged cliffs of a crescent-shaped caldera.

Upon arrival, visit Venetsanos Winery for a tour and tasting then have free time in the town of Thira for lunch and to explore on your own. (B,D)

Day 12 – Santorini

Today tour Santorini’s archaeological site of Akrotiri, a Bronze Age Minoan location that was abandoned in the 17th century B.C. following a volcanic eruption – whose ash also preserved the excavations that you now see.

Late this afternoon head to the town of Oia, known for its iconic whitewashed architecture and stunning views. (B,D)

Day 13 – Santorini / Athens

After a late morning flight to Athens, visit the National Archaeological Museum, home to the world’s most significant collections of Greek artifacts.

Then you’re free for lunch on your own and an afternoon at leisure, perhaps to visit the Plaka for last-minute shopping or to stroll the broad plaza of lively Syntagma Square.

Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner overlooking the Acropolis at the rooftop restaurant of your hotel. (B,D)

Day 14 – Depart for the U.S.

Transfer to Athens’ international airport this morning, where you connect with your return flight home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)