At the ancient site of Delphi, where the Greeks once consulted the Oracle about the future, there's a small round sculpture. It's known as the omphalos - the cosmic belly button. The Greeks believed that Delphi was the very center of the world - the place where it all came into being. Indeed, many aspects of Western culture came into being in Greece - drama, art, philosophy and science.
It's a heady feeling to walk on stones that may have been trod by Plato, Homer or Agamemnon. But at many places in Greece, where ancient ruins are surrounded by the noise and smells of traffic, or where pristine island beaches are packed by topless sunbathers, it's apparent that the influence works the other way as well: Greece, it sometimes seems, has been overtaken by the modern world it spawned.
The trick for travelers in Greece is to find the golden mean - in this case, the balance between environment and history, between crowds and quiet, between ancient and modern. With a bit of planning (and maybe a query to the Oracle), you can find beautiful settings that can soothe your soul, while centuries of art and history invigorate your mind. And very likely, you'll be as charmed by the Greek people as you are by their landscape. During our last trip, we learned the Greek shortcut to communication - dancing. Growing frustrated with our attempts to speak in rudimentary Greek, an elderly Greek woman in a small island village grabbed us by the arm and began dancing. It was late at night, and we whirled around the terrace by moonlight, barriers dropping by the second.
Day 1: Athens, Greece
On arrival in Athens you will be met and transferred by private, air-conditioned Mercedes sedan taxi to your hotel. The remainder of today is at leisure for you to relax after your journey or to start exploring the vibrant city of Athens independently.
Athens: The city with the most glorious history in the world, a city worshipped by gods and people, a magical city. The enchanting capital of Greece is the birthplace of civilization. It is the city where democracy was born and most of the wise men of ancient times. The most important civilization of the ancient world flourished in Athens and relives through some of the world's most formidable edifices.
The Electra Palace Hotel in Athens is a five star property, centrally located in the heart of Athens and the old town of Plaka and is within walking distance from Acropolis, all major historical sites and the business and commercial districts.
Electra Palace Hotel
Day 2: Athens
This morning you will be met by you're private A/C Mercedes sedan taxi and licensed English-speaking guide to commence your tour of Athens.
For twenty-five centuries the panorama of the city has been dominated by the Acropolis. Leave your vehicle at the foot of the rock and follow your guide uphill to visit the Acropolis and see the principal buildings: the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and the Parthenon Temple.
Continue on with a panoramic tour of the city where you will view the Olympieon (the Temple of Olympian Zeus) from the 6th century BC, one of the largest Corinthian style temples in Greek history and Hadrian's Arch (2nd century AD) which divided the Greek city from Hadrian's new Roman City. Arriving at Syntagma Square, see the Royal Palace, built for Otto I of Bavaria and the present day parliament. In front of the palace stands the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, where two soldiers (Evzoni) stand guard continuously. Finally visit the stadium, which stands on the site of the ancient stadium, laid out under Lycurgus in the 4th century BC and rebuilt in 1896 on its original plan for the modern Olympic Games.
The Museum: For the first time ever, all the surviving treasures of the Acropolis will be seen together in one place. Five collections- namely the finds from the slopes of the Acropolis, works of the archaic period, the classical Acropolis, the post-Parthenon and the Roman period, comprise the museum's exhibition. A sixth major exhibit is the remains of the ancient Athenian city revealed by archaeological excavations on the site of the museum.
Note: the new Acropolis Museum is closed on Mondays.
Electra Palace Hotel
Day 3: Athens- Mykonos
After an early breakfast this morning you will be privately transferred by Mercedes sedan taxi with your English-speaking driver to Piraeus port to board a fast ferry to the island Mykonos (3.5 hours.) Upon arrival in Mykonos you will be met by an English-speaking driver and transferred directly to your hotel. The remainder of your day will be at leisure.
The luxurious newly renovated Petassos Beach stands majestically on a private peninsula offering transpire great class, impeccable taste in seductive and stunning sea views of the Aegean for unique privacy and relaxation.
Mykonos: This island looks as if it's straight off tourism posters- beautiful water, whitewashed houses, sandy beaches, winding streets, windmills, tiny chapels, colorful domed churches and radian flowers. But don't expect to find isolation: Mykonos swarms with tourists in the warmer months. Attractions include great restaurants, lively tavernas, very good shopping (especially for casual clothes), waterskiing, surfing and beaches. The best beaches are Paradise, Agrari and Elia.
Petassos Beach Hotel
Day 4: Mykonos- Delos- Mykonos
This morning meet your English-speaking guide and transfer by ferry to the neighboring island of Delos, an uninhabited island of many archaeological treasures. Delos was first a place of pilgrimage before becoming a thriving commercial port in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. You will return back to Mykonos by ferry to enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Petassos Beach Hotel
Day 5: Mykonos- Santorini
Today you will be transferred to Mykonos port with English-speaking assistance to board your fast ferry to Santorini (3 hours.) Upon arrival in Santorini, considered to be the most spectacular of all the Greek islands, you will be met by an English-speaking representative and privately transferred to your hotel.
The Canaves Oia Hotel is a luxury resort located on the northwest tip of Santorini Island, in the extremely scenic settlement of Oia (Ia). The resort is situated on a unique location, built on the side of a cliff overlooking the mysterious Caldera, the most fascinating location for Santorini luxury hotels. At the Canaves Oia Hotel in Santorini, 17th century canaves that are carved into the rock have been modified and transformed into elegantly designed luxury suites, decorated in the traditional island style, with antique furniture and object d' art. For those looking for wedding accommodation, the Canaves Oia Santorini honeymoon suites are an excellent choice.
The capital of this Cycladic Island, Fira (also called Thera or Thira), has a rather unique position: It's perched on the rim of an active volcano. The island used to be circular, but a massive volcanic explosion around 3,500 years ago blew out the center of the island. (Many people attribute the decline of the Minoan civilization on Crete to this cataclysmic eruption.) High cliffs jutting into the sea are all that's left of the crater rim. The surrounding islands are the remains of the sides of the crater.
Sunsets on the island are particularly striking: all the restaurants and bars in Fira face west over the sunken volcano and the Aegean Sea.
Day 6: Santorini
This afternoon enjoy a sail on a catamaran around the beautiful blue waters of Santorini with a delicious barbeque dinner served on board. The itinerary is as follows: depart the port and visit Red and White Beaches, sail past Acrotiri, sail into the caldera, hot springs, Palea Kameni Island for swimming and snorkeling.
Day 7: Santorini- Depart
Transfer to Santorini airport for your flight home.
Depart any day! Contact an iExplore Adventure Consultant for details.
April 25 to May 11 and October 11 to October 25:
$3,125 per person double occupancy.
$5,425 solo traveler.
May 12 to June 6 and September 20 to October 10:
$3,199 per person double occupancy.
$5,525 solo traveler.
June 7 to July 15 and August 27 to September 19:
$3,295 per person double occupancy.
$5,750 solo traveler.
July 16 to August 26:
$3,395 per person double occupancy.
$5,550 solo traveler.
Prices for your dates of travel may vary- please contact iExplore for an exact quote. Quoted prices are based on current rates of exchange, tariffs and taxes as of April, 2010. iExplore reserves the right to increase tour prices to cover increased costs, tariffs and taxes received after prices are published, and to reflect fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. iExplore is under no obligation to give breakdown costs involved in any package.
· Transportation in Athens and Mykonos by A/C Mercedes sedan taxi with English-speaking driver.
· Roundtrip transfers from hotel to Mykonos Port on the tour to Delos, by A/C Mercedes sedan taxi.
· Roundtrip transfers in Santorini by A/C vehicle and driver for arrival, departure and cruise transfers.
· Cruise onboard a private catamaran yacht as part of a small group (total 14 guests onboard) including barbeque dinner.
· Licensed English-speaking guide in Athens and Mykonos during the tours of Athens and Delos.
· Entrance fees to the Acropolis, the New Acropolis Museum and Delos archaeological sight.
· Ferry tickets in business class from Piraeus to Mykonos, Mykonos to Santorini, roundtrip tickets from Mykonos to Delos and economy tickets from Santorini to Athens.
· All current taxes.
· Two nights accommodations in Athens at the Electra Palace Hotel in a Standard Room.
· Two nights accommodations in Mykonos at the Petassos Beach Hotel in a Standard Room.
· Two nights accommodations in Santorini at the Canaves Hotel in a Superior Room.
· International or domestic air & taxes
· All items of a personal nature (telephone calls, laundry, room service, personal insurance, alcoholic beverages not mentioned above etc)
· Air travel
· All meals except breakfast
· Anything not specifically mentioned in the "Inclusions" list above
· Travel Insurance
· Visas (if required)
· Peak season or holiday surcharges
· Please note there is a supplemental charge for transfers in the event your arrival is between 22:30- 07:00 hours.
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.