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Discover the many historical sites in Greece's Peloponnese region, which is steeped in myths and legends. Explore the wild landscapes of the Mani Peninsula, at the southern tip of mainland Greece, with its fantastic sea views.
Explore Tour Leader
12 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Athens. The city is a heady mix of ancient and modern, having been the capital of Greece for less than 200 years, but with a history dating back over 3,000 years. Located on the Plain of Attica, an area of amazingly varied scenery, from high mountains covered by pine forests to a stunningly beautiful coastline with a myriad of harbours.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7.30pm and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. Due to a number of flights arriving into Athens later in the evening, our welcome meeting will take place on the morning of day two. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Athens at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Athens International Airport (ATH), which is about one hours' drive, depending on traffic.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to visit one of the cafes in the colourful Psyrri district which offer traditional Greek cuisine of scrumptious aubergines, tomatoes and cheese washed down with ouzo or raki. There are traditional rustic tavernas in the well-known Plaka area at the foot of the Acropolis.
Hotel Evripides (or similar)
After our Leader does an initial welcome meeting, we'll take an orientation walking tour which will take us past the Parliament buildings, through Syntagma Square and into the Plaka, to soak up the atmosphere of this old town. You'll notice the contrast between the modern capital and the old city - the well-heeled inhabitants of Kolonaki on the one hand, and the vibrant Plaka quarter on the other.
In the afternoon we head for a guided tour of the Acropolis, a particular favourite. Here are the majestic ruins of the Athens of Pericles - the Propylaea (or marble entrance hall), the Parthenon (built by Ictinos 2500 years ago), the Temple of Athena Nike (the Wingless Victory), and - the monument most venerated by the ancient Athenians themselves - the Erechtheion. Tradition relates that gods Athena and Poseidon quarrelled here. The sea-god struck the rock with his trident, causing salt water to gush out, while Athena struck it with her spear and brought forth an olive tree. As olives were deemed to be more useful, the other gods let her take the city under her protection.
The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore the city, a visit to the Acropolis Museum is highly recommended.
Leaving Athens after an early breakfast, we travel to Nafplion - the first capital of modern Greece and one of the most beautiful coastal towns in the Peloponnese. After checking-in to our centrally located hotel, we will take to the streets with an orientation walking tour of this charming town including the first Greek parliament and fine examples of Byzantine and Venetian churches and buildings. We complete the day with an optional walk around the headland following the coastal path to a beach. The evening is free for further exploration at your leisure.
Victoria Hotel (or similar)
Today we ascend to the Palamidi Fortress for great views. The Palamidi is actually comprised of three separate fortresses walled together. It was built in 1714 by the Venetians, taken by the Turks the following year, and held until they surrendered it to Kolokotronis after a 15 month seige during the War of Independence. After we make the 850- step ascent to the fortress (taxis are available!) We then travel south east of Nafplion to Epidavros. Dedicated to Asclepius, the healing god and legendary son of Apollo, the sanctuary here was one of the most important of the ancient world, and it remained a site of pilgrimage from the sixth century BC to Roman times. Epidavros is home to one of the greatest and best preserved of all ancient Greek theatres. With its backdrop of rolling hills, this 14,000-seat arena merges perfectly into the landscape, so much so that it was rediscovered and unearthed only in the last century. The acoustics of the amphitheatre are so incredible, it's said that even those sat on the highest tier will hear a coin drop on stage! After exploring the site, we will return by bus to Nafplion to enjoy an evening promenade and maybe dinner at one of the many
Leaving Nafplion behind us, we first travel north to visit the mighty ruins of ancient Mycenae then south towards the heart of the mani Peninsula. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the modern city, Mycenae is connected to the legend of King Agamemnon who commanded the 10-year long expedition against Troy. The site was unearthed by the archaeologist Schliemann in the 1870's and is prized for its Lion Gate and Royal Tombs. Equally impressive are the 'beehive tombs' which include the Treasury of Atreus: the lintel over the monumental Atreus door weighs over 120 tons! Inside, the structure is awesome: the principal chamber dates from about 1350 BC and emulates the grandeur of the Egyptian pharaohs. Homer's epithets of 'well-built Mycenae, rich in gold; are well born out in the superbly crafted gold and architecture of the tombs found here which can be seen at the museum. This afternoon, we move on to the city of Areopolis, our base for the next few days. Some groups will be staying in the attractive coastal village of Gytheio, which is a 30 minute drive away.
Pantheon City Hotel (or similar)
Areopolis is the main town (really a large village) on the Mani Peninsula. It lies some three miles from the sea, quite high up and well located for walks. Today has been left free to soak up the atmosphere of Areopolis, or alternatively take a trip to nearby town of Monemvasia - 'Greece's Gibraltar'. This 13th century Byzantine fortress town occupies a steep, rocky islet which is connected to the coast by a bridge, and it was amongst the first of the Peloponnese fortified towns to be liberated by the Greeks in 1821. If you are staying in Gythio instead of Areopolis there is plenty to do in this pretty seaside town, an area known for its brave fighters during the Greek War of Independence. We recommend visiting one of the sandy beaches or the Ethnological museum housed in Tzanetakis Tower on Kranae islet.
The Mani is a naturally isolated and traditionally independent area and the people who inhabit its wild landscape have always resisted change and clung to their ancient traditions. In addition to its interesting history of piracy, the feudal society which developed around the 14th century has left a unique architectural legacy in the form of many marble-roofed towerhouses, once used as a defence against enemy clans and as a sign of family prestige. Today we charter a bus to discover this fascinating region, visiting Cape Tenaro; the southern-most point of mainland Greece, Girolimenas and Vathia fortified village.
Leaving the Mani, we head north to the abandoned medieval town of Mystras. Clinging to a steep flank of the Taygetos range, some 150 m above the plain, Mystras is silent and ruined today but nevertheless evocative of the people who once lived here and made it prosperous. We wander the cobbled alleyways, exploring the various sun-bleached palaces and houses along the way. Although only ruins remain, the architectural styles and artistic excellence of many wall paintings, mosaics and decorative sculptures are worthy of close inspection. In the Upper Town is the vast arched hall of the Palace of the Despots, with its two standing towers. The beautiful Pantanassa Church, still used by a few smiling nuns, combines both Byzantine and Gothic elements and has some rather fine frescoes. Crowning the summit is the original Frankish Castle (Kastro) with its breathtaking overview of the plain of Sparta. Walking through this phantom city with its scattered ruins is like taking a journey back through time. Later we continue to the delightful little harbour town of Pylos.
Hotel Galaxy (or similar)
We spend the day in this picturesque place set amid olive trees, rocky meadows and offshore islands. The area around Pylos is ideal for personal explorations, on foot or by local transport. This morning we will visit one of the best preserved castles in Greece, the Neokastro, built during the Turkish occupation in 1573 to control the western coast of the Peloponnese. This afternooon you have free time and may choose to take a local bus to Methoni (10 kms to the south), possibly the most beautiful Venetian stronghold in Greece and home to an imposing 15th century castle. Another option is a walk along Gialova Lagoon to a medieval castle, and on to Nestor's Cave, finishing at a beautiful horseshoe-shaped white sand beach.
Driving north,we stop briefly at at the Vaulted Tomb of Ano Anglianos, which is the largest of it's type in the area. It was used throughout the 15th century, and perhaps even later, as a family tomb and it is estimated to contain at least 17 burials. Next we drive on to the ruined monuments of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic games and one of Greece's most renowned historical sites, for a guided tour. The site lies in an enchanting valley setting close to the modern day town of Nea Olympia. The first monuments to be constructed were in the Altis, or sacred grove, and date back to the 10th - 9th century BC. Estimates indicate the games first began in 776 BC, after the worship of Zeus was established. Initially all the principal Greek cities took part in the Olympiads (which were held every four years). As well as wandering through the remains of the gymnasium, wrestling school, stadium and the Temple of Zeus, you could visit the excellent Archaeological Museum (optional) which has many remarkable exhibits on view.
Olympic Village Hotel (or similar)
From Olympia, we head north. A scenic drive takes us through the largest olive grove in Greece to reach Delphi, where we have a guided tour. Perched on the rocky slopes of sacred Mount Parnassos (2459 m), Delphi was the perfect setting for mystery and religious prophecy. Here the god Apollo spoke through the medium of a priestess called the Pythia. After drinking the waters of the nearby Castalian Spring, said to echo with the prophetic voices of Apollo's muses, she swooned over intoxicating fumes emitted from a crack in the ground and uttered strange gabblings, which the priests then translated into verse and gave to the faithful. The answers were always so ambiguous that whatever happened they were bound to come true. The site's famous antiquities, including the Temple of Apollo, theatre, stadium and Marmaria Sanctuary are wonderfully picturesque, and the museum contains the much admired 'charioteer'.
Acropole Delphi Hotel (or similar)
This morning there's a chance to take an optional walk to the temple of Athena to stretch your legs before we take the bus back to the capital. Along the way we will make a photo stop in the pretty mountain village of Arachova. Free afternoon in Athens.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Athens.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Athens at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Athens International Airport (ATH), which is about one hours' drive, depending on traffic.
Greece has such a vast geographical difference between the mainland and the islands, and travel is possible at all times of year but the climate can vary depending on when you go.
During late spring or early autumn, in the months of April-May or September-October, temperatures are warm and pleasant, usually hovering around 25 degrees. Rainfall is low, but can be erratic during these months. Cooler evenings take the heat off the day. If you have booked a walking holiday, wild flowers bloom during the spring, adding colour to the hiking trails.
Summers are hot and dry, with plenty of sunshine and little rain. Temperatures can go north of 35 degrees in July and August. On the islands, restaurants and bars may be busy with cruise ship passengers. While this period definitely gives you a ‘summer holiday’ feeling, those wishing to explore Greece’s ancient sites may find the heat challenging.
When travelling in winter, from late November to early March, the villages will be very quiet. Temperatures in Athens at this time are around 10-15 degrees, while the nights will be colder. Hotels in northern Greece in particular are well adapted to deal with cold winters, having proper heating and warm fires to retreat to after a day of exploring. This makes it a good destination for travel between November-March.
2 Pin Round
Athens: On the afternoon of day two you may like to do the following: Acropolis Museum entrance €15.00 per person National Archaeological Museum entrance €12.00 per person Olympic Stadium entrance €10.00 per person Trams - 24 hour ticket costs €4.10 per operson Areopolis: Cave of Diros entrance fee and boat ride €15.00 per person Monemvasia full day excursion €50.00per person (dependent on numbers) If you are a student or over 65, please carry ID for half price museum entrance fees. only cash accepted
July and August are the hottest months, but early and late in the season go prepared with clothing to suit drops in temperature and the odd shower. Women in trousershorts are not permitted to enter monasteries - please bring a skirt.
Comfortable, well broken-in walking boots or shoes with good heel support are necessary for participating in walks and visiting the sites. Trainers and sandals are also recommended for relaxing.
One main piece of baggage and a daysac. Remember, porters are not available, so don't overload yourself. You'll also need to carry your luggage on/off buses.
Water bottle, torch, sunhat and sun cream.
Bus, Public Bus, Taxi
We choose our properties because of their location, cleanliness, traditional style or for their welcoming atmosphere, as we endeavour to provide an authentic Greek experience. However, some of the properties might have some outdated or simple furniture. Many of the older buildings have been built to protect from the summer heat, however, this can result in rooms being cold during the winter. Hotels will always provide more blankets but not all offer heating facilities so please bear this in mind when packing if travelling through the cooler months. Most hotels in Greece are only a few stories high and lifts can generally only be found in hotels in Athens. There is no porterage service at the hotels we use so don't overload yourself with excess baggage. \lang1024
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Greece: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory but we recommend protection against tetanus and polio. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.