UK - Athens
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Athens. On arrival we transfer to the Hotel Divani Palace (5T), where we stay for four nights. Dinner is included this evening.
Our exploration of Greece’s capital city begins with a tour of its many highlights, including the National Library of Greece, Presidential Palace and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - a monument that is guarded around the clock by the Evzones Presidential Guard, easily recognisable by their distinctive uniform. The Panathenaic Stadium, site of the very first Olympic Games, will follow before concluding at the ancient Acropolis - the striking citadel that overlooks the city from on high. After a visit to the museum here, the afternoon is free to make your own discoveries of this ancient city.
Separating the Greek mainland from the Peloponnese, the narrow Corinth Canal connects the Aegean and Ionian seas - for those vessels small enough to pass its narrow length. We cross by road to explore the Argolis region, stopping in the city of Mycenae once one of the major centres of Greek civilisation and the home of Homer’s House of Atreus. We will see the city’s Lion Gate entrance, its walls of Cyclopean stonework and royal tombs. We continue to Nafplio, a pretty port town of narrow streets and Venetian houses, watched over by the early 18th century Venetian fortress of Palamidi. Our last stop today will be the ancient Greek city of Epidaurus, famed for its theatre of spectacular acoustics. We return to our hotel for an included dinner.
Today is free to explore this historical city at your own pace and there are many more fine examples of ancient Greece to see, including the Theatre of Dionysus or at the National Archaeological Museum. Alternatively, perhaps join an optional cruise around the Saronic Gulf islands, stopping at Hydra - a favourite of Leonard Cohen; picturesque Poros; and the island of Aegina - home to a splendid Doric temple.
Athens - Delphi - Kalambaka
Leaving Athens behind we depart for the archaeological site of Delphi, once considered the centre of the known world and the site of the ancient Oracle - visitors would come from far and wide to communicate with the God Apollo, through the High Priestess (Pythia). Set amongst terraces on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, the myth-shrouded Sanctuary of Apollo is protected by UNESCO. We continue to Kalambaka and our hotel for the night, the Divani Meteora Hotel (4T).
Kalambaka - Meteora - Thessaloniki
Perched above the town of Kalambaka atop vertical rock formations of up to 400m high, are the breathtaking Meteora monasteries. Constructed from the 11th century onwards by monks who had settled these ‘columns of the sky’, the sandstone peaks are not only a wonder of nature but also home to spiritual places of serenity. After exploring two of the biggest monasteries in this area, we continue to Thessaloniki and the Mediterranean Palace Hotel (5T), where dinner is included this evening.
This morning a city tour will introduce us to Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, founded in 315 BC with a colourful history that ensued. Effortlessly mixing with the modern city, are many UNESCO-listed Byzantine monuments, plus Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures dotted throughout the city and our exploration will take in the Church of Saint Demetrius, castle walls, and Acropolis. After a walk amongst the Roman ruins we conclude at the symbol of the city - the White Tower - and then having explored Thessaloniki’s land aspect, we turn our attention to the ocean and join a short cruise in the Thermaic Gulf.
Vergina - Veria
We journey west to the small town of Vergina and the burial site of Philip II - father of Alexander the Great. The remarkable museum here displays many exquisite artefacts from the tombs, including the golden larnax and golden grave crown of Philip, jewels, paintings and the King’s armoury - highlighting the great significance of ancient Macedonia’s power. We continue to the city of Veria, the second city of the Argead Dynasty and where St Paul often preached to inhabitants, some of whom became amongst the first Christians in the Roman Empire. The altar where he preached to Jewish and Greek communities and examples of early Christian churches can be seen, alongside Jewish, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments.
A final day in Thessaloniki provides time at leisure to spend as you wish. An optional cruise to view the monasteries of Mount Athos will take you from Ouranoupolis by boat, around the peninsula to view its magnificent UNESCO-listed monasteries which date back to at least AD 800. Women are not allowed to enter the monasteries, so the cruise is the only way to get this close to them.
Day 10 Thessaloniki - UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.