The ancient kingdom of Macedonia played a significant role in the history of modern-day Greece, not least by the actions of two of its kings - Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great. The empires that followed, including Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, shaped the cities and lands that exist today and a visit to northern Greece allows an easy journey through this enthralling timeline, right through to the modern day. From your well-appointed hotel base in the capital of northern Greece, beautiful Thessaloniki, join daily excursions to explore the human and natural history of this lovely part of the world, ranging from the ancient Macedonians to the First World War.
7 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Gatwick Airport and a direct, scheduled easyJet flight to Thessaloniki. On arrival we transfer to the Met Hotel (4T), where dinner is included this evening.
Day 2 Dion - Litochoro - Mount Olympus
We begin our journey through the story of northern Greece, in the 5th century BC - a time of myths and heroes. At Dion Archaeological Park is the sacred Macedonian city, built at the foot of Mount Olympus and dedicated to Zeus. Sacrifices were made here before battle and victories celebrated upon their return. Our guided tour takes in this remarkable example of ancient Macedonia, including the theatre still in use today and its museum. We continue to the slopes of Mount Olympus, the home of 12 Olympian Gods, where you can enjoy time at leisure in the traditional village of Litochoro, before a scenic walk along the Enipeas River.
Day 3 Pella - Vergina - Veria
Moving forward in time to the 4th century BC, we travel to Pella - the capital of the kingdom of Macedonia at the time of Alexander the Great - for a guided tour of its Archaeological Museum. Before Pella, the first ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedonia was Aigai, a site identified near modern-day Vergina. Here, the Vergina Museum surrounds the tomb of King Philip II (father of Alexander) and displays treasures found in the many graves of this extensive necropolis. We then visit the city of Veria, a significant ancient Macedonian town and also an important city of the Byzantine Empire in the 11th-14th centuries, where there are no less than 48 churches remaining.
Day 4 Thessaloniki
The second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki, was founded in 315 BC, presenting a grand timeline of history that takes in Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman influences. Magnificent monuments exist in many styles and the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki tells the city’s overall tale. Our tour concludes at the Ottoman fortress known as the White Tower, before a short boat trip into the Thermaic Gulf to view the city from the sea. This afternoon is at leisure to further explore.
Day 5 Philippi - Kavala
The Roman Empire’s influence on northern Greece is today’s interest, stopping first at Philippi a UNESCO World Heritage Site, originally named by Philip II the King of Macedon in 356 BC. This ancient city was the theatre of battle in 42 BC, when Marc Anthony and Octavian the heirs to Julius Caesar, confronted his assassins at the Battle of Philippi. Almost 100 years later, the Apostle Paul established the first Christian Church in Europe. After a fascinating exploration we continue to Kavala, occupied since the 7th century BC in order to fully exploit the rich gold and silver. We return to our hotel for a free afternoon and dinner included this evening.
Day 6 Thessaloniki
Today is free to spend as you wish, or you can join an optional cruise around the Mount Athos peninsula, to view the many UNESCO-protected monasteries, some dating back to AD 800, that occupy the rocky shores. Over 2,000 monks still live here today, leading an ascetic life and for this reason women are not physically allowed into the monasteries, making a cruise the ideal option.
Day 7 Lake Kerkini - Kilkis
Our journey through the timeline of Greece arrives in the 20th century, as we explore modern landscapes of peace and war. Our morning will be spent at peaceful Lake Kerkini, one of the most important wetlands in Europe with excellent birdwatching opportunities - there have been over 300 species spotted. We’ll explore the lake by boat viewing the flora and fauna, before time to purchase lunch at a traditional restaurant. This afternoon we visit Kilkis, countryside now characterised by its tranquillity, but once the scene of the bloody, First World War Battle of Doiran in 1917. To remember the fallen soldiers, we will visit the Doiran Memorial and the Military Cemetery, which is carefully preserved by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Day 8 Thessaloniki - London
Today we travel to the airport for a direct, scheduled easyJet flight to London Gatwick Airport. On arrival you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.