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Greece

The Greek mainland and its islands are at the centre of Voyages to Antiquity's programme. Our itineraries trace the history of this remarkable country from the earliest Mycenaean settlements and the rise of the Golden Age of Athens to the historical legacy of Venetian and Ottoman Empires. Our itineraries also ensure that you do not miss out on the extraordinary natural beauty that the Aegean has to offer: cruising the islands is one of the great experiences of travel. As the birthplace of so much of Western civilisation, Greece is a truly unique and inspiring place.

Byzantine Athens

Athens, Greece
Half Day
Never in the history of Christianity has a school of artists infused such a high degree of spirituality into its work.

Never in the history of Christianity has a school of artists infused such a high degree of spirituality into its work. Byzantine theologians insisted that painters and mosaicists reflect the image of God. This morning's sightseeing reveals the splendour of Byzantine art in a tour that combines visits to both the Byzantine Museum, home to the world's largest collection of icons, and also the Monastery of Kaisariani with its fine frescoes and elegant gardens.

Drive from the pier to Illissia Mansion, winter residence of the Duchess of Piacenza, and home to the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Founded in 1914, this renowned museum focuses exclusively on Byzantine art from the 4th to 19th centuries. In addition to its impressive icons, frescoes and tapestries, there are paintings, sculptures and illuminated manuscripts. Displays recreate Byzantine churches from the 5th to 11th centuries.

Continue next to the slopes of Mt. Hymettos, for a visit to the Monastery of Kaisariani, a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture. Inside its high walls discover the 11th-century catholicon, or main church, built in a Greek cross shape. The dome is supported by four columns from an earlier Roman temple and colourful frescoes from the 14th to 18th centuries enliven the interior walls. There is also an 11th-century bathhouse. Later additions include a refectory, the monks’ cells and a 19th-century bell tower. Savour the views of Athens and the serenity of this delightful spot before returning to your hotel.

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

Athens and the Acropolis

Athens, Greece
Half Day Extensive Walking
Visit the sublime expression of Classical Greece, the Acropolis with its sweeping views of Athens. Commissioned by Pericles in the 5th-century BC, the site is dominated by the majestic Parthenon.

Visit the sublime expression of Classical Greece, the Acropolis with its sweeping views of Athens. Commissioned by Pericles in the 5th century BC, the site is dominated by the majestic Parthenon: a building that embodies the stunning achievements of the Athenian “Golden Age”.

Surrounding the great temple are the other architectural masterpieces of the citadel: the Propylaia (monumental gateway), the Erechtheion with its beautiful Karayatid Porch and the Temple of Athena Nike (Winged Victory).

Below the temple complex is the theatre of Dionysos where the dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were first performed. Then explore another marvel: the longanticipated $200-million, 226,000-square-foot Acropolis Museum.

In the dramatic Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, ascending floors of glass literally “float” you above the excavations for an extraordinary perspective of the layers of Greek history that lie below.

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Delphi and its Museum

Delphi, Greece
Overnight Lunch Included
Delphi was considered by the ancients to be the physical and spiritual center of the earth.  The shrine of Apollo, set nearly 2,000 feet up on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, exerts today a potent grip on the visitor. Here was the most respected oracle of antiquity.

After breakfast, board your coach and drive to Delphi, on the way visit Osios Loukas Monastery. 

Delphi was considered by the ancients to be the physical and spiritual center of the earth.  The shrine of Apollo, set nearly 2,000 feet up on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, exerts today a potent grip on the visitor. Here was the most respected oracle of antiquity.  Even the most intelligent individuals who lived during the brilliant civilization of Athens believed implicitly in the responses of the god. These were given by the inspired priestess Pythia and were interpreted, usually with an ambiguous touch, by the priests. 

Delphi grew fabulously rich with offerings and though the ruins have almost disappeared now, you can admire them and try to picture the sanctuary as it was during its 1,000 years.  Zealous Christians initiated the destruction of this holy place and earthquakes added to its destruction. Your tour begins with a drive northwest via Thebes and Levadia, and you will be able to buy refreshments during a brief stop before reaching Delphi. 

The site is breathtaking and the view from the top, down to the blue waters of the  Gulf of Corinth, is spectacular.  The drive will take you by the sacred Castalian spring and close to the ancient site of Apollo's sanctuary.  You will then walk the sacred way, visiting the treasuries, the place of offerings, the Grand Temple of Apollo and the theater, with its splendid acoustics.

The tour continues with a visit to the Museum housing many treasures.  Omphalos, which marked the center of the world and the Charioteer, one of the finest pieces surviving from the fifth century B.C.are among the many wonders housed in the museum.

Afterwards a short drive will take you to your hotel for overnight in this beautiful village, where dinner will be included.

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Sightseeing tour of Argolis

Nauplia, Greece
Overnight Lunch IncludedArchaeological Site
Tales of Agamemnon and the time of Homer’s heroes take center stage today on this visit to Mycenae, one of the greatest cities of the highly-developed Mycenaean civilization.

In the morning take a coach and drive towards the Peloponnese, passing through the Rio-Antirrio bridge. Arrive in Mycenae and visit the great sites. Tales of Agamemnon and the time of Homer’s heroes take center stage today on this visit to Mycenae, one of the greatest cities of the highly-developed Mycenaean civilization. This culture dominated the eastern Mediterranean from the 16th to 13th century BC and laid the foundation for classical Greece.

Enter Mycenae on foot through the Lion Gate, Europe’s oldest piece of monumental statuary: it was here that the victorious, but battle-weary Agamemnon, was greeted by his wife, Klytemnestra, on his return from the long war with Troy, only to be murdered by her lover. Inside the gates, explore the Royal Palace, view the shaft graves and relive the tragic stories at an archaeological briefing in the Treasury of Atreus (Tomb of Agamemnon).

In the afternoon drive to Nafplio, the capital of Argolis area. The ancient part of the town is exciting and has its own unusual, authentic atmosphere. It has cobbled alleyways paved with stone and is lined with shops and many local taverns. With its old medieval neoclassic town, Nafplio is a dream to visit. We overnight at a hotel in this picturesque port, where dinner is included.

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

Epidaurus

Piraeus, Greece
Half Day
In the 6th century BC, Epidaurus was sacred to the god of medicine, Asclepius. The medical facilities and healing treatments were immensely popular and the ensuing wealth was used to inaugurate a 4th-century BC building campaign.

In the 6th century BC, Epidaurus was sacred to the god of medicine, Asclepius. The medical facilities and healing treatments were immensely popular and the ensuing wealth was used to inaugurate a 4th-century BC building campaign.

Today Epidaurus is a vast UNESCO World Heritage site with temples and hospital buildings that provide insight into the healing cults as well as the theatrical arts of the time. The jewel is the theatre designed by the architect Polycletus.

Over 14,000 seats are carved into the hillside and the acoustics are so perfect that it is said you can hear a pin drop from the highest tier. The theatre, universally admired from the start, was extended in Roman times, restored in the 1950s and is still in use.

Nowhere is it so easy to envision the staging of the great tragedies and comedies than in this pure masterpiece of Greek architecture.

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Santorini: Akrotiri and Oia

Santorini, Greece
Full Day Tender Extensive WalkingLunch IncludedCable CarCobbled StreetsUphill Sections
Closed to the public for over six years, the newly reopened Minoan settlement of Akrotiri is the tour's highlight, but you also visit several of Santorini's picturesque villages.

Closed to the public for over six years, the newly reopened Minoan settlement of Akrotiri is the tour's highlight, but you also visit several of Santorini's picturesque villages. One of the Aegean's most important archaeological sites, Akrotiri was abandoned after severe earthquakes, then covered in pumice by a volcanic eruption in about 1625BC. A visit tells the tale of an affluent society who farmed, built two-story homes and indulged a taste for frescoes, furniture and jewellery. Today's tour includes a visit to the ongoing excavations, where you can walk amid the well-preserved streets, view the workshops and squares.

Start your adventure with a transfer from the ship by local boat, then drive to the northern tip of the island to the village of Oia with its whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches and coffee shops carved in the cliffs. Stroll along the cobblestone streets where wealthy sea captains built their mansions, now converted to cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Take in breathtaking views in all directions.

Continue to the southern end of the island and the archaeological site of Akrotiri. The excavations, led by Professor Spyros Marintos, began in 1967. Walk around this amazing city and get an insight into the culture that laid the foundation for Greek civilisation. Then continue to tiny Pyrgos, once the capital. View the distant Venetian castle, then sit down to lunch at a local taverna. Conclude your adventure in Fira, the scenic capital. From here, you'll have the option of remaining in town or returning to the ship by cable car.

Note: The price of this excursion already allows a credit for the unused half day excursion

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Santorini: Oia and Argyros Winery

Santorini, Greece
Full Day Tender Extensive WalkingLunch IncludedCable CarCobbled StreetsUphill Sections
In prehistoric times, the people who inhabited Santorini (or Strongyle, meaning “round”, as it was known) enjoyed a relatively advanced standard of living, until 1650BC, when a volcanic eruption caused the centre of the island to sink, leaving a caldera with high cliffs that has remained one of the world’s most dramatic geological sights.

In prehistoric times, the people who inhabited Santorini (or Strongyle, meaning “round”, as it was known) enjoyed a relatively advanced standard of living, until 1650BC, when a volcanic eruption caused the centre of the island to sink, leaving a caldera with high cliffs that has remained one of the world’s most dramatic geological sights.


Nowhere is this ancient legacy more apparent than during a stroll through the beautiful village of Oia, on the northernmost tip of the island, where many of the clifftop dwellings were built into niches hewn from the steep volcanic rock face. These delightful buildings are painted a spectrum of pastel colours, reflecting the wealthy seafarers of the past who first developed the village. Walking around its narrow cobblestone streets you will come across shops offering handmade works of ceramic art, paintings and semi-precious jewellery, as well as coffee shops with spectacular views across the island and the sea.

 

Santorini’s highest peak is crowned by an excellent example of Cycladic architecture, the 18th-century Monastery of Mount Profitis Ilias. The scenic drive then continues from Oia to the Argyros wine estate. Founded in 1903, this family run vineyard combines ancient traditions with modern technology to produce some of the most prestigious wines on the island. After enjoying some wine-tasting, a traditional Greek lunch will be served at a tavern overlooking the waterfront, in the village of Monolithos.

 

A short drive brings you to Fira, the picturesque capital of Santorini, with free time to explore before returning to the ship via cable car

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The Palace of Knossos

Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Half Day Archaeological Site
Even without the tales of a bloodthirsty Minotaur, this magnificent palace complex with its flamboyant decoration, courts, audience chambers and residential areas is an impressive and inspiring site.

Even without the tales of a bloodthirsty Minotaur, this magnificent palace complex with its flamboyant decoration, courts, audience chambers and residential areas is an impressive and inspiring site. Constructed around 1900BC, it was the administrative and religious centre of the Minoan kingdom. Here King Minos held court and – so mythology holds – his wife gave birth to a half-man, half-bull creature that lurked in the palace’s labyrinth. This fearsome beast was appeased only by human sacrifices.

An earthquake destroyed the original complex; it was then rebuilt on an even grander scale, only to be destroyed again by the massive volcanic eruption on Santorini around 1500BC. Though periodically excavated by Greek archaeologists in the late 19th century, credit for the full excavation and restoration is given to amateur Victorian archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. Roundly criticised for occasional missteps in restoration, Sir Arthur poured his fortune into the effort and did a remarkable job for the time period. Knossos today, at least, allows the visitor to visualise the palace as it once was and understand its intricacies.

The guided tour will take you through this legend-rich, entrancing complex that sprawled across five acres, where everything from the throne room to royal living quarters is reconstructed with meticulous care.

On our return to Heraklion, we will visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, one of the greatest museums in Greece and the best in the world for Minoan art, as it contains the most notable and complete collection of artifacts of the Minoan civilisation of Crete.

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Cretan Village Life

Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Half Day
Nestled at the base of this beloved Cretan landmark lies the traditional village of Archanes, which has been lovingly restored to become one of the most beautiful settlements on the island. The residents are extremely friendly and proud of the fact that their home was recently voted one of the best restored villages in Europe by the EU.

Standing before the slopes of Mount Youchtas, on the island of Crete, you may be surprised to discover that this is the place where, in Greek myth, the mighty God Zeus was entombed. Viewed from a certain angle, however, and it soon forms into an eerily lifelike human profile – a fitting resting place for such a colossal figure of myth.

 

Nestled at the base of this beloved Cretan landmark lies the traditional village of Archanes, which has been lovingly restored to become one of the most beautiful settlements on the island. The residents are extremely friendly and proud of the fact that their home was recently voted one of the best restored villages in Europe by the EU.

 

The Archanes Archaeological Museum opened in 1993 and is housed inside a 19th-century neoclassical building that originally served as the village’s first school. This small but fascinating exhibition contains finds and replicas unearthed during excavations of a Minoan palace in the centre of Archanes, which was thought to have been the summer residence of an ancient King of Knossos, not far to the north.

 

After visiting the museum there will be plenty of time for a guided walk through the village to admire its traditional buildings and churches. Archanes is famous for its hospitality, so you may like to enjoy some Greek specialties in the village tavern, before returning to Heraklion via the picturesque village of Vathipetro, which is renowned for its incredible natural beauty.

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The Villages of Karpathos

Karpathos, Greece
Half Day Tender Cobbled Streets
Situated on the edge of the Aegean Sea, Karpathos has managed to remain remarkably unspoiled. This is a place of picturesque villages, where many historic traditions are still actively practised.

Your tour begins in the old capital of Aperi, which grew in size during the Middle Ages, when coastal dwellers moved inland to avoid pirates. Situated on the edge of the Aegean Sea, Karpathos has managed to remain remarkably unspoiled. This is a place of picturesque villages, where many historic traditions are still actively practised. In 1894 Pigadia took over as the main town, but Aperi is still one of the largest villages on the island and has some charming buildings to see, including the ruins of a tower built in 3,000BC.

 

Othos is the highest village in the Dodecanese and has some striking views looking out to sea. A highlight is the wonderful folklore museum, which has been carefully designed to replicate a traditional island dwelling. Many of the items on display here, from kitchen utensils to musical instruments, lace and clothing, are still in use on the island today.

 

The village of Pyles has an open-air agricultural museum featuring a windmill, farmhouse and a wine press. There will also be a chance to relax in the lovely fishing village of Finiki, before arriving at the picturesque village of Arkassa to visit the Church of Agia Sophia, which is one of the oldest on the island.

 

The final stop is another unique church, dramatically poised on the edge of a steep rock in the hillside village of Menetes. The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin is a hugely important site to the people of Karpathos, who flock here each year to celebrate the feast of the Assumption while surrounded by some stunning views of the island.

 

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Highlights of Karpathos

Karpathos, Greece
Full Day Tender Boat RideCobbled Streets
Historically the people of northern Karpathos lived on the coast, in the ancient Doric city of Vrykounda, but after a series of raids by Saracen pirates in the 6th-century, around seventy families decided to move inland and build a fortified settlement on the slopes of the mountain.

Historically the people of northern Karpathos lived on the coast, in the ancient Doric city of Vrykounda, but after a series of raids by Saracen pirates in the 6th-century, around seventy families decided to move inland and build a fortified settlement on the slopes of the mountain. Until recently the only way to reach this remote village was through the nearby port of Diafani, so this tour has been specially designed to recapture that traditional journey, via a delightful coastal boat-ride from the main town of Pigadia, where Aegean Odyssey will be docked.

 

The picturesque waterfront of Diafani is perfect for enjoying some refreshments at a local café, before you are transported back in time to Olympos, where many local women still wear brightly coloured traditional clothing and the pastel-coloured houses are like a living museum, in a way that is quite unique to the Mediterranean.

 

The spectacular windmills lining the mountaintop are no longer functioning, but during your guided tour you will be able to see inside a traditional house and museum, watch a shoemaker at work and visit the Byzantine church, which is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin. Following the tour there will be plenty of time to enjoy some local hospitality at your leisure, before the boat-ride back to Pigadia.

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

Old Town & Grand Masters Palace

Rhodes, Greece
Half Day Cobbled Streets
Leave behind the port where the Colossus once stood and discover a stunning ensemble of Gothic architecture just a short drive from the port.

Leave behind the port where the Colossus once stood and discover a stunning ensemble of Gothic architecture just a short drive from the port. These UNESCO World Heritage monuments testify to the role of Rhodes, the largest island in the Dodecanese group, as a strategic crossroads. Many structures date to the era of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, who lived on the island from 1309 until 1522 when the Ottoman Empire finally dislodged the Knights.

En route, you’ll visit the lookout Mount Smith, named after the British admiral Sir Sydney Smith who used this vantage point to scan the seas for French ships in the Napoleonic era. Then you enter the citadel of the Knight’s through the d’Amboise Gate and head for the restored Grand Master’s Palace.

The first building of the 14th-century Crusaders, the Palace was modelled on the great Papal Palace of Avignon. It served as a fortress in times of war, a residence for the Grand Master of the Knights, a meeting place for senior knights, and, in later times, a summer residence of both Mussolini and Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. Stroll the cobblestone Street of the Knights and admire the honey-coloured stone buildings with their giant doorways and arched windows.

Step into the 15th-century Knights Hospital, now an archaeological museum that counts the Aphrodite of Rhodes in flawless Parian marble among its treasures. At the conclusion of this tour, you can return to the ship or stay to wander this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The Acropolis at Lindos

Rhodes, Greece
Half Day Extensive WalkingCobbled StreetsSignificant StepsUphill Sections
Gain inspiration from the exquisite natural setting of the Acropolis at Lindos, a destination of both historic and scenic interest, just an hour’s drive from Rhodes.

Gain inspiration from the exquisite natural setting of the Acropolis at Lindos, a destination of both historic and scenic interest, just an hour’s drive from Rhodes. This Doric town rose in power hundreds of years before Christ and continued to thrive into the middle ages.

We’ll walk to the Acropolis, surrounded by the contrasting 12th-century crusader fortifications, clinging to the rocks above the village. At the summit is the Doric Temple of Lindian Athena, an archaeological jewel dating from the 4th century BC, with a double-winged portico and elaborate propylaea. The site offers sweeping views over St Paul’s Bay, where the Apostle is said to have sought shelter during a storm.

Following the Acropolis, we’ll descend to the village with its whitewashed houses and tempting shops. A favorite resort since the time of Julius Caesar, Lindos is home to writers, artists and craftsmen.

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Nisyros at a Glance

Nisyros, Greece
Half Day Tender Uneven or Volcanic GroundUphill SectionsGravel Flooring
Greek mythology has it that the island of Nisyros was once a part of Kos, until Poseidon threw a piece of the island at the giant Polybotes, trapping his foe and creating a volcano, beneath which Polybotes still shakes and groans.

Whatever the truth of its origins, Nisyros is certainly one of the biggest hydrothermal volcanoes in the world, but careful monitoring ensures there are no surprises. Over the last 150,000 years there have only been three significant eruptions, with the last occurring during the Middle Ages. Everything flourishes in the volcanic soil and there are some unique species of flora and fauna to see during a scenic drive across the island.

 

The largest of the island’s volcanic craters is Stefanos, which is believed to be over 3,000 years old. Descending into this otherworldly landscape, as steam rises from bubbling fumaroles and the smell of sulphur fills the air, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve just stepped into a Jules Verne novel. Looking up, you will also be able to spot the small village of Nikia, which is perched right on the lip of the caldera.

 

This picturesque settlement has a population of less than one hundred and is among the most authentic villages in Greece. The houses are brightly painted, the church dates back to the 15th-century and the main square features a memorable pebble-stone mosaic (or “choklakia”) designed by the 19th-century artist Paschalis Pashalakis. After exploring the village and enjoying some wonderful views in all directions, a stop will be made at an abandoned natural spa, for another one of a kind experience, before your return to Aegean Odyssey.

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sacred Delos

Delos, Greece
Half Day Tender Archaeological SiteGravel Flooring
Discover the tiny, deserted isle of Delos, the religious center of the Cyclades, where columns lie glistening in the sun, and the Lions of Delos guard the Sacred Way.

Discover the tiny, deserted isle of Delos, the religious centre of the Cyclades, where columns lie glistening in the sun, and the Lions of Delos guard the Sacred Way. As the reputed birthplace of the god Apollo, Delos was once a principal religious and commercial centre of the Eastern Mediterranean. Pilgrims, traders, politicians and warriors alike came from all over the Mediterranean to this sanctuary. In fact, the “Cyclades,” the name of this island group, means “those islands around Delos.” In the 5th century BC, the Delphic Oracle decreed the island was to be purged of all the dead and that no person could either die or give birth on Delos to preserve the isle’s sanctity. Some of the richest archaeological treasure troves in Greece await as you leave the Sacred Harbour on your guided walking tour. Imagine the merchants in the Agora and the pilgrims entering the Sanctuary of Apollo. Walk along the spectacular Avenue of the Lions. Pay homage to the guardians of the Sacred Lake where Leto gave birth to the twin gods, Artemis and Apollo. And above all, savour the almost-mystical silence that pervades this haunting site of antiquity.

 

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National Archaeological Museum

Athens, Greece
Half Day
The National Archaeological Museum is one of the most important in the world devoted to ancient Greek art.

Founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece, the National Archaeological Museum is one of the most important in the world devoted to ancient Greek art.

During your visit you will be able to see Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean and Classical Greek art, and you'll also view sculptures from the Archaic and Hellenistic periods, along with pottery from the Geometric period. A few of the museum's most important exhibits include the bronze statue of Poseidon, the head of Hygeia (Goddess of Health), the bronze statue of the "Jockey-Boy" of Artemision, the golden mask of Agamemnon and the brilliant Minoan frescoes from the site on Thira (Santorini).

Within the museum's walls more than 11,000 exhibits provide a panorama of Greek art from prehistory to late antiquity. Wander amid the royal tombs of Mycenae, dating from 1500BC. Marvel at sculpture from the 7th to 5th centuries BC, including the kouroi, nude male athletes, carved in Naxian marble. Admire a delicate bronze by Praxiteles and frescoes from Akrotiri, buried over 3,500 years ago in a volcanic eruption. Trace the evolution of Greek pottery from earliest times in collections including rare white clayware. This astonishing museum even includes Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities, as well as treasures from the sea. A shipwreck at Antikythera produced a scientific instrument used for astronomical calculations in the 1st century BC.

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

Agamemnon's Mycenae

Nauplia, Greece
Half Day Tender Archaeological SiteUphill Sections
Tales of Agamemnon and the time of Homer’s heroes take centre stage on this visit to Mycenae, one of the greatest cities of the highly-developed Mycenaean civilization.

Tales of Agamemnon and the time of Homer’s heroes take center stage today on this visit to Mycenae, one of the greatest cities of the highly-developed Mycenaean civilization. This culture dominated the eastern Mediterranean from the 16th to 13th century BC and laid the foundation for classical Greece.

From the picturesque port of Nauplia, a scenic 45-minute drive across the Argolid Plain takes us to the imposing city of warriormerchants that Homer described as “rich in gold”. The citadel that stands guard over the city is built high above two rock-strewn ravines, and legend holds that it was erected with the aid of the Cyclops.

Enter Mycenae on foot through the Lion Gate, Europe’s oldest piece of monumental statuary: it was here that the victorious, but battle-weary Agamemnon, was greeted by his wife, Klytemnestra, on his return from the long war with Troy, only to be murdered by her lover. Inside the gates, explore the Royal Palace, view the shaft graves and relive the tragic stories at an archaeological briefing in the Treasury of Atreus (Tomb of Agamemnon).

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Epidaurus Theatre

Nauplia, Greece
Half Day Tender
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Epidaurus is home to a 14,000-seat ancient Greek amphitheatre, where the acoustics are so perfect it is said you can hear a pin drop from the highest tier. Carved into the hillside and extended in Roman times, the theatre is still in use today.

In the 6th-century BC, this city was sacred to the god of medicine, Asclepius. The medical facilities and healing treatments were immensely popular and the ensuing wealth was used to inaugurate a 4th-century building campaign. Today, Epidaurus is a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site with temples and hospital buildings that provide insight into the healing cults of the time.

The jewel is the theatre designed by the architect Polycletus. The theater was extended in Roman times, restored in the 1950s and is still in use. Nowhere else is it so easy to imagine the staging of the great ancient tragedies and comedies than in this pure masterpiece of Greek architecture.

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Ancient Olympia

Katakolon, Greece
Half Day Extensive WalkingArchaeological Site
The small fishing village of Katakolon is approximately an hour from the mystical site of Ancient Olympia, sacred ground to the people of the Peloponnese Peninsula as early as the 10th-century BC.

The small fishing village of Katakolon is approximately an hour from the mystical site of Ancient Olympia, sacred ground to the people of the Peloponnese Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC. Olympia is most familiar as the site where the first Olympic Games were held in 776BC in honour of Olympian Zeus. The origin of the word Olympic comes from the ancient Greek Olympiad – meaning every four years.

The setting could not be more idyllic: prominently located in the middle of a fertile valley with the rivers of Alfeios and Kladhios flowing past. The site was a religious sanctuary even before the Stadium was built and the games took place in the sacred area called Altis. The most imposing monument in the area was the outstanding Temple of Zeus housing the gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Temple of Hera, the Prytaneion, and the Philippeion were also monuments standing in the sacred grove. The famous Stadium, the largest of its day with a capacity of 45,000 spectators, was entered through a long, tunnel-like passage, constructed in Roman times. The stadium was restored in 2004 for the historic return of the modern Olympics to Athens.

After your exploration of the famous grounds, visit the archaeological museum which is a short 5-minute walk from the site. Among the great finds of the area that are displayed are the Head of Hera and ornaments from the Temple of Zeus, the famous statue of Hermes created by Praxiteles and the helmet of Miltiades, the Athenian general during Athens' 'Golden Age'.

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Ancient Delphi

Itea, Greece
Half Day Extensive WalkingArchaeological SiteUphill Sections
For a thousand years Delphi flourished as the most important sacred site in ancient Greece, even founding one of the earliest rivals of the Olympics, the Pythian Games, which were held in an open-air stadium at the summit of the mountain.

For a thousand years Delphi flourished as the most important sacred site in ancient Greece, even founding one of the earliest rivals of the Olympics, the Pythian Games, which were held in an open-air stadium at the summit of the mountain.According to legend, Apollo is said to have slain the snake Python on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in revenge for the persecution of his mother Leto, but an alternative version of events maintains that the reason for Python’s death was because she refused to allow an oracle on what was then the centre of the world.

 

Following the death of Python, Apollo installed the High Priestess Pythia in his Sanctuary at Delphi, where she began foretelling the future through cryptic messages that were interpreted by her priests.

 

Today the stadium is the best preserved ancient arena in the world, but some other buildings have had to be restored, including the Treasury of Athens and the Altar of the Chians. At the base of the mountain, the site has an excellent museum which is home to many exquisite treasures, including the marble “Omphalos” stone (that once marked the centre of the world) and the magnificent bronze “Charioteer”, which is considered to be the finest 5th-century BC statue in existence. Alongside other statuary, there is also a marvellous scale model of how Delphi would likely have appeared during its heyday. Following the tour, a short stop will be made in the inhabited village nearby, before your return to Aegean Odyssey.

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Osios Loukas Monastery

Itea, Greece
Half Day Cobbled Streets
The region of Phocis has some spectacular mountains and forests to admire during the short journey from Itea to the monastery of Osios Loukas, on the slopes of Mount Helicon. So named after its founder, the ascetic and saint, Luke of Steiris, the original “Cross-in-square” church of Hosios Loukas dates from the 10th-century and is the oldest of its kind in the world.

The region of Phocis has some spectacular mountains and forests to admire during the short journey from Itea to the monastery of Osios Loukas, on the slopes of Mount Helicon. So named after its founder, the ascetic and saint, Luke of Steiris, the original “Cross-in-square” church of Hosios Loukas dates from the 10th-century and is the oldest of its kind in the world.

 

Saint Luke’s relics were entombed here following his death in 953AD, but in the 11th-century they were moved to a crypt beneath the newer Katholikon (Great Church) where they were believed to exude an aromatic smell with miraculous healing properties.

 

Consequently, Pilgrims came from far and wide to sleep in the tomb, hoping the scented myron would cure them of their ailments. Osios Loukas quickly became extremely wealthy, allowing it to commission a series of exquisite Byzantine frescoes and mosaics. Many of the monastery’s removable mediaeval artefacts are lost to time and plunder, but virtually all of the Katholikon’s decorations remain intact, including scenes depicting the life of Christ, the Pentecost and other heavenly events. On the outside wall is a recently discovered image of Joshua, believed to represent the recapturing of Crete from the Ottomans in 961AD, an event prophesised by Saint Luke.

 

Following your tour of this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site, the return drive will pass through the quaint village of Arachova, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, before stopping at the village of Delphi for some time at leisure on your way back to Aegean Odyssey.

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Corfu Town Highlights

Corfu, Greece
Half Day
Journey to Corfu Town, where a 15th-century church holds a surprise for all who venture inside: one of Greece's most extensive collections of Byzantine art.

Journey to Corfu Town, where a 15th century church holds a surprise for all who venture inside: one of Greece's most extensive collections of Byzantine art. Northernmost of the Ionian Islands, Corfu is renowned for its natural beauty and as a crossroads of civilisation. The island figured in The Odyssey of Homer and The Tempest of Shakespeare.

Today's adventure starts with a scenic drive to Corfu Town's historic Campielo quarter, where the Byzantine Museum is located in the Panaghia Antivouniotissa (Our Lady Opposite the Mountain), a church that was restored by the Greek government and re-opened in 1984 as a museum. The collection exhibits a wide selection of Byzantine icons, a form of sacred art still used in the Eastern Orthodox religion and held to be an influence on Italian Renaissance artists. Highlights include an altar-cloth from Russia, the Noli Me Tangere icon (Touch Me Not) by Emmanuel Tzanes and the icon of Saints Sergius, Bacchus and Justina by Michael Damaskenos.

After your visit a short walk takes you to the heart of Corfu Town. Visit the 16th century rococo church dedicated to St Spiridon, Corfu's patron saint, whose bones are preserved in a gleaming casket. Explore the maze of narrow, stepped streets where little has changed for centuries. Discover an array of past rulers reflected in the French boulevards, Georgian mansions, Venetian citadel and Greek temple.

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Achilleion Palace and Paleokastritsa

Corfu, Greece
Half Day Significant Steps
On this tour you will journey out of the city, through the island’s fertile orange and lemon groves, to Achilleon Palace, one of the most renowned royal villas in Europe.

On this tour you will journey out of the city, through the island’s fertile orange and lemon groves, to Achilleon Palace, one of the most renowned royal villas in Europe.

Built in 1890, this summer residence was the dream home of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who yearned for a place of beauty to escape after the tragic death of her only son a year previously. On her ambitions for the site prior to its construction she wrote: "I want a palace with pillared colonnades and hanging gardens, protected from prying glances – a palace worthy of Achilles, who despised all mortals and did not fear even the gods."

It was up to the Italian architect Raffaele Caritto, and the German sculptor Ernst Herter, to fulfil the Empress’s wishes, delivering to her a palace and gardens full of work inspired by Greek mythology, including Herter’s garden centrepiece, Achilles Dying.

After Elisabeth's death, the palace was inherited by her daughter and later bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II who used it as a hub of European diplomacy. Wilhelm expanded on the main theme, commissioning his own Achilles statue by Johannes Gotz, who created an imposing bronze sculpture in the Garden facing north toward the city.

After completing a tour of the palace, there will be a visit to the Monastery of Paleokastritsa, which was founded in 1225, although the present building, a fine example of an arcaded cloister, dates from the 18th to 19th centuries.

The monastery has a small ecclesiastical museum, with rare Byzantine icons, holy books and other relics, along with a still-working traditional olive oil press.

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Venetian Corfu

Corfu, Greece
Half Day
You can thank Venice for the thickly wooded headland of Corfu. During the Republic's four centuries of rule, it was decreed that an olive tree be planted at each birth.

You can thank Venice for the thickly wooded headland of Corfu. During the Republic's four centuries of rule on this Ionian island (from 1386 to 1797), it was decreed that an olive tree be planted at each birth and a cypress at each death. Early admirers included the Greek poet, Homer, who sang the island's praises. Octavian brought his fleet to the island's harbour before the battle at Actium.

Today's sightseeing starts with a drive to Corfu Town and a visit to the Old Fortress rising majestically from a large cliff and surrounded by a fairytale moat that has its sinister side as the last resort of the lovelorn. Built on the remains of a Byzantine castle, the fort was completed over four centuries, first by the Venetians who gave it the moat and then by the British who erected the fort's church of St George. The fort proved a formidable bulwark against the Turks.

From the fort, enjoy a stroll along the Venetian-built Esplanade past the colonnade of the Liston Cafe, built during French rule. The cafe takes is name from a time when the promenade was limited to Venetian nobility that appeared on a list in the Libro d'Oro (Golden Book). Today this path provides an excellent view of the town's cricket pitch, a legacy from British rule, and the start of our walking tour. Discover Old Town's narrow stepped streets, Georgian mansions and red-domed Agios Spyridon church, built in 1589, containing the remains of Corfu's patron saint.  

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Ancient Messini

Pylos, Greece
Half day Tender Extensive WalkingArchaeological Site
Take a short drive to the Arcadian Gate, an impressive structure that once acted as an entrance to the ancient city of Messini. From here, you’ll head for the archaeological site of Messini.

Messini is regarded by many as one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Greece. Take a short drive to the Arcadian Gate, an impressive structure that once acted as an entrance to the ancient city of Messini. From here, you’ll head for the archaeological site of Messini, which dates back to 146 BC. This is a marvellous site that includes an almost-intact theatre, the ruins of a 3rdcentury temple, a time-worn sanctuary and a Byzantine monastery.

Then on to Mavromati village, about five minutes away, for a coffee break and the chance to enjoy the great panoramic view of the ancient site of Messini before making your way back to the ship.

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Castles of Southern Greece

Pylos, Greece
Half day Tender Extensive WalkingArchaeological SiteUphill Sections
This tour combines ancient history with a taste of everyday local life. Proceed to the castle of Niokastro, situated at the southern part of the port of Pylos.

This tour combines ancient history with a taste of everyday local life. Proceed to the castle of Niokastro, situated at the southern part of the port of Pylos. The castle was built by the Turks in 1573 and, due to its strategic importance, it quickly became one of the major castles in the Peloponnese during the Turkish occupation. It was captured by the Venetians in 1686 but was recaptured by the Turks some years later. Niokastro is one of the most well preserved castles in Greece, and is today the home of the Centre for Underwater Archaeological Studies.

Then on by road to the city of Methoni where you will find beaches of golden sand, winding alleyways, cobbled houses, and where you will visit the Venetian castle of Methoni. 

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Old Town of Monemvasia

Monemvasia, Greece
Half Day Tender Cobbled Streets
Pass through a gap in a rocky cliff and emerge into a Medieval scene on this morning tour of Monemvasía, a castle town that has been called the Gibraltar of Greece.

Pass through a gap in a rocky cliff and emerge into a Medieval scene on this morning tour of Monemvasía, a castle town that has been called the Gibraltar of Greece.

Indeed, the name means “single entrance.” For us, it provides an illuminating transition from the classical world to the Byzantine era. Monemvasía dates back to the 6th-century, when inhabitants of Laconia settled on the site, which developed into a major city- state. In the 15th-century the city suffered a hundred-year blockade by the Turks. Walk along the narrow streets, sometimes only wide enough for two, and visit the 13th-century Church of Christos Elkomenos (Christ Chained to the Cross), home to several Byzantine icons.

Those who wish can climb on their own to see another 13th-century treasure: the ethereal Agia Sofia, a rare example of a domed octagonal church with original wall paintings. The views out over the sea and lower town are a spectacular reward. Those who prefer not to climb may want to seek out a quiet cafe and a sip of Malmsey, the sweet dessert wine that originated in this atmospheric spot.

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The Acropolis & its Museum

Piraeus, Greece
Half Day Extensive Walking
Visit the sublime expression of Classical Greece, the Acropolis with its sweeping views of Athens. Commissioned by Pericles in the 5th-century BC, the site is dominated by the majestic Parthenon.

Visit the sublime expression of Classical Greece, the Acropolis with its sweeping views of Athens. Commissioned by Pericles in the 5th century BC, the site is dominated by the majestic Parthenon: a building that embodies the stunning achievements of the Athenian “Golden Age”.

Surrounding the great temple are the other architectural masterpieces of the citadel: the Propylaia (monumental gateway), the Erechtheion with its beautiful Karayatid Porch and the Temple of Athena Nike (Winged Victory). Below the temple complex is the theatre of Dionysos where the dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were first performed.

Then explore another marvel: the longanticipated $200-million, 226,000-square-foot Acropolis Museum. In the dramatic Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, ascending floors of glass literally “float” you above the excavations for an extraordinary perspective of the layers of Greek history that lie below.

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Santorini & Akrotiri

Santorini, Greece
Full Day Tender Extensive WalkingLunch IncludedCable CarCobbled StreetsUphill Sections
Closed to the public for over six years, the newly reopened Minoan settlement of Akrotiri is the tour's highlight, but you also visit several of Santorini's picturesque villages.

Closed to the public for over six years, the newly reopened Minoan settlement of Akrotiri is the tour's highlight, but you also visit several of Santorini's picturesque villages. One of the Aegean's most important archaeological sites, Akrotiri was abandoned after severe earthquakes, then covered in pumice by a volcanic eruption in about 1625BC. A visit tells the tale of an affluent society who farmed, built two-story homes and indulged a taste for frescoes, furniture and jewellery. Today's tour includes a visit to the ongoing excavations, where you can walk amid the well-preserved streets, view the workshops and squares.

Start your adventure with a transfer from the ship by local boat, then drive to the northern tip of the island to the village of Oia with its whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches and coffee shops carved in the cliffs. Stroll along the cobblestone streets where wealthy sea captains built their mansions, now converted to cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Take in breathtaking views in all directions.

Continue to the southern end of the island and the archaeological site of Akrotiri. The excavations, led by Professor Spyros Marintos, began in 1967. Walk around this amazing city and get an insight into the culture that laid the foundation for Greek civilisation. Then continue to tiny Pyrgos, once the capital. View the distant Venetian castle, then sit down to lunch at a local taverna. Conclude your adventure in Fira, the scenic capital, where you may enjoy a stroll through the town before returning to the ship via cable car.

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Acropolis and Acropolis Museum

Athens, Greece
Half Day Extensive Walking
Visit the sublime expression of Classical Greece, the Acropolis with its sweeping views of Athens. Commissioned by Pericles in the 5th-century BC, the site is dominated by the majestic Parthenon.

Visit the sublime expression of Classical Greece, the Acropolis with its sweeping views of Athens. Commissioned by Pericles in the 5th century BC, the site is dominated by the majestic Parthenon: a building that embodies the stunning achievements of the Athenian “Golden Age”.

Surrounding the great temple are the other architectural masterpieces of the citadel: the Propylaia (monumental gateway), the Erechtheion with its beautiful Karayatid Porch and the Temple of Athena Nike (Winged Victory).

Below the temple complex is the theatre of Dionysos where the dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were first performed. Then explore another marvel: the longanticipated $200-million, 226,000-square-foot Acropolis Museum.

In the dramatic Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, ascending floors of glass literally “float” you above the excavations for an extraordinary perspective of the layers of Greek history that lie below.

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Remarkable Monasteries of Meteora

Volos, Greece
Full Day Lunch IncludedSignificant Steps
Perhaps the highlight of any trip to Greece is the sight of the Byzantine monasteries built atop the rock towers of Meteora.

Perhaps the highlight of any trip to Greece is the sight of the Byzantine monasteries built atop the rock towers of Meteora. The very word means "suspended in air" and their effect is unforgettable. These sandstone "columns in the sky" soar up over a thousand feet above sea level and are crowned with monasteries built by anchorite monks from the 11th century onward. In all, there are twenty-four monasteries in Meteora, and while many have fallen into ruin, some of those that remain are adorned with beautiful frescoes which mark a key stage in postByzantine art. Originally visitors were winched up to the monasteries by a windlass, but stairs were cut in the 1930s to ease access a bit.

From the ship, it’s a 2-hour drive across the fertile plain of Thessaly, the country of the mythical centaurs and the site of a battle between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great. The monks who built the monasteries were looking for an escape from later battles, and nature provided the perfect place in Meteora. The rock formations unfold along a winding road, and whether they were formed, as some hold, by an ancient lake 30 million years ago or by the flow of the Peneus River, they are stupendous. Six of the monasteries are still inhabited and two are nunneries. Visit the oldest and most accessible monastery, Agios Stephanos, now a convent. The Byzantine Emperor Paleologos stayed here in 1333 while en route to a battle on the plains below. The nuns here are involved in artistic pursuits that include icon painting, and the monasteries 15th-century church has an icon museum.

Next, visit the Varlaam Monastery, which requires climbing about 150 steps, but it is well worth the effort both for the commanding views of the Pindus Range and also the fabled frescoes that include an apocalyptic vision of hell. Following the visit, we'll continue driving through this unearthly landscape, viewing new sights as we descend slowly to the plain. Few sights are more iconic than this.

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Byzantine Thessalonica

Thessalonica, Greece
Half Day Extensive Walking
Byzantine emperors held Thessalonica second only in importance to Constantinople, and today the city is an open-air museum with Christian monuments dating from the 4th to the 21st-century.

Byzantine emperors held Thessalonica (also known as Salonica) second only in importance to Constantinople, and today the city is an open-air museum with Christian monuments dating from the 4th to the 21st century. Thessalonica became part of the Byzantine Empire in 395AD and was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity.

Drive from the ship to the Byzantine Museum, stopping en route at the 15th-century White Tower and the International Trade Fair grounds, built on the site of an old Jewish cemetery razed by the Germans in World War II (the headstones were used to surface roads). At the museum, enjoy an absorbing look at Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture. Learn how art and theology intertwined with politics and social structure, permeating all aspects of everyday life. Drive next to the 5thcentury basilica, Agios Dimitrios, devastated in a 1917 fire that destroyed half the city.

The church was rebuilt and inside are some of the finest mosaics in Greece, including depictions of St Dimitrios, Thessalonica's patron saint. From here, your walking tour continues to the palace of the Emperor Galerius and the 4th-century Rotunda, his mausoleum. The climax is a visit to the 8th-century Agia Sofia, patterned on Justinian's Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, its giant dome a symbol of technical mastery and the mosaics inside a work of Byzantine art. Following the visit you may drive back to the ship or, if time permits, explore more of the town at leisure.

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Traces of Alexander the Great

Thessalonica, Greece
Full day Extensive WalkingLunch IncludedArchaeological Site

During this tour to the archaeological museum near Pella, the ancient city of Macedon, we will see many residences of the ancient aristocrats, alongside findings from various excavations, including exceptional floor mosaics from the 4th century BC.

The daily life of Pella has been wonderfully brought to life in this museum, where the restoration of period furniture, models and clothes has been carefully designed to provide an insight into every facet of the ancient city, from administration and production to commerce.

After finishing at Pella, we will have some free time before we move to the town of Veria, where Apostle Paul famously preached, for a traditional Macedonian lunch. We will then visit the burial site of Macedonia’s kings, including the father of Alexander the Great.

The Royal Tombs of Vergina are among antiquity’s greatest treasures, although for centuries they lay hidden beneath a mound known as the “tumulus” where local children played football. The small village of Vergina, once known as Aegea, is renowned for its remarkable temple complex, which has only been open to the public since 1993. Here we will visit the unique museum and descend underground to see the tombs, including a newly constructed exhibit of ancient artefacts, all of which are masterpieces of ancient Greek art, including golden laurel wreaths, silver vessels, miniature sculpture and paintings. Of special note are the crown, armour, shield and magnificent gold casket of Philip II.

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Ancient Dion

Thessalonica, Greece
Half Day Extensive WalkingArchaeological Site

Dion was founded in the 5th century BC at the foot of Mount Olympus, home to the gods of classical Greece, where festivals and games took place that lasted nine days, dedicated to the divinities of art and culture, known as the nine muses.

Alexander the Great is said to have offered a sacrifice to the gods here before heading to Asia Minor with his fleet. Dion grew and flourished until the 5th century AD, when an earthquake resulted in the city being abandoned.

You will start your visit exploring the Archaeological Park outside the ancient fortification walls, taking you past the sanctuaries of the Olympic gods, a Roman theatre and Hellenistic theatre that is still in use today during the summer festival.

Your tour will then continue inside the walls, where you will follow your guide through the streets of the ancient city to see the Roman baths complex and the Odeon, where music and poetry was performed. Farther along are the Sanctuary of Asclepius, whose worship was connected with the healing of the body, and the Villa of Dionysos which has a unique mosaic floor.

Finally you will be given a tour of the museum complementing everything you have seen in the park. Exhibits here include remains from the first cult of Zeus and its sanctuary near the site of Mount Olympus, as well as some vases, jewellery and statues from the Villa of Dionysos. Construction materials, building tools and coins unearthed during the excavation also provide a look at everyday life in this ancient city.

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Philippi

Kavala, Greece
Half Day Extensive WalkingArchaeological Site
Visit the city founded by (and named after) Philip of Macedonia in 356BC, confront antiquity at every turn of its extraordinary archaeological site, and, in addition, visit the stream where St Paul's first European convert to Christianity was baptized.

Visit the city founded by (and named after) Philip of Macedonia in 356BC, confront antiquity at every turn of its extraordinary archaeological site, and, in addition, visit the stream where St Paul's first European convert to Christianity was baptised. Today's adventure starts from Kavala, once the ancient port of Philippi, where a castle overlooks the bustling harbour. The drive to Philippi is only a short distance, but it takes you a long way back in time. The site is at the foot of Mount Pangeon on the border of a marsh that once covered the entire plain. History whispers at every turn. Thucydides was exiled here. When the city was a Roman colony, Julius Caesar's assassins, Brutus and Cassius, met their deaths at the Battle of Philippi. Saint Paul visited several times and wrote a letter thanking the citizens for their support while he was in jail.

Tour the main archaeological site to see the extensive ruins, which include a large Roman forum, sacred gates, baths, wrestling rings and even a public latrine with marble seats. Other sights include the reputed "jail" of St Paul, a theatre from the classical period and two Byzantine basilicas. These testify to the town's transition to a Christian headquarters. On your return to the ship, stop at the stream where St Paul's first European convert, a merchant-woman named Lydia, was christened along with the rest of her household. The site is marked by a Greek Orthodox basilica. From here it's a short drive back to the ship. Time permitting you may chose to remain in town and return to the ship at leisure.

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

St John's Patmos

Patmos, Greece
Half Day Tender Cobbled StreetsUphill Sections
Visit the small cave where St John received his revelation, the medieval village of Chora and the Monastery of St John the Theologian – together a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visit the small cave where St John received his revelation, the medieval village of Chora and the Monastery of St John the Theologian – together a UNESCO World Heritage Site that constitutes an exceptional example of a Greek Orthodox pilgrimage centre.

Patmos may be one of the smallest islands in the Dodecanese, but it compensates for size with beauty and history. Called the "Jerusalem of the Aegean," the island has long been a site of pilgrimage. When St John came to Patmos in 95AD the Emperor Domition's persecution of Christians were at their height and the "beloved disciple" lived for two years in a small cave on the island. Here he wrote his Gospel and dictated the Book of the Apocalypse.

This afternoon, a short drive takes you from port to the grotto where St John once lived. The cave is now converted into a beautiful chapel with a stone orifice the saint is said to have used as a pillow. From the cave, continue to the 12th-century village of Chora and the Monastery of St John the Theologian which dominates the town.

The walking tour starts with a climb to the castle-like monastery, founded in the 10th century. Enter the courtyard with its intricately pebbled floor, decorated arches and old well fed by a reservoir beneath. Visit the ornate chapel of Christodoulos with its frescoed entrance and religious relics that include the skull of St Thomas. Tour the old treasury, where the breathtaking collection includes jewelled chalices, crowns, crucifixes and an El Greco icon. Later, there will be free time to explore Chora with its whitewashed houses and Byzantine churches before the return to the tavernas of Skala and the ship.

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Mycenae

Nauplia, Greece
Half Day Tender Extensive WalkingCobbled Streets
Tales of Agamemnon and the time of Homer’s heroes take centre stage on this visit to Mycenae, one of the greatest cities of the highly-developed Mycenaean civilization.

Our morning tour visits Mycenae, where a great culture flourished from the 16th to 13th century BC and laid the foundation for classical Greece.

This ancient city is reputedly the “well-built citadel" of Homer’s Iliad, a city of warrior-merchants that ruled much of the Mediterranean and amassed the power to crush Troy. The citadel that stands guard over the city, straddling two rock-strewn ravines, was built, legend holds, with the aid of the Cyclops.

Enter Mycenae on foot through the Lion Gate, where Agamemnon was greeted by his wife Klytemnesta on his return from the war with Troy, only to be murdered by her lover. Explore the Royal Palace, view the shaft graves and relive the tragic stories at an archaeological briefing in the Treasury of Atreus, also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon.

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Ancient Corinth & Epidaurus

Piraeus, Greece
Full Day
When St Paul came here in the first-century AD, he saw some of the same sights you will see today in Corinth's archaeological zone.

Leave Athens by road for the famous Corinth Canal. The concept of cutting a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth to link the Ionian and Aegean Seas was first proposed in the 6th century BC by the tyrant Periander, founder of Ancient Corinth.

The magnitude of the task defeated him so he opted instead to built a paved slipway across which sailors dragged small ships on rollers – a method used until the 13th century. Nero, one of Rome’s most infamous emperors, inaugurated one attempt in 67 AD with his golden spade, but this attempt took a while to finish as it wasn’t finally completed until 1893. Enjoy a brief photo stop before continuing your tour to the once rich and powerful city of Ancient Corinth.

A city blessed with a superb location, fertile plains and virtually impregnable refuge. Excavations reveal that the ancient city was huge and wealthy; a survivor of the numerous invasions but devastated by earthquakes. St Paul lived and worked in Corinth for 18 months, making converts where he could. The Bema (platform) where the Roman governor tried him is still visible.

See one of Corinth’s most striking ancient buildings – the Temple of Apollo, seven of whose original columns still stand. Walk through the remains of the Market Place, a colonnaded square once surrounded by many small shops. See the celebrated Fountain of Priene, which has produced water from earliest times, and the Lechaion Road, formerly the main thoroughfare to the port of Lechaion. From here enjoy a scenic drive through the Argos Plain towards one of the most renowned of Greece’s ancient sites, as reflected by its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated on the cool slopes of a beautiful and wooded valley, Epidaurus was known throughout the Hellenic world for its unique medical facilities and healing treatments. Dedicated to Aesclepius, the god of healing, who restored health to the sick and sometimes (it was said) life to the dead, the city was filled with curative spas and baths and only priests had access to certain secret rites. Most of the ruins of Epidaurus have been reduced to their foundations, with the exception of the astonishing theatre.

Still used for special performances, the theatre is in an admirable state of preservation. Built into the ground, rather than above it, the theatre is known for its fantastic acoustics, which we will observe during our visit. After the visit enjoy a traditional Greek lunch before returning back to ship.

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Chania Highlights

Chania, Crete, Greece
Half Day Cobbled Streets
Explore Chania Old Town on foot - learn all about the city’s history and see architectural legacies from Chania.

The first destination on this tour is one of enormous national importance for the people of Crete and of Greece. At the base of the Akrotiri peninsula, on top of Profitis Ilias hill, is the tomb of the island’s national hero, Eleftherios Venizelos, who prior to becoming Prime Minster for Greece, was instrumental in the island’s struggle against the Ottomans. It was here that Cretan rebels raised the Greek flag in 1897 in defiance of the Great Powers, making it a place of pilgrimage to this day.

After visiting the shrine we will transfer to the city of Chania for a look around the archaeological museum. This small but charming attraction is located inside the Venetian church of San Francesco, where artefacts include western-Cretan pottery, sculpture and mosaics, and coins dating from the Neolithic period to the Roman era.

Finally we will enjoy a leisurely walking tour around the old town and market of Chania, where there will also be an opportunity for free time to explore before returning to Aegean Odyssey.

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Ancient Corinth & Epidaurus

Athens, Greece
Full Day Lunch Included
When St Paul came here in the first-century AD, he saw some of the same sights you will see today in Corinth's archaeological zone.

Leave Athens by road for the famous Corinth Canal. The concept of cutting a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth to link the Ionian and Aegean Seas was first proposed in the 6th century BC by the tyrant Periander, founder of Ancient Corinth.

The magnitude of the task defeated him so he opted instead to built a paved slipway across which sailors dragged small ships on rollers – a method used until the 13th century. Nero, one of Rome’s most infamous emperors, inaugurated one attempt in 67 AD with his golden spade, but this attempt took a while to finish as it wasn’t finally completed until 1893. Enjoy a brief photo stop before continuing your tour to the once rich and powerful city of Ancient Corinth.

A city blessed with a superb location, fertile plains and virtually impregnable refuge. Excavations reveal that the ancient city was huge and wealthy; a survivor of the numerous invasions but devastated by earthquakes. St Paul lived and worked in Corinth for 18 months, making converts where he could. The Bema (platform) where the Roman governor tried him is still visible.

See one of Corinth’s most striking ancient buildings – the Temple of Apollo, seven of whose original columns still stand. Walk through the remains of the Market Place, a colonnaded square once surrounded by many small shops. See the celebrated Fountain of Priene, which has produced water from earliest times, and the Lechaion Road, formerly the main thoroughfare to the port of Lechaion. From here enjoy a scenic drive through the Argos Plain towards one of the most renowned of Greece’s ancient sites, as reflected by its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated on the cool slopes of a beautiful and wooded valley, Epidaurus was known throughout the Hellenic world for its unique medical facilities and healing treatments. Dedicated to Aesclepius, the god of healing, who restored health to the sick and sometimes (it was said) life to the dead, the city was filled with curative spas and baths and only priests had access to certain secret rites. Most of the ruins of Epidaurus have been reduced to their foundations, with the exception of the astonishing theatre.

Still used for special performances, the theatre is in an admirable state of preservation. Built into the ground, rather than above it, the theatre is known for its fantastic acoustics, which we will observe during our visit. After the visit enjoy a traditional Greek lunch before returning back to ship.

* Please note that this excursion is included on April 19, April 30, September 5 and September 16 sailings only..

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

Thessalonica City Tour

Thessalonica, Greece
Half Day
Since its foundation by king Cassander of Macedonia in 315 B.C. and named after his wife and stepsister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki has always been a metropolis.

Enter the ancient walls of Thessalonica to discover the wondrous monuments of a city that was once the capital of Roman Macedonia and, in the Byzantine era, second only to Constantinople. Founded in 315BC by Cassander of Macedonia and named after his wife, a stepsister of Alexander the Great, the city was a metropolis from the start. Today it is the second largest city in Greece, as well as the principle gateway from the Mediterranean to the Balkans and Central Europe. The past has left a splendid variety of art and architecture from the Hellenistic era to the present, witness to a far-reaching heritage.

Begin with a visit to the White Tower, a restored 15th century Venetian fortification that is the city symbol. Also known as the Blood Tower, this was the site of a massacre of Christian soldiers during the Turkish occupation. Your scenic tour includes a look at the grounds of the International Trade Fair, the campus of the university and such Roman treasures as the Arch of Galerious and a brickwork Rotunda probably intended as that emperor's mausoleum.

Visit the Church of St Dimitrios built on the spot where the city's patron saint was martyred. Then continue to the Archaeological Museum, home to a wealth of gold jewellery, part of the celebrated finds from the Hellenistic tombs at Derveni, discovered by chance in 1961. Other highlights include the Citadel and City Walls, from which you will have a marvellous view of the city, the Thermaic Gulf and, in the background, Mount Olympus, the home of the gods.

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Exploring Argolis: Mycenae and Epidaurus

Athens, Greece
Full Day Extensive Walking
Explore the scenic Argolis Peninsula in the eastern Peloponnesus and visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Epidaurus, a pure masterpiece of Greek architecture and Mycenae, one of the great cities of the Mycenaean civilisation.

Explore the scenic Argolis Peninsula in the eastern Peloponnesus and visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Epidaurus, a pure masterpiece of Greek architecture and Mycenae, one of the great cities of the Mycenaean civilisation.

Drive from lovely Nauplia, originally the port for the ancient city of Argos, to Epidaurus, set on the slopes of a beautiful wooded valley. In the 4th century BC, this area was a thriving medical centre sacred to the god of medicine, Asclepius. The site's baths, temples and hospital buildings include a sanctuary for psychology-based miracle cures. Epidaurus was renowned throughout the Hellenic world, and provides valuable insights into the healing treatments of the time. The jewel is the theatre designed by the architect Polycletus the Younger of Argos, which features a second tier added in Roman times to accommodate 14,000. Discover the incredible acoustics, so perfect it is said you can hear a pin drop from the top row. Once a stage for the great Greek dramatists, the theatre is still in use.

Next, we board a cruiser for a transit of the Corinth Canal which links the Aegean and Ionian seas. In ancient times sailors had to drag their ships on rollers from sea to sea. The canal was envisioned by Corinth's founder, Periander; started in 67AD by the Emperor Nero; and finally completed in 1893. Continue across the Argos Plain to Mycenae, one of the greatest cities of Mycenaean culture, which flourished in the Argolis region from 1600 to 1100 BC and laid the foundations for classical Greece.

En route, pause for a delicious traditional lunch in a Greek restaurant. Then begin your explorations of Mycenae, a citadel set high above two boulder-strewn ravines and built, it said, with the aid of the Cyclops. Walk through the Lion Gate, Europe's oldest piece of monumental statuary. At this gate, the returning Trojan war hero, Agamemnon, was greeted by his wife, Klytemnestra, only to be murdered later by her lover. Once inside the site, explore the Royal Palace, view the shaft graves and attend an archaeological briefing in the Treasury of Atreus, also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon.

Gain insights into the greatness of Mycenaean civilisation, as well as a glimpse into the haunting legends behind some of the world's greatest dramas.

Note: This tour involves substantial walking and stairs. Timeline may vary.

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Archaeological Museum of Athens

Piraeus, Greece
Half day

Founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece, the National Archaeological Museum is one of the most important in the world devoted to ancient Greek art.

During your visit you will be able to see Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean and Classical Greek art, and you'll also view sculptures from the Archaic and Hellenistic periods, along with pottery from the Geometric period. A few of the museum's most important exhibits include the bronze statue of Poseidon, the head of Hygeia (Goddess of Health), the bronze statue of the "Jockey-Boy" of Artemision, the golden mask of Agamemnon and the brilliant Minoan frescoes from the site on Thira (Santorini).

Within the museum's walls more than 11,000 exhibits provide a panorama of Greek art from prehistory to late antiquity. Wander amid the royal tombs of Mycenae, dating from 1500BC. Marvel at sculpture from the 7th to 5th centuries BC, including the kouroi, nude male athletes, carved in Naxian marble. Admire a delicate bronze by Praxiteles and frescoes from Akrotiri, buried over 3,500 years ago in a volcanic eruption. Trace the evolution of Greek pottery from earliest times in collections including rare white clayware. This astonishing museum even includes Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities, as well as treasures from the sea. A shipwreck at Antikythera produced a scientific instrument used for astronomical calculations in the 1st century BC.

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