Upon arrival in Athens, you will be met and transferred your hotel, the Herodion Hotel (or similar), near the old Plaka district, within walking distance of the Acropolis. Plaka is the oldest part of Athens, a district of narrow, winding streets with lively restaurants and shops. You’ll have a chance to rest up at your hotel for a bit, after which your guide will lead you on a short walking tour of the neighborhood, ending at a restaurant in Plaka for dinner, where you can hear Greek folklore and traditional music. Kids and adults alike will be enchanted by the friendliness of the Greeks, their music, their shops, and their food.
We'll be within walking distance of the Acropolis
Meals: Dinner Lodging: Athens - Hotel Herodion (or similar)
Day 2 Athens / Nafplion
After breakfast, set out for a morning driving tour of amazing Athens, including Constitution Square, the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier, and the House of Parliament, which was the royal palace until 1935. Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, and Panathinaiko Stadium, the venue for the first-ever Olympic games. Explore the Acropolis, which offered protection to the ancient city-state and was the center of ancient Athenian religious and commercial life.
After a light lunch, stop for a visit at the impressive Corinth Canal, a four-mile waterway connecting the Ionian and Aegean seas. If you’re lucky, you may see a ship traversing the narrow, deep canal. Then continue on your scenic drive to Nafplio. Considered one of the prettiest towns in all of Greece, Nafplio was the first capital after independence and has been a major port since the Bronze Age. Settle in for a two-night stay at the Amalia Hotel Nafplio (or similar) where there will be free time to swim at the pool before experiencing Nafplio as the Greeks do – relax at an outdoor tavern by the old, paved marble town square. This evening, learn some basic Greek dance steps with a professional dancer!
Panathinaiko Stadium, venue for the first-ever Olympics
This morning, family members of all ages will enjoy the climb up 999 stairs to the Palamidi castle, an old Venetian Fortress built between 1711 and 1714 that has marvelous views of the city. Be careful not to let the powerful beauty of the site overwhelm you! Next, drive to Mycenae, a place intrinsic to the works of Homer, the famous 9th century poet. Enter the Mycenean citadel through the Lion's Gate and wander through the remaining ruins. Then visit the enormous 3rd century theater of Epidaurus, one of the best-preserved classical Greek structures, renowned for its superb acoustics, and used for performances from the 3rd century through current times. Test the acoustics yourselves – shout (or sing) and hear your voices returned in haunting echoes. After your explorations, stop for lunch, followed by a swimming stop at the beautiful sandy beach of Karathonas. Late in the afternoon, drive back to your hotel in Nafplion, where the remainder of the afternoon is yours to relax and enjoy the town or perhaps your hotel’s Olympic-size swimming pool. In the evening, enjoy dinner in a tavern that overlooks the sea and the old prison on Bourtzi island.
Today, drive to Delphi on the coastal road and get a feel for the beauty of the countryside as you cross from the Peloponnese Peninsula back to the mainland. Stop en route for a refreshing swim in a quaint coastal village just outside Nafpaktos town, where both the water and the views are splendid. Afterward, visit the pedestrian-only heart of the old town of Nafpaktos, the first capital after independence and a major port since the Bronze Age, then stop in Galaxidi, another lovely little coastal town, for lunch. Continue on to Arachova just outside of Delphi, arriving in the afternoon at your hotel. You’ll have time for relaxing and a family swim at the hotel’s large and attractive pool before walking to a tavern for dinner in this quiet village that was once known by the Greeks as omphalos, or navel of the world.
In the morning, a specially-certified archaeological guide will accompany you on a visit to the awe-inspiring ancient site and museum at Delphi. Delphi was a religious center dedicated to Apollo, god of music, reason, and light. Located on Mt. Parnassus, Delphi was considered the home of Python, serpent son of Mother Earth and Poseidon. Apollo, arriving as – or perhaps arriving on – a dolphin, killed the serpent, which was buried in the omphalos, or the belly button of the world! For centuries, people came to Delphi to consult the oracle (who conveyed advice from Apollo) and celebrate the Pythian Games. Highlights of this visit include the Castalian Spring, where pilgrims stopped to purify themselves; the Gymnasium, where athletes trained for months before the Games; the omphalos itself, the center of the universe on which kids can rub their hands (it’s a replica); and several other sites. Don’t miss the stadium, where kids can run their own races down the field. Don’t miss the stone starting blocks, where athletes positioned themselves for the start of the races. And remember to bring lots of water for this fantastic excursion.
After your outing to Delphi, switch gears as we swing into the island segment of our adventure. Drive to Rafina, Greece’s second-largest port, and climb aboard for a relaxing, scenic, and pleasantly breezy ferry ride to the island of Tinos. Although Tinos is commonly visited by Greek Orthodox faithful who make the pilgrimage to its many religious sites, the island is green, mountainous, and populated by unspoiled hilltop villages and whitewashed dovecotes, a walker’s paradise. The town also has a bustling waterfront with many cafes, shops, and stalls. Check in to your home for the next two nights, the Tinos Beach Hotel (or similar), near the tiny village of Kionia and its fine beaches. At this hotel, you are close to the sea, the Poseidon temple, where pilgrims used to go for purification rites before visiting Delos, and the island’s main town, a short five-minute drive away. Tonight, you’ll dine in a tavern in the main town near your hotel.
Today, combine a bit of walking with delving into the local culture and food of the island. After breakfast, take a short ride to the village of Tripotamo, where a Greek cook will teach the whole family how to prepare Greek-Cycladic traditional recipes using local ingredients from her garden. You’ll see that the focus of dishes in this area is on local cheese, the famous Tinian dried tomatoes, zucchini, and other fresh vegetables. After your cooking lesson (which includes garden, kitchen, and cooking tasks suitable for every skill level, age, and interest), sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch. After lunch, take a leisurely downhill stroll to the town of Tinos, admiring the breathtaking view to the Aegean Sea and meeting lots of local acquaintances (shepherds, goats, farmers, etc.) along the way. Return to your hotel, where the kids can enjoy a swim and everyone can freshen up before going out for dinner.
This morning, visit the picturesque village of Pyrgos. Kids and adults alike will be fascinated to learn the history of the famous green marble of Tinos, quarried nearby and exported around the world. Pyrgos is a small, charming village where artisans still carve the famous marble. Visit a few of the small marble workshops in the area, and stop by the island’s museum for a look around. From Pyrgos, enjoy a short (~1-1/4 mile) walk to Panormos, have a light lunch and a swim in the sea, then catch a ride back to the port town of Tinos with your driver, where you will board a ferry for the short 30-minute trip to the lovely island of Mykonos.
Mykonos is one of Greece’s loveliest islands, sure to please with its photogenic windmills and the warren-like streets of its Cycladic village. Lose yourselves in the maze of streets and squares in the compact main town where, around every corner, the buildings and small courtyards look the same! This warren of narrow streets was meant to blunt the ever-present wind and confuse pirates who plagued Mykonos in the 18th and 19th centuries. Dine in the Little Venice quarter of town at a tavern by the sea after you’ve settled in for a two-night stay at a lovely hotel, the Petasos Town Hotel (or similar), in a quiet, yet privileged spot in the heart of Mykonos town near cafes, restaurants, shops, and sights. While out in Mykonos town, keep an eye out for the resident pelican, which is tame but curmudgeonly mascot that parades the waterfront and seems to have the run of things. Later in the evening, enjoy a panoramic view of Mykonos town from your hotel’s rooftop terrace as you enjoy the quiet of the night.
Enjoy the countryside and meet locals on Tinos
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: Mykonos - Ilio Maris Hotel (or similar)
Day 8 Delos / Mykonos
After breakfast, you’ll take a quick boat ride to the nearby sacred island of Delos, the mythical birthplace of Apollo, god of truth and light, and his twin sister, Artemis, the moon goddess. The word Cyclades derives from the Greek word kyklos, which means “circle.” The five Cycladic islands of Mykonos, Tinos, Paros, Naxos, and Syros form a circle around Delos. Your kids – or perhaps you – may recall that our hotel on Tinos was near the great temple of Poseidon, which was used by pilgrims for purification rituals before traveling across the water to Delos. Despite its diminutive size, Delos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, and certainly the most historically important in the Cyclades. Once you’ve landed, the sublime of the ancient world meets the sublime of a modern kid’s world. This small, sandy island is uninhabited today for religious reasons – it’s considered sacred ground – but it once housed tens of thousands of citizens. Stop for a few minutes, enjoy the quiet, and try to imagine Delos in its heyday. Then, continuing on, marvel at the famous Lion Avenue (also known as Terrace of the Lions), the three temples of Poseidon, the stadium, and the old gymnasium. Don’t forget to stop and view artifacts from the 6th century BC in the museum – kids and parents alike would be interested in learning that the most significant finds from Delos have been moved to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Return to Mykonos in the early afternoon, where the remainder of the afternoon is yours for exploring, leisure time, or perhaps some of both.
Terrace of the Lions on the sacred island of Delos
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: Mykonos - Ilio Maris Hotel (or similar)
Day 9 Mykonos / Athens
Enjoy some down time and a breakfast at leisure in your hotel, or consider stopping by the shops and stalls in town for any last-minute purchases your family may want. Return to Athens by high-speed catamaran around midday. Transfer back to the Herodion Hotel (or similar), where this fantastic family adventure first began. You might venture out to the National Archaeological Museum to see those treasures from Delos, or relax and enjoy your last full day in Greece. In the late afternoon, head to a journey’s-end goodbye party in a Greek house with the owners and their friends. Your kids will enjoy meeting Greek children while you sample local wine and traditional recipes and bid your new friends farewell.
Enjoy a Mykonos morning before returning to Athens
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Lodging: Hotel Herodion (or similar)
Day 10 Athens / Onward
Transfer to Athens airport for your flight home, or consider contacting JOURNEYS if you would enjoy an extension, perhaps on another Greek island.
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