Greek Isles Tour: Cyclades, Santorini, and Aegina

Greece
Greece

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    3211
    • TBA
    • 14 Days
    • TBA + air
    • Single Supplement: TBA

    Join Us for Our Aegean Islands Tour: A Wealth of Archaeological Sites and Immense Natural Beauty

    The islands of the Aegean offer travelers a unique perspective of Greece, ancient and modern. With a wealth of archaeological sites set against breathtaking backdrops, each island reveals its own myths and histories.

    Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Delos, renowned as the birthplace of the twin gods Artemis and Apollo. Once a significant site in the Greek world, its majesty still resonates today. Traveling across the sparkling Aegean Sea by ferry from island to island, tour the Cyclades Islands of Tinos, Mykonos, Delos, Paros, and Naxos, along with Santorini and Aegina. Visit Delos, the birthplace of Apollo.

    Explore the sophisticated Bronze Age community at Akrotiri, witness ongoing excavations at the Sanctuary of Apollo and Artemis on Despotiko, and marvel at the magnificent Aphaia Temple on Aegina — one of Greece’s most beautiful sanctuaries. View the varied remains of thousands of years of continuous occupation while learning about the mythology of the ancient gods and heroes.

    But more than history awaits! Wander cobblestone village streets lined with gleaming whitewashed houses, pause for meals in traditional tavernas, spend nights in charming boutique hotels, taste the luscious wines produced on the islands, and immerse yourself in the pastoral life that inspired the legends that have been passed down through the ages.

    Continue reading to learn more about this Far Horizons Greek Islse Tour. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

    (Still deciding where you would like to go on your next adventure? Explore our full selection of International Archaeological Tours.) 

    Greek Islands Tour Led by:

    Dr Robert Garland

    Emeritus Professor

    Colgate University
    Department of Classics

    Why Take this Aegean Islands Tour?

    • Led by Great Courses lecturer, Professor Robert Garland
    • Private tour of Despotiko by the director of excavations
    • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Delos
    • Walk through the recently-reopened Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri
    • Cruise to the island of Aegina and visit the breathtaking Aphaia Temple
    • Maximum 12 participants

    Itinerary of Your Greek Islands Tour

    (B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

    Day 1Depart for Greece

    Depart on flight bound for Athens.

    Day 2Arrive Athens; Ferry to Tinos

    Arrive in Athens in the morning and transfer to the port. Board a ferry to the ruggedly beautiful and tranquil island of Tinos. This hidden gem is well off the beaten tourist trail. After lunch in a village taverna, walk through Chora to the Church of Panagia Evangelistria (Our Lady of Tinos), one of the most sacred pilgrimage sanctuaries in Greece. Dedicated to an icon discovered in 1823, it is not just the patron saint of Tinos. Also, it is considered as the saint protector of the Greek Orthodox in the country. Even today, the shrine is a place of pilgrimage and reputed miracles. Overnight for two nights in the Aeolis Tinos Resort, a charming boutique hotel high on a hill overlooking the main town of the island. (L/D)

    Day 3Tinos

    Today’s outing takes us through the dramatic landscape of Tinos. As we drive, countless whitewashed villages tucked into the mountain ravines and remains of windmills, will appear, along with hundreds of small, decorated structures. Tinos is known as the ‘Island of Dovecotes’. The breeding of pigeons was the exclusive entitlement of the Venetian ruling class. And when they invaded Tinos in the 13th century, the nobles began constructing homes for the birds. These important feathered creatures were used for both food and as a source of fertilizer. During the centuries, local farmers continued building these two-story structures. The doves lived on the top floor and tools were stored in the rooms below. Although there are dovecotes on other islands, none are as charmingly decorated as those found here. The people of this island have long quarried marble. We will stop at the Museum of Marble. Here are displays of the tools and techniques used in working this stone that has been used since antiquity. Additionally, we will visit the School of Marble Sculpture where young people learn the craft. Tinos was the only island of the Cyclades that devoted an entire temple to Poseidon. We will stop to see this sanctuary to the god of the sea and his wife, the sea nymph Amphitrite. Long a place of pilgrimage, the temple was begun in the 4th century BC when Macedonians dominated in the Cyclades, and culminated in the 3rd century AD. (B/L/D)

    Day 4Mykonos

    Depart Tinos for Mykonos. Upon arrival, drive to Mykonos Vioma Organic Farm and Winery for a delicious tasting experience of wine and local cuisine. In the afternoon, spend time wandering through Mykonos town. Dinner is on our own. Overnight for two nights in Mykonos Town. (B/L)

    Day 5Delos; Mykonos Archaeological Museum

    A short early morning boat ride takes us to Delos. The architectural remains here are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most impressive antique ruins in the Greek World. Delos occupies a central place in Greek religion and politics. According to myth, this wandering island became fixed at the center of the Cyclades upon becoming the birthplace of Apollo and the center of his cult. Over time, it was the destination of religious pilgrimage for Ionian Greeks, and a Pan-Hellenic sanctuary for more than two thousand years. Furthermore, it served as the treasury of the Delian League at the beginning of the great Peloponnesian War. The rich artifacts that have been found here attest to its cosmopolitan role in the ancient world. (Note: Time on the island is dependent upon the ferry schedule.) Return to Mykonos with lunch on our own and time for a refreshing dip in the hotel swimming pool. In the afternoon, visit the island’s Archaeological Museum. (B/ /D)

    Day 6Paros

    Cruise the short distance to Paros. This island became a wealthy center of art and architecture in the Archaic and Classical Greek periods. The island’s wealth was due to abundant marble, famous throughout the Mediterranean for its superior quality. Parikia, the port of Paros, is dominated by an iconic windmill. While here, we will stroll to the ancient sites of the town. This includes the Archaeological Museum. Inside is an unparalleled collection of marble sculpture, beginning with the exquisite Cycladic figurines of the Early Bronze Age. One of the most important objects here is the Parian Chronicle, or Parian Marble with inscribed history covering the years from 1582 BC to 299 BC. The stone records pivotal moments in mythic and literary history such as the Flood of Deucalion, the invention of agriculture by Demeter, and the poetic feats of Homer, Sappho, and Aeschylus. Conclude the afternoon at Panagia Ekatontapiliani, the church of one hundred doors. This historic Byzantine church complex is said to have been built by the mother of Constantine the Great. Enjoy dinner of traditional food in one of the town’s tavernas together. Overnight for two nights in Paros Town. (B/L/D)

    Day 7Despotiko

    Our small boat heads out to the tiny nearby island of Despotiko, currently only populated by a goat-herder and cheesemaker. Here, recent excavations have revealed a Sanctuary of Apollo and Artemis. Finds include life-size sculptures from Paros and small objects from as far away as North Africa. While here, meet with Yannos Kourayos, director of excavations and the archaeologist who discovered the site. Dr. Kourayos will give us a private tour and discussion of the ongoing excavations. After our box lunch, return to Paros where we visit the Delion Sanctuary of Apollo. Built in the 5th century BC, the temple was the home of the nine-foot tall statue of Artemis, now housed in the Archaeological Museum of Paros. This evening is free to meander through the quaint and bustling streets of the old town in search of the perfect dining spot. (B/L)

    Day 8Naxos

    Leave Paros and cruise for an hour to the most fertile island of the Cyclades, Naxos, which has a wealth of well-preserved remains dating from the Bronze Age to the Venetian era. Ancient sagas tell that Naxos is where Theseus abandoned Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete after she helped him slay the Minotaur on that island. Then along came the good Dionysus who subsequently fell in love with the deserted princess. Those sailing into the harbor today are greeted by the Portara, the massive entrance to an unfinished Temple of Apollo. This monument was meant to signal the wealth and prestige of its builder, Lygdamis. He was the famous tyrant of the island in the 6th century BC. This afternoon, explore the layers of history at the heart of the modern village. In particular, the remains of the ancient settlement are crowned by a fortified castle from where the 13th-century Venetian Duchy ruled the Cyclades. Now it houses the Archaeological Museum. Dinner is on our own to search for the perfect taverna tucked away among the picturesque winding streets of the old town. In the evening, the area comes to life with local merchants, artists, and musicians. Overnight for two nights at the delightful Princess Hotel on Naxos. (B/L)

    Day 9Naxos

    Today we explore Naxos. Our first stop is the Sanctuary of Dionysus and Demeter. Remains of Dionysus’ cult are not surprising given his association with the myths of the island. This impressive 6th century construction is made entirely of marble and is considered an architectural forerunner of the Parthenon. Stop to see Panagia Drosiani, one of the oldest and most revered churches in Greece dating to the end of the 6th century. Inside, a series of chapels are adorned with enchanting murals. Similarly, the original church dome is lavished with 7th century frescoes. Continue through the scenic mountains of the island’s interior, dotted with picturesque mountain villages, to Sangri. Standing proudly here is a 6th-century BC Temple to Demeter, the ancient goddess of grain. 2500 years ago, people constructed sanctuaries dedicated to her close to fertile areas. Thus, this is an example of impressive monumental architecture at such an early period in Greece. Lunch will be in one of the island’s remote hamlets to sample the local fare. After lunch, we reach the island’s famous marble quarries, the source of the island’s wealth and position. Here, we will be able to view an unfinished 10-meter-tall statue still in the stone. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)

    Day 10Santorini

    Cruise across the sparkling indigo sea to Santorini. This is the southernmost island in the Cyclades. It was shaped by an explosion that created its dramatic appearance of the volcano’s rim encircling a deep lagoon. The sparkling, whitewashed villages cling to the cliffs above beaches of black sand. In the capital village of Fíra, or Thíra, visit the Archaeological Museum. After lunch taking in the scenery of Oia, enjoy the afternoon at your leisure. Overnight for two nights in the elegant Cori Rigas Suites, located on the cliff edge of the caldera. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)

    Day 11Thera, Akrotíri

    Our exploration of Santorini begins in ancient Thera, named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras. The remains of the town are positioned at the top of one of the island’s ridges, with gorgeous views in all directions. Here, see the agora, the main square of the city, the stoa with a huge portico extending along the agora and with a roof supported by a row of ten Doric pillars. And finally, walk through the 2nd century theater. Continue to the town of Akrotíri, the “Pompeii of Greece.” Pristine examples of Minoan art and architecture have been conserved under the layers of volcanic ash. (B/L/D)

    Day 12Athens

    A morning flight returns us to Athens. In the afternoon, enter The Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation Museum of Cycladic Art. Inside, one of the world’s most exquisite private collections of Cycladic art awaits us. The foundation is dedicated to the study and promotion of ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus. Particularly, the emphasis is on Cycladic Art from the distinctive culture that flourished in the central Aegean during the Early Bronze Age (third millennium BC). Overnight for two nights in the innovative Elia Ermou Hotel overlooking the Acropolis. Our final dinner will be on the hotel’s rooftop restaurant with stunning views over Athens and the Acropolis. (B/L/D)

    Day 13Aegina

    Embark on a short voyage to nearby Aegina, one of the Saronic Islands. It was named for a nymph who was loved by Zeus. Ancient myths say he carried her off in the guise of an eagle. On Aegina we will visit two remarkable ancient sanctuaries. Located on the Hill of Kolona, just north of the town of Aegina, lies the Temple of Apollo, built in 520 BC. At one time, other temples stood within the complex including those dedicated to Dionysos, Artemis, and Delphinian Apollo, who protected sailors. Aegina’s Museum is located on the nearby hill. Inside are a wealth of stunning artifacts including a marble Sphinx with a body that is half eagle and half lion. Originally, it was a votive monument dedicated to the Temple of Apollo. From here, we move on to the archaic Temple of Aphaia, founded on the summit of a pine-covered mount. Dedicated to the goddess Athena, twenty-five of the original thirty-two Doric columns still stand in this this magnificent shrine. Return to Athens with dinner is on our own. (B/L)

    Day 14Depart Greece

    Return home. (B)

    Tour Information

    Tour Cost & Inclusions

    Price is based on double occupancy and includes:

    • Internal flights during the trip (if applicable)
    • The accompaniment of your scholar throughout the entire trip
    • Local English-speaking guide
    • Hotel accommodations (3 or 4 stars; or best available based in the area)
    • Ground transportation
    • Airport transfers for arrivals and departures
    • Most meals as noted in the itinerary
    • Entry fees to all included sites and museums
    • Gratuities to guides, drivers, and restaurant and hotel staff
    • Coordination for any private presentations or tours

    Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.

    Single Supplement

    Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.

    Exclusions

    • International round trip airfare
    • A separate donation check of $150.00 per person to a designated donation project
    • Passport or visa fees
    • Required vaccines or tests
    • Airport or departure taxes
    • Alcoholic drinks, beverages or food not included on set menus
    • Excess baggage charges
    • Personal tips and hotel incidental expenses
    • Laundry or other items of a personal nature

    Donation Checks

    As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.

    Exchange Rate Fluctuations

    Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.

    Registration

    A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.

    Cancellation

    Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.

    Air Ticketing

    International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.

    Private Tours and Talks

    The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.

    Walking and Standing

    Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for 2 miles or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging as much as 5 miles of walking per day. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 60 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking several miles every day, ideally including stairs and hills. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.

    Expectations During Travel

    This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. Sometimes we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.

    Itinerary Changes

    Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.

    Travel Insurance

    We strongly recommend that you consider purchasing travel insurance. Should illness or an unforeseen event force you to cancel your travel plans after your final payment or during your trip, it would be doubly unfortunate to incur a significant financial loss. Trip cancellation protection will enable you to be reimbursed for the loss of your payment if you are unable to travel for any of the covered reasons in the “Outline of Coverage” section, or should you have an accident or suffer from any medical conditions during the trip.  
    Far Horizons offers customized protection plans through Travel Insured International (a Crum & Forster Company) with the following benefits:
     
    • Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption for covered reasons
    • Trip Delay
    • Baggage Loss and Baggage Delay
    • Emergency Medical Expenses and Emergency Medical Evacuation
    • 24-Hour Accidental Death & Dismemberment
    • 24-Hour Travel Assistance & Concierge Services
    • Option to upgrade to ‘Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)’
     
    We recommend reviewing the language in detail so you are aware of specific parameters; Depending on the policy, to waive the Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion or to upgrade to CFAR coverage, the plan must be purchased within 14 to 21 days of the initial trip deposit, full trip cost must be insured, and traveler is medically fit at time of plan purchase. Otherwise, coverage may be purchased at any time prior to departure. 
     
    To obtain a personalized quote and/or purchase a plan through Far Horizons/Travel Insured International, simply click HERE. For specific questions regarding the Worldwide Protector Plan, please contact Travel Insured International’s Customer Care Center at 1-800-243-3174 or by email at customercare@travelinsured.com, and refer to Far Horizons’ account number: 54070.

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