Greek Isles: Cyclades, Santorini, and Aegina
Tour the Greek isles of the Aegean, where a wealth of archaeological sites are set in stunning locations.
with Professor Robert S. J. Garland
June 11 – 24, 2023
Why Take This 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
‘The trip was wonderful; an excellent blend of history, archaeology, sight seeing, food, and culture. Four thousand years of human experience really came alive. I would recommend the trip to anyone. I could do it all over again’. – Adrienne Long
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Athens. Ferry to Tinos. Church of Panagia Evangelistria
Day 3: Museum of Marble. Sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite
Day 4: Ferry to Mykonos.
Day 5: Delos. Return to Mykonos.
Day 6: Ferry to Paros. Tour Paros.
Day 7: Private tour of Despotiko with the site director.
Day 8: Ferry to Naxos. Tour Naxos.
Day 9: Naxos.
Day 10: Ferry to Santorini. Tour Santorini.
Day 11: Santorini. Akrotiri
Day 12: Fly to Athens. Museum of Cycladic Art, Kerameikos
Day 13: Ferry to Aegina. Tour Aegina. Return to Athens.
Day 14: Fly back to the USA.
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.
Robert S. J. Garland received his M.A. in Classics from McMaster University, Ontario and his Ph.D. in Ancient History from University College London. He is the Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Emeritus Professor of the Classics, Colgate University. A Fulbright Scholar, he was also the recipient of the George Grote Ancient History Prize, awarded yearly for an original and unpublished study on a topic in ancient history. Professor Garland is a prolific writer and has authored numerous articles in both academic and popular journals along with almost twenty books, including Greek Mythology: Gods and Heroes Brought to Life, Athens Burning: The Persian Invasion of Greece and the Evacuation of Attica, Introducing New Gods: A Study in the Politics of Athenian Religion, and Ancient Greece: Everyday Life in the Birthplace of Western Civilization. His latest book, Roman Legends Brought to Life, is due for publication in 2022. He has been a featured speaker or consultant on the History Channel, Atlantic Productions “The Real Spartacus” and “Who Killed Alexander the Great?”, and Providence Pictures “The Real Trojan War”. Dr. Garland presented on An Academic Minute on NPR and he has repeatedly served as a consultant for educational film companies. A popular lecturer for The Great Courses, Dr. Garland’s courses include – The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture, Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean, and Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages. In retirement, Dr. Garland is pursuing his first love, that of art.
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart for Athens.
Day 2: 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)
Day 3: 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 4: 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 the Madelena Hotel with views over the old port and Mykonos Town. (B/L)
Day 5: 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 6: 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 at the lovely Argonauta Hotel standing at the entrance to Paros Town. (B/L/D)
Day 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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. JHere, we will be able to view an unfinished 10-meter-tall statue still in the stone. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Day 10: 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 11: Our exploration of Santorini begin 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 12: 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 13: 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 14: Return to the USA. (B)
$10,595.00 (5-8 travelers)
$9,995.00 (9-14 travelers) (per person, double occupancy) includes all hotels; most meals (as noted in brochure); land and sea transportation; one domestic flight from Santorini to Athens; entry fees; and gratuities to guides and drivers. Price is based upon the exchange rate for the Euro not going over 1.25. If the value of the Euro increases, the price of the trip may go up.
Single Supplement: $1,095.00. If a roommate be requested and one is not available, the single supplement will be charged.
Cost Does Not Include: International flights from New York to Athens; meals other than those listed in the itinerary; food, alcoholic and other beverages not on set menus; a separate donation check of $150.00 per person to a designated donation project; passport and visa fees; airport fees and taxes; excess baggage charges; email, telephone, and fax charges; necessary vaccines or tests; laundry or other items of a personal nature.
Note on Donation: 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 projects and museums 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 write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person and is made by check directly to the donation project. We will be designating a donation project for this trip shortly. Note that the donation is required, due 120 days before departure, and is non-refundable.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
A deposit of $750 per person is required along with a separate check made out to the donation project, as well as your registration form. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent your initial trip documents, which contain pre-trip travel information. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Note About Itinerary Changes
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. A good book to read as well as a flexible attitude and a sense of humor are essential.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $450 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. Insurance recommended by Far Horizons can be reviewed by clicking HERE.
If you do not fly on the designated group flight, you are responsible for all flight arrangements and transportation to join the group. 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.
Private Tours of Archaeological Sites
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 may not be onsite when our groups arrive due to unforeseen circumstances.
We have chosen hotels that are charming and characteristic of island life. However, they may be simple and are not five-star. Please keep in mind that Greece is a European country and hotel rooms tend to be smaller than ones in the USA. If you would like to be upgraded to a larger room or suite at an additional cost, please contact the Far Horizons office.
Travel in the Greek Islands
The group will be walking into and around sites extensively, frequently over uneven paths. All participants must be in good health, physically active, and able to walk independently and unassisted for distances that may exceed two miles or more each day. As a courtesy to your fellow travelers, you must be able to keep up with the group during the daily outings. You will be responsible for your own suitcase, and when boarding ferries, there will be no one to assist you. Suitcases with wheels are essential. If you have questions about whether or not you are physically capable of this level of activity, please contact the Far Horizons office as soon as possible. As the trip is designed around ferry schedules, changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation times may occur. By maintaining a flexible attitude, you will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the cordiality of the islanders, and the fascinating sites.