Highlights of the Greek Islands

Highlights of the Greek Islands

452 Views
8 Days
From

$2020

$1964

Highlights of the Greek Islands

8 Days Starting in Athens and ending in Santorini

Visiting: Athens, Naxos, Mount Zas, Thera, Oia, Santorini caldera

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

GI

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Physical rating:

Moderate

Age range:

16-99

Trip Styles:

Adventure Tours, Cruise

From:
$2020
$1964 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$56
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Tour Overview

A week long highlights trip of the Greek islands. Starting in cosmopolitan Athens, travel by ferry to experience the best of the Cyclades Islands. Sample delicious Greek food, explore remote villages and enjoy a sunset dinner cruise on Santorini.

Athens - Explore the historic capital city of Athens including the iconic Acropolis

Cyclades Islands - Island hop by ferry between Naxos and Santorini

Relax - Soak up the lively atmosphere of the Greek Islands, witnessing stunning sunsets along the way

Highlights

  • Explore the historic capital city of Athens with the chance to visit the Acropolis
  • Island hopping between the Cyclades Islands of Naxos and Santorini
  • Soak up the lively atmosphere of the Greek Islands and witness sunset on beautiful Santorini

Itinerary

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Day 1: Join Trip In Athens
Location: Athens
Accommodation: Hotel, Arion Athens

Arrive in Athens at any point in the day. Combining the ancient and modern world, the centre of Athens in surprisingly compact. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to visit one of the cafes in the colourful Psyrri district which offer traditional Greek cuisine of scrumptious aubergines, tomatoes and cheese washed down with ouzo or raki. There are traditional rustic tavernas in the well-known Plaka area at the foot of the Acropolis.



For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6.30pm and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. Due to a number of flights arriving into Athens later in the evening, our welcome meeting will take place on day two. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Athens at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Athens International Airport (ATH), which is about one hours' drive, depending on traffic.



Our time in Athens on this highlights trip is limited, if you can spare more time why not consider extending your trip by arriving a couple of days earlier.

Day 2: Walking Tour Of Athens Including The Acropolis. Evening Ferry To Naxos, The Largest Of The Cyclades Islands
Location: Naxos
Accommodation: Hotel, Grotta
Meals Included: Breakfast

Heading out on foot from our hotel, its a short walk to the Plaka district, to soak up the atmosphere of the old town.



The streets are full of atmospheric tavernas with their tables spilling out onto the narrow cobbled streets and small traders selling all kind of specialties. Its a very picturesque area. Climbing up from Plaka to the Acropolis we pass through the Anafiotika district, where the architecture is more in keeping with Santorini than the Greek capital.



We have a guided tour of the Acropolis, deservedly one the wonders of the ancient world made up of the Temple of Athena Nike, Pericles and the Parthenon tower and the monument most venerated by the ancient Athenians themselves - the Erechtheion.



Making our way back to our hotel, we collect our bags and drive to Piraeus harbour where we board the ferry to Naxos (which departs at around 5.30pm and takes just over five hours). On the ferry we will have reserved seating, so we are assured of a seat, but you are also free to take in the sea air from the deck or enjoy a drink in the bar.



We disembark at the port of Naxos and drive to our hotel close to the town centre. Naxos is the largest and most fertile of the Cyclades island group, covering an area of about 430 square kilometres, with fine beaches and a mountainous interior.

Day 3: Free Morning. Afternoon Tour Of Naxos Town Including Its Fortress And Colourful Alleyways
Location: Naxos
Accommodation: Hotel, Grotta
Meals Included: Breakfast

The morning is free to relax at our hotel. Read a book in the garden courtyard, take a dip in the pool or take a stroll on Agios Georgios Beach.



This afternoon we head out to explore Naxos town on foot. At the entrance to the harbour sits the grand Portara stone that has greeted visitors for over 2500 years. The town itself is a mix of whitewashed houses and medieval Venetian mansions, with the fortified 'kastro' or castle occupying a prominent position overlooking the bay. Our tour leader will show us around the network of alleyways and courtyards, as well as making recommendations for eating out in town. We return to our hotel along the promenade alongside Grotta beach.

Day 4: Explore The Foothills Of Mount Zas (Mount Zeus) With Panoramic Views Of Naxos And Surrounding Islands. Visit The Vallindras Distillery
Location: Mount Zas
Accommodation: Hotel, Grotta
Meals Included: Breakfast

Heading inland, we drive to a small chapel at the foot of Mt. Zas. Situated at over 500 meters, the air here is noticeably cooler most days, a welcome escape from the summer heat.



Walking to the village of Apiranthos along the foothills of Mt. Zas (also known as Mount Zeus), the highest mountain in the Cyclades island group, we stop at the amazingly well preserved Fotodoti Monastery before continuing to Apiranthos. In total we cover just over five kilometres, for those who want to opt out of the walk there is the option to drive directly to Apiranthos and re-join the group for lunch.



Apiranthos is a charming village, far removed from the crowds of the beaches along the coast; with the most Cretan influence of all of the interior villages of the island. The village square is surrounded by cafes and tavernas looking out to the terraced valley below. It is an idyllic spot to have a leisurely lunch, with time afterwards to visit the village museum.



Returning to Naxos town we make a stop at the Vallindras distillery, known for its distinctive citron liqueur. Now in their fifth generation the Vallindras family continues the tradition producing their fragrant liqueur made from the leaves for citrus fruits grown on the islands' fertile slopes. We have a tour of the distillery followed by a tasting.

Day 5: Free Morning. Travel By Ferry To Santorini
Location: Thera
Accommodation: Hotel, Kamari Beach
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Checking out of our hotel we head back to the port of Naxos to board the lunch time ferry to Santorini, a journey of 2.5 hours.



Renowned for its amazing natural beauty, Santorini (or Thira as the island is also known) is the most southerly of the Cycladic Islands. It's one of the most picturesque areas in the Aegean and the familiar images of whitewashed churches with blue-domed roofs adorn this beautiful landscape. It's also an area of particular interest to those keen on the Lost Atlantis legend.



Formerly a huge volcano, its centre disappeared in an enormous explosion in around 1450 BC and this area now forms a lagoon where some believe that the city of Atlantis now resides having been destroyed by the eruption and swept into the waters. Record show that the eruption did overwhelm the Minoan settlements at Akrotiri as well as those on Crete.



We drive to our hotel which features a large swimming pool and beach front location. The rest of the day is at leisure. Please note that our accommodation is located near the village of Kamari. It is a 20 minute drive into Santorini's main town of Fira, there are frequent bus departures from the bus stop near the hotel.

Day 6: Coastal Walk From Thira To Oia, Santorini
Location: Oia
Accommodation: Hotel, Kamari Beach
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning we have a coastal walk from Thira to Oia. This moderate walk takes approximately three to four hours and covers eight kilometres.



We head to our starting point by public bus. The path goes along the lip of a caldera and provides great views along the way out to sea and of the surrounding countryside. Halfway through the walk there's the option to stop at a coffee shop for refreshments.



The town of Oia on the northwestern tip of Santorini, is built along a rocky stretch of coastline and is one of the most photogenic places on Santorini. It has a long seafaring culture and there are two types of houses here - the whitewashed cave houses that are dug into the volcanic rock in the cliff side and the captain houses above ground where the upper class ship owners once lived.



Oia has a host of taverns and cafes; it is well worth spending time here after our walk and getting the bus back to hotel later in the day, it's also a great place to witness a magnificent Santorini sunset.

Day 7: Full Day In Santorini. Wine Tasting, Sunset Dinner Cruise
Location: Santorini caldera
Accommodation: Hotel, Kamari Beach
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

The morning you can choose to join a local wine tasting at Artemis-Karamolegos Winery in Exogonia, t he island is best known for its delicious white wines.



The middle of the day is left free to further explore the island. Late afternoon we head to the port of Athinios and board our sailing boat. Our Captain takes us to the best spots to enjoy the views and take spectacular pictures of the Caldera and the Volcano. A delicious buffet dinner is served during the cruise. Before the sun starts setting into the sea, our Captain brings the boat to the best location to see the amazing sunset of Santorini. After the sunset we sail back to Athinios port, where we are met and returned to our hotel.

Day 8: Trip Ends Santorini
Location: Thera
Meals Included: Breakfast

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Santorini.



There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Santorini at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Santorini Airport (JTR), which is about fifteen minutes drive, depending on traffic.

Check out our Q&As

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews of this Operator

Feefo Rated Customer  

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' Excellent trip with a mixture of easy riding days, mixed with great scenary ' The trip was excellently organised by the group leader. The accommodation was very good throughout the trip. The bikes were ideal for this trip.

Gemma Jackson  

Peru Encompassed - spectacular trip

02-Jan-2023

I booked for my husband and I to go on the Peru Encompassed trip with the 3 day Amazon extension trip tagged on the end, we also booked to go to Lima few days early to get over the jetlag and see something of Lima before setting off on the group trip. Everything was booked for us by Explore! with seamless ease and without any hitches. This was the first time I had booked onto an organised trip so I was a bit concerned it might not be for us. How wrong I was. We were a group of 9, ranging from 30s to 60s, and a mixture of couples and singles and different nationalities. As a group we gelled really well and chose to spend most of our free time together which made the trip great fun. As for the trip itself, it surpassed all expectations. The Peru Encompassed trip was superb. I don't think any other country offers so much culture, wildlife, specular scenery and amazing food, all of which we experienced in abundance on the trip. We had a local tour guide for the whole trip who was fantastic and then expert guides joined us on different legs of the journey. We learned so much as a result. The highlights for me were visiting the local market in Arequipa with our guide and sampling lots of different fruit and street foods, the day on Lake Titicaca and of course Machu Picchu itself. We booked an additional trip to go back ourselves the second morning which was great as we could do a different route around the ruins and get different views from the afternoon before. Our final highlight was the additional 3 day trip to the Amazon staying at the Hacienda Conception. The lodges were immersed in the jungle which was wonderful if noisy! the food was fab and the daily trips provided were excellent. It was a great relaxing way to end the trip although it did rain quite a bit. Both my husband and I said our trip to Peru was one of the best trips we have ever done.

Trustpilot
Ms D Brown  

Excellent company

07-Dec-2022

Excellent company, there are so many trips, you really get looked after. Everything is dealt with by your Tour Leader, all logistics are taken care of and usually things go smoothly, I only use explore because I know what to expect each time, that makes me happy, with a stress free holiday

Trustpilot
Stephen  

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08-Nov-2021

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Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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