Location: Greece Duration: 8 nights Price: From £1,250 per person in low season based on two adults travelling together and including all flights in economy class, accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, private transfers, car hire and taxes

For those of you who have long been captivated by classical Greece, poring over history books and documentaries, now is the time to experience the real thing. Come face to face with the ancient archaeological sites that have withstood the test of time, their structures hinting at their timeless significance as centres of religion, spirituality, democracy, healing and sport. From Athens to Nafplio; Olympus to Delphi and finally Sounio; you’ll delve into Greece’s rich past and encounter its myths and legends along the way.

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Perfect for

History buffs who want to walk in the footsteps of the Ancient Greeks.

In the know

Rounding off your trip with a relaxing jaunt in Santorini, home to white villages tumbling down the volcanic cliffs, and the best sunset in Europe.

Recommended for...
Educational
History & Heritage
First-timers
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ATHENS – 2 nights

Where else would you begin your journey into ancient Greece than in its pulsating heart, Athens? This is where democracy was born, two and a half thousand years ago, and today the place where ordinary citizens would take turns to debate issues, the iconic Parthenon, still stands proudly atop the Acropolis, looking out over the sprawling city. Visit the National Archaeological Museum to get a good grasp of Classic Greece (the museum showcases the finest collection of Greek antiquities in the world), before making the gradual ascent up the Acropolis. Once you’ve taken it all in, stroll down to Plaka, the pretty and mostly pedestrianised district where you’ll find your boutique bolt-hole, AVA Hotel. Other incredible classic sites not to be missed are the Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch and Hadrian’s Library; and in-between visits, soak up the energy of Athens in its buzzing neighbourhoods like Monastiraki and Psyrri.

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NAFPLIO – 2 nights

On to the Peloponnese – you’ll drive past the Corinth Canal, the head-scratchingly narrow canal which connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf, allowing ships to make a short-cut to Athens’ port, Piraeus. Continue on to Nafplio, resting on the shores of the silvery Argolic Gulf and cradling historic sites that echo its variegated past. Explore the twin fortresses of Palamidhi and Akronafplia, key to Greece’s War of Independence; discover the Venetian castles like Bourtzi; and you can’t miss the Ottoman mosques and fountains that remain from the occupation. Nafplio is the ideal base from which to explore the ancient site of Epidaurus, famous for its theatre that derives from the 3rd century BC. The acoustics of the theatre are truly extraordinary, so much so that it is still the venue for classical drama performances; just as it was thousands of years ago. Epidaurus also holds the Sanctuary of Asklepios: a healing site dedicated to the Greek god of medicine. Back in Nafplio, you’ll stay at Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas, tucked away beneath the ancient walls of the Palamidhi.

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OLYMPIA – 1 night

Make a detour en route to Olympia to visit Agamemnon’s citadel at Mycenae, immortalised in Homer’s epithets of ‘well-built Mycenae, rich in gold’. Marvel at this significant ancient structure, once the head of a confederation of Argolid towns, before heading on to the ‘Valley of the Gods’ where Olympia lies. Spanning more than a millennium and dating back to 776BC, Olympia was the site of the Panhellenic Games – the precursor to the modern Olympics. Marvel at the stadium, which could hold 20,000 spectators; and the Temple of Zeus, which was where the Olympian flame was kept alight. Having taken it all in, drive on to your hotel for the night, Hotel Europa, and enjoy a relaxing dip in the pool after a busy day sight-seeing.

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DELPHI – 1 night

Take the three-hour drive along the northern Peloponnese, along coastal roads that hug the cliffs, before arriving at the spot that was once considered the centre of the world; the place where man was closest to god: Delphi. Clinging to the slopes of Mount Parnassus and watching over the untamed wilderness below, Delphi symbolised spirituality and unity with its Sanctuary of Apollo – the temple where the great Oracle was consulted. This archaeological site commands awe at every twist and turn – you can’t blame the ancient Greeks for believing that this was the cultural and religious centre of the world. According to Greek mythology, Zeus sent two eagles from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world, and it was here that they met. Afterwards, spend the night at Domotel Anemolia Mountain Resort, and if time allows enjoy some biking or hiking around Arachova village.

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SOUNIO – 2 nights

The final stop on your classic Greece trip is the southernmost point of Attica, Sounio, where the Temple of Poseidon stands enthroned on a rocky outcrop above the glittering sea. Shrouded in myth, it is said that King Menelaus docked his ship at Sounio on his return journey from Troy; and King Aegeus had the Aegean Sea named after him after he lost his life in this spot. This is a beautiful location to spend the last days of your Greek odyssey, and your hotel, Cape Sounio, is an elegant retreat looking out towards the ancient temple across the sea. Indulge in a spa treatment, glide out to sea in a private yacht and toast your holiday with a glass of champagne.

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