Boats, Beaches & Ruins


Guided Athens city tour; Scenic local ferries, more time on isles than a cruise; Beautiful island of Naxos, largest of the Cyclades; Guided Knossos site tour; Thrapsano: important pottery-making centre; Water City waterpark; Traditional folk dance performance


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Mon 25 Jul 2016Sat 06 Aug 2016 $3260

Optional Single Supplement: $660 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

This special Greek Islands Tour is specifically designed to meet the needs and fulfill the desires of family travellers and for an adventure-packed two weeks, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of this magical destination of mythological proportion with those closest to you. The ever-exciting capital, Athens, is the first city on our to-see list and it serves as the perfect introduction to the past and present faces of Greece. Traveling by ferry to the island of Naxos, we investigate the labyrinthine streets that were designed to confuse plundering pirates of the 18th and 19th centuries and enjoy a full-day tour of this lush and mountainous island along with its beautiful beaches. In Santorini, we visit a city frozen in time, Akrotiri, walking its ancient streets and then traveling by donkey up to the dramatic cliff-top location of Ancient Thira. Our trip to Crete of course includes a tour of the famous labyrinth of Knossos, the home of the mythological Minotaur of Theseus lore.

Regions visited: Western Europe
Countries visited: Greece

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Athens
Today we arrive in Athens, off-and-on the capital of Greece in its many incarnations over several thousand years. The city received a major facelift for the 2004 Olympics and is looking better than ever, with buildings and monuments cleaned and renovated, and newly created pedestrian areas near the Ancient Agora and Acropolis.

Overnight in Athens.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Athens: City Tour
Today we enjoy a guided tour of Athens, the very heart and soul of Greece. Our guided tour begins at the new Acropolis Museum, located at the foot of the Acropolis. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. Nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 square metres.

The Acropolis is crowned by the marble Parthenon. This incredible building became associated with the "Golden Age" of Pericles. The Parthenon had a dual purpose--to house the great statue of Athena, commissioned by Pericles, and to be treasury for the tribute money that had come from the Greek island of Delos. The name Parthenon refers to the room where the goddess Athena had her statue. Athena won a contest with Poseidon by producing the first olive tree.

The Erechtheum to the left of the Parthenon as we face it, was completed in 406 BC, just prior to Athens' defeat by Sparta. The east porch with its six Ionic columns was dedicated to Athena and sheltered an olive wood statue of the goddess. Legend has it that the "Erecthean Sea" once splashed within the west porch, where Poseidon was worshipped. Poseidon created this indoor ocean when he stuck a rock with his trident while vying with Athena to rule the city.

Overnight in Athens.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Athens - Naxos: Walking Tour
This morning we travel by local ferry from Athens' port, Pireaus, to the island of Naxos.*

Green, fertile, largely self-sufficient Naxos has not needed to go all out to attract tourists. This wealthy agricultural island exports an abundant harvest of olives, grapes, and potatoes throughout the Aegean, and only recently has begun to cater to tourists.

On arrival we will have a walking tour of Naxos Chora, the main town and capital of the island. On our stroll you will note the architecture of Naxos, distinct from that of any other Cycladic isle. The Venetians ruled this island from 1207 until the island fell to the Turks in 1566. Some descendants of the Venetians still live here and the influence of Venetian architecture is obvious in the Kastro and the fortified Venetian towers. Also specific to Naxos is the remarkable abundance of small Byzantine chapels, many of which contain exceptional frescoes dating from the 9th to the 13th centuries.

Our walk ends at the Portara, the big marble gate that stands high on the island of "Bacchus" and is the remains of the ancient temple of Apollo. The ruins of the temple are called "Palace" implying the palaces of Ligdami the ancient tyrant of Naxos (6th century BC). The legend says that Theseus abandoned Ariadne there when he passed through Naxos after he slew the mythical minotaur on Crete.

Overnight in Naxos.

* PORTERS ARE GENERALLY NOT AVAILABLE ON THE GREEK ISLES, OR ON FERRIES BETWEEN THEM. You MUST be able to carry / wheel your baggage on and off ferries.

Overnight on Naxos.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Naxos: Island Tour
Today we have a tour of the highlights of Naxos, a fertile and mountainous island. Many visitors concentrate only on the town and the coast of this beautiful island - what a shame! Our tour inland reveals a charming landscape dotted by thousands of citrus and olive trees and many quiet villages that feel like the Greece of days gone by.

We stop in the village of Chalki, which has many Byzantine Churches We see the 12th century church of Protothronos and the Venetian-era Frangopoulos castle. We'll drive through Filoti where the landscape is covered by farm terraces. Soon we'll have a good view of Mt. Zeus (Zas), 1010 metres/3,313 ft, the highest point in the Cyclades.

We arrive in Apiranthos, which has a unique atmosphere with Venetian mansions and a small museum of prehistoric artifacts. Next is Apollonas where we see the 10.5 metre/34 ft 'kouros' (fallen statue) of Apollo from the 7th century BC, followed by a break for lunch. There are a number of cafes/restaurants with indoor/outdoor seating alongside the harbour.

After some time for a break, possibly a swim, we depart Apollonos, arriving back at our hotel in the late afternoon.

Overnight on Naxos.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Naxos - Santorini
We take a ferry or hydrofoil (depending on scheduling) to Santorini.

Vast geological upheavals have given this island its unique form resulting in the nickname, "Pre-Historic Pompeii." The effect of terracing makes this unlike any other island, Greece's most visually stunning. Santorini is also the island of churches, wine, and donkeys! From as early as 3000 BC the island developed as an outpost of Minoan civilization until around 1500 BC when the volcano erupted. At this point the island's history became linked with the legend of Atlantis.

Overnight on Santorini.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Santorini: Akrotiri & Island Tour
Visually, Santorini is the most spectacular of the Cycladic islands. With its brilliant flooded caldera, high cliffs and charming villages, it is the Greek Isle of everyone's dreams. Our coach tour today will take us to Santorini's many highlights.

We begin with a visit to Akrotiri, where excavations have revealed a complete prehistoric Minoan city with squares, streets and two-storey houses which contained marvelous frescoes. The buildings date to the late 16th century BC. No skeletons or treasures have been found in Akrotiri, so historians think that the inhabitants were forewarned of the eruption and were able to escape. The excavations have yielded evidence that has revolutionized our knowledge of the Late Bronze Age; indeed the town has been called a "Bronze-age Pompeii."

We will also visit the hilltop village of Pyrgos, once the capital of the island and home to more than 30 churches. The village is composed of traditional houses built around the Venetian Castle and the small streets follow the shape of the hill. Climbing from the square up to the castle of Pyrgos, the stone houses crowd more densely together within the labyrinth of narrow vaulted lanes.

Our drive around the island will also take us up to the Prophet Elias Monastery built on the highest point of the island in 1711 AD. Though we will not visit inside the monastery, the view from here is breathtaking.

Fira is the capital of the island and the most important village. Perched on the edge of an impressive cliff 260m high, the town offers great panoramic views over the submerged volcano. Here the small streets are filled with all kind of shops, cafes, and restaurants. After an orientation walk through the town we will visit the impressive Archaeological Museum. This museum features many pieces and exhibits specific to the Santorini site of Akrotiri, as well as artifacts dating back to the time of the Cycladic Civilization. The most impressive legacies of this civilization are the statuettes carved from Parian marble -- the famous Cycladic figurines. Like statuettes of Neolithic times they depicted images of the Great Mother. Other remains include bronze and obsidian tools and weapons, gold jewelry, and stone and clay vases and pots.

We then return to Kamari Beach (those who wish to extend their time in Fira can return to Kamari using the public bus system).

Overnight on Santorini.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Santorini: Free Day
Today is free to enjoy Santorini. Possibilities include boat trips to the volcano's centre, shopping, or relaxing on one of Santorini's black sand beaches. You can get around using the convenient public bus system. Your Tour Leader can help plan your day.

Overnight on Santorini.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Santorini - Iraklion - Gouves
Today we travel by ferry or hydrofoil (depending on scheduling) to Crete.

Crete is the largest and most southerly of the Greek Islands, blessed with a magnificent setting of rugged coastal scenery and warm waters. We continue by road eastward along the northern coast to the small town of Gouves where our hotel is located.

NOTE: Ferry schedules may require some adjustment to the order of our Crete sightseeing program.

Overnight in Gouves.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Iraklion: Knossos & Archaealogical Museum
Early this morning (to beat the crowds!) we travel to Knossos where our local guide will show us the ancient palace of King Minos, first built around 1900 BC. In 1700 BC it was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt to a grander and more sophisticated design. The city of Knossos consisted of an immense palace, residences of officials and priests, the homes of ordinary people, and burial grounds. The Palace, which covered an area of 22000 sq m (236,682 sq feet), consisted of royal domestic quarters, public reception rooms, shrines, workshops, treasures and storerooms around a central court. Knossos was excavated by Arthur Evans between 1900 and 1930.

We also visit the Archaeological Museum in Iraklion, one of the best museums in Greece.* The exhibits, collected from excavations carried out in all parts of Crete, come mainly from the prehistoric era and form a valuable record of the artistic, social and economic life of the island during the ancient period.

Overnight in Gouves.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Crete: Archanes & Thrapsano
Today we pay a visit to the village of Archanes, a Minoan settlement in ancient times, and make a stop at the excellent museum which houses many of the interesting things that have been found there.

We then continue to the village of Thrapsano which, for centuries, has been an important pottery-making centre for all of Greece. The workshops still thrive and we have a chance to see how traditional styles of pottery are made. One very common product is the pithoi, a large jug-like container that for centuries have been used to store grains, olive oil, wine, beans, and dried bread through the winter. These pithoi are exactly the same as those used by Greeks and Minoans thousands of years ago. Villagers often use broken pithoi as decoration around their homes and gardens, using them as planters or bird baths.

Later this afternoon we will head to the huge Aquasplash water park for some fun splashing in the sun. Once settled, there is a huge array of rides to choose from including The Black Hole, The Kamikaze, The Crazy River, and many more - some laid back and relaxing, others adrenaline inducing to say the least! There is also a huge, main pool area for those just wishing to cool down.

Overnight in Gouves.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Crete: Iraklion Walking Tour - Overnight Ferry
This morning is free to relax, enjoy the beach or pool.

Later this afternoon we travel back to Iraklion. On arrival we will have an easy walking tour of central Iraklion, including the impressive St Titus Church, Morosini Fountain and other Venetian legacies. The massive walls that surround the town of Iraklion were built by the Venetians in the mid-15th century.

Later this evening we transfer to the port for our overnight ferry to Pireaus, the port of Athens. The ferry is very comfortable with each cabin having two bunk beds and private facilities.

Overnight ferry to Athens.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Arrival in Athens
Early this morning we arrive in Athens.* The balance of the day is at leisure to enjoy this lively city.

An excellent option today is a day trip to the beautiful archaealogical site of Delphi (for those who have not already visited on other tour options), or to the classic Peloponnesian sites at Corinth, Epidaurus and Mycenae. Your Tour Leader can help organize these full-day excursions. We also recommend a visit to the National Archaealogical Museum, accessible by subway.

* Please note that our Athens hotel rooms may NOT be ready for us this early in the day. Your large baggage will be securely stored; you might want to prepare your day pack ahead of time.

Overnight in Athens.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Departure from Athens
Departure from Athens.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Hotel Divani Palace Acropolis

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Athens
Country: Greece

Divani Palace Acropolis enjoys a priceless location right by the world-famous Acropolis, the perfect place to savour Athens fascinating history.
... beautiful hotel offers elegant rooms and suites, an outdoor pool with bar, and delicious dining including our summer Roof Garden restaurant with enchanting views of the ancient heritage. Top-notch meeting rooms and romantic banquet rooms make our hotel ideal for business meetings or a truly memorable event.
Read More.

Naxos Palace Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Naxos
Country: Greece

Naxos Palace Hotel was built in 2004 and offers guests luxurious resort accommodation, peaceful and family environment and exceptional service.
... hotel has 77 fully equipped rooms and suites with A/C, telephone, satellite TV, mini bar, private bathroom, hair dryer, safe box and private balcony.

Read More.

Santorini Palace

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Santorini
Country: Greece

Santorini Palace is an A' Class Hotel in Fira, the island's capitol. It is within walking distance from the breathtaking
... fine restaurants, and the main shopping center. With a total of 106 impeccably furnished rooms and suites, fully air-conditioned, an outdoor 300 sq meters swimming pool, a deluxe restaurant, main bar and pool bar.

Read More.

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Family pricing: Age 12 and under at time of travel 30% off land price, based on sharing with 2 adults; sharing with 1 adult 15% off

Breakfast and dinner (mostly local restaurants) daily. All sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), and excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in summer when conditions are hot and dry. Showers are rare in summer. Early booking is essential as this is peak season.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Suitability: Age 7 and up. Local ferries between mainland / islands can range from hydrofoils to large vehicular vessels-all bookings in economy class. Greek ferry schedules tend to change without notice; some itinerary adjustments may be necessary at the discretion of your Tour Leader. Uncontrollable factors such as weather may result in delays. Land transport (city & island tours, port transfers) by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on group size (see 'group size'); some local buses and taxis. Several walking tours on uneven surfaces.


Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels (3-4 star) throughout. Island hotels are smaller properties (3-4 story) that will likely not have elevators. All hotels have en suite bath, though most have shower only. Porter service is rarely available on the islands (see 'inclusions'); you MUST be independent with your luggage, especially getting on / off ferries. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins. Overnight ferry 2-person cabins with a/c and en suite toilet / shower (singles available).

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, driver/s, local step-on guides in several locales.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)