22 Day Dodecanese Islands & Crete

Rhodes, Symi, Nisyros, Kalymnos, Patmos & Leros
TOURCODE: GD2

Duration:
22 Days

Activity Level:
2

When To Go:
Apr, Sep

Countries Visited:
1

Arrive In / Depart From:
Chania (CHQ) / Athens (ATH)

Max Group Size:
18

Tour Style:
Cultural

Price From:

Discover the country's true culture with the help of experienced local guides.

  • Small group sizes to help escape the beaten path.
  • Authentic local experiences with lots of inclusions.
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Tour Overview
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Countries Visited: 1 Activity Level: 2 Tour Style: Cultural

This is a wonderful combo of our Dodecanese Islands trip with an extension to Western Crete.

The Dodecanese are a Greek island group geographically located on the southeastern side of the Aegean Sea, close to the Turkish mainland. The name Dodecanese means "the twelve islands" in Greek, as this is the number of the largest islands of the complex (there are 150 in total!).

You (and everyone else) may not have heard of Greece's Dodecanese Islands, and this one one of the main reasons to consider visiting! The islands we include may not have the same cachet as Santorini or Mykonos, but they also do without the crowds, noise, and high prices. The six islands we include all share a common geography and certain cultural/historical attributes, but years of isolation before the arrival of tourism allowed each to develop their own unique traditions and ways of life, many of which persist today. Escape the beaten path and discover the Dodecanese -- you'll be delighted you did!

 


 

Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices

 

Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to below Prices & Dates table. For general information on flights to/from the tour, click here.

 

Select a date below to reserve your spot:

 

Optional Single Supplement: $1190 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $600 if you join our share program and we are unable to pair you.

 


 

Full Itinerary
Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in Chania, Greece
Today we fly to the island of Crete and the city of Chania (airport CHQ) for a two night stay.

Crete is the largest island in Greece; the island offers amazing variety, combining snow-capped mountains, rolling hills covered with olive trees, and over 1000 km of varied coastline. Western Crete has much to offer -- deep and wild gorges, steep mountains, green valleys and woods, stunning beaches, important archaeological sites, and historical venues.

Overnight in Chania.

Included Meal(s): Dinner



Day 2 Chania: Walking Tour
Chania is a place where several different civilizations have flourished throughout the centuries. The city is built on the area of Minoan Kidonia, at the end of gulf between Akrotiri and Onicha peninsulas. After the Arabs and Byzantines it was conquered by Venetians in 1252 and then given to Turks in 1669. Later, December 1913, it was annexed by the Greek State under the administration of Eleftherios Venizelos and King Konstantinos the 1st. Today the atmosphere has a touch of Florence and Venice (a few years ago when those cities still had some room to walk!), combined with the culture and character of Cretan people and traditions.

During our tour of the old town of Chania, we will pay a visit to the Archaeological and Folklore museums and explore the wonderful labyrinth of narrow streets in the historic quarter. We will discover "lost" Turkish fountains and bathhouses; quaint medieval back streets and alleyways; Venetian and Turkish houses; mosques, churches, fortifications, old tradespeople's shops and a host of other gems that are the secrets of this Greek city.

Your afternoon is free enjoy Chania, one of the most picturesque cities in Greece. The waterfront makes for a perfect setting to enjoy a break for lunch. A place worth exploring at leisure is the atmospheric and colourful covered food market, brimming with many traditional products such as cheese, honey, herbs, fresh fish, meat, and produce.

Overnight in Chania.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

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Day 3 Chania - Traditional Cooking Class - Rethymnon
By now you’ve had some experience with Greek cuisine, and during today’s +/- 4 hour cooking class, you will cook, taste, and enjoy local recipes and prepare delicious dishes with the guidance and assistance of a professional cook born and raised in a Cretan village.

All the dishes are made of genuine pure Cretan products such as olive oil, vegetables, cheese, meat, wine, etc. And, of course, all the ingredients are fresh and local. Useful information about the herbs, olive oil and other ingredients is given, together with explanations of their nutritional value and usage. The conclusion of the experience culminates with a meal together on a long monastery-style table, enjoying the fruits of your creativity with local wine and bread, Greek music, and local stories.

We then continue eastward to the old Venetian/Ottoman-era city of Rethymnon, fought over for centuries by the Venetians and the Turks. After the corsair-turned-Ottoman Admiral Barbarrosa sacked Rethymnon in 1538, a massive fortress was built to defend the town. A century later the city fell to the Ottomans, who held it until 1897. At this time Russians occupied it for a brief period, and after 1923 it became home to large numbers of refugees, including many artists and intellectuals, who came from Smyrna after the great exchange of populations between Greece and the newly-created modern state of Turkey.

The inland setting is stunning; indeed the highest mountain on Crete is located here and, at nearly 2500 meters (well over 8,000 feet), it remains snow covered until late in the summer.

PLEASE NOTE that, due to the lack of suitable accommodation in Rethymnon, we may continue to Iraklion and accomplish tomorrow's sightseeing program from there.

Overnight in Rethymnon.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 4 Rethymnon - Phaestos - Gortys - Iraklion
Our onward journey today focuses on the ancient past of the island. En route to Iraklion we visit two major archaeological sites; one dates to the Minoan age and the other to the more recent Roman era.

First we visit the Palace of Phaestos, the most beautifully-situated of all the Minoan sites. Indeed it has been concluded by some archaeologists that the location of the city was chosen simply because of the spectacular view. Phaestos is believed to have been inhabited as early as 4000 BC. The first palace dates from 2000 BC and the city itself survived as a major power until its final defeat in the second century BC by nearby Gortys, our next stop.

Also known as Gortyna, this immense site was once the largest Roman city on the island. It served as the Roman capital not only of Crete, but also of large areas of North Africa. Unlike other pre-Roman Cretan cities, Gortyna welcomed the Romans when they arrived to Crete and, as a result, the city was chosen as the Roman capital here after Rome finally conquered the island in 67 BC.

The most noteworthy discovery at Gortyna occurred in 1884, when the so-called Gortyn Code was unearthed. This is the oldest and most complete exemplar of ancient Greek law in existence, dating from the 6th Century BC. Written in 600 lines and reputedly the largest Greek inscription ever found, the inscriptions reflect a society ruled by an elite few who were able to get away with almost anything, while the poor majority paid dearly for even the least of crimes they committed. One is tempted to draw comparisons with the modern world and observe how little has changed.

Later this afternoon we drive north to the Cretan capitol of Iraklion.

Overnight in Iraklion.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 5 Iraklion: Knossos & Archaeological Museum
Today's focus is on the Minoan Palace of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion, with its exceptional collection of artifacts unearthed from the numerous Minoan sites in this area.

The Minoan capitol of Knossos was first discovered in modern times by Sir Arthur Evans in 1894 when Crete was still an Ottoman possession. Evans made a number of deals with the Turkish overlords and purchased most of the land in the area around the palace, which he went on to excavate during the ensuing quarter century. It was Evans who named the civilization after King Minos and it is here where we will spend much of this morning learning about Europe's first great Bronze Age civilization that was inspired by the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians.

After our visit 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. We will also include a visit to the Archaeological Museum.

Overnight in Iraklion.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 6 Iraklion, Crete - Fly to Rhodes
Today we fly to the island of Rhodes. Although it's the capital of the Dodecanese island group today, Rhodes is not one of the original 12 islands that willingly submitted to Ottoman rule and thus is not historically part of the Dodecanese. That said, it still makes ample sense to start our Dodecanese explorations here.

The Dodecanese, in addition to the larger 12, also consist over 150 smaller islands and islets in the southeastern Aegean, close to Turkey's Western Anatolian coast. Many of the islands can therefore be considered to belong geographically to Asia, though ethnically and culturally all are very decidedly Greek.

These days it is relatively easy to visit many of the islands by plane or ferry, but historically they were quite remote from the mainland and from each other. This remoteness, as well as the dry climate, mountainous terrain and poor soil on many of the islands, forced the inhabitants to become seafarers, merchants, fishermen, and sponge divers.

Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel located in the heart of the old city of Rhodes. This evening we may be joined by travellers starting their journey here in Rhodes.

Overnight in Rhodos.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 7 Rhodes Touring
Rhodes has architecture that looks like nowhere else in Greece, stemming from Medieval times when the Knights Hospitaller wrapped the capital in impenetrable walls to repel attacks by the Ottomans.

Today's on-foot exploration will include visit the Castle (aka Palace of Grand Masters), which features turreted towers as perfect as they were back in the 14th century. This rare example of Gothic architecture in Greece was possibly built using stones taken from one of the wonders of the ancient world, the Colossus of Rhodes. Destroyed when an arms store in the nearby Church of St. John exploded in 1856, it was rebuilt by the Italians and was the summer retreat of King Victor Emmanuel and Mussolini.

The Knights of St John was a religious order of the church of Rome founded in Amalfi in the 11th century. They went to Jerusalem initially to minister to the needs of the pilgrims who arrived there and soon extended their duties to tending the poor and sick of the Holy Land. Over the years they became increasingly militant, joining forces with the Knights Templars and the Teutonic Knights of St Mary in battles against infidels.

We'll also have a walking exploration of the old town of Rhodos, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest and best preserved fortified city in Europe.

Overnight in Rhodos.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 8 Rhodes: Acropolis of Lindos
This morning we head out of town by bus, stopping at Lindos to visit the Acropolis and to have a wander about this lively village, a unique monument of preservation. The beauty of the castle, the Acropolis of Athena Lindia on the top, with St. Paul's Bay (where the Apostle arrived in 58 AD) and the paved streets of the village captivate visitors. A walk through its narrow paved streets reveals the beauty of the traditional island architecture.

On the way back to Rhodos we drive across the island from east to west coast, passing through villages and densely wooded areas. We reach the top of Filerimos Mountain, with its marvellous panoramic view. We then come to the ruins of the acropolis of the ancient Lalussos where we have one of the best panoramic views of Ixia, one of the biggest tourist resorts in Rhodes.

We return to Rhodes town mid-late afternoon.

Overnight in Rhodos.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 9 Rhodes - Ferry to Symi
Today we aim for a morning ferry crossing from Rhodes to the nearby island of Symi in order to maximize our time on this splendid little island (journey time +/- one hour*).

Often considered to be the most beautiful of all Greek islands, Symi is dotted with beaches and monasteries. But Yialos (Gialos), the main harbour area, is the primary draw for most visitors. With its ever-present neoclassical architecture and myriad pastel hues, the harbour has been touted as one of Greece’s most beautiful, a bold claim that's hard to refute once you’ve seen it in person.

Arriving late morning will give us the balance of the day to settle in and explore the main harbour of Yialos after a break for lunch (we may have to store our luggage at the hotel until check-in later in the day).

Speaking of lunch, if you’re fond of seafood, one of the things you must do while on Symi island is to try the deliciously fresh Symi shrimp that are served up in almost every restaurant around town. These little ‘garadaki symiako‘ are the taste of the island and a favourite appetizer among locals and visitors alike. The plate of sweet fresh shrimp is served simply with a squeeze of lemon and is eaten whole thanks to their delicately soft shells.

This afternoon we’ll explore the main harbour town of Yialos, a stunning scene with a sea of colours rippling down the hillside. Symi’s ever-present hills and stairs will make you feel better about indulging in a nice lunch; you’ll be getting a workout just exploring town. The island of Symi is actually amongst the top 5 places in the world in terms of longevity, with residents well into their 90s still scaling staircases with their daily catch and freshly baked bread from the waterfront.

Overnight on Symi.

* All ferry crossing durations listed in our program are approximate and subject to change depending on ferry company, vessel type, and scheduling which is subject to change. It is also possible that the final order of the islands visited may vary from this version of the itinerary.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 10 Symi Touring
This morning, above the main town on the top of the hill, we’ll find the small village of Chorio. Although it’s geographically close to the port, it feels like a world away. To reach Chorio on foot, you’d have to walk up 500 (!) stone steps, known as "Kali Strata." To save some time (and your feet) we’ll cover the distance by small touring bus instead.

On your right and left you will see plenty of fantastic neoclassical houses. Some of them have been restored, while others are in ruins. On the way up, you will be rewarded with fantastic views of the beautiful bay. Like most of the Greek islands, Symi has a long and rich history and has been inhabited for thousands of years. Since the ancient times, this Acropolis has loomed above the town below. In the 15th century, the Knights of Saint John built a castle over the ruins of the ancient acropolis, designed to protect the island against pirate raids – and it did its job well before finally falling to the Ottomans in 1522. There's not much of the castle grounds left, but you can still enjoy the lovely views over the harbour.

We also visit the 18th-century Monastery of Archangel Michael, also known as Panormitis Monastery, is one of the most popular attractions on Symi island. The church and bell tower are very impressive – take your time to observe the interior of the church. Within the monastery grounds there are also two small museums, an Ecclesiastical Museum and a Folklore Museum.

These islands are (as are most in Greece) known for their lively tavernas serving fresh fish and seafood dishes, like kalamari or grilled octopus. At some point during (or after) our day’s sightseeing you’ll have the opportunity to sample some of the local specialities and perhaps do some shopping. All along the port, you'll find merchants selling Symian sponges, natural loofahs formed in the sea from silica, calcium, or calcium carbonate materials.

Overnight on Symi.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 11 Symi - Ferry to Nisyros
Today we ferry to the quirky island of Nisyros,* one of the only Greek islands with its own volcano, and a population of only about 1,000.

A small, quiet island, Nisyros is most well-known for its active volcano that has one of the world's largest hydrothermal craters, as well as its hot springs. The volcano is the youngest one in Greece; it is an active volcano like the ones at Methana, on Milos Island, and on Santorini. The oldest rock formations found around the entire island date back 160,000 years, while the youngest ones, about 15,000 years. It also has one of the biggest hydrothermal craters in the world, with thermal springs having warm waters ranging from 30 to 60 degrees Celsius.

Historically, Nisyros is mentioned in Homer's Iliad as part of the army that descended on the Trojans. They were also part of the Athenian alliance after the Persian Wars for a brief period of time. The islands's economy is based on fishing, agriculture, and tourism; however, the biggest source of income for the island is the production and trade of pumice and perlite.

Our hotel will likely be in the vicinity of Mandraki, the port town of Nisyros and the island’s capital -- small but charming, with a few shops, traditional restaurants and cafes with a view to the sea. It's a fantastic little town to explore on foot, walking up and down the narrow alleys of the medieval castle, and discovering the traditional architecture and pretty little details.

Mandraki also has a couple of museums. There's an Archaeological Museum, where we will learn more about the history of the island, and a small Folklore Museum, where you will see some very interesting old photos and other exhibits.

While on Nisyros, we may be able to sample pythia, savory specialty based on chickpeas. It may be compared to the Middle Eastern falafel, which is prepared with similar ingredients. The adventurous may want to sample koukouzina, a traditional spirit distilled from grapes and figs, and similar to raki. This alcoholic beverage is typically produced at old local distilleries with a preparation process that follows age-old traditional methods handed down for generations.

Overnight on Nisyros.

* PLEASE NOTE that this journey will likely involve a stop at the island of Kos, which will involve us being picked up for a road transfer to a different port on Kos from which ferries to Nisyros depart. And in case you're wondering, we don’t include Kos on our itinerary as it was not one of the original 12 islands of the Dodecanese. That said, ever-changing ferry schedules may necessitate an overnight here at some point.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 12 Nisyros Touring
Because exploring the volcano is best enjoyed after visiting the Volcanological Museum, it'll be our first stop this morning in Nikia village. It features exhibits and information about many volcanoes in Greece and abroad. Nikia itself is said to have the best square in the entire Aegean, so it’s also a must-see! At 400 m above sea level and quite close to the volcano, it has breathtaking views of the entire island and the Aegean.

Onto the biggest attraction on the island and the main reason why most people visit Nisyros -- the volcano located right in the middle of the island and one of the most impressive landscapes to be seen in Greece. We'll visit the crater called Stefanos, whose diameter is between 260m to 330m and 27m deep. The rocks all around are covered in pyroclastic deposits and volcanic mud.

And of course we’d be remiss not to visit the local acropolis, the Paleokastro, a little-visited but incredibly impressive ancient site dating from the 4th century BC. The tall, thick walls are constructed out of volcanic stone; reigning over Mandraki, its walls are still standing and still impressive.

While on Nisyros, we’ll also visit the remarkable village of Emporios, sprinkled over the top of a hill 400 m above sea level. The government has cited Emporios as having architecture of "high cultural importance"; indeed the village has retained its authenticity with a traditional feel and charm.

Overnight on Nisyros.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 13 Nisyros - Ferry to Kalymnos
Today we’ll travel by (a hopefully direct) ferry to the island of Kalymnos.

Kalymnos is famous for its sponge fishing industry in which almost all the men of the island were, at one time, diving for sponges. The industry was severely impacted in 1986 when a viral disease killed most of the sponges, along with the economic basis of the island.

On arrival we’ll visit the town of Pothia, a great place to explore on foot and home to many of the island's most important historical landmarks. The winding streets of the town are filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants, and there is always something new to discover. In your free time, you might choose to visit Kalymnos Sponge Museum dedicated to the history and culture of sponge diving in Kalymnos. The museum contains a collection of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into the island's history.

Kalymnos has a rich and delicious cuisine that is influenced by both Greek and pan-Mediterranean flavours. Some of the dishes you may be able to try while on the island include fila, a Kalymnian take on stuffed grape leaves; and avgolemono, a classic sauce of chicken broth, egg yolks, and lemon juice. Another plate we might try (seasonally) is the Kalymian salad, which includes watermelon.

Overnight on Kalymnos.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 14 Kalymnos Touring
Today explore the most rugged and third largest of the Dodecanese islands.

The Archaeological Museum of Kalymnos is a good place to start (if not already visited yesterday), dedicated to the archaeology and history of the island. The museum contains a collection of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into the island's ancient past.

Of course it’s always important to visit at least one church and/or monastery, and Agios Savvas is an excellent choice. The church is known for its stunning views and peaceful atmosphere, and it is a great place to escape the busy-ness of town. It offers an incredible mountaintop view of the city and the port.

It's also important on these islands to learn more about the sponge industry specific to Kalymnos, with a visit to one of the sponge-processing factories/museums.

Balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight on Kalymnos.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 15 Kalymnos - Ferry to Ferry to Leros
Our next, and sadly our last island, is Leros, with a ferry crossing of about an hour.

Picture the scene: the ferry has just docked and you immediately realize that you've arrived at a harbour like no other in
Greece. The main port, Lakki, was founded under the name Porto Lagos during the 1930s by the Italians (who had
occupied the Dodecanese islands), and to this day still amazes with its Italo-Mediterranean features. Lakki is an open-air
museum of wide streets with eucalyptus trees and eye-catching art deco buildings of tremendous artistic value, as they
represent the only example of authentic "rationalistic" architecture outside Italy.

Leros is – according to mythology – where the goddess Artemis came to get away from it all. These days it offers visitors
the same sense of escape. It’s a heavenly refuge made up of hidden beaches and bays with an assortment of traditional
and neoclassical houses, as well as a deep history and culinary culture.

Ferry schedule permitting, we’ll hopefully be able to begin our sightseeing program upon arrival. While on Leros, we’ll
explore the area of Lakki Bay -- look out for the church, school, hospital, theatre, navy barracks, hotel and circular agora
with its clocktower – all in Italo-Mediterranean style. They are revolutionary in concept and reveal the vision behind what
was once referred to as the ‘Nea Polis’. Indeed, Mussolini envisaged Leros as a ‘New Rome’ and went about
constructing a new city on what was once marshland, making it the main port of Fascists Italy’s navy with the biggest
natural deep water harbour in the Mediterranean, protected from winds by the nearby mountains.

Overnight on Leros. Included meals

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 16 Leros: At Leisure
A well-deserved free day to rest up and soak in as much Dodecanese atmosphere and ambiance before our journey sadly
comes to a close.

Of course your Tour Leader is available to make suggestions and provide advice on how to accomplish your activities of
interest. And, of course, you’re not obliged to do anything apart from joining us for our last evening meal in the
Dodecanese (and even that is negotiable ;)

A few ideas:
War buffs may consider the military museum, Deposito Di Guerra, a true gem allowing you to travel back to the past and
unravel the island's fascinating history, focusing on WW2 and the Battle of Leros in 1943. In the same vein, the War
Museum is housed in a tunnel built by the Italians during the Second World War.

The Historical and Folklore Museum is housed in Bellenis Tower on the way to Alinda. It includes photos from the Second
World War, traditional instruments, old maps, and manuscripts.

Hikers may be drawn to a jaunt to the Pantelio Castle & Windmills, a 2.6-km loop trail near Leros town. Generally
considered a moderately challenging route, it takes about an hour an average to complete (full details available on the free
"AllTrails" app).

Explore fishing villages -- seafood tavernas along the shoreline, fishing boats bobbing in the sea, happy faces enjoying local
delicacies, as well as freshly-caught fish, traditional cafes, and a beach with clear blue water (ideal for a swim followed by
a Greek coffee).

Farther afield, one can book a boat trip on a wooden boat from Agia Marina harbour that takes you on an adventure to the
neighbouring island of Lipsi and other wonderful islets.

Another highlight of your time on Leros will be discovering the island's rich culinary heritage. Dont miss out on the local
mizithra cheese and honey, as well as pies, almond sweets, traditional soumada and gavafes – a fruit believed to be a
relative of the guava that is only found on Leros.

This evening we reconvene for our last dinner in these magical islands – Yamas!

Overnight on Leros.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 17 Patmos - Ferry to Leros
Our next, and sadly our last island, is Leros, with a ferry crossing of about an hour.

Picture the scene: the ferry has just docked and you immediately realize that you've arrived at a harbour like no other in Greece. The main port, Lakki, was founded under the name Porto Lagos during the 1930s by the Italians (who had occupied the Dodecanese islands), and to this day still amazes with its Italo-Mediterranean features. Lakki is an open-air museum of wide streets with eucalyptus trees and eye-catching art deco buildings of tremendous artistic value, as they represent the only example of authentic "rationalistic" architecture outside Italy.

Leros is – according to mythology – where the goddess Artemis came to get away from it all. These days it offers visitors the same sense of escape. It’s a heavenly refuge made up of hidden beaches and bays with an assortment of traditional and neoclassical houses, as well as a deep history and culinary culture.

Ferry schedule permitting, we’ll hopefully be able to begin our sightseeing program upon arrival. While on Leros, we’ll explore the area of Lakki Bay -- look out for the church, school, hospital, theatre, navy barracks, hotel and circular agora with its clocktower – all in Italo-Mediterranean style. They are revolutionary in concept and reveal the vision behind what was once referred to as the ‘Nea Polis’. Indeed, Mussolini envisaged Leros as a ‘New Rome’ and went about constructing a new city on what was once marshland, making it the main port of Fascists Italy’s navy with the biggest natural deep water harbour in the Mediterranean, protected from winds by the nearby mountains.

Overnight on Leros.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 18 Leros: At Leisure
A well-deserved free day to rest up and soak in as much Dodecanese atmosphere and ambiance before our journey sadly comes to a close.

Of course your Tour Leader is available to make suggestions and provide advice on how to accomplish your activities of interest. And, of course, you’re not obliged to do anything apart from joining us for our last evening meal in the Dodecanese (and even that is negotiable ;)

A few ideas:
War buffs may consider the military museum, Deposito Di Guerra, a true gem allowing you to travel back to the past and unravel the island's fascinating history, focusing on WW2 and the Battle of Leros in 1943. In the same vein, the War Museum is housed in a tunnel built by the Italians during the Second World War.

The Historical and Folklore Museum is housed in Bellenis Tower on the way to Alinda. It includes photos from the Second World War, traditional instruments, old maps, and manuscripts.

Hikers may be drawn to a jaunt to the Pantelio Castle & Windmills, a 2.6-km loop trail near Leros town. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes about an hour an average to complete (full details available on the free "AllTrails" app).

Explore fishing villages -- seafood tavernas along the shoreline, fishing boats bobbing in the sea, happy faces enjoying local delicacies, as well as freshly-caught fish, traditional cafes, and a beach with clear blue water (ideal for a swim followed by a Greek coffee).

Farther afield, one can book a boat trip on a wooden boat from Agia Marina harbour that takes you on an adventure to the neighbouring island of Lipsi and other wonderful islets.

Another highlight of your time on Leros will be discovering the island's rich culinary heritage. Dont miss out on the local mizithra cheese and honey, as well as pies, almond sweets, traditional soumada and gavafes – a fruit believed to be a relative of the guava that is only found on Leros.

This evening we reconvene for our last dinner in these magical islands – Yamas!

Overnight on Leros.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 19 Leros: Lakki Bay Sightseeing
No time spent in Leros is complete without a visit to the island’s castle (also known as the Castle of the Virgin). It is located at the top of Pityki Hill, 200m above sea level, and was built by the Byzantines on the site of an ancient fort. It houses the miraculous icon of the Monastery of the Virgin Mary which, according to legend, appeared out of the sea and is believed to have healing powers.

One can walk the 500-odd steps up to the castle from Platanos (the capital and oldest settlement of Leros), but we’ll drive up through the village of Panteli. However one chooses to get there, we’ll enjoy the same sweeping views of the bays of Agia Marina and Panteli amidst a background of low mountaintops, fields, and valleys.

The coastal town of Agia Marina has, over the years, become one with Platanos, effectively becoming the largest settlement on Leros. We'll walk its cobblestone streets and admire the neoclassical mansions with Egyptian influences, traditional houses, bougainvillea-filled courtyards, earth tones and the show-stopping white windows that serve to underline Leros’s architectural wealth. As we stroll the streets, we’ll visit the Archaeological Museum, where we can learn about Leros’s history.

Today’s included meal (apart from breakfast), is lunch at Hatzidakis Winery, founded in 1997
and located at the village of Pyrgos Kallistis. The new owners spotted a cave at the end of the property in which they created a “kanavaki,” a small underground winery, which slowly took shape with patience, persistence, enthusiasm, passion, and with “meraki” as they say in Greek, a term that describes a scenario in which a person has really put a part of themselves into something. As part of our visit, we’ll enjoy a tour and wine tasting followed by a leisurely lunch.

And since we're nearby, we visit one more monastery, that of “Profiti Ilias-Santorini” before making our way back to the hotel. Due to the size of our lunch and the possibility of an early stary tomorrow, dinner is on your own this evening.

Overnight on Leros.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch



Day 20 Leros - Fly to Athens
Today we fly to Athens.

Overnight in Athens (airport area hotel).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast



Day 21 Athens: City Touring
Today we enjoy a guided tour of Athens, the heart and soul of Greece.* A large part of the town's historic centre has been converted into a 3-kilometre pedestrian zone (one of the largest in Europe), leading to the major archaeological sites, reconstructing -- to a large degree -- the ancient landscape, thus allowing us to avoid the city's horrendous traffic.

We start at the Acropolis (with hopes to beat the heat/crowds), near the site of the Dionysos Theatre. Constructed in the 6th century BC, it is one of the world's oldest theatres and the place where the great works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes were first performed. We will also see a more recent theatre, the Odeon of Herod Atticus from the second century AD, which is still used for concerts and performances.

Ascending to the top of the Acropolis, we will see magnificent buildings dating from the 5th century BC, the Golden Age of Athens. On the highest point on the Acropolis is the Parthenon, often considered the finest monument to Greek civilization. The temple was dedicated to Athena "Parthenos," the virgin and patron goddess of the city.

After our Acropolis tour, we'll descend and enter the Ancient Agora located adjacent to the Plaka, the old town of Athens. Among the numerous sights in this archaeological park are the well-preserved Temple of Hephaistos and the landmark Roman era Tower of the Winds.

Our guided tour ends with a guided visit of the Acropolis Museum, located at the foot of the Acropolis. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece; nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 square metres. After our tour you are free to wander and explore on your own, accomplish some last minute shopping, or make your way back to the hotel with your Tour Leader's advice/assistance.

This evening we convene for our farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

* The exact order of our sightseeing in Athens may be altered by your Tour Leader depending on several variables and their judgement on how best to run today's tour.

Overnight in Athens.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 22 Departure
Departure from Athens.

KALO TAXIDI/BON VOYAGE!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

 


 

Trip Info
Trip Info

Inclusions
Full-time Tour Leader & local guide support at several locations

Hotel breakfast daily, one lunch, and all but one dinner.

All transport (including internal air), accommodation, 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 and for early arriving/late departing land & air customers who book their air AND extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions
International airfare to/from the tour.

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), and excursions referenced as 'optional'.

Airport transfers for Land Only customers.

Travel insurance.

Seasonality and Weather
Our fall date is set to avoid the busier and expensive high summer high season (July/August) during which ferries can be crammed and some sites can be overcrowded. Our timing also avoids the extreme summer heat and high winds winds often associated with this time. Greece does not experience the extreme humidity of the tropics so this is not a concern at any time.

Late summer is generally warm, and one can still expect some heat depending on proximity to water. Showers are less likely than spring. Though the landscape has largely shed the greenness of spring, the true delight is the local farm produce ready for harvest at this time, all of which makes it's way into local dishes. It's also the time of the olive and grape harvest, which we may be able to witness.

Transport and Travel Conditions
This is not a cruise! We travel to/between islands via local ferries, which can range from hydrofoils to large vehicle carrying vessels. Uncontrollable factors such as weather may result in delays. Greek ferry schedules tend to change without notice; some itinerary adjustments may be necessary with late notice.

Land transport (city & island tours, port transfers) by private air-conditioned coaches, minibuses and vans, depending on group size (see 'group size'). Locally we may make short hops using multiple local taxis.

Porter service is rarely available on the islands (see 'inclusions'); you MUST be independent with your luggage, especially getting on/off ferries and at hotels.

This trip is typical of most of our European tours, which are ambitious and involve full days of travel and sightseeing. While we don't have any actual strenuous activity (ie hiking) built into the program, you will do a lot of walking on this trip, mostly be in the form of walking tours of towns and cities and short walks to dinner. Being Europe, and a hilly/mountainous area, cobbles, uneven surfaces, and slopes/stairs are common.

If you are accustomed to typical "bus tours," which rely heavily on vehicular transport for all sightseeing activities, you should be aware that this tour is considerably more active.

This program also has a strong gastronomic element, well-suited to "foodies," expert or novice, and those who enjoy savouring and lingering over a meal and sampling new things. While vegetarians are well catered for, we regret that very specific or extremely limited dietary restrictions/preferences may present a challenge on this trip.

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.

Activity Level: 2
These are particularly busy tours that feature a lot of moving around, sometimes by train and short journeys on local transport. Walking tours of towns and cities are leisurely but you should be prepared to be on your feet for several hours. Some of our cultural trips that occur at high altitude and/or require greater independence with baggage handling (at hotels, airports, train stations) also fall into this category.

To learn more about the Activity levels, please visit our tour styles page.

Accommodation
Our accommodation choices reflect the charm and spectacular views of for which the Greek Isles are famous. Large chain hotels are rare in the islands, and most hotels are still smaller, family-run establishments. Our mid-range rated (international 3-star standard) island properties feature private bath, air-conditioning, wifi, and in-house breakfast. In Athens we have chosen a nicely-located smaller "boutique" 4-star hotel that has been fully renovated and features all the comforts and conveniences.

Please note that our hotels on the smaller islands will likely feature rooms that are not uniform in size, style, and aspect, and sometimes our group may be split between two properties located near to each other.

Click on the "Map & Hotels" tab for more information.

Staff and Support
Full-time Tour Leader, local step-on local guides in various locations

Group Size
Maximum 18 plus Tour Leader

 


 

Map & Hotels
Map & Hotels

Regions visited: Western Europe
Countries visited: Greece


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


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.


Kydon Hotel
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Chania
Country: Greece
A 6-minute walk from the Archaeological Museum of Chania, this upscale hotel is 8 minutes' stroll from Paralia Koum Kapi beach. Low-key rooms with a mix of classic and modern elements feature ... windows and balconies. They include free Wi-Fi.
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Hotel Atlantis
5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation 5 Star Accommodation
Location: Heraklion
Country: Greece
Within 200m from the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, the 5-star Aquila Atlantis Hotel features an outdoor pool with unobstructed views over the harbour, a semi-covered pool and an elegantly decorated restaurant. Facilities ... include 6 multipurpose spaces accommodating up to 850 guests.

Fitted with parquet floors and earthy colours, all rooms and suites of Atlantis Hotel enjoy views over the city of Heraklion, the harbour or the hotel's atrium. Each unit includes a desk and comes equipped with air conditioning, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a coffee machine and a minibar. The modern bathrooms are stocked with free toiletries, bathrobes and slippers.
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Acandia City Hotel
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Rhodes
Country: Greece
Offering a prime location in the heart of the island, Acandia Hotel is the perfect place for a memorable stay in Rhodes. Built in the city center, one can find our 4-star ... in close proximity to everything.
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Iapetos Village Hotel
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Symi
Country: Greece
Set in a colorful, island-style village, this upscale hotel is a 7-minute walk from Symi ferry terminal, 2 km from Sarah's Beach.
Hotel Porfyris
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Nisiros
Country: Greece
Porfyris Hotel is a family hotel that brings the best of Nisyros to your doorstep. The hotel is considered one of the best hotels in the island with it’s unique position ... the sea and the islands beyond.
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Hotel Plaza
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Kalimnos
Country: Greece
Hotel Patmos Paradise
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Patmos
Country: Greece
Patmos Paradise Hotel is ideally situated within walking distance, less than 200 meters, of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan beach of the island of Patmos, Kambos.
Crithoni’s Paradise
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Leros
Country: Greece
Built amphitheatrically in the bay of Crithoni, Crithoni’s Paradise Hotel combines an idyllic location, hotel amenities and activities.

 


 

Gallery

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions
ASK A QUESTION
FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
ASK A QUESTION
01. What is the maximum number of participants on a trip?
Most of our tours carry a maximum of 18 participants; some tours (ie hiking tours) top out at 16. In the event that we do not achieve our minimum complement by our 90-day deadline, we may offer group members the option of paying a "small-group surcharge" as an alternative to cancellation. If all group members agree, we will confirm the trip at existing numbers; this surcharge is refundable in the event that we ultimately achieve our regular minimum. If the small group surcharge is not accepted, we will offer a refund of your deposit or a different trip of your choice.
02. Can I extend my tour either at the beginning or end? What about stopovers?
Yes, you can extend your tour either at the beginning or the end and we can book accommodation in our tour hotel. Stopovers are often permitted, depending on air routing. Stopovers usually carry a "stopover" fee levied by the airline.
03. How do I make a reservation? How and when do I pay?
The easiest way to make a reservation is via our website; during office hours, you are also more than welcome to contact us by telephone. A non-refundable deposit is payable at the time of booking; if a reservation is made within 90 days, full payment is required. Some trips require a larger deposit. If international airline bookings require a non-refundable payment in order to secure space or the lowest available fare, we will require an increase in deposit equal to the cost of the ticket(s). Early enrolment is always encouraged as group size is limited and some trips require greater preparation time. Once we have received your deposit, we will confirm your space and send you a confirmation package containing your trip itinerary, any visa/travel permit related documents, invoice, clothing and equipment recommendations, general information on your destination(s), and forms for you to complete, sign and return to us. Your air e-tickets (if applicable), final hotel list, final trip itinerary, and instructions on how to join your tour, will be sent approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure.
04. What about cancellations, refunds, and transfers?
Please review our cancellation policy page for details.
05. I am a single who prefers my own room. What is a single supplement?
All of our tours have a single supplement for those who want to be guaranteed their own room at each location. This supplement is a reflection of the fact that most hotels around the world do not discount the regular twin-share rate for a room by 50% for only one person occupying a room. Most hotels will give a break on the price, but usually in the range of 25-30% of the twin-share rate. This difference, multiplied by each night, amounts to the single supplement. The conventional amount can also vary from country to country and some destinations are more expensive than others for single occupancy. In order to be "single friendly," the supplements we apply are not a profit centre for us and we do our best to keep them as reasonable as possible. On most tours we limit the number of singles available, not to be punitive, but rather because many hotels allow for only a limited number of singles; some smaller hotels at remote locations also have a limited number of single rooms available. Please note that most single rooms around the world are smaller than twin-share rooms and will likely have only one bed.
06. Do you have a shared accommodation program?
Yes! If you are single traveller and are willing to share, we will do our best to pair you with a same-gender roommate. On most of our tours, if we fail to pair you, we will absorb the single supplement fee and you will default to a single room at no extra charge. At some destinations, however, where single rooms are not significantly discounted, or not at all, we may apply a "mandatory" single in the event that we cannot find you a share partner. This is usually 50% of the usual supplement, but can be as much as 100%. If applicable, this proviso will be noted on each tour page on this website, on your invoice, and in our tour date/price book (available for download under "Resources").

 

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Countries Visited: 1

Greece.
Activity Level: 2

These are particularly busy tours that feature a lot of moving around, sometimes by train and short journeys on local transport. Walking tours of towns and cities are leisurely but you should be prepared to be on your feet for several hours. Some of our cultural trips that occur at high altitude and/or require greater independence with baggage handling (at hotels, airports, train stations) also fall into this category.

To learn more about the Activity levels, please visit our tour styles page.
Tour Style: Cultural

These three- and four-star hotel-based, "soft adventure" trips concentrate on the culture, history, and natural attributes of our destination. Though there are no strenuous activities built into these tours, you need to be prepared for some full days with some early starts, plenty of walking on uneven surfaces through villages, cities and archaeological sites, and not a lot of "down time." Independence, reasonable fitness, and an ability to be steady on one's feet are critical in order for you to get the most out of these programs.

To learn more about the Tour Styles, please visit our tour styles page.
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