9. 7-Day Grand Tour of Greece: from Prehistory to Modern Times
Leave by the coastal road to the Corinth Canal (short stop). Drive on and visit the Theatre of Epidaurus, famous for its remarkable acoustics. Then proceed to the town of Nafplio (short stop), drive on to Mycenae and visit the archaeological site and the Tomb of Agamemnon. Then depart for Olympia through Central Peloponnese and the towns of Tripolis and Megalopolis. Arrive at Olympia, the cradle of the ancient Olympic Games (dinner and overnight).
In the morning visit the archaeological site with the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus, the ancient stadium, the spot where the torch of the modern Olympic Games is lit and the Archaeological Museum. Then drive on through the plains of Ilia and Achaia until the magnificent bridge that crosses the Corinthian Bay from Rion to Antirion. Pass by the picturesque towns of Nafpactos (Lepanto) and Itea, arrive in Delphi (dinner and overnight).
In the morning visit the archaeological site and the Museum of Delphi, the most famous oracle of the ancient world. Depart for Kalambaka, a small town located at the foot of the astonishing complex of Meteora, the gigantic rocks that rise steeply from the plain of Thessaly (dinner and overnight).
Visit the Meteora: perched on top of huge rocks, which seem to be suspended in mid-air, stand ageless monasteries, where you can see exquisite specimens of Byzantine art. Depart from Kalambaka to Thessaloniki, driving through the astonishing valley of the longest river in Greece, Aliacmon. Arrival at Thessaloniki, the second largest and the most vibrant city in Greece (dinner and overnight).
In the morning visit the city that throughout the era of the Byzantine Empire was the “co-reigning” city, second in population and prestige after Constantinople. Visit unique monuments and feel the glorious Byzantine past in some of the oldest and most characteristic churches of the Christian world as well as the Museum of Byzantine Culture. The rest of the day is free to enjoy time in the lively center of the city (dinner and overnight).
Depart in the morning for a unique approach to historical Macedonia. First stop at picturesque Edessa to see the town's famous landmark, the Waterfalls. Then proceed to Naoussa, a site of exceptional beauty and importance: Aristotle's School. This is the picturesque site where the great philosopher taught the doctrines of morals and politics to Alexander the Great and the Macedonian youth. Then drive to Vergina (ancient Aigai), to experience a visit to the unique museum, created in the Great Tumulus covering the royal tombs of Macedonia. See the astonishing findings from the tomb of King Phillip II, Alexander's father, and feel the thrill of the greatest discovery of the 20th century. Only a few miles away is Veria (Biblical Beroea) to visit Saint Paul's Bema, and then stroll through the old Jewish neighborhood and the colorful market area. Return to Thessaloniki (dinner and overnight).
Drive to Pella, the capital of Alexander the Great. See the exquisite floor mosaics of the 4th century B.C. villas, in situ as well as in the new museum. Then proceed and visit the Archaeological Park of Dion (sacred city of the Macedonians, at the foot of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece and house of the 12 gods of Greek mythology). On the way back to Athens, drive through the striking plain of Thessaly and the Valley of Tempi, admire the gigantic figure of Mount Olympus, pass by Lamia, Thermopylae (see the Leonidas' Monument) and Thebes, arrive in Athens late in the afternoon.