The Oracle of Delphi* (Duration: 8 Hours)
Drive northwest from Athens and start you ascent on Mount Parnassus, after passing by famous landmarks of Greek history and mythology. Learn about the Battle of Marathon, King Oedipus, the technological achievements of the prehistoric Greeks, WWII in Greece, the Civil War. Visit the Delphi Archaeological Museum and the sanctuary of Apollo, the center of the world for the ancient Greeks, and listen to fascinating stories about the oracles that influenced the political decisions of the ancient Greek world. Relish the local cuisine at one of the mountain villages, such as Arachova. Return to Athens.
Extend your day tour by a couple of more hours in order to enhance your experience by immersing yourself in the Delphic landscape: Drive down to the seaside port town for lunch and/or add a visit to Hosios Loukas Monastery*, hidden in a secluded mountain area to admire its 11th century mosaics.
Mycenae*, Nafplion, Ancient Epidaurus* (Duration: 9+ hours)
Drive along the western coastal road to the Corinth Canal (details for the route in the Ancient Corinth & and the Corinth Canal description, above). Drive past the Acrocorinth into the plain of Argolis where famous Greek settlements flourished in prehistory. Visit the Acropolis of Mycenae*, excavated by Heinrich Schliemann, considered as the birthplace of Greek civilization. See the Lion Gate, climb up to the ruins of the palace of King Agamemnon, and visit the archaeological museum (if open). Continue with a visit to the impressive beehive-shaped massive stone structure of the Tomb of Agamemnon (or Treasury of Atreus). Combine history and myth to comprehend within the context the world of Homer’s Iliad. Drive through the orange orchards of Argolis to Nafplion , the first capital of the modern Greek state , crowned by three Venetian Castles. Explore the alleys of the old town, enjoy local cuisine and depart for Ancient Epidaurus* to relish the acoustics of the almost perfectly preserved ancient Greek theater, within the precincts of the sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of healing. Enjoy a coffee break overlooking the harbor town of Ancient Epidaurus, and return to Athens through a scenic drive to the Corinth Canal.
Mystras* & modern Sparta (Duration: 10+hours)
Narrated drive past the Corinth Canal and Acrocorinth (see Ancient Corinth & and the Corinth Canal , above). Ascend right into the heart of the region of the Peloponnese , reaching the high plateau of Arcadia. Learn about Pan, the god of forests and shepherds, and see the natural settings to major battles of the War of Independence. At Tripoli turn south, enjoying the awe-inspiring view of the Taygetus mountain range as you descend to the fertile plain of Sparta. The self-sufficient ancient city-state, repopulated in the first half of the 19th century, was abandoned in the middle ages and its inhabitants moved to the nearby citad el of Mystras*. The site offers several chances to comprehend the life and art of a Byzantine town: Ruins of aquaducts , cobblestone paths, fortification walls, palaces , public spaces , private mansions , monasteries and churches. Crowning the experience are the exquisite frescoes of the so-called Palaeologan Renaissance , before the Fall of Constantinople. Adjust the level of difficulty of climbing up and down the citadel by being dropped off at the right gate. Enjoy local cuisine either at a scenic spot with magnificent view of modern Sparta below , or at the central street of modern Sparta. Enhance your visit by extending your tour for a couple of hours, taking a mild stroll uphill through the centuries-old olive grove to the acropolis of Sparta: Visit the ruins of the sanctuary of Athena Chalkioikos , overlooking the ancient theater and listen to the fascinating stories of what made unique the civilization of this city. Visit the exquisite 19th century Archaeological Museum collection (if open), or the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia , where the ancient Spartan boys were ritually flagellated before they won a prize for their perseverance. Return to Athens.
Meteora Monasteries* (Duration: 12 hours)
Narrated drive up north , to the Meteora (suspended in between heaven and earth) Monasteries , founded at the end of the 14th century and famous for their 16th century frescoes. On the way , pass by the Marathon valley and Thebes (details in The Oracle of Delphi description, above), and drive along the eastern coastal road. Stop for a photo at Thermopylae , where King Leonidas of Sparta made his heroic last stand against the overwhelming Persian army with his 300 warriors. Drive past Lamia and ascend the mountains of Domokos. Descend into the flat Thessalian plateau , driving past Karditsa and Trikala. Reach Kalambaka , as the Meteora rocks appear in the background. Enjoy the local cuisine whenever you feel ready for it and learn the history and myths of each region as well as the basics of Byzantine history and art , in preparation of your visit to at least two of the remaining 6 monasteries. Enjoy your panoramic drive and stop for an occasional photo among the impressive Meteora rock tower formations, carved through the millenniums by air and rain. Return to Athens.
Ancient Olympia* (Duration: 12 hours)
Follow the route and narrative to Tripoli (details in Mystras* & modern Sparta description, above). Continue crossing the Peloponnese , from Arcadia to Messenia , while learning about the Peloponnesian Wars that divided the ancient Greek world and the role of Sparta. Once you reach the western coast at Kalo Nero , drive along the coastal road towards the north. Pass by Zaharo , discussing the documentary Sugarland that brought to light issues regarding matrimony and the aging rural male population. Enjoy the views to the Ionian sea and the islands, and approach Ancient Olympia through a maze of inroads, crossing the Alfeios river that irrigates the verdant plains of Ileia. Let your guide give you an introduction to the spirit and the role of the ancient Olympic Games in the Greek world. Enjoy the local cuisine whenever you feel ready for it or start immediately with a visit to the Archaeological Museum to get a better idea about the sanctuary and the artifacts. Walk to the Temple of Zeus and through a host of other landmarks withing the sanctuary , including the ancient Stadium. You may like some free time in the little town of Ancient Olympia, and then depart for Athens.