Greece ~ Athens & Kalamata

Greece ~ Athens & Kalamata

Join our eight-night adventure in Athens and the Peloponnese, a land shaped by Greece’s famous myths and city-states. Imagine ancient urban life as you amble through ruins of great cities. Visit the Bronze Age kingdom of Mycenae and less explored Messene. Soak up the ambience of Mystras, a stunning Byzantine city, and tour ancient Olympia, birthplace of the modern Olympics. Learn how olives and their rich, green oil seep into every aspect of Greek life. Experience the timeless traditions of winemaking (and tasting!) and folk dancing. In the evenings, stroll along sidewalks adorned with magenta bougainvillea blossoms, savor an alfresco meal and capture memories of a lifetime.

Trip Itinerary:

June 7 Depart gateway city

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Athens, Greece. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: ATH.

June 8 Athens, Greece

Arrive at Athens Eleftharios Venizelos International Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to the NJV Athens Plaza Hotel. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Free Time: The rest of the day is free to explore on your own. Located on Syntagma Square, the hotel is centrally located near many attractions. At the other end of the square is the Greek Parliament building, where you can watch the changing of the guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every hour on the hour. Walk south from the Parliament, and see the National Garden, Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus to your left. Your Travel Director can offer more sightseeing suggestions.

This evening, start off your Greek adventure with your fellow travelers at a Welcome Dinner.

June 9 Athens

thens City Tour. Get acquainted with legendary Athens, the birthplace of democracy and Western philosophy, theater and architecture. On a scenic tour, see highlights including the neoclassical Academy of Athens, the University of Athens and the National Library. Then, journey to the Acropolis, the hilltop sanctuary of monuments overlooking the city. The world-famous Parthenon and other temples at this UNESCO World Heritage site were built in the fifth century B.C., but the Athenians fortified the hill some 2,800 years earlier. Take in the Parthenon’s classical lines and the sweeping views over Athens. At the Acropolis Museum, view stunning artifacts from the Acropolis’ slopes and look through the glass floor to see the ruins of an ancient neighborhood. (Active)

Free Time: Pursue your own interests for the rest of the day. Tonight, in the Plaka, take a volta, the Greek pastime of strolling leisurely and socializing with family and friends at the end of the day.

June 10 Mycenae | Kalamata

This morning, depart Athens and travel toward Kalamata on the Peloponnese’s southern coast.

Mycenae and Greek Wine. On your route, take a guided tour of the hilltop ruins of Mycenae, one of the oldest archaeological sites on the Peloponnese and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Mycenaean civilization developed and flourished here during the Bronze Age from roughly 1600–1200 B.C., and their culture would later profoundly inspire the Greeks of the Classical period. One of its great cities, Mycenae features prominently in Greek mythology with Perseus as its founder and as the birthplace of Agamemnon, the king who conquered Troy. Imagine this fortified citadel in all its glory as you walk under the imposing Lion’s Gate. Afterward, visit a winery for an excellent introduction to Greek winemaking that includes a tasting and lunch. (Active)

Continue to Kalamata and check in to the Pharae Palace Hotel.

Enrichment: Greek History. A local expert discusses the significant figures and critical periods in Greek history associated with the foundation for the modern-day republic.

As a special welcome to Kalamata, enjoy a cocktail and a delicious buffet dinner with your group this evening.

June 11 Kalamata | Messene

Enrichment: Classical Greece. Learn about the widespread influence of ancient Greece on the Western world and how Greek accomplishments in philosophy, literature and science led Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance.

Kalamata’s History and Cuisine. On a guided stroll, learn about the tumultuous past of Kalamata, the capital of the Messenia region. In ancient times, the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta and a few more societies at one time or another ruled over the city, called “Farai” by Homer. By the Middle Ages, Kalamata had claimed its modern name and was part of the Byzantine Empire. In 1481, the Ottoman occupation began. Sovereignty bounced between the Ottomans and the Venetians until 1715, when Venice permanently lost control of the Peloponnese. The Ottomans held the city until March 23, 1821, when Kalamata became the first Greek city to be liberated during the Greek War of Independence. As you listen to stories of Kalamata’s history and see points of interest in the charming old town, stop to taste traditional foods, like their world-famous, fruity, sharp olives and fresh seafood. (Moderate)

Try more specialties during lunch with your group in the old town.

Messene. This under-the-radar archaeological gem sits in a serene mountain valley at the foot of Mount Ithome. This afternoon, visit the extensive ruins of the city, founded about 369 B.C. on the site of an earlier settlement. Neighboring Sparta had dominated the region of Messenia and subjugated its people for more than three centuries until the defeat of the Spartans by the northern city-state of Thebes at the Battle of Leuctra. As a result of the Spartan defeat, Messenia regained its freedom, and Messene, a great fortified city, was built to protect it from future encroachment by its aggressive neighbors. Unlike other sites, this ancient city was largely untouched by later settlements, so its remains are remarkably intact. Marvel at the temples, agora, theater, stadium and more on a guided tour. (Active)

June 12 Sparta | Mystras

Sparta, Mystras and the Greek Olive. Travel to Sparta today for a guided walk amid the ruins of one of ancient Greece’s most important city-states, which was home to Greece’s fiercest warriors. Head next to the Byzantine city of Mystras, dramatically set on a mountainside over the Laconian plain. Looking over the city are the ruins of a castle built in 1249 by William II of Villehardouin, the Frankish prince who ruled over the southern Peloponnese. Upper and lower towns grew below this fortress, and the city reached its peak during its Byzantine years, when it was the center of the empire’s power in the Peloponnese. In fact, the last Byzantine emperor was crowned in Mystras. Hear about its cultural significance from your guide and admire monasteries, chapels and churches adorned with frescoes at this UNESCO World Heritage site. Afterward, break for a relaxing lunch. Conclude your excursion at Sparta’s informative Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil, which details why the olive is so prized by the Greeks. Learn how the olive and its oil has seeped into nearly each aspect of Greek culture and daily life. (Active)

June 13 Ancient Olympia

Ancient Olympia. This sacred site dedicated to Zeus was the renowned birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games, which were first played in his honor in 776 B.C. As you explore with your guide, discover what the earliest Olympic games were like and stand at the runners’ original starting line in the stadium! See the Temples of Zeus and Hera, then visit the Archaeological Museum to see beautiful sculptures from the temples, bronze artifacts and other marvelous finds. (Moderate)

Free Time: Choose a nice place in Olympia for lunch before returning to Kalamata.

Greek Night. Celebrate your amazing week in Greece at a festive party. Savor a wonderful dinner, listen to folk music and watch dancers perform traditional routines. If you’d like, join hands for a joyful Kalamatianos folk dance!

June 14 Kalamata

Enrichment: Contemporary Greece. A local expert discusses how modern attitudes and lifestyles in Greece reflect ancient customs and traditions.

Free Time: Create your own plans in Kalamata! Unwind on the hotel’s beach, take in lovely views at the rooftop lounge, book an optional cooking lesson or explore on your own.

This evening, embark on a sunset cruise on the Messinian Bay and enjoy farewell drinks on board.

June 15 Corinth | Athens

This morning, check out of the hotel and depart for Athens. Stop in Corinth along your route.

Corinth. Walk through the archaeological site of ancient Corinth with your guide. See the Temple of Apollo built circa 550 B.C. and ruins from the Roman era, when Corinth was a major colony and thriving center of trade. Later, see the Corinth Canal. First opened in 1893, this deep channel separates the Peloponnese from the mainland and connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf. Stop for lunch in the area after your sightseeing. (Moderate)

Continue to Athens and check in to the NJV Athens Plaza Hotel.

Free Time: Spend your final afternoon and evening in the city doing some sightseeing or shopping. Odos Ermou (Ermou Street), the city’s main shopping area, is just off Syntagma Square. Look for familiar shops as well as Greek department stores here. If you prefer more of a market atmosphere, check out nearby Monastiraki, where you can find olive wood spoons, olive oil products, spices, evil eye souvenirs and more.

June 16 Depart for gateway city

After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.


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