The Nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Southern Greece
Greece is home to seventeen UNESCO World Heritage sites. This thrilling and instructive programme will take us to nine illustrious examples of architecture, history and civilisation...
Greece is home to seventeen UNESCO World Heritage sites, of which more than half are in the Peloponnese and southern Greece. This thrilling and instructive programme will take us to the following illustrious examples of architecture, history and civilisation:
> The world-renowned theatre and Asclepium of Epidaurus
> The megalithic citadel of Tiryns, legendary birthplace of hero and demi-god Heracles
> Fabled Mycenae
> The Byzantine castle and citadel of Mystras
> The temple of Apollo Epicurius by Iktinos, designer of the Parthenon, perched on a remote mountain-top
> Olympia, cradle of the Olympic Games in 776 BC
> The sacred city and oracle of Delphi
> The Byzantine monastery of Ossios Loucas
> The Acropolis of Athens
Points of interest
Arrival at Athens international airport and transfer to the hotel. Welcome dinner.
Light lunch and onwards to illustrious Ancient Epidaurus, with its huge theatre, renowned for its perfect acoustics and the Asclepium, consecrated to the god of healing, Asclepius.
We will then proceed to our final destination of the day, the attractive coastal town of Nafplio with its imposing castle crowning the craggy hill above the charming Old Town. This full and satisfying day will reach its pleasant and fitting end with dinner at a traditional taverna.
The day starts with a visit to two UNESCO sites, the Neolithic and Mycenaean citadel of Tiryns (the birthplace of mythical hero Heracles), followed by the renowned Bronze Age city of Mycenae, with the imposing ruins of the greatest city of the Mycenaean civilisation, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century BC and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture. Mycenae, the city of King Agamemnon, with its Cyclopean walls, the Lion Gate and spectacular archaeological finds is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After lunch we leave the Argolid to drive through the high plateau of Arcadia and into Laconia, past the city of Sparta to Mystras for dinner and our overnight stay.
We visit the Byzantine citadel of Mystras (UNESCO site), the capital of the mediaeval Despotate of the Morea (as the Peloponnese was also named) and ranking amongst the most important of all Byzantine sites. An atmospheric synthesis of its city walls, a castle, the Palace of the Despots and an impressive array of finely decorated monasteries and churches Mystras richly rewards the visitor with its impressive riches.
We then proceed to Sparta and its small but very interesting museum. Dinner at a traditional taverna and overnight at Mystras.
This day will see us drive through magnificent mountain scenery, first to the remarkable temple of Apollo Epicurius at an altitude of 1,131 m (3,710 ft) on Mt Kotylion. Designed by Iktinos, architect the Parthenon in Athens, it was described by ancient writer and geographer Pausanias as eclipsing all others but the temple of Athena at Tegea by the beauty of its stone and the harmony of its construction.
This famous temple to the god of healing and the sun (Epicurius meaning ‘helper’ in ancient Greek) was built around the middle of the 5th century B.C.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Apollo Epicurius has the oldest Corinthian capital yet found and combines the Archaic style and the simple serenity of the Doric rhythm with some daring architectural features.
Onwards to Ancient Olympia (UNESCO site) for dinner and overnight stay.
Today we will be visiting the archaeological site as well as the museum of celebrated Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games in 776 BC and home to the great sanctuary of Zeus. The archaeological site, surrounded by olive trees olive trees and vibrant nature, includes both sanctuaries and temples as well as the stadium and and gymnasia and training grounds used by athletes. Legend has it that the training grounds were founded by none other than the demigod and hero Heracles (Hercules) himself! The superb museum contains an extensive collection of ancient Greek weaponry and armour, the wonderful sculptures from the Temple of Zeus and the Hermes of Praxiteles, arguably one of the very few surviving works by one of antiquity’s greatest sculptors.
Drive from Olympia crossing of the Gulf of Corinth over the spectacular bridge spanning 2,880 m ( 9,449 ft) to the picturesque seaside village of Galaxidi. Lunch at a traditional taverna and free afternoon for leisurely exploration of the village and its lovely surroundings. Dinner basis individual arrangements (not included in programme price) and overnight stay.
Transfer to Athens International Airport for the flight home.
Points to note
The tour is accompanied by an expert, licensed guide who is fluent in the group’s language. Transport is by air-conditioned coach, accommodation is at specially-selected, European standard high-class city and country hotels, bed and breakfast basis double sharing, whilst the price also includes daily lunch and dinner, welcome and farewell dinners, Athens airport transfers, bottled mineral water, museum / archaeological site entrance fees and hotel porter gratuities.
The programme does not include flights to and from Greece and personal travel insurance. An example of how to obtain travel insurance can be found here.
- Accommodation at specially-selected, European standard high-class city and country hotels, basis bed and breakfast and double sharing. Single occupancy subject to supplement.
- Lunch (some packed) and dinners, including welcome dinner on the first day and the farewell dinner on the last one
- Greek airport transfers on first and last day of tour
- Welcome and farewell dinners
- Expert, licenced Guide accompanying the group throughout the duration of the tour
- All tour legs by air-conditioned coach
- Archaeological site and museum tickets
- Bottled mineral water daily during the tours
- Free use of power packs for recharging mobile and portable devices on the move
- Hotel porter and restaurant gratuities
- Air travel to and from Greece
- Personal travel insurance
- Some meals, as specified in the daily programme
- Coach driver and guide gratuities (optional)
- Visas and travel document and formality costs