Visit Greece and Turkey on a journey via Athens, Gallipoli and Istanbul.

Explore Greece and Turkey on this whirlwind adventure. Get lost in cities of colourful chaos and natural beauty that must be seen to be believed. With a plethora of ancient treasures to discover, see where democracy began and how life was lived when Zeus called all the shots. Bask in the Grecian sun on lazy beaches and explore ancient ruins and rituals of the past. After days filled with lively adventure, unwind in the evening with a sip of ouzo over a banquet of culinary treats. Yamas!

Start
Athens, Greece
Finish
Istanbul, Turkey
Countries
Greece,
Turkey
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSJ
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
214kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Pay a visit to the oracle of Delphi, Apollo's sacred precinct and one of Greece's most important archaeological sites
  • Meteora makes for one of Greece's most extraordinary scenes. With magical monasteries built on a series of ancient rock pinnacles, this sight must be seen to be believed
  • Hit the glorious beaches of the Chalkidiki Peninsula, or make for the hills to take in the scenery across mountainous spines and the sparkling blue Aegean Sea
  • Discover the many flavours of Greek cuisine. There's nothing quite like dining on rich and hearty moussaka or grilled lamb and tzatziki in a traditional taverna
  • Cut through the chaos of Istanbul and discover things you would never thought existed

Itinerary

Kalimera! Welcome to Greece. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1. The birthplace of Western civilisation, Athens has an amazing array of historic sites to explore, including the National Gardens, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the original Olympic Stadium. Named after the goddess of wisdom, Athens has a weighty history that spills out over the modern city, represented most dramatically by the ancient Acropolis. There's much to be seen in the ancient capital of Greece, vibrant and refreshed following the 2004 Olympics, yet still retaining so much visible history.
Today is a free day for you to explore Athens and all it has to offer. Highlights include the renowned changing of the guard at Syntagma (Constitution) Square, the National Gardens, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the original Olympic Stadium and of course the Acropolis where you can enter the Parthenon and enjoy the view of the city from this unique vantage point. Many other options are available if you extend your time here, including day trips to the Peloponnese peninsula, taking in ancient Epidavros and the ancient Corinthian canal. Make sure you take the chance to dine on delicious Greek cuisine and try an ouzo or two.
Travel by public bus to Delphi (3hrs). Located on the slopes of Mt Parnassos, this modern town with it's ancient ruins overlook the Gulf of Corinth. The ancient Greeks regarded Delphi as the centre of the world and today is one of the country's most inspiring archaeological sites. Your tour leader will take you on an orientation walk of the town of Delphi. Make the most of your afternoon by visiting the ancient site of Delphi with the famous Temple of Apollo, the oracle, the theater, and the mountain-top stadium, which were used for the Pythian Games, a precursor to the Olympic Games, held every 4 years as early as 586 BC.
Travel by public bus to Kalambaka (4.5hrs) After leaving your bags at the hotel we will embark on a short orientation walk of town where your leader will point out amenities and help you get your bearings. Then it's off to nearby Meteora, home to 14th century monasteries that sit at the top of rocky pinnacles. Only 6 of the once 24 monasteries are still occupied.

Note: A strict dress code applies when entering any of the monasteries: No bare shoulders or knees are permitted, and women must wear skirts. It is possible to borrow a long skirt at the door if you don't have one.
Climb into the heavens, just like monks have done for centuries, to explore an ancient monastery precariously placed atop a 400-m-high rock formation. Enjoy some great views back over the town. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore the scenic area around Meteora. Your leader will have suggestions at hand.
It is a 2 hour bus ride to Kastoria. This medieval town is situated on the western shore of Lake Orestiada, in a valley surrounded by limestone mountains. Kastoria is full of interesting architecture, including old distinctive villas from the skin and fur trade times. While you are you here you will have time to walk along the lakeside, filled with pelicans and ducks. Consider visiting the unspoilt Dragon Cave, one of the most impressive caves in Greece, with its underground lakes and many stalactites. Or visit the Neolithic lakeside village and reconstruction at Dispilio, which gives you a real feel for life in a village in the middle of the 6th Millennium BC.
After a 2,5 hour bus ride to cosmopolitan Thessaloniki, you will have some time to explore the second largest city in Greece. Walk along the waterfront to the White Tower, and take in the Byzantine churches and Roman ruins. This city comes alive in the evening with its lively cafe scene.
The following day you embark on a day trip to Pella, the ancient Macedonian capital during the time of Alexander the Great. See the well defined city blocks and mosaic floors that are still visible today. In the centre of the city is the agora, built in the 4th century B.C and an architectural gem, unique in conception and size, as it covered approx 7 hectares. Pella is one of the first known cities to have had an extensive piped water supply to individual houses and a sophisticated waste water disposal system for most of the city.
The first thing you'll see when you arrive at the Chalkidiki Peninsula today is the azure blue of the sea and the green of the hills. Perhaps take a hike in the surrounding area and explore the countryside of this hidden beauty, or simply relax on the white sand of one of the beaches and enjoy the sun. Tonight perhaps feast on the local specialties of the area in a taverna in the town of Ouranopolis.
Today is a free day for you to explore the area. There is the option to head into the hills where there are a multitude of hiking options, all of which afford glorious views across the sparkling blue Aegean Sea, the rugged coastline and the mountainous spine of the peninsula. Alternatively head to the beach, and sit back with a cocktail in hand. For the adventurous, you might want to consider embarking on a cruise along the shore of Mount Athos, also known as the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, where monks have been living in isolation since the 9th century.
Kavala, also known as the cyan city, is the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia, and is located on the Via Egnatia, a 2nd century Roman road whose remains can still be seen today. The town centre is dominated by the huge 16th century aqueduct, which was still used to supply the city with drinking water until very recently. There are plenty of fantastic beaches around with some free time to enjoy these, as well as delicious seafood with influences from Asia Minor.
Today you will visit the excavations of the ruins of Philippi and its archaeological museum which showcases finds from the ancient settlement. Philippi was established by Philipp II of Macedon in the 4th century BC to control an important east-west route, but didn't fully recover after an earthquake in the 7th century AD, and was finally abandoned after the Ottomans occupied the area in the 14th century.
Today we travel to private bus to Turkey. Cosmopolitan cities brimming with modern delights, archaeological sites filled with ancient splendour, curious landscapes straight out of a storybook and picture-perfect coastlines frequented by the jet set… this is tantalising Turkey! Visitors won't be able to forget travelling through this exotic land which sits at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, yet displays a fair bit of Middle Eastern flair. This afternoon we journey out with our guide to the Gallipoli Peninsula. The stunning natural beauty of Gallipoli makes it hard to believe that this is the site of one of the most tragic and fiercely fought battles of WWI. This is an opportunity to stroll through time; a moving experience for people from all nations. The battles fought on this land were a turning point in the creation of the Turkish Republic.
This morning we travel by public bus to the metropolis Istanbul. Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so it will come as no surprise that this vast metropolis is home to a beguiling mix of different cultures and traditions, blending the influences of both east and west. Originally founded by Greek settlers over 2000 years ago, Istanbul originally went by the name of Byzantium, then Constantinople when the Romans made it the capital of their eastern empire. Today, intriguing Istanbul is a bustling mega-city with a population of over 12 million people and a rich history and food scene waiting to be explored. During the orientation walk we will discover the hidden charms of Istanbul, the city that bridges Europe and Asia, including the areas around Sultanahmet and Eminonu. This could include the narrow streets around the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar - an amazing covered complex and maze of more than 4000 shops and Suleymaniye Camii - a mosque built by the great architect Sinan and sitting high above the Golden Horn (one of the world's greatest natural harbours flowing into the Bosphorus). We will see the myriad traders selling their wares and ferries departing for many destinations from the port of Eminonu. Each leader has their own hidden secrets to show you that they have found in their time in eclectic Istanbul. Among the must-see sights are the Topkapi Palace and harem, Istanbul's iconic Blue Mosque and the incredible ancient church of St. Sophia. The Archaeological Museum containing the tomb of Alexander the Great is also worth a look. After all that sightseeing, take a stroll down to the waterfront and hop on a boat up the Bosphorus, leaving the minarets and towers that give the city its distinctive skyline in your wake.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is a great deal to do in Istanbul we recommend allowing a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be able to assist.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
11 breakfasts
Transport
Metro, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi
Accommodation
Hotel (14 nights)
Included activities
  • Orientation Walk - Delphi
  • Orientation Walk - Kalambaka
  • Meteora Monastery Visits
  • Meteora Hill Hike
  • Orientation Walk - Kastoria
  • Orientation Walk - Thessaloniki
  • Pella Day Trip
  • Chalkidiki Peninsula Hiking
  • Orientation Walk - Kavala
  • Archeological Museum of Philippi
  • Guided Tour of Gallipoli Peninsula
  • Orientation Walk - Istanbul

Dates

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Important notes

A single supplement will be available on this trip. Please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Athens to Istanbul trips score an average of 4.14 out of 5 based on 7 reviews in the last year.

Athens to Istanbul , September 2015

Athens to Istanbul , June 2015

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