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Athos peninsula is an important centre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism. It is governed as an autonomous polity within the Greek Republic. Mount Athos is home to 20 monasteries under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Entrance to the holy place of Athonite monasteries is restricted to men only and only after a special permit. However, we will take you on a boat tour around the peninsula to enjoy the unique architecture of the ancient monasteries from a close distance and serve you a light lunch on board.

Mount Athos has been inhabited since ancient times and is known for its nearly 1,800-year continuous Christian presence and its long historical monastic traditions, which date back to at least 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, over 2,000 monks from Greece and many other countries, including Eastern Orthodox countries such as Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, live an ascetic life in Athos, isolated from the rest of the world. The Athonite monasteries feature a rich collection of well-preserved artifacts, rare books, ancient documents, and artworks of immense historical value, and Mount Athos has been listed as a UNESCO UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

It was there when in 336 BC King Philip II was assassinated in the theatre and Alexander the Great was proclaimed king. The ancient site was discovered in 1976 and excavated under the leadership of archaeologist Manolis Andronikos. The excavation unearthed the burial sites of many kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, which, unlike so many other tombs, had not been disturbed or looted. It is also the site of an extensive royal palace. The archaeological museum of Vergina was built on the site to house all the artifacts found at the site and is one of the most important museums in Greece.

Aigai has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status as “an exceptional testimony to a significant development in European civilization, at the transition from classical city-state to the imperial structure of the Hellenistic and Roman periods”

Later, we will guide you through the city of Veria, a city in Macedonia, northern Greece, located at the edge of a plateau. Veria is an old city; first mentioned in the writings of Thucydides in 432 BC, there is evidence that it was populated as early as 1000 BC. Veria was an important possession for Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) and later for the Romans. Apostle Paul famously preached in the city, and its inhabitants were among the first Christians in the Empire. Later, under the Byzantine Empire, Veria was a center of Greek culture and learning. Today Veria is a commercial center of Central Macedonia, full of vibrant coffee places and traditional tavernas where we will stop-over for lunch.

The tour will conclude with a drive to the nearby city of Edessa famous for its water streams through the city and its water falls, the main attraction for visitors of the city and is one of the most important sights in Greece. The twelve Falls, of which only four are spectators, are a natural phenomenon that arose after a powerful earthquake that had passed the surrounding area in the 14th century. The main source of these is the wetland of Agra-Nissi, from which flows the main river, Edessa, whose branches are the waterfalls. Also, the Geopark (3) of the Kataraktes stretches over an area of ​​over 100,000 m2 and on a path on the rock for 1.1 km.

All visitors are welcome to experience its unique collections of ancient artifacts as well as its rich and extrovert cultural activities. The museum hosts the entire history of ancient Macedonia and the unique metal (gold) finds from the Macedonian dynasty of Alexander the Great, student of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. The permanent exhibitions of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki include unique masterpieces of ancient Greek art dating from prehistoric times to late antiquity.

We will continue with a tour to selected Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the City Walls (4th/5th centuries), Rotunda of Saint George (4th century), Church of St. Dimitrios (7th century) and Church of St. Sophia (8th century).

Consequently, we will stop-over for lunch at Ladadika the name of a historic district and a landmark area of the city of Thessaloniki listed as a heritage site by the Ministry of Culture. Its notable architectural style with 19th century buildings, most of which are now converted in lively day and night dinning and drinking places are preserved and protected. Having undergone gentrification in the 1980s, Ladadika forms the entertainment district of the city, hosting bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and pubs in what used to be old oil stores and merchant warehouses, which spill out into a network of pedestrianized streets and small squares and other popular places for tourists.

The tour will conclude with a pleasant stroll along the old part of the 10 km long bay of Thessaloniki, vibrant with people who walk, bike or jog next to traditional fishermen and old boats anchored close to the city’s symbol; the White Tower (part of old city fortifications).

The gorge starts at Xyloskalo (1227 m. above sea level) on the Omalos Plateau and runs for 18 kilometres down to the seaside village of Agia Roumeli on the south coast of Crete.

The Samaria National Park is exceptionally rich in plant and animal life. In the gorge you will find unique species protected under international law. It is said that there are 450 plant species in the gorge. Descending the 600 wooden steps you will be intrigued by the beauty and serenity of this massive gorge which is shadowed by the White Mountains. The trail thins out to a mountain path winding through the gorge where you can see the caves which once sheltered Cretan partizans during war periods but are now left to the rare Cretan “Krikri” goat. The magnificent wild scenery and flora that you will see along the way is unrivalled anywhere in Crete.

On our way we find the old houses of the old village of Samaria (its people were relocated when the gorge was declared a national park). The village is a good opportunity to see the traditional architecture and rest for a while. When you get to this point you are almost halfway and the time is perfect for a snack. There are drinking water springs and toilets at various points.

The small fishing village of Agia Roumeli at the end of the Gorge is built on the ruins of Tara which was a strong and independent town in ancient years. There is time for lunch and a refreshing swim in the crystal clear waters of the Lybian Sea before a short ferry boat cruise along the south coast ending at Sfakia which is the capital of the province. 

Tips:  Good walking shoes, sun cream and a hat are essential. Also a light salty snack and a small water bottle that you can refill in the springs inside the Gorge are all you need to carry with you. You may also need to bring your swimming suit and a towel.

The city has two major gates: the airport in Akrotiri and Souda harbour, which is the biggest natural harbour of the Mediterranean.

Arriving at the city of Chania we will see the Cathedral of Chania, the Trimartiri the church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. By the sea at the port we will pass the mosque of Hassan Pasha and the lighthouse. A little further we reach the Fortetsa and along the old port where is the big Arsenal. Once it was a shipyard to which a second floor was added later on. Ascending we reach the Turkish sector of Splantzia. The lanes and a few of the houses are still there. At the square we will find the church of St. Nicholas which was converted from an old temple.

Consequently, we will walk with you to the nearby Public Food Market an impressive building, in the town center, built at the beginning of the past century (1911) and houses grocery stores, butchers’ shops, a fish market and numerous vegetable shops. There we will take time for shopping and lunch break in a traditional tavern. After that, we may take a short stroll to the Public Gardens, next to the Market, ideal for those in search of shade and tranquility. The old city has preserved to a great extent the distinctive atmosphere and charm of the Venetian, and Turkish periods.

We continue our journey on a 50 min driving west to Kissamos port were the boat to Gramvousa is waiting for us.

The island of Gramvousa with its pure and impressive scenery, the turquoise waters, the magnificent landscape, its long history and the Venetian fortress at the top of the island, which is a major attraction to visitors. The small harbor used to be the shelter of the Cretan Pirates. The Cape and the islets of Gramvousa host more than 100 species of birds and 400 species of flora the area is protected under the Natura 2000 program and staying overnight is not allowed. Once on the island we will have the time to visit the Venetian castle built on the hill of the mountain. Alternatively you can wander around the area, swim in the crystal waters of the western cove, near the church of the Holy Apostles. The beach with the fantastic turquoise color, has white sand and rocks in places. Some tamarisk trees are near the beach, offering natural shade. Close by is the small harbor of Gramvousa the Balos Lagoon were we will take a last stop. Balos is surely the mostly photographed beach in Crete, a very favourite subject of all tourist guides. It is also famous for its turquoise waters, the wild natural beauty and the beautiful exotic scenery. The natural beauty comprises a great variety of rare plants and animals which are unique in this part of the world. A significant distinctiveness of the lagoon is the seasonal fluctuation of the sea level and its salinity. The sea is very shallow and warm. In many places the sand has a lovely pinkish colour, because of millions of crushed shells. Beyond the rocks at the boundaries of the lagoon, the water is deeper and colder. The lagoon and the wider area, with rare species of flora and fauna, are protected under the Natura 2000 program. 

Tips: Wear walking shoes, trainers or flat shoes, a sun hat, have your swimming suit and a towel and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Located in the heart of Crete, is the most famous historical Monastery on Crete, well known for the resistance against the Turks. It is said that the Byzantine emperor Arcadius founded it in the 14th century. You can visit the impressive church which is dedicated to Christ the Saviour and a small historical Museum.

Then we continue our trip to the popular town of Rethymnon mixed with old and new.  A guided tour of the old town is a perfect opportunity to visit the past since Rethymnon combines rarely united features: the old town’s charm and history, with proximity to a long sandy beach and the old fort.

Although it is the third largest town in Crete, Rethimnon never feels like a city, instead, it has a provincial air; it’s a place that moves slowly, a very romantic place and the most important preserves much of its Venetian and Turkish appearance.

The opportunity and time for shopping and lunch break to a traditional tavern is also scheduled.

After lunch, our last stop is at the south of Prefecture of Rethymnon, the Monastery of Preveli next to the famous Preveli palm tree steam and sandy beach. The monastery consists of two main building complexes, the Lower (Kato) Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and the Rear (Pisso) Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, which is in operation today. The Monastery has a glorious history due to the active and leading involvement of its fellow monks in all national endeavors for freedom and education of our people. Thus, it merits specific recognition and respect throughout the island of Crete. The Monastery of Preveli is a religious center and consequently the place of gathering and social contact of the population. 

Tips: Wear walking shoes, trainers or flat shoes, a sun hat, have your swimming suit and a towel and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Famous for its white-sailed windmills that have been used since the early 20th century to irrigate the land.  Winters can be harsh with snow in the mountains until late spring.  Lush and green with its breathtaking views it is an ideal place for nature lovers.

There, ooverlooking the village of Psychro in the Dikti Mountain at an altitude of 1020 m we will take you to one of the most important internationally known caves, the incredible Dikteon Andron cave in which, according to legend, Zeus was born, with its ancient stalagmites and mythological and archaeological interest for a 1-1.5 hour tour. Subsequently, we will drive you around the picturesque local villages of the plateau and serve you lunch at a traditional restaurant with breathtaking view of the plateau and the surrounding mountains

On the way back on the northern slope of Dikti Mountain we will stop for a short visit to the monastery of Panagia Kera Kardiotissa which dates back to 1333a.d.  The monastery is steeped in history with traditions and legends regarding the miraculous icon of Theotokos (Virgin Mary) making it one of the most religious centers of Crete.

Tips: Wear walking shoes, trainers or flat shoes, a sun hat and don’t forget your sunscreen.

To the north lies Psiloritis, the highest mountain in Crete (2,456m) and to the south of Phaistos are the Asterousia mountains beyond which lies the Libyan Sea. The palace of Phaistos and the city was one of the most important centres of Minoan civilization, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. With a total area of 8400 m2 Phaistos is the second largest palace of the Minoan world after Knossos. The remains of two palaces were discovered, two building phases, similar to Knossos. Nowadays parts of both palaces (first & second building phase) are visible (due to the different orientation of the new palace). The fact that few rooms or ruins of buildings of the old palace period are preserved give us interesting information about the architectural style, in some cases even better than Knossos.

We continue our trip to Gortys or Gortyna a municipality and an archaeological site, the Roman capital of Crete, a flourishing Minoan town between 1600-1100 BC and one of the strongest and most ancient towns of Crete. There is evidence of human occupation in Gortys as far back as the Neolithic era (7000 BC). The period of its great prosperity, however, coincided with the Hellenistic era. Gortys exceeded in force and prosperity the other cities of Crete and took the hegemony of the island, dominating the entire valley from Messara to Levina and later in the 2nd century after the destruction of Phaistos extended its power to Matala.

Now it is time for lunch and relaxation after a fast dive in the famous village of Matala & beach located at the exit of a small valley, where there is formed a large enclosed bay overlooking the Libyan sea. In front of the bay there is a wonderful sandy beach, with fine pebbles and crystal clear deep waters.

Although it has become a popular tourist destination it still retains the charm and character of the quiet fishing village it started as at the beginning of the 20th-century, and the laid-back lifestyle of the hippies of the 60’s and 70’s lives on. Half the beach is fringed by tamarisk trees, leading the eye on to impressive formations of sandstone rock cliffs with their famous caves sliding into the sea at an odd angle, creating one of the most unusual beachscapes on the island.

The safe natural harbor on the Bay of Matala is blessed with a gently sweeping sand and pebble beach, the place in legend where Zeus swam ashore in the guise of a bull with Europa on his back. 

Tips: Wear walking shoes, trainers or flat shoes, a sun hat, have your swimming suit and a towel and don’t forget your sunscreen.

This Royal Palace is wonderfully decorated with frescoes depicting various scenes in vibrant colours.

We will drive you back to Heraklion for lunch to a local tavern and follow with a 2.5 hour guided tour on the unique Minoan civilization Archaeological Museum that houses the original pieces from Knossos Palace as well as other archaeological sites including frescoes and ancient jewellery.

At the end you may enjoy a pleasant stroll to the nearby town center shopping streets with lots of coffee places, local herbs and souvenir shops to choose from.

 

Tips: Wear walking shoes, trainers or flat shoes, a sun hat and don’t forget your sunscreen

History

The history and archaeology museums found in Greece are numerous with many precious and priceless treasures housed within them. Starting with UNESCO world heritage sites such as the Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens, the famous ancient sanctuary, navel (or centre) of the world Delphi”, situated on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, the ancient theatre of Epidaurus in Argolis and ancient civilizations such as the Minoan in Crete and Mycenaean in Peloponnese.  The ancient palaces and sites are exquisite and wonderful and should not be missed.

Tradition

Greek culture is the same the country over but customs vary in different parts of Greece and its islands.  Greek hospitality is offered in every corner of Greece wherever one visits.

Olive harvesting with olive pressing and tasting of the finest olive oils of the world complimented with some of the best wine making and tasting, combined with traditional folklore and contemporary Greek dancing can all be experienced during a visit.

Exploring

Discover Greece and its many hidden treasures and enchanting mainland, cities, towns, and over 3,000 picturesque islands.  Propel your senses and curiosity in the land, soil, plants, herbs and wildlife.  Greece’s diversity offers something for everyone all year around such as:

Explore the unique Samaria Gorge of the Omalos national park in Crete a world’s biosphere reserve launched by UNESCO.  The gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli.

Visit and experience nature’s unique grandeur rock formulation of Meteora, in Kalampaka (Central Greece) and combine history with architecture and man’s everlasting desire to connect with the Divine.

Discover the Vikos National Park in the region of Epirus. The park is part of the Natura 2000 ecological network and one of UNESCO Geoparks and spans an elevation range from 550 to 2,497 meters (1,804 to 8,192 ft). The park is home for many natural activities such as rafting, canoe-kayaking, hiking and mountain biking.

Relaxation

Greece offers a variety of locations which can be very effective in relaxing and promoting wellbeing.  Beaches, hills and mountains, nature tracks and walking paths, water and mountain sports, famous Mediterranean diet & culinary cooking classes all stress reducing factors.  Five star rejuvenating thalasso and spa services are also available.

Beauty

The beauties and contrasts of Greece can be enjoyed at any time of the year and enchants its visitors every season of the year.

Spring brings forth the blossoming of the plants and the activities of the birds and animals with the special smell of the Greek soil; a haven for nature lovers.

Summer is the time to enjoy long golden sandy beaches with palm trees and turquoise blue waters; perfect for a summer vacation.

Autumn normally brings the first rain and the changing of the season but Greece still has warm sunny days ideal for hiking, hang gliding, sailing etc., before winter starts to show.

Winter with snow in the Mountains and enchanting villages to visit with a stay-over in a winter retreat with home-made food and local produce is an ideal treat to get away from it all.