Rick Steves' Athens and the Heart of Greece tour is an odyssey of time-travel thrills, from Athens' majestic Acropolis to the must-see ancient sites of Delphi, Olympia, Epidavros and Mycenae. With knowledge and a nudge from your Rick Steves guide, you'll walk among marble monuments where Plato pondered, splash in the turquoise Aegean where Odysseus sailed, gaze up at god-dwelling mountains, sample family-crafted olives and wines — and maybe learn to play backgammon at a whitewashed taverna on the island of Hydra. Join us for Athens and the Heart of Greece in 14 Days!
You'll get all this!
- A small, friendly group of 20-24 people — half the size of most tour groups
- Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Greece come alive for you
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 17 group sightseeing events • Acropolis tour • Acropolis Museum tour • Ancient Agora entry • National Archaeological Museum tour • Ancient Delphi tour • Scenic Diakofto-Kalavryta Railway • Olive and olive oil tasting • Ancient Olympia tour • Mani Peninsula villages • Monemvasia orientation • Byzantine Mystras tour • Nafplio orientation • Wine tasting • Ancient Mycenae tour • Folk music evening • Theatre of Epidavros tour • Hydra orientation...and more
- All group transportation from Athens to Athens
- 13 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides and driver
- Free stuff, including Rick Steves' Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese guidebook, moneybelt and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2013
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
- Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
- Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
- Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Welcome to Greece
At 6 p.m. we'll meet at our hotel near Athens' pedestrian-friendly Plaka neighborhood for a "Welcome to Athens" get-together. Then we'll get oriented to our neighborhood and walk to a nearby restaurant where we can get acquainted over dinner. Sleep in Athens (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.
Day 2: Athens' Acropolis
This morning we'll hike to the top of Athens' legendary Acropolis, where we'll take a walking tour of its 2,500-year-old Golden Age temples, dominated by the dramatic Parthenon. We'll then work our way down and tour the sleek new Acropolis Museum, custom built to showcase the amazing Parthenon sculptures. Your afternoon and evening are free for exploring Athens' marketplaces – the ancient Agora and the modern Plaka's labyrinth of inviting streets, squares, shops and cafés. No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Day 3: Greek Treasures and Delphi
This morning we'll tour Athens' impressive National Archaeological Museum, home to amazingly-preserved masterpieces in marble, bronze and gold. Then we'll leave the city and drive into the rugged countryside. In a dramatic setting on the flanks of 8,000-foot Mt. Parnassus we'll enjoy the fresh air and tour the mystical ruins of Delphi. Here, 25 centuries ago, the celebrated oracle allowed mere mortals to converse with the gods. This evening we'll have dinner together and sleep in the town of Delphi (1 night). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
Day 4: Peloponnese Mountains
Today we'll cross over the Gulf of Corinth to the Peloponnese Peninsula, where we'll temporarily leave our bus for a steep, scenic cog railway ride past the waterfalls and caves lining the narrow Vouraikos Gorge. From the end of the line, our bus will take us to our destination high up in the Menalon Mountains, where we'll enjoy a picnic dinner together under the pine trees. Sleep in a ski lodge in Dimitsana (1 night). Train: 1 hr. Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 5: Ancient Olympia
This morning's winding mountain drive will take us to Olympia, site of the world's first Olympics, over 2,700 years ago. There we'll take a vivid walking tour of Olympia's ancient athletic venues, temples and museum, followed by lunch together. This afternoon's drive will take us along sweeping views of the Ionian Sea to the relaxed seaside village of Kardamyli, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 6: Seaside Kardamyli
Kardamyli is an ideal place to enjoy a "vacation from your vacation." After some orientation by your guide this morning, the day is all yours. You might hike along the ancient cobbled paths that wind their way through the nearby hills — or just relax on the beach — and end your day with a grilled seafood dinner and a view from the little taverna you've discovered. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 7: Mani Villages
We'll follow the coast to the isolated Mani Peninsula, home to generations-long clan wars, salt-of-the-earth villages and unique pyrgospita — tower houses. If Greece had a Tombstone and an O.K. Corral, here is where they'd be. After making a few off-the-beaten-path discoveries, we'll ride on to the dramatically-set medieval town of Monemvasia, where you'll be free for dinner. Sleep in mainland Monemvasia (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 8: Medieval Monemvasia
This morning we'll cross the causeway to tackle the massive rock that shoots straight up out of the blue-green Aegean Sea. After an orientation walk around Monemvasia's cozy little Lower Town, the rest of the day is free. You can wander more of the romantic walled town or take a swim in the Aegean. Those who want a workout can hike to the very top of the rock. You will be rewarded with sweeping Aegean views and a chance to explore the ruins of the Upper Town — a living museum of Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian history. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 9: Byzantine Mystras
Today we'll head up into the heart of the Peloponnese, where we'll tour the haunting ruins of the fortress town of Mystras and its still-standing group of Byzantine churches. After stopping in nearby Sparta for lunch, we'll continue north to our destination: the delightful, fortress-topped harbor town of Nafplio. We'll enjoy a Greek wine and ouzo tasting, and sleep in Nafplio (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
Day 10: Mycenae and Nafplio
After breakfast we'll take a short drive to mysterious Mycenae, the fortified city founded by Perseus a thousand years before the Parthenon was built. We'll take a walking tour through the grand Lion Gate, along the "cyclopean" walls, and into a remarkably-domed tholos tomb. Then we'll return to Nafplio for a free afternoon to explore the colorful alleyways of the Old Town, ride a boat to the little castle island in the harbor, or hike up to enjoy a Venetian fortress view. We'll regroup for dinner together this evening. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.
Day 11: Ancient Epidavros
This morning we'll drive to nearby Epidavros. Once the most famous healing center in the Mediterranean, today's star attraction is its ancient theater, large enough to accommodate 15,000 togas. We'll learn about the roots of drama here, before hopping a boat to the idyllic traffic-free island of Hydra. Tonight we'll share dinner together at the town's oldest taverna — prepared by the family, not a menu in sight — and sleep on Hydra (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 12: Island of Hydra
Your entire day and evening are free to soak up the whitewashed architecture as you wander Hydra's narrow streets and harbor promenade. You might swim at a nearby beach, hire a boat for the day, hike across the island, or try to make friends with a donkey. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 13: Return to Athens
This morning we'll take a ferry ride to Piraeus, where our bus will be waiting to take us back to our Athens hotel. Your afternoon is free to wander and shop through the Plaka, or explore other parts of this bustling city. Tonight we'll gaze at the floodlit Acropolis and enjoy a final dinner together, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. Opa! Sleep in Athens (1 night). Boat: 2 hrs. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: light.
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
You can easily catch a cab for the airport, or to nearby Piraeus where a fleet of ferries awaits to transport those with time to even more Greek destinations. Antio!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Athens & the Heart of Greece in 14 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
- Walk up to the Acropolis (10 minutes of stairs to the base, then more stairs to the top).
- At the Ancient Delphi site, walk up and down a steep and slippery gravel-marble path.
- Travel on a bus without a toilet.
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
If you arrive in Athens before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Greek, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Athens that we do not do as a group: Goulandris Museum of Cycladic & Ancient Greek Art, Museum of Greek Folk Art, National Historical Museum, Benaki Museum, Temple of Olympian Zeus, National Gardens.
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
Athens is a hub for travel in southeastern Europe. Flying within Europe can be reasonable. Ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your travel plans merit a railpass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425/771-8303 ext. 214).
For specific details about traveling in Greek Islands, please see our suggested list of websites:
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email email@example.com.
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
While it is important to pack light, we'd like you to consider including these items when packing for this tour: Greece is rocky and we recommend you bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction to help negotiate the paths and hills easier, and you may wish to pack a swimsuit and a lightweight microfiber towel.
For more ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
"Anastasia was a terrific tour leader. She was enthusiast and always had a surprise for us. She kept the tour magical. She obviously loves what she does."
— Michael in Brentwood, CA
"Colin is a gem — a knowledgeable, friendly, approachable, decisive guide who strives everyday to give us the total cultural experience. Most of all, I learned so much from him about Greece and Greek culture, past and present. It was a great gift, and very much appreciated. Also, he has a wonderful sense of humor and a most enjoyable way of expressing himself."
— Yvonne in Lake Oswego, OR
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"I thought when seeing the Parthenon lit up from the viewpoint across the way on my first night in Athens was going to be my 'wow' moment of the trip. But when we toured the sight the next day, it was even better. Then as we traveled on to each new destination, I thought each new place was better than the last. For me, it was just one 'wow' after another—the ruins of the first Olympic site, hiking in the hills of Kardamyli then relaxing at a seaside taverna, climbing the huge rock at Monemvasia, exploring the town of Nafplio and the ruins of Mycenae, visiting the theater at Epidavros, and finally wandering the car-free streets of Hydra. I can't pick just one, I loved them all!"
— Melanie in Bellingham, WA
"I loved the whole trip! The Parthenon, Delphi, Olympia, and Agamemnon's Tomb were all 'wow' moments. The mountainous scenery as we headed toward Dimitsana, the coastal scenery on the Mani Peninsula, and the views from the upper town of Monemvasia were spectacular."
— Cornelia in Somerset, MA
"Walking the streets of Hydra with my new tour friends as the sun went down. No cars, beautiful alleys, just amazing."
— Jeffrey in Chelmsford, MA
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- Stella (1955)
- Never on Sunday (1960)
- Zorba the Greek (1964)
- Z (1969)
- Shirley Valentine (1989)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves' Audio Tours
- Athens: The Acropolis, Ancient Angora, National Archaeological Museum, Historic Athens Walk
Rick Steves Audio Europe™
- Composers: Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hadjidakis
- Pop/folk: Haris Alexiou, Yiorgos Dalaras, Stratos Dionysiou
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- Rick Steves' Greece: Athens & Peloponnese
- The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece — Paul Cartledge
- A Traveller's History of Greece — Timothy Boatswain & Colin Nicolson
- Eleni — Nicholas Gage
- Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese — Patrick Leigh Fermor
- Dinner with Persephone — Patricia Storace
- Boomerang — Michael Lewis
- The Iliad; The Odyssey — Homer
- The Last Red Death; A Deeper Shade Of Blue — Paul Johnston
- Zorba the Greek — Nikos Kazantzakis
- Corelli's Mandolin; Birds Without Wings — Louis de Bernières