Classic Crete, Rhodes, and the Greek Islands

Day 1

We have an overnight flight arriving in Athens the next day, with meal service en route.

Day 2 Arrive Athens

Arrive  in Athens, to be met by our guide and USIT tour conductor.  We’ll go directly to the hotel for check-in, an early dinner there, and a good night’s rest to be ready for our early departure on the ferry in the morning for Paros.  Hotel and dinner incl)

Day 3 Athens to Paros

We depart our hotel at 6:30 for the port to board the ferry to Paros, departing at 7:25 AM.  It’s a relaxing cruise on our ferry/cruise ship through the Aegean Sea to this quiet Mediterranean Island.  Enjoy an early lunch on the ship in one of the restaurants and enjoy the view and the sun as we cruise south.  Our arrival at the port of Paros is at 11:45, and we transfer to the hotel.  Our afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the beach, pool and other facilities at the hotel. Dinner is provided at the hotel or a nearby restaurant.  Dinner and hotel (inlc)

Day 4–Paros

After a full breakfast at the hotel, we depart on our panoramic Island tour.  We’ll circumvent the island along the rocky coast and beaches, ascending into hills to see the ancient island capitol of Lefkes, where we’ll take a break to have coffee in the town square and see the village.  We’ll also climb up to see the old monastery at the summit of the island.  Back at the town of Paros, our afternoon is at leisure to shop and enjoy dinner on our own.

Day 5–Paros

Free day–go for a dip in the pool and soak up the Mediterranean sun, or take a walk along the beach to the center of town—it’s only fifteen minutes, unless you decide the water is a better invitation.  Take the short ferry ride to Antiparos and visit the tourist districts.  If you’re feeling adventurous, or you can rent a motorscooter and tour the back roads of the island, or go horse-back riding on the beach. After a day of sun and sea, relax with a drink at the Panorama’s bar and pool.  Also available: optional day trip to Mykonos.  Dinner is on our own tonight.

Day 6–Paros to Santorini

After a late breakfast, we transfer to the port to board the ferry to Santorini. We depart Paros at 12:15 and arrive Santorini early afternoon to transfer to our hotel with our evening at leisure.  Santorini, or Thira as it is otherwise named, is one of the most beautiful and unique islands in Greece.  Intriguing history, volcanic landscape, cosmopolitan atmosphere, breathtaking sunsets, deep blue sea, and the volcano, are just some of the reasons that make Santorini one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece.  Dinner is provided at the hotel, situated by the beach.

Day 7 Santorini & late ferry to Crete

Our morning at leisure to enjoy the sandy beach or the hotel pool, or take a walk in the seaside village.  We check out at noon and proceed for a panoramic tour of the island, including time at the cliff-top town of Oia, overlooking the volcano and the bay.  Tour ends at the port to embark by ferry to Heraklion, Crete at 5:55 PM.  We arrive Crete at 7:30 and transfer to our hotel.  Dinner provided at the hotel.  Hotel and dinner ( Incl)

Day 8 Crete

Today we enjoy a full day tour of Rethymno and Chania.  We depart from Heraklion and we drive westwards to the beautiful town of Rethymnon, one of the most historical and picturesque towns on Crete.  It still preserves the traditional local color. The old venetian town with the little narrow streets and the numerous shops, as well as the Venetian fortress, bring back memories of older times. We will visit the old part of the city and if time permits, we’ll have some free time to explore.
We continue to the picturesque town of Chania, with its Venetian harbor, narrow lanes and old buildings from the Venetian and Turkish periods. The town has a unique covered market in the shape of a cross.  Then we drive to the historical Monastery of Arkadi. The Monastery is set in a spectacular scenic at the edge of a gorge and represents a symbol of freedom for the Cretans, where a battle between the Turks and the Greeks took place in 1866 which led to the liberation of Crete.  Dinner is on our own.

Day 9 Crete, flight to Rhodes

This morning, we enjoy a tour of Heraklion sightseeing including the visit to Knossos Palace.  The first settlement in the Knossos area was established circa 7000 BC, during the Neolithic Period. The economic, social and political development of the settlement led to the construction of the majestic Palace of Knossos towards the end of the second millennium BC.  Knossos was the seat of the legendary King Minos and the main centre of power in Crete. This first Palace was destroyed circa 1700 BC. It was rebuilt and destroyed again by fire in 1350 BC. The environs of the Palace were transformed into a sacred grove of the goddess Rhea, but never inhabited again.   After lunch on our own in the area, we depart for the airport for our 6:00 PM flight to Rhodes.  We arrive at 7:00 PM, in time for check-in and dinner on our own near the hotel.

Day 10 Rhodes

After breakfast at the hotel, we enjoy a full day’s tour of the Island:  First, we drive along the West Coast of the island for about 15 km before you reach the Mount Philerimos with its wonderful view of the city of Rhodes. On the top of this hill stood one of the three ancient cities of Rhodes, the city of Ialyssos. Here you can admire the church of our Lady, built by the knights of St’ John in the 15th century, as well as that of St. George which has wall paintings of the 14th and 15th century.   Continuing we reach the Valley of the Butterflies. This valley has become world famous not only because of its natural beauty however mainly because it is a gathering point for a specific species of butterflies of the genus Panaxia which fill up the valley in order to reproduce. During the hot summer months, coating the trees and rocks in a multitude of color, creating a unique experience that is both very rare and beautiful.  Within the forest there are shady walks and a restaurant overlooking a waterfall. The valley is lush and a river is running through it. At the entrance you can find a souvenir shop. The “Museum of Natural History” is located in a part of the valley.  We continue our trip driving through lush, green, forested landscape towards Sianna. Sianna is a picturesque village beautifully situated at the foot of the Mount Arcamitis. A stop will be made at a Byzantine church, Agios Panteleimon. Sianna is famous for its Suma and delicious homemade yoghurt from sheep milk with honey and nuts, which you will have the opportunity to taste.

Our tour takes us to the village Embona, the most important grape-producing village on Rhodes. We will visit the largest winery in the area, Emery Wines, where you will have the opportunity to taste a variety of the locally produced wines. After that, enjoy a traditional Greek lunch (incl.) at a local tavern in this pretty village.  After lunch we will head towards Profitis lias, the second highest mountain on Rhodes. We will stop for refreshments and give you the opportunity for a walk. Our last destination will be Fountoukli for a visit to the Monastery of Saint Nicolas which is decorated with frescos dating back to the Middle Ages.  Return to our hotel.  Dinner is on our own.

Day 11 Rhodes

Morning tour of Rhodes including the Knights Palace and Lindos   The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes is a palace in the town of Rhodes, on the island of Rhodes in Greece. In the point that today is the palace it was earlier a Byzantine citadel that functioned as headquarters and fortress.  The palace was built in the 14th century by the Knights of Rhodes, who occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1522.  After the island was captured by the Ottoman Empire, the palace was used as a fortress.  Then we proceed to Lindos, a beautiful little village of white cubist houses at the foot of a vertical rock that is crowned by the ancient Acropolis of Lindos.  The landscape all around is so barren it literally feels like a landscape from another planet.  The town of Lindos itself however is perfectly located to take advantage of the two small harbors below and the easily defensible acropolis above it.  We return to the hotel for lunch on our own and our afternoon is free.  Dinner is on our own.

Day 12 Rhodes

The day is free to explore Rhodes on own or enjoy the ocean for one more day.  For those looking to have another adventure, a delightful optional tour to Simi Island is recommended.  Dinner is on our own tonight.    Hotel: Hotel Grand

Day 13 Athens

This morning, we’ll take a flight from Rhodes to Athens.  Upon arrival we’ll start our panoramic tour of Athens by coach with our Athens guide, including the major landmarks, ending with our ascension to the site of the Acropolis, and the new Acropolis Museum with our Athens guide.  Then we transfer to our hotel, the four-star Titania Hotel, in the heart of Athens, to check in and rest briefly after our long day coming from Rhodes.   Our final dinner will be at the hotel (incl.).  After dinner, the evening is free to explore the Plaka, the shopping and restaurant district nearby, or to retire early at the hotel.  Hotel and dinner

Day 14 Depart Athens for Hoimes

It’s a very early morning departure for the transfer from the hotel to Athens airport for check-in

Note: All breakfasts are provided and all lunches are on our own.  Dinners provided as indicated on this itinerary.

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