Fulfill Your Dream of Greece Travel
On an Enriching, Small-Group tour to the Land of the Minoans
Ancient Greece Alive!
An Exquisite, Expert-Led Tour of Athens, Crete and Santorini
September 9- 21, 2022
Embark on a Minoan odyssey with us…
An enchanting, culture, cuisine and history-focused 13-day journey through Greece’s most dreamy destinations: Magnificent Athens, Magical Crete and Spectacular Santorini.
Friday, September 9 – Monday, September 21, 2022
$7,995 CAD per person ($6,595 USD) Single Supplement $1,925 CAD ($1,600 USD)
This luxury, fully immersive small group tour will be led by ancient civilizations expert and storyteller Laura Ranieri, and Aristotle Koskinas, a Greek archaeologist and one of Greece’s top-rated and most popular guides.
Culinary adventures, local culture immersions, breathtaking natural scenery, mountain hikes, boat rides, azure seas, luxury accommodation, special museums, and of course all the most fascinating historical sites await. We have more wondrous and enriched adventures in store than you could ever dream of during this Greece trip of a lifetime.
- Wander the landmarks of historic Athens, Crete and Santorini
- Be vibrantly led by Laura Ranieri Roy – and Aristotle Koskinas, Greek archaeologist and one of Greece’s top guides
- Small group, personalized.
- Special dining and culinary experiences – picturesque tavernas, wine & olive tastings – and a private cooking lesson by a top Cretan chef in the fabled white mountains
- Visit the Minoan palaces of Knossos and Phaistos – along with the cave where Zeus was born
- Special experiences, lectures, beaches – and unexpected surprises
- Stay at a handpicked selection of premium accommodations.
- Athens, ancient yet modern: From its majestic Acropolis and bustling markets to its world class museums, you’ll be immersed in the dynamism of the city – including special dining experiences, lectures, walking tours, Acropolis museum – and spectacular new fine arts museum
- Chania, Crete – a Venetian jewel: stay three nights in a deluxe harbour side hotel – and wander the cobbled streets of this stunning Venetian harbour town… considered the prettiest on Crete
- Private cooking class in Crete’s White Mountains: Savour the delicious freshness of Cretan cuisine and inspire your inner chef during a private cooking class led by Crete’s top chef Kiria Koula in a beautiful mountain village setting….
- Minoan palaces of Knossos & Phaistos: Explore the home of the legendary Minotaur and labyrinth and visit stunning Phaistos, the second greatest Minoan city
- Cretan olive farms, stunning beaches, fishing villages, and breathtaking mountain vistas: Be dazzled by the infinite variety of the island of Crete with unique excursions to seaside villages, mountain trails, dreamy beaches with azure blue waters – you’ll even take a fishing boat trip to deserted Spinalonga island – and venture into the cave where Zeus was born!
- Spectacular Santorini – the diamond of the Aegean: Enjoy luxury cliffside accommodation with swimming pools literally hanging over the famous caldera, swoon at breathtaking views, tastings at a top Santorini winery, spectacular dining… and a beautiful cruise to explore the volcano.
- Private tour of Akrotiri, the “Lost City of Atlantis”: The great Minoan city of Akrotiri was frozen in time by a massive volcanic explosion and covered in ash like Pompeii. Experience the wonders of this phenomenal and sprawling archaeological site where three story houses are still standing.
- Luxury hotels in Athens, Crete and Santorini
- Lively talks, exotic dining experiences – and once-in-a-lifetime adventures
Click on each day to expand the box and learn more about what we’ll do on that day of the trip.
DAY 1: ATHENS
Welcome to Athens! After checking in and freshening up, meet in the lobby for a general orientation walking tour of the Plaka and Monastiraki neighbourhood with local guide Aristotle and Laura Ranieri to provide a welcome overview of the vicinity. Enjoy cocktails and a welcome presentation of the overall tour program and introduction to Greek and Minoan history.
DAY 2: ATHENS
After breakfast at the hotel, embark on foot for a full day of touring beginning with Acropolis Hill. Once a 5th-century BC sanctuary of religious worship, it became the pinnacle of artistic creations during the Classical Era. Your guided tour will visit the magnificent Doric Parthenon, the Theatre of Dionysus, the small Ionic temple of Athena Nike and the ancient Agora – the civic, religious and commercial centre of Athenian life. Break for lunch at one of Athen’s most famous restaurants, which is conveniently located in lush gardens with stunning views of the Acropolis. Immediately after lunch, tour the incredible New Acropolis Museum; this award-winning modern building is perched atop an ancient neighbourhood excavation site and the collection includes masterpieces of antiquity including the remaining Parthenon Marbles. There will be free time to further enjoy the museum’s exhibits or wander the lively Plaka district before returning to the hotel for cocktails, presentation and guided discussion lead by Laura Ranieri. Dinner on own and the rest of the evening at leisure.
DAY 3: ATHENS
After breakfast, depart the hotel on foot for a walking tour through the National Garden passing various archeological sites along the way. Today’s itinerary will include the National Art Gallery, which was recently re-opened after more than a decade-long renovation. Wander through the Kolonaki and Plaka neighbourhoods, enjoy a lively taverna lunch, and visit the special shop of Melissinos, the “Poet Sandal Maker of Athens”. A regular stop for celebrities since the 1950s, Melissinos specializes in artisan custom sandals, so be sure to pick a pair that suit your individual style! You will also ascend Lycabettus Hill, the city’s highest point, by cable car for fabulous views across the city. This evening is free for you to enjoy dinner on your own at one of the many lively tavernas in the Plaka where there’s an abundance of live music, mezedes (Greek tapas) and wine!
DAY 4: CHANIA
Athens – Chania, Crete
After checking out of the hotel, board the coach for a transfer to the airport. Board the flight to Chania (flight schedule TBD, flight time is less than one hour). After arriving in Crete, board the coach for the short transfer to Chania’s scenic Venetian port and check-in to the waterfront hotel. Regroup for a brief cocktail lecture by Laura on Crete/Minoan history, followed by a walking tour of the harbour with the Egyptian lighthouse, Jewish Quarter and ancient Cretan Agora. Dinner this evening will be in a local restaurant and feature local cuisine.
DAY 5: CHANIA
Chania – Vamos – Rethymno – Chania
After breakfast this morning travel into the hills and visit the famous traditional village of Vamos. Known for its quaint cobbled streets and ancient olive oil press, Vamos is also home to the famous Vamos Cooking School and the legendary chef Mrs. Koula. Using family recipes handed down through generations, the cooking school specializes in using sustainably sourced local produce to create mouthwatering Cretan dishes. Enjoy the fruits of your gastronomic labour and sit down to a family-style feast in the evocative surroundings of a historic olive oil press dating back to 1846. Return to the coast and visit one of the most beautiful villages in all of Greece: Rethymno. Originally built by the Minoans, Rethymno has an old aristocratic appearance including a Venetian era citadel. Wander along the lovely streets and visit the Archeological Museum before returning to Chania. Remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.
DAY 6: ELOUNDA PLAKA
Chania – Knossos – Elounda Plaka
After breakfast, check-out of the hotel and travel along the coast to Knossos, the oldest Bronze Age archeological site in Crete and technically Europe’s oldest city. The Palace of Knossos (dating from c. 2000 BC) was the political and ceremonial heart of the Minoan civilization and in its heyday covered over five acres with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Archeologists speculate the vast palace could inspired the idea of the labyrinth in the myth of Theseus defeating the Minotaur. The adjoining archeological museum provides great context and detail of the Minoan civilization and Knossos complex. After lunch in Heraklion (on own), continue the journey along the beautiful coastline to Elounda Plaka and the new Cayo Exclusive Resort, Crete’s most stylish hotel. Poised on its own private swathe of seafront overlooking charming Elounda Bay, CAYO’s unique terraced architecture blends seamlessly into the mountainous landscape and offers unparalleled access to the island’s tapestry of beaches, historic treasures and hilltop villages. After settling in and perhaps taking a dip in one of the swimming pools, enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening.
DAY 7: ELOUNDA PLAKA
Elounda Plaka – Spinalonga – Agios Nikolaos – Elounda Plaka
This morning board a boat for the quick trip across the bay to the island of Spinalonga. A strategically important defence point, Spinalonga protects Elounda Bay and was once the main fortification for the ancient city of Olous. During 15th century Venetian rule, the island’s impressive walls and citadel were built, but ultimately were conquered by the Ottomans before ultimately being abandoned in the mid-20th century. The island’s eery stillness and beauty belies its tumultuous history, but provides a lovely destination for a day out on the water. Return to Plaka for a gorgeous waterside taverna lunch. The remainder of the afternoon is free to relax on the beach, enjoy the hotel spa amenities, or walk along the peninsula’s coastal path to Elounda town.
Optional Afternoon Activity: snorkelling and swimming at the submerged archeological site of Olous including snorkel equipment and transport to and from the hotel.
If you are so inclined, there will be a coach departure to the buzzing town of Agios Nikolaos a short distance away, where you can walk along the harbour, enjoy the lively atmosphere, and dine at one of the many lakeside restaurants.
DAY 8: ELOUNDA PLAKA
Elounda Plaka – Kritsa – Olive Farm – Elounda Plaka
After breakfast board the coach and travel to Kritsa mountain village. Considered to be one of the most picturesque towns in Crete, white washed houses cling to the mountain side. Kritsa is renowned for weavers, embroiderers and lace artisans. Enjoy a guided visit to the Rodanthi Museum where exhibits focus on botany and traditional herbs. The 13th century byzantine church of Panagia Kera has outstanding frescos and is not to be missed. Lunch will be at a local restaurant serving traditional cuisine. Later this afternoon, visit an olive farm and take part in a cheese making activity. Return to Elounda for dinner on your own at one of the local tavernas on the beach or at the hotel.
DAY 9: ELOUNDA PLAKA
Elounda Plaka- Phaistos – Elounda Plaka
Today’s excursion will be to the ancient city of Phaistos, one of the three principal cities of the Minoan empire. Phaistos is located on a hill a few miles from Crete’s southern coast facing the portion of the Mediterranean known as the Libyan sea. This coastline was the locus of considerable ancient Bronze Age settlement, with Phaistos being the most prominent. After touring the archeological site, enjoy lunch at a local taverna. The remainder of the day will be spent on one of Crete’s famous beaches (weather permitting) before returning to the hotel. Dinner on own this evening.
DAY 10: IMEROVIGLI
Elounda Plaka – Dikteon Cave – Heraklion – Santorini
After breakfast, check-out of the hotel and depart for Heraklion. Enroute stop at Dikteon Cave, the largest and most important of Crete’s 3000 caves and mythical birthplace of Zeus. Already famous in the time of antiquity, the Dikteon Cave was dedicated to the worship of the greatest of the gods, as evidenced by the many offerings found by archeologists. Today the cave consists of five chambers covered in stalactites and stalagmites with a lake at the lowest point. Continue the journey to Heraklion port for embarkation on the high speed ferry/hydrofoil to Santorini, the most famous of all Greek islands. Your home for the next three nights is the Andromeda Villas located cliffside in the small town of Imerovigli. After settling in, Laura will give a brief cocktail lecture on the fascinating history of the island and the ancient site of Akrotiri before dinner.
DAY 11: IMEROVIGLI
After breakfast visit Akrotiri archaeological site – often referred to as the “Greek Pompeii”. Destroyed by an ancient volcanic eruption (possibly the one that inspired the myth of Atlantis), Akrotiri was covered in a thick layer of ash, with the result being stunning intact frescos that date to 1620 BC. After touring the site, lunch will be at one of Santorini’s most famous tavernas located right on the water’s edge.
Rest of the afternoon is at leisure! Enjoy one of the many beaches and beach clubs: there are white, red or black sand options! Alternatively return to the hotel, book a spa treatment, or wander and shop in Fira, the largest town and commercial centre on Santorini . This evening dinner is on your own.
DAY 12: IMEROVIGLI
This morning is free to relax or plan an outing of your choice. In the afternoon, we will visit one of Santorini’s top wineries for a tasting and tour before making our way to the port and boarding a boat for a fun late afternoon/sunset cruise on the water. The captain will take us to local inlets, beaches only accessible by boat, and the volcano for those who dare to climb! Return to the hotel to freshen up before tonight’s farewell dinner.
DAY 13: END OF ITINERARY
After breakfast this morning, your Greek Odyssey comes to an end!
Let us help you plan the next chapter of your adventure: stay on Santorini longer; island hop and explore other Cyclades islands like Mykonos, Paros or Milos; or return to Athens and discover some of the fantastic locations on mainland Peloponnese. For those returning home, Santorini airport has connections to Athens and many other major European cities.
Introducing our Greece Travel Partner:
Georgia Hardy Tours: Deluxe educational travel for lifelong learners of all ages.
Enriching lives through travel for more than 30 years
Georgia Hardy Tours brings a prestigious background organizing cultural tours for sophisticated travelers, the Royal Ontario Museum and many leading educational institutions throughout Canada. They are a company also known for their spectacular expert-led tours to Europe, bespoke: tailor-made adventures for cultured and discerning explorers.
While Greece and Europe remain a focus and a real specialty, there is no point on the compass Georgia Hardy Tours can’t take you to – with flair, finesse and first-rate planning. Their operator in Greece is one of the very best!
Above all things, they understand the needs of choosy veteran travelers – and are renowned for planning and managing truly spectacular trips that balance inspiring cultural experiences with luxuriant, well-located accommodations and delicious, authentic dining experiences.
Interested in booking our Greece tour? Or require more information?
Your Tour Guides:
Greek guide: Aristotle Koskinos
A Greek Archaeologist, history teacher and 5-star rated Greece tourist guide, Aristotle is a sought-after guide known for his charm, wealth of knowledge and ability to make ancient history leap to life.
He studied classical archaeology at the University of Ioannina, Greece, specializing in the study of roof-tiles and architectural terracottas. He’s also worked on various excavations conducted by the Greek Ministry of Culture. Aristotle is also an accomplished history narrator, and is a regular participant (by invitation of the National Archaeological Museum and the Greek Narration Festival) in their yearly history narration events.
Canadian guide: Laura Ranieri Roy
A leader and creator of enriching tours to Egypt since 2011, Laura is excited to channel her knowledge and passion for Greece in a heart-racing, 2-week journey. Laura personally handcrafted a unique itinerary to ensure all the historic, culinary and natural highlights are experienced in a memorable way. She knows Greece well through four trips, including one as a TV travel host and writer, presenting a half-hour travel show on Greece’s history and beauty. In fact – Greece was her first love – before Egypt!
Laura a Master’s degree in Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations from the University of Toronto, and has excavated at the ancient Greek site of Apollonia in Bulgaria, and in Egypt at Amarna and South Asasif (Luxor).She also received a scholarship in Latin and Greek (Classical Studies) from the University of Toronto.
She lectures on ancient Egypt and ancient civilizations, and has taught across North America at museums, historical societies, and academic conferences. She is a popular speaker amongst “Later Life Learning” Networks: Ryerson University’s Life Institute, LLIR at York University/Glendon College (from Fall 2021) and Innis College University of Toronto (from Jan 2022). She has been an Egyptian history Specialist Partner for the Toronto District School Board (Canada’s largest school board).