Athens and the Cyclades

9 days in Athens and the Greek Islands

Be nourished by the beauty of the Aegean while discovering Athens and the Greek islands from the perspectives of locals, through the birthplaces of ancient gods, and through the timeless beauty that defines the coastline.

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Tour Summary

This nine day tour will take you on an odyssey through land and sea, wine and sunshine, culture and beauty.

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Tour Price:
$600 single supplement
Tour Dates:

June 1-9, 2024



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Day 1

Welcome to Athens

Welcome to Athens. Named for the Greek goddess of wisdom, this ancient city-state inspired ideas of beauty and democracy that still shape our world today.

At 3:00 p.m. we’ll meet our Alithea guide for a welcome meeting in our hotel, then we’ll set out on a walk with our local guide through Plaka, Athens’ bustling cobblestone center where we’ll uncover the layers of modern, medieval, Byzantine, Roman, and Greek civilizations before arriving at the ancient agora—the marketplace where democracy was first established and where many of our most precious ideas of science and philosophy were first discussed. Here we’ll see the wonderfully preserved temple to Hephaestus, the god famed as the father of craftsmen and famous for his marriage to the goddess of beauty.

Greece is renowned for its mythology, theater, and poetry that explore the various dimensions of the human condition. After an introduction to these ancient mysteries, we’ll conclude our day with a beautiful dinner and conversation with our new Alithea traveling family.

Walking: moderate

Day 2

Acropolis and Parthenon

We’ll set out after breakfast to meet our local guide for a tour of the Acropolis, the ancient sanctuary at the height of the city. This is the highest point of the city, the place of honor, clarity, perspective, and promise; it was here ancient Athenians came bearing gifts and saw divine possibilities in human actualities. Here we’ll visit the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to Athena, who won the Athenians’ favor by giving them the olive tree, a symbol of peace, wisdom, and prosperity. This is not simply a visit to one of the most iconic world heritage sites, nor is it simply the beauty of the ancient temples and the elegance of the sunbaked columns. It’s an invitation to consider how the aspirations of a few fifth century B.C. citizens shaped the future trajectory of Western civilization. It’s the loftiness of an ambition that dares to ask what it really means to be human.

After free time to explore the Acropolis on our own, our local guide will bring us to the new Acropolis museum where we’ll conclude our morning with a tour of ancient Greek statues and the majestic reliefs of temples filled with the stories of heroes and gods. This afternoon we’ll be free to explore Athens on our own, to visit the temple to the Olympian Zeus, the Byzantine Museum, or the Panathenaic Stadium, or to browse the artisan shops of Plaka and the antique stores around Monastiraki.

Walking: strenuous, 4 miles

Day 3

Five thousand years and the capital of the bronze age seas

This morning we’ll depart from the port of Athens, Piraeus, and take the ferry to Naxos.

After dropping our bags at our hotel in Naxos we will be free for lunch before we begin our Greek islands explorations with a walking tour of the Chora. Continuously inhabited for more than five thousand years, Naxos was the capital of the Aegean in ancient times. Whether walking alongside the seashore filled with pottery shards, strolling through the Venetian Castle and medieval town, or ascending to the gate of the temple of Apollo, we’ll begin our immersive journey through the traditions and culture that make the Greek islands unique. This evening, after our walking tour, we’ll conclude with a dinner overlooking the sea.

Walking: moderate

Day 4

Cooking lessons, farmers, and the lived traditions of Naxos

This morning our journey will show us the agricultural and traditional side of Naxian life. As the birthplace of Dionysius, the god of wine, and home to the Temple of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, Naxos has always been a place of farming and shepherds. It's one of the few self-sufficient Cycladic islands. Our day will be dedicated to experiencing those traditions. We'll spend time hiking with experts in plants and herbology, we'll taste traditional products after a tour of a local farm, and we'll have a cooking lesson and lunch in the home of a local shepherd.

In the late afternoon, we will return to our hotel for a free evening, in time for a quick swim or dinner by the sea.

Walking: moderate

Day 5

Naxos: villages, artisans, and wine

This morning we will immerse ourselves in Naxos island life. We'll take a tour through the villages and mountains where we'll experience traditional island life. We'll visit a ceramics workshop and see the  creation of objects traditionally used in everyday life. We'll be introduced to the art of weaving still practiced by local women and visit villages where the traditional way of working and farming still persists. We'll visit the temple of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, and we'll enjoy the fruits of Dionysius, the god of wine as we conclude our morning with a lunch of local cuisine and locally produced wine.

This afternoon after returning to town we'll be free to relax on the beach or enjoy an afternoon of shopping for artisan goods in town.

Walking: moderate

Day 6

Delos and Mykonos: the sacred and beautiful

Our journey through sun and sea will continue today with a visit to two of the most iconic islands of the Aegean. Our first stop will be to the island of Delos. Considered the birthplace of Apollo, the god of knowledge and the arts, this has been a sacred place since ancient times. It is this island that gives meaning to the Cycladic Islands—around “cyclic”, κυκλάς or those that form a circle around it.

After our guided tour of Delos we’ll continue to the whitewashed and windswept island of Mykonos where we’ll stop for lunch and independent explorations before returning to Naxos in time for dinner.  

Walking: moderate

Day 7

Santorini: beautiful sunsets over the Caldera

After a free morning, we’ll arrive in Santorini. Famous for its beauty even in ancient times, the Phoenecians who settled here in the thirteenth century B.C. called the island Kallisti, ‘the most beautiful’. Created by the volcanic craters that gave way to its existence, the Caldera of Santorini is unique in the Aegean.

We’ll arrive around need and meet our local guide directly. Together we’ll explore the archeological site of Akrotiri. Like a Greek Pompeii, this city was destroyed when the volcano erupted in the sixteenth century B.C. and is a window in time to observe the daily lives of bronze-age Greeks

For lunch this afternoon we’ll enjoy a tasting of its world-famous wines paired with a light Greek lunch that create a sommelier’s journey through the ages.

And after checking into our hotel, we’ll be free for the evening to stroll through Oia and conclude with a spectacular view of the sunset over the Caldera.

Walking: moderate

Day 8

Sailing the Caldera

After breakfast in our hotel, we'll be free this morning to hike the path towards Fira or to relax and explore the cobbled streets and classic viewsof Oia.

We will regroup in the early afternoon and head to the port to embark on a spectacular sailboat cruise around the island. During our last evening together we'll sail through the caldera and have dinner on board while observing the sunset and sea of the Greek mariners.

Walking: moderate

Day 9

The Next Journey Begins

Breakfast is included this day but there are no planned activities. Catch a boat to Crete, Folegandros and other easily reachable Greek islands or head to the airport to connect to your next destination or to fly home. Your Alithea guide will be available to help with travel plans throughout breakfast.

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What's Included

6 lunches and dinners
All transportation to tour related activities, including our private bus and ferry rides
8 nights in family-run boutique style hotels
The cost of all entrances, local guides, and a cooking lesson
Your friendly Alithea tour manager for the duration of the tour.
A pre-tour consultation with an Alithea expert.

Tour Tips

Pack Light

Alithea hotels are boutique, family-run and centrally located in the historic centers where the ancient roads are too small for buses. That often means needing to walk between our bus and hotels. Between destinations we will be required to carry our own luggage which may include significant stairs and no elevator. We encourage our travelers to take a simple carry-on size bag with a small backpack for outings.

Come Prepared

Alithea tours are outrageously fun. Come prepared to live in the moment. We will walk, talk, celebrate, dine, and make beautiful discoveries together. When we’re not exploring with our local guide we’ll be encouraged to venture out on our own, to celebrate our discoveries with a glass of wine, to go for a swim or a walk on the beach, or simply to relax and take in the beautiful view. Of course, we can’t visit ancient and beautiful sites without getting there first, and sometimes that means significant walking. Our first two days on this tour are the most physically strenuous. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns before booking.

Bus and Travel Time

Like every great story, there is no possibility of discovery and of arriving at beautiful places without a journey to get there. On our Greek journey we will take the bus and boat in order to arrive at the spectacular destinations we’ll be visiting. We’ll not only use this time to relax and enjoy the view but also to prepare with our Alithea guide for the sites we’ll visit next. Of course, we can’t appreciate the gorgeous vistas of the mountains without significant driving on winding roads.
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For further questions don't hesitate to reach out to us directly.
Are flights included in the tour price?

Roundtrip flights (USA -Istanbul) are not included in the tour price. Flights during the tour (Istanbul-Cappadocia, Cappadocia-Izmir, Izmir-Istanbul) are included, however, and will be booked by Alithea Travel.

When should I buy my tickets and for what dates?

This tour is confirmed and travelers should purchase flight tickets upon making their deposit..

We recommend leaving the USA on Thursday, June 15th in order to arrive in Turkey on June 16th, but you may wish to arrive earlier in order to adjust to the time change. Since the tour will end on Friday, June 23rd, you should book your departure flight for this day unless you wish to extend your stay in Istanbul.

Is a visa required to enter Turkey?

The Republic of Turkey requires foreigners to apply for an e-visa before entering the country. The application is very simple and takes about 5 minutes to complete. The cost for US citizens is $50, and after submitting your details the visa will be sent electronically within 24 hours. It is recommended to apply for the visa 2-4 weeks before your departure. We like to stay on top of these details, so we'll send you a reminder with a link to the Turkish e-visa website a month before the tour start date.

Will my deposit be refunded if the tour doesn't fill up?

All deposits are fully refundable within 30 days or in the event that the tour is postponed. Travelers will also be given first-choice priority to transfer unused credit to future adventures with @withsunshinesol.

Will Sunshine be guiding the tour or just traveling with the group?

Sunshine will be an active participant throughout the tour, but will allow the local experts to handle the guiding. She will, of course, document and film most activities, hikes, and hotels.

I'm traveling alone, can I choose to share a room with another traveler to avoid the single supplement?

Sharing a room with a travel partner can help lower the accommodation costs. If you wish to share a room with a fellow (same-sex) traveler, we can place you on a list with like-minded solo travelers. We cannot guarantee matching each person with a roommate, but we will do our best. Single occupancy rooms will always incur the single supplement fee.

I'm traveling with one friend, but we will pay our deposits separately. Can we still travel together and avoid the single supplement fee?

Sure thing. Sign up and send us a note. We'll make sure you room together.

Will there be a lot of free time for independent exploration?

This is an action-packed itinerary that visits many of the highlights of Turkey in just one week. Whenever possible your guide will provide time to relax and enjoy a glass or wine or go for a walk with your traveling friends.

What additional expenses should I budget for this trip?

All activities are included in the cost of the trip except for the Turkish bath and the hot-air balloon. You can expect the Turkish bath to run about $50 and the hot air balloon approximately $325. All breakfasts and six lunches or dinners are also included. We recommend bringing spending money for souvenirs. The e-visa (see above) also has a cost of $50.

Will Sancho be there?

It pains us to say that Sancho the doggo has to stay in the USA for this trip. Sunshine decided that it would be logistically impossible to take him on this particular journey––not to mention all of the stress he would face while traveling on a plane.

Reserve Your Place

Athens and the Cyclades

9 days in Athens and the Greek Islands

A $500 deposit is required to reserve your spot. All deposits and discounts (if applicable) will be applied to the total tour price. Deposits are refundable within 30 days of payment.

*Read our refund policy here