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The Cycladic Islands and Crete

The Cycladic Islands and Crete

The Cycladic Islands and Crete

Be nourished by the Aegean Sea while discovering the development of Greece from the beauty of bronze-age cultures of Crete, Santorini, and Naxos to the thriving traditions of modern day island life.

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Be nourished by the Aegean Sea while discovering the development of Greece from the beauty of bronze-age cultures of Crete, Santorini, and Naxos to the thriving traditions of modern day island life.


Your journey will begin in Naxos, the birthplace of Dionysius and home to one of Greece’s oldest continuous cultures. From there you’ll travel to Delos, Mykonos and spend time with goat farmers before continuing your journey to Santorini and Crete. You’ll have a first-hand experience of the ‘nonagenarian’ lifestyle and the art of living beautifully and simply.

Tour Price:
Tour Dates:

October 18-27, 2024


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Day 1

Welcome to Naxos

Welcome to Naxos

Welcome to Naxos. The birthplace of Dionysius, the god of wine, and home to the gate of Apollo, this island invites travelers to explore the notion that holiness is found in the Greek islands. It was here Theseus left Ariadne after defeating the Minotaur and then sailed across the Aegean, named after his father. 

At 3:00 p.m. you’ll meet your Alithea guide for a welcome meeting in our hotel, then you’ll take 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, you’ll begin our immersive journey through the traditions and culture that make the Greek islands unique.

This evening, after your walking tour, your first day’s activities will conclude with a dinner overlooking the sea.

Walking: moderate, 3 miles

Day 2

Naxos: villages, artisans, and wine

This morning you will immerse ourselves in Naxos island life. You’ll take a tour through the villages and mountains to experience traditional island life. You’ll visit a ceramics workshop and see the  creation of objects traditionally used in everyday life. You’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. You’ll visit the temple of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, and you’ll enjoy the fruits of Dionysius, the god of wine as you conclude your morning with a lunch of local cuisine and locally produced wine.

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

Walking: moderate

Day 3

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

Walking: moderate

Day 4

Cooking lessons, farmers, and the lived traditions of Naxos

This morning your journey will show 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. Today will be dedicated to experiencing those traditions. You’ll spend time hiking with experts in plants and herbology, tour a local farm, and 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: strenuous

Day 5

Santorini: viewing the Caldera from land

Mid-morning you’ll depart for 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.

And after checking into your hotel mid-afternoon, your guide will take you on a brief orientation walk to Oia. This afternoon and evening you’ll be free lounge by the pool, enjoying the view, or stroll through Oia while exploring the local shops.

Walking: moderate

Day 6

Santorini: beautiful sunsets over the Caldera by sea

After breakfast in our hotel, we'll be free this morning to hike the path towards Fira or to grab a light lunch enjoying the classic views of Oia.

We will regroup in the early afternoon and head to the port to embark on a spectacular sailboat cruise from the tip of the island into the caldera. Weather permitting, you’ll have a chance to swim inside the crater of the volcano before returning onboard to have dinner on board while observing the sunset and sea of the Greek mariners.

Walking: easy

Day 7

Ancient Wonders, Wine, and Crete

After checking out of your hotel, your local guide will lead you through 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 you’ll enjoy a tasting of its world-famous wines paired with a light Greek lunch that create a sommelier’s journey through the ages in one of the world’s most beautiful settings, overlooking the caldera.

After lunch you’ll embark towards the last island on your journey: Crete, the largest and most independent of the islands. Plan to arrive in Heraklion during the late afternoon or early evening, check-into your hotel, and have a brief orientation before dinner on your own.

Walking: moderate

Day 8

Heraklion and the Archeological Museum

Your morning will begin with a tour of Heraklion, named after the first Herakles and creator of the Olympic games, you’ll begin to see how bronze age Crete influenced the development of Greece. About mid-way between Greece and Egypt, Crete was a gateway between earlier eastern cultures and the later western ones. This bronze age civilization holds the key to the Greek language and the foundations to many of their myths. 

After your walking tour through town you will visit the Archeological Museum for a glimpse into the daily life of a Minoan three to four thousand years ago. You’ll see some of Europe’s most beautiful frescoes and art that reflects the matrilineal culture with celebrations of dance, bull-jumping, and community feasts. 

Day 9

The Palace of Knossos

After breakfast in your hotel, your guide will lead you through the archeological palace of Knossos. Once the center of Minoan royalty, this palace tells the story of a bronze age civilization with running water, plumbing, and a complex system of trade. It was here, according to legend, that Theseus defeated the minotaur with the help of Ariadne. In this respect, your tour will come full circle as the Greek islands tell the story of the development of Greece. 

You will return to Heraklion after your morning tour for a free afternoon. Take time to chat with local artisans and explore town or enjoy a glass of local wine overlooking the sea before regrouping for tonight’s farewell dinner.

Day 10

The Next Journey Begins

Breakfast is included this day but there are no planned activities. Catch a boat or flight to Athens, or consider spending a few more days discovering the incredible hikes, beaches, food, farms, and local cuisine that Crete offers. Whether you stay or return home your Alithea guide will be available to help with travel plans throughout breakfast.

Day 11

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Day 15
sample Itinerary
· Day 1  
Arrive in Rome, get settled into the Villa Lante, our beautiful convent residence. This afternoon we’ll stroll through the city visiting Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the Capitoline, and the Pantheon before celebrating our first night with a traditional Roman dinner.

· Day 2
This morning we’ll visit the Forum and Palatine, taking time to read excepts from Cicero, Plutarch, and Livy.

· Day 3
Today we’ll travel to Subiaco to visit the first Monastery of Saint Benedict. Returning to the city after lunch, we’ll stop to see Santa Costanza, Saint Agnese outside the walls, and the Catacombs of Priscilla.

· Day 4
This morning we’ll visit the Scavi of Saint Peters, tour the Basilica, then visit the Vatican Museum.

· Day 5
After breakfast this morning, we’ll depart for Pompeii, the ancient Roman city destroyed (and preserved) by the eruption of Vesuvius.  

· Day 6
Students who wish to attend Sunday services this morning may do so. In the later part of the day we’ll regroup to visit Saint Peter in Chains, San Clemente, and conclude the day with vespers.  

· Day 7
This morning we will visit the Borghese Gallery and make a tour of churches with the works of Caravaggio in Rome.

· Day 8
We’ll depart by train for Florence. After checking into our hotel, we’ll visit the central market for lunch, have a walking tour through Medieval and Renaissance Florence, and conclude with a visit to the Accademia and Michelangelo’s David.

· Day 9
This morning we’ll visit San Marco, visit the Baptistry and climb Bruneleschi’s dome. This afternoon we’ll be free to explore the city in small groups before regrouping for vespers in San Miniato.  

· Day 10
This morning we’ll visit the Uffizi Gallery followed by a free afternoon with small group visits to Dante’s house, the Bargello, and Santa Croce. This evening we’ll celebrate with a Tuscan feast.

· Day 11
Depart Florence, fly home.

12 Days In Turkey

· Istanbul, 3 days: Hagia Sophia, Hagai Irene, Chora, Patriarchate, underground cistern, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace

· Cappadocia, 3 days: Gorem church, underground city and churches, open air monastery, Hittite Pottery lecture, and hot air balloon ride.

· Pergamon, 1 night: an ancient Roman city where Paul preached and one of the churches of Revelation.

· Sardis, stop only: One of the oldest synagogues, one of the churches of Revelation to whom it is written:  “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”

· Loadacia, (2 nights in Pamukkale): one of the churches of Revelation, to whom it is written: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.”

· Hierapolis: archeological site of the ancient city and the monument to the martyrdom of St. Phillip.

· Miletus: one of the stops on St. Paul’s third missionary journey.

· Ephesus, (3 nights Kusadisi): the Basilica of Saint John, Ephesus, House of Mary, and Basilica of Mary

· Tarsus, (possible extension): the birthplace of St. Paul, center of stoic philosophy, where paul trained at the gymnasium

· Antioch, (possible extension): the church of St. Peter (one of the oldest churches in the world), center of Paul’s missionary journeys, and first site where Christians took the name.


Guided by the image of the Incarnation, that “God was made flesh and dwelt among us” in order that we might become like Him, a pilgrimage is more than a trip to the places of the bible, to the sites of the early church, or to the homes of the saints, it is a journey that seeks to place the image of Christ in us that we might be made more like Him.


The antidote to consumer travel, the goal of pilgrimage is for travelers to stand as Moses before the burning bush, to be transformed, and to have their own lives taken up and changed by the spiritual realities they seek.

Each day will incorporate suggested readings from scripture and the writings of the early church, time for private or shared reflection and prayer, and meals that celebrate the joy of God in neighbor.

A prayerful understanding of place

For Christians, place is never just the created, natural order, nor is it pure, spiritual reality, it must always be both. A pilgrimage encounter with place must both seek God in place, in the finite and particular, through the lives and examples of the Saints and it must require travelers to take those footsteps themselves, each traveler must seek to move through place to God. From this perspective, pilgrimage is an image of prayer, it seeks to turn the body, the footsteps, the act of every traveler into the image of prayer.


The modern country is the geographic center of many of the events of the bible and early church. It is in in Turkey that Abraham circumcised Isaac, that Jacob wrestled the angel, that Paul and Peter founded the church of Antioch, that Byzantine Christianity thrived for more than thousand years, and to this day it is the home of the Armenian Apostolic tradition, the Assyrian church, and it is the only county where Aramaic, the language of Christ, is still spoken.


To challenge the apathy and aimlessness of our current cultural moment with mental discipline and rigorous training.


• Early morning workouts
• Rucking
• Pre-dawn Mount Kerkis hike
• Hike to Cave of Pythagoras
• Underwater rock hauling
• Megalo Seitani hike
• Ice baths
• Roasted lamb or goat on a spit
• Big meals with an abundance of food, roasted meats, wine, toasts, and a spirit of fellowship and conviviality
• Camaraderie, contemplation, and conversation
• Open-water swims and spearfishing (optional)


SQ4 coaches men to achieve a higher level of fitness and athletic excellence by blending the principles of ancient philosophy with the empirical depth of modern exercise science designed to permanently enhance their life, mindset, habits, and physique.


The key to a lasting fitness transformation is understanding the layered nature of man.  The SQ4 methodology is based on the ancient understanding of man and virtue that transcends cultures and epochs:

• Psyche – Life – Courage
• Nous – Mindset – Wisdom
• Pneuma – Habits – Temperance
• Soma – Physique – Justice


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• Daily pilates
• Biking the trans humana ancient shepherd paths
• Cooking lesson
• Winery and Olive Oil visits
• Castel del Monte of Frederick II
• Visits to locals towns
• Relaxing evenings of wine, food, and a spirit of celebration
• Practicing keeping the body young with age
• Meeting with local pottersSpa and self-care


More than a trip to Italy, this weeklong travel-retreat will focus on being healthy physically and mentally through activities that nourish and rejuvenate. Whether detoxing from cell phones, work, or other daily demands, this is an opportunity to be in the moment, to enjoy delicious Italian food, wine, and the fresh perspectives provided by a stunning Italian landscape.


Self care doesn’t just mean pampering, it means intentionality. Pilates trains your body to make intelligent movements that support your body all day, every day. Travel encourages a perspective of vulnerability, of stepping into the new and beautiful in order to rediscover the new and beautiful within yourself. From this perspective, an experience of the ‘importance of place’ in Puglia is equally to realize that connectedness within yourself.


6 lunches and dinners
All transportation to tour related activities, including our private bus and ferry rides
9 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.
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For further questions don't hesitate to reach out to us directly.



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.


For further questions don't hesitate to reach out to us directly.

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Reserve Your Place

The Cycladic Islands and Crete

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
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