Tour type: Shoestring
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 45
Accommodation: 4-star hotels
Transport: AC minibus/coach
Highlights: Athens tour including the Panathenaic Stadium, Acropolis & Parthenon, Thebes, Levadia, picturesque village of Arachova, Temple of Apollo at Delphi, spectacular mountain scenery & monasteries at Meteora
If you're looking for a taste of the ancient history and the beauty of Greece, but you're on a budget, then this 5-day shoestring tour of Greece is ideal for you.
The tour starts in Greece's capital city of Athens, where we'll explore its main attractions such as the marbled Panathenaic Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, the Parliament and the memorial to the Unknown Soldier, the Academy, the University, the National Library and Constitution Square. We'll also visit the famous Acropolis, which boasts some of Greece's most important architectural monuments including the Pergamon which overlooks the city.
From Athens, we travel to Delphi, taking in the beauty of its famous archaeological site which houses the the remains of the sanctuaries of Apollo and Athena Pronaia. From Delphi, we head into the hills and to Kalambaka - the gateway to Meteora. The scenery here is spectacular with towering cliffs and forests overlooking the town. Over twenty monasteries perch on the mountain-tops and cliff-sides, with six still in use today. After exploring and visiting some of these we return to Athens to finish the tour.
Extensions to this Greece tour are available to many of the Greek islands in the Aegean if you would like to add some time relaxing and exploring by the sea.
Upon arrival into Athens airport (ATH) you'll be met by one of our representatives who will then transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is then free for you to settle in, relax after your flight, and have a look around the area independently before meeting the group and starting the first sightseeing tours tomorrow morning.
Single room supplement (GRSHTG)
Extra day in Athens - pre-tour (EXGR2S)
Our first full day of our Greece tour will see us head out on a city tour of Athens. Our first stop is at the Panathenaic Stadium, which hosted the very first modern Olympics in 1896 and is the only stadium on the planet built entirely of marble. We'll also make our way to the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian's Arch - which was built in 131 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as part of a wall separating the old and new cities of Athens.
Our journey through Athens also takes us to the Parliament and the memorial to the Unknown Soldier, the Academy, the University, the National Library and the Constitution Square.
Later in the day, we'll make our way to the Acropolis, which is an ancient citadel perched on a rocky outcrop above the city and houses some of Greece's most famous architectural masterpieces such as the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and the Parthenon - which was built to honour the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron.
After spending the day exploring the beauty of Athens, we leave early as we make our way to the town of Delphi. The journey to Delphi takes you through Thebes, Levadia and Arachova - a mountainous village nestling picturesquely at the foothills of Mount Parnassus.
Once we arrive in Delphi, we'll make our way to its famous archaeological site, which houses the remains of the sanctuaries of Apollo and Athena Pronaia, as well as an ancient stadium and theater. Delphi Archaeological Museum displays artifacts found among the ruins. We'll also visit the marbled Treasury of the Athenians, which was used to store the rich offerings of the kings.
Later in the day, we'll say goodbye to Delphi as we make our way to the traditional Greek village of Kalambaka, the gateway to the ancient Meteora monuments. We'll spend the rest of the evening in Kalambaka.
Our day starts with a trip to the unique rock formations at Meteora - A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to over twenty mountaintop and cliffside monasteries, some which are still in use today, these places of worship were used by Monks in the 14th century who were searching for a safe place to live and worship. As a result, the only way to access many of the monasteries was by rock climbing or being carried up in a basket. The scenery here is spectacular and a photographer's dream.
Later in the day, we'll return to Athens by travelling through Trikala, Lamia, Thermopylae, stopping along the way to see the statue of Leonidas, which was erected to commemorate the Battle of Thermopylae.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. If your flight is later in the day, feel free to do some last minute shopping or exploring in Athens, before we transfer you to the airport to board your flight back home. You could also extend your tour by heading into the Aegean Sea to visit one or more of the famous Greek islands.
Extra day in Athens - post-tour (EXGR2E)
Greek island extensions
This budget tour has weekly group departures throughout the year. Departures are shared with other operators and some travellers may continue their tour on a longer itinerary from before returning to Athens.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Athenaeum Palace and Suites
This 4-star hotel in Athens offers comfortable accommodation and a range of facilities. It is located near Onassis Cultural Centre and Filopappos Hill. Rooms are air-conditioned. Free WiFi is available and a range of services is offered.
Athenaeum Palace and Luxury Suites is located in Athens, minutes away from the Onassis Cultural Centre and Filopappos Hill. Rooms and suites are air-conditioned, featuring private bathrooms and flat-screen TVs, and some have balconies. An on-site restaurant serves Greek cuisine, and breakfast is also available. Free WiFi is available in all areas, while services on offer include a 24-hour front desk, a tour desk, room service, and laundry service (additional charge).
Athenaeum Grand Hotel
The Athenaeum Grand is a new, modern style hotel with 90 rooms, all with unobstructed views over Athens. The location is good, only 5 mins walk from the lively Koukaki area and around 25 mins walk from the Acropolis or the Plaka.
The Athenaeum Grand is a new, modern style hotel with 90 rooms, all with unobstructed views over Athens. The location is good, only 5 mins walk from the lively Koukaki area and around 25 mins walk from the Acropolis or the Plaka. There are bus stops right outside and the hotel also provides a free shuttle bus to and from the Acropolis.
The buffet breakfast is varied, and the hotel also has a restaurant for dining at lunchtime and evenings.
Rooms are comfortable and well appointed with hardwood floors and soft clours. Hairdryers and free toiletries are provided. Some rooms have a balcony or terrace.
The hotel also provides a free smartphone to guests during their stay which can be used for both local and international calls, plus unlimited mobile data.
Grand Meteora Hotel
This modern hotel is found at the foot of the massive Meteora formations in Greece. Its rooms and suites are fully-equipped. There is free WiFi, a restaurant, and a conference hall.
Grand Meteora Hotel is found in the Greek town of Kalambaka, at the foot of the famous Meteora formations. It features classic rooms and grand suites, all with views of the Meteora, free WiFi access, TVs, aircons, hairdryers, and more. The restaurant serves breakfast, daily specials, and dinner. The hotel also has a conference hall.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
Our tours in Greece use a range of hotels mainly at the local 4-star level with some more boutique style properties or deluxe guesthouses also used where possible, especially on the Greek Islands. Please check the Accommodation section for more information on the normal accommodation used on this tour. This list is given as a guide though and hotels may change from time to time to others of a similar standard. If you have specific requests for individual hotels, please contact us about a private/tailor-made tour.
We regularly inspect all the hotels we use to ensure that the service you receive is as close as possible to your expectations. Please check your hotel room when you first arrive (hot water, cleanliness etc.), as our rep will be available for a short time to help in case of any problems.
We will contact you with your arrival hotel details normally a couple of weeks before departure.
Check-in Times: Official hotel check-in times in Greece are between 14.00 and 15.00. However, we do always try to ensure that if you arrive early, you can check into your room as soon as possible. We can nearly always get you into your hotel rooms by midday, but please understand that it is out of our control if the hotel is full and it takes a little longer. You will have full use of the hotel facilities while you wait if there is a short delay.
Greek Islands: The winter season on the Greek islands (November to March on Santorini, October to April on quieter islands) is very quiet, with many hotels closing completely. When necessary we therefore book alternatives that we feel provide a good experience suitable to the season. This generally means we aim more for smaller boutique style hotels and guesthouses that have a better location, being much closer to the shops and restaurants that are still open, rather than larger more properties further out that may have swimming pools and more space (which would not generally be used in winter anyway due to the cool weather, even were they to remain open).
Shoestring tours: On our shoestring tours hotel upgrade options may be available and due to the potential larger group sizes sometimes more than one hotel may be used in each location. This may mean that more than one hotel pick up and drop off is required at the start and end of each day. If necessary, these are timed so that the overall sightseeing time planned for the day is not affected.
Our Greece tours use a mix of air conditioned minivans, minibuses and coaches depending on the size of the group.
Ferry journeys to the Greek islands are booked in advance and approximate timings are given in our tour itineraries or on request. These are subject to change however, and any tour that visits the islands is subject to adjustments and amendments based on the available ferry schedules. While it does not happen often, sometimes ferry schedules are changed without notice and ferries may also be cancelled completely due to poor weather conditions. In this event the program may need to be adjusted and you may end up spending more or less time in one location than originally planned. This is the nature of travel between the islands and we thank you for your patience and understanding in the rare event of this occurring.
Where internal flights are used these will be detailed in the itinerary and fares will be included in your tour price unless otherwise specificed.
Our tours in Greece include your arrival and departure airport-hotel transfers and all other transfers.
Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary, plus on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour.
Most of our Greece group tours start and finish in Athens international airport (ATH).
This Greece shoestring level tour is designed to allow you to explore Greece in comfort but on a budget. To achieve this, we share departures on this tour with other operators and work with a larger potential maximum group size than on our small-group tours. The minimum group size is 2, and the maximum 45, with average numbers generally around 25-30. This is a 'seat in coach' style tour so some other travellers in the group may be doing a slightly different itinerary or not be with you for the entire trip. Pick ups and drop-offs may be required from more than one hotel in Athens subject to the final size and make-up of the group.
Please do not book any connecting travel (eg. international flights) until we confirm your booking.
This tour includes a professional multilingual tour guide to escort you on all the sightseeing tours in and around Athens, Delphi and Meteora.
The Greek language is ancient and has a documented record which spans three and a half thousand years and has contributed much to all Western languages. As such it is a strong element of national continuity and pride.
You'll find you won't have much of a problem with the language barrierr as English is well communicated by many Greeks, especially in the Islands.
Below you will find some important phrases that will have you sounding like a Greek in no time!
Good afternoon / evening= Kalispera (kah-lees-PEH-rah)
Good night = Kalinikta (kah-lee-NEEK-tah)
Goodbye = kherete (KHE-reh-tay)
Hello = Yassou (YAH-sue)
How are you? = Ti kanis? (tee-KAH-nis)
Well / good = Poli kala (po-LEE kah-LAH)
Thank you = Efkharisto (eff-kah-rees-TOH)
You're welcome / please = Parakalo (pah-rah-kah-LOH)
Sorry = Signomi (seegh-NO-mee)
Yes = Ne (neh)
No = Ohi (OH-hee)
What's your name? = Pos se lene? (POHS seh LEH-neh)
My name is... = Me lene... (meh LEH-neh...)
Can you help me? = Borite na me? (boh-REE-teh nah)
What time is it? = Ti ora ine? (tee OH-rah EE-neh)
Where is...? = Pou ine? (POO EE-neh)
I want... = Thelo (THEH-loh)
How much is it? = Poso kani (poh-soh KAH-nee)
Left = Aristera (ah-rees-teh-RAH)
Right = Dexia (thek-see-AH)
Open = Aniktos (ah-neek-TOHS)
Closed = Klistos (klees-TOHS
Do you speak English? = Milas Anglika? (mee-LAHS Ang-lee-KAH?)
I don't understand = Den Katalaveno (then-kah-tah-lag-VEH-no)
Escorted tours and tailor-made trips generally always include site entry fees in the price - please check the Inclusions/Exclusions section for details.
However, our Greece Small group and Shoestring tour prices do not include entrance fees to the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. You will need to cover the cost of these as you go along. Current prices are shown below, though these are subject to change by the local authorities at any time. A 50% discount is currently available on some fees during the winter months of November to March. Not all of the entrance fees below apply to all tours - please check your itinerary and the inclusions/exclusions section for a budget for your trip.
Athens - Acropolis - Summer EUR 20, Winter EUR 10
Athens - Acropolis Museum - Summer EUR 5, Winter EUR 5
Athens - Hadrian's Arch - Free
Athens - Panathenaic Stadium - Free
Athens - Parthenon - Free
Athens - Propylaea - Free
Athens - Temple of Athena Nike - Free
Athens - Temple of Olympian Zeus - Free
Corinth Canal - Free
Delphi Ancient Site & Museum - Summer EUR 12, Winter EUR 6
Delphi - Temple of Apollo - Free
Delphi - Treasury of Athens - Free
Epidaurus Theatre - Summer EUR 12, Winter EUR 6
Mycenae - Tomb of Agamemnon - Summer EUR 12, Winter EUR 6
Nafplio - Palamidi Fortress - EUR 4
Olympia Ancient Site & Museum - Summer EUR 12, Winter EUR 6
Olympia - Temple of Zeus - Free
Meteora - 2 monasteries - Summer EUR 6, Winter EUR 6
Camera Fees: Photography may be restricted in various ways at different sites. Often flash photography is often forbidden to protect the exhibits and ancient pigments, and sometimes cameras are not allowed in at all. Please respect these rules as they are there partly for your benefit. Tickets are not generally required for normal cameras, but if you have a video camera, if its use is permitted there will sometimes be a charge.
Hotel Residence Fees: The Hellenic National Tourism Organization has announced that a residence fee will be applied on all hotel accommodation, starting from 1st January 2018. The fees must be paid by guests directly to the hotel before the end of their stay and are therefore not included in the tour price. Fees are per room per night (not per person) and have been set at EUR 1.50 for 3* hotels, EUR 3.00 for 4* hotels and EUR 4.00 for 5* hotels.
Tipping is common practice in Greece, though not as extensive as in nearby Turkey. For basic restaurants, taxis and local markets, leave the loose change. For more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. We include a 'tipping kitty' in your tour price which your tour guide/leader will use to tip a wide range of people along the way to help ensure the smooth running of the tour. This does not include your tour guide/leader, driver(s) or transfer staff though.Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. For those you see for at least several days and who are more involved with the group, a tip of around EUR 1-2 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Tour guide/tour leader: If you think you tour guide and/or tour leader has worked hard and provided a good service then s/he will appreciate a tip of a few Euros. How much you tip is subject to your satisfaction with their service and your personal budget. You should not feel pressured to tip any particular amount. As a guideline, we can suggest that for good service, a tip of EUR 3-5 per day for local tour guides or local tour leaders would be fine.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation. UK travellers visiting other European Union countries including Greece should also carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as it entitles travellers to reduced cost, sometimes free, medical treatment in most European countries.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination.
You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. No additional courses or boosters are normally recommended for Greece though you could conside Tetanus and Tick-borne Encephalitis.
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.
Some foreign nationals require a visa to enter Greece, though many do not (including UK, EUR, US, CA, AU, NZ, SA). More information is available here.
Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
The currency in Greece is the Euro (EUR). 1 Euro = 100 Euro cents. Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200. Euros Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 Euro Cents and 1, 2.
Credit Cards and Travellers Cheques are widely accepted in major cities and tourist resorts. ATMs are also accessible at all our destinations and generally offer the best exchange rate. A mixture of debit, credit cards and cash are the best forms of currency. You should split this up and keep some separately as a backup in case you lose your main money/cards.
It is difficult for us to specify the amount of money that you will spend per day, however, as a general rule EUR 25 to 50 per day can provide you with additional meals, tipping, snacks & drinks. Should you wish to purchase many souvenirs or other luxuries, of which there is a diverse range, you will have to budget for these.
Luggage: Suitcases, rucksacks or fabric holdalls are all fine to bring with you to Greece. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will normally be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips - you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always hotel porters to assist.
Luggage limits: There is no luggage limit for this tour. However, most airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 25kg for your hold luggage and between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport.
Clothing: Greece's climate changes drastically, with cold winters and hot summers. In Greece from late March to May, spring brings with it average temperatures of around 15C, though the weather does gradually warm up with sunny days interspersed with rain showers. From May to the end of October, the climate is hot and sunny, getting cooler as the year progresses. By the end of October you can expect the first of the winter snows. So you must pack for cool and potentially wet conditions late in the year.
Other items: We also recommend you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.
We run weekly group departures on this tour all year round starting on a Monday between January and March, and on Saturday throughout the summer months from April to October. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 travellers (maximum 45).
Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and on a separate dates and prices sheet available on request.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.
Taste of Greece & Country Reviews
Posted 3rd of Jan 2019
We had knowledgeable tour guides who really gave us a the context within which to visit the ancient sites. We were there during the off season, so much less crowded but operating hours for the sites were shorter. Meals and accommodations were all good quality.
Posted 13th of Aug 2018
Hotels and amenities were great. Ours was a small tour group which made it much better because we were older and would have slowed down a large group.
Posted 6th of Jul 2017
Great tour and a great value