Tour type: Shoestring
Group size: Min: 4 | Max: 50
Accommodation: 4-star hotels
Transport: A/C car/minibus
Highlights: Acropolis & Parthenon in Athens, Mycenae, Mediterranean coast at Nafplion, Palamidi fortress, ancient theatre of Epidaurus, birth place of the Olympics at Olympia, Temple of Apollo at Delphi, clifftop monasteries at Meteora
This week long Greece tour provides a great introduction to Athens, some of the surrounding highlights from ancient Greek history, and a taste of the country's beautiful scenery. We start with a tour of Athens itself, taking in the ancient sites of the Acropolis and some of modern Athens below as well. Next we head west towards Mycenea with several stops and some scenic coastal scenery along the way, including an overnight stop at the beautiful Metiterranean town of Napflion. Our guide will provide explanations about Greek history and mythology, relating them to the places you're visiting along the way. Its an amazing feeling seeing the actual places where heroes and heroines from mythology played out their stories.
Our next stop is Olympia, birthplace of the Olympics and more ancient sites, before we stop to tour the temples and ruins at Delphi. Our final stop is to visit the stunning scenery and clifftop monasteries of Meteora before we return to Athens.
This is a group tour with regular departures all year round, staying in comfortable hotels at around the 4-star level. We can also arrange the tour privately if you would prefer not to join a group.
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.
Extra day in Athens - pre-tour
Single room supplement (GRSGCG)
Our tour of Athens starts this morning at the Panathenaikon (Kallimarmaro) Stadium where we'll learn about the first Olympic Games of the modern era which were held here in 1896. Continuing on we make several other stops to see more of ancient and modern Athens, including the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, the Parliament building, memorial to the Unknown Soldier, the Academy, the University, the National Library, and Constitution Square (Syntagma).
In the afternoon we head to one of the most important and famous ancient sites in the world, the Acropolis, which sits on top of a rocky hill overlooking the city, providing great views. You'll see the temple of Erechtheion, the Propylae, the Temple of Athena Nike, and of course the most famous of Greek relics, the Partheno where you'll see the original home of the marble sculptures removed by Lord Elgin that are now held in the British Museum in London.
We'll then return to our hotel and have a free evening to find one of the city's famous local tavernas or restaurants, perhaps sampling the bustling atmosphere and winding streets of the Plaka.
We leave Athens early this morning and cross the Corinth Canal en-route to the UNESCO WOrld Heritage Site of Mycenae. Here we'll see the home of mythical Agamemnon, the Lions gate, royal tombs and the Cyclopean walls. After touring these sites with our guide we head on to Nafplion which was the first capital of Greece in the region of Argolis. The picturesque town here nestles at the foot of a cliff with the mighty ramparts of the Palamidi Fortress towering above. We'll spend the night here and you can head into town in the evening to eat and explore the twisting streets, sophisticated atmosphere, see the numerous Venetian and Turkish buildings, and enjoy the views.
We leave Nafplion early this morning and head to Olympia. This is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, which are thought to have begun here in 776 BC as part of a religious festival in honour of the king of the gods, Zeus. We'll visit the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia and learn more about the games' history, taking in the Temple of Zeus and Hera, the Stadium, the altar of the Olympic flame, and the museum which hosts an impressive statue of Hermes of Praxiteles.
Later in the afternoon we leave Olympia and head north over the Rio-Antirio Bridge to Delphi.
Delphi was once considered the centre of the ancient world and we'll tour a range of sites here including the remains of the Temple of Apollo which are remarkably well preserved. We also take in the Temple of Athena, the Oracle of Delphi and the Castalian Spring before you can explore the Archaeological Museum of Delphi which hosts some of ancient Greece's best remaining masterpieces such as Eniochos the bronze Charioteer.
Later we head further inland through some beautiful villages and towns of Central Greece, seeing some of the traditional local architecture, before arriving at the small picturesque city of Kalambaka which nestles at the foot of the mountains of Meteora.
This morning's tour is truly spectacular, as we explore the unique landscape and rock formations of Meteora. There are towering cliffs here with ancient Christian monasteries built perched on the tops. We will visit some of the monasteries and also enjoy the amazing views to them across the valleys and marvel at how they must have been built.
Note: The monasteries at Meteora have a strict dress code. Women need to wear a long skirt, dress or sarong (trousers or shorts covering the knees are not enough). Men must wear long trousers. Sleeveless shirts are not allowed. Please ensure you have appropriate clothing ready for this day.
We'll then return to Athens, passing Trikala, Lamia and Thermopylae, taking a short stop on the way to see Leonida's Monument. Finally we back to Athens in the early evening for your final night in the city.
Your tour ends after breakfast this morning and your time is free for some final exploring of Athens, or souvenir shopping at your leisure before we transfer you back to the airport for your departure. Extra nights in the Athens hotel are available on request.
Extra day in Athens - post-tour
Note: From the start of 2023 this tour will change in style to one of our Shoestring type trips. The maximum group size will be 45 people and we may share departures with other operators. Prices for 2023 departures are lower to reflect these changes.
This tour is also available for booking privately for travel anytime through the year, and we can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often use 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.
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.Please check the Single Room Supplement option for details on room sharing options and charges for solo travellers on this tour.
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 tours start and finish in Athens and are served by Athens international airport (ATH). Transfers from other airports, including on the Greek islands may also be included if your tour starts/finishes there - please check the tour inclusions/exclusions for details.
We do also sometimes advertise flight inclusive packages from selected airports. Where these are shown on our website, prices are correct at the time of quoting, but are subject to continued availability of the fare used. Prices will be reconfirmed at the time of booking, and we will also provide the flight times and airline details before tickets are issued.
Flight inclusive prices are based on the cheapest Economy ticket class available which is generally non-refundable and non-changeable unless the flight is cancelled for reasons such as Covid-19, in which case the airlines are more flexible. More flexible ticket options, as well as Premium Economy and Business Class tickets are available on request for an additional supplement. Any changes made to flight inclusive bookings will be subject to the airline rules on your ticket.
Our Greece Shoestring tours are 'seat in coach' type trips, shared with other operators and run with a maximum of 50 travellers, and a minimum of 4 (average around 15-25).
On our Greek tours we provide a professional local English speaking tour guide to accompany for all the historic sightseeing in and around Athens, Olympia and Delphi.
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.
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)
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.
More information is available here: Greece
Malaria map - there is low to no risk of malaria in Greece, none in tourist areas.
Yellow fever certificates are not required.
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 at visas for foreigners.
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.
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 your tour includes car hire, ior 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.
Before purchasing any travel insurance, please check the coverage provided for situations related to Covid-19, and for the rules about government travel advice. Your normal policy may not be suitable. Details about our own policies cover levels are given on our website.
We are a UK registered company and are committed to providing our customers with financial protection to provide peace of mind and to allow you to book with confidence.
We have therefore partnered with Trust My Travel Ltd., which provides financial protection services to over 2000 partners around the world. Funds paid to us by our customers are protected via an Insurance policy held by Trust My Travel. Each traveller and the description of services sold is declared against Trust My Travel’s insurance policy directly against our financial failure. In the event of our insolvency, you will be refunded for any unfulfilled products and/or repatriation to the UK (where applicable). 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.
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.