The cradle of Western civilisation and the capital of Greece, Athens is splendidly located on twelve hills overlooking the Saronic Gulf - take the funicular to the summit of Lycabettus Hill for unforgettable views. The city is dominated by the Acropolis with its iconic temples including the Parthenon, while within a short distance of Athens lies the Temple of Poseidon. Explore the triangle of historic districts – Thission, Psyrri and Plaka where picturesque cobbled streets are lined with nineteenth century neoclassical homes. Enjoy a fun evening in traditional style at the renowned live bouzoukia.
Blessed with olive groves, pine forests, little-discovered beaches and well-preserved archaeological treasures, the Peloponnese present the perfect blend of leisure and culture. Historic Nafplion boasts neoclassical architecture, a vista dominated by Palamidi Castle, a second castle in the harbour and a cornucopia of congenial tavernas. Enjoy breathtaking treks past Byzantine chapels, watermills and Mycenaean tombs, or gentler strolls to Vythismata and the Bisti Forest at Ermioni. Take an airborne tour or join a sailing excursion around uninhabited islets to swim in secluded coves. On the cosmopolitan island of Spetses, horse-drawn carriages pass Venetian mansions while Hydra is renowned for its vibrant nightlife. Costa Navarino delights with its Neolithic ruins, Mycenaenean palaces, Byzantine churches and medieval castles. On the slopes of Mount Ithomi, Messene’s circuit walls run for 9km, interspersed with entry gates and vast theatre arenas, while Olympia was the birthplace of the Olympic Games around the eighth century BC. The Polylimnio lakes and waterfalls provide cool respite, or escape the heat in the magnificent chambers of the Diros Cave.
Remnants of ancient cultures mixed with upmarket resorts and charming towns. The luxury hotels of Elounda attract aficionados of the Aegean with picturesque beaches and views across to the popular day escape of Spinalonga Island. Or visit Kritsa, a traditional mountain village, famed for its Kritsa Champagne – the ultra pure local spring water. Agios Nikolaos, by the largest bay on Crete, offers an attractive waterfront culture and marina, a place to relax.
Sailing into the crescent-shaped, steep-sided volcanic caldera of Santorini is simply breathtaking. High up on the cliff face lie the traditional villages of Oia, from where 286 steps lead down to the beach of Ammoudi, and Imerovigli with its houses built amphitheatrically around the crater rim.
The trident-like peninsulas of Halkidiki are lapped by turquoise seas and backed by lush forests interlaced with paths for mountain biking and walking, the Koutsoupia-Siviri hiking trail being particularly spectacular. Visit the 700,000 year old caves of Petralona OR strike out into the less-populated Sithonia peninsula with its remote sandy beaches. Picturesque villages abound – Athitos having cobblestone alleys, relaxing beach bars and mesmerising ocean views, while bustling Thessaloniki offers museums and colourful shopping. Boat tours of the Athos peninsula brings vistas of Mount Athos and isolated monasteries.
Cosmopolitan and lively, picture-perfect Mykonos is famed for the white-washed windmills which overlook Mykonos Town, and the lively nightlife which centres around the harbour. Meander through a maze of tiny lanes peppered with boutiques, galleries and convivial bars, stopping off in Little Venice where two-storey Venetian houses and trendy cafes line the seafront. Also worth seeing in the town is the church complex of Panagia Paraportiani, located close to the old Venetian castle in Kastro.