In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: from Boy to King
For more than 2,000 years Alexander the Great has excited the imagination of people around the globe. This archaeological tour in Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a unique opportunity to retrace his early footsteps from his birth through to the beginning of his extraordinary 22,000 mile journey of conquest. Following in Alexander’s footsteps, we will explore the very best that ancient and modern Greece has to offer, from fascinating archaeological sites and museums to stunning mountain scenery and gorgeous sea-views. We will sample the finest wines and cuisine that the country has to offer, and see how the forces that Alexander unleashed shaped the development of the modern country itself. This tour not only provides an unrivalled introduction to Alexander and his world, but is perhaps the most complete and stimulating tour of Greece on the market today.
Travelling back through time we’ll explore the world Alexander grew up in, from the palace in which he was born to the rural idyll where he and his companions were educated by Aristotle. We’ll delve into Alexander’s personality and the lives of the people who inhabited his tumultuous world. We’ll follow in his footsteps from young prince to king and trace these action-packed years as he took on the mantle of warrior and leader with steely eyes set on the conquest of the Persian Empire.
Alexander’s formative years were dominated by the rapid expansion of the Macedonian kingdom, as his father Philip II carved out vast new provinces. We will explore this expanded realm from East to West and North to South, following routes that Alexander took as regent to his father, while familiarising himself with the land that he was born to rule. We will explore the lakes and forests of Western Macedonia, the new cities of Herakleia Lynkestis and Philippi that his father founded to secure his realm, and the rich and fertile heartland of the kingdom itself: Pella, Vergina and Edessa. We will visit the sites of some of the most famous sieges and battles that accompanied this rapid expansion, from the cities of Methone, Olynthos and Stageira to the battlefield of Chaironeia.
Having explored the epicentre of Alexander’s kingdom, and stood in the magnificent tomb where his father was laid to rest, we will head south into the heartland of ancient Greece. Here we investigate the cities and sanctuaries that played a key role in the development of Macedonia. From Delphi to Corinth, Olympia, Athens and Thebes, we visit some of the most significant sites in the ancient world.
Our adventure finishes in the most important sanctuary of the Macedonians, Dion, where Alexander feasted with his men and prepared them for the battles and marches to come on their epic journey east.
On this tour we will see some of the greatest temples, cities and tombs of the Greek and Macedonian world. We will travel through lush forests and steep mountain ranges; we will gaze out on the Aegean Sea and sleep by the shores of a beautiful lake. Along the way we’ll enjoy some of the best cuisine and wines that this wonderful region has to offer, and experience its renowned hospitality time and time again.
Why don’t you join us for this once in a lifetime adventure!
Day 1: Arrival in Thessaloniki. Meet at the airport and transfer to hotel. Welcome drink and dinner.
Day 2: A day in Thessaloniki, the great modern metropolis of Northern Greece. An introduction to the tour in the archaeological museum, followed by some of the greatest sites of the city.
Day 3: We drive west to the birthplace of Alexander the Great: the Macedonian Palace at Pella. We’ll explore the stunning new museum and walk through the shattered remains of the ancient city before continuing on to Mieza, where Aristotle taught Alexander and his companions in a beautiful river-side setting.
Day 4: Crossing the northern border into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, we will visit the site of Herakleia Lynkestis, which was founded by Alexander’s father to protect the fertile valley it overlooks. Returning to Greece, we will travel through the rich forests of Western Macedonia.
Day 5: The western cantons of Macedonia were famed for their abundant natural resources and beautiful mountain scenery. We’ll walk through the lovely lakeside town of Kastoria, exploring its churches and traditional houses, before heading south to the site of ancient Aiani and on to the magnificent waterfalls at Edessa. We’ll walk through the ancient city at the base of the cliffs and then up to the modern town to enjoy its panoramic views.
Day 6: The city of Olynthos is famous for its extensive housing quarters, which provide a clear insight into domestic life at the time of Alexander: he was eight years old when his father took the city by force and sold its citizens into slavery. After exploring the city, we will relax in our hotel at the neck of the Athos peninsula, looking towards the mountain into which Deinocrates wanted to carve Alexander’s portrait – an ancient Mount Rushmore that was never to be.
Day 7: Stageira, the city of Aristotle’s birth, was also destroyed by Alexander’s father, Philip II, but unlike Olynthos it was rebuilt: rumour had it that Aristotle insisted on this as part of his fee for educating Alexander. We finish the day at Amphipolis, the final mustering point for Alexander’s expedition to the east.
Day 8: We cross over to Thasos, a rich island state that had controlled valuable gold and silver mines on the mainland. The modern town is overlaid on the ancient, and we will stroll from site to site through the midst of a peaceful island capital.
Day 9: To Philippi, the easternmost city in Macedonia (founded by and named after Alexander’s father – Philip II). It controlled the gold mines that had previously been run by Thasos, and provided a substantial part of the wealth that made Alexander’s expedition possible. Its garrison protected the routes east from Macedonia, and watched over the initial stage of Alexander’s march.
Day 10: A free day to unwind in a charming hotel in Edessa, or to explore the nearby town of Veroia at your own pace, with its wonderful Classical and Byzantine museums and beautiful views over the central Macedonian plain. In Alexander’s day it was one of the major cities of the area, and he would have regularly walked its streets.
Day 11: At Vergina we stand at the entrance to the theatre where Philip II was murdered and Alexander was proclaimed King of the Macedonians. Entering the magnificent burial mound that Alexander prepared for his father, one can but marvel at the riches with which he buried him. We finish our day at the spectacular monasteries of Meteora: clinging to sheer rock spires that soar out of the Thessalian plain they overlook one of the main routes south along which Alexander took his army.
Day 12: Heading south in Alexander’s footsteps, as he responded to reports of revolt amongst Macedonia’s Greek allies, we will visit the archaeological museum in Lamia and continue on to the battlefield of Chaironeia where Alexander commanded the heavy cavalry at the age of just 18, and won the battle with a brilliant manoeuvre.
Day 13: To Delphi, one of the greatest sanctuaries of the ancient world, and a great opportunity to consider the role of religion in Alexander’s life: he controlled the governing body of Delphi through his command of the northern Greek cities.
Day 14: To Olympia, which played a key role in the ideology of the Macedonian Kings. Alexander’s father arranged for a beautiful group of statues to be erected here that represented his close family and demonstrated to everyone that Alexander was his chosen successor: he was the only one of Philip’s children to be portrayed.
Day 15: We visit Corinth, the headquarters of the league of Greek states that Philip and Alexander assembled to support their expedition to the east. We will walk through the main town, exploring the temples and market place, before climbing to the upper city, the Acrocorinth, to enjoy the magnificent views over the Argo-Saronic gulf.
Day 16: We will explore Athens, the capital of modern Greece and a major early adversary of Alexander. We will walk between the splendid remains of the ancient city: the Acropolis and its wonderful new museum is a major highlight of the tour.
Day 17: A chance to rest and relax in the morning, or shop and explore. In the afternoon we will visit the National Archaeological Museum to see the greatest treasures of Southern Greece.
Day 18: North to Thebes, which besieged its Macedonian garrison when it thought Alexander had been killed, and paid a heavy price when he sold its citizens into slavery and razed the city to the ground. We will picnic at the battlefield of Thermopylae before continuing North.
Day 19: Alexander spent many days at Dion, the most important Macedonian sanctuary, before setting out on his eastern expedition. We will walk through the fields where his troops were marshalled, see where his opulent tent was pitched, the theatre in which he held contests, and the site of the altar where he sacrificed to solicit the aid of the King of the Gods. We will end the day in Thessaloniki, with time for last minute shopping before a farewell dinner.
Day 20: Transfer to the airport at Thessaloniki for flights home.
This is a previous tour itinerary. However, we can offer it as a private tour. Please see our Gulet Charters page for more information.