Tour Dates

One of ’Greece’s top three cultural holidays’ – The Telegraph (2014)

One of the ’Top 10 Cultural Holidays in Greece for 2016‘ – The Telegraph (UK)

One of the ’50 Best Holidays in Greece for 2016‘ – The Times (UK)

This spectacular gulet cruise, starting in Bodrum and ending in Marmaris, takes you through the entire Dodecanese chain, beginning with the famous island of Kos and including eleven of the most beautiful and evocative of the Greek islands and no less than three UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites.

The islands’ strategic location, between the open Aegean and the mainland of Asia Minor, has made them a well-connected cultural interface throughout history. Carians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, the Crusader Knights of St. John, Ottomans and Italians visited or settled them, leaving behind a rich legacy of grandiose ancient sanctuaries, mighty castles, serene monasteries and traditional villages, all set within an ever-changing maritime scenery.

The sites you see on this itinerary include world-famous relics, like the Asklepieion of Kos, the extraordinary archaeological museum of Samos, or the medieval fortifications of Rhodes, each among the best of their kind. On the smaller, off-the-beaten-track islands you gain a more intimate view of traditional Greek island life, with their picturesque harbours, village squares adorned with pebble mosaics, and beautiful domestic architecture. These islands are also rich in diverse landscapes: craggy hilltops, strange volcanic formations, and of course coastlines featuring a succession of bays and islets. Another highlight of the cruise is the series of you will meals enjoy at selected venues throughout the islands, ranging from home cooked local cuisine in family-run tavernas to real gourmet food, the finest the region has to offer.

Sightseeing aside, your stylish gulet will moor in secluded coves, allowing you to bathe in azure seas, admire the pristine scenery, or simply relax. From fabulous food to epic history, this is a fascinating journey through Greek culture, past and present. Don’t miss it!

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Day 1: Our gulet awaits you in Bodrum harbour, about 60 minutes from Bodrum/Milas airport. Welcome drinks and dinner on board.

Day 2: We make an early crossing to Pothia, the main town and harbour of the rugged island of Kalymnos. The local archaeological museum provides a fit introduction to the earlier history of the Greek islands, demonstrating how even remote places like Kalymnos were integrated into an Aegean cultural continuum since the Bronze Age, both as recipients of cultural influences and as participants in them. The museum’s collection of sculpture, from the island’s main sanctuary to the god Apollo, but also from the bottom of the sea nearby, is one of the best in any provincial Greek museum. In the afternoon, we continue to a bay off the next island, Leros.

Day 3: On Leros, we have much to explore. The Castle of Panteli, visible from most of Leros, is actually three castles one built around the other in succession, exemplifying the structural differences between an eleventh century Byzantine fortification, one built by the Crusader Knights of Saint John in the fourteenth century, and the Knights’ own fifteenth-century modification, a reaction to the introduction of gunpowder. In the castle’s chapel, we catch a glimpse of the miracle-working icon of the Virgin of the Castle. Next, we explore Lakki Town, once Porto Lago, an Italian military town of the 1930s, built in the style known as razionalismo, an odd combination of stark fascist aesthetics, Bauhaus modernism and Art Deco eclecticism. After lunch at a local winery, we set out on a scenic crossing to the sacred island of Patmos.

Day 4: Patmos is where Saint John is believed to have received his vision of the Apocalypse. As a result, it has been a centre of Christian worship for many centuries. In the morning, we explore the resulting Byzantine riches, listed by UNESCO as World Heritage. At the monastery of the Revelation, we find a medieval church added onto the cave said to be the venue of John’s account, a place of dense atmosphere and dignity. The main Monastery of Saint John, founded nearly a thousand years ago by the Blessed Christodoulos, is one of the chief Byzantine treasures in the Aegean, sternly fortified on the outside, and serene and beautiful within, with superb frescoes revealing the full splendour of Late Byzantine art, of a quality we would expect in Istanbul/Constantinople or Thessaloniki. The monastery museum houses rare treasures, including fragments of the most famous Byzantine book, the Purple Codex, and an icon by Domenikos Theotokopoulos, the Cretan painter later known as El Greco. The monastery is surrounded by the immensely picturesque Chora, a fine town of traditional mansions from the last four or five centuries. In the afternoon, we make the long crossing to the great island of Samos.

Day 5: Our base for a few nights, the charming port village of Pythagoreio was built on the ruins of the ancient island capital. In antiquity, it was called Samos, like the island itself, but today it bears the name of the island’s most famous son, Pythagoras. Samos was one of the most powerful Greek city states in the Aegean, especially during the sixth century BC, when it was a place of unusual sophistication and innovation. We first visit the Heraion, one of the most important shrines in the region, said to be the birthplace of the goddess Hera, and of her wedding with Zeus. The sanctuary, another World Heritage site, set in an atmospheric swampy spot by the sea, was richly embellished, especially with the huge Temple of Hera, built and rebuilt in the sixth century. Next, we make our way to the island’s modern capital, Vathi, where the archaeological museum contains the rich finds from the Heraion, including fantastic examples of early Greek sculpture, among them the stunning colossal kouros, a statue of a nude young man and the largest known piece of its kind. There is also a vast array of small finds, among them bronzes from all over the eastern Mediterranean and even further afield, rare carvings in ivory and wood, and much more.

Day 6: Still on Samos, we visit the famous Tunnel of Eupalinos, a wonder of ancient Greek engineering. Cut through sheer rock during the sixth century BC, for a length of over a kilometre, it served as the base tunnel for an aqueduct tunnel below its floor, supplying the city of Samos with fresh water while being invisible to any attacker or besieger. The story of how the tunnel was made, painstakingly reconstructed by archaeologists, is truly marvellous. Next, we visit the superb and state-of-the-art archaeological museum of Pythagoreio, devoted to the life of the ancient city of Samos: its prehistory, its shrines, its graves, its art and its domestic life. In the afternoon, we set out for a cove on the eastern side of Kalymnos.

Day 7: We make an early crossing to the great island of Kos and its ancient harbour. Founded in 366 BC as a cohabitation of the earlier Koan cities, Kos Town became one of the main commercial centres in the Dodecanese, famed for its wine and set on many major trade routes. The destruction of its later successor by a devastating earthquake in 1933 led to a major rebuilding by the Italian authorities then in control of the island, and to a series of excavations, many of which are preserved as parks within the new town: a charming juxtaposition of old and new. In the afternoon, we visit the ancient harbour quarter and the agora or market, the space defining an ancient city, and the superb archaeological museum, displaying the city’s history from prehistory to the Roman era. Its collection of sculpture is superb, featuring many depictions of Greek mythological characters, as well as a wealth of other fine finds, throwing light on many aspects of ancient Kos.

Day 8: In the morning, we visit two of the most important sites on Kos. The Casa Romana, or Roman House, was the residence of wealthy and perhaps powerful Romans. Well-preserved and even better presented, it gives the best insights in Greece on upper-scale Roman living. The superb interior decorations, especially floor mosaics, are beautiful and permit us to imagine glamorous Greco-Roman lifestyles. Afterwards, we drive inland for the Asklipieion, the great sanctuary of Asklepios, the God of Healing, a place revered across the ancient world. Its remains, set on a slope with wonderful views across the sea, are a key example of Late Classical architectural planning and of the functions of an ancient sanctuary. In the afternoon, we cross to a cove off the volcanic islet of Giali for a leisurely evening.

Day 9: After a morning of swimming and relaxing off Giali, we cross to the beautiful island of Nisyros, essentially a dormant volcano. In the afternoon, we travel inland to see the stunning fortification at Paliokastro, one of the best examples of defensive architecture of the Classical and/or Hellenistic eras in the Greek Islands, in a stunning place overlooking the sea. Then, we continue to the interior of the caldera, the dormant volcanic centre of Nisyros, to walk right into the Stefanos crater, a steam-volcanic edifice that may be four thousand years old. It is a fascinating place, offering deep insights into a volatile region, which our guides explain in detail. After a superb traditional dinner on the rim of the caldera, we return to the boat in Mandraki.

Day 10: In the morning, we visit the excellent archaeological museum of Nisyros, with superb material especially from the island’s ancient cemeteries. It is an extraordinary exhibit, showing how local material can be presented in the best possible way, opening up narratives on status, gender roles, economics, politics and much more, all on the basis of the very beautiful objects discovered here. After a bit of free time to explore Mandraki, one of the loveliest of all Greek Island towns, we set out for a bay on Tilos, the ‘greenest’ island in the Dodecanese. Tilos is the first Aegean island to rely entirely on renewable energy, and the only island to ban all bird-hunting.

Day 11: In the morning, we tour Tilos, to visit the monastery of St. Panteleimon, a place in a nearly absurdly picturesque slope-side location, combining the serenity of Greek Orthodox monasticism with unusual neoclassical influences to create a unique whole. We also visit the tiny museum devoted to the island’s extinct species of pigmy elephant. These odd mammals, apparently survivors of a wider-spread species that got stranded after the last ice age (or ice ages) in many islands from Sicily via Crete to the Dodecanese, appear to have survived on Tilos until fairly recently: 6,000 years ago. Later, we make the crossing to Chalki (weather permitting), a small island not far from Rhodes. There we ascend the medieval castle and ancient acropolis as the sun sets.

Day 12: We continue to the beautiful island of Symi. Weather permitting, we stop for a lovely chance to swim in a craggy cove. Once we continue, we are eagerly watching on deck as we enter Symi’s lovely neoclassical port town, one of the prettiest sights in the Mediterranean, based on its nineteenth-century affluence from sponge-diving. Lovely pastel-coloured homes cascade down the slopes towards the harbour.  We spend the afternoon wandering Symi’s winding and stepped streets, admiring its many fine mansions, visiting the Ancient Acropolis and  Castle of the Knights of Saint John, savouring the magnificent local architecture at every step.

Day 13: We continue to Rhodes, the chief island of the Dodecanese, a major centre in Antiquity, in the Middle Ages, and now. The city of Rhodes, founded in 408 BC as a synoikismos, a moving-in-together of the earlier cities of Ialysos, Kamyros and Lindos, and thus a collective decision changing the fate of the island and its surrounding region, is a most unusual place. It was taken over by the Knights Hospitallers or Knights of Saint John in 1310, henceforth the Knights of Rhodes, leading to a complete reorganisation of the city, which stands as one of the best-preserved medieval ensembles in Europe, with streets, lanes, squares and houses still following their fourteenth-century outline. We visit the grandiose Palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights, rebuilt by the Italian occupants in the 1930s and embellished with many fine Roman mosaics from the excavations in Kos. Then, we walk the superbly-preserved ramparts that surround the medieval town and offer superb views across centuries of history.

Day 14: The former Hospital of the Knights of Rhodes, one of the most significant pieces of Crusader architecture in the Aegean, now houses the island’s chief archaeological museum. It is a rich trove of treasures, fit to be our final visit in the Dodecanese: examples of Rhodian sculpture, sensual and sensitive at the same time are one of the highlights, but the Hellenistic pebble mosaics, a Macedonian tradition transferred to wealthy Rhodian homes in the the third and second centuries BC, are as spectacular. There is also a superb display about the island’s prehistory, when Rhodes was a key recipient of first Minoan and later of Mycenaean influences. Eventually, we make the crossing to Marmaris for our farewell dinner on board.

Day 15: Transfers to Dalaman Airport, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Marmaris Harbour.

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Arrival and Departure Information

Arrival Airport – Bodrum Milas

Departure Airport – Dalaman

Embarkation will be in Bodrum (approx. 45 mins from Bodrum airport) and disembarkation will be in Marmaris (approx. 1hr 20 mins from Dalaman airport).

We plan for the gulet to depart around 17.00. You are more than welcome to arrive earlier to drop off your bags, but please be aware that the crew will be busy cleaning and tidying making everything ready for your group so you may not be able to settle in to your cabin. If you arrive at the gulet after 17:00, we will do our best to enable you to join the tour at a convenient time and place. Departure time can be subject to change depending on weather, harbour or other conditions.

Disembarkation is around 09:00. We will arrange local transfers on the first and last day of the tour.

Booking Flights If you are staying in or connecting via Athens then the easiest way to get to and from the gulet is to fly. There are a number of airlines that offer domestic flights in Greece such as Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air. Both Airlines have a wide selection of flights on these days. The cheapest way to book flights is directly with the airline online.

Please note: Flights are subject to change. Please contact the airline for exact details.

If you prefer to book with a travel agent, we are happy to recommend specialists in a number of countries around the world, please contact our office for more details.

Travel Insurance Travel insurance is a requirement of our booking conditions and we recommend you investigate the options thoroughly to make sure that your trip is properly covered. Please be advised some insurers may require you to take out a policy within 15-20 days of booking your holiday to receive all of their insurance benefits.

Visas A Visa is required to pass through Turkish customs during the cruise. Visas are easily obtained online at eVisa and must be purchased before you travel.

Citizens of European Union or Schengen Treaty member states need no visa for Greece, those from the United States, Canada and Australia do not need to apply for a visa to visit Greece for trips of less than 90 days duration.

Athens, Kos and the Greek islands If you are planning to stay in Athens before or after your tour we have included below links to more information and things to see and do. If you intend to add time on Kos or any other Greek island, we are happy to offer information and advice.

Athens Destination Guide

Nature of the Cruising the Dodecanese itinerary Cruising and Itinerary: This fabulous cruise through the Aegean, visits 11 of the Dodecanese Islands and has a character very different to that of most of our other gulet cruises. We will be crossing some stretches of wide open sea between the islands and covering considerable distances on some of the days. The Dodecanese Islands (running as a chain alongside the shore of southwest Turkey) are renowned for their wealth of nature and beauty and cruising between them offers a wonderful opportunity to experience and appreciate their fascinating diversity. There will be some early starts so we can make passage in the early morning before the wind picks up in the afternoon. While the average travelling time will be longer than our normal coastal gulet cruises, there will be opportunities to swim each day (schedule and weather permitting).

As with all of our gulet cruises, we have spent a great deal of time crafting the itinerary to be as good as it can be, but we are travelling aboard a boat and may need to make changes according to the weather and the captain’s advice.

Overnights: Compared with our coastal gulet cruises in Turkey and Italy, where we tend to spend a good number of nights moored out in isolated bays, on this trip we will be spending more nights in harbour on the islands. This means you’ll have the chance to explore not only as part of the expert led outings, you’ll also be able to go ashore and wander in the mornings and evenings when we are tied up in the picturesque Greek harbour towns.

Food: The boat is a Turkish gulet with a Turkish crew including a chef who will be cooking up wonderful meals throughout your cruise. As such the food served on board will be traditional ‘Turkish’ or Eastern Mediterranean. We will be going ashore to eat authentic Greek food in family run tavernas at intervals along the way and your tour leader will ensure you’ll have the chance to sample a good many of the local Greek delicacies of the islands. The gulet will be stocked with Greek wine and spirits and your guide, Heinrich, something of a Greek wine connoisseur, will introduce you to some of the best beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) the Greek islands have to offer.

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