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One of ‘Greece’s top three cultural holidays’ – The Telegraph

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

This spectacular gulet cruise in Greece, takes you through the entire Dodecanese chain (plus the island of Samos), beginning with the famous island of Kos and including eleven of the most beautiful and evocative of the Greek islands, such as Patmos, Nisyros and Kalymnos, 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!

Our tours receive an average rating of 5 out of 5 from 762 reviews, according to AITO reviews.

Day 1: Please Note: This itinerary is for June 2024. For 2025 the cruise will start and end in Kos and the itinerary will change to reflect this.


Our gulet awaits you in Fethiye Marina. We cruise into the spectacular bay for swimming, welcome drinks and dinner on board.
Day 2: After some necessary formalities, a long and scenic morning cruise brings us to the great island of Rhodes. We moor just below the medieval city walls of Rhodes Town. a major centre in Antiquity, in the Middle Ages, and now. The city of Rhodes was founded in 408 BC by a ‘synoikismos’, a moving-in-together of the earlier cities of Ialysos, Kameiros and Lindos, which changed the fate of the island and its surrounding region. A major regional power in the Hellenistic period, after Roman and Byzantine rule, it was taken over by the Knights Hospitaller or Knights of Saint John in 1310. Under these Knights of Rhodes, there was a complete reorganisation of the city, leaving us one of the best-preserved medieval ensembles in Europe, with streets, lanes, squares and houses still following their fourteenth-century outline: a deserving World Heritage site.

We begin in the former Hospital of the Knights of Rhodes, one of the most significant pieces of Crusader architecture in the Aegean. It now houses the island’s main archaeological museum. Its rich trove of treasures is fit for the largest island of 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 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. We follow with a visit to the grandiose Palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights, rebuilt as a royal residence by the Italian occupants in the 1930s and embellished with many fine Roman mosaics from the excavations in Kos. Wending our way back, we have dinner in Rhodes town.
Day 3: Our morning is given over to medieval Rhodes. We start by walking through the huge rock-cut moat, reflecting the Knights’ increasing sense of insecurity in the changing geopolitical theatre of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, a fine example of medieval defensive architecture. Then, we set out for the island of Symi. Weather permitting, we stop for a chance to swim in a pretty cove below steep cliffs. Once we continue, we are eagerly watching on deck as we enter Symi’s lovely neoclassical port town, one of the loveliest sights in the Mediterranean, built on nineteenth-century affluence from sponge-trading and shipbuilding. Striking pastel-coloured homes cascade down the slopes towards the harbour.
Day 4: We have an early morning wander through Symi’s winding and stepped streets, making our way from the harbour settlement up the traditional main artery, the many-stepped Kali Strata (‘beautiful street’) to the upper village. Along the way, we admire its many fine mansions, all following the same basic design but featuring an endless variation of Neoclassical façade decorations, revealing the great wealth that was once concentrated on this tiny and rocky island.

Returning to the gulet, we set out for 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, but to begin with it’s a fine place for lunch and an afternoon swimming session. We dine on board.
Day 5: We see a unique side to Tilos’ buried past - palaeontological finds of the island’s extinct species of pygmy elephant. These odd mammals, apparently survivors of a wider-spread species that got stranded after the last ice age(s) in many islands from Sicily via Crete to the Dodecanese, appear to have continued on Tilos until fairly recently: 6,000 years ago.

We then make our rather more nimble way to a bay on the north coast for another picturesque swim before we continue a short distance in the late afternoon to the beautiful island of Nisyros. We travel inland to see the stunning fortifications at Paliokastro, one of the best examples of military architecture of the Classical to Hellenistic eras in the Greek Islands, in a superb setting overlooking the sea. Then, we continue to a viewing point at the rim of the caldera, the volcanic centre of Nisyros, to gaze down into the Stefanos steam crater, estimated to be about four thousand years old. It is a fascinating place, offering deep insights into a geologically volatile region. We dine at Emporio.
Day 6: After some time in Mandraki, a morning crossing takes us to a cove off the volcanic islet of Giali for a leisurely swim in a place of unique archaeological heritage. For thousands of years, it was important as one of only two sources of obsidian, the natural volcanic glass that was used in prehistory to make supremely sharp cutting tools. In recent years, it has also produced high-quality pumice and perlite, two distinctively volcanic resources.

We make an afternoon crossing to the great island of Kos and its ancient harbour. Founded in 366 BC as another ‘synoikism’ of the earlier Koan cities, Kos Town quickly became one of the main commercial centres in the Dodecanese, famed for its wine and set on one of the major Mediterranean 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 archaeological parks within the new town: a charming juxtaposition of old and new. We visit the ancient harbour quarter and the agora or market, the meeting 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 the wealth and sophistication of ancient Greek and Roman Kos. It’s in this fine location that we dine this evening.
Day 7: After breakfast we visit one of the most important sites on Kos: the Asklepieion, 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 straits to Asia Minor, are a key example of Late Classical architectural planning and drew the hopeful and fearful from a wide swathe of the ancient world in search of the god’s help.

Back in town, we visit the well-sited and impressive castle: a very solid reminder of how precarious the late fifteenth century was in the Aegean, even if its name – Nerantzia, from the orange groves formerly nearby – sounds more peacefully bucolic. Taking our lunch aboard the gulet, we make our way to Pserimos and another appointment with inviting waters.
Day 8: We visit Leros today, where we have much to explore. We begin in 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. Next we explore the Castle of Panteli, visible from most of Leros, which is really 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. Here, we also learn about the events of the pivotal Battle of Leros in October and November of 1943, when, despite a desperate Allied intervention, the island fell from Italian to German control.

In the late afternoon we make the journey to the holy island of Patmos, and a dip in Grikos Bay. We dine on board.
Day 9: Having breakfasted, we make our way to Patmos harbour and set out to explore the island. 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. We explore the resulting Byzantine riches, inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. At the monastery of the Revelation, we find a medieval church grafted 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 to find in a metropolitan centre like 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.

After lunch, we leave Patmos behind and set course for Fournoi, dining aboard.
Day 10: Daybreak has us in the enfolding arms of the spellbindingly pretty island of Fournoi and its crystal-clear waters. Enchanting now, recent years have revealed they lie over nearly 60 shipwrecks spanning the fourth century BC to the nineteenth century AD, making the island – suddenly and unexpectedly – one of the major concentrations of archaeology in Greece.

Our prime visit here is to one of the finest places of its kind in the Mediterranean, the ancient marble quarries of Petrokopio, which will have drawn some of those vessels. Here we can see part-completed works for magnificent ancient buildings – a column here, an architrave there – and great blocks for sarcophaguses waiting to be hollowed out to house recipients they never met, all in an extraordinary setting.

We’ll have lunch back at Fournoi town before getting under way for our next target: Samos.
Day 11: A day on Samos. This great island was one of the most powerful Greek city-states in the Aegean, especially during the sixth century BC, when it was a place of great wealth and unusual sophistication and innovation. If we needed proof of that, we’re more than answered by our first site.

We visit the Heraion, one of the most important shrines in the region, said to be the birthplace of the goddess Hera, and the site of her wedding with Zeus. The sanctuary, another World Heritage site, set in an atmospheric wetland area by the sea, was richly embellished, especially with the huge Temple of Hera, built and rebuilt in the sixth century BC. The massive foundations and the single standing column allow us to appreciate the lost grandeur of this vast structure. After lunch, we make our way to the island’s modern capital, Vathy, where the archaeological museum contains the rich finds from the Heraion, including fantastic examples of early Greek sculpture. Among these is a stunning colossal kouros, an Archaic 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. In the afternoon, we return to the boat and swim off the beach before dinner in Pythagoreio. This charming port village 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.
Day 12: Samos still has some amazing sites to share with us. We begin with the famous Tunnel of Eupalinos, a precocious wonder of ancient Greek engineering. Another achievement of the island’s golden age in the sixth century BC, it is cut through sheer rock for a length of over a kilometre. It served as the base tunnel for an aqueduct which runs in a separate 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, by teams working towards one another from both ends, has been painstakingly reconstructed by archaeologists and is truly marvellous. Next, we visit the superb and state-of-the-art archaeological museum of Pythagoreio, a carefully designed exhibit that strives to present the history of this age-old settlement and to bring the life of the ancient city of Samos back to life: its prehistory, its shrines, its graves, its art and its domestic life.

After lunch on board, our next destination – and our next swim – await: Leipsoi.
Day 13: After breakfast, we make our way through more superlatively pretty waters, with a beautiful backdrop for another memorable swim. After lunch we continue our journey to the rugged island of Kalymnos and its main town and harbour, Pothia, where we have dinner.
Day 14: We have a walking tour of Pothia, a picture perfect Aegean harbour town that any tourist brochure would be proud to have, and which would leave any photographer blissful. The local archaeological museum provides a fitting introduction to the earlier history of the Greek islands, demonstrating how even remote places like Kalymnos were integrated into an Aegean cultural continuum from the Bronze Age on, 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, not least because of the wonderful Lady of Kalymnos, a nearly fully preserved bronze statue of a woman dating to the 4th or 3rd century BC. As Kalymnos is the last island in the Aegean to maintain a sponge-diving fleet, a tradition going back millennia, we also visit a local sponge-washing workshop to learn more about this ancient trade.

With this stunning final reminder of the wonders of the islands, we cruise to Bodrum, where there may be time for a last encounter with the waters in another famed place, a Wonder of the ancient world. There’ll be a few formalities, but once that’s done we have a splendid final meal together with some magnificent memories to recall.
Day 15: Transfers to Airport.

NB: The itinerary on this cruise is likely to change slightly according to the weather conditions. Some modifications regarding the order or days of crossings, or visits are likely to occur.

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For information not covered below please refer to our FAQ’s or contact us directly on info@petersommer.com

Arrival and Departure Information – June 2024

Arrival Airport – Dalaman

Departure Airport – Bodrum (Milas)

Arrival Location – Fethiye Marina (approx. 1 hr 20 mins from airport)

Departure Location – Bodrum Harbour (approx. 40 mins from airport)

Embarkation and departure is planned for approx.17:00. in order that the gulet can clear customs and enter Greek waters. 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 will not be able to settle into your cabin.

If your travel plans or flights do not allow you to arrive before 17:00 we recommend arriving the day before the tour starts. This would also allow time to relax, recover from any jet lag and arrive at the boat on time for embarkation and departure.

If you arrive at the gulet after 17:00, we will do our best to enable you to join the tour at a later time and place.

Please Note: Departure time is 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.

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. From 2 March 2020, USA and British nationals travelling to Turkey for tourist or business purposes will no longer need a visa for visits of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

For UK Nationals travelling to the EU please check the current situation regarding visa requirements before you travel. You can find more information online here.

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.

Arrival and Departure Information – May 2025

Arrival Airport – Kos

Departure Airport – Kos

Arrival Location – Kos Harbour (approx. 30 mins from airport)

Departure Location – Kos Harbour (approx. 30 mins from airport)

Embarkation and departure is planned for approx.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 will not be able to settle into your cabin.

If your travel plans or flights do not allow you to arrive before 17:00 we recommend arriving the day before the tour starts. This would also allow time to relax, recover from any jet lag and arrive at the boat on time for embarkation and departure.

If you arrive at the gulet after 17:00, we will do our best to enable you to join the tour at a later time and place.

Please Note: Departure time is 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. 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:We consider adequate travel insurance to be essential. You should ensure that you take out a suitable policy, to make sure that your trip is properly covered.

Athens, Kos and the Greek islands If you are planning to stay in Athens before or after your tour or if you intend to add time on Kos or any other Greek island, we are happy to offer information and advice.

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 guides will introduce you to some of the best beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) the Greek islands have to offer.

Tour Includes:
Full board accommodation with water, tea and coffee and wine with dinner
Airport transfers on the first and last day of the tour
Travel by private minibus
Harbour fees and crew services
All entrance fees and tips on land
The services of your expert tour leaders throughout the entire trip
WiFi (coverage permitting)

Not included:
Flights and airport taxes
Visas
Travel insurance
Gratuities on the gulet. It is customary to tip the crew at the end of a tour (we recommend a minimum of 20Euro per day per guest)
Tips for guides

Michael Metcalfe

Michael earned his PhD at University College London, focusing on the ancient Greek cities in the Eastern Aegean Islands and Western Turkey. While finishing this research, Michael lived and worked in Athens and Ankara as well as London, and took up his first academic post as Assistant Professor in Ancient History at The Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences in Sicily, before joining Peter Sommer Travels full time in January 2009. A specialist in Greek and Latin inscriptions and social history, Michael is currently studying the unpublished diaries of early British Travellers to Greece, Turkey and Sicily, and is involved in publishing inscriptions from many parts of the Eastern and Central Mediterranean. Michael co-edited the Blue Guide to the Aegean Islands and has been contributing editor to the last two editions of the Blue Guide to Sicily. Michael has designed and led many of our tours, and received rapturous praise. Not only is he 'enthusiastic, charming, and knowledgeable', he is also a natural born organiser. We are delighted to have him as one of our key team.

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Nota Karamaouna

Born and bred in Athens, Nota has been travelling to Turkey, especially Cappadocia, for many years, captivated by its multicultural history, the spectacular landscape and the warm local hospitality. With a degree in Archaeology and Art History and a Masters in Byzantine Archaeology, she is currently finishing her PhD. at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, focusing on the Byzantine churches of Cappadocia. Nota has excavated and surveyed at a number of sites in Cappadocia and elsewhere in Turkey, and at sites in Greece, ranging from the island of Kos to central Athens. Alongside her academic studies she has worked for a specialist Byzantine photo-library and the Byzantine Museum of Athens. A native Greek-speaker, she is fluent in English and French (and is picking up Turkish too) and puts her language skills to use as a freelance translator and editor. We are very pleased Nota will be sharing her passion and expertise with our guests.

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Accreditations

AITO Tour Operator of the Year 2015 Gold Award AITO Tour Operator of the Year 2017 Gold Award AITO Tour Operator of the Year 2018 Silver Award AITO Tour Operator of the Year 2019 Silver Award Best Travel Company for Arts and Culture Holidays Silver British Travel Award 2022 Member of AITO The Specialist Travel Association Member of ABTA the Association of British Travel Agents Member of ASTA The American Society of Travel Advisors Member of ABTOI the Association of British Travel Organisers to Italy

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