The Peloponnese is one of the most beautiful regions in Greece. Famed for its steep mountains, rugged coastlines, long sandy beaches, fertile plains and fast-flowing up-land rivers, it is also filled to the brim with the stunning remains of past civilizations that made their home here, from the Mycenaeans to the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Venetians, Ottomans and more. One region, in the North-Eastern Peloponnese, is the perfect microcosm of everything that makes the Peloponnese such a renowned destination, and Nafplio (an early capital of the modern Greek state, and one of Greece’s more beautiful harbor towns) is the perfect base from which to explore it. Known as the Argolid, this region is home to some of the best-known archaeological sites in Greece, such as Mycenae, Tiryns and Epidauros, but it is also blessed with a wide variety of lesser-known and seldom-visited sites that all lie within a landscape of great natural beauty. When combined together, some of the greatest stories from the ancient world can be told here.
The Argolid is bordered to the northeast by the Saronic Gulf, the Athenian “home sea”, and to the south by the Argolic Gulf and the Aegean Sea. Its ancient land borders were with neighbours as diverse as warlike Sparta, mercantile Corinth and rough Arcadia, making it a cultural, economic and political crossroads throughout its many millennia of history.
Our base for this week of spectacular exploration is a beautiful hotel in the Old Town of Nafplio, a town steeped in history, and blessed with an excellent museum. Your expert guides will take great pleasure in introducing you to a town that they both love, but you will also have ample time to seek out its hidden lanes, to sit in its squares and watch town life all around you, to stroll along the seaside promenade and admire the famous Nafplio sunset, or – if so inclined – to peruse the opportunities for shopping. Combined with expert introductions to the area’s fine traditional cuisine and its age-old wine-making tradition, this tour provides everything that you could possibly want from a week in the heart of Greece. This tour is a unique experience: relaxing and stimulating, inspiring and informative, enlightening and exhilarating.
Day 1: Our hotel for the first night of this tour is in the Old Town of Athens, 45 minutes from the airport. Welcome dinner.
Day 2: We depart for the Peloponnese, stopping on the way to admire the Corinth Canal, planned since antiquity but finally achieved by 19th century engineering. Continuing to Nemea, we visit the great shrine of Zeus with its grand temple, well-preserved stadium and the fascinating exhibits in its on-site museum. The sanctuary was a “panhellenic” one, sacred to all Greeks, and venue to an important athletic competition held every two years. After lunch and a tasting of the famed Nemean wines, we continue to Nafplio. A pleasant pre-dinner stroll familiarises us with the layout of what is one of Greece’s prettiest harbour towns, blessed with Venetian, Ottoman and Neoclassical heritage. We will stay in a beautiful hotel in the heart of the historical centre for the next 5 nights.
Day 3: In the morning, we discover the extraordinary wealth of high-status Mycenaean (Late Bronze Age) sites in the immediate vicinity of Nafplio. We will explore the vast citadel of Tiryns, as important in archeology as it is in myth; the little-visited fortress of Midea in its scenic surroundings; and the important cemetery of Dendra. After lunch, we visit a fortification from a much later era: the vast Palamidi fortress, constructed at enormous expense between 1711 and 1714 by the Republic of Venice in a stunning setting high above Nafplio. The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to enjoy as you wish, perhaps by going for a swim or strolling the lanes of Nafplio.
Day 4: Today is devoted to an excursion beyond the shores of the Argolid: we set out across the water to visit one of the beautiful Argo-Saronic islands. Our exact destination will depend on the weather and local ferry schedules, but with a fine array of beautiful isles to choose from, each packed with historical and architectural wealth and lovely seafood tavernas, this will be a wonderful day of travel.
Day 5: In the morning, we will visit the principal sights of Nafplio, and in particular the superb archaeological museum with its spectacularly rich collection of finds from the area, including exquisite Mycenaean finds from Tiryns, Dendra and Midea. After lunch, we will travel to the region’s most famous site, Mycenae, to thoroughly explore the mighty citadel, the famous grave circles that yielded one of the greatest prehistoric treasures ever discovered, the necropolis of gigantic vaulted tombs, and the spectacular site museum.
Day 6: The sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidauros is our goal this morning. One of the most important healing centres of the ancient world, located in a beautiful landscape of pine forests. The remains of its shrines and monuments permit us deep insights into ancient cult practice and religious belief, but also into the beginning of medicine. The site’s highlight, however, is its great theatre, one of the best-preserved and most perfectly proportioned theatres ever built. After a seaside lunch, we stop to see the Mycenaean bridge of Kazarma, probably the oldest standing road bridge on the planet. The rest of the day is free, to relax or embark on some final shopping in Nafplio.
Day 7: As we say goodbye to the Argolid, we make our first stop of the day at the great Heraion of Argos, an important shrine to Hera, wife of Zeus, with important remains of early temples. We continue to Corinth, one of the most famous cities of the ancient Peloponnese, to explore the grand Greek and Roman ruins. Returning to Athens, we make a final stop at the National Archaeological Museum to see the famous treasure of Mycenae, including the so-called “Mask of Agamemnon” before checking into our hotel and heading out for a lavish farewell dinner.
Day 8: Departure from Athens airport, 45 minutes from your hotel.
Arrival and Departure Information for our Exploring the Argolid tour
Arrival Airport – Athens
Departure Airport – Athens
Check in time at your hotel in Athens is after 14:00 so we recommend choosing a flight that arrives in the afternoon/early evening in time for the welcome dinner. Check out time on the final day is 12:00pm. We will arrange local transfers from the airport at the start of the tour and to the airport at the end of the tour.
The cheapest way to book flights for our Exploring Athens tour is directly with the airline online.
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 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. If you would prefer not to take out travel insurance please let us know. We would require you to complete and return to us a travel insurance waiver form.
Citizens of European Union member states, 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.
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.