Athens, the home of modern civilization, the place where modern thought started, an outrageously fast-paced mix of modern and ancient, traditional and contemporary, quaint and cultured. Athens is an amazing city to visit, and for most people travelling to Greece, it is that starting point, and end of most Greek journeys. Travellers wanting to arrive at their island paradise often overlook Athens, or it visited as a stopover, but it should not be missed as destination, no matter what its critics say. There has been a settlement on Athens for over three thousand years. From the start, it was a city-state to be reckoned with, surviving invasions and wars. The Golden Age came about in 477BC, when Athens truly established itself. Under the ruling of Pericles, the Parthenon was built, and the famous and infamous lived, philosophers, writers and artists who's names are still known today. Sophocles, Euripides, Thucydides, Herodotus, Aristophanes all lived in this time. It was during this time that the Olympic Games began, and modern democratic thought became prevalent. Athen's fast pace amazes most visitors. It doesn't appear to stop, as motorbikes fly past and people take to the streets at a lightning fast pace. The Plaka, situated on the North West face of the Parthenon is a gathering place for tourists, with its narrow streets, shops, bars and restaurants; it winds like a maze until you reach the boundaries of the Parthenon grounds. Monastiraki is the market area, wonderful for finding a bargain and the shops appear to go on for miles. Omonia, to the North of the Plaka, is where many hotels are located, walking distance from the National Archaeological Museum, a must for any visitor. Psiri is Athens answer to New York's Meat Packing district where Rebetiko bars abound. Kolonaki, near Syntagma Square, is known for its wide streets and expensive shops. Syntagma Square is where most tours of Athens start, a large square leading up to the parliament house, sided by luxury hotels and office blocks. The Evzones guard parliament house. The in traditional dress of a blue skirt and pom-pom shoes make an incongruous, if not slightly humorous site for tourists. Like the Swiss Guards at the Vatican, their unusual costume covers a fierce fighting spirit. The Evzones are soldiers that hail from a village in Northern Greece, and the Macedonian fighters defended the mountain parts of Greece, never once giving up, so fierce and proud their spirit. Near Syntama square is the Temple of Zeus, the largest of the temples in the city, its sheer size only hinted at with the 15 remaining columns. The site is open daily and tours are available giving more information on the site. It is a good place to start a tour of ancient Athens as streets nearby lead up the entry of the Parthenon. No visit to Athens is complete without a visit to the Parthenon. It takes at least half a day to look over the ruins and take in the enormity of the site. There is more to this amazing place than the iconic Acropolis, the temple that sits on the hill, as around it are many other temples, amphitheatres and structures to explore, and the Museum on the grounds is very good.
As soon as you land at the Athens airport, our English speaking guide will welcome you and then will transfer you to one of the most luxurious hotels in town by a modern air-conditioned vehicle, this will be your abode for the following two days. You can spend your time in this historic city and get soaked up in nostalgia that Athens have to offer. You can head for Plaka, which is a traditional mansion with a lot of lovely shops and restaurants. You can have your dinner in one of the incredible Greek restaurants.
Your driver will come and pick you after you are done with your dinner, and take you to a full day tour of Athens in a lavish vehicle. You go on for sight-seeing, throughout the whole day and see the tomb of the unknown soldiers, the Panathenaic Stadium, the temple of Zeus and a lot many other places. You will be returned back at early evening. Later you freshen up and we will pick you up to transfer you to the international gourmet restaurant Spondi for a fine dinner. Wake up in the morning, and after your breakfast, you will be transferred to Athens airport for your flight to Santorini.
Inclusions of Athens portion:
Santorini is the jewel in the crown of all the Greek Islands, and undisputedly one of the most beautiful spots the world. It is always coming up on lists of places one must visit, and it never disappoints. It’s amazing scenery brings thousands to its shores every year, so powerful is the draw of this ancient volcano that sits at the bottom of the Cyclades Islands. This island is a romantic’s paradise, made for those in love, and for people seeking beauty. It is one of the most popular sites in the world for couples to marry, and on any day in summer, there are numerous ceremonies taking place cliffside, normally at sunset, where the beauty of the marriage ceremony is only just overshadowed by the sunsets. Traditional Greek weddings are a popular way to marry on the Santorini, but they need to be organised prior to visiting the island. Approaching Santorini by sea, the island appears to be floating on a mist, the dramatic black cliffs towering out of the water to greet visitors as they enter the cadera. The towns on top of the cliffs look like frosting on top of a cake – a simply sensational sight. After passing Nea Kameni, the active volcano in the middle of the sea surrounded by the cliffs, visitors arrive at the port, Athinios, to be taken up a zipper like road to the top of the cliffs. This part of a visit to Santorini is breathtaking and necessary and not only the faint hearted will gasp in the spectacle of driving up the port road. Santorini has a similar history to the rest of the Cyclades Islands, with invasions by the Byzantines, Dorians and Turks. It’s the geological history which makes this island so special. Greece is prone to earthquakes, and not a day goes by on Santorini without some minor seismic activity. The island was once larger and circular until a massive earthquake around 1450BC split the island, leaving the magnificent caldera which is there today. Over the years, sections of the cliffs have fallen into the sea, the last devestating quake being in 1956 which almost destroyed the towns of Fira and Oia. Today, Nea Kameni,the volcano that resides in the middle of the caldera, is part of the legacy of this volcanic isle. The capital of Santorini, Fira, is a sprawling town that sits perched on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the caldera. It is a sight to behold and a town that is always on the go. Nobody ever tires of looking over the caldera into the bay, so spectacular the sight. Fira, like all of the towns overlooking the bay and the volcano, have some of the most wonderful views in the world, and the sunsets seen here are absolutely incredible. One has not lived until they have seen a sunset from this island. Even taking in a coffee and baklava in a cliffside restaurant is a relaxing way to spend a day, taking in the sheer magnitude of the caldera, humbled and awestruck by the amazing views. Other than the sunsets and the shopping, Fira’s streets are enjoyable to wander, and there is a very good archeological museum which houses many of the findings from Akrotiri in the inland’s south. Akrotiri can be visited on excursions. The Minoan settlement has been excavated since 1967 where an sophisticated ancient city has been discovered under the volcanic ash. The nearest town to the site is Megalahori, a charming traditional village. The town of Oia is the northern most caldera town and a place that many visit to see the sunsets. In the summer, the streets are crowded with visitors there to watch the sun slowly disappear into the ocean. There is a small port and swimming beach at Ammoudi at the base of the cliffs at Oia, but be warned that the only ways to the top of the 300 steps that scale the cliffs is by foot or by donkey. This is the place to say if you wish to treat yourself as many of the domatias and hotels have been lovingly restored in the traditional way, where homes were cut into the cliffs. A day trip to the volcano, Nea Kameni, the hot springs of Palea Kameni and the island of Thirasia, on the opposite side of the bay, can be booked in advance and are a wonderful way to spend a day. The volcano is still active and guides take you up the black, rocky moonface to the crater from where volcanic gas still emerges. Walking shoes are needed for this part of the visit. There has not been a major eruption for over a century. The hot springs trip can be an adventure as visitors are encouraged to jump off the side of the boat and swim over to the springs. Thirasia has a number of restaurants and tourist shops at the base of the cliffs. The day is often finished at Oia to watch the sunset. Santorini's other claim to fame is the black sand beaches found on the island’s east and south. The volcanic ash replaces the regular golden sand found elsewhere in Greece, the sand can get very hot in the summer sun. The other amazing thing about the beaches is that on entering the water the shallows only run to a few metres before the bottom falls away, many hundreds of fathoms in places. The water, however, is warm, calm and perfect for swimming. Kamari, Karterados and Perissa are some of the popular beach resorts on Santorini, which have a beat of their own in the summer months. These towns have a real party atmosphere and are often feel friendlier and more laidback than the caldera towns.
Our local representative will welcome you and you will be transferred to yet another lovely hotel. You can relax in the hotel and take deep breaths watching the Caldera views or you can take a walk around the town of Fira.
Have your breakfast and get amazed by the majestic view, feel yourself in heaven. Get out, explore the town of Fira and go down to the beach on the southeastern coast. The beaches are well organized and you can find a number of umbrella and beach bars and restaurants around. There are many options of what you can do and the choice is yours to select.
Get ready for a very exciting Catamaran Sunset Cruise. An air-conditioned coach will pick you up and you will be transferred to the port where you can get on-board on the cruise catamaran. You will sail by Akrotiri, and take a dive to the hotpsrings and the red beach where you will be able to also snorkel. Enjoy a very rich BBQ meal on board prepared by the crew and end this amazing day in the middle of Aegean, watching tha magical sunset of Santorini!
The day is yours to enjoy! We suggest taking a semi private cooking class. <br /> The next day This is the last day of your honeymoon in Santorini and in Greece. After breakfast, you will be checked out to the airport for your trip back to Athens where you will catch your flight back home. You can do some last moment shopping and buy souvenirs for your wonderful and unforgettable stay in Athens and Greece.