Multi-Day Tours: Beware the Minotaur!
Greece has so much to offer, and one often has far too little time to conquer it all. With this week-plus vacation, travel to all the corners of the Greek world as you make visits to Athens and the islands of Santorini and Crete and see it all, by car, boat, or plane!
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Small Group
Athens, Crete, Santorini: three incredibly different parts of the Greek world, each with so much to offer. On this tour, not only will you see the classical sites and monuments of Athens, but also get to relax in the sun on the beautiful island of Santorini, and visit some of the oldest cities in all of Europe on Crete, ancient home of the legendary Minotaur, slain by the hero Theseus. Your three nights in Athens come complete with guided tours and accommodations in our well kept and centrally located vacation rentals, and for your five nights between the islands of Santorini and Crete, we’ll take care of your travel and lodging for you. There’s nothing in the world quite like the ancient hustle and bustle of Athens, the pristine waters and whitewashed walls of Santorini, and the unique food, drink, and culture of Crete — all in one trip! The order in which you take these adventures is flexible, but whatever you end up choosing, you’ll certainly end up wishing you could stay for more.
- Full accommodations in Athens, Crete, and Santorini (see Accommodations tab for more details)
- Boat transfers from Athens –> Crete & Santorini, and vice versa (flight options available, see Accommodations for more details)
- Three highly rated, pre-planned Athens food & sightseeing tours, complete with licensed guide and air conditioned vehicle
All of our vacation tour packages come with airport and marina transfers included: if your vacation starts with a stay in Athens, we’ll pick you up from the airport and take you to your apartment; if you want to end in Athens, we’ll take you from the airport to the boat, and back to the airport at the very end.
Day 1 Athens
Your three nights in Athens come with three of our specialty tours included as a part of package.
First, you have our two half-day adventures. The Foodie Walking Feast starts with a traditional Greek breakfast before taking you on a walking tour of Athens’ market district, complete with several stops for sampling and lunch at our favorite spot little known to most tourists. Then, the afternoon will take you to Cape Sounion & the Temple of Poseidon, for which the breathtaking cliffside drive is a worthwhile experience unto itself. The view from the Temple of Poseidon on a bluff overlooking the Aegean Sea is nearly unrivaled, as is a sunset dinner at the nearby fishing town of Nafplion.
The third offer of this package is a hefty Acropolis & City Full Day Tour. This is a morning through afternoon fully guided experience of all that Athens’ historic center has to offer, from the Parthenon and the ancient Acropolis to Syntagma Square, the National Gardens, and some of modern Greece’s most important landmarks. For your entire stay in Athens, and this tour especially, we highly recommend purchasing an Acropolis & Sites joint ticket for €30 (€15 for senior EU citizens and university students with ID), which grants you access to everything you’ll want to see in the vicinity of the Acropolis and old Athens.
Day 2 Santorini
There are many who believe that Santorini, also known as Theras, is actually the historical basis for the legend of Atlantis: this beautiful island, one of the farthest from the Greek mainland, was once a thriving ancient port town before the massive underwater volcano that forms the island’s inner coast destroyed it and much of the earliest Greek civilization around 1600 BCE. That being the case, one of Santorini’s must-see sites is the ancient Akrotiri, the wonderfully preserved ruins of a city more than 3500 years old.
Of course, that’s just the tip of what you can do in Santorini. Anywhere you go (the island has a number of villages, totaling a population around 15,000), you’ll find be surrounded by the gorgeous whitewashed stonemasonry typical of Cycladic architecture, a dazzling contrast to its beaches of black volcanic sand. Take a hike up to the island’s highest peak, where you’ll find a monastery dedicated to the Prophet Ilias, or if you prefer, visit one of the famous wineries that dot the island, or even its Wine Museum! Of course, there’s plenty of idyllic day to day island life to see, if you’re looking for something a little more low-key. Regardless, whether the first or last stop of your trip, you’ll find leaving a lot more difficult than arriving.
Unlike Santorini, Mykonos, and Naxos, Crete is not a Cycladic island. It is significantly bigger with much more to do, so we highly recommend renting a car for your stay here, which we will be happy to arrange.
Despite its size, Crete really is one of Greece’s secret beauties. While Athens and Santorini take the tourist attention, there’s just as much treasure to be found here! Your accommodations will be near Heraklion, Crete’s capital and a sizable metropolis. We certainly recommend taking time to explore the entire island, but there’s plenty to do in and around Heraklion. Just south of the city is Knossos, palace-city of the Minoans, who formed Europe’s earliest recorded civilization (called Minoan Greece, for the legendary King Minos, keeper of the Minotaur). Knossos is probably Europe’s oldest known city, with the site’s population estimated in the thousands as long as 3,000-4,000 year ago! Like many Mediterranean island cities, Heraklion has a cosmopolitan cultural history. One can find a number of Greek churches and cathedrals and Ottoman mosques worth visiting, and the Venetians left more than a few landmarks worth, including the Castello a Mare, a 16th century Venetian fortress guarding Heraklion’s port, and the Loggia, now used as Heraklion’s town hall.
There’s a reason we recommend a car, though. There’s so much more to do on Crete! The city of Rethymno, to the west of Heraklion, has some of the coolest Renaissance architecture in Greece, and a walk through it’s old quarter is highly enjoyable. For the nature lovers, the island’s southwest is home to the Samaria Gorge National Park, a popular hiking destination, and for the art enthusiasts, the small Panagia Kera church in the mountains of Eastern Crete holds some of the country’s most beautifully preserved Byzantine paintings and frescoes, dating as old as the 12th and 13th century. The real treasure of the trip, however, is what you might encounter on to journey to and from these places. Crete is the home of a very distinct Mediterranean culture that its locals are proud of, and you never know what cool sights, smells, and sounds you’ll come across going place to place, in between the tourist destinations.
Have you already booked accommodations for your time in Athens? If not, let us take care of everything, and stay hassle-free! Our Greek apartments are centrally located, impeccably maintained, and include the possibilities to accommodate anywhere from 2 to 20 guests. All of our apartments come with luxury Posturpedic mattresses imported from the US, kitchens with fully loaded appliances, and, a rarity in central Athens, washing machines and dryers. Several have balconies or verandas, and nearly all have grand views of the city and its landmarks. For more details, see the Accommodations drop down menu above, and go check out our primary booking website at www.greekvacationrentals.com. In the meantime, feel free to browse your options here:
- 2 Bedrooms (sleeps up to 6), 1.5 Bathrooms
- 1 block away from Acropolis & Ancient Agora
- Private courtyard & garden
- Perfect for families
- 4 Bedrooms (sleeps up to 12), 4 Bathrooms
- All bedrooms include en-suite bathroom
- Veranda and rooftop terrace with unobstructed Acropolis view
- Fully stocked luxury kitchen
- Option for private chef and maid services
- 3 Bedrooms (sleeps up to 12), 3 Bathrooms
- Landscaped outdoor terrace (shared with our neighboring Acropolis View Beta apartment)
- Extensive common area/living space, perfect for large groups
- Recently rehabbed/renovated with brand-new kitchen, appliances, & plumbing
- 3 Bedrooms (sleeps up to 8), 2 Bathrooms
- Landscaped outdoor terrace (shared with Acropolis View AlphaPlus)
- 3 Museums within 1 mile; Acropolis & Old City within 2 miles
- Bedrooms are perfect for families with children
- Created especially for large travel groups: combines Acropolis View AlphaPlus & Beta to form 6 Bedroom, 5 Bathroom megasuite that sleeps up to 24 guests.
- 3 Bedrooms (sleeps up to 9), 2 Bathrooms
- Multi-level apartment, perfect for couples and families travelling together
- Two private verandas, plus roof terrace overlooking Acropolis
- Indoor parking included
- Fully stocked luxury kitchen
- 2.5 Bedrooms (sleeps up to 8), 2 Bathrooms
- Downtown location, walking distance to Acropolis
- Two private verandas perfectly overlooking Mt. Lykavittos
- Two farmers markets nearby – perfect for those who love home cooking!