DAY 1 - FLIGHT
Board your overnight flight, bound for Europe.
DAY 2 - ISTANBUL
Arrive in Istanbul
Welcome to Turkey’s largest city. After clearing customs, you’ll meet your full-time tour director and the rest of your group. Istanbul is one of the world’s hottest destinations. In recent years there’s been a huge influx of trendy bars, clubs and restaurants, all blending nicely with the wide assortment of museums and sights to see during the day.
DAY 3 - ISTANBUL
Sightseeing tour of Istanbul (local guide)
A local guide introduces you to Istanbul’s major sights. See the ancient Hippodrome and visit the Aya Sofia, Istanbul’s most famous monument. It has been an Orthodox basilica, a mosque and now a museum. Then visit the incredible Blue Mosque, and finish your tour with a stop at Istanbul’s legendary Grand Bazaar, where you can browse and barter for all kinds of treasures, from brassware to spices.
Get to know the other travelers in your group over tonight’s included dinner.
DAY 4 - CANAKKALE • TROY
Travel to Canakkale
Take a ferry from Eceabat to Canakkale. The city is known for its crucial role during the Battle of Gallipoli in WWI.
Sightseeing tour of Troy (local guide)
Head to Troy, where beautiful Helen incited the Trojan War in the 12th century B.C. The most famous part of the ten-year war was the end, when the Greeks hid in a wooden horse that the Trojans mistakenly thought was a peace offering. Tour the ancient site, and later travel on to the Bergama region, where you’ll spend the night.
DAY 5 - PERGAMON • KUSADASI
Guided excursion to Pergamon (local guide)
Travel to Pergamon, where a local guide will show you the sights. There a was a time when Pergamon was one of the world’s most important cities. A highlight of the tour is a visit to the Acropolis.
Travel to Kusadasi
After free time for lunch in the Bergama region, continue on to the picturesque Turkish village of Kusadasi, on the Aegean coast.
DAY 6 - EPHESUS • KUSADASI
Sightseeing tour of Ephesus (local guide)
Travel to Ephesus, one of the Mediterranean region’s best-preserved classical cities. See all the highlights, including the Forum, the Odeon, the Thermal Baths of Scolastika, the Temple of Hadrian and the Great Theatre. You may also have the chance to see the nearby house where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her last days.
Free time in Kusadasi
Enjoy free time this afternoon in Kusadasi. Browse the shops and restaurants, or hang out on the very nice beaches.
DAY 7 - CRUISE
Set sail today on a three-day cruise. With stops on Crete and Santorini, get your fill of scenic beauty, rich history and plain old rest and relaxation. The cruise line will offer optional excursions during your island stops, and on board the ship you’ll have plenty of time for games, shopping, swimming and lying in the sun.
DAY 8 - CRETE • SANTORINI
Cruise to Crete
Head to Crete, Greece’s largest and most historically significant island. Your cruise optional includes a visit to Knossos Palace—quite possibly the site of the ancient Minoan Kingdom—plus free time in the heart of Heraklion City. You can also join the cruise line’s “A Taste of Crete” excursion, which includes stops at a modern winery and a local taverna. (Please note: Due to scheduling, you may only have time to do one optional.)
Cruise to Santorini
Santorini is a small group of volcanic islands full of amazing landscapes. The cruise line offers an optional excursion to Oia, a one-time fishing village built on red rocks overlooking the Aegean Sea, and Thera, a small town perched on the caldera rim. You can also go on the cruise line’s optional Volcanic Shores cruise, which navigates the Palea and Nea Kameni islets. (Please note: Due to scheduling, you may only have time to do one optional.)
DAY 9 - ATHENS
Your cruise ends near Athens. Named after Ancient Greece’s number one goddess, Athens today is a cool mix of ancient sites and modern urban life. Its outdoor café culture and pedestrian-friendly streets make it a great walking city. Your hotel will be in nearby Glyfada, a beachside area with lots of nightlife and restaurants.
Sightseeing tour of Athens (local guide)
Go back in time on a sightseeing tour with a local guide. See the Temple of Athena Nike, which once housed a gold statue of Athena. Pass the stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. The highlight of the tour is a walk up to the top of the Acropolis, where you’ll get to see the legendary Parthenon up close.
Walking tour of Athens
Your tour director will take you to some of the other can't-miss sights of Athens. Walk through the always-busy Plaka district at the base of the Acropolis. This is a big hangout for visitors and locals, and a good place to meet up. You’ll also get to see Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus—construction on this temple began in 515 B.C.
DAY 10 - ATHENS
Optional Saronic Islands Cruise ($90 pre-booked)
Head out on a full-day cruise through the islands of the Saronic Gulf. Your first port of call is the island of Aegina, home to the Temple of Aphaia and the best pistachios in Greece. Then it’s on to Poros, whose Historic Clock is visible from every part of town. Finally, stop at Hydra, a picturesque island of red-tiled houses and narrow stone-paved alleys. Lunch is included during the cruise, and you may have time for swimming before getting back to Athens mid-evening.
Free time in Athens (night)
Top 5 nightlife suggestions:
1. Psirri District – This up-and-coming neighborhood is packed full of outdoor café bars.
2. Thiseion District – Located under the Acropolis, this is a central area with a thriving nightlife.
3. Akrotiri – A nice sea breeze keeps you cool on the dance floor in this open-air club.
4. Dora Stratou Dance Theatre – See more than 75 performers in a traditional folk dancing show.
5. Gagarin 205 Live Music Space – Catch the biggest international music acts here, as well as local groups and DJs during the week.
For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Athens.
DAY 11 - DELPHI
Travel to Delphi
Continue to Delphi, home of the all-knowing Oracle. Delphi sits up on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. Look up for amazing views of the cliffs of Parnassus, then look down for even more amazing views of a plain of olive trees that stretches as far as you can see.
DAY 12 - DELPHI • NIGHT FERRY
Sightseeing tour of Delphi (local guide)
A local guide will introduce you to Delphi, site of Apollo's famed Oracle. Back in the day, Greece's military leaders would leave gifts for the Oracle in hopes of good fortune in battle. Visit the Temple of Apollo, where legend says the god communicated with mortals. Also visit the Delphi Museum, whose treasures date back to 550 B.C.
Night ferry from Patras
Continue on to coastal Patras, where you'll board your overnight ferry bound for Italy.
DAY 13 - POMPEII • ROME
Sightseeing tour of Pompeii (local guide)
Arrive this morning in Italy and travel to Pompeii for an amazing trip into the preserved past. Doomed by the super-hot ash from Mt. Vesuvius looming above it, Pompeii is a remarkably intact ancient Roman town. Walk the streets and see the villas, temples and bath houses.
Travel to Rome
Continue through the Italian countryside to Rome. Though its imperial heyday was a couple thousand years ago, Rome today is as alive and action-packed as any European capital. Discover the busy coffee bars, the amazing food, and the incredible ancient sights.
Free time in Rome (night)
Top 5 nightlife suggestions:
1. Campo de’ Fiori – Lots of young people gather early inside and outside the bars in this area, making it a good starting point.
2. San Lorenzo area – Popular with students, this area is known for its reggae scene and many clubs.
3. Big Mama – Blues lovers head to this music club in Trastavere.
4. Testaccio – There is plenty of action on this circular street lined with bars and nightclubs.
5. Opera – For a real cultural experience, go see an opera in the country where opera was born.
For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Rome.
DAY 14 - ROME
Sightseeing tour of Rome (local guide)
Go way back into the past with a local guide. Rome was the center of the Western world back in the day, and you can really feel the history as you go through the city and see the ruins of that ancient civilization.
Your tour includes a visit to the massive Colosseum, built back in 70 A.D. The huge amphitheater held up to 50,000 people, who would gather to watch anything from bloody gladiator contests to mock sea battles.
The Roman Forum was the commercial, political, and religious center of Ancient Rome. Today it’s a grassy field scattered with ancient columns and other ruins. With a little imagination, you’re walking with the Romans 2,000 years ago.
Optional Italian Cooking Class ($115 pre-booked)
This is your chance to become a real Italian chef. Learn the basics of the regional specialties, as a local professional chef guides you through the process. You’ll start by making two kinds of pasta from scratch (anything from ravioli to cannelloni). Next the focus turns to the sauces. Don't worry if your skills in the kitchen are lacking—when you're done cooking you'll be treated to a three-course dinner prepared by the chef's team.
DAY 15 - ROME • FLORENCE
Visit to Vatican City
Visit this country within a city, home to the Pope. Walk through the famed St. Peter’s Basilica, which was built on the site where the saint was martyred. Also walk through the Sistine Chapel and see Michelangelo’s famous ceiling frescos.
Travel to Florence
Continue on to Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region. Florence was king during the Renaissance, and it still holds on to that artsy, fashionable, cultural vibe. Top art museums, amazing food, great nightlife—for many, Florence is Italy at its best.
DAY 16 - FLORENCE
Sightseeing tour of Florence (local guide)
Cover Florence on foot with a local guide. Get a feel for the city’s Renaissance glory days at spots like the Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio (a medieval bridge; very photogenic). Continue past the gothic Basilica di Santa Croce, which houses the final resting places of many legendary Italians, including Michelangelo and Galileo.
Visit the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo because of its famous dome. The dome was designed in the 14th century by sculptor and architect Brunelleschi, and it’s still quite a sight.
Optional excursion to Pisa ($50 pre-booked)
Travel to Pisa, home of the legendary Leaning Tower, and snap some photos of the 12th-century architectural misfit. The tower has been aslant ever since the third floor was built, and legend says Galileo dropped weights from its top to test his theories of gravity. Also visit the Baptistery, known for its interesting acoustics, and Pisa Cathedral.
DAY 17 - FLORENCE • ROME
Free time in Florence (day)
Top 5 free time suggestions:
1. The Uffizi Gallery – Don't miss this place; it's one of the top art museums in the world.
2. Galleria dell'Accademia – Another must-see gallery, the Accademia is home to Michelangelo’s world-famous David.
3. Giardino di Boboli – Enjoy the fresh air in this giant green park, complete with statues, caves and an island fountain.
4. Shopping around piazza Santa Croce – Those seeking real Italian leather products need look no further.
5. Palazzo Pitti – Go see this palace built by a rival family of the Medicis.
For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Florence.
Return to Rome
Head back to the Italian capital for your final night.
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.
DAY 18 - FLIGHT
It's time to say your goodbyes. Head to the airport for your flight back home.