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2017 Northern Greece, Albania & Macedonia: Ancient Lands of Alexander the Great

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18 Days from only $4595 including international airfare

Thessaloniki • Meteora • Zagoria • Gjirokaster • Tirana • Ohrid • Skopje

Courtesy Small World Productions
Classical Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome

Travel expert Rudy Maxa takes you back to where western civilization all began in ancient Greece and Rome.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Greek Islands

Join travel expert Rudy Maxa to discover sundrenched villages and natural wonders along Greece's Cyclades islands.

Courtesy of David Conover & Paul Villanova
Travelogue: Santorini & Delos, Greece 1954

See Greece in 1954 in this vintage 16mm film footage—from donkeys to hillside towns and ruins.

Courtesy Paul Kurti
Out of Sight

Meet four Albanian children and discover how, despite living in poverty, they have big dreams for the future.

Courtesy Ervin Habazaj
Gjirokaster and Libohove, Albania

Soar above Gjirokaster for a unique perspective on the Albanian hillside town's Ottoman-era historic structures.

including international airfare
17 DAYS FROM $3695 Land Adventure Only
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Pre-trip: NEW Athens & Crete

6 nights from: $1795 Single Supplement: FREE

Extend your discoveries by exploring Athens and Crete. Visit iconic sites like the Acropolis in Athens, and explore Crete, Greece’s largest and most populated island, whose roots date back to one of Europe’s earliest documented civilization: the Minoans. 

It's Included:
Accommodations for 6 nights
10 meals—6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
7 small group activities
Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Leader
Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
All transfers
  • Depart the U.S. today on your overnight flight to Athens, Greece.

  • We arrive in Athens today, where our O.A.T. Trip Leader will meet us at the airport and assist with the transfer to our hotel. Then, we’ll enjoy an orientation walk to get familiar with our surroundings. This evening, we’ll gather for a welcome briefing, followed by dinner on your own. 

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    After breakfast at our hotel this morning, we’ll set out to explore Greece’s capital. One of the oldest cities in history, Athens is considered the birthplace of democracy, and has long been a hot spot for many of the artistic, philosophical, and political developments that continue to shape our world. We'll begin our discoveries with a visit to one of the city's most iconic sites, the Acropolis. Constructed under the guidance of Pericles, the leader of ancient Athens, the Acropolis sits perched above the city, its historically and architecturally significant remnants—including the Parthenon—providing glimpses into Greece’s Golden Age.

    After witnessing the site firsthand, we'll  continue our discoveries at the Acropolis Museum, a tribute to the site's many archaeological treasures. We'll cap off our explorations in Athens with a stroll through Plaka, the city's oldest neighborhood, whose serpentine streets spill down the slopes off the northern and eastern sides of the Acropolis. Arriving in Monastiraki Square, perhaps Athens' most popular shopping district, you may enjoy some time at leisure—mingling with locals and stopping for lunch on your own. This evening we'll gather as a group for dinner in a local restaurant. 

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    Today, we fly to Crete after breakfast. The largest and most heavily populated of the Greek islands, Crete's roots date back to Europe's earliest documented civilization, the Minoans, who existed during the Bronze Age, predating what we know as ancient Greece. A mountainous expanse spotted with gorges, rivers, and lakes, Crete is breathtaking in its beauty.

    Our Cretan journey begins in Chania, the island's second largest city, where we’ll start off with a walking tour through the narrow, winding streets of the war-torn Old Town. Lined by what’s left of an old Venetian wall that was mostly destroyed during World War II, the Old Town offers beautiful harbor views, and fascinating excavated remains of an ancient Minoan city. We’ll stroll through the Agora, a lively market on the border of the Old Town and the modern city. We’ll also stop to admire the town’s Agios Nikolaos Church and Kucuk Hasan mosque, getting a sense of the different architectural and spiritual influences that have shaped Chania.

    Our final stop before we disperse for lunch on our own will be a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Chania, where artifacts reveal the city’s cultural development from the Neolithic period to the Roman period. After lunch, we’ll resume our city tour at the Maritime Museum, followed by a stroll through the Jewish Quarter, including a visit to a local synagogue. This evening, we’ll return to our hotel to sit down for an included dinner. 

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    With its Minoan roots and geographic separation from mainland Greece, Crete developed a culture—including its own mythology, poetry, music, and more—that's divergent from typical Greek culture. Its climate, biodiversity, and natural environment, are also quite unique. With both Mediterranean and North African climates, Crete is an agricultural superpower where summer fruits and vegetables grow year-round. The island also hosts a wide range of flora and fauna, including swallows that forego their species' typical African migration to reside in Crete full time.

    Today, we'll depart after breakfast for a beautiful botanical park just outside of Chania, where we'll witness some of this biodiversity firsthand. On our guided hike, we'll see plants native to five different continents, gather fresh ingredients from the gardens, and then cook and enjoy lunch together in the park. Later this afternoon, we'll drive back into town where you may enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Dinner will be on your own tonight. 

  • After breakfast this morning, we'll leave Chania and transfer to Rethymno. Here, we'll begin our day with a walking tour through the Old Town, an area of the city whose layout has remained unchanged since the 17th century. After a visit to the Folk Art Museum, we'll depart for the home of a local family where we'll enjoy a Home-Hosted Lunch. Later today, we depart for Crete's capital, Heraklion. After checking in to the hotel, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, and dinner is on your own tonight. 

  • Our exploration of Crete's capital city begins today after breakfast when we'll depart for the Knossos Archaeological Site in Heraklion. Here, we'll witness the ruins of a 1,300-room palace complex from what is considered to be Europe's oldest city. Dating back to the Bronze Age, the site reveals insights into the Minoan civilization. 

    You may spend the rest of the day making discoveries on your own, or join us on our optional Spinalonga: The Leper Colony tour. Originally part of mainland Crete, but carved into a separate island during the 15th-century Venetian rule, Spinalonga—known officially as Kalydon—was used first for fortification, and then as a leper colony in the first half of the 20th century. Those who choose to will get to explore both the fortress and the abandoned colony during our optional tour, followed by lunch together in a local seafood restaurant.

    Later this afternoon, we'll return to Heraklion, where you may enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure. Dinner will be on your own tonight. 

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    After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Thessaloniki to begin our Northern Greece, Albania & Macedonia: Ancient Lands of Alexander the Great adventure.

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