It was Greece's first king, Otto I, who moved the capital from Náfplio to Athens, back then no more than a village where shepherds grazed their sheep. Today, more than ever, Athens is the country's political, cultural, historical and economic centre. Welcome to two very different worlds!
The Parthenon, the Acropolis, the National Archaeological Museum, the Theatre of Dionysos, the Temple of Olympian Zeus... You will discover all the highlights and must-sees of Athens. Along the impressive Corinthian Canal, you travel to Náfplio, Greece's first capital and now a charming little port where it is lovely to stroll through alleys and along promenades. With its many cosy restaurants, cafes, terraces and shops, this is one of the Athenians' favourite weekend destinations for good reason.
Your experience trip ends on Hydra, the car-free island that has been an inspiration for writers, poets and painters since ages. Or as Leonard Cohen (who bought a house here in 1960) so beautifully wrote: "Greece is a good place to look at the moon, isn't it?"
DAY 1: Departure to Athens
After you land in Athens, your adventure can begin. Pick up your rental car and head to your hotel. You will stay at one of our Caractère hotels in Athens for four nights. We are happy to help you pick the right hotel for you.
DAY 2: Athens
Today you have a whole day to visit the city's main attractions, the Parthenon on the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, the magnificent National Archaeological Museum, which houses numerous archaeological finds from all over Greece, the Theatre of Dionyssos, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, ... Also don't forget to take a pleasant stroll through the streets of the Plaka district at the foot of the Acropolis or at the brocante market on Monastiraki. Between the terraces, shops and restaurants of Plaka, you would easily forget that you are walking around in a metropolis of millions.
DAY 3: Athens
Athens is, of course, much more than just the Acropolis. The remains from the classical period are countless, but you can also look for the city's more recent past. The changing of the guard by the Evzonians in typical costumes at the parliament is a classic, but there are also the covered markets in Athina Street and the Panathinaikon Olympic Stadium. End your day well with a beautiful sunset at Cape Sounion.
DAY 4: Athens
Today you can continue exploring the beautiful city of Athens at leisure. Visit another museum or two, go shopping or have a drink on a terrace, the choice is entirely up to you.
DAY 5: Athens - Nafplio
Your journey continues along the impressive Corinthian Canal to the ancient city of Akrokorinthos, one of the most bustling trading cities of antiquity. Next, head to Nafplio, also known as Nafplion, the first capital of Greece. Nafplio is a small port with an old part of town that exudes a lot of charm and even something Italian. To fully explore this region, spend four nights at a Caractère hotel in Nafplio.
DAY 6: Nafplio
This port town is bustling. Enjoy a stroll through the alleys and along the harbour promenade. From the promenade, you can overlook the island of Bourtzi with its fortified castle. In the centre of Nafplio, make sure to visit the Vouleftiko Tzami mosque from 1550. This mosque was renovated a few years ago, but the building has lost its function as a mosque. Above the city, Palamidi Castle flaunts itself on a 216-metre-high hilltop. Hopefully you have stretched your legs properly this morning because to reach the top, you first have to defy 857 steps. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a magnificent panorama of the city and its surroundings. But above all, Nafplio is a town of cosy restaurants, cafés, terraces and shops. It is one of Athenians' favourite weekend destinations for a reason.
DAY 7: The sites of Argolída
Start your day with a visit to Mykene, where you will find a walled palace. Mykene symbolises the sombre aspect of Greek civilisation, that of wars and looting and the blood that sticks to Greek history. This is where the Trojan expedition was prepared and where Clytaemnestra had her royal husband killed. But Mykene is also associated with Heinrich Schliemann, the German archaeologist who believed he could see into the golden eyes of Agamemnon in Mykene, the world-famous golden mask. Via the temple of Hera in Iréo, you continue to Árgos, a town that boasts one of the largest theatres in the world. Next, head to Tíryns, a castle ruin with walls seven to eight metres thick. Last but not least, visit the famous theatre of Epidauros with its perfect acoustics.
DAY 8: Hydra, in the footsteps of Leonard Cohen
In Porto Heli, you can take the ferry to Hydra. The boat will take you to the island's eponymous main town where cars are not allowed. The idyllic harbour with stately mansions was often used as a background for shoots of Greek films, the most famous being 'Boy on a dolphin' with Sophia Loren. Over the years, Hydra has always been a source of inspiration for many artists. Writers, poets and painters such as Henry Miller, Picasso and Leonard Cohen have stayed on the island. Leonard Cohen bought a house on Hydra in 1960 at the age of 26, where he found inspiration for his work in complete isolation, amid the peace and beauty of the island. At Roloi Café, Cohen gave his first concert for some friends. Greece is a good place to look at the moon, isn't it?
DAY 9: Going home
Your trip is unfortunately over, today you return to Athens. After returning your rental car, you'll be ready to catch your plane home. Feel like extending your holiday a bit? Caractère will arrange that for you!
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