Athens, the Acropolis, Crete, Chania, Heraklion, Knossos Minoan Palace
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Day 1: Getting There is the Beginning
Depart from home and brave the open skies on your way to Greece. The history calls you forth, the promise of beaches, hikes, togas, beards, and cheese, and where the photos you once stared at between the covers of your high school text book, the same photos your children have traced with their fingers over and over again, are about the jump off the page and into being. You make your way east while the sun sets in the west bringing, shortly, a new morning that blankets the hills that surround Athens. Look out your window and see the olive trees and the speckled homes. You are almost there.
What’s Included: breakfast, dinner
Day 2: The Shock and Awe of Family
Arrive at the Athens International Airport and wow the family with a private transfer into the city. The marble mountains create a natural gateway into Athens where the white stone continues to supply and decorate the area just as it did in ancient times. As you enter the city you can see the rising pillars of the ancients you grew up dreaming about, the flared top and cylindrical shape as tall today as it was thousands of years ago. After you settle into your hotel the day is yours to explore the city, the sites, scents, and the beauty of the modern day. Bakeries sit on almost every corner adding a sweet aroma to the air. The tallest hill at the center of the old city is known as the Acropolis, where the Parthenon stands on high.
Visit the 19th century neighborhood of Anafiotika within the center of the city, along the northern slopes of Acropolis hill. The whitewashed walls shine in the afternoon sun. The stone paths add an echo to the walkways giving you a perfect introduction to the diversity of Greece, almost taking you out of the ancient city and giving you the feel that you have transferred to the islands already. The narrow, hilly laneways offer the beautiful unexpected views of the Acropolis and the surrounding sprawl of modern Athens; the historic area calls to a time when the law said, “If you can build four walls and put a roof over it in 24 hours the land is yours.” The night settles over the city and you can find yourself strolling along the Plaka, the main pedestrian street of Old Athens. The Acropolis is lit atop the mountain like a beacon. People call out for you to sit beneath the city lights and enjoy a meal amidst the vibrant night. The scent of fresh bread and luscious olives lingers over the cobblestones. Athens has welcomed you and your family bringing history to the brink of modernity.
What’s Included: accommodation
Day 3: Who Needs History Books
Let the pages of the old classic myths come alive as you spend the day touring and discovering the wonders of antiquity within the classics of Athens. The stone stadium of Panathenaikon almost glows in the morning light; the marble seats stretch and surround the field that once held the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. The flags wave in the breeze giving a flutter to the morning while the city has begun to stir. It is easy to imagine the markers of competitive runners, competing for the love of country and chance to prove their speed. Stone and grass mix with the contemporary history of the stadium as your children watch the imaginary games in their heads, thinking of the countries that participated, the strength of the wrestlers, the roar of the crowds, and the possibility of the games to come.
Come to the base of Acropolis hill where the pillars stand high over the once ancient city below. Climb the stairs, each step bringing you closer to the coveted photos on post cards and the pictures you once had trouble believing were true. Stand beneath the Propylaea, the opulent entryway to the Acropolis. The pillars reach into the air, their color a sign of the history writ along their ridges. Beyond the pillars of the Propylaea, atop the plateau you can see an olive tree. The fresh scent of the blossoming branches mixes with the marble temples, once dedicated by the goddess Athena during a competition with Poseidon to see who the Athenians would prefer as a patron. Across from the olive tree, and unforgettable, is the legendary Parthenon. The rectangular base offers grandeur and prominence to the plateau as the temple can be seen in perfect uniformity from all directions of Athens, an architect’s trick of the eye. Once thought to be the spot where philosophers philosophized and teachers taught, the Acropolis is now known as the religious center, built during the Golden Age of Athens, meant to display the power, prestige, and knowledge of the city that continues to be a guiding light of Western Civilization today.
What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast
Day 4: Athens at Ease
The heart of antiquity isn’t over, just surrounded by modernity, as today you have Athens at your leisure to explore and discover. The Agora, the once vibrant market of the ancient city, continues to beckon to people about the goods and current vibrancy of the city. The marbled floors and bleached pillars remain as you walk within the footsteps of the Golden Age. You and your children can hear the hustle and bustle of the market place where the scent of roasted meats and the proselytization of politicians etched the air, along with the voice of philosophers’ remarks, giving everyone now the sense that politicians haven’t changed in over 2,000 years.
For a unique and fun experience, during the summer months, you can witness the sensational show Socrates Now. Settle into the court of ancient Athens near the spot where Socrates tasted the hemlock as his punishment for corrupting the Athenian youth. The crowd swells with anticipation, the silence palpable, filled with Greeks and travelers, young and old alike, all present to see the trial and conviction of one of the most famous Western philosophers in history. Let the history reach out and touch you now with the words of the past, stepping through the pages of ancient texts and into the courtyard that you now sit in, listening, experiencing, and absorbing as a family.
What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast
Day 5: The Family Style of Crete
Today you can watch the olive trees that roam the hills change into the stellar waters of the Cretan Sea. The calm and lush sea begins to lap at the shores of Greece’s largest island that sits between Europe and North Africa. The arid landscape of the island gives the craggy terrain a unique and stunning look that wraps around the island creating sought after beaches, immense gorges, and desirable history to experience. Arrive in Chania known to be the Venice of Crete, colonized and built up by the Venetians at the height of their power.
The harbor shines along the turquoise water which shimmers in the daylight. The lighthouse stands tall, jutting from the encircling port, meant to guide ships in the night and act as a barrier, keeping pirates from entering the harbor all together. The narrow, meandering cobblestone streets of the city are almost a smaller replica of the Italian city, with tables strewn along corridors, vines stretching over building facades, and people calling to you to join their restaurant that sits along the waterway. Whether exploring the romantic labyrinthine, or standing over antique cannons that point out to the sea, Chania settles you into Crete with offerings for everyone.
What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast, transfer
Day 6: Together into the Gorge
Rise with the early morning and venture out to the Samaria Gorge south of the port city of Chania. The island’s largest gorge gives you the freedom to traverse its luxuriant beauty and immense size. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the adventure. The sky is freshly blue; the air is crisp and inviting. Wind down the meandering trail, the trees overarching leaves shading you along the way. The limestone walls let the rugged earth fill the air. The scent of fresh water blossoms rise from the stream below. You can hear the bleating of stray goats lazing in the sun as you pass abandoned farmhouses littered along the way. Cliffs reaching around 1,000 feet hover over you. If you look closely you might be able to spot the Cretan mountain goats known as cri-cri, with their long circular horns giving them an honorable, pompous look. The white and pink oleanders sway in the light breeze swirling a floral fragrance around the path. Eventually you will come to the base of the gorge and the black beach on the south coast of the island. The dark color of the beach absorbs the heat bringing a fiery touch to the sand. Dip your body into the water and let the warm tub-like calm of the Libyan Sea surround you, letting you know that somewhere in the distance is the north shore of Africa.
What’s Included: accommodation
Day 7: A Time for Sand with Sands of Time
South-west of Chania you can find the wondrous town of Matala situated along the crisp and calm waters of Matala bay. The town was once a fishing village surrounded by arid hills. The sweet ocean mist cools the town’s rocky edges. Boats wade along the serene water. Around the bay are sheer cliffs riddled with natural and manmade caves that keep children and adults entertained for days. The cool limestone stands above the rush of water where you can stroll deeper into the meandering caverns or watch the water shift into three different shades of blue. The myths of the honeycombed grottos date back to Zeus, and the princes of Europa, referenced in Homer’s Iliad. Whether excavating the caves in your best Indiana Jones impression or lazing on the warm, powder of the beach, your time in Matala brings with it the family memories of discovery and relaxation.
What’s Included: accommodation
Day 8: Myths Alive
The myths and wonders of Crete are never-ending so why not take the day to experience the Minoan Palace of Knossos where the labyrinth of the infamous Minotaur stood. Within the limits of Crete’s largest city, Herkalion, Knossos Palace mixes the past with the present, myth with fact, and is a must see for anyone who visits the island. Who doesn’t remember the story of Theseus and his spinning of the yarn to find his way out of the labyrinth after slaying the notorious half bull, half man beast? Stand within the seams of Greek legend while strolling through the remains of the great palace. The ruins clamber up and down the hillside; the large stone stairs lead to a terraced upper level. Murals continue to shine behind hefty painted pillars, including a representation of ballerinas dancing on and around a bull. The remaining columns are thick and look from a distance like adornments. The pediment over the mural of a charging bull is decorated with geometric circles giving vibrancy to the colors of the mural and the pillars, setting it apart from the Greek tradition, and ensuring it’s predated to Minoan times. Let remaining walls and paintings of the palace whisper the stories that you once knew, that your children still know, and that everyone can listen to.
What’s Included: accommodation
Day 9: Experience Oikonomos
Oikonomos means family and on your final day in Crete the day is yours to traverse the island in any way you please together with your loved ones by your side. Whether you prefer to stroll once again through the labyrinthine streets of Chania or sit on the powdery sand of the stellar beaches watching the turquoise water rush to the shores, your time has brought you closer to one another and the beautiful mix of modernity and history of Greece. For one more adventure you can visit the traditional mountain village of Anogia, which means “high place.” The local dialect has persisted since the founding of the village sometime in the 12th century, and the hospitality of the locals is unparalleled. In the winter you can see the snow capped mountains in the distance, the vibrant green of the high altitude brush popping against the white peaks. The history of the town rings of revolution during the Turkish occupation and royalty during Byzantium. The myths claim that Zeus grew up within the mountain town while hiding from his father Cronus. The air has the freshness of the mountaintops mixed with the savory tavernas in the lower reaches of the village. The traditions of the past loom large with men wearing the Cretan staple of baggy trousers tucked into their boots and their heads decorated with nets. Visit the original woodcarvings at the Museum Grillios or just stroll along the streets with the panorama of the island sweeping around you.
What’s Included: accommodation
Day 10: Legends Never End
Today you will depart from the island of Crete and, like every hero’s story, begin the journey home. You will fly like Hermes with his winged shoes from the stretch of olive groves, over the sensual waters of the Mediterranean, and away from the myths, legends, and antiquity of Greece towards home. Athens brought you to the footsteps of Greece’s Golden Age. Crete took you to the talk of myths. This was the Greece that was meant for legends and in the minds and imaginations of your family members, this trip will forever remain legendary.
What’s Included: transfer