Arrive in Athens, Greece by 4pm and transfer on your own to the group hotel. Our lodgings are located near a charming historic district at the foot of the Acropolis. Early this evening we meet in the hotel lobby for introductions, followed by a short walking tour. The Plaka's fascinating narrow lanes and stepped alleys invite exploration. Hidden squares with small churches, lively shops and cafes, and grand neoclassical-style houses are delightful and picturesque. Dinner is at a traditional Greek tavern serving family-style meals. All meals included.
Walking: 1+ hour.
We begin the day with a guided tour of the Parthenon, a temple on the Acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena, and also visit the New Acropolis Museum. We enjoy lunch, then travel by high-speed catamaran from the port of Rafina to the island of Tinos. This is the only island in the Cyclades with a dedicated temple to Poseidon, the god of sea, and to his wife, the sea nymph Amphitrite. According to mythology, as the island's protector Poseidon sent a flock of storks to rid it of snakes. The late afternoon is free time to explore, looking for examples of the island?s dovecotes. In medieval Europe the possession of a dovecote was a symbol of status and power. The doves were an important source of food and their droppings were a coveted fertilizer. Dinner is at a local restaurant. All meals included.
Transfers: 1+ hour; Ferry: 2 hours; Walking: 3 hours.
Our hike starts in Volax, a village noted for its unique round boulders. We follow a winding path downhill to the village of Koumaros, known for its old fountains and medieval arches. In Xombourgo we are welcomed into a traditional Greek home with an aperitif of Tinian raki, a spirit distilled from wine. Our hostesses provide a lesson in preparing a lunch of local specialties; we dine together, sharing stories of family and island living. Our hike ends in Chora (Tinos Town), and there is free time to rest or explore before dinner. We recommend visiting the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, a white marble church that draws thousands of pilgrims to view its miracle-working icon, discovered in 1823 after the Virgin Mary appeared in a series of visions to a local nun. Dinner is at a local tavern. All meals included.
??Transfers: 30 minutes; Hiking: 5.5 miles, 3.5 hours; elevation gain 660'/loss 1,667'.
We ferry to Naxos Island, the largest and most fertile of the Cyclades. The island's marble was once highly prized for sculpture and often exported. Our hike begins in the backyard of a local family, which is the site of the 2,500-year-old Kouros of Melanes statues. The unfinished kouros statues are world renown. Historians believe that the incomplete statues depicting young men would have supported a temple roof; however, the project was abandoned due to faults in the marble and stone. We continue to Ano Potamia and enjoy a refreshing break at the village spring before we hike to Apano Kastro (Upper Castle), where we drink in big views of Naxos Town and the port. Today's explorations end in Chalki with a visit to a small distillery that produces Kitron, the specialty liquor of Naxos. Dinner in the village. All meals included.
Transfers: 1 hour; Ferry: 1.25 - 2.5 hours depending on schedule; Hiking: 4.3 miles, 4 hours; elevation gain 912'/loss 666'.
From the little chapel at Santa Marina we begin our hike to the summit of Mount Zas (Mount Zeus). This is the highest point in the Cyclades at 3290', and the views are worthy of the gods. According to Greek mythology, Zeus was raised in a cave on this mountain. The trail starts as a dirt path and becomes a stone walkway; as we near the crest, the trail contains large limestone rocks to step around and over. After raising our water bottles to toast our successful summit, we head back down the trail to the chapel for a picnic lunch. Our hike continues to the charming, whitewashed village of Filoti. From here, we return to our hotel and relax with beachside yoga while admiring the sunset. We dine together and celebrate a rewarding day. All meals included.
Transfers: 1+ hour; Hiking: 4.9 miles, 4.5 hours, elevation gain 1,100'/loss 2,000'.
We ferry to Santorini. In the afternoon a short drive brings us to Pyrgos, a fortress settlement at the summit of Profitis Ilias (1860'). From here we observe the characteristics of the island. Around 1600 BC an eruption submerged the central part of the island, and the thriving civilization was destroyed. A huge underwater crater, called a caldera, was left behind. We walk the winding paths of a village and admire the remains of neoclassical mansions as we make our way to Kasteli Castle. Next, we head downhill to the traditional settlement of Exo Gonia (643'). The cobblestone avenues lead us to Panagia Episkopi, an 11th-century Byzantine church. At a unique art center set within the pumice-rock chambers of an old winery, we sample local, award-winning wines. Tonight's dinner is at an authentic tavern with beautiful views over the Kamari hills. All meals included.
Transfers: 1 hour; Ferry: 1.25 hours; Hiking: 2.8 miles, 2 hours, elevation gain 500'/loss 150'.
This morning we hike to the dramatic village of Oia. Set high above the sea, our hike begins on a stone path that turns into a dirt footpath while following the edge of the caldera. The views are tremendous?don't forget your camera! Arriving in Oia, we explore its narrow passageways and quaint shops and then sample the local souvlaki for lunch. We transfer back to Fira in the late afternoon to meet our friend Maria, a wine tasting connoisseur. Maria will share her knowledge of the delicious wines made from grapes grown in Santorini's volcanic soil. At tonight?s farewell dinner, we admire the sunset while celebrating our women?s-only adventure to three beautiful Greek Islands. All meals included.
Transfers: 30 minutes; Hiking: 6.6 miles, 4.5 hours; elevation gain 1,100'/loss 1,800'.
The trip concludes after breakfast. Transfer on your own to the airport, or continue your stay to see more of Greece. Breakfast included.