Apart from the rare combination of the natural beauty and the architecture of the paradisal villages and cities, the Saronic gulf islands, the food and the wine experiences, this invitation becomes even more challenging because this route is done by alternating landscapes and monuments in the lush Greek nature of April, as far as we will visit the most beautiful and important churches, the most interesting Byzantine and post-Byzantine monasteries, stable enclaves of Christianity and Orthodoxy through the ages.
Accommodation 10 overnight stays in Hotels 3* or 4* or Luxury Apartments on double room basis. *For single rooms a 320 € supplement is required
• 10 breakfasts • 3 lunches with a soft drink or beer or local wine (250 g) & • 10 dinners in traditional taverns with a soft drink or beer or local wine (500 g)
Transportation • Minivan • Boat • Cog railway
Activities Included • Exploring the Caves • Athens by night
Entrance fees included • Tickets in caves • The Cog Railway
Arrival on Saturday of Lazarus–Transfer to your Hotel- welcome drink – Dinner- Free evening
2nd Day: Athens sightseeing and Sounio
From the Acropolis to Omonia Square, you will see all the sites of ancient and modern Athens with this day trip. Offering a perfect overview of the modern city, this guided tour will help you navigate if it’s your first visit to Athens.
The day tour to Athens begins with a photo stop at the Panathinaiko stadium where the first Olympic Games were held in 1896. Proceed through Zappeion and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. You will then pass the trilogy of Athens which includes the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens and the National Library. Continue through National Garden, Hadrian’s Arc, St. Paul’s Church, Parliament, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Schliemann House (Numismatic Museum), Catholic Cathedral, Old Parliament, Constitution Square, Orthodox Church Russian, and finally the Acropolis.
Continue the guided tour at the Acropolis Athens museum. Major attractions such as votives, archaic statues, the caryatids, and of course the Parthenon Hall with metopes, pediments and frieze will impress you.
After a morning visit with full of pictures we ‘ll have lunch and then we go for a wonderful drive along the picturesque coastal road which offers a splendid view of the Saronic Gulf, passing through some of the most beautiful suburbs of Athens (Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza) to Cape Sounion. Cape Sounion is only 70 km away from Athens, making it the perfect destination for a lazy afternoon. The temple of the Cape of Poseidon is perched on a rocky hill overlooking the sea. The view of the Aegean Sea is magnificent with the most breathtaking panoramic views in the world, which extend to the isle of Kea and the Peloponnese on a clear day. The temple of Poseidon was built in 44 BC, and many of its original Doric columns are still standing. One of the columns has a graffiti left by none other than Lord Byron in the early 1800s. The precipice is a sheer drop of 197 feet to the sea. Dinner – Overnight in Athens
3rd Day: Holy Monday
Departure from Athens to Aigion, a coastal town in northern Peloponnese near Patras. We stop at the Corinthos Canal for a drink and take pictures. Then we visit the monastery of Saint Potapios above Loutraki, the magnificent lake Vouliagmeni and the Iraion monument. Later in the day we visit the ancient Corinthos and the church of Saint Paul. In the evening we experience the celebration of Great Monday, the opening event of Holy Week, the commemoration of the Passion, and the suffering of Christ in the church of Panagia Tripiti at the city of Aigion.
The icon of Panagia Trypiti is considered a miraculous one and attracts hundreds of pilgrims every year. Dinner – Overnight at Aigion
4th Day: Holy Tuesday
We take the Cog railway to Kalavryta. We visit the sacred hill of holocaust (13 Dec. 1943) and the monastery of Saint (agia) Lavra from where the Greeks lifted the banner of the Revolution for National Independence in 1821.
In the evening we will attend the liturgy which features Byzantine-style choral singing, including the renowned Hymns of Kassiani and of the Fallen Women at the evocative monastery of Mega spilaeon.
The Hymns of Kassiani, an exceptionally beautiful and intelligent woman, the beloved of the Byzantine emperor Theofilos (830 A.D.) who became a nun soon after she failed to be chosen as his wife by the young emperor at a “bride show” organised by his mother because of her proud attitude to him on his position about woman’s place in society, are very popular among greek women. Dinner – Overnight at Kalavryta
5th Day: Holy Wednesday
An Early departure we lead us to the Caves of the lakes and to the arcadian village of Vitina where we can have lunch. Later we ‘ll visit the Prodromou (Saint John the Baptist) monastery, a complex built as a literal cliffhanger, hidden from hostile and prying eyes approached by a cliffside walk. The place is astonishing, breathtaking, violent and quiet at the same time. In spite of its extreme location, the monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos breathes peace and serenity. The monks will treat you a coffee and sweet loukoumia and, with that taste lingering, you’ll walk out onto the wooden balconies of the Prodromos monastery, hanging from the cliffs of the Lousios Gorge for centuries.
The path goes through the gorge near the Lousios river. The scenery is spectacular. High rocks over your heads. Wild and noisy river as it rushes through the rocky terrain creating small waterfalls. The view is divine.
A new path ascends to the other side of the gorge, bringing you to the the 10th-century Philosophou church and then to the New Philosophou monastery to admire the murals that have embellished it since 1693 while another descends to the ruins of the asclepeion of ancient Gortys, an ancient Arcadian city which probably was in its prime already in the 4th century B.C., and it was probably destroyed sometime around the 12th century.
Coming back to Dimitsana, a spectacular village built on a mountain slope at an elevation of 950 meter, we visit the Open-Air Water Power Museum, a thematic museum centred on the importance of hydraulic power in traditional societies, which presents the basic pre-industrial techniques using water as their main source of energy to produce various goods.
Ιn the Greek War of Independence (1821-1827) Dimitsana played an important role with its gunpowder mills. During the war a large part of its library’s books were destroyed, as Greek warriors used their paper in the 14 gunpowder mills, that worked day and night, supplying them with gunpowder. It is for this reason that Dimitsana has been called “the Nation’s powder keg”.
In the evening we will sing The Holy Wednesday’s hymns and psalms at the Village Church of Agia Kiriaki. Dinner – Overnight at Dimitsana.
6th Day: Holy Thursday
We drive down to Sparta, the glorious ancient city of Peloponnese, the city of Tindareos, of Dioscuri, Menelaos and the beautiful Helen, the city of Leonidas. Unfortunately, today there is not much left of the famous city of heroes. The first stop is the enchanting castle of Mystras site (a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Monument), where from the top of the hill will descend the narrow corridors and the streets of the castle-city, we will visit the Byzantine churches, the palace of Palaiologos, the last Byzantine emperors.
Then we will visit the city of Sparta, the river Evrotas, the statue of Leonidas and the archaeological site. Later we continue to Monemvasia, the important Byzantine Castle city. We walk through the narrow stony pavements of the traditional city and visit the beautiful old churches. In the evening we attend the service and the reading of the twelve gospels as well as the symbolic representation of the crucifixion in the church of Elkomenos Christos (Christ in Chains). Dinner – Overnight at Monemvasia
7th Day: Good Friday
We make our way down to the area of Mani, the so particular peninsula of the Peloponnese. We first visit Gytheion, the Kranai island and we will stroll around the main road near the harbour. During the day our food is very simple as this is the most important fast day of the Holy Week.
Later in the day we visit the Caves of Diros and the stony town of Areopolis in the center of Mani hearing the bells of the churches ringing mournfully.
In the evening we will sing in the cathedral of Areopolis the melodic byzantine hymns dedicated to the Christ’s life in Hades. A funeral service is held and the Epitaph is carried on the shoulders of the faithful young men in a procession through the community or around the church followed by the people holding their candles. Dinner – Overnight at Areopolis
8th Day: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
We are heading to Tripoli, the capital and administrative center of the Peloponnese. Before we get there, we will go up to Mount Parnonas through the pine forests to visit the monastery of Panagia Malevis. Later we will relax in the city of Tripoli and in the afternoon we will stroll around in the center of the historic city.
At midnight we will experience the brilliant celebration of the resurrection at the monastery of Pano Chrepas at an altitude of 1300 meters. After we light up our white candle with the holy light coming from the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, we will embrace the faithful by saying “Christos Anesti” (Christ has arisen), waiting to hear from them “Alithos Anesti” (Truly He has). Getting out of the humble monastery we can have a panoramic view of the city of Tripoli, hear the joyful bells and admire the non-stop fireworks launching from all the churches of the city. Later we will eat the traditional << mageiritsa >> soup and we will crack the red eggs. Dinner – Overnight at Tripolis
9th Day: Christos Anesti
Since morning we set a good fire to grill the unfortunate lamb together with “kokoretsi”, “kontosouvli” and baked potatoes, local cheese graviera and feta, the traditional tsoureki (a buttery sweet bread) accompanied by special local wines and greek music. Most of the scenery takes place around the fire where the hosts and the guests together with the neighbours enjoy the rich meal and the drinks and dance traditional songs. We later end our lovely and blessed religious excursion with delicious sweets before taking the coach to Athens via the romantic Nafplio where we will stop to see this lovely city. Dinner – Overnight in Athens
10th Day:One day Cruise
Take the boat to the island of Aegina, the princess of the Saronic gulf –Coffee in one of the many Café of the port. Walk around the streets near the port and we visit the temple of Apollo and the archaeological museum–We visit the miraculus Agios Nektarios Monastery, the Church and the Palaia Chora hill with the numerous churches on it.
All our Epic Tours offered are accompanied by one of our local English speaker group guides. The aim of the group guide is to take the hassle out of your trip and to help you have the best experience possible. The guide has excellent knowledge of the places visited and will provide you information throughout the whole trip, including historical, cultural and social aspects. Your guide takes care of all the essential things of the tour, offers suggestions for things to do and see and introduces you to the local communities.
We use a minimum three-star rating,conveniently located hotels and apartments with all the essential modern conveniences. Lodges that practice good eco-tourism, use products and hire staff from the local villages, walk lightly on the surrounding environment and are true to the area they represent. Accommodation on all our trips is on a twin or double bed basis. Single upgrades are available upon request and depend on availability.
Concerning the transportation, our company cooperates with leading transfer companies which use vehicles of the latest technology with the most stringent standards. All minivans are equipped with comfortable seats, air condition and large windows. Our experienced drivers will do everything they can so that your transfer be safe and pleasant. In all our Epic tours offered, we have made an effort to include as many attractions as possible, therefore reducing our stay in the bus to the minimum, by making many stops.
When it comes to meals, Epos Travel & Tours strikes a perfect balance, since gastronomy is one of the main aspects of the total tour experience offered. We include most meals (at selected seaside or traditional taverns) to save you time and money, yet we also leave enough free time so you can sample Greece’s gastronomic delights on your own. Epos travel packages vary as to the number of meals included.All provided meals are clearly stated on the tours’s inclusions section. As most of our hotels offer anything from coffee to a full breakfast, you can start the day the way you like best with high quality local products. Lunch is your chance to make culinary discoveries of your own – Your tour guide can give you tips about recommended places if asked. When your itinerary includes a special experience, such as fishing on a hired boat,rafting or wine tasting, lunch will be included. Please note that if you have any special dietary requirements you should inform us prior to the trip. We can provide vegetarian and vegan meals. Please feel free to contact us, regarding any questions you may have about food, so we can provide you the best options possible.
Meeting and finishing point: Most of our tours -unless otherwise stated in the trip’s information section- start and end at Syntagma square in Athens. Tours commence at 08:00 on the starting date and finish between 21:00 and 22:00 on the finishing point. Please note: In case you leave Greece on the day the tour ends,it is advisable to book your return flight at least 3 hours after our scheduled return time. That will give you the tranquillity and ease of mind, avoiding any unfortunate events that could blemish you vacation.
When you book with us, please have in mind that our tours don’t include any accommodation before or after the tour. So we advise you to make any stay arrangements for the date the tour ends. In relation to your arrival date and your stay in a hotel in Athens or in another city for one or more days before or after the trips, please feel free to contact us and we shall arrange it at no cost.
With regard to your transfer to and from the airport, we are able to help, if you ask us about it. We can arrange a private transfer from the airport to your hotel in Athens and vice versa 24/7. Your private driver will be waiting for you at the exit of the airport, holding a placard with your name on it. Regarding the issue of your air ticket you know that the sooner you buy it the more cheap it comes. You are most likely to find lower prices in your home country. But it is worth trying together.
Please check if you belong in one of the Free or Reduced admission categories below.
Free admission for:
• Members of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece and equivalent Chambers of member-states of the EU, upon presentation of their membership card
• Members of the ICOM-ICOMOS, upon presentation of their membership card
• Students of University – Higher Education Institutes, Technological Educational Institutes, Military Schools or equivalent Schools of EU member states, as well as Schools of Guides, upon presentation of their student identity card
• Young people, up to the age of 18, upon presentation of their Identity Card or passport for age confirmation.
Reduced admission for:
• Greek citizens and citizens of other Member – States of the European Union who are over 65 years old, upon presentation of their ID card or passport for verification of their age and country of origin • Students of University – Higher Education Institutes, Technological Educational Institutes or equivalent Schools of countries from outside the European Union, upon presentation of their student ID cards