For the tour, we recommend you rent a car with GPS, since the roads in Greece are not as well marked as they should be.
We have written this itinerary keeping in mind that most historic landmarks in Greece close around 3pm, so if you can, we suggest you stick to the itinerary timetable as much as possible.
Day 1: Athens – Corinth – Epidaurus – Mycenae – Olympia
The first stop on day one is Corinth, one of the most prosperous cities in ancient times and home to the famous Corinth Canal.
If you depart from central Athens at 8:30am, you should get to the Corinth Canal at 10am approximately.
Driving to Corinth is very simple: head north on the highway A75, take the exit to Corinth, cruise for 70 km and you will come to the canal. Take the exit to Loutraki to get the best views of one of the most impressive engineering works made by man.
Once you have admired the canal connecting the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf, head to Ancient Corinth, the archaeological site of the ancient city.
Next, drive back towards Athens for a few minutes and take the turning to Epidaurus. It will take a bit more than one hour to get to the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Constructed during the fourth century BC, it is probably the best preserved ancient theatre in Greece. Nowadays, it still houses concerts and shows during the Athens & Epidaurus Festival.
After verifying the perfect acoustics and admiring the theatre’s still standing structure, get back in the car and get started to Mycenae. To get there, follow the signs to Nafplia, turning off at Mykines. The journey takes approximately one-hour-and-a-half. Mycenae was an important Bronze Age city surrounded by an impressive wall, and is believed to have been the capital of Agamemnon. The site’s most impressive landmarks include the fourteenth century BCE acropolis, the enormous Lion Gate and the Treasury of Atreus.
After a long day of sightseeing, you’ll want to head to your hotel in Olympia. Even though it is only 160 km from Mycenae, the roads are not very good, and it takes around 3 hours to get there.
The directions to Olympia are quite straight forward: head to Tripoli down the highway E65 and take the exit to Ancient Olympia. The road is winding and mountainous, but it offers beautiful views of the Peloponnese countryside.
In the town of Olympia there is not much to do, but it offers charming traditional Greek taverns, where you can have a delicious dinner accompanied by some Retsina wine.
Day 2: Olympia – Delphi
If you are visiting Greece in winter, we recommend you get up early to avoid driving at nighttime, since the roads are not very good.
Once you have enjoyed an exquisite breakfast, head to the archaeological site of Olympia, famous for housing the first Olympic Games in antiquity. The main sights of the sanctuary include the stadium, the Archaeological Museum of Olympia and the Ancient Olympic Games Museum.
At around midday you should be setting off to Delphi. The easiest way to get there is to head to Pygros, and take the highway to Patras-Athens. Drive through Patras and cross the Rio-Antirrio Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. Then take the highway in direction of Nafpaktos, which will take you to Delphi.
On the route to Delphi there are two monuments worth exploring: the Venetian Castle of Nafpaktos, which offers superb views of the coast, and the lovely resort Galaxidi, with a charming church and two small harbors.
Day 3: Monastery of Osiou Louka – Meteora
To make the most of the day and get to Meteora when it is still light, we recommend you wake bright and early on day 3 of this itinerary.
Once considered the center of the world, Delphi was an ancient religious center dedicated to Apollo. Citizens from all over the country traveled to this town to visit the Pythia, the most influential woman of the Classic world, who was believed to read the future and give prophetic predictions. Nowadays, Delphi is a vast archaeological site which is very interesting to visit. Another enjoyable attraction is the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.
Soon after, take the highway to Athens. The journey’s first stop is just 10 minutes from Delphi. Arachova is a pretty mountain town that offers even better views than Delphi. In winter, the town is covered in snow and it is one of the most popular skiing destinations in Greece.
Continue down the same road until you get to the Monastery of Hosiou Louka. This Byzantine-style abbey houses several beautifully preserved frescoes and mosaics. The whole visit will take approximately one hour, and is well-worth it. The monastery is also a great place to get olive oil and honey.
Head back to the highway in direction of Athens and once you get to Livadeia, take the exit to Lamia. Just before getting to Lamia, you’ll see a stretch of road full of bars and restaurants. We suggest you stop here for a quick bite to eat, since it takes another two hours to get to Meteora.
Once you get to Lamia, follow the signs to Karditsa, Trikala and finally Kalambaka. Once in Kalambaka, it is a very short ride to Meteora. These peaks are home to some of the most impressive Orthodox monasteries. In our opinion Meteora is one of the major highlights of the tour.
Kalambaka is quite a large town with plenty of things to do and see, as well as numerous restaurants and bars that are open until early hours of the morning.
Day 4: Meteora – Athens
From Kalambaka take the scenic route to Meteora again to visit some of the sandstone rock formation’ monasteries. Not all monasteries are open at the same time, so it will depend on the season and day of the week. Once you get to your hotel you will find up to date information on which monasteries to visit.
After visiting the mountaintop monasteries and admiring the incredible landscape, return to your car and head back to Athens. You will first have to drive to Lamia, passing by Trikala and Kardista, then take the highway E75 to the capital.
Thermopylae, or Hot Gates in English, is very close to Lamia. It was once the battlefield where Leonidas and 300 men fought against the Persian forces. There is a statue of the national hero where the battle once took place.
Once back on the road, take the E75 for a couple of hours until you get back to Athens.