Highlights of Greece tour 26 March – 15 April 2020
This three-week tour takes in the highlights of Greece – from the Neolithic to the birth of the modern Greek state. It also offers opportunities to explore Greek culture today. Spring is a perfect time to visit Greece before the summer crowds arrive and when the countryside is carpeted with wildflowers.
Our journey begins in Athens where we visit museums and take in the stunning classical monuments on the Acropolis before heading to the Peloponnese and the first capital of Greece after independence, picturesque Nauplion. Here we step back into the Bronze Age with visits to Mycenae Tiryns and Nemea. The area is also famous for its wines and we enjoy a wine tasting at a local vineyard. From Nauplion we drive over the Taygetos Mountains to Sparta, Athens’ rival in the 5th century BCE. We visit the World Heritage listed site of Mystras before driving to Methoni, the southern most tip of the west coast. This strategic site was fought over by the Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans. After a visit to the Bronze Age Palace of Nestor at Pylos we continue to Olympia. Here we explore the site of the ancient Olympic Games and visit the museum where impressive dedications made at this ancient sanctuary are displayed.
We then head off the tourist trail and explore the island of Ithaca, home to the Bronze Age hero Odysseus. Our ferry returns us to the mainland where we visit Messalonghi where Lord Byron died before continuing to the city of Ioannina. From here we visit the ancient sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona and the monasteries at Meteora. From Thessaloniki we explore the world of Alexander the Great with visits to Pella and the Royal Tombs Museum at Vergina where spectacular artefacts are displayed. We also spend a day taking in the numerous monuments, sites and churches of Thessaloniki, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. After a visit to the site of Dion we drive to Volos on the Pelion peninsula, from where Jason set off with the Argonauts. We visit the important Neolithic sites of Dimini and Sesklo and enjoy time in a mountain village. From Volos we drive to what may be one of Greece’s most impressive sites, the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, before returning to Athens.
Our tour is led by Helen Nicholson, an experienced, well-regarded study tour leader. Helen has led more than thirty tours to Europe and Asia, including AAIA tours to Greece and Alumni’s Egypt, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia tours. She holds Archaeology degrees from the University of Sydney and has delivered numerous lectures, courses and study days for adult, museum and professional audiences. Helen spent several years working at the Powerhouse Museum and lectured and tutored at the University of Sydney for more than 20 years. She has worked on archaeological sites in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Jordan, Cambodia and Uzbekistan, including the AAIA’s excavations at Torone and is a senior team member of Sydney University’s excavations at Paphos in Cyprus. Helen currently works as an archaeological consultant in Sydney.