From Antiquity to Byzantium – Road.Travel

From Antiquity to Byzantium

Road Trip Route. All the main attractions of Greece in just one week, Ancient temples, theatres and stadiums, Byzantine churches and monasteries.

This route offers accommodation in hotels in cities and towns. For those who travel from April to October and would like to stay in hotels by the sea, I suggest to see the route [From Antiquity to Byzantium - Summer](https://road.travel/trip/hellas-grand-tour-summertime/5f16c588bbddbd0c50167169/day7?scroll=tabTop). It is also possible to adjust the routes according to your wishes.

History and Culture. From: Athens

Svetlana Kozlova. Travel Expert.

Travel Itinerary and Road Trip Route

Day 1: Athens Airport - Cape Sounion - Athens

Rent a car at the airport and go on our journey. We start with a tour of the Poseidon Temple at Cape Sounion and the Athens Riviera. Overnight in Athens.

Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) (Διεθνής Αερολιμένας Αθηνών Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος)

Arrival in Athens. Welcome to Greece! Take the car booked in advance at the airport and set off on our way.

Poseidon's Temple (Ναός Ποσειδώνα)

In an hour you will be at the southernmost point of Attica, and the transparent columns of the majestic Temple of Poseidon on the rocky ledges of Cape Sounion will remind us of Lord Byron, who loved to watch the sunsets here.

Akrogiali (Ακρογιάλι)

It is finally possible to dive into the long-awaited turquoise sea on a nearby beach and settle down in a tavern by the water itself to recover the flavour of cool homemade wine, which is used to drink fried squid, grilled octopuses and rustic Greek salad with feta.

Vouliagmeni Lake (Λίμνη Βουλιαγμένης)

Short photo stop by the thermal radon lake. And if you went on a trip in the cold season, bathing on the beach at Cape Sounion, will be a pleasant substitute for swimming in the lake, whose water temperature throughout the year is kept at around 20-22 degrees.

Day 2: Athens - Corinth Canal - Epidaurus - Nafplion

Today you are going to see the ancient Acropolis and take a walk in the historical center of Athens. Next, drive to the Peloponnese, stopping at the Corinth Canal and visiting the Ancient Epidaurus. Overnight stay in Nafplion.

Parthenon (Παρθενώνας)

Start the day by visiting the pearl of Greece, the ancient Acropolis. The Acropolis opens at 8 am. It is advisable to be here no later than 9 o'clock, especially in summertime, so that it is not so hot. It is better to buy entrance tickets in advance, online, so that you do not have to stand in line. You can park your car at the hotel for now, and you can reach the Acropolis by the metro (Acropolis station).

Areios Pagos (Άρειος Πάγος)

Be sure to climb the Areopagus Hill, from where you can take great pictures of the Acropolis, Likavittos Hill, the ancient Agora and panorama of all Athens.

Πλατεία Αέρηδων

Through Plaka, the ancient district of Athens at the foot of the Acropolis, go down to Ermou Street.

Kapnikareas Square (Πλατεία Καπνικαρέας)

The most famous street in the capital is Ermou pedestrian street. It is named after the god of trade Hermes and, as it should be expected, along with a lot of big and small shops and cafes.

Syntagma Square (Πλατεία Συντάγματος)

Every hour on Syntagma Square, in front of Parliament, there is a change of guard of the Presidential Guard, consisting of colorful beauties - euzons. And on Sundays from 10.45 to 11.15 there is an honorary shift, with a march, an orchestra and the full guard. I advise you to come in advance to take a better place.

Isthmus of Corinth (Ισθμός Κορίνθου)

Photo stop at the impressive Corinthian Canal connecting the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The length of the canal is 6 km and the walls are almost 80 meters high. Extreme lovers can even jump off one of the bridges, there is a bungee jumping (you should order in advance).

Κάβος

Lunch in a tavern on the seashore.

Epidaurus Ancient Theatre (Αρχαίο Θέατρο Επιδαύρου)

The cult of god-healer Asklepius was formed here in VI-V century B.C. and Epidaurus became a pilgrimage place for many suffering from healing. Here have appeared remarkable structures - the Temple of Artemis, the Temple of Asclepius, swimming pools with thermal waters, stadium. A theatre was also built here, where performances also helped with healing. The theatre is famous for its unique acoustics and theatrical performances and concerts are still held here.

Day 3: Nafplion - Mycenae - Sparta

Continue your journey through the Peloponnese. Explore Nafplion in more detail and climb up to Palamidi Fortress, which offers a magnificent view of the city and its surroundings. Visit the Golden Mycenae, the kingdom of Agamemnon. Overnight in the legendary Sparta.

Palamidi Fortress (Παλαμήδι)

Active travelers can climb Palamidi Fortress on foot and there are 999 steps up. The rest can use a car, there is a parking lot at the entrance to the fortress.

Μεγάλος Δρόμος

Continue your acquaintance with Nafplio. History lovers can visit the Archaeological Museum of the city, where findings from the whole Argolida region (Mycenae, Epidaurus, Lerna) are collected. And those who want to get acquainted with the traditional Greek drink ouzo can visit the small museum and shop of the company [Karonis](http://www.karoniswineshop.gr/about_en.html), one of the oldest producers of ouzo and other drinks in Greece.

Syntagma Square (Πλατεία Συντάγματος)

The central square of Nafplion, where the archaeological museum is located.

Parking Λιμανιού Ναυπλίου

Get in the car and go on a further journey.

Silo Art Factory

Famous Greek sculptor Stelios Marangos's workshop-museum-shop. Visible from afar thanks to a large model of a Trojan horse. It is possible to order in advance a master class on making clay products, which will be especially interesting if you travel with children.

Archaeological Site of Mycenae (Αρχαιολογικός Χώρος Μυκηνών)

Ancient Mycenae, where the Mycenae civilization arose. From here, from a palace of tsar Agamemnon the army in the Trojan campaign went, and the ancient myths which have appeared a reality, have led on these hills at the end of XIX century Henry Schliman who has found here gold of Mycenae. Before climbing through the Lion's Gate to the ruins of the palace, take a look at the local archaeological museum.

Treasury of Atreus (Θησαυρός Ατρέως)

Be sure to stop at the impressive domed tomb, the so-called Treasury of Atrey (admission ticket to these 2 places is common).

Kolizeras (Κολιζέρας)

Lunch in one of the local taverns and departure to Laconia region, the home of the Spartans.

Leonidas Monument

Stop at the monument to King Leonidas, almost the only place in modern Sparta that reminds us of heroic times.

Day 4: Sparta - Mystras - Messini - Olympia.

Today you will see three regions of the Peloponnese peninsula - Lakonia, Messinia, and overnight in Ilia, in Olympia. Start by visiting the Byzantine ghost town Mystras, then the olive museum and, the main attraction of today, the ancient Messini. An overnight stay in Olympia.

Mystras Castle Town (Καστροπολιτεία Μυστρά)

The medieval fortress city Mystras, where the last Byzantine emperor Constantine Paleologus was born, grew up and ascended the throne. Mystras Archaeological Complex is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The palace complex and many magnificent Byzantine temples with frescoes of XIII-XIV centuries are preserved. The complex is really large and is located on a fairly steep slope, so it is better to first look at the upper part, and then get out and go down by car to the lower entrance.

Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil

A small but beautifully organized museum dedicated to olives. Here you can learn the methods of harvesting olives and production technology for thousands of years, see the first press with which the oil was prepared, and other amazing things.

Ithomi restaurant

Have lunch in a local tavern with a wonderful view of the valley and start exploring the ancient Messina. Keep in mind that in winter Messina closes early, at 15.30-16.00, so better to visit the archaeological site first and have a lunch.

Ancient Messene (Αρχαία Μεσσήνη)

A magnificent archaeological complex, undeservedly unknown to the general public. Maybe because the excavations here started relatively recently, about 40 years ago and continue to this day. The city of mystery, which flourished during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, it surpassed even Athens in area. Numerous public buildings - temples, theaters, stadium, gymnasiums, Asklepios - amaze with their preservation and size. In my opinion, it is fresher and more interesting than even Olympia. It is possible to order a local English-speaking guide in advance.

Αρκαδική Πύλη

Be sure to stop at the Arcadian Gate, which consists of outer and inner walls and is built of stone blocks. On the cobblestone ancient road inside the gate you can still see the tracks carved by countless chariots over many centuries.

Day 5: Olympia - Patras - Nafpaktos - Dolphins

Today you leave the mythical Peloponnese and move to central Greece. Visit to Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Then stop in the city of Patras, the Temple of St. Andrew and move across the Rio - Antirio Bridge to the mainland. Picturesque Venetian fortress of Nafpaktos. Overnight in the Delphi.

Ancient Olympia (Ολυμπία)

In the shadow of the Sacred Grove, in slender rows of moss-covered marble columns, time has stopped. The first sports competitions were held here almost 3 thousand years ago, in 776 BC, and were held every four years for a thousand years. To this day, the start and finish lines for the single stage (192.27 m) competitions have been preserved in the ancient stadium. The sanctuary of Zeus, decorated in the V century BC with a grandiose statue of gold and ivory, became one of the seven wonders of the world. Today, you will see the impressive ruins of a Doric temple and the workshop of the sculptor Thidius, who made himself famous for centuries. The history of the Olympic Games will be told not only by the stadium and Palestra, the treasury and the altar where the Olympic flame is lit to this day. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia, where ceramics, sculptures, armors, jewelry from the archaic to the Roman period are collected, has one of the richest collections in Greece.

Άγιος Ανδρέας

Patras is the capital of the Peloponnese and an important seaport from which ships leave for Bari and Ancona. The Church of St. Andrew - the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans, where the relics of the saint and part of the cross on which he was crucified are located.

Rio-Antirrio Βridge "Charilaos Trikoupis" (Γέφυρα Ρίου-Αντιρρίου «Χαρίλαος Τρικούπης»)

It is the longest bridge in Europe that connected central Greece with the Peloponnese in 2004. Unique technologies were applied in its construction. Fare is toll. Those who want to take pictures of the bridge from the side can cross the Corinthian Gulf by ferry with a car.

Nafpaktos Castle (Κάστρο Ναυπάκτου)

Picturesque town of Nafpaktos with a Venetian fortress. Here, in 1571, was the famous battle of Lepanto, in which Miguel de Cervantes took part. Lunch in one of the local taverns.

Day 6: Delphi - Kalambaka

Today you visit the Archaeological Site and Museum in Delphi and go to the monasteries of Meteora. Overnight in Kalambaka.

Archaeological Site of Delphi (Αρχαιολογικός Χώρος Δελφών)

Delphi is located at an altitude of 700 meters, on the slopes of the famous Parnassus. Legend has it that when Zeus released two eagles into the sky: one from the west and the other from the east, the eagles met in the sky above the Delphi, thus marking the center of the Earth. From here you have a magnificent view of the majestic mountains, a sunny valley covered with olive trees, and a picturesque bay. You will see the sanctuary of the god Apollo, where the mysterious priestess Pythia predicted destinies in his name and touch the "poop of the Earth". Be sure to reach the rejuvenating and inspiring Castal Spring (located to the right of the entrance to the arecheological zone, if you face it).

Delphi Archaeological Museum (Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Δελφών)

In the Archaeological Museum, admire the ancient statues, including the unique Bronze Age of V century BC.

Vakchos (Βάκχος)

Lunch at the local tavern, enjoying once again a breathtaking view of the Delphic Valley and the Corinthian Gulf, and head north towards Meteor. It's better to drive through Amphissa.

Day 7: Monasteries of the Meteors - Thermopylae - Athens

Today, one of the wonders of the world is waiting for you - Meteora monasteries. A cosmic combination of nature and architecture infusion, unity, and mutual aspiration upwards. On the way to Athens, stop at Thermopylae. Overnight in Athens.

Monastery of the Great Meteoron (Μονή Μεγάλου Μετεώρου)

Difficult access to natural fortifications attracted Christian hermits, whose settlements were later formed into monasteries. Treasures - icons, ancient manuscripts and books, relics of saints - are kept under the domes of six operating today's monasteries. I suggest visiting two of the most famous monasteries - the Great Meteors and St. Varlaam. The most important thing to keep in mind is that each monastery has a different timetable. So you should check the days and hours of work at [the site](https://www.visitmeteora.travel/monasteries-visiting-hours-and-days/#:~:text=Visiting%20Hours%3A%2009%3A00%20to%2016%3A00%2C%20Sundays,monastery%20is%20open%20every%20day) or ask me in advance.

Ιερά Μονή Βαρλαάμ

The Monastery of Barlaam with frescoes of Ephraim of Syria in the Basilica of All Saints and the Museum of Ancient Manuscripts and Carved Crosses. If you still have time and energy left, you can visit the convent of St. Stephen, the most accessible for tired feet, there is no need to climb.

Sunset Rock

Stop for pictures on the observation deck with a panoramic view and start returning to Athens.

Spartan Leonidas Monument and Battlefield of Thermopylae (Μνημείο Λεωνιδα Σπαρτιατη και πεδίο μάχης των θερμοπυλων)

Stop in the famous Thermopylae (entrance from the old national road). The name translates from Greek as "hot gate". There is a monument to Leonidas and 300 Spartans. Nearby, in the place of the Battle of the Spartans with the Persian army, hot healing springs are beaten from the rock. The water temperature all year round is about 40 degrees Celsius. Swimming is free, but the place is not equipped. If you are going to bathe, be careful, the rocks are slippery.

NOSTOS Fish Restaurant

Have lunch in a fish tavern in the resort town of Kamena Vourla on the seashore, and if desired, swim and go further. Athens is 2 hours away.

Day 8: Athens - Athens Airport

Depending on the departure time, you can still walk around Athens or go straight to the airport. You can pick up your car at the airport and take off for your home country.

Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) (Διεθνής Αερολιμένας Αθηνών Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος)