Private Holiday, Island Hopping and Self Drive13 Days ex AthensA perfect way to experience the delights of the Greek Islands, this tour takes in some of the most beautiful destinations in the Mediterranean, as well as some of the most historical sites and settings from mythology.
- Discover the incredible archaeological sites of Crete, including the Palace of Knossos, whom some believe to be the palace of King Minos and his fearsome, labyrinth-guarding Minotaur.
- Take your pick of the pristine beaches scattered across the islands you visit.
- Gaze in wonder at the force required for the volcanic eruption of Thera to have created the Santorini Caldera.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The cost of the rental car in Crete is not included in the above prices as it is dependant on the category of car you choose.
Day 1: Athens
On arrival into Athens you will be met after customs and immigration by a local operator and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to unwind.
Day 2: Athens – Chania (B)
This morning you will be picked up from your hotel for your half-day coach tour of Athens and new Acropolis Museum sightseeing tour.
This tour gives you an opportunity to observe the striking contrasts that make Athens such a fascinating city. Our expert guides will take you to see the Panathenaic Stadium where the first Olympic Games of modern times were held in 1896 (short stop). Continue and pass by sites such as Hadrian's Arch on your way towards the most iconic of Athenian sites, The Acropolis. Once there you will visit the architectural masterpieces of the Golden Age of Athens: The Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and finally "the harmony between material and spirit", the monument that "puts order in the mind", the Parthenon. Continue and visit the place where at last the statues found their home and admire the wonders of the classical era: The new Acropolis Museum. Return to hotel.
Note: Due to certain restrictions in the visiting hours of the new Acropolis Museum the order of the program can be changed. Entrance fees included. Tour pick-up time from hotel should be confirmed with our local operator, usually the day prior. This tour does not operate during Greek National Holidays.
Later you will be transferred from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Chania, Crete.
Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands, with a wealth of archaeological sites and wonderful scenery. Close to Heraklion you will find Knossos, birthplace of the Minoan Civilisation. The archaeological museum in Heraklion displays many treasures discovered during the excavations at Knossos.
On arrival into Chania you will be met by our local operator and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 3: Chania (B)
This morning your car will be delivered to your hotel to begin your self-drive programme.
Cars in Crete: The standard of the rental vehicles in Crete is generally lower than that of Central Europe and New Zealand. These cars are late model manual vehicles as opposed to new cars. They are well serviced, and reliable. Automatic vehicles can be requested, a surcharge applies. It is common practice that the car is delivered with a non-full (and quite often almost empty) tank. Make sure you fill in your tank before leaving town. At the end of your tour the car is expected to be returned with a similar level of fuel as when first delivered.
Spend the day exploring the Old Centre of Chania. Walk through the old centre and along the Venetian harbour. This afternoon you may visit some of Crete’s most famous beaches in Elafonissi or Falasarna, visit the famous Samaria Gorge or Souda Bay WWII War Cemetery.
Day 4: Chania (B)
Another day to explore Chania and its region. With options ranging from jeep safaris and hiking, the national football museum and archaeological sites, the Chania are is full of interesting options to keep you busy. Else just while away the hours on one of the many beautiful beaches.
Day 5: Chania – Matala (B)
Drive through small villages to Rethymnon before making your way to Preveli Monastery. The original monastery, dedicated to John the Baptist, was destroyed by German forces during WWII when it was discovered to have sheltered Australian soldiers prior to their dramatic escape from the island by submarine. Next, drive via the narrow gorge Kourtaliotiko, and hear the mysterious sounds of the constant blowing wind. Overnight in the pleasant seaside village of Matala, famous for its pre-historic caves, and for being a centre for the hippies during the 70’s.
Day 6: Matala – Heraklion (B)
Morning at leisure at the beach or to explore the region of Matala. Later drive to Heraklion. Overnight in Heraklion.
Day: 7: Heraklion (B)
Depart for Heraklion and visit the ruins of the Palace of Knossos. These ruins, rediscovered in the early 20th century, were the heart of the Minoan civilisation. Very little is known of these people, in fact the name “Minoan” was given them by the archaeologist who rediscovered the site. Upon seeing the various bull frescoes, it was claimed that this was the legendary city of King Minos, home of the Minotaur and its labyrinth. South of Knossos, at the foot of Juchtas Mountain (the mountain range resembles the face of a sleeping man, thus called “Sleeping Zeus”), is the village of Archanes, well known since the Minoan period for its vineyards. In the village there are beautiful restored Turkish houses.
Gain further insight into the Minoan civilisation back in Heraklion with a visit to the Archaeological Museum with its important finds from the Minoan period and the Cathedral of St. Minas, protector of the city.
Day 8: Heraklion – Santorini (Hydrofoil / Catamaran) (B)
This morning drive to Heraklion harbour to return your car them embark on your hydrofoil to Santorini. (Ferry timings will be confirmed by our local operator. They will issue all ferry tickets)
After disembarking in Santorini you will be met by a local operator and transferred to your hotel.
No other place in the world resembles this unique Cycladic Island, believed by some to be the legendary lost continent of Atlantis which was swallowed by the sea when the volcano erupted. Santorini is known worldwide for its unique views and colourful sunsets.
Day 9: Santorini (B)
The beautiful island of Santorini was created by the eruption of a super volcano called Thera in ancient antiquity. This eruption has been estimated to have ejected 100 cubic kilometres of material, making it one of the four most powerful eruptions of historic times. The concentric shaped islands that remain have created one of the most perfect natural harbours in the world, so it is no surprise that water activities are so popular here. Whether partaking a sailing charter, relaxing on a beach, or taking advantage of the many spectacular viewpoints, Santorini is a delightful location to enjoy the Mediterranean. Famed for the beautiful sunsets, be sure to find a good vantage point as the day winds down.
Day 10: Santorini (B)
Many people believe Santorini to be the location of Atlantis from Platonic myth, and the ancient ruins of Thera, although dated to after the eruption, lend credence to the idea that this could have been a seat of a great civilisation. The uphill walk is rewarded with a fascinating archaeological site which includes Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. For those who prefer, it is a short taxi drive to the top.
Day 11: Santorini – Mykonos (Hydrofoil / Catamaran) (B)
Today you will embark on a hydrofoil to Mykonos. (Ferry timings will be confirmed by our local representative. They will issue all ferry tickets)
Mykonos is renowned as one of the prettiest and most cosmopolitan of the Greek islands. Here you will find superb beaches, traditional windmills, white-washed buildings and cobblestoned streets. The town comes alive in the evening with entertainment centred around the harbour.
After disembarking in Mykonos you will be met by a local operator and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 12: Mykonos (B)
Mykonos plays a key role in Greek mythology, reputedly being the location where the battle between the Gods and the Titans took place. Hercules, having lured the giants from the protection of Mount Olympus, defeated them at Mykonos. The large rocks scattered around the area are said to be the petrified remains of…certain body parts of the giants. This is where the slang anatomical term “stones” originated.
Day 13: Mykonos (B)
After breakfast, the tour concludes with your own arrangements.
- Accommodation with daily breakfast
- Arrival and departure transfers
- Transportation by air-conditioned vehicle
- Meals and sightseeing as indicated on the itinerary
- Professional English speaking guides
- Entrance fees
- Porterage at hotels
- Greece Travel Notes – issued by Innovative Travel
- International airfares
- Optional tours and excursions
- Port Taxes and fuel surcharges
- Tipping/Gratuities (please refer to tour notes for a recommended guideline)
- Personal Expenses
- Departure taxes
- Hotel charges for minibar or any extra charges
- Visas (unless specified)
- Any other services not clearly mentioned in the inclusions above
Accommodation based on the below or similar
Tourist Class - Acropolis Hill (Standard)
First Class - Athenian Callirhoe (Standard)
Tourist Class - Kriti (Standard)
First Class - Porto Veneziano (Sea View)
Tourist Class - Zafiria (Standard)
First Class - Zafiria (Standard)
Tourist Class - Marin Dream (Standard)
First Class - Castello City (Standard)
Tourist Class - Sunrise (Standard)
First Class - Andromeda (Superior)
Tourist Class - Vienoulas Gardens (Standard)
First Class - Pelican Bay (Side View)
** NEW HOTEL TAX**The Greek government has recently approved a new law (Law 4389 / 27-05-2016 article 53 Accommodation Taxation) that will be in force and effective as of 01.01.2018 regarding a tax for all Tourists staying in any kind of Hotel, Apartment, Villa, etc. in any destination in Greece. This tax will be applied locally and payable at checkin or checkout depending on your hotel. The tax is a fixed Euro amount based on the property rating.
**FERRIES**All ferry schedules may be subject to change, due to local conditions (including weather) and/or possible port congestion and the final requirements of the ferry companies. The cancellation or non operation of the ferries is a decision of the shipping company and the Ministry of Shipping. This is outside the control of our operators and Innovative Travel who confirm ferries in good faith.
If certain classes of ferries are not operating for any reason, the next best option will be used whether an alternate ferries or flights. Example: If Hydrofoils are non-operational for any reason, clients booked on them may have to use alternative regular ferries in a first class seat. If there are any additional charges these will be advised by the local operator and will be at the clients expense.
Greek Island ferries are usually quite large, offering restaurant/cafeteria/bar facilities, though normally no swimming facilities. Porters are rarely available at ferry ports, so your luggage should be only as much as you can carry.
Ferry Rhodes / Marmaris: Unlike standard ferries connections between Greek Islands, the ferry between Rhodes and Marmaris is an international one. Our local operator in Rhodes will provide you with a voucher that you will exchange at the port where you will have to queue to receive your boarding pass and pay the Greece departure tax.
Connecting to International Flights from the Islands. We suggest client do not depart from Athens on the same day as they embark on ferries from the Cyclades or beyond. If departures are scheduled for this day we suggest flying directly into Athens airport.
*** FERRY TICKETS***The majority of ferry tickets are paper tickets. A handling fee is included in the price of the tickets when purchased with other arrangements in Athens. If clients are not using the service of our local representative in Athens a delivery and additional handling fee may be charged. ( This applies particularly when an island hopping programme begins on the islands). Ferry tickets are non-refundable and non-changeable once issued. All tickets are issued locally in Greece.
Ferry schedules in Greece are constantly changing. Final ferry tickets are generally issued 2 weeks prior departure. To avoid client disappointment tickets are purchased on the best available scheduled departure at that time. If a client wants to make changes after tickets are purchased a change fees will apply payable locally and clients will be responsible for collecting the tickets from the ferry terminal on the day of departure. Final embarkation timings will be confirmed to clients by our representative in Greece.
The local Greece representatives are available to assist clients in case of emergencies or cancellations of ferries. They will also assist to make changes to a booking – any additions or changes to service may incur charges. These charges will be advised and are the responsibility of the clients and must be paid locally.
*** TRANSFERS***Transfers are supplied by drivers and are not guided. Some drivers may only have a basic command of English.
*** THE ISLANDS***Traditionally the Greek Islands main travel season is from May to October. For clients arriving in April and towards the end of the season, many facilities and hotels may not be operational. The infrastructure on Santorini and Mykonos is well developed the other islands accommodation including Naxos and Paros have less developed infrastructure with accommodation generally a slightly lower standard. This is compensated for by atmosphere and charm.
**DOUBLE BEDS**Please note we have requested a double bedded room/cabin but cannot guarantee one will be available. In Greece/Turkey double room/cabin are very limited. Please ask on check-in with the hotel/cruise boat to see what is available.
*** CRUISE DEPARTURES FROM ATHENS ***We suggest that a pre nights accommodation and an arrival transfer are booked, from your Athens Hotel to the port, to connect with the correct ferry/cruise. Due to the size and congestion at the port it can be difficult to find the correct terminal and the cruise departure point often changes without prior notice. The local operator will be informed of these details to avoid potential problems.
*** CABIN ALLOCATION ON CRUISES ***Celestial Cruise Cabin numbers are confirmed generally 2 weeks prior to cruise departures. This may vary from the cabin allocated at the time of confirmation of the booking.*** CRETE SELF DRIVE ***The standard of the rental vehicles in Crete is generally lower than that of Central Europe and New Zealand. These cars are late model manual vehicles as opposed to new cars. They are well serviced, and reliable. Automatic vehicles can be requested, a surcharge applies. It is common practice that the car is delivered with a non-full (and quite often almost empty) tank. Make sure you fill in your tank before leaving town. At the end of your tour the car is expected to be returned with a similar level of fuel as when first delivered.
*** ATHENS SIGHTSEEING & GREECE MAINLAND COACH TOURS ***Scheduled tours and sightseeing are bilingual unless specified. Wifi may be available on full day tours to Delphi, Argolis and all multi day tours.
Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however all offers are subject to reconfirmation at the time of booking. Note prices usually display available discounted rates if any, (eg. Early Bird Deals if applicable). All featured tour itineraries and offers maybe subject to change due to seasonal variations without notice, or due to local conditions or other conditions. Please confirm all details at time of booking. Travel insurance is mandatory for all Innovative Travel bookings. All passports must be valid for 6 months prior to your return to your home country. Visas are the responsibility of the traveller. Special VIP meet and assist offers are valid for New Zealand passport holders, for other nationalities please check at the time of booking. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions page.