Greece - Why Visit?

There is no place like Greece. It’s a land of superb ancient monuments that bear witness to a magnificent history and rich culture. It’s a country of inviting, expressive people who captivate with their incredible zest for life. It’s a paradise of incomparable beauty, breathtaking and unforgettable.


Come sail away to the Greek Isles on a small ship and delight in the joy that is Greece… The Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reposing in gleaming splendor on a hilltop in the Athenian sunshine… savory spanakopita and chilled retsina… the charm and romance of Old Town Nafplion, a seaport village of winding, cobblestone streets and vibrant bougainvillea cascading down pastel façades… the shimmering turquoise of pristine seas… Santorini at sunset, a travel dream come true… bleached white clouds in a cobalt blue sky, a color combo reminiscent of the national flag… Athens, the birthplace of democracy... the amusing twists and turns in Greek mythology as gods and goddesses frolic with each other – and occasionally, mere mortals… Greece is legendary.


GREECE IN A NUTSHELL

This lucky land is nestled in a lovely corner of the world. A peninsular nation in southeastern Europe, Greece dips its toes in the Mediterranean Sea while reveling in the warm waters of the Ionian and Aegean Seas on its western and eastern shores – which makes it a perfect playground for small ship cruising. Including the country’s myriad islands, Greece is about the size of Alabama. Its population numbers close to 11 million with approximately a third of Greeks calling the capital of Athens and its suburbs home.


Acropolis

And oh, what exciting wonders await! Perched high on a rock-strewn cliff in the heart of Athens, the Acropolis reigns supreme, eager to show off Greece’s grand dame of antiquities – the Parthenon – to ancient history buffs the world over. The glorious temple, built between 447 and 432 BC to honor Athena, Athens’ patron goddess (for whom the city was named), can’t help but inspire awe. After all, we Americans measure our history in centuries; in Greece, it’s measured in millennia.


The nearby Acropolis Museum is a must-see as well. The sleek, ultramodern building is a treasure trove of archaeological finds from the “Sacred Rock of Athens”: painted vases, bronze artifacts, votive offerings – including exquisite korai (statues of young women) – to miscellaneous deities of the Greek pantheon… and more. The Parthenon Gallery is especially impressive; it houses the splendid Parthenon frieze, 500+ feet of amber-hued marble widely believed to depict a Panathenaic procession, a birthday bash for – who else? – Athena. The National Archaeological Museum, the largest museum in the country and ranked among the world’s best, is another mecca for travelers who are in an ancient Greece state of mind. Over 11,000 exhibits in five major collections showcase Hellenic civilization from prehistoric days to the Middle Ages. Now that’s quite a timeline.


Marvels of the ancient world also abound beyond the environs of the capital city. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sanctuary of Asklepios (the god of medicine) at Epidaurus is a Peloponnesian jewel of ancient Greece; most notable among its monuments is the Theatre, an architectural tour de force built in the late 4th century BC. The archaeological site of Mycenae, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies to the northwest. The dramatic ruins of this once great city of the Mycenaean civilization whisper of a Homeric past for legend has it that it is here that Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae, roamed his palatial halls – at least until the bewitching face of his sister-in-law Helen of Troy “launch’d a thousand ships, / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium”...


From ancient Mycenae, we travel more than 3,000 years back to the future and 21st century Greece. Wanderers sailing into its ports of call are in for a delightful welcome; the wonderful locals enthusiastically embrace the Greek proverb “in hospitality, the chief thing is the good will.” Greeks are the epitome of congeniality and jubilation, charming guests with their exuberant warmth and “Opa!” approach to life. They are openhearted, generous – St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, was Greek – and happy to share the best of their homeland with travelers from afar.


Stroll into a seaside taverna one starlit evening and you may catch a glimpse of authentic Greek life. Extended families laugh and linger over scrumptious feasts of feta cheese and plump olives (bring on the brine!), octopus fished from the drink an hour earlier, tender lamb souvlaki, plenty of pastitsio, and the honey, nutty goodness of baklava. Toes tap to lively tunes played on a bouzouki and after a glass or two of frosty ouzo, it’s time for the hasapiko. Folk dancing has been an essential ingredient of social gatherings since ancient times; Greeks have choreographed a multitude of traditional dances (some say hundreds) through the centuries. There is no better way to get the party started at a Greek wedding than a spirited syrto! Smiles all around.

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NATURAL TREASURES

The natural beauty of their land also has folks grinning in Greece. There is something about the proximity of the sea that brings out the best in people; a scowl is a rarity on a small ship cruise or at the beach. Putting their divine heads together, Aphrodite and Poseidon pulled out all the stops, blessing their beloved country with island chains like fine strands of lustrous pearls floating upon calm, aquamarine seas. Corfu, Mykonos, Delos, Patmos, Milos, Crete and hundreds of other beach-rimmed gems enjoy plenty of balmy days and brilliant sunshine. And then there is sublime Santorini, considered the prettiest island on Earth by some, and its iconic blue-and-white town of Oia. The sunsets are spectacular there. What a magical way to top off an idyllic day of cruising, lifting a glass of retsina to Helios as the dazzling sun paints the western sky yellow, coral, fuchsia and crimson before melting into the Aegean.

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SELECTED UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN GREECE & TURKEY

Greece

  • Acropolis, Athens
  • Archaeological Sites of Delphi, Mycenae, Olympia and Philippi
  • Delos
  • The Historic Center (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos
  • Medieval City of Rhodes
  • Old Town of Corfu
  • Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus

Turkey

  • Ephesus

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Greece

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WHAT TO EXPECT IN GREECE WITH TAUCK

  • Exploration of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Acropolis, the ancient citadel of Mycenae, the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, the archaeological site of Delos and the historic center on the Island of Pátmos
  • Visits to the Acropolis Museum, Greece’s National Archaeological Museum, Palamidi Castle, the Convent of Zoodochos Pigi, an icon restoration studio, and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera (Fira, Santorini)
  • Shore excursions to Nafplion (Mycenae and Epidaurus), Mykonos, Delos, Patmos (Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse), Santorini and Monemvasia

Santorini

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