The Greek Islands13 days
83.3% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
It’s nearly impossible to get a true taste of Greek culture without sampling its flavorful isles. Experience the relaxed lifestyle and vibrant locals that color all the islands, spending time to discover the character and history unique to each locale. Absorb the mainstays of the mainland in ancient Athens, before soaking in Crete’s legendary landscapes. Cruise the Aegean to the volcanic shores of Santorini and anchor on the star-studded beaches of lively Mykonos.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
11 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Cruising the shimmering waters of the Aegean
The ancient ruins and quaint towns of Crete
Sunbathing on the Turquoise Coast
The black-sand beaches & sunsets of Santorini
Ancient Athens’ world-famous Acropolis
The warm & welcoming Greeks
Overnight Flight1 night
Athens2 nights - hotel info
Experience Europe’s oldest capital with fresh eyes
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to Athens! A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport after you clear customs and then escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or begin acquainting yourself with Athens. At an included dinner this evening, meet your fellow travelers.
Greet the goddess in permanent residence at the City on the Hill
Optional Excursion - Cape Sounion
A local guide introduces you to the highlights of this bustling ancient capital. On your tour of the Acropolis—the original City on a Hill—you can walk amid the ruins of the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike. Descending from the Acropolis, view the Presidential Guard in their traditional costumes and the classically inspired Greek Parliament. Then pass through Syntagma Square, where you’ll see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After your tour, opt for an excursion to Cape Sounion, where you can see the inspiring Temple of Poseidon.
Cape Sounion $35* pp
Journey to the southern tip of the Attic Peninsula to take in the sights of the Poseidon Coast, including sandy beaches, natural and manmade harbors and, of course, the Aegean Sea itself. High above the sparkling shoreline, the Temple of Poseidon dominates the landscape. Of the original structure, 16 elegant Doric pillars remain. Afterward, decide how you'd like to spend your free time. Take a moment to look out from the lofty cliffside vantage point, where you can see five Aegean islands on a clear day. You may also choose to enjoy a coffee, stop in the souvenir shop or stroll through the area. Please note: This excursion involves some walking on uneven terrain.
Crete2 nights - hotel info
Legend has it these labyrinths once held a minotaur
Palace of Knossos
This morning fly to Heraklion on the island of Crete, where you’ll enjoy a guided tour. Visit Knossos, the royal complex of the ancient King Minos. As ruler of the Minoans, King Minos enjoyed an opulent reign. His ancient palace includes 1,300 rooms, an alabaster throne and strikingly modern plumbing. Knossos is also the setting for the Minotaur legend, according to which King Minos imprisoned the Minotaur in a labyrinth. Dinner is included.
Turquoise lagoons to mountain peaks, explore all of Crete
Optional Excursion - Hania & Fodhele
Explore Crete on your own today. You might choose to visit some of the island’s architecturally interesting churches or see the Minoan ruins at Faistós or Górtys. You might also choose to join an excursion to Venetian- and Turkish-influenced Hania and the picturesque town of Fodhele.
Hania & Fodhele $99* pp
Travel to Chania, where a local guide will introduce you to the city's Old Town. You'll visit Chania's cathedral before a walk through the Venetian quarter, where you'll reach Etz Hayyim, the only synagogue on the island of Crete and a symbol of the city's ages-old Jewish community. Your guided tour ends at the port where you'll visit an ancient mosque. On your way back to Heraklion, you'll visit the village of Fodhele, the birthplace of the painter El Greco. Lunch is included on this excursion.
Santorini3 nights - hotel info
Savor Santorini’s big three: black sands, sunsets and white wine
Optional Excursion - Greek Wine Tasting & Lunch
Today is free to enjoy Santorini’s charms as you please. Santorini is renowned for its white wine because the volcanic soil is ideal for cultivating grapes, so you might consider an optional lunch and wine-tasting excursion.
Greek Wine Tasting & Lunch $45* pp
Santorini was once a volcano, and the island's nutrient-rich soil nurtures some outstanding vineyards. On this excursion, you'll enjoy a tour through a local winery followed by a wine tasting and an included lunch overlooking the Aegean.
Mykonos2 nights - hotel info
Relax or roam the sacred isle at the heart of the Cyclades
Optional Excursion - Delos
Enjoy a free day in Mykonos or take an optional excursion to view the ancient ruins on the island of Delos.
Delos $79* pp
Journey by boat to the island of Delos, rich with mythological history and once one of Greece's most sacred spots. Your guided tour of the island's ancient city will transport you to the time when this was an important center for trade in silk, spices and slaves. You can explore the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Sacred Cave, the Lion Terrace and the House of Dionysus, where you'll find a breathtaking mosaic of the god Dionysus.
Athens2 nights - hotel info
Rekindle your love affair with ancient Athens
Optional Excursion - Greek Folklore Evening
Board a ferry in Mykonos this morning for your return trip to Athens. This afternoon and evening are free for you to continue your explorations of the ancient city. Tonight, you might opt to join our Greek Folklore Dinner, featuring live music and traditional Greek dancing.
Greek Folklore Evening $65* pp
Head down to Athens' lively Plaka district for a night of food and fun. You'll enjoy Greek specialties along with a showcase of traditional dances from across Greece, including the well-known plate dance. Careful, though: our travelers have been known to jump on stage and join in the fun. Opa!
Scour the artifacts, stroll the gardens or summon the oracles
Optional Excursion - Delphi
With a full day at your leisure, plan to visit any of the city’s excellent museums or take a walk in the National Gardens. Alternatively, join an optional excursion to the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. Lunch is included on this excursion.
Delphi $85* pp
Journey to the slopes of Mount Parnassus and the town of Delphi, home of the mystical oracle. Embark on a guided tour featuring the Temple of Apollo, where, according to legend, the god Apollo once communicated with mortals. Greece’s ancient military leaders customarily left gifts here in hopes of good fortune in battle. After an included lunch, visit the Delphi Museum. Take time to explore the collection on your own, which includes a huge bronze charioteer among its ancient treasures. Please note: This excursion involves some walking on uneven terrain and hills.
Extend Your Stay
Add Istanbul $449*
The cultural and economic capital of Turkey, Istanbul straddles Europe and Asia—both figuratively and geographically. Once known as Constantinople, this former capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires has long been a bustling and cosmopolitan crossroads. Experience the intersection of East and West at the Byzantine-built Hagia Sophia, the Ottoman-era Blue Mosque and the exotic Topkapi Palace.
Istanbul3 nights - hotel info
Stand at the social center of a bygone empire
Optional Excursion - Whirling Dervishes: Sufi Mystics
Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia
Your Turkish Tour Director, who is also a licensed guide, leads this morning’s sightseeing tour of the fascinating sights of Istanbul. Discover the ancient Hippodrome, which served as the public center of Byzantium for over a thousand years. Behold the breathtaking Blue Mosque, built by Sultan Ahmet and decorated with exquisite, blue Iznik tiles. Continue on to the Topkapi Palace, once the residence of the Ottoman sultans. Then visit Hagia Sophia. About 1,000 years older than St. Peter’s in Rome, this building was the pride of Christendom until the city fell to the Turks in 1453. This evening, opt for our Whirling Dervishes: Sufi Mystics excursion.
Whirling Dervishes: Sufi Mystics $49* pp
The Whirling Dervishes are devoted adherents of Sufism, a mystical interpretation of Islam. For centuries, they've been known for their sema, the spinning dance that inspired their colorful nickname. The sema is full of symbolism, and you'll gain an appreciation for this distinctive communion with the divine at tonight's performance.
Cruise the narrow waters that separate Asia from Europe
Optional Excursion - Bosphorus Straits Cruise
Spend the day exploring Istanbul at your own pace or choose an optional cruise through the Bosphorus Straits, where you can view Ottoman palaces and medieval castles.
Bosphorus Straits Cruise $55* pp
Cruise through the Bosphorus Straits, looking out on decadent Ottoman palaces and imposing medieval castles as you journey through the narrow waterway that separates Europe from Asia. On your way, you'll stop to visit the famous Egyptian bazaar, known as the Spice Market. After returning from your cruise, sit down to a lunch of Turkish specialties. Please note: This excursion is weather dependent. In some cases, dinner will be offered instead of lunch.
Passport & Visa
In order to enter Greece (as well as Turkey on the tour extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry. A visa is also required for U.S. and Canadian passport holders to enter Turkey on the tour extension. Effective in 2014, U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain an electronic visa prior to arrival in Turkey. You can get an e-visa by visiting the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. The cost of a visa for entry into Turkey is $20 USD for U.S. citizens and $60 USD for Canadian citizens (payment is subject to change without notice). If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Please note that porter service cannot be guaranteed on the ferry from Crete to Santorini and Santorini to Mykonos. Please be prepared to handle your own baggage.
Clothing and Packing Tips
Due to the temperate climate, light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sun hat, sunglasses and a sturdy pair of walking shoes are recommended for sightseeing. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket and emergency rainwear are advised. If you plan to visit an especially elegant restaurant or attend the opera or theater, you will probably feel more comfortable in something more formal. Also, remember that it is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (entrance may be denied on this basis).
There are no major health risks when traveling to Greece. During the summer months, take proper care for sun exposure. Also, codeine (commonly found in headache medications) is banned in Greece, and you may face prosecution if you bring it into the country. While no vaccinations are required for entry into Turkey (on extension), it is always advisable to check with your doctor or health-care provider for the latest updates and overseas travel recommendations.
One of the pleasures of traveling is the variety of local cuisine. Greece’s climate ensures a constant supply of high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables. Salads are excellent here, served with olive oil and topped with feta cheese and oregano. Grilled fish and meat are also a staple. Barbecued lamb, squid, octopus, spinach and cheese pies, baked eggplant and zucchini are other delicious dishes. Turkish food is fresh and very carefully prepared. Sourdough bread with sheep’s cheese and olives, as well as jam or honey, is typically eaten for breakfast. A midday meal or dinner often starts with a meze, which is a plate of varied appetizers, such as cheese pastry rolls, pickled vegetables and potato fritters. Turkish coffee is extremely strong and thick.
Round-trip flights arrive in and depart from Athens. A flight from Athens to Heraklion is included. Ferry from Crete to Santorini, a ferry to Mykonos, and a ferry from Mykonos to Athens are also included. All other included transportation is by private motor coach. Despite the famed hustle and bustle of Athens, the city’s main attractions are easily accessed on foot. If you do need to use public transportation, however, there’s a brand-new metro system that was conveniently completed in time for the 2004 Olympics. It’s now one of Europe’s best.
The euro (in Greece) and the Turkish lira are the currencies you will be using on your tour. We advise that you take a combination of ATM/bank cards and credit cards, as needed. For Turkey, we recommend dollar bills in small denominations. Exchange small amounts of Turkish lira at one time in order to compensate for rising inflation. ATMs can also be found in Turkey, most connected to the Cirrus and Plus international networks. We suggest informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so they don’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
83.3% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
This tour was exceptional and I have been on a number of them with Go Ahead. Gloria was outstanding as our tour director helping us to avoid large crowds from cruise lines, etc..... and also helping to get assistance with our checked luggage for the ferry transfers. The islands are magnificent, Santorini was my favorite with it's spectacular sunsets and the blue domed buildings. We ventured into Oia on our own the day after our group spent the evening there and were able to see the town at our own pace which was nice. Heraklion in Crete is a place with something for everyone, beautiful sights, a happening city center as well as the port views. Mykonos, while a bit on the windy side, was fun as well. The people of Greece are some of the most friendly that I have met on any of my travels, even to the point of corresponding by email with one of the salesman we became friends with in Fira. The optional to Delphi while in Athens was a great trip, I encourage you to take it. You get away from the city and get an opportunity to see more of the countryside of Greece and Delphi itself is really very fascinating. Highly recommended!!
Ruins of Greece
This tour was very good. The group of people were great to travel with and our Tour Director, Gloria, was outstanding. Our guide in Istanbul, Suleyman, had a difficult task to meet Gloria's standards. While the pace of the trip was noted to be hectic, and it was, the brochure did not indicate how strenuous it would be to climb up the ruins in Greece. For those individual traveling on this trip in the future, it should be noted that there is extensive climbing without support railings which nay prove to be difficult for some travelers to maneuver.
Great tour director and well organized
Tour director very accomodating to everyone and knowledgeable.
What a wonderful trip! I honestly had never thought about going to Greece until my brother asked if I would be interested in going. The scenery was beautiful, our guides were informative, food was great (I even tried octopus!), I never tired of looking and learning about the ancient ruins. The group of people that came together on our tour was a good bunch. Everyone got along, no arguing, a friendly group, always on time. Our tour guide, Gloria, was better than the best!! She gave us so much information, went beyond the call of duty to make sure things were right and easier for us, had a good sense of humor, and was so kind. I can't say enough good things about her.
Sally—Our Tour Director
It's been seven years since I took this tour with my sister, but still think it was one of the best trips I've ever had, and I have traveled all over Europe with my husband and sister. Sally took great care of everyone in the tour, making each of us feel very special. She was from England, but spoke what seemed to be very good Greek when she needed to do so. Her stories about the Greek gods were witty, had us all laughing, and her Greek history was informative and never boring. Hard to pick a favorite part of the tour, but Santorini definitely was one of the best. It gave me goose pimples when we sailed sailed beneath the fire-born cliffs of the caldera and the view from the top of those cliffs? Stunning! The hotels were more than adequate (the one in Mykonos was literally right on the beach and everyone had breakfast on the huge shaded terrace), the food marvelous, and the sights amazing! I would really like to do it again! Maybe I will! :-D
We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the Greek Islands and Istanbul. We couldn't have travelled with a better group of people and our tour director, Gloria, was fantastic. It was a great learning experience to see the archaealogical sites we've only read about. Delphi was especially intriguing and we would highly recommend taking that excursion as well as the island of Delos. We can't say enough about our tour director, Gloria. She was a wealth of information and had a wonderful sense of humor. She quickly took care of any problems we had and several times enlisted the help of porters to handle our bags. We would highly recommend this tour.
Experience of a lifetime!
This beautiful tour of Greece and Istanbul that will provide fond memories for years to come. I recommend taking as many of the optional tours that you can afford. Gloria was an excellent Tour Director.
Greek and Turkish Delight
The tour directors--Gloria for Athens and the Islands and Suleyman for the Istanbul extension--were incredibly hard-working, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and humorous (the last was especially valuable when faced with long bus rides and occasionally difficult personalities). Their insights, their constant helpfulness, and their imagination were the keys to a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Highlights were the tour of Knossos in Crete (and the optional excursion on Crete to Chaina is not to be missed); everything about Santorini, including its stunning geography, the wine-tasting and lunch at a local winery, the opportunity to hike along the crater's edge through various villages, and an evening of sailing in the flooded caldera of the volcano; and the monuments and neighborhoods and ambience of the beautiful and vibrant city of Istanbul. Travelers for whom good food is an important part of travel should know that they will usually do better when they are on their own than with the included bland and sanitized hotel dinners that are the norm. Most of the optional excursions are terrific and very instructive (with the notable exception of the Greek folklore night in Athens which was the corniest and most touristy event on the tour). But go into this tour of Greece and Istanbul with an open mind and a sense of adventure and you will be richly rewarded.
TOO much Athens!
First, If we had booked this tour to commence post-Memorial Day it would have gotten an extra star. We booked in September 2013 and confirmed non-stop flights from JFK to Athens and returning from Istanbul to JFK. More than two months later we were informed that our confirmed flights were no longer available and we had to take connecting flights both ways. 'twas true: airlines did not provide non-stops to those cities 'til "Summer-Tourist-Season." Result, we are both 70s+ and know our stamina-levels and how overnight connecting flights impact upon us, so we booked an early departure date going and an overnight hotel stay in Rome on the way back. Additional inconvenience, lodging and transportation costs. Being prevented from using Amex to pay for our trip was also disappointing, causing a sizeable loss of frequent flyer miles. We were in Athens one night in addition to the scheduled 4 nights (2 nights at beginning of tour/ 2 nights at end.) Making five nights, Four nights in Athens is not good scheduling; two nights would be ample; other than the Parthenon and the Plaka not too much other than a few Museums and a plethora of Sex shops and erotic theatres in the area around the tour-inundated Hotel Metropolitan: where we stayed. (If you do stay at the Metropolitan, around the corner is Calypso Restaurant, a definite neighborhood delight with good simple fare, friendly service and platters of chocolate or honey-covered Lukuma (fresh tiny doughnuts) accompanying your request for a check.) On the plus side: Our May tour dates provided Great weather, not-excessive heat, fewer tourist crowds and, most of all our tour director, Gloria; a wonder of energy, concern, aid and erudition. Always available for any request Gloria was a font of information, usual and unusual, as well as many practical and useful tips. The glories of Greece will be detailed by others and we agree. All of the offered options were well worth the cost except (we thought) The Greek Dinner and Dance evening and the Sunset Bus trip in Santorini. The Santorini wine lunch and the Delphi and Delos options were outstanding as was the Bosphorus cruise and whirling Dervishes on the Istanbul extension. If We were going to offer any cost-adding advice it would be to definitely opt to visit Istanbul.
"I Shall Return"
The trip was great. Our group was small which was good for the bus rides. We could sit where we wanted but we couldn't get enough people for two of the most important optional excursions, Delos and Delphi. They will be on my bucket list. Irene was very knowledgeable and personable.