After the success of the first Ancient Greece Declassified tour last summer, which focused on the historic sites of the Peloponnese, I am pleased to announce another epic adventure this coming winter (January 3-11, 2023). This time, we'll be heading to the north of Greece to explore its legendary mountains and oracle shrines: Delphi, Dodona, Parnassus, and much more. Scroll down to find the full itinerary, as well as information on how to join.
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Mountains and Oracles Tour Itinerary
N.B. The following itinerary may see minor changes as final trip details are arranged.
Tuesday 3 January
Arrivals throughout the day to Brown Acropol hotel in Athens; Meet and greet at 6pm on the hotel's rooftop; Welcome dinner near Acropolis at 7pm.
Wednesday 4 January
Leave Athens in the morning on our private tour bus and head north into the land of Boeotia, where we will explore two important Bronze Age sites: Orchomenos and Gla. Orchomenos was one of the richest and most powerful Mycenaean centers in Greece, which was burned down during the Bronze Age Collapse and rebuilt during the Archaic period.
The other Bronze Age fort in the area – now called Gla – is something of an archaeological mystery. It has some of the most impressive earthworks and engineering feats of any Bronze Age site, was ten times bigger than Hercules' home town of Tiryns, and yet is never mentioned by Homer or any other ancient source.
After a full day of site-seeing and driving, we'll arrive at Delphi, where we will spend the next two nights.
Thursday 5 January
This day will be dedicated to exploring the massive and massively important site of the Oracle of Delphi nestled on the slopes of the legendary Mr. Parnassus.
In the afternoon, we have two options: a hike up the mountain to the Korykion Cave, or a visit to the Byzantine monastery of Hosios Loukas, a UNESCO world heritage site. Which one we end up doing will depend on the weather and the will of the group.
Friday 6 January
We continue our journey north, stopping first at the pass of Thermopylae, where the 300 Spartans made their last stand. Our archaeologist guide will give us a tour of the battlefield and explain how and where everything went down when the Persians attacked in 480BC.
We'll stop for lunch outside of Lamia, a region famous for its barbecued meat (there will of course also be vegetarian options). Then, we'll make our way further north into Thessaly to the town of Kalambaka, where we'll spend the night.
Saturday 7 January
Meteora! Need I say more? Here's me at Meteora from January 2016:
Oof! That was a close call! Meanwhile, my wife handled the situation much more elegantly:
In the afternoon, we'll leave Thessaly and head north into Epirus to the foothills of the storied Mt. Pindus, where we will make a stop at one of the most iconic towns of northern Greece: Metsovo.
Finally, we'll end the day at the charming town of Ioannina (sometimes spelled "Yannena"), which will be our base of operations for the next couple of days.
Sunday 8 January
Ioannina is a lake-side college town with lots of medieval Byzantine and Ottoman history.
After checking out the town's Medieval castle, we will spend the rest of the day exploring the nearby site of Dodona – the other major ancient oracle equal to Delphi in its importance.
Monday 9 January
We start heading back south along the western coast of Greece, stopping first at a site that some archaeologists claim is the "Nekromanteion of Acheron" – the putative portal to Hades where Odysseus supposedly met the ghosts of the underworld.
Then we visit two from the Roman period: 1) the city of Nikopolis, where the philosopher Epictetus once ran his school.
And 2) Actium, where Antony and Cleopatra made their last stand against the armada of Octavian.
Tuesday 10 January
Head back to Athens, stopping at Kalavryta, where we will enjoy a ride on an antique train through the mountains of Arcadia.
Reach Athens in the evening, where we'll check back into the Brown Acropol Hotel and say goodbye to our bus driver.
Wednesday 11 January
Walking tour of Acropolis, Agora, and Areopagus, with a farewell lunch in the historic neighborhood of Plaka. And then, sadly, the end of the tour.