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Greece/Turkey

The Ancient Aegean: Discover the Best of Greece & Turkey

Program No. 22725RJ
From the ruins of the Acropolis to the mosaics of the Hagia Sophia, trace history along the Aegean Sea as you discover the ancient wonders of Greece and Turkey.
Length
15 days
Rating
New
Activity Level
Starts at
4,449
Flights start at
1,100

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To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 13 - May 27, 2023
Starting at
4,449
Sep 9 - Sep 23, 2023
Starting at
4,449
Oct 7 - Oct 21, 2023
Starting at
4,449
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 13 - May 27, 2023
Starting at
5,429
Sep 9 - Sep 23, 2023
Starting at
5,429
Oct 7 - Oct 21, 2023
Starting at
5,429

At a Glance

Thousands of years of civilization have formed along the Aegean Sea, making the cultures of Greece and Turkey as beautiful as the blue waters themselves. Trace the rich history of these countries as you study Greek gods and goddesses, walk in the footsteps of ancient Romans in Ephesus, and marvel at the exquisite architecture of palaces and holy places. From the Acropolis of Athens to Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, history is alive!
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles over uneven terrain and archaeological sites. Comfortable walking shoes highly recommended.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Encounter the ancient legacy of Athens at the Acropolis and New Acropolis Museum.
  • Explore Chios, a charming and proud island famous for its mastiha resin, believed to cure many ailments.
  • Learn about the restoration of the Terrace Houses in Ephesus, a project partly sponsored by Road Scholar.
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15 days
14 nights
32 meals
13 B 10 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Athens, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Athens
D
Acropolian Spirit Hotel

Activity note: Upon arrival at Athens Airport, clear passport control, claim your bags, go through Customs and the sliding doors, and look for a Road Scholar representative who will be holding a Road Scholar sign in front of the airport’s pharmacy. Walking up to 1/2 mile, mostly flat terrain, sidewalks, some uneven terrain. Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m. Rooms may not be available for occupancy before 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: The Group Leader will be in the hotel reception hall to assist with safekeeping luggage after check-in. After getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation meeting. Orientation: 6:30 p.m. We will meet in the reception hall. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to applicable requirements and guidelines throughout the program. Educational leadership will be provided by our knowledgeable Group Leader and local experts. Program-related land travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Meals will feature local cuisine. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/current conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
3
New Acropolis Museum, The Acropolis, Free Time
Athens
B,L
Acropolian Spirit Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2.5 miles throughout the day, extended periods of standing during field trips; steep and uneven steps in combination with ramps to upper levels of Acropolis; Acropolis south slope mix of dirt and paved paths. Good walking/hiking shoes recommended.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will set out on a walking field trip with our Group Leader to the superb Acropolis Museum that opened in 2009. As we view the museum’s rich collection, we will learn about the evolution of the ancient Greek sculpture, as well as following historical events that inspired the ancient artists to create these magnificent pieces of art. We will then walk along the Acropolis south slope where ancient Athenians established the principal shrine of Dionysus and, most importantly, the theater where Greek drama was born. We will learn about the age-old Athenian agora while viewing it as we walk up to the Acropolis. We’ll then explore the world-renowned Acropolis monuments, universal symbols of the classical spirit that formed the greatest architectural and artistic complex Greek antiquity granted to the world.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration. The Group Leader will accompany those who wish to return to the hotel after lunch.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
4
Full Day Attica Field Trip, Cape Sounio, Lavrio, Thorikos
Athens
B,L
Acropolian Spirit Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 80 miles, approximately 3 hours riding time. Walking up to 1.5 miles throughout the day; partly steep ramp, some steps, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Attica is a peninsula extending into the Aegean Sea. Athens is the main city in this ancient land where one of the world’s most extraordinary civilizations developed. There are also many other iconic sites resonant with myth and legend. We will board a motorcoach with our Group Leader and ride along the beautiful Apollo coast, known as the Greek Riviera, to Cape Sounio on the southernmost tip of Attica. It has been considered a sacred place since the Bronze Age. We will explore the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon — god of the sea — dating back to the 5th century BCE and built on the foundations of an even earlier temple. Sixteen of the original 38 columns have survived and, as we enjoy superb views to the Aegean Sea, we will learn about the fascinating history and mythology of this place. We’ll then ride to the port town of Lavrio, notable for its silver mines dating back to antiquity.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Lavrio.

Afternoon: Moving on, we will ride to the site of Thorikos, a metalliferous region where we shall visit the oldest surviving theater in Greece with an unusual elliptical-angular shape. Here, we’ll learn about the birth of the ancient Greek theater, as well as its role in the social and political life of ancient Greece. Returning to Athens, we will ride along the Mesogaia road.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy the foods of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Fly to Chios, Byzantine Monastery of Nea Moni
Chios
B,D
Chios Chandris Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 20 miles throughout the day, approximately 1.5 hours riding time. Getting on/off an aircraft, flight approximately 45 minutes. Walking up to 1 mile; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, ride to the Athens Airport, and board our flight to Chios. Upon arrival, we will board a motorcoach and ride to our hotel at the port entrance to heck in. Take some time to freshen up and relax.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will regroup in the hotel lobby and board our motorcoach for a field trip to explore the Byzantine Monastery of Nea Moni, located on the hills above Chios town. With two others, Nea Moni Monastery is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site for the unique artistic achievement of its impeccable 11th century mosaics. Returning to Chios town, we will set out on a walking field trip to see and learn about the history of the city.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Medieval Mastiha Villages, Mastic Museum, Pyrgi Village
Chios
B,L
Chios Chandris Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles throughout the day, approximately 1.5 hours riding time. Walking about 2 miles; uneven terrain, cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Mastiha (mastic) is an aromatic resin that comes from the trunk of the mastic tree (Pistacia Lentiscus). Herodotus mentioned it as the world’s first chewing gum. It is only in certain villages on Chios — Mastihochoria — that this special kind of mastic tree is cultivated. We will board our motorcoach and set out on a field trip to explore the medieval Mastiha villages of south Chios. Our first stop will be Mesta, one of the loveliest and best-preserved villages on the island. Due to its elaborate Byzantine architecture, the village has been protected and architectural changes are prohibited. We will walk through cobbled alleyways and see some of beautiful churches of the village. We’ll then take a short ride to the Mastic Museum located on a beautiful hilltop near the village of Pyrgi. The museum’s multi-faceted exhibitions present the history and culture of mastiha cultivation that has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. We will also meet a local producer who will show us how aromatic resin is collected from the trees and how the production process develops.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a meze style meal featuring local dishes and an opportunity to savor tsipouro, a traditional Greek spirit.

Afternoon: For our next field trip, we’ll have a short ride to the picturesque village of Pyrgi, known as the “painted village” thanks to the distinctive façades of its houses decorated with geometrical motifs called “ksysta.” There are clues that Pyrgi — ruled by the Republic of Genoa from 1346 to 1566 — relates to Christopher Columbus. Whether he was a nobleman from Chios or not, we don’t know. But it was recorded that at the very least Columbus lived on Chios for a time, obtaining maps and charts and finding crew members. Returning to the hotel, we will gather in the early evening for a lecture on the history of citrus and its long journey from its home in Asia to Chios Island.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
7
Kambos Village, Local Estate, Free Time
Chios
B,D
Chios Chandris Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles throughout the day, approximately 1 hour round-trip riding time. Walking approximately 1.5 miles; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board our motorcoach and ride to Kambos, lush and verdant with flowers and citrus trees, where local aristocrats and Genoese colonists have lived since the 14th century. Beautiful stone mansions of a unique and original architectural style were secluded by high fences to preserve the privacy of the owners as well as to protect the trees and flowers from the winds. Kambos is one the most beautiful and distinctive areas of Chios and in spring (late April-May) the fragrance of the blooming citrus trees turns it to a magical place. We’ll walk through citrus orchards to an estate that will open especially for us. We’ll explore the mansion’s courtyard with its elaborate cistern with its wheel-well, where animals once turned water wheels that irrigated the orchard. Along shady paths, jasmine and bougainvillea create a special atmosphere. We’ll indulge our senses with an al fresco taste of a traditional Greek coffee and a traditional Chios fruit preserve before returning to the hotel.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests each of us most.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Enjoy our last evening of the program in Greece.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer to Turkey in the morning.

DAY
8
Ferry to Turkey, Cesme, Seferihisar, Market
Seferihisar
B,L,D
Teos Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 100 miles throughout the day, approximately 3 hours riding time. Getting on/off a ferry; riding approximately 45 minutes. Walking up to 1 mile; generally even terrain, sidewalks, walkways. Wear good walking shoes.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will have a short ride to the port and board the ferry for Cesme, Turkey. The region’s history dates to 2000 BCE.

Lunch: Aboard the ferry or in Cesme depending on ferry arrival time.

Afternoon: We will step off the ferry and begin a walking field trip to the impressive Cesme fortress, built in 1508 to protect the harbor from the Venetians who attacked twice, in 1472 and in 1501. We’ll then take a bus to Seferihisar, the first city in Turkey to become a member of “Cittaslow.” The name is a combination of “citta” (city in Italian) and “slow” inspired by the “slow food” movement. Cities applying to become part of the network must meet 70 different criteria ranging from policies touching on agriculture, environment, infrastructure, and ecogastronomy. The organization’s goals include improving the quality of life in towns by slowing down its overall pace, especially in a city’s use of spaces and the flow of life and traffic through them. We’ll also visit an organic farmers market run by local women and learn about the cooperatives they have initiated. Moving on, we will check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
9
Teos, Temple of Artemis, Kusadasi
Ephesus
B,L,D
La Vista Boutique Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 60 miles throughout the day, approximately 2 hours riding time. Walking up to 2 miles; generally flat terrain, some uneven dirt tracks and surfaces at Temple of Artemis ruins.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and ride a short distance to the remains of Teos — occupied since the 11th century BCE — that was one of the important ancient Ionian cities of Asia Minor. Over centuries, it was adorned with magnificent architectural monuments, such as the Temple of Dionysus, built entirely of marble and completed c. 190 BCE. Sadly, it later served as a marble quarry and we will have to use our mind’s eye to imagine its former greatness.

Lunch: At a restaurant en route.

Afternoon: Next, we will begin our ride to Kusadasi, crossing the silted delta of the Kaystros River that was once the lifeline and then the demise of Ephesus. On the way, we will stop at the Temple of Artemis — one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World — and learn about its fascinating story. We’ll then ride on and check in to our hotel in Kusadasi overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Ephesus, Terrace Houses, Archaeological Museum
Ephesus
B,L,D
La Vista Boutique Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day. There will be some walking on uneven dirt grounds and stones at the archaeological site.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will set out via motorcoach with our Group Leader on a field trip to explore the mesmerizing ancient site of Ephesus, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. We will gain in-depth knowledge of this unforgettable city that one had a population of 250,000. We will also visit the Terrace Houses, a museum within the site where the rich and famous of Ephesus once lived. Road Scholar and Baltac have provided support for excavations and restorations.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Next, we will explore the Ephesus Archaeological Museum that houses important artifacts excavated here during periods comprising pre-history through the Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman eras. Among its treasures are statues of the fertility goddess Cybele/Artemis.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and our flight to Istanbul in the morning.

DAY
11
Fly to Istanbul, Sultanahmet, Hagia Sophia
Istanbul
B,L,D
Armada Hotel Istanbul

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 60 miles, approximately 1.5 hours riding time. Walking up to 1.5 miles throughout the day; generally even terrain, pedestrianized sidewalks. Crowds and possible lines entering sites such as Hagia Sophia.

Breakfast: Early at the hotel.

Morning: We will check out early with our luggage, board a bus, and ride to the Izmir Airport for our flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival, we will ride to Sultanahmet, the center of the old city.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Sultanahmet.

Afternoon: For our next field trip, we will walk to the extraordinary Hagia Sophia, once the greatest church in Byzantium — built in 537 CE — and a great mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. We will learn about the unique architecture as we stand in awe at its size and dazzling beauty. Hagia Sophia was the world’s largest cathedral for a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was built in 1520. We will have some time for independent exploration before walking back to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Topkapi Palace, Underground Cisterns, Blue Mosque
Istanbul
B,L,D
Armada Hotel Istanbul

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile; urban terrain, cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will spend the day exploring on foot due to traffic restrictions in the old city. For our first walking field trip, we’ll set out for Topkapi Palace, the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years and a testimony to the power and wealth of the Ottoman Empire. We will also visit the amazing Treasury and the Harem to catch a glimpse of what daily life was like behind these closed doors. Next, we will walk to explore the monuments at the Hippodrome, the civil center of Byzantine, and the impressive Underground Cisterns, built in the 6th century to store water under the ground. As we explore, we will learn about the city’s Byzantine history. At the Hippodrome, learn about the chariot racing that took place here 2,000 years ago and the architecture of the building.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will set out on a field trip to explore the Blue Mosque, famous for its magnificent 16th century Iznik tiles and learn about mosque architecture and Islam. Still a functioning house of worship, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque was built from 1609 to 1616 and is known for its hand-painted blue tiles, six minarets, and 13 primary and secondary domes: a testament to the golden age of Ottoman architecture.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy the cuisine of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Chora Church, City Walls
Istanbul
B,L
Armada Hotel Istanbul

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 20 miles throughout the day, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 3 miles and standing during field trips; generally flat terrain, sidewalks and walkways. Wear good walking shoes.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will take a bus ride along the imposing 5th century city walls that protected Constantinople for many centuries. We’ll learn about the armies that wanted to conquer the city of world’s desire. Next, we will explore the Chora Church, a late Byzantine masterpiece decorated with exquisite mosaics, signaling the dawn of the Renaissance.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: For our next field trip, we will explore the Suleymaniye Mosque, built by the longest ruling and powerful Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. The architect of the building was Sinan, a master of geometry and architecture. We will end the day with a stroll down pedestrian Istiklal Street in Pera and learn about the “other” side of the city.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Rustem Pasha Mosque, Bosphorus
Istanbul
B,L,D
Armada Hotel Istanbul

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; city driving, about 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 2 miles and standing during field trips. Crowded conditions at bazaars.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will ride to the amazing Grand Bazaar and stroll through its maze-like streets dating back to the 15th century. There are now about 4,000 small shops and vendors for all kinds of crafts, textiles, hand-made arts, and jewelry. Next we will explore the Spice Bazaar — in Turkish, the “Egyptian” bazaar — constructed in 1663 and second in fame only to the Grand Bazaar. The scents and aromas will enliven our senses immediately.

Lunch: At a restaurant near the Spice Bazaar.

Afternoon: Next, we will visit the lovely Rustem Pasha Mosque. Often described as a miniature Blue Mosque, it was designed by Sinan who passed away before it was completed in 1563. It is covered in splendid Iznik tiles in beautiful patterns. We will end the day with a study cruise on the Bosphorus, the natural waterway that separates Istanbul, linking the Black Sea of Europe with the Sea of Marmara of Asia. We will see opulent palaces, mansions, ancient fortresses, and modern suspension bridges as we hear expert commentary.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
15
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 2:00 p.m. See your program’s “Getting There” information regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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