The Ancient Greeks lived over 2,000 years ago, but they left a legacy that still stands across Greece today. From the Greek gods to the Classical Age and the Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian, there are ancient wonders to be found in almost every corner of Greece. When you travel with Trafalgar, we’ll go beyond the icons of Athens to discover the most remarkable ancient towns in Greece. From Olympia to Nafpolio, here are five Greek towns where you can walk through ancient history.
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The stunning seaside village of Galaxidi is surrounded by ancient wonders, including the legendary Archaeological Site of Delphi. We’ll meet a Local Specialist for a guided visit through the seat of the most important Oracle in the Classical era.
You’ll walk the Sacred Way to the 4th-century Temple of Apollo and explore the remains of this sacred sanctuary. See the reconstructed Athenian Treasury and the Polygonal Wall, then admire the Temple of Apollo, where the ancient Greeks once sought wisdom from the divine Oracle. You’ll also learn how this site once hosted the Pythian Games, the precursor to the modern Olympics. Back in the town of Galaxidi, be sure to explore the cobbled streets and admire the stately neoclassical houses along the port.
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Set in the Peloponnese, Nafplio is not only one of the most beautiful, but also one of the most ancient towns in Greece. Greek legend says the town was founded by Nafplios, the child of the god Poseidon and Danaus Anymone. Nafplio’s origins can be traced back to around the 12th century BC when soldiers set off from here for the Trojan War and the Argonautic expedition. You can also find remnants from the Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian and Turkish eras, with cultural and architectural influences scattered around town. Nafplio was also the first capital of the new Greek state between 1823 and 1834.
When you travel here with Trafalgar, you’ll spend a day exploring the Venetian and Neoclassical buildings, along with medieval castles, ancient walls, and Ottoman fountains. Be sure to indulge in ice cream as you stroll around the beautiful bay. The ancient site of Mycenae is also close by and you’ll spend time here with a Local Specialist to uncover what was once the palatial centre of the Bronze Age in Greece. Marvel at the Lion Gate and Agamemnon’s Royal Palace and see the tomb of this fearless warrior who led the Greeks through the battle against the Trojans.
You may also like to take a trip to the top of Nafplion to Palamidi Castle. This Venetian castle was completed in 1714 and has since watched over the town for centuries. You can roam the castle grounds and see the incredible views over the Gulf and Nafplio town. Afterwards, enjoy dinner in a tavern with the friendly locals.
3. Portaria & Makrinitsa
After exploring the famous Byzantine Monasteries of Meteora perched atop enormous boulders, we’ll arrive in the gorgeous village of Portaria in Magnesia. This enchanting, traditional village is built on Pelion Mountain, surrounded by lush forest. As one of the most ancient towns in Greece, it was once an important producer of silk products, like sashes, thread, and handkerchiefs. Explore the centuries-old churches and stroll along the nearby beaches. Hike the Centaurus Trail and roam the cobblestone alleyways, lined with incredible stone mansions, authentic tavernas, and old cisterns.
You’ll also have the chance to visit a nearby hidden gem – the village of Makrinitsa. Follow the stunning cobblestone streets to find fairytale Magnesian houses perched on the cliffside. Admire the spectacular views over the Pagasetic Gulf and breathe in the fresh mountain air… This is a truly special place.
4. Corfu Old Town
We’ll sail to the stunning island of Corfu, touching down in the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Corfu. With roots tracing back to the 8th century BC, this town has endless ancient treasures to uncover. As you wander the narrow streets and arcades, you’ll admire the spectacular architecture. Don’t miss Spianada, one of the biggest and most remarkable squares in Greece.
We’ll visit the Old Fortresses designed by Venetian engineers, used for centuries to defend the islands against the Ottoman Empire. Explore the Monastery of Palaiokastritsa, dating back to 1225, where you’ll find rare Byzantine treasures. You also can’t miss the Achilleion, a Phaeacian-styled palace built in 1890 for Empress Elisabeth ‘Sissi’ of Austria and Hungary. After Elisabeth tragically lost her only son, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, in the 1889 Mayerling incident, she had this summer palace built as a tranquil refuge. She adored Greece and its culture and this magical palace reflects that. It’s hard not to feel at peace in the lush Imperial Gardens with breathtaking views of the valley and the Ionian Sea below.
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A small town on the Peloponnese peninsula, Olympia is most famous for its nearby archaeological site – the village of Olympia. This is where athletes competed in the first Olympic Games, held every four years from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. It was also a sacred sanctuary, mostly dedicated to the god Zeus, although other gods were also worshipped here. The women’s games, known as Heraia, were also held here in honour of Hera.
When you travel here with Trafalgar, we’ll visit the ruins of the stadium, athlete’s gymnasium, the Temple of Zeus, and the stone marker where the sprint began, all with a Local Specialist. It’s an incredible atmosphere here, and you can still imagine the athletes battling it out in honour of Zeus and Hera.
While we’re in Olympia, we’ll also meet the Karambellas family. You’ll explore their olive and wine farm for a traditional Be My Guest experience. You’ll tuck into a delicious dinner then end the night with lots of music and dancing. Opa!
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Have you visited any of these ancient towns in Greece? Let us know in the comments below!