Archaeology vacations in Greece

Apart from philosophy, science and democracy; what have the ancient Greeks ever done for us?
Ok, ok, you can throw moussaka and Yanis Varoufakis in there too; but apart from that...?
Sure there are one or two archaeological sites that might be worth a visit, if you're on the mainland: Athens, Delphi and Olympia, for instance. The Peloponnese is obviously significant for Sparta; and the Asklepieion of Epidaurus, built in the 4th century BC, is considered the 'cradle of medicinal arts', apparently; but other than that...?
Yeah, yeah...the temples of Zeus, Apollo and Hera are regarded as some of the most important archaeological sites on the planet, and proposals for the Corinth Canal – one of mankind's greatest feats of engineering – originated around the 1st century AD; but...?
All right, I'm interested – what else have the ancient Greeks done for us?
An archaeology vacation in Greece may just be the perfect way to find out.

WHERE DO I START?

Tripoli, in the central Peloponnese, and Athens, on the mainland, as well as the smaller port town of Nafplio, on the northeast Peloponnese coast, offer easy access to a succession of sites. In fact, the whole of the Peloponnese is like an extensive archaeological museum and an archaeology vacation allows you to uncover the ancient world, one temple or amphitheatre at a time.

You can join a small group of likeminded amateur archaeologists and share your thoughts and ruminations in between wine tasting and free afternoons for socialising, shopping or lazing by the beach. You'll visit locations that are off the typical tourist trail, where a stout pair of walking shoes are as essential as a Greek phrase book. You'll stay in small, family run hotels and guesthouses where home cooked meals tempt you back to base after a day spent exploring amongst ancient tombs.
Local guides are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about archaeology, and their zest and vigour catapults the characters and events of ancient Greece into life. Traveling to parts of the Peloponnese and the Greek mainland, out of reach of busy beaches, also allows local people to benefit from your stay. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, shopkeepers, drivers will all welcome travelers with open arms, especially if you’re willing to bid a warm kalimera or kalispera at the start or close of each day. So, in some respects, an archaeology vacation in Greece is not only about discovering what the ancient Greeks have done for us but it's also about what we can do for them and for ourselves.

Our top Archaeology Vacation

Archaeology vacation in Greece

Archaeology vacation in Greece

A small-group archaeology tour of Greece

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Hello. If you'd like to chat about Archaeology or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

Archaeological sites in Greece

Olympia

The site of the ancient Olympic Games is in the western Peloponnese. This stadia was designed in roughly the 4th century BCE to hold up to 40,000 spectators who'd flock to see feats of strength and athleticism, including chariot racing in the purpose-built hippodrome. Key sites include the Temple of Zeus (built later in 5th century BC), the Temple of Hera, the Olympic flame altar and the antiquities held within the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, including statues of Nike, Hermes and Zeus.

Delphi

Considered by the ancient Greeks to be the centre of the world, Delphi was originally built in the 4th century BCE to perch on the slopes of Mount Parnassus on the south-central Greek mainland. Delphi was the sanctuary for Pythia, the high priestess and prophet, and tours of this site include the Temple of Apollo, the Delphi theatre, the Athenian Treasury, athletic stadia and gymnasiums, and the legendary site of the Castalian Spring.

The Acropolis

This is one of the world’s most iconic archaeological sites. No trip to Athens is complete without picking your way through Plaka's narrow alleyways en route to the ruined citadel of the Acropolis overlooking the capital. The Temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaea Gateway, the Erechtheion and the Parthenon were all built under the instruction of Greek General Pericles in the 5th century BCE. They now provide a portal to the past, especially in conjunction with a visit to the Acropolis Museum.

Mycenae

Situated in the northeast Peloponnese, Mycenae was built towards the end of the Bronze Age, and formed one of ancient Greece’s mightiest military bastions boasting a powerful position both physically and strategically. Tours of Mycenae let you walk through the monumental Lion Gate before entering the ruined realm of King Agamemnon. Nearby Nafplio offers easy access to Mycenae as well as its very own Venetian fortress, Palamidi, viable if you fancy climbing the 999 steps to the top. Fortune, and great views, favour the brave.

Sparta

Set at the foot of the highest point of the Peloponnese, Mount Taygetus, scant remnants from the ancient settlement/state of Sparta (431 to 404 BC) sit alongside the much more intact, fortified citadel and 13th century monasteries of Mystras – the most important Byzantine archaeological site in existence. Prepare for plenty of steps as you make your way to the statue of Leonidas and one of the largest ancient amphitheatres on earth, standing tall on top of the Sparta Acropolis.

Tegea

The Arcadian settlement of Tegea, situated just outside Tripoli in the centre of the Peloponnese, dates back some 2,500 years, and was one of the ancient Greeks’ most important centres for worship. It features the ruined temple to the goddess Athena Alea, the second largest on the Peloponnese. Nearby Tripoli makes for a great base if you’re visiting Tegea and also features Arcadia’s ancient antiquities within the city’s archaeology museum.

WHEN TO GO ON AN ARCHAEOLOGY HOLIDAY IN GREECE

Summers in Greece can be baking hot and there's little or no shade in and around many of the archaeological sites. Best advice is to go on an archaeology vacation in Greece any time outside of midsummer; March and April or September and October are ideal. However, if you don't mind packing waterproofs and long sleeves, November, December and January allow explorations of ancient sites without another soul in sight.
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: psyberartist] [Intro: momo] [Where do I start: Lucas] [Best time to go: GregMontani]
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