Best of Rhodes and Athens
Exclusive Athens with Free Time in the Plaka
For guests wanting a general orientation, a little history, time for shopping and exploring on their own, or even an optional visit to the Acropolis, this is the perfect exclusive Athens tour for you or your group, offering more time in the city than cruise line tours.
During your time in Athens, you will drive approximately 30 minutes from the pier. Upon arrival, your professionally trained guide will narrate during a city orientation, viewing such sights as the Temple of Zeus, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the former Royal Palace, which is now the Greek House of Parliament. You will pass by the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, and the National Library.
A photo stop will be made outside the Panathenaic Olympic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. From here, you will continue on to the Plaka, one of the oldest parts of the city.
Upon arrival at the Plaka, your guide will give you a time and specific location to meet for your transfer back to the pier.
Your guide will then begin an optional tour for those guests wishing to climb the famous Acropolis. As this is an option, admission to the Acropolis site is not included in the price of your tour. The entrance fee is approximately 20 EUR, and they do not accept credit cards.
The Acropolis of Athens is recognized as the culmination of Greek architecture, art and sculpture. During your visit to the Acropolis (from Greek meaning above the city), you will view The Parthenon, constructed between 447-432 B.C. as a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. Its main function was to shelter the monumental statue of Athena that was made out of gold and ivory. You will see the Erechtheon, started in 420 B.C. as a temple for religious rituals; the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis which blends Doric and Ionic building principles; and the small temple Athena Nike, which stands on a protruding mass of rock, protecting the gate to the citadel.
From the Acropolis, you can also look down on the Ancient Agora, Tower of the Winds, Herodes Atticus Theater, and the Theater of Dionysus from your lofty perch. The guide will lead you up, narrating as you climb. The guided portion of the tour ends upon reaching the Parthenon, allowing you free time to browse on your own. Those guests taking the Acropolis option will have approximately one hour of free time after you descend. Your guide will depart after the Acropolis tour.
For those guests not climbing, you will have approximately three hours of free time to explore.
Bordered by the Acropolis to the south and the Ancient Agora to the west, the Plaka is the historic heart of Athens. Blending with the adjacent Monastiraki district, the Plaka area seems to have a little of everything, from the ancient ruins of a Roman forum, the Greek Agora, and Byzantine-influenced churches, to restored 19th-century neoclassical homes and modern day stores, boutiques and cafes sprinkled throughout.
The Plaka area is home to several nearby museums including the Benaki, Kanellopoulos, the new Acropolis and the Greek Folk Art Museum, to name a few. For shopping, you will find Greek souvenirs and clothing, as well as jewelry shops. Greek gold jewelry is often better priced than other European countries as the labor cost is lower.
For a quick, inexpensive taste of traditional Greece, order a pita-souvlaki or gyro from a walk-up window and eat it standing up. Be aware that any time you sit at a cafe in the Plaka, you pay for the experience, and outside seating carries a higher charge than inside seating. If you want to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal, look for where the locals are dining, which is almost never on the major streets, but usually on smaller side streets. At the designated time and location, your guide will be waiting to take you to the transportation for the drive back to the pier.
Guests wishing to stay longer in the Plaka should let their driver know, and will need to arrange their own transportation back to the port.
Due to crowds, traffic or other conditions out of our control, the order of the tour itinerary may be changed but will still cover the mentioned sights.
Exclusive Medieval Town of Rhodes
After meeting your professionally trained guide on the pier, you will set off in your transportation to see the highlights of ancient and modern-day Rhodes during this picturesque orientation tour of the city. As you pass by the Mandraki Esplanade, you will see the government buildings, Church of Annunciation built in 1925, a replica of the Old Church of the Knights of St. John and the Deer Statues at the entrance of Mandraki Port where it is believed the Colossus of Rhodes once stood.
Your drive will then continue up to Monte Smith for panoramic views and photo opportunities of Rhodes and the Aegean Sea. From here, you will continue to the top of Rhodes' Old City. You will disembark your transportation at the Gate d'Amboise, from where you will begin your Old Town walking tour.
As you pass through the medieval walls and into the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Medieval Town of Rhodes, the first site that meets you is the imposing Grand Master's Palace. The Palace was built in the 14th century A.D., destroyed in 1856 and rebuilt in 1939 by the Italians to accommodate the King of Italy, Emmanuel II and Mussolini.
Most cruise line tours only visit the outside of the palace, but on this tour, after your guide gives you a brief history of the knights outside, they will lead you on a guided walking tour of the palace.
After leaving the palace, you will walk down the Street of the Knights, where you will see the many inns once occupied by the crusaders. It is considered the most beautiful area of the Old City. At the end of the street, you will see the exterior of what is now the Archaeological Museum. Formerly the Knights' Hospital, the museum was built in 1440 A.D. and is the most spectacular and well-preserved building in the Old City.
Your guide will answer any questions about additional sightseeing, shopping, or where you can find some of the wonderful Greek food before giving you some free time for browsing at your leisure. At the appointed time for those guests wishing to return to the ship pier, your guide will lead you to the transportation for the approximate 3 - 5 minute drive back to the pier. For guests wishing longer in the Old City, please just let your guide know you are ending your tour there.