Ancient Greece of the Olympics - View from the Inside

"Ancient sites in the Peloponnese are positioned nearby the shore, therefore it made perfect sense to travel by boat as they did ‘in the good old days’."

December 2019 • Danielle Smith, Personal Travel Expert

Ancient Greece of the Olympics - View from the Inside

Since the 1960’s Greece has been a noteworthy destination for everyone; from the jet set sun seekers to the budget travellers searching for a summer escape. Many tourists imagine the iconic whitewashed walls of The Cyclades Islands when they think of Greece, however, the Peloponnese region is a fantastic alternative destination, and it’s home to five of Greece’s eighteen UNESCO World Heritage sites. We sailed for seven nights around the coast of the Peloponnese on the classic MS Galileo, which some say this is the most photographed vessel in Greece due to its unique character.

Starting the tour with free time in Athens, we took to the bustling streets and visited the Parthenon, Erechtheum and the theatre of Herod Atticus in the Acropolis, before boarding the vessel and starting our journey. 

Arriving in Epidaurus, we visited the ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, which is regarded as one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in Greece. It is known locally as having the best acoustics and it is still used today for ancient drama performances. As we explored we could sometimes hear people who were testing the acoustics out for themselves! The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus included ruins of hospital facilities, sports facilities and a banqueting hall, all still impressively preserved. This site is one of the most complete ancient Greek sanctuaries.

We sailed on to Nafplion, which was one of my favourite towns. Its picturesque narrow streets led us to local restaurants and bars, so we got a real feel for the local culture. This was a great spot for trying local Greek delicacies too, as there were plenty of restaurants awaiting our arrival. From the sun deck on the boat, we watched the sunset and enjoyed the view of the Palamidi Castle at night, which was magical. The following morning we visited the Archaeological site of Mycenae, including the Lion’s Gate and Museum.

In our free time, we strolled along the cobbled streets of Monemvasia, a castle town and Europe’s only castle that has never ceased being inhabited. Due to visiting the town outside of the peak summer months, it was very peaceful and definitely worth exploring.

Arriving in Pylos we discovered Nestor’s Palace, which is the best-preserved existing Mycenaean palace from the Bronze Age. I am extremely interested in sustainable tourism and I was amazed by the raised walkways which allowed visitors to view the palace from a bird’s eye view, without disturbing the site.

Having grown up watching the Olympics and dreaming of one day winning gold despite having no athletic ability, I was excited that on this tour I would be able to visit Olympia - the birthplace of the Olympic Games! The extensive ruins include the large ancient stadium and the Temple of Hera, as well as the sanctuary to Zeus, where athletes would honour the gods before competing for the prize of an olive branch.  

One of the final stops was Delphi; this ancient city is set within the most breathtaking landscape and it is no wonder that the ancient Greeks marked this as the centre of the world. We visited the archaeological site of Delphi which showcases the Temple of Apollo, ancient Theatre, ancient Stadium, Sanctuary of Athena Pronea and the Treasury of the Athena.

This cruise is perfect for those wanting to visit ancient Greece and the incredible historic sites. Operating during the quieter months, the temperature is far more comfortable and crowds have dispersed. Ancient sites in the Peloponnese are positioned nearby the shore, therefore it made perfect sense to travel by boat as they did ‘in the good old days’. This also meant we had less time travelling by road and more time to relax on the majestic Galileo, or explore the small enchanting towns that we would dock in along the way.

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