Epirus & Macedonia - Greece's Northern Glories

Monastery atop a hill, Meteora
Monastery atop a hill, Meteora
Interior of a monastery in Meteora
Interior of a monastery in Meteora
City street in Ioannina
City street in Ioannina
Greek sesame bread rings
Greek sesame bread rings
Ruins of the ancient theatre, Dodona
Ruins of the ancient theatre, Dodona
Ruins of the ancient theatre, Dodona
Ruins of the ancient theatre, Dodona
Roman odeon, Nikopolis
Roman odeon, Nikopolis
White Tower, Thessaloniki
White Tower, Thessaloniki
Dolma from grape leaves
Dolma from grape leaves
Ancient ruins of Pella
Ancient ruins of Pella

We follow in the footsteps of conquerors and cross mountainous landscapes in mainland Greece. This dramatic region was the birthplace of two of the greatest rulers of the ancient world: Philip II and Alexander the Great. Palaces, houses, painted tombs and exquisite pebble mosaics survive at the Macedonian cities of Verghina and Pella. We travel to towering Meteora, deep in the Pindus Mountains, where sky-scraping Medieval monasteries perch on pinnacles of mountain rock - built as a means to withdraw from the world.

This tour of Northern Greece is full of fantastic archaeological sites, marked over the centuries by a cornucopia of peoples and cultures.

  • Visit the tomb of Philip II and its extraordinary museum
  • See the vertiginous, 14th century Meteora monasteries
  • Spend a day exploring wonderful ancient sites of Thessaloniki
  • Explore Pella, the birthplace of Alexander
  • Visit the shrine and oracles of Zeus at Dodona

Themes

  • Romans
  • Historic Churches
  • Ancient Greek

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We Fly to Thessaloniki and drive over the Pindus Mountains to our hotel in Ioannina.

Day 2

We drive to Nikopolis, the great city of victory founded by Emperor Augustus following his victory of Anthony and Cleopatra in 31BC. We visit the sanctuary of the Actian games with theatre, circus and victory monument, and the city centre with tis walls and basilicas. Later we visit Kassiope, the ancient Epirote city abandoned to populate Augustus’ creation. 

Day 3

We journey to Dodona to visit the shrine and oracles of Zeus, where the god spoke to supplicants via the rustling of leaves in an oak tree. Today its great theatre and sanctuary can be visited. On to Orraon, an Epirote-Molossian city with impressive remains of houses and public buildings. An afternoon stroll around the city of Arta, once the capital of King Pyrrhus of Epirus.

Day 4

We spend time exploring the castrum of Ioannina, the fortress of Ali of Tepelena, with its mosques walls and typical Ottoman buildings. Visit the Byzantine and archaeological museums. A free afternoon to wander, or accompany your Guide Lecturer to the island in the lake with its late Byzantine monasteries and follow the amazing story of Ali Pasha to its ending.

Day 5

Today, we spend time at the spectacular, and vertiginous monasteries of Meteora – home to a monastic community dating back to the 14th century. Each monastery occupies a pug of rock in a striking and unique landscape. Afternoon visit to Dion, formerly the religious centre of the ancient Macedonian kingdom.

Day 6

We travel to the Vale of Tempe, the renowned ancient beauty spot and then on to visit the fine traditional house known as the Schwartz Mansion. In the afternoon we visit the great classical city of Dion.

Day 7

On the trail of Macedonian royalty we visit Verghina, the site of the ancient capital, Aegae, and the burial place of Kings. We visit the superbly displayed great tumulus, identified as the tomb of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. We continue on to Pella, Macedonia’s administrative capital with its royal palace.

Day 8

A day in Thessaloniki. We examine the remains of the great Roman imperial palace, built by Emperor Galerius but used by many of his successors, and finally the Archaeological Museum with its fine collections. We have the afternoon as leisure, choose to explore further, shop or to relax at the hotel.

Day 9

A trip to the fortress of Rendina, a Byzantine fortress which guarded the Via Egnatia – also the site of Arethousa once the home of Euripides. An afternoon exploration of the walls of Thessaloniki, the Agora and Forum and church of St. Demetrius.

Day 10

We return home today.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We Fly to Thessaloniki and take the new Odos Egnatios highway over the wild Pindus Mountains to our hotel in Ioannina.

Day 2

We drive to Nikopolis, the great city of victory founded by Emperor Augustus following his victory of Anthony and Cleopatra in 31BC. The first of the great imperial vanity cities, it took almost 150 to even approach completion, with its vast monuments and civic facilities. We visit the sanctuary of the Actian games with theatre, circus and victory monument, where Augustus had pitched his tent, and the city centre with its walls and basilicas. Later we visit Kassope, the ancient Epirote city abandoned to populate Augustus’ creation.

Day 3

Our journey leads to Dodona to view the shrine and oracles of Zeus, where the god spoke to supplicants via the rustling of leave in an oak tree. We travel on to Orraon, an Epirote-Molossian city, with impressive remains of houses and public buildings. We end the day in Arta, to visit the Archaeological Museum and Panagia Parigoritissa, one of the most important Byzantine churches in Greece.

Day 4

Today will be spend in Ioannina. This morning, we visit the Archaeological Museum and enjoy a walking tour of the town. Stopping at the citadel, we wander the exhibitions of the Byzantine Museum. Our afternoon is free to either explore Ioannina at your own leisure.

Day 5

Today, we return westwards through the craggy mountains to spend a day at the spectacular, and vertiginous monasteries of Meteora – home to a monastic community dating back to the 14th century. Each monastery occupies a plug of rock and are accessed by paths and steep rock-cut staircases in a striking and unique landscape. We will visit several of these extraordinary religious refuges.

Day 6

We begin with a drive to Ampelakai to visit the Georgios Schwartz mansion. From here we journey through the Vale of Tempe, a beautiful gorge which was thought to be the haunt of Apollo and the Muses in antiquity. We end the day at Dion to see the remains of the theatres and a bath complex.

Day 7

We spend the morning in Thessaloniki exploring its ancient sites and monuments. We see the Roman forum, the Rotonda, as well as the Arch and Palace of Galerius. In the afternoon, we drive out to Verghina, to visit the tumulus, identified as the tomb of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.

Day 8

This morning, we visit the most important exhibitions in Thessaloniki in the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Byzantine Culture. Next, we travel to the ancient site of Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great, to visit the monumental palatial complex and the outstanding mosaics, now on display in the museum.

Day 9

On our last day we visit the Castle of Rendina, set on a hilltop in stunning landscape. Back in Thessaloniki, we view the fortifications and upper town. We end the day at Agios Dimitrios, one of the most impressive churches in Greece.

Day 10

We transfer to the airport for our return flight to London.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Travel Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2019 Tour Details

Mon 20th May - Wed 29th May

Available

Guaranteed Departure

£2,760

inc.

sgl supp: £375

MAC19B

Led By: Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

Mon 23rd September - Wed 2nd October

Available

£2,750

inc.

sgl supp: £375

MAC19C

Led By: Dr Milena Melfi

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