Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca, Cyprus
Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca, Cyprus

Archaeological Tours

Cyprus, Crete & Santorini: Ancient Aegean Kingdoms

The sparkling Mediterranean waters of the Aegean, dividing mainland Greece from Turkey, were the genesis for the evolution of ancient maritime civilizations, whose questing seafarers first linked ancient Greek and Roman cultures with the eastern civilizations of Anatolia and Levantine centers in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Spending six, five and three nights in Cyprus, Crete and Santorini respectively, our three-island odyssey unravels the complex story of these historic Aegean kingdoms – a narrative telling of 9,000 years of history, from Neolithic villages to the Bronze Age cultures of the Minoans, Mycenaeans and Cypriotes, and then on to Classical, Greco-Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras. Of special note will be a trio of ancient Cypriote city-kingdoms (Kition, Amathous and Kourion), the Painted Churches in the Troödos Mountains Region (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Knossos – the setting of Crete’s greatest archaeological excavations and home to the ruins of a huge Minoan palace, possibly the inspiration for the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. We end on the picturesque Cyclades island of Santorini, with ample time to relax between captivating visits to Thera and Akrotiri – the ‘Minoan Pompeii’, still emerging from its ashes.

What's included?

  •  Expert scholar & tour manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Local transport & private transfer to/from airport and group hotel
  •  Entries & tips
  •  Ferry
  •  Flights (excluding airfare from the US)
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Four lectures from your expert scholar
  •  A name badge, luggage strap and bag tag
  •  A study guide, reading list, and other useful tour documentation compiled by your expert scholar and your Archaeological Tours team

Led by...

Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley is a Tutor in Greek Archaeology at the Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning (LEARN). She specializes in Minoan Crete, and is co-director of the Praisos survey and excavation Project (Crete).

Full Price
$7,395

Today's Price
$6,995

Saving
$400

Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,590

Tour highlights:

  • Discover Gortyn and its famous 5th century stone blocks, inscribed with the laws of Classical Greece
  • Separate history from mythology as we explore the fascinating Minoan palace complexes of Knossos and Malia
  • Wander amid Cyprus’s Tombs of Kings at Paphos, a grand necropolis carved from the solid rock
  • Explore Heraklion Archaeological Museum, home to the world’s greatest exhibition of Minoan artifacts, and also Nicosia’s great Cyprus Museum
  • Enjoy the Mediterranean’s clear skies, beaches and flavorful, fresh cuisine

Tour details

Dates April 26 2020 - May 10 2020
Duration 15 days
Cost
Full Price
$7,395
Today's Price
$6,995
Saving
$400
Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,590 Balance due by February 2 2020
Activity Level
Tour code A20CCS

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

April 26 2020: Itinerary

We arrive in Larnaca on the beach-fringed south coast of Cyprus and transfer to our first hotel. We relax until the evening and then we will enjoy a welcome group dinner.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Lordos Beach, Larnaca

An introductory talk sets the scene before we explore Larnaca’s ancient city-kingdom of Kition, which eventually became a way-station for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Most interesting among today’s remains is the Temple of Aphrodite, built by the same Phoenician masons as Jerusalem’s Temple of Solomon. Other key locations here include the 18th century mosque of Umm Haram and the Byzantine mosaics in the 11th century Kiti Church, home to a rare 6th century representation of the Virgin Mary and Child.

All meals included

Hotel: Lordos Beach, Larnaca

Today we visit the Cypriot capital of Nicosia. A settlement since the Bronze Age, it has been continuously inhabited for almost 5,000 years. Our morning focuses on the Cyprus Archaeological Museum, where we find the world’s most extensive collection of Cypriot archaeology, charting the development of the island’s civilization from the Neolithic Age to the 7th century early Byzantine period. We have lunch and our afternoon is then spent at leisure.

All meals included

Hotel: Lordos Beach, Larnaca

Today we embark upon a 100-mile journey of discovery, taking in five memorable locations on the west coast of Cyprus – four of which are UNESCO-listed. Our first call is at Khirokitia, one of the Eastern Mediterranean’s most significant prehistoric sites. We continue to the clifftop setting of Amathous, once overlooking a natural harbor for the Phoenicians and whose archaeological remains have yielded evidence of human activity from about 1100 BCE. In the afternoon, we visit the coastal site of Kourion. Here, the sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, the restored Graeco-Roman theater, public baths, and the Roman agora all command breathtaking sea views. From here, we travel to the beach at Petra tou Romiou, a striking geological rock formation renowned as the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite. Our final stop is at nearby Kouklia, where the ruins of the one-time city-kingdom of Palaipaphos contain the remains of the Sanctuary of Aphrodite.

All meals included

Hotel: Capital Coast Resort & Spa, Paphos

Today, we travel inland to explore the Troodos Mountains. Our quest extends beyond just scenery, as nestled beneath mountain peaks and on terraced hills are some of the finest ancient churches and monasteries of the Byzantine Empire. 10 of these historic treasures feature on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, all decorated with highly-refined icons and frescoes that depict saints, apostles, and stories from the Bible. Our route offers a memorable overview of this unique cultural bequest on a series of visits that include Agios Ioannis Lampadistis and the diminutive Panagia tou Moutoulla, among the oldest (1280 CE) of the churches, notable for its frescoes of St. George and St. Christopher dressed in Byzantine armor.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Capital Coast Resort & Spa, Paphos

We remain at sea level today as our visits are devoted to one of Cyprus’s oldest communities. Our morning’s exploration includes the “Tombs of the Kings” – something of a misnomer as local aristocracy and important officials, rather than monarchs, occupy this necropolis. Its 100 house-like tombs are carved from solid rock, some with Doric columns and frescoed walls, and many dating from the 4th century BCE. We have lunch at Paphos harbor before visiting the nearby Archaeological Park, home to the major remains of ancient Greek and Roman Paphos. Among the highlights here are the impressive Roman Villa of Theseus and the House of Dionysos.

All meals included

Hotel: Capital Coast Resort & Spa, Paphos

After a morning at leisure, we catch our flight to the island of Crete.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Aquila Atlantis Hotel, Heraklion

Our first morning in Heraklion takes us to the Archaeological Museum, where we are treated to an exceptional collection of Minoan treasures and artifacts recovered from the island’s palaces, towns, and villas that span over 5,500 years of Cretan history. The remainder of our day is free for independent sightseeing.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Aquila Atlantis Hotel, Heraklion

A highlight of this tour is our visit to the ruined palace-city of Knossos. It was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period and, at its height, it was a flourishing Aegean center of trade with a population of 100,000. The site’s principal feature is the world-renowned Palace of Knossos, rebuilt in 1720 BCE after an earthquake and linked to numerous other buildings on the hilly site by extensive flights of stairs and colonnades. The intricate, multi-storied layout of the palace itself has led to its connection with numerous myths, most famously that of Theseus, the bull-like Minotaur and the labyrinth. From Knossos, we continue to the Vathypetro – dating from about 1600 BCE – to see the remnants of a settlement spread over three hills, including a shrine and a well-preserved wine press (one of world’s oldest).

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Aquila Atlantis Hotel, Heraklion

Today’s circular tour begins at the Graeco-Roman site of Gortyn, situated in the Messara Valley. Discovered here were 5th century stone blocks inscribed with parts of the famous Law Code of Gortyn, the oldest and most complete known example of coded ancient Greek laws. Later, we meet up with the Minoans again in the panoramic setting of Phaistos. Finds here include thousands of documents, some bearing the earliest known examples of the Minoans’ still-undecipherable writing (named “Linear A”). We leave Phaistos to visit Agia Triada, a grand, ruinous Minoan “Royal Villa” that has yielded the largest Linear A archive found in Crete to date.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Aquila Atlantis Hotel, Heraklion

We are never far from the sea today as we follow the mountain-backed northern shore and head towards the principal archaeological sites of eastern Crete. A short drive brings us to Malia – third-largest of the Minoan palace complexes and built during the same period as Knossos, notable not only for its size but also for its strategic port, skylights and grand Minoan façades. A little further on lies the well-preserved late Minoan town of Gournia. After a visit here and lunch, we explore the intriguing ruins of Chamaizi, best-known for the enigma of its oval-shaped middle Minoan building on the summit of its hill – the first of this type to be discovered. We return to Heraklion for an evening of leisure time and independent dinner.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Aquila Atlantis Hotel, Heraklion

A ferry-crossing brings us to Fira, the pretty capital of Santorini. A dazzling honeycomb of narrow streets and whitewashed terraced houses await, which we can explore during our two nights here.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Splendour Resort, Santorini

After breakfast, we drive up winding roads to the site of ancient Thera, high on a ridge of the Messa Vouno mountain and boasting stunning views over the Aegean. Post-dating Santorini’s great volcanic eruption over 3,500 years ago, the site’s Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ruins include the remains of temples and sanctuaries, an agora, theater, houses, Roman baths, and even a gymnasium. We devote our afternoon to the new Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Archaeological Museum – together they offer a rich collection of vibrant Minoan wall paintings from nearby Akrotiri, as well as ceramics, jewelry, and artifacts from other island excavations.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Splendour Resort, Santorini

This morning we visit Akrotiri, the vast site of a Bronze Age Minoan settlement that was buried in ash and destroyed by the catastrophic eruption of a marine volcano in around 1650 BCE (long before Pompeii suffered a similar fate). Retaining some well-preserved houses, Akrotiri’s complex buildings and drainage systems tell of a once-prosperous port town and trading community – as do the magnificent wall paintings. Images depicted include seascapes, animals, fish, and plants. A farewell group dinner in Fira will follow.

All meals included

Hotel: Splendour Resort, Santorini

We transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or continue with onward travel.

Meals include: Breakfast

April 26 2020: Additional Info

April 26 2020: Accommodation

Situated on a private beach of Larnaca Bay, Lordos Beach offers rooms with a balcony featuring side views of the Mediterranean Sea. Facilities include outdoor pools and on-site water sport facilities.

All rooms and suites of Lordos Beach Hotel have air conditioning, mini fridge, and satellite TV. Some rooms have a private garden and a wooden deck, which leads down to shared hot tubs. A minibar is included in some units or it can be requested.

Lordos Beach Hotel offers a large range of on-site water sports, including scuba diving, windsurfing, and water skiing. The hotel also has an indoor pool, a tennis court, and a kids club. Free WiFi is available in the bar and the lobby.

Guests can enjoy traditional Cypriot, Mediterranean or international dishes in the 2 restaurants. The 3 bars serve a wide variety of drinks, including local wines and exotic cocktails.

Exclusive accommodation is on offer at Paphos' Capital Coast Resort and Spa. This beachfront resort has a Spa, featuring a hot tub, hammam, sauna and massage treatments.

The bright guest rooms have contemporary and elegant décor. Some include a fully equipped kitchen with oven and dishwasher. There is a large living area fitted with flat-screen satellite TV and DVD player.

Capital Coast Resort and Spa’s restaurant serves a combination of traditional and international dishes. The hotel offers an outdoor pool bar and a roof top bar with views over the Mediterranean Sea. Certified Cypriot breakfast is served in the morning.

With 2 pools, a gym with cardio-fitness activities, and a tennis court, the resort provides an array of in-house activities. Diving and snorkeling services are available at the nearby beach.

Within 200 yards from the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, the 5-star Aquila Atlantis Hotel features an outdoor pool with unobstructed views over the harbor, a semi-covered pool and an elegantly decorated restaurant.

Fitted with parquet floors and earthy colours, all rooms and suites of Atlantis Hotel enjoy views over the city of Heraklion, the harbour or the hotel's atrium. Each unit includes a desk and comes equipped with air conditioning, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, coffee machine and minibar. The modern bathrooms are stocked with free toiletries, bathrobes and slippers.

Guests can relax at the sun loungers by the pool and enjoy a refreshing drink from the on-site bar. Breakfast is served daily at the modern setting of the lounge bar, where drinks and cocktails can also be enjoyed. Mediterranean flavors accompanied by fine wine are available daily at the hotel's main restaurant.

Situated in the scenic Firostefani, Splendour Resort offers elegant 5-star accommodation with views over the Aegean Sea. It includes a swimming pool with poolside bar and an on-site restaurant. Free WiFi access is provided throughout.

The air-conditioned rooms and suites are bright and decorated in light tones. Each with a private balcony, they are equipped with a flat-screen satellite TV, mini fridge and free toiletries. 

Guests can enjoy fresh juices, cocktails and light meals at the pool bar, while Greek and Mediterranean dishes can be enjoyed at the a la carte restaurant for lunch or dinner. Buffet breakfast is prepared daily and served by the pool.

The lively town of Fira is around a 15-minute walk away from the complex and offers many dining and entertainment options. 

April 26 2020: Enquiries

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October 7 2019

Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

Led by Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

15 day tour, from $7,090

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