A school tour to Greece will inevitably include some time in Athens to marvel at the ancient wonders, but excursions to legendary places such as Delphi, Corinth and Sparta can be equally rewarding.
The well-trodden (flight) path to Greece has given British holidaymakers the chance to marvel at the country's natural beauty and ancient history ever since the advent of air travel and the package tour.
In the 21st century, despite its financial woes, Greece is perfectly prepared to cater for the huge volumes of tourists it sees every year, still managing to preserve its most precious ancient sites and pristine islands and beaches.
For a school tour with Classics in mind, it is impossible to see everything in one trip and as a result, you may choose to base the tour in one or maybe 2 centres. Athens is a bustling modern metropolis with neighbourhoods just as diverse and hip as many other European capitals and here you will find an abundance of history. But press a little further afield and discover the legends of Olympia, Minos, Sparta, Delphi, Mycenae and Corinth.
All visits are covered by our externally verified Safety Management System and are pre-paid when applicable. Prices and opening times are accurate as of May 2018 and are subject to change and availability. Booking fees may apply to services provided by Voyager School Travel when paid on site.
The Acropolis is home to a number of classical ruins including, most famously, the Parthenon. You will also find the Erechteon, the Temple of Athena, the Propylea and the Acropolis Museum. Below the Acropolis are a number of other classical ruins including Hadrian’s Arch, the Roman Forum and the Temple of Zeus.
The Greeks began construction of the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena, in 447 BC, when the Athenian Empire was at its most powerful. It is a true example of the culmination of Doric culture, art and architecture and is seen as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and Athenian democracy. Its very size and grand structure open up to students the scale of the wealth, power and strength of the Ancient Greece in a way that can only really be experienced by going there.
At its height, the Parthenon was used a Treasury, but since the demise of Ancient Greece, the Parthenon has been transformed into a Christian church and, after the Ottoman conquest, into an Islamic temple (including a Minaret). There's so much more to discover, not only about the Parthenon, but about the whole Acropolis and beyond, that Classics students will really benefit from a trip to Greece's capital.acropolisofathens.gr
The Acropolis Museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. The museum was founded in 2003 and nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 square metres.theacropolismuseum.gr
The Agora was the equivalent of today's city centres, with shops, stalls, entertainments, a place to set up social meetings and to make political announcements. You will be able to see a museum as well as ruins of temples and shops where Athenians came to hear the news, to complete their shopping and to meet with their friends.
Your students might be interested to know that 'agoraphobia,' comes from the Greek word 'agora,' because it relates to the fear of open and public space, such as the old Greek Agora.
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient Greek art. It was founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece, displaying their historical, cultural and artistic value.namuseum.gr
Go and see the Parliament Building, which was built to be the Royal Residence, or the Crown Prince's Palace, until the monarchy was overthrown and a republic was instated. If you go at the right time, you might catch the ceremony of the changing of the guard!
The Panathenaiko Stadium, also known as the Kallimarmaro, is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Reconstructed from the remains of the ancient Greek stadium, the Panathinaiko is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble and it is also one of the oldest stadiums in the world. Contrast it with the stadium built for the 2004 games for a look at how Olympic stadiums have changed across the years.
Pláka is the old historical neighbourhood of Athens, clustered around the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture. It is built on top of the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens and is known as the "Neighbourhood of the Gods" due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites. The Old Quarter shops, tavernas and colourful streets make the ideal place to spend an evening. We can also arrange a typical ‘Greek Evening’ in this area
Delphi occupies a stunning location on a hillside and is a classicists dream; home to the Oracle, the Sanctuary of Athena, the Temple of Apollo and the Delphi Theatre.
The Delphic Oracle is now the most famous of all oracles that ever existed in Greece, and in Ancient Greece it was considered the most important and authoritative oracle, supposedly inspired by the Greek God Apollo. The first record of the Oracle at Delphi has been traced to the C.8th BC and the last record was made in the C.4th AD, after Theodosius I ordered to closure of all pagan temples. The Delphic Oracle, which was also known as Pythia, is also one of the most widely written about having been mentioned by such names as Aristotle, Euripedes and Herodotus.
Although the Sanctuary of Athena is not as famous or important as other classical sights, the Sanctuary of Athena is home to some of the most picturesque ruins at Delphi. Overlooking a beautiful valley carpeted with olive trees, the sacred precinct dedicated to Athena is roughly rectangular in shape, with the entrance at the east end. Pilgrims entered the sanctuary through a monumental gateway. Most of the sanctuary's structures have been reduced to foundations and fallen fragments, including two successive temples of Athena.
The oldest part of the sanctuary is the eastern part, where the remains of a Mycenaean settlement were unearthed. Since its first construction in the C.7th BC it has undergone considerable destruction due to various landslides and earthquakes, yet groups will still be able to get a sense of the site's importance in Greek society and a taste for the beautiful Doric architecture that was used throughout much of the site.
Olympia was the site of the ancient Olympic Games, which were celebrated every four years by the Greeks. Situated in a valley in Elis, it was not a town, but a sanctuary with buildings associated with games and the worship of the gods. It became the Greek national shrine and contained many treasures of Greek art, such as temples, monuments, theatres, statues, and votive offerings of brass and marble.
The Altis, or sacred precinct, enclosed a level space about 660 ft long by nearly 580 ft wide. In this were the chief centres of religious worship, the votive buildings, and buildings associated with the administration of the games. Excavations began in 1829 and were not finished until 1960-61, during which time many valuable objects were discovered, the most important of which was a statue of Hermes, the messenger of the gods. One of the most famous Sanctuaries, the Sanctuary of Zeus, was also discovered and is well worth a visit.
In the C.2nd BC Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization with a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. It was such a strong Greek centre that the period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae. Go there to see The Tomb of Agamemnon and the ancient Citadel of Mycenae, with the Royal Tombs and Lions Gate.
Corinth has had a varied and fascinating history, occupying a strategic trading position on the Greek coastline, which meant that many people and peoples have vied for its power and control over the millennia .Systematic archaeological excavations of the area, have brought to light the agora, temples, fountains, shops, porticoes, baths and various other monuments.
Many of the finds are exhibited in the on-site Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, but nothing is better than visiting the sites themselves to get an idea of Corinth's historical importance. The most popular visitor sites include the Ancient Baths, Acropolis and other Roman ruins as well as the engineering feat that is the Corinth Canal.
Nauplion was the ancient capital of Argolis, and was also the capital of modern Greece between the years 1821 and 1834. Go and see the fortress of Palamidi and, en-route take a visit to the Epidavros and Tiryns, the birthplace of Hercules. The Sanctuary of Epidavros is the home of modern medicine.
The Fortress of Palamidi was built by the Venetians in 1685 and was the last ever major overseas construction by the Venetian Empire. It was built to strengthen the city of Nauplion, but the Venetians only commissioned 80 soldiers to defend the fortress and so it fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1715.
The asclepieion at Epidavrus was the most celebrated healing centre of the Classical world. To find out the right cure for their ailments, they spent a night in the enkoimeteria, a big sleeping hall. In their dreams, the god himself would advise them what they had to do to regain their health; there was a guest house consisting of about 160 guest rooms and there are also mineral springs in the vicinity which may have been used in healing.
Sparta was once an important rival to Athens and features heavily in Classical history as a city of supreme military prowess. It was regarded as the overall leader of the Greek forces during the Greco-Persian wars and was the principal enemy to Athens during the Peloponnesian war, from which Sparta emerged victorious (though at great cost). It remained relatively strong until the Roman conquest in 146BC. Sparta was unique in ancient Greece, which explains why it still draws in so many classical historians as well as film producers and directors.
This is partly down to its social system and constitution, which completely focused on military training and excellence and was particularly liberal in its attitude towards women. Its inhabitants were classified as Spartiates (Spartan citizens, who enjoyed full rights), Mothakes (non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans), Perioikoi (freedmen), and Helots (state-owned serfs/enslaved non-Spartan local population). Spartiates underwent a rigorous training and education regimen, and Spartan phalanxes were widely considered to be among the best in battle, whilst Spartan women enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical world.
The Byzantine city of Mistra enjoyed relative power from the fifteenth century onwards, but was abandoned with the rise of Sparta. You can still see ruins of the fortress, palace, churches and monasteries that were there and inhabited until King Otto abandoned the city in order to take over the newly built Sparti
Discover classical civilisation on our Voyager school trip to Greece....
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