Byzantine, Ancient Greek, & Renaissance Art & Architecture: Istanbul, Athens, Corinth, Mycenae, Delphi, Rome, Florence, Venice

15 Days | 14 Nights Tour

Embark on a 15-day journey through the heart of Byzantine, Ancient Greek, and Renaissance Art & Architecture with our exclusive tour. From the awe-inspiring Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to the iconic Parthenon in Athens, and the timeless beauty of Rome, Florence, and Venice, this tour is designed to immerse you in the rich tapestry of European history and culture. Discover the wonders of ancient civilizations and Renaissance masterpieces, explore historic sites, and savor local cuisines! This is more than just a tour—it’s an educational adventure that brings history to life.

3-4 Star Hotel
Coach & Rail
Year Round

What's Included

The Experience

Upon arrival, our Student’s Fare representative will meet and welcome you to Istanbul before your transfer to the hotel for a 3-night stay.

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and prepare for the afternoon excursions. Our group will depart for a private city tour of Istanbul’s four most important attractions; the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, and the Grand Bazaar. At each location, our guide will share expert insight into the art, architecture, and history behind the most important pieces.

The Hagia Sophia, dating from 532, is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Its interior is decorated with mosaics, marble pillars, and coverings of great artistic value. The walls are covered in exceptionally beautiful mosaics, all crafted with gold, silver, glass, terracotta, and colorful stones.

Your next stop of the day is the Blue Mosque, conveniently located across from the Hagia Sophia. The interior is dominated by its dome and cascading semi-domes surrounded by more than 250 stained-glass windows that allow daylight to flood in. The walls around the galleries are covered in blue Iznik tiles, a Turkish stylization of Chinese Porcelain.

Board the coach and proceed to your next destination: the Hippodrome of Constantine, also called Sultanahmet Square. Horse racing and chariot racing were popular pastimes in the ancient world and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine eras.

The expedition ends with a visit to the historic Grand Bazaar. With over 4,000 shops and 61 covered streets, this spot is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.  The interior is breathtaking, with walls painted in a bright shade of yellow marked with a decorative red strip of black and white patterns every few feet.

After completing the tour, the coach will drive you back to the hotel. Tonight, the group will get together and enjoy a special welcome dinner.

Following breakfast at the hotel, the group will be driven to the ancient city of Constantinople. Here, you’ll learn about the city’s significant early Christian sites on various tours, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fener and the Holy Virgin at the Church of St Mary of Blachernae. We’ll explore the ruins of ancient Blachernae Palace; see the Prison of Anemas, which shows the true impact of the Byzantine Empire; and discover how Istanbul’s famous religious architecture and monuments took shape during the age of Christianity.

We’ll also visit the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople, constructed in the 5th century AD. Widely considered one of the most complex and elaborate systems ever built, this architectural defense measure saved the city during sieges and other attacks. At the southern end was a monumental triumphal arch for Emperor Theodosius called the Golden Gate.

This evening, after the tour has concluded, your group will enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

After eating breakfast at the hotel, you’ll transfer to the Istanbul Airport for the flight to Athens, Greece.

Upon landing and transferring to the city, our group will join a tour of Athens. The English-speaking guide will take us through some of the most famous areas of the city and to many iconic monuments. You’ll begin at Syntagma Square, then make your way to the National Gardens, before ending up at the Panathenaic (Olympic) Stadium.

We’ll also enjoy a visit to the National Archeological Museum where our guide will introduce us to some of the most important ancient works of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Italy and other areas, offering an overview of the ancient Greek world. There are 11,000 exhibits to explore, all including outstanding artistic creations in marble, clay, bronze, gold, and other notable metals.

After the tour, we’ll check in at our hotel 2-nights and enjoy some free time before exploring the old city of Plaka. Also called the “Neighborhood of the Gods,” because of its proximity to the Acropolis, this historical neighborhood incorporates neoclassical architecture into every historical street. Later in the night, you’ll meet the group at a local tavern to enjoy dinner together.

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll depart for the crowning glory of Ancient Athens – the Acropolis (make sure to wear rubber-soled, comfortable shoes).

We’ll start our visit with the Parthenon, a masterpiece of classical art, situated on top of the hill looking over the city of Athens. Here, our guide will bring the ancient Greek civilization back to life. After our tour, we’ll enjoy a short stroll to the Acropolis Museum, home to the artifacts and masterful art that once stood atop the hill.

After a stop for lunch on our own, our guide will bring us to the heart of the ancient city – the Agora. Often missed by visitors, the Agora allows visitors to walk through ancient Athens as if they were back in time. The Agora was the political and social heart of the ancient city of Athens, and the ruins of this civic center and marketplace are among the most important archaeological sites in the capital.

Once you’ve finished visiting the museum, we’ll explore the 7th-century Temple of Hephaestus. The Doric peripteral temple is located on the northwest side of the Agora of Athens, on top of the Agoraios Kolonos hill. Nearby is also the Stoa of Attalos, which skillfully makes use of different architectural orders. The Doric order was used for the exterior colonnade on the ground floor with Ionic for the interior colonnade.

Today, after enjoying breakfast at the hotel, the group will depart Athens for the Peloponnese. Along the way, you’ll stop for a delicious lunch and dinner.

The journey will begin with a stop in Corinth in south-central Greece to marvel at the canal. It is primarily a hub of communications between northern and southern Greece and is the primary point of export for local fruit, raisins, and tobacco.

You’ll continue driving to Epidaurus where a private, English-speaking tour guide will take the group through the ancient theater. This is an exciting spot because it’s regarded as the best-preserved theater in Greece in terms of its fine structure and acoustics.

The coach will transfer you to Mycenae after the tour, made famous by Homer as the Kingdom of Agamemnon. After a brief stop, you’ll continue to one of the most beautiful seaside villages in Greece – Nafplion. The charming town is situated on the Argolic Gulf and  surrounded by high mountains.

Here, you’ll check into the hotel for an overnight stay and the remainder of the night will be at your leisure to enjoy.

After a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel, we’ll board the private coach and depart Nafplion for Olympia. This town is an iconic staple of Greece, and it hosted the Ancient Olympic Games every four years. While here, we’ll explore the grounds with our expert guide and visit the museum. The archaeological site held over 760 significant buildings, and ruins of many of these survive.

After our visit, we’ll make a brief stop in Patras, the third largest city in Greece. It’s a commercial hub with a busy port that frequently traded with Italy and Western Europe, earning it the name “Greece’s Gate to the West.”

You’ll shortly after arrive at Delphi, where the group will join a guided tour of the sanctuary grounds. The legendary oracle began operating there in the 8th century BC, and pilgrims would travel to the site from far corners to receive an oracle from the priestess of Apollo. After the tour, you’ll visit the nearby museum and enjoy some free time before returning to the hotel.

Today, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included.

This morning, after enjoying the hotel breakfast, the group will transfer to the Athens Airport for our flight to Rome.

Upon arrival, an English-speaking guide will meet you at the airport to depart on a tour of Ancient Rome’s highlights. Amongst the various stops at the most famous sites in the city is the Colosseum. Construction on the impressive building was completed in 80 AD and its vast seating could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators.

Just to the east of the Colosseum is the archaeological area of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill where we’ll walk amongst the beautiful ruins. The Roman Forum was the scene of public meetings, law courts, and open-air markets. Today, the foundations of temples and monuments stand the test of time. In addition to housing important civic buildings, Palatine Hill became the residential district of the Roman aristocracy, with elegant houses characterized by exceptional painted and paved decorations. After a stunning walking tour, we’ll head to the hotel and enjoy some free time before dinner.

Start the morning with breakfast at the hotel before embarking on a journey to Vatican City.

Few places on earth house as many masterpieces as the legendary Vatican Museum, and our guide will navigate us through the various rooms and galleries. This will include the Gallery of Maps, the Raphael Rooms, and, of course, the Sistine Chapel – a masterpiece by Michelangelo. After exiting the gallery, you’ll proceed to St. Peter’s Basilica where even more grandeur awaits. St. Peter’s is one of the most renowned works of Italian Renaissance architecture and is the largest church in the world by interior measure.

After our visit to Vatican City, we’ll depart on a tour of Rome’s most important churches exploring the Papal impact on Roman architecture. We’ll begin at St. John in Lateran Basilica, featuring the 16th-century ceiling commissioned by Pope Innocent X for the 1650 Jubilee and the 4th century Lateran Baptistery (San Giovani in Fonte).

The next stop on our journey is a visit to the Scala Santa, or “Holy Stairs.” The Sancta Sanctorum is a Roman Catholic chapel entered via the Scala Sancta staircase of the Lateran Palace in Rome. It was the original private chapel of the papacy before it moved to Avignon, and later to the Vatican Palace.

Proceeding to the last church, your group will stop to enjoy the stunning Santa Maria Maggiore.  It’s a Major papal basilica as well as one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome and the largest Catholic Marian church in the city.

After a long day of touring the ancient relics of Rome, you’ll gather as a group for dinner. The celebration will be a typical Roman pizza party complemented by fresh wine.

Begin the morning with a sumptuous breakfast from the hotel before setting out for a day of exploration. Today, a full-day guided excursion teaches us about Renaissance and Ancient Roman history as we admire archaeological ruins and explore some of Italy’s most extravagant private gardens. We’ll discover two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana) and Villa d’Este.

The extensive former home of Emperor Hadrian is the most imposing and complex Roman villa known. It contains over 30 monumental and scenic buildings surrounded by gardens decorated with water basins and fountains. Many of the buildings are considered unrivaled masterpieces of architecture until the arrival of Baroque architecture in the 17th century.

The Renaissance history will continue at the Villa d’Este, located in Tivoli along with Hadrian’s Villa. This 16th-century home is famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its profusion of fountains. Owing to its innovative design, it’s considered a true water garden and a unique example of an Italian 16th-century garden.

After the tour, we’ll return to Rome in the late afternoon, where the balance of the evening is yours to enjoy.

This morning, after breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the Rome rail station for a train ride to Florence.

Upon arrival at the Florence rail station, a guide will meet us and facilitate a transfer to the hotel. From there, we’ll drop our luggage and depart for a visit to Florence’s top museums: The Accademia Gallery and Uffizi Gallery. Our expert guide will enlighten us about the art and artists at the museums including Michelangelo’s ‘David,’ Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus,’ and many more Renaissance masterpieces.

After our extensive visits at the museums, the balance of the day and evening is at leisure to explore the Cradle of the Renaissance.

Today we’ll discover Florence for a historical perspective. We’ll learn about the Medici family and their role in shaping the Renaissance and see the places that made Florence the center of the world in this period.

Our immersive walking tour is designed to provide a wide-ranging introduction to the city and its history. We’ll see highlights like the Duomo, Giotto’s Campanile, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio.

We’ll then visit San Marco Museum and Convent. The San Marco Museum (Museo di San Marco) has the distinction of being home to Florence’s largest collection of paintings by Fra Beato Angelico. The 15th-century former monastery is also home to works by Fra Bartolomeo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Lorenzo Ghiberti.

This morning, after breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the Florence rail station for a train ride to Venice.

Upon arrival, we’ll immediately embark on a walking tour of the city. It is built on a group of 126 islands that are separated by expanses of open water and by canals; portions of the city are linked by 472 bridges. We’ll delve into Venetian history on a tour that showcases two of the city’s most iconic structures.

First, we’ll stop at St. Mark’s Basilica to take in the Middle-Byzantine, Romanesque, and Islamic influences. The original brick façades and interior walls were embellished over time with precious stones and rare marbles, while the columns, reliefs, and sculptures were stolen items from Constantinople as a result of the Fourth Crusade. Among the artifacts brought back to Venice were the four ancient bronze horses that were placed prominently over the entry.

You’ll take a brief break to relax and enjoy the stunning view from St. Mark’s Square before finishing this portion of the tour at Doge’s Palace. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice. This impressive structure, built around a courtyard, was the meeting place of the governing councils and ministries of the republic. The breathtaking architecture incorporates characteristics of Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance architecture.

Another stop on our journey is the nearby Hall of the Great Council where an English-speaking expert guide will take us on a private tour. After the brief stop, we’ll have time for a walk over the Bridge of Sighs. The name was a translation from the Italian “Ponte dei sospiri,” from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.

After our long day of exploring Venice, it’s time for an experience that every traveler must experience in the city – a gondola ride along the canals! After the exciting boat ride, the balance of the day and evening are yours to enjoy.

Because today is our last day in Italy, we’ve decided not to schedule anything. However, you may ask our travel experts to arrange any number of optional experiences.

Our professional trip planners suggest watching the historic glass-blowing show on the island of Murano along with its lacemaking neighbor, Burano. You could also take a walking tour of the hidden gems of the city, visit the Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo, or watch the oldest working boatyard in the city. You could also choose to sit at a cafe, sip on a Bellini or Spritz, and soak in the view. Regardless, our agents are standing by, waiting to customize your trip with the best excursions and experiences.

After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll transfer to the airport for your onward journey.

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