Embark on a journey with landscape photographer Trisha Dixon to the Ionian islands of Kefalonia, Ithaca, Paxos and Corfu, which abound with elegant gardens, stunning landscapes, historic castles and aristocratic villas.
In Kefalonia, visit a selection of private gardens and admire the crumbling remains of Venetian castles. On Ithaca, see the landscapes that inspired Homer and his modern Greek successor, the poet Constantine Cavafy.
Then continue to Corfu, Venice’s Mediaeval stronghold against the Ottomans. Later, British dominion added another layer to the local culture, and the result is an island that boasts exquisite villas, charming landscape gardens and impressive Venetian fortresses. Visit a selection of public and private gardens and spend time exploring the natural wilderness of Paxos.
Note: At time of publication (October 2018), most but not all garden visits were confirmed. Private owners, in particular, are reluctant to commit more than two to three months prior to the visit. Therefore, while we undertake to operate the tour as published, there may be some changes to the itinerary.
Depart Australia or New Zealand in the evening on suggested Qatar Airways flights to Athens via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in Athens in the early afternoon on suggested flights and make your way to the hotel for check-in.
At 17:30 join Trisha and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing followed by a special welcome dinner.
In the morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to Athens Airport for a flight to Kefalonia (flight included in tour price).
On arrival in Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands, transfer to the hotel in Fiskardo, our base for the next three nights. Enjoy some time at leisure before dinner.
Travel south to the capital city of Kefalonia, Argostoli, set alongside a deep bay. Visit the Argostoli Botanical Garden, which presents wild and endemic species of the Ionian Islands in a natural setting.
After lunch, discover the Monastery of St Andreas, founded during the Byzantine era, and visit its ecclesiastical museum including a large collection of frescos and panel icons.
Continue to the Venetian Castle of Saint George standing on a hilltop. Originally built by the Byzantines in the 12th century and largely improved by the Venetians in later centuries, the castle was the capital of Kefalonia until 1757, before it was transferred to present-day Argostoli.
Today, journey by ferry to the island of Ithaca, steeped in myth and history. Famous as the home of Odysseus, the island of Ithaca – and particularly the journey to the island as a metaphor for the struggles of life – inspired Homer in the 8th century BC and his modern Greek successor, the early 20th century poet Constantine Cavafy who is considered to have revived the tradition of Greek poetry.
Explore the island, visiting the Homeric sites and enjoying astonishing scenery such as beautiful beaches with clear blue water, lush green valleys and quaint mountain villages. Return to Kefalonia in the afternoon.
This morning, visit the picturesque port of Fiskardo with two-storey houses painted in traditional pastel colours with dark red tiled rooftops.
After lunch at a local restaurant, discover Dafnoudi Cove, a small hidden rocky beach with crystal clear waters.
Check out of the hotel in the early morning and transfer to Kefalonia Airport for a flight to Corfu (flight included in tour price). On arrival in Corfu, transfer by boat to the untamed island of Paxos, covered in tall olive trees.
Arrive at the hotel and enjoy some time at leisure. Dinner tonight is at the hotel.
Today, explore the small island of Paxos by private boat and discover this true hidden gem of the Ionian Sea, stopping at different coves to swim in its clear water. Lunch is on board.
Continue to the tiny neighbouring island of Antipaxos, so named because it lies ‘opposite Paxos’. Return to Paxos port in the late afternoon.
Check out of the hotel and visit Paxos Museum, located in the charming port town of Gaios and learn about the history of the island. Then, enjoy stunning views of the island during an orientation tour by coach, stopping along the way in picturesque villages and traditional olive presses.
In the afternoon, transfer by boat to Corfu and check in to the hotel, our base for the next five nights. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant.
This morning, discover the Old Town of Corfu. Located in a strategic position at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, the Old Town was built between two ancient fortresses and remains a fine example of Venetian and Byzantine art with elegant mansions and imposing buildings.
Then, depart for Gastouri and enjoy a private garden visit followed by lunch. Here, our host, a garden writer, will reveal the secrets of gardening in a Mediterranean climate. Enjoy some time at leisure to continue your exploration of the extensive property at your own pace.
Travel to the north of the island and visit a private garden before enjoying lunch in a traditional beachside taverna near Kalami.
In the afternoon, enjoy some time at leisure to swim at Kalami Beach and see the house of mid-20th century British expatriate authors Gerald and Lawrence Durrell.
Return to Corfu town in the late afternoon.
This morning, visit a selection of private gardens before travelling to Pelekas. In Pelekas, discover another lovely property on an exclusive garden tour by our friendly local host before enjoying some sunset drinks at her home.
Dinner tonight is at a local taverna.
Discover Mon Repos Palace standing on Analipsis Hill, where the ancient town of Corfu was located. Built in 1826 by the British Commissioner Frederic Adams, this grand palace is surrounded by a magnificent garden of approximately 100 hectares and was the birthplace of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh – who is still affectionately known in his adopted British homeland as ‘Phil the Greek’.
Then, travel south to the village of Boukari and celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell lunch with Trisha and fellow travellers. After some time at leisure in Boukari, return to Corfu town.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Make your way to Corfu Airport for suggested morning flights to Athens, connecting with suggested Qatar Airways flights to Australia or New Zealand via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
10 April 2019
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
*Please note that a good level of fitness is required for this tour. The tour involves walking long distances, sometimes up and down steep inclines.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Greece.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 4-star superior and 5-star hotels (or best available) with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with dinners
- Economy Class flights from Athens to Kefalonia and from Kefalonia to Paxos (20kg included luggage allowance)
- Talks and discussions with your tour leader, Trisha Dixon
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Flight from Corfu to Athens on tour departure
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Athens – Hilton Athens *****
Kefalonia – Emelisse Hotel ****
Paxos – Paxos Beach Hotel ***+
Corfu – Corfu Palace ****+
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted