Corfu, Pelion & Athens Greece

Corfu, Pelion & Athens Greece

Monday 06 May – Saturday 18 May 2024

Glorious Gardens, Mythical and Historical Sites and Delicious Organic and Traditional Food

Corfu is also called the Garden Isle of the Mediterranean and in the months of spring it is most obvious. The entire island is a gardener’s paradise. Corfu is the name of both the island and its capital, used through history by the Venetian, French and British rulers, but the Greeks call it Kerkyra pointing back to the island’s ancient Corinthian name, usually transliterated as Corcyra. The duality of Western influences and Greek spirit gives the island its unique qualities. Unlike most of Greece, Corfu never fell to the Ottoman Empire despite two strong attempts to seize it. One of the seven Ionian Islands, it came under the control of Venice in 1386 and, over the next few centuries, the Italian language, culture and Roman Catholic Church were dominant. In 1797, Corfu was taken over by the French following the defeat of the Venetian Republic by Napoleon Bonaparte. Later, in 1814, the Ionian Islands became a British protectorate. Over the next fifty years, many public works were completed, such as the town’s water supply, and fine public buildings were erected in the Classical Revival style. Finally, in 1864, Corfu with the other Ionian Islands was returned to Greece with the accession of King George I.

Since antiquity, from Homer’s “The Odyssey” across the centuries to the Durrell family’s sojourn on the island before World War II, writers, poets, artists and garden designers, travellers, statesmen and members of royalty have all been bewitched by the magical beauty of Corfu with its lush vegetation, wildflowers, and silver olive-groves punctuated by cypresses – a captivation which continues today.

Pelion has always been known as The Garden of the Gods and home of the Centaurs. “If you are a nature lover, Pelion will seduce you. It is filled with breathless views of unspeakable beauty… The Pelion region was, as the legend says, the summer residence of the Olympian Gods as well as the country of the Centaurs. It is a striking, bright green region between Pagasitikos Bay and the Aegean Sea. There the divine wedding between Peleua and Thetis, parents of Achilles, took place. The traditional villages, each with its own history, nestling on the slopes of the mountain are unbelievably enchanting, where the scenery leads into the embrace of the sea, in the deep blue of the Aegean Sea on the eastern side and the silver and gold waters of the Pagasitikos Bay from the West side.

Athens, the capital of Greece, is a heady mix of ancient history and contemporary cool. Athens is also one of the oldest cities in the world, with its documented history spanning uninterruptedly from 3.200 BC until today. That is an astonishing 5.000 + years of history and culture. Nowadays Athens is a modern city offering a wide variety of options from lively hotels, lavish restaurants, Greek and world cuisine and shops featuring the latest fashion to museums, ancient ruins like the finds on the Acropolis hill, neoclassic and modern architecture, cultural venues, contemporary art, open air concerts, and most importantly the Athens Riviera only a stone’s throw from the city center. The Athenian Riviera offers 40 miles (60 km) of beaches to swim and relax by, touched by the sea of the Saronic Gulf which is part of the Aegean Sea.

In the past couple of years many visitors are opting for the southeast coast of Athens, discovering that they can stay near and within walking distance of the sea, while still having access to the world famous Acropolis, the museums and several Athenian archaeological sites, even by public transport. With the tram and the constant expansion of the Athens Metro line all the way to Glyfada, the suburbs of the Athenian Riviera, specifically Faliron, Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Lagonissi, Anavissos and lastly Cape Sounion have seen a considerable influx of visiting travelers. Some of the aforementioned suburbs are in reality extensions of Athens with shops, restaurants, and cafes but with the added plus of the seaside.

Yes, there is walking and there are some hills so if you have any concerns about this, email me as I have been to a lot of the sights we will see…

…and the food…there was not one place on my last tour that my guests didn’t like. The variety, the freshness, the tastes and presentations…all simply mouth wateringly delicious!

A NOTE ON OUR VISIT TO THE PRIVATE GARDENS… at this time we cannot confirm who they are but rest assured you will be impressed with them… we have a lot of choice and as we find out who these very special gardens are we will update the itinerary with that information OR if we do not know until closer to tour leaving, I will include them in your tour notes. They are mostly PRIVATE gardens and many belong to members of the Mediterranean Garden Society. I have seen a lot of them already and can vouch for the WOW!!

Please Click on Each Day to bring up the Itinerary for that Day

Monday 06 May, 2024 – Arrival into Corfu, make own way by taxi to Elea Beach Hotel 12 km. from Corfu Town.

Depending on your flights, it might be advisable to come in a pre tour night so you are rested and ready to get together for an evening meal as a group and meet our guide, Christina. 

Please indicate on your registration form if you wish a pre tour night at time of registration so we can confirm.

Elea Beach Hotel is a 4-star hotel boasting an outdoor salt-water pool as well as freshwater pool surrounded by gardens. All rooms off Air/con, Coffee & Tea facilities, Free wifi, Fridge, Hairdryer, TV

Evening meal at hotel to meet each other and Christina Lambert, our tour guide in Corfu and Athens. Christina now lives and gardens on Corfu after many years of plant cultivation in Athens.

Welcome Dinner Included

Tuesday 07 May - Vlacherna Monastery, Achilleion Palace & Stockdale Estate for Very Special Private Lunch with Author

Depart 09.30 by coach for a visit to the iconic Vlacherna Monastery, built on a small island off the coast accessible via a short walkway.

Return to coach and drive to Achilleion Palace The former summer residence of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, also known as Sissi Schlösschen, is currently closed for restoration work and only the garden is open to visitors. However we hope both will be open for our tour.

A very special treat for you today … Christina, our guide, has invited us to her place of work, the large Stockdale Estate at Gastouri,  where they are planning new gardens as well as renovations to existing ones. They have offered us lunch AND we will also meet Rachel Weaving, author of ‘Gardens of Corfu’. Rachel would love to share some of her vast knowledge on the history of Corfu gardens with you plus she will sign copies of her book if you choose to buy one. We had the pleasure of meeting Rachel on our last visit there and I know you will all love getting to know her. Please, if you want a copy of her book and want to reserve it so you have one, let me know and when together she will sign your copy so you can get a photo of that.

‘‘What makes a garden Corfiot? Certain ingredients based on local craft traditions appear in gardens both old and new, and form elements of a Corfiot style:

• Stonework for building, terracing, and ornament;

• Wrought ironwork, often using patterns based on old Venetian models; and

• Big terracotta urns like those that were once used for storing and exporting olive oil.

• Corfu gardeners also make quite distinctive plant choices: olive, citrus, and, in the last thirty years, native pencil cypress trees, are favorites, as are wisteria, jasmine, and orange trumpet vine. People also noticeably choose plants for their scent.

And a tradition that Corfu shares with the rest of Greece is the avlí—the courtyard garden close to the house—in which people grow both flowers and fruit.’ Rachel Weaving

After lunch transfer to Corfu town for a wonderful guided walk of around 2 hours…After our guided walk you have free time in Corfu and can either go back to hotel for dinner at hotel (return by bus or taxi) or stay in Corfu for dinner (return by taxi) at your leisure.

Breakfast & Lunch Included with dinner on own

Wednesday 08 May - Private Gardens Today!!

Corfu has many beautiful gardens, large and small. We will visit some of the gardens in Rachel’s book. This will be a full day tour by coach at a leisurely pace and we will see parts of the island which we will not visit later while on Corfu. Expect to visit some of the smaller, more personal gardens. Lunch will be a picnic in a suitable location, possibly an olive oil tasting centre, depending on which gardens we visit      and


Breakfast and Picnic Lunch Included with dinner on own

Thursday 09 May - Spectacular Rothchild Estate, Private Gardens of Lamari and Sto Dasos

Depart 9 am for visit to the beautiful and extensive and very private Rothschild Estate, Kassiopi, with its many varied landscapes and rich history.  A spectacular garden on an estate which occupies the two peninsulas at Kanonas and Strongilo overlooking the coast of Albania, the Rothschild Estate is a place which has been nurtured by three generations of the same family and skillfully embraces the wild landscape. The natural rock formations contribute a dramatic element with a former quarry transformed into a great pool by the Spanish architect Xavier Barba. Here pendulous forms of fragrant clumped rosemary on the cliff face and a long tightly-clipped undulating hedge of rosemary define views of the sea and wild mountains beyond. From the moment I walked through the archway of this garden I knew it was going to be special and dare I say extraordinary…

Did you know?  The villa has often hosted both royals and celebrities, while it was a favourite summer retreat for Princess Diana.

Lunch at Kerasia Taverna right by the beach

Afternoon visit to two exceptional private gardens in north-eastern Corfu – Lamari and Sto Dasos and return inland to the hotel.

Breakfast & Lunch Included with dinner on own

Friday 10 May - A Scenic Ferry Ride and Amazing Landscapes on our way to Pelion

Depart early by coach to catch ferry to Igoumenitsa, port for entry to mainland Greece.  Time to eat our breakfast box as we cross the strait to the mainland.

Our route takes us through the mighty Pindus mountains and we will have a stop for lunch at Ioannina lake.  We pass through Kalambaka, home of the perched monasteries at Meteora and will make a short stop at Volos marina for a refreshment and short walk by the yacht harbour. We then follow the Pagasitic coast of the Pelion peninsula to the traditional hilltop village of Lafkos.

Our hotel for the next few days will be at Lagou Raxi Country Hotel.  This is the hotel of my ground handler, Sue, and you will love it.  One of the most glorious views across the pool area where you can sit and enjoy your morning coffee or evening drink.  The hotel is surrounded by gardens as well…draw a bit, read a bit – lots of books and magazines there –  and even take part in botanical painting if you wish…the village is a short walk away and really charming.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Saturday 11 May - Private Garden Visits Today and Damouchari (film site of Mama Mia) for Lunch

After breakfast we leave for an amazing drive by coach along the Aegean sea, with spectacular views across to the Sporadic islands and maybe even Mt. Athos. We visit another very special private garden – Serpentin Garden Tsagarada

We drive down to the sea for lunch at Karagatsi Taverna – Damouchari.  If you watched the movie Mama Mia do you remember where they did the dance scene on the dock? Well this is where we will have lunch …. the film location. (When I was there, the dock was gone but not my memories.) the food, the little village to stroll in, the ambiance of it all…joyful.

On return the private garden of botanist Gereon Bueschges and his wife Karin with wonderful views west across the Pagassitic Gulf.  House and garden nestled in an ancient olive grove.

Breakfast & Lunch Included with dinner on own … we are thinking of having dinner in the local square in Lafkos with Sue who runs Lagou Raxi as well as the Mediterranean Centre for Art, Gardens, Plants and Design. It was such a lovely experience before.

Sunday 12 May - Leisure Time in the Morning…Perhaps Botanical Illustration Water Colour? Wine Tasting at Milea

Morning free or take the opportunity to try your hand at Botanical Illustration before a snack of your choice at hotel followed by local wine tasting at Milea winery

We enjoyed this so much, just sitting and sipping while the sun set enveloped in a sea of grape vines.

Breakfast and Wine Tasting and on our way back from the winery, a very tasty treat!

Monday 13 May - Greek Pottery Museum Visit, Private Presentation from Landscape Gardener & Private Garden

In the morning we will visit by coach first a Greek pottery museum and after that to Heart and Fire Cretan Pots, a gardening centre where there is a large collection of typical Greek pots.  Landscape gardener Lily Bakratsa-Papantoniou, who has studied and worked in London, will talk about how to choose and place pots, as well as giving some valuable ideas for how to mix plants for the best ongoing results.

Picnic lunch in a large garden nearby where the owners have successfully combined olive trees left in situ alongside new dwarf fruiting trees to create a small orchard and a large vegetable garden.  (They also have geese, ducks and other animals!)

Breakfast, Picnic Lunch and Dinner Included

Tuesday 14 May - Ioannis Gryllis Water Lilies!

Early departure from Pelion for drive to Marathonas, north of Athens.  (Breakfast box on coach.)

Visit to Ioannis Gryllis Water Lilies.  This is nursery which is constantly evolving with much more to see than the water lilies.  Ioannis’s mother will prepare lunch for us (incredible home cooking and such a lovely warm family) while we stroll around the grounds and marvel at the range of grasses, Mediterranean plants and specialist varieties which are on display.  Ioannis is fascinated by unusual plants and will let you see some of his collection and show you some of his newer garden ideas resulting from his overseas travels…you will frankly be amazed at how much there is here.

‘Gryllis Water Lilies was founded in 2011 by Ioannis Gryllis, Agronomist, M.Sc. Landscape Architect at first specializing in the production of aquatic plants. The company’s headquarters and production facility is located in Marathon where you can find a wide variety of plants (over 400 species) suitable for ponds but also for garden planting. Nursery for ornamental aquatic & aquatic plants, ornamental grasses, shade plants, perennial herbs, exotic plants, and xylosophytes. ‘Our love for the plants that started as a hobby, combined with the university studies, contribute to our excellent training and experience, with the construction and supply of plants in Greece and abroad.’

Continue by coach to our Hotel in Athens.      TBC

Breakfast Box, Lunch and Dinner included

Wednesday 15 May - Sparoza – Home of the Mediterranean Garden Society & Vorres Museum & Gardens PLUS Two More Incredible Gardens by Leftheris Dariotis

Sparoza Garden is the home of the Mediterranean Garden Society which has branches and members throughout the world in Mediterranean climate regions (for example California, South and West Australia, South Africa, European countries in the Mediterranean basin, Israel and Chile)

This garden has a fascinating history and you can read more about it and the MGS at

Did you know? If it weren’t for an olive tree, Poseidon might have been the city’s patron. According to mythology Athena and Poseidon competed for the title of the guardian of the city. They each offered a gift to gain favour of its people and the gods, but Athena’s olive tree was deemed more valuable than the salt water spring given by Poseidon, so her name was given to the city-state. The Olive Tree symbolizes Peace and Prosperity.

Nearby is the fascinating Vorres Museum where a light  lunch at ‘To Cafe’ is available before a visit to the gardens 

I have to tell you that I was so taken with this place, loved every square inch of the folk art museum and those gardens… wow. The Vorres Museum is a cultural foundation that was established in 1983, with the purpose of promoting Greek art and culture, through a broad spectrum of activities, from the organization of exhibitions in Greece and abroad, to educational programs for children.

The Vorres Museum which sprawls over six acres, is divided into two main sections: the museum of contemporary Greek art and the folk art museum, both of which house collections that cover at least 2500 years of Greek history. The whole complex is laid out in a way that showcases the Greek spirit in a unique fashion. In the contemporary part, one of the most important and representative collections of its kind in the world is exhibited, comprising paintings, installations and sculptures by leading Greek artists, displaying a Greek interpretation of most of the international artistic currents of the second half of the 20th century. The folk art section, is an extraordinary complex of 19th century buildings, courtyards and gardens or rather a re-adaptation and readjustment of traditional Greek architectural features housing antiquities, icons, ceramics, popular artifacts and objects used in daily Greek life centuries ago, in a manner, revealing their inherent beauty and their practical use.

The gardens, wild and consisting almost entirely of Mediterranean flora are an indispensable part of the museum being described by many as the most beautiful gardens in Athens.

We will then move on to the gardens of Liberto Dario in the same area.  Liberto grows flowers for seed which he originally collects in the wild.  His collection is huge and the compact gardens are fully stocked, particularly in May…He is an incredible and passionate plants person…you will really enjoy this visit!

Breakfast and Lunch Included with dinner on own

Thursday 16 May - Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre and Gardens

Today, after a later breakfast we have a unique visit planned…a public space that includes the Greek National Opera, the National Library of Greece as well as the Stavros Niarchos Park, one of the largest green areas in Athens. The SNFCC was created thanks to an exclusive grant by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which delivered it to the Greek State upon completion and it is supervised by the Greek Ministry of Finance.

The Stavros Niarchos Park, a modern Landscape Architecture project, has been designed in accordance with the principles of sustainability, ecosystems and the alternations of a place that is in constant evolution. It is a welcoming and open space, with plantings and a character that reflects the Mediterranean landscape. Occupying 85% of the SNFCC’s total area, Stavros Niarchos Park stretches over an area of 21 hectares. It is home to a rich variety of flora, including olive trees, evergreen shrubs, carob trees, laurels, cypress trees, as well as an extensive selection of indigenous Greek aromatic plants. Plants were selected and arranged with an eye to providing a variety of seasonal blooming and creating exciting color schemes and textures. The Park includes 16 tree species and 161 shrub species, a variety of grasses and bulbs. Greece’s strong horticultural tradition is celebrated in the open, sunlit Mediterranean Garden. The plant palette alone makes the garden a destination: evergreen and other endemic plants such as boxwood, coronilla, cistus, and lentisc, salvia, oregano, thyme, lavender, rosemary, roses and euphorbias – all add to the sensual pleasure of a visit. Each month brings a new color, and each season introduces a different combination of flowers or foliage.

Lunch at Thalassino restaurant, very close to Gardens of the SNFCC . Taxis back to hotel (5 minutes)

Breakfast and Lunch Included with dinner on own

Friday 17 May - Acropolis and Parthenon, Farewell lunch and a bit of time in Historic Plaka for Shopping

Acropolis and Parthenon…As thought and art flourished, an exceptional group of artists put into effect the ambitious plans of Athenian statesman Pericles and under the inspired guidance of the sculptor Pheidias, transformed the rocky hill into a unique monument of thought and the arts. The most important monuments were built during that time. The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.

Afterwards we will visit the Acropolis museum to enjoy our Farewell lunch in the Acropolis Museum restaurant before our visit. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on the surrounding slopes, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies over the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.

Then the rest of the day/evening at leisure after we spend a bit of time in the Plaka area…returning with the group to the hotel or staying on and making your own way back. We will set a time for this…

One of my favorite neighborhoods in Athens, in the shadow of the Acropolis, the Plaka is like a village within the city, an island for those who don’t have the time to visit the Greek Islands. The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens. Most of the streets have been closed to automobile traffic, though you should still keep a watchful eye for a speeding motorcycle or delivery truck. At one time it was the nightclub district, but most of these closed down when the government outlawed amplified music in the neighborhood in the seventies in an effort to get rid of undesirables. The strategy was very successful and it is now an area of restaurants, jewelry stores, tourist shops, and cafes. Though it is quite commercialized it is still a neighborhood and arguably the nicest neighborhood in central Athens.

Did you know? When crossing the streets in Greece, use caution as drivers don’t generally pay attention to pedestrian crossings. It’s so crazy in fact that a driver is more likely to make a sharp turn around you than actually slow down or stop to let you cross.

Breakfast, Farewell Lunch included with dinner on your own.

Saturday 18 May - Depart Athens

Transfers to Athens International Airport from hotel on your own– confirm with hotel concierge


4 nights Elea Beach Hotel Corfu

4 night Lagou Raxi Hotel, Lafkos, Pelion

4 nights Athens Hotel TBC

11 Breakfasts

8 Lunches including Farewell & 2 Picnic Lunches and…

Rachel Weaving, Author of ‘Gardens of Corfu’ for an informal introduction on plants and the History of the Gardens of Corfu during a special lunch at Stockdale Estate.

4 Dinners including Welcome

Wine Tasting at Milea

Botanical Painting Experience

Visit to Greek Pottery Museum

Landscape Garden Centre with Presentation by Speaker on Plants & Pots

Guided walk in Corfu

All Sights and Gardens Guided

Acropolis and Parthenon

Many Private Garden Visits – they will be revealed in due course!

Visits to: Vlacherna Monastery, Achilleion Palace, Rothschild Estate and Gardens,Lamari Private Gardens, Sto Dasos Private Gardens, Serpentin Private Garden, Private Garden of Botanist Gereon Bueschges and his wife Karin, Gryllis Water Lilies & Med. Plants, Sparoza Garden, Vorres Museum & Gardens, the Gardens of Leftheris Dariotis, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre and Gardens

A/C vehicle for the itinerary

Ferry from Corfu to Mainland Greece

English-speaking Tour Guides

Tips & Gratuities Included

Unforgettable Memories!

Not Included: International Flights, insurance, meals not noted and drinks not included, items of a personal nature and extra hotel charges such as daily maid servicing.

We have a limited amount of pre and post tour night rooms available for either single or twin/double. Please advise if you require and we will check this out for you.

Corfu, Pelion & Athens Greece

Glorious Gardens, Mythical and Historical Sites and Delicious Organic and Traditional Food

May 6th – May 18th, 2024

Land package    3390 Euros per person for Twin bed sharing or Double bed.

For those wanting their own room Single cost is 5119 Euros

Tour is priced in the currency we pay our suppliers at destination. Due to exchange rate volatility, we only convert to the prevailing exchange rates at final payment. 

Note: Minimum of 10 guests must be registered for this tour to run, so please do not book your air until you are notified that we have reached this.


Tour is subject to changes in itinerary but not tour dates.

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