Europe for Older Teens: Greece, Italy and the Islands
Europe for Older Teens: Greece, Italy and the Islands
Jun 28 – Jul 19, Jul 10 – Jul 31
Session 2, Session 3
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from all around the world!
Rome, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast (or Sorrento) , Lefkada Town, Vasiliki, Nydri, Delphi, Athens, Paros, Naxos, Antiparos*, Despotiko*, Koufonisia, Santorini
|Optional group flight there:||
Newark to Rome
|Optional group flight back:||
Athens to Newark
Explore all of the beauty and culture that Greece and Italy have to offer on this Mediterranean-style trip exclusively for Older Teens! From island cruises and snorkeling in crystal clear waters, to lively piazzas and mouthwatering meals, we’ll experience the best that both countries have to offer.
Step back in time to Ancient Rome and marvel at the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Relax on famous black sand beaches, sail on a private boat, sample authentic cuisine, and enjoy the laidback Italian lifestyle on the Amalfi Coast. Try a variety of watersports and swim in hidden waterfalls on the gorgeous Greek island of Lefkada. Take an authentic Greek culinary walk, interact with the locals, and dig deep into ancient historical sites in Athens.
Jump right into a postcard as you leave Athens behind to island hop your way around the rest of the country! The islands are home to stunning beaches, white-washed houses, charming towns and centuries of rich history. Snorkel through crystal clear water, relax on up to six island paradises, eat like Greek gods, and explore the ancient culture in the very heart of Western Civilization. Dig deep into Greek culture with a cooking lesson, coffee tasting, and a traditional dance lesson from a Greek yaya! From the white-washed streets of Paros and the glorious castles and beaches of Naxos, to the stunning beaches of Koufonisia and the world’s most picturesque island of Santorini, this is the trip of a lifetime. Prepare to fall in love with the culture, people, history, cuisine, and pure beauty of Italy, Greece, and island life!
On This Trip You Will:
- Tour the massively impressive Colosseum
- Wander through the Roman Forum, once the city center of Ancient Rome and the very place where it all began
- Guarantee your return visit to Rome with a wish and a coin toss at the Trevi Fountain
- Wander through the vast interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world
- Stare in awe at Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel
- Experience true Roman lifestyle in the trendy neighborhood of Trastevere
- Visit the ancient city of Pompeii and marvel at the ruins that were covered by ash during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD
- Explore the charming coastal town of Sorrento and sample its famous lemon treats
- Cruise along the incredible Amalfi coast to the beautiful towns of Positano and Amalfi
- Snorkel, kayak, windsurf or scuba dive* in the crystal clear Ionian and Aegean Seas
- Explore ancient prophecies at the mystical Oracle of Delphi
- Climb the Acropolis for a close-up look at the Parthenon, one of the most spectacular ancient ruins in the world
- Visit a famous sandal maker for a pair of custom handmade leather sandals in Athens
- Go off the beaten path and explore the charming Plaka District of Athens
- Try first-hand the world’s best gyro in the historical Monastiraki neighborhood of Athens
- Learn to cook like a Grecian with a private cooking lesson on the island of Paros
- Visit the pristine island of Antiparos and archaeological site of Despotiko*
- Marvel at the white buildings and blue domes that line the charming islands of Paros and Santorini
- Take a private boat tour to Koufonisia, Greece’s best kept island secret, where the turquoise water is world-renowned
- Explore the quaint town of Chora in Naxos, where castles and hidden whitewashed alleyways await us
- Relax on the endless golden sand beaches of Naxos
- Take in breathtaking and world famous sunsets from the best vantage point
- Soak up the sun on the famous red sand beach of Santorini
*These are optional excursions.
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM NEWARK, NJ
DAYS 2-4: ROME
We start our adventure in Italy, where we will begin our trip immersing ourselves in one of the most beloved cultures in the world. The city streets of the Eternal City buzz with antiquity around every corner. You’ll be in awe as we transport ourselves thousands of years back in time while exploring the most important monuments and structures. Rome never ceases to amaze with its talent for fusing ancient buildings and streets into an incredibly modern and pulsing city. From the Colosseum, where we’ll envision the bloody spectacle of gladiator competition, to the Roman Forum, which once housed the ancient city’s bustling center and main marketplace, our expert guides will bring Rome’s history to life.
We’ll then fast-forward to the Renaissance, crossing the Tiber to Vatican City and marveling at the massive basilica dedicated to St. Peter. This is the largest church building in the world, and definitely the most impressive. St. Peter himself is entombed beneath its massive altar, and you can see Michelangelo’s breathtaking “Pietà” before staring up at the world’s most famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. We’ll stroll down the Tiber and venture slightly off the beaten bath to Trastevere, one of Rome’s hippest neighborhoods, to see the local Romans in action and indulge in some of the best food in the city, including fresh homemade pastas or pizza “al taglio.” Marvel at the Pantheon, shop on the famous Via del Corso, toss a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain, and hang out on the Spanish Steps, enjoying a classic Roman night of people-watching in a beautiful piazza.
DAYS 5-6: SORRENTO
We’ll say “ciao” to Rome and head towards our next destination: the Amalfi Coast! We will settle into our gorgeous hotel in Sorrento, explore this charming coastal town, and enjoy our first dinner at one of Italy’s top summer destinations. The next day we will hop on a private boat and discover the enchanting Amalfi Coast from the sea. It’ll be love at first sight with the sun shining above, sapphire blue sea below, and unbelievable views in front of us as we sail down the Mediterranean marveling at the pastel-painted towns nestled along the coastline. With stops along the way, you’ll have a chance to jump into the crystal clear water, swim among cascading waterfalls and in several secluded bays. When we arrive in Positano, you’ll think you’ve been transported into a postcard as you gaze at the quaint hillside town perched up above. Hop off the boat to explore this picturesque coastal gem and wander the narrow streets surrounded by multicolored buildings, blooming flowers, and sweet-smelling lemons. Visit the iconic church of Santa Maria Assunta with its ornate dome covered entirely in tiles. Enjoy the best shopping in the chic stores that line the streets, from handmade shoes and clothes to an abundance of lemon-themed products. Then relax for the afternoon on the famous black sand beach and take it all in.
DAYS 7-9: POMPEII > LEFKADA
We’ll then say goodbye to Italy, but not before stopping to explore the remains of Pompeii, a thriving ancient Roman port city that met an abrupt end in 79 AD when the volcano Mt. Vesuvius erupted, covering the town in a deep layer of volcanic ash that perfectly preserved its treasures for visitors today. There is no other archeological site in the world like Pompeii, where you can walk down actual Roman streets, read original 2,000 year old graffiti on the walls, and pop in and out of original ancient Roman houses, often still bearing their original paint jobs!
As we leave Italy behind we’ll sail across the Ionian sea to the island of Lefkada, one of Greece’s hidden treasures. As the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, we’ll be surprised if you don’t fall in love with the country of Greece after your time on the island. We’ll spend our days getting into the Greek summer rhythm of life, where we’ll wander through charming Greek towns, learn how to windsurf and snorkel in the electric blue water, hike to hidden waterfalls, get our first taste of Greek cuisine (feta, anyone?), and discover that Greece really is the perfect summer destination!
DAY 10-12: DELPHI > ATHENS
We’ll head towards Athens with a stop along the way at the infamous Delphi, home to the Oracle that initiated the story of Oedipus and of the first sites to host the original Olympic crown games over 2,600 years ago. This mysterious and spiritual place will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits.
Then it’s onward to Athens, where we’ll go back in time almost 4,000 years to where Western Civilization was born and new ideas about philosophy, government, and democracy thrived. We’ll stroll through some of the best neighborhoods in Athens, and end our first evening with an incredible Greek feast in the heart of the historical center with live music and an authentic Greek atmosphere. The next day will be filled with culture and history. Stand atop the magnificent Acropolis and imagine ancient Greek life as it was thousands of years ago as you marvel at the architectural wonder of the Parthenon. Return to the modern part of the city and wander amongst the lively markets full of fresh food and authentic handmade goods. Go off the beaten path to the charming Plaka District, beautifully lit up at night and lined with quaint cafes and restaurants.
DAYS 13-15: PAROS
Next we’ll get the island-hopping option of our adventure started by traveling like the Greeks by taking a ferry over to our first island destination: Paros! Famous in ancient times for its immaculate white marble and for having sided in battle with the Persians against the Greeks, this island is a hidden gem and has yet to become overcrowded with tourists. Here we will learn about traditional island life, past and present, with our afternoons saved for sun and sea. We will enjoy a private boat trip around the island and enjoy a wide variety of activites, including windsurfing, beach volleyball, and snorkeling. We will also hike the historical Byzantine Road for some amazing views of the Cycladic Island landscape, pass through beautiful white-washed villages, and end the walk in a fortified village!
Our evenings in Paros will be spent enjoying the vibrant island sunsets and strolling along the white washed streets. We’ll even try our hand at cooking our own delicious Greek meal with an authentic cooking lesson at a local seaside taverna! If you just can’t get enough island time and want to experience more, there is also an optional excursion to the islands of Antiparos and Despotiko, where we will have the unique opportunity to explore an active archeological site in a cave!
DAYS 16-17: NAXOS / KOUFONISIA
After touring Paros, we’ll head out to the neighboring island of Naxos, the largest Greek island in the Cyclades and the island where it is believed that Zeus was raised. Naxos is a close-kept secret of travelers to the Mediterranean, where you will get uniquely personal look into Greek island living. We will explore the endless golden sand dunes that line the coasts of the island and indulge in some of the best Greek food in all of Greece. We will also take the opportunity to explore some of the tiny islands that dot the Aegean and take the true traveler’s path to the hidden islands of Koufonisia. Only hitting the Greek tourist map a few years ago, these islands have remained untouched by bustling tourism. At the end of our time here, we will enjoy the most stunning turquoise waters the Aegean has to offer, all from our own private boat tour!
DAY 18-20: SANTORINI
Now it’s time to head back out onto the sea and towards our final island destination: Santorini. Voted the best island in Greece as well as one of the best islands in the entire world, this volcanic island boasts dramatic red and black sand beaches, whitewashed houses, and winding cobblestone alleyways, making Santorini one of the world’s premier luxury travel destinations. We’ll also be living the highlife, with the pool of our hotel overlooking the sea. You will recognize the postcard-perfect town of Oia, famous for its blue domes and whitewashed houses. While here, we’ll even have the option of taking a scuba-diving lesson! Best, of all, our laidback island days will always finish with gazing out at the breathtaking Santorini skyline by night.
DAY 21: ATHENS
We’ll return to Athens for one last goodbye and to catch any sights that we may have missed the first time around. Visit the Central Market, the heart and soul of Athen’s culinary scene and also the best location to pick up delicious souvenirs to take back home with you. Pick up a pair of custom made leather sandals from a famous sandal maker, get in any last minute shopping, and savor your last Greek gyro! To finish our incredible Greek journey, we’ll enjoy a beautiful final dinner at a traditional Greek taverna overlooking the Acropolis lit up at night.
DAY 22: GROUP FLIGHT BACK TO USA
Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?
We have teens join this program from all over the world! They are typically culturally curious teens who are excited about making new friends, stepping out of their comfort zone, expanding their horizons, and trying something new.
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Rome we stay at an elegant hotel located a short walk from both the Colosseum and the main train station. On the island of Lefkada, we stay in the capital of Vasiliki in a hotel only minutes from the beach. In Athens we stay at a great hotel only a five minute walk in the center of Athens near Syntagma. On Paros we stay in the capital of Parokia in a beautiful hotel close to the port and two minutes from the beach. On Naxos we stay in the main town of Chora. On Santorini, we stay in the capital of Fira in villas looking out on the ocean.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a trip.
Do most travelers go by themselves?
Yes, in fact over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that are formed along the way. If you travel by yourself, you are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new BFFs on another TFT trip the next summer!
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We just ask that if you come with a friend, you and your friend(s) are still open to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students generally like most on this program?
This program combines the best of both worlds: Italy, Greece, and the Islands are explored in a way that allows students to have a full understanding of the two countries. Students explore two major European capitals that boast some of the richest history in the world. They also love the opportunity to visit smaller, charming parts of these two countries such as Sorrento, Pompeii, and Lefkada. Once they reach Greece, students are able to hit the sea and backpack Greek-style. They have the opportunity to visit up to seven Greek islands, two major European cities, swim in countless seas, and truly allow them to discover the similarities and differences of the unique cultures in Greece and Italy. The overall theme of Mediterranean traveler on this trip is fascinating and exciting, but we also give students a break from city life to soak up the sun with their island adventures!
What is unique about this program?
With scuba and snorkeling excursions, a hands-on learning experience in the culinary center of Athens, and TFT’s expertise in leading trips throughout Greece, Italy, and their islands, this program provides unique insider access to the best of both countries as well as the islands.
What is included?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, trip related activities, trip related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not Included: (not intended to be an exhaustive list) Airfare, rail passes, lunches, visas & visa application fees, beverages other than tap water, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not trip related, such as movies and clubs, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the trip description, such as damage to hotels and excess baggage fees, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss this trip’s flight details. You are not required to take the group flight, although there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is chaperoned by TFT staff, it offers an opportunity for the students to get to know each other before the trip starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on trips that have group contracts (ask for details). Parents are responsible for arranging for participants to get to the group flight airport. Travel For Teens staff are at the airport, greet arriving participants, and help them get to where the rest of the group has assembled. For more information about Flights, visit our Flights page.
Who are the counselors on the trip?
The Trip Director for every trip is a seasoned teen travel professional with extensive TFT experience. Trip Directors often live or have lived and worked in the destination country. Extensive knowledge of the language and culture of the destination is crucial. Our Senior Counselors are experienced, responsible and fun-loving individuals who our participants can share experiences with and look to for guidance and support. At Travel for Teens we pride ourselves on our rigorous staff application process and the professionalism of our full time and summer staff.
It is the job of the counselors to keep the trip fun and exciting, the learning and the laughter in good balance, and to oversee the safety of the participants. Minimum ratios are on average one staff member to every seven participants. Trips may also include one or two Junior Counselors, who are college students with a history of TFT travel, and one or more Counselors in Training (CIT’s) with limited responsibility. CIT’s are not counted in staff-participant ratios.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
All of our staff members attend a week long training session every May to prepare for the upcoming summer and go over safety precautions and protocols. Likewise, every counselor is CPR/First Aid certified and Trip Directors are Lifeguard certified. All staff undergo a rigorous interview process and thorough background check.
What is the average group size?
At Travel for Teens, our trips typically fall into 3 different size categories.
Small: 7-14 students where 14 is the maximum.
Medium: Average is between 14-21 students with 21 as the maximum.
Large: Trips 21-35 students. These are our largest trips.
Typically Greece, Italy, and the Islands for Older Teens falls into the large range, but trip sizes differ from year to year.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Most of our Europe programs are designed specifically so that participants can combine them with other trips. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the trip and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group.
What is the food like on this trip?
In a word – Delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
Italian and Greek food is all about fresh, simple ingredients. In Italy we’ll sample the best of the “three Ps”- pizza, pasta, and panini! Indulging in these Italian specialities for the first time is a life changing experience, and we will be there to document every minute of it as you fall in love with the fresh mozzarella, warm Italian bread, mouth watering prosciutto, and homemade pasta. And don’t forget about gelato! After your trip to Italy, no dessert will ever be the same.
In Greece, we will enjoy classic Greek cuisine, including the original Greek salad with mouth-watering tomatoes and locally made feta, famous grilled meats and fresh seafood, and world-renowned baklava. After this trip you’ll begin to understand why the Mediterranean diet is one of the best in the world.
We also love to have picnics al fresco, and do this whenever possible, which is a great way to taste some local food while sitting out in the fresh air taking in the sights and sounds of our surroundings.
As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do I need any vaccinations for this trip?
We recommend that you check with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the areas you will be visiting. For more information, please check out the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int/en/.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group almost always. Everyday we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. We do offer some free time to do some shopping, for example, in defined areas that we are very familiar with. If participants are ever shopping by themselves within these defined areas they go in groups and for no more than an hour. On this trip, the group will have some free time to explore some of the safe pedestrian areas of Rome, Lefkada, Athens, Paros, Koufonisia, and Santorini. A counselor will always be nearby when participants have free time in each city. A lifeguard certified counselor will be supervising the students any time they are involved in water activities.
What kind of Visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa. If you are coming from somewhere outside the US, please be sure to check your country specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!