The Footsteps of St. Paul: Greece and Turkey

13-Day Sample Itinerary with Cruise

An Apostle’s Path: a Religious Tour

Take the path of righteousness as St. Paul before you, with a two-week pilgrim tour designed by Catholic Heritage Tours.

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1: Departure from the U.S. to Istanbul, Turkey

Embark on your pilgrimage today with your flight toTurkey. Meals will be served by the airline en route.


Day 2: Istanbul

Upon arrival at the airport, your tour escort will be at the gate to greet you and take you to your private motor coach. Check in at the hotel and take some time to freshen up, relax and adjust to the new time zone. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your new travel companions and plan with them on the days ahead. Overnight in Istanbul. (WD)


Day 3: Istanbul

Founded in 667 BC, Istanbul includes a rich multicultural history. Explore this history during today’s guided visits. Begin at Hagia Sophia, one of the most impressive and important monuments from early Christianity. This 6th Century building was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. The size of its interior is staggering and all who visit are spiritually lifted by it. Recently, it has been converted into a museum, with both Muslim and Christian artifacts adorning its walls. In the upper galleries  you will have an opportunity to admire magnificent Byzantine mosaics. Next is Topkapi Palace, which few words can adequately describe. The vast sumptuous complex, built by Mehmet II in the 15th C., provides a vivid portal into the world of the Sultan with its different and unique rooms and chambers. Its location overlooking the Bosphorus provides great panoramic views of Istanbul  The next visit is to St. Savior in Chora, one of the most beautiful Byzantine-era churches in Istanbul  boasting magnificent mosaics that recount stories in the life of the Virgin Mary, the infancy of Jesus, the ministry of Christ, and other stand-alone masterpieces. Then, head to the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, also known as the St. Esprit Cathedral, the destination of several papal visits to Turkey. End the day’s visits with the exciting Spice Market an the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered souks in the world, with artisans and merchants selling goods from all over Turkey and nearby countries. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul. (BB, D)


Day 4: Flight to Izmir

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Izmir. Upon arrival, travel directly to the town of Selcuk, near Ephesus, and see part of the site, an impressive one, associated with St. John’s Basilica. The ministry of St. John and his theology become clearer as the visit progresses. The Basilica houses an immersion baptismal believed to be the resting place of St. John. Enjoy the view of the Ephesus harbor and the temple of Artemis, listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Afterwards, travel to Kusadasi for overnight. (BB, D)


Day 5: Ephesus

Today, your visits encompass Ephesus, beginning with a visit to the House of Mary, a 13th C. house built over a 1st C. building, which is believed to be the house where Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived her last years on earth in the company of John the Theologian. Continue with a visit to its main archaeological site, the city of the Bible, and one of the largest restorations still in progress. Miles of ancient treasures include the newly opened sloping roman villas, library, museum, and the temple of Artemis. During the course of the visit, it is very easy to imagine daily life in this ancient city and to consider the cultural context within which early Christians lived and forged a new faith. Dinner and overnight in Ephesus. (BB, D)


Day 6: Cruise to Greece, Day 1 – Patmos

After breakfast at the hotel, depart for the port to board your cruise to Greece. All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are included on the cruise ship. Travel to Patmos, the “Jerusalem of the Aegean” where you will visit the monastery of St. John, built within the walls of a strong fortification. Marvel at this magnificent structure, which was built 900 years ago; view the courtyard, the monk’s dining room, the old bakery and the main church, which displays outstanding frescoes. The small but beautiful museum presents priceless ecclesiastical treasures, in addition to books and manuscripts, mosaics, icons, splendid medieval textiles, vestments and jewelry. Continue to the Cave of the Apocalypse, the site of the apocalyptic revelations of St. John that were written during his exile. See the three-fold crack made by the voice of God emphasizing the honor of the Holy Trinity. Return to the ship for dinner and evening entertainment. (BB, L, D)


Day 7: Cruise to Greece, Day 2 – Crete and Santorini

The first port of call today is Crete, the largest and most rugged of the Greek islands. Take a tour to Heraklion and the fantastic ruins of the Palace of Knossos. Discovered in 1899 and partially reconstructed, the elaborate Palace is believed to be the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos and the seat of ancient Minoan culture. Then, continue to Santorini, perhaps the most breathtaking of all Greek islands. A volcanic in 1500 BC destroyed the center of the island – leaving a crescent shaped rim of cliffs. The town of Thira where white-washed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes and glittering boutiques cling to steep cliffs, accessible by foot path, cable-car or mule.  You may choose to take an optional tour of sailing around an active volcano crater and swimming in the water heated by hot springs or enjoy this lovely island on foot. Return to the shop for dinner and evening entertainment. (BB, L, D)


Day 8: Cruise to Greece, Day 3 – Pireaus to Athens.

Disembark from your cruise in the morning at Pireaus, Greece, and travel by private motor coach to visit the sites of Corinth and Mycenae.  Stop for a rest stop and photos at the Corinth Canal and then continue to the ancient city itself, another treat for the New Testament scholar. Corinth is the city that inspired many of St. Paul’s most familiar letters.  See the Archaeological Museum, the Market Place, the  Bema, and the Temples. Then, walk the ruins of the Church of Corinth and see the pillars, steps, and public worship place where St. Paul preached and it will enhance your understanding and love of 1 and 2 Corinthians.  The ruins of this important cultural center are fascinating as you walk along the stone path that Apostle Paul walked.  The engineering skill and intellect of these people are evident in the water systems that still flow from ancient to modern day.  After the visit to ancient Corinth, travel to Mycenae, where the remains of the ancient city date back to the Bronze Age, to see the famous Lioness Gate and the Tomb of Agamennon, the mythological king of Mycenae, in the shape of a Beehive. Dinner and overnight in Athens. (BB, D)


Day 9: Athens

Start early today to visit Athens, the cradle of western civilization, including the Acropolis, Agora, Areopagus and the newly opened Acropolis Museum in Athens. Walk the paths that the great philosophers, Plato, Aristotle and Socrates, walked themselves. After Rome’s conquest, Athens retained its Greek character, for it influenced the Romans who imitated and thus preserved its ways. It was to Athens that the Apostle Paul came in the 1st century, preaching to the senators.  His first convert in Athens was Dionysius the Areopagite who later became the first bishop and later a martyr. Athens was embellished under the Romans and flourished during the Byzantine Empire when it developed much of its unique Greek Orthodox art, architecture and religious customs. Dinner is independent tonight, with overnight in Athens. (BB)


Day 10: Athens – Delphi – Meteora – Kalambaka

After breakfast, travel to Delphi, the center of the Ancient world, referred to in ancient times as the Navel of the Earth, where an oracle defended it. On the slope of Mount Parnassus, whose landscape is unparalleled in beauty and majesty, lies the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Pythios where, every four years starting in 776 BC, athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic games, precursors of the modern Olympics. Continue to Meteora to visit the Monasteries, set among striking scenery and perched on top of huge rocky outcrops, making them seem to be suspended in mid-air. Visit one or two, depending on time, to admire the outstanding Byzantine art. The last leg of the trip takes you to Kalambaka, for dinner and overnight. (BB, D)


DAY 11: Kalambaka – Veria – Thessaloniki

Travel northward to Veria with a stop at King Phillip’s (Alexander the Great’s father) tomb in Bergina, one of the most outstanding finds in all of Greece. Stop in Bereato to view the ancient synagogue where Saint Paul spoke and to admire his mosaics and the plaque of scripture regarding the “more noble” church.  Locals hold that he preached in the city from a small hill where a small shrine, known as the Altar of St. Paul, was erected. St. Paul preached in Thessaloniki during the winters of 49-50 AD and wrote two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. Then, travel to Thessaloniki. There, visit the Rotunda of St. George, the oldest of Thessaloniki’s churches and one of the oldest Christian churches in the world, and a stunning example of a church from the early Christian period of the Greek-speaking part of the Roman empire, with beautiful mosaics and unique sculptural reliefs covering extensive areas in the neighboring Galerius Arch. End today’s visits with the Hagia Sophia, an approximate copy of the one in Constantinople, which displays architecture typical of the Byzantine middle period. The mosaic in the dome represents the Ascension of Jesus Christ, ringed by the figures of the Twelve Apostles, the Virgin Mary and two angels. Dinner is independent today, giving you an opportunity for further exploration or simply relaxing or shopping in this beautiful ancient city. (BB)


Day 12: Thessaloniki – Kalava – Philippi

Today’s trip takes you to Philippi, the point from which Christianity was brought to Europe. First, however, stop in Kalava, the biblical Neapolis, where St. Paul, Timothy and Silas first landed on European soil, and Luke, the Evangelist, came from Troas. See the Roman Aqueduct and the ruins of the Acropolis in this beautifully located city. Continue to Philippi, where St. Paul preached and delivered his first sermon in Europe, sowing the seeds of Christianity. A tour of the Roman Forum, completely excavated, will take you to a rocky ledge above the town’s main road where the prison where St. Paul and Silas were thrown can be seen, and where St. Paul baptized Lydia, the first European convert. Kneel by the baptismal site where Lydia surrendered her life to Christ. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate your successful prilgrimage. Overnight in Philippi. (BB, FD)


Day 13: Departure for the U.S.A.

After breakfast, travel by private motor coach to the airport for your flight back home. (BB)

* (BB) Buffet Breakfast * (D) Dinner * (WD) Welcome Dinner * (FD) Farewell Dinner

This religious pilgrimage tour is designed to keep your spiritual cup filled for years to come. Let Catholic Heritage Tours take care of all the details for you. Call us today at (800) 290-3876 or contact us online! 


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