Oscar Wilde’s Gay Greece Tour - From Achilles to Alexander The Great and Beyond - Athens, Mycenae, Delphi, Epidauros, Santorini & Mykonos. Ancient Greece - birthplace of democracy, philosophy, history and theater. And also a society in which same-sex relations lay at the center of social and political life. The remains of ancient Greece fascinate us still today, and in its art and ruins we can trace the origins of Western culture and the beginnings of gay and lesbian history.
On this gay group tour we will return to our roots-both as heirs of the glorious tradition that is Western civilization, and as gay men and women who recognize ourselves in the Greek past. And as always with Oscar Wilde Tours, we'll do it in style! With splendid hotels, superb dining in some of Greece's finest restaurants, and expert guides to lead us every step of the way. This is truly an enchanting journey that will create memories for a lifetime.
• Zeus and his boyfriend Ganymede
• Achilles and Patroclus
• The gay founders of the Athenian democracy
• The great all-gay regiment of Classical Greece
• Alexander the Great
• Hadrian and his beloved Antinous
• Nude athletics
• Plus, spend 2 days each on both of the most beautiful Greek islands!
Oscar Wilde’s Gay Italy Tour - from Caesar to Michelangelo and beyond. The splendor of ancient Rome…the glory of the Renaissance…the magnificence of the Baroque—Italy is the artistic treasure house of Western civilization. But there is a side to Italy’s story that most people aren’t aware of: gay Italy. From the Caesars to Michelangelo to Visconti and Pasolini, Italy is a storehouse of gay history—and many of its artistic treasures celebrate same-sex love.
Day 1 -
After time to rest following your flight, Professor Lear takes you on a walk through the center of Athens. We get our first glimpse of the Acropolis, with its glorious temples and dramatic setting-as well as of the Agora below.
Gay history is all around us: we see the llissos-the river where Socrates discourses on male-male love in Plato's dialogues; the remains of the vast temple built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian (the first great fan of Greek homosexuality); the statue of Lord Byron, the bisexual English rake whose heroic death dramatized the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire; and several other sights that underscore the gay theme that runs through ancient Greek history.
After a fascinating lecture on same-sex love in ancient Greece, it's time to eat! We celebrate the beginning of our tour with a delicious meal of traditional Greek food, at a roof-top restaurant with a splendid view on the illuminated Acropolis.
Day 2 -
Today we spend the morning exploring the Acropolis with our archaeologist guide: first the hilltop itself and then the excellent new museum at its base.
After a lovely lunch in the museum’s neighborhood, we cross Athens to visit the National Archaeological Museum, with the world’s greatest collection of ancient Greek sculpture. Our visit focuses on the amazing history of the male nude in ancient Greek art, plus a number of other fascinating artifacts that include Greek vases (Professor Lear’s specialty).
This evening is free for your own explorations of our hotel’s neighborhood-the Plaka, the heart of historic Athens.
Day 3 -
Today we take a trip out of Athens to explore the fascinating sights of the northern Peloponnese, just across the Corinthian Gulf.
Our first stop is at Nemea, the site of one of the ancient Greek world’s four great athletic competitions. Less well known than Olympia, Nemea is of special interest to us for the astonishing homoerotic graffiti from 2500 years ago preserved on its walls.
After lunch we visit the mysterious ruins of Mycenae, center of the world of the Iliad-where we will discuss the fascinating relationship of the hero Achilles and his friend (and possibly lover) Patroclus.
Finally, we visit the world’s best-preserved ancient theater, in nearby Epidauros, before returning to Athens for a free evening.
Day 4 -
This morning, we take a short trip out to the Athenian shore and the iconic temple of Neptune on the coastal headlands at Sounio—where we can look for Lord Byron’s graffito signature!
We cross Athens to visit the National Archaeological Museum, with the world’s greatest collection of ancient Greek sculpture. Our visit focuses on the amazing history of the male nude in ancient Greek art, plus a number of other fascinating artifacts that include Greek vases (Professor Lear’s specialty).
This afternoon is free, for shopping, more archaeological touring, or perhaps the National Archaeological Museum, with the world’s greatest collection of ancient Greek sculpture (Professor Lear will provide a guide to the history of the male nude in ancient Greek art, plus a number of other fascinating artifacts).
In the evening we offer an optional lesson in traditional Greek cooking with a prominent local chef, where we will enjoy the results of our cooking.
Day 5 -
Today we make a second day excursion, to visit another one of Greece’s most famous sites, the vast temple complex of Delphi. Here the ancients came to consult the oracles of Apollo, which they received from the ravings of a drugged priestess.
We take a thorough look at the vast site and the museum, and pay special attention to the cult statue of the divine Antinous, the emperor Hadrian’s deified lover-and pagan competitor for Jesus Christ! Statues of Antinous have been found throughout the Greco-Roman world, but as we will see, the statue in Delphi seems to have been worshipped with special zeal.
Lunch is included en route. On our way back to Athens, we stop at a rarely visited site that is rich in gay history: the lion monument of Chaironeia. Built to commemorate the Sacred Band, the crack regiment of later classical Greece, the monument honors a warrior unit composed exclusively of lover/beloved couples. We return to Athens for a final free evening.
Days 6 & 7 -
The next phase of our trip takes us to one of the world’s great beauty spots: the Greek islands. And we visit the two most beautiful of them, Santorini and Mykonos. We take an early morning ferry across the Aegean for lovely views of the Cycladic islands, landing in Santorini before lunch.
Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, forever shaping its rugged landscape. The whitewashed, cubiform houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). They overlook the sea, small islands to the west and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
We spend two days exploring this ravishing island, curved around the bay created in prehistoric times by a sunken volcanic caldera. We visit both of its fascinating ancient sites: Akrotiri, the Minoan city that may have inspired the Atlantis legend and ancient Thera, a Spartan settlement high up in the hills whose graffiti may provide the missing link explaining ancient Greece’s gay culture. We also spend some time taking in the island’s charming “modern” villages and beaches, especially Oia, the sparkling white village famous for its sunsets over the caldera and the donkeys that form its traditional transport system. Lunch will be included on both days, as we visit the island; evenings will be free for relaxed dinners.
Day 8 -
On our third island day, a short boat ride takes us to Mykonos, a beacon of gay freedom for the last 40 years. At lunchtime, we land in Mykonos, with its whitewashed village, turquoise sea, and famous gay beach-and-nightlife-where we will spend the next three days enjoying everything the island has to offer.
We have lunch close to the harbor and visit the village this afternoon, with the folklore museum and the windmills that are the town's most famous landmarks.
Your evening is free to enjoy the twisting alleys of Mykonos and its intense nightlife.
Day 9 -
In the morning, we take the boat to visit the magnificent ruins on the nearby island of Delos the best-preserved ancient Greek town-with the remains of grand houses and temples (including the famous alley of phallus statues at the temple of Bacchus). Delos was home to the Delian League, the military alliance led by Athens after the Persian Wars, and housed its famous treasury.
The afternoon are free to enjoy the town of Mykonos, with its many churches, art galleries, and cafes.
We all gather this evening for a seafood dinner to say farewell to our new friends and to Greece and its fascinating gay history.
Day 10 -
Our tour ends with breakfast this morning, but let us know if we can help with your flight arrangements or further travel plans.
A free day on Mykonos. Those who want can come with Professor Lear to see the archaeological museum (with one of the most important male-male scenes in Greek vase-painting!) and from there to the most beautiful and gayest beach on the island-farther out than well-known beaches like Paradise and Super Paradise, which are now straight party beaches.
Sparkling white island villages, set in a turquoise sea; fascinating ruins of ancient temples perched on rugged hillsides. Who needs an extra reason to visit Greece? But gay people, we have one: Greece is also the greatest country of gay history, the place where gay love had a central role in the cultural flowering that laid the foundations of Western culture. This is where democracy was invented, along with philosophy, history, and the theater (both tragedy and comedy)—all products of a culture in which male-male love enjoyed the highest prestige. So come discover the roots of Pride on this eye-opening tour: enjoy the beauty, charm, and great art of one of the world’s most beautiful countries, while learning about the gay side of the glory that was Greece!
Our trip starts with Athens, center of Greek culture since the Classical period. We visit the famous temples of the Acropolis, but also less commonly visited sites, such as the Kerameikos, ancient Athens’ fascinating cemetery, and the city’s amazing art museums. We will learn about the great flowering of Classical Athenian culture—where Socrates conversed with Plato, and the first tragedies were performed—with a focus on the rich evidence for same-sex love, such as the story of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, the male couple whom the Athenians worshiped (and we mean worshiped) as the founders of their democracy.
Athens will also serve as our base for day excursions to the other major sights of mainland Greece. First we take a trip south to the Peloponnese, where we visit the startling Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, city of the Homeric epics, whose story of Achilles and Patroclus is a touchstone of gay history; Nemea, where we see the remains of one of the four great stadia of ancient Greece; and Epidauros, with its amazingly well-preserved ancient Greek theater (famous today for its acoustics).
Next we take a trip to Delphi, to visit the shrine of the ancient world’s most important oracle, famous for the obscure sayings that brought tragedy to Oedipus and Croesus—and where, among other gods, the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s divinized lover Antinous was worshiped, with the most beautiful of all the many statues of him still on view today. And on the way, we visit the Lion of Chaironeia, monument to the Sacred Band, the most feared regiment in Classical Greece and a potent source of gay pride.
The next phase of our trip takes us to one of the world’s great beauty spots: the Greek islands. And we visit the two most beautiful of them, Santorini and Mykonos. After a morning boat trip out from Athens’ ancient port, the Piraeus, we land on Santorini, where we spend the next two days visiting many epochs of the island’s history: Akrotiri, the large prehistoric city that is probably the basis for the myth of Atlantis; ancient Thera, a well-preserved ancient Spartan city whose graffiti may explain the origins of Greek homosexuality; and Oia, the beautiful all-white village famed for its views of sunset over the island’s vast sunken caldera and for the donkeys that form its traditional transport system.
On our third island day, a short boat ride takes us to Mykonos, a beacon of gay freedom for the last 40 years, with its (even more?) sparkling white town, turquoise waters, famous beaches and gay nightlife. While there we also visit the nearby island of Delos, with its beautifully preserved ancient city— including a remarkable alley of ancient stone phalluses!
• 9 nights in Deluxe hotels in chic neighborhoods:
- 5 nights in Athens Electra Palace Hotel
- 2 nights in Santorini Aressana Spa Hotel & Suites
- 2 nights in Mykonos Myconian Ambassador Hotel
• Knowledgeable gay historian accompanying the group on included activities;
• All breakfasts;
• 6 lunches, and welcome and farewell dinners;
• There is also an optional lesson in traditional Greek cooking;
• Services of escort and local guides;
• Admission to all sights on the tour, and transportation to them (by taxi, minibus, and ferry).
• International airfare
• Transportation from your arrival point (e.g. airport, port) to your hotel
• Transportation from your hotel to your departure point (e.g. airport, port)
• Travel insurance
• Alcoholic beverages other than wine at welcome and farewell dinners and other times specifically mentioned in the itinerary
• Personal items, such as snacks, laundry, and telephone calls
• Optional activities
• Gratuities for bus drivers and local guides.
This tour starts in Athens and ends in Mykonos, Greece.
Breakfast is included every day in our tours, and on most days we include either lunch or dinner, according to the itinerary. On this tour we include all breakfasts, 6 lunches, and welcome and farewell dinners; there is also an optional lesson in traditional Greek cooking.
Singles are very welcome! Our groups generally consist of a mix of couples and singles, and there is generally a nice group ethos, so no-one will ever feel left out. Single rooms are available, with a supplement; we are also happy to try to find you a room-mate if you would prefer.
Professor Andrew Lear combines a love of travel with a passion for gay history, and he brings both of those attributes to Oscar Wilde Tours.
Professor Lear holds a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from UCLA. He has published a widely praised book on male-male love in ancient Greek art, as well as a number of important scholarly articles in this area. Indeed he is generally considered one of the foremost experts on same-sex love in the ancient world, but his interest in gay history extends to other key periods, such as fin-de-siècle England, Renaissance Italy, and medieval Japan—places and periods that we will explore at Oscar Wilde Tours.
Our hotels are chosen for excellent 4-5* quality, historic charm, and central location.
ATHENS – Electra Palace Hotel
Recently renovated, the Electra Palace is a gracious, older hotel that offers superb up-to-date amenities. It is on a quiet street, but 2 minutes walk from the heart of modern Athens’ central shopping district and under 10 to the Acropolis-a perfect location, not to speak of the breathtaking views from the rooftop!
SANTORINI – Aressana Spa Hotel & Suites
Perched on a cliff on the edge of the caldera, the Aressana manages to provide a quiet, relaxing retreat only steps away from the shops of Fira and one of the island’s most famous sunset views. Simple and elegant, this is the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of Santorini.
MYKONOS – Myconian Ambassador Hotel
The Myconian Ambassador Relais & Chateaux is just outside the town of Mykonos, on the way to Mykonos’ famous beaches—in fact, a 4 minute walk to the beach. Enjoy the stunning sea views, the lovely pool, the superb food.
We try to design our tours both for repeat and first-time visitors. We include a number of lesser-known sights, but also major sights—which we see from the perspective of their often ignored gay history.
Our tours focus on LGBT history and art and are designed for groups of LGBT people. They are however open to the LGBT-friendly as well.
All of the main sights in the tour are visited on foot, on walking or museum tours. There may be uneven ground, for instance in archaeological sites, and steps in some museums or historic houses. The amount of walking is not, however, excessive: we rarely exceed 2 miles a day. We travel from site to site by train or air conditioned bus (or at times, in major cities, in fleets of taxis or limousines).