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Setting sail from Athens (Piraeus)
Athens is a city awash with historical and cultural significance. Towering over the city are the gleaming columns of the Parthenon, surely one of the most iconic sights in the whole of Europe. And yet Athens is much more than an open air museum; this is a dynamic, bustling metropolis, and a place where history is still very much unfolding. For all its faults, the Greek capital possesses an energy and an optimism that are manifest in everything from the burgeoning art scene to the restaurants and bars that continue to pop up on a regular basis.
Obviously don’t miss the Acropolis, nor the new adjacent museum, where space has pointedly been left for the frieze we call the Elgin Marbles – it is really excellent. Then take time to stroll on the hills and slopes around the outcrop.
Delos was venerated by the Ancient Greeks as the birthplace of the gods Apollo and Artemis, and the sprawling ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Delos sits at the centre of the Cyclades group, which take their name from the fact that they encircle the sacred island.
Greece: Delphi (Itea)
The port of Itea, situated on the Greek mainland to the west of Athens, is the gateway to the magnificent ruins of Delphi. The spectacular cliffside setting at the foot of Mount Parnassos adds to the drama of this holiest of Ancient Greek sites, home to a famous oracle in antiquity.
The pretty town of Parga sits on the Ionian coast of northwest Greece, on a sandy bay between two rocky outcrops. The pastel-coloured houses and lively seafront tavernas make this a pleasant place to spend some time, and points of historical interest include the hilltop Venetian castle.
Otranto sits at the end of the ‘heel’ of Italy, and has borne the brunt of many invasions and attacks over the years, most notably by the Turks in 1480. If you only have a day here we'd recommend visiting nearby Lecce, a true baroque masterpiece that has been described as the ‘Florence of the South’.
Kotor sits at the head of a beautiful, fjord-like bay, hemmed in by glowering mountains. The compact, walled old town is Montenegro’s star attraction, a warren of little alleyways and shady squares that is often described as a ‘mini Dubrovnik’.
We never fail to be moved when we see the terracotta roofs and honey-golden walls of Dubrovnik, and a stroll around the perfectly preserved old town is a highlight of any visit to the Dalmatian coast. Make sure you take the time to walk around the walls and soak up the marvellous sea views.
Croatia’s second city enjoys a dramatic setting, hugging a sweeping bay against a backdrop of sheer grey mountains. Split's labyrinthine old town is contained within the remarkable Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and spills out onto the buzzing seafront Riva promenade.
Beyond Ancona’s gritty and somewhat unappealing port you’ll find a surprisingly attractive old town, with impressive Roman ruins and Renaissance palazzi. Ancona is also the gateway to Le Marche and the charming UNESCO-listed town of Urbino, birthplace of the artist Raphael.
Ravenna is a must-visit for art and history lovers, with an impressive array of UNESCO-listed historic buildings decorated with beautiful Byzantine mosaics. The city is also home to Dante’s tomb, and you’re within easy reach of Bologna, Ferrara and San Marino.
Arriving in Venice
Venice is a city like no other, a marble maze of turquoise canals criss-crossed by beautiful bridges, overflowing with palaces, churches and charming little piazzas. No matter how many times you've seen it in photographs, that first glimpse of the Grand Canal will simply take your breath away; it hardly seems credible that such an eye-popping scene could exist outside of a Canaletto painting. Of course Venice is a city that draws big crowds, especially in summer, but don't let this put you off; even the busiest areas are never more than a few steps from a quiet courtyard or a secluded square.
The long, long queues for St Marks might put you off, but just book online in advance for timed entrance and bypass the exhausted tourists.
Your home from home
Sleek and stylish, Le Boréal, Le Soléal, L'Austral and Le Lyrial are wonderful small ships that blend luxury and intimacy with a discreet elegance and tasteful décor.
What we love
These chic sisters are amongst the most stylish ships at sea, with muted natural tones, minimalist interiors and playful splashes of colour. The accommodation is flexible, with the option to combine staterooms and create expansive suites, while the restaurants deliver the sort of outstanding gastronomic experience that you would expect from a French flag cruise line.
|Style||Refined with a wonderful mix of a modern super yacht and nautical tradition, all with a French flair.|
Tailor-make your trip
Extend your stay in Athens
At Mundy, we have long been hunting for the perfect Athenian hotel - our favourite so far is the Electra Palace in Plaka.
Excursions from Athens
Delphi is an absolute must – you’ll need a full day though, it’s quite a drive.
Our favourite hotel in Venice
The Metropole is an old favourite for its quieter location and lovely lagoon views.
See more of the Veneto
If you’ve time, take the train to Padova and visit the Scrovegni Chapel.