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Setting sail from Istanbul
This is one of those destinations that really does live up to the hype! Istanbul is the place where East meets West, where Asia Minor reaches out across the Bosphorus and almost touches Europe. In its earlier incarnation as Constantinople, the city was the eastern bastion of the Byzantine Empire, holding out for centuries before finally capitulating to the Ottomans in 1453, and it remains a bristling, bustling cultural melting pot, the skyline dotted with magnificent minarets and domes.
Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, the Grand Bazaar, the Golden Horn, the Suleiman Mosque, the spice market, the shopping, the museums and galleries and… so much more!
The charming Puglian town of Gallipoli lies close to the bottom of Italy’s ‘heel’, with the modern town on the mainland connected by bridge to the walled old town, which sits just offshore on its own island. The cobbled streets are a delight to explore, full of beautiful baroque palazzi and enticing seafood restaurants.
The Turkish port of Kusadasi is the gateway to Ephesus, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in the Eastern Mediterranean. This was the Roman capital of Asia Minor, and the remains constitute the most complete classical city in Europe.
Glamorous Mykonos is the most popular of the Cyclades islands, well known as a haunt of the rich and the famous. It’s also the gateway to the nearby island of Delos, home to one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.
The volcanic island of Santorini (known officially as Thira) is one of the most spectacularly beautiful in the Mediterranean. The pretty village of Oia, with its whitewashed houses and windmills tumbling down the hillside, is particularly photogenic.
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.
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.
Hvar is the most popular of Croatia’s islands, a ruggedly beautiful place carpeted with lavender fields and dotted with little villages. The island’s capital, Hvar Town, is a charming collection of marble streets arranged around a harbour, and it gets very busy in the summer months.
One of the Dalmatian coast’s lesser known cities, Šibenik is notable for its compact medieval centre, UNESCO-listed Gothic-Renaissance cathedral and crumbling fortresses. The nearby islands of Zlarin and Prvić also make for an enjoyable day trip.
Rovinj is undoubtedly the highlight of the Istrian coast, a picturesque medieval fishing port with a strong Italian influence discernible in everything from the elegant architecture to the bilingual street signs. A day trip to one of the nearby islands also makes for an enjoyable excursion.
Pretty little Piran grew rich thanks to the salt trade, and thrived under both the Venetian Republic and the Austro-Hungarian empire. The well-preserved old town is the highlight of Slovenia’s short stretch of coastline, set on a small peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic.
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
Just 56 fortunate couples enjoy a completely relaxed al fresco holiday experience and a quirky individual style of service that is way beyond the norm.
What we love
This has to be one of our favourite travel experiences. We love the al fresco feel, dining outside for all meals if you wish, and even spending the night sleeping under the stars on the Balinese dream beds. The totally laid back style means SeaDream is the ultimate chill.
|95 International Staff
|A place where you are nurtured, indulged and cared for, with no rules and no schedule. Lots of action if that's what you want, or nothing at all if you prefer.
Tailor-make your trip
Our recommended hotel in Istanbul
We love the intimate Four Seasons at Sultanahmet, but – top Mundy tip! - it is so small that it’s often fully booked, so don’t hang about.
See more of Turkey
Take a few extra days and travel to Cappadocia for the extraordinary Star Wars scenery, rock caves and churches.
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.