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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.
Once you have seen the essentials, explore further afield and you will immediately escape the tourist crowds. Visit Kerameikos cemetery, for example, or Mount Lycabettus.
Hydra is unique amongst the Greek islands, blissfully free of motorised traffic; transport here is by donkey, water taxi or on foot. The island has attracted many artists, musicians and actors over the years, but retains a rustic and tranquil atmosphere.
Nafplion is one of the most beautiful cities on the Greek mainland, situated on the Argolic Gulf overlooked by the imposing Palamidi Fortress. The narrow streets of the old town are home to a beguiling mix of Venetian, Turkish and Greek architecture, while just offshore is the little island castle of Bourtzi.
The rocky island of Folegandros, named after the son of King Minos, is well off the usual tourist trail thanks to its diminutive size and lack of an airport. The clifftop Chora is one of the most charming villages in the Cyclades, and this is a great place to enjoy an authentic taste of Greek island life.
The mountainous island of Amorgos is one of the lesser known gems of the Cyclades group, with impressive scenery, superb hiking trails and some fascinating historic buildings. Most spectacular of all is the bright white Hozoviotissis monastery, which hugs a cliffside high above the crashing waves.
Symi was occupied by Italy during the 20th century, a legacy still visible in the neoclassical architecture of the pretty harbour at Gialos. This is a sleepy island that only smaller cruise ships can reach, and the coastline is punctuated by beautiful blue coves and sandy beaches.
Saint John is said to have written the Book of Revelations in a cave on Patmos, and today the spot is marked by the hillside Monastery of the Apocalypse. As well as spirituality, the island is known for its beaches and upmarket vibe, with a scattering of stylish restaurants and bars.
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.
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.
Paros gleams with a classic Cycladic colour palette of whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches, and is famous for its ancient marble quarries, which provided the raw material for the Venus de Milo. The island is also home to some great restaurants, peaceful inland villages and lovely beaches.
Syros is one of the smallest of the Cyclades islands, though it’s also the administrative capital of the archipelago. Not many cruise ships call here, so you’ll find the beaches are much less crowded than other islands, and the main town, Ermoupoli, is home to a fascinating mix of architectural styles.
Little Sifnos is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Cyclades, an island of olive groves, whitewashed villages and dazzling blue bays. The lovely capital, Apollonia, is really a collection of villages, and the surrounding hills offer scenic walks aplenty. The island is also known for its ceramics, basket weaving and cookery.
Arriving in Athens (Piraeus)
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.
For once-in-a-lifetime tailor-made itineraries, Mundy Adventures specialises in expedition cruises to some of the most wonderful places on earth; places often only accessible by water.
Your home from home
Sleek and stylish, Ponant's wonderful Explorer yachts blend luxury and intimacy with a discreet elegance and tasteful décor.
What we love
Named after six of France's most famous explorers, Le Champlain, Le Lapérouse, Le Bougainville, Le Dumont d'Urville, Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier offer exciting and adventurous itineraries in the utmost comfort. Technologically advanced, with the latest in environmentally friendly hardware, the new ships embody Ponant's trademark élan and flair, with just 92 spacious rooms and suites, a stylish pool deck and an intimate, refined onboard ambience.
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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.