The seaside Greek town of Katakolon is the second busiest port in Greece, most famous for Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Katakolon perches on a headland, gazing over the sparkling Ionian Sea. This is authentic Greece at its best: the town is filled with quaint tavernas, shops and cafes, and colourful boats bob in the harbour. It’s also the closest port to Ancient Olympia, making Katakolon Greek Island cruises the postcard perfect opportunity to discover Greece’s fascinating history.
The Olympia UNESCO World Heritage Site is well worth the 40 minute drive from the coast. Here the ancient Greeks flocked every four years for more than a millennium to celebrate the sacred games dedicated to Zeus. Visit the ruins of the Sanctuary, with its athletic quadrangles, stadium, temples and treasures; then browse in the modern Archaeological Museum, which holds precious archaic classical and Roman sculptures, including the famous Nike Winged Victory.
To get the most out of your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage-listed attraction, pay a visit to the archaeological museum which will help you understand when the buildings were built, and to visualise the ones which no longer stand. Then, take a walk among the shady ruins and discover the Doric Temple of Zeus, a 2nd century BC gymnasium and the impressive stadium. Back in Katakolon, you can rest tired feet by enjoying an evening at a winery and vineyard.
Mykonos is a picture perfect island filled with whitewashed steps and square houses, with attractive blue doors. The number of cashed-up tourists and A-listers visiting the island is booming, and hip new hotels, beach bars and restaurants are mushrooming. When you get hungry, make a stop in Little Venice – a picturesque portion of the old port filled with restaurants and terraces for some alfresco dining.
Mykonos Greek Island cruises provide the perfect opportunity to kick back and relax, whether you laze on the sands of Ftelia Beach or spend the afternoon seeking shade in the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos. Take a walk along the waterfront, where fishing boats cast their reflections upon the bright blue waters, or stroll around the narrow marble-clad streets lined with quirky shops.
It is also the perfect jumping-off point for the archaeological site of the nearby island of Delos, said to be the birthplace of Apollo. Here, you’ll discover Doric temples, houses filled with preserved mosaics and the iconic Terrace of the Lions statues. On returning to Mykonos, take a break from the sizzling Greek sun by taking a dip in the sea at the Andreas Bekas beach. This secluded spot has crystal clear water that makes it perfect for swimming or even snorkelling.
Rhodes is an island in the Aegean Sea, and is one of the most beautiful Greek Islands in the Dodecanese Islands, with glittering beachfront resorts with significant ancient ruins and lush landscapes undulating in the distance.
On our Rhodes cruises, make your first stop the idyllic Old Town and its medieval Street of the Knights. Dating back to the 14th-century, it was once home to the knights who ruled over the island. It’s part of the Knight’s Quarter, which is filled with formidable fortresses designed to protect against invaders. Once you’ve taken in some history and culture of the island, soak up the sun on Tsambika Beach, with its crystal clear water that makes it perfect for snorkelling.
Another option is to take a boat out to Prasonisi – during low tide, it becomes connected to Rhodes by a thin peninsula. Quiet and secluded, it’s the ideal place to kick back and enjoy some ‘you time’. Before leaving Rhodes, pay a visit to the Acropolis of Rhodes, which has been partially reconstructed and features a theatre, stadium and the Temple of Apollo. Elsewhere on the island is the Lindos Acropolis, the ruins of which sit atop a rugged cliff with spectacular views.
Athens & Piraeus
The unofficial ancient capital of the world, Athens include many pillars of Western history, from the ancient Acropolis and Temple of Olympian Zeus to the vast treasures of the 19th century National Archaeological Museum. The 2004 Olympic Games sparked the transformation of Central Athens and brought enhancements to transportation and infrastructure that have improved Greece's capital.
Soaring mountains, ancient ruins, unspoilt green spaces and Byzantine churches; Athens is a beguiling destination of beauty, mythology, and history. Modern life plays out amid, around and in ancient landmarks, in this city that has had a human presence since some somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.
Ten kilometres southwest of central Athens, Piraeus is dazzling in its scale, its seemingly endless quays filled with ferries, ships, and hydrofoils. It's the biggest port in the Mediterranean (with more than 20 million passengers passing through annually), the hub of the Aegean ferry network, the centre of Greece’s maritime trade and the base for its large merchant navy. While technically its own city, it melts into the Athens sprawl, with close to half a million people living in the greater area.
Also known as Hania, Chania is a city on the north coast of Crete. Its most distinctive feature is its Venetian Harbour, dating back to the 14th-century. Here, you’ll find a lovingly restored lighthouse and a vibrant tangle of eateries, bars, and cafes.
Bring your camera along on one of our Chania cruises to capture the hot sun reflecting off pastel buildings, traditional tavernas and Turkish-inspired mosques. The centre of town is a shopper’s paradise, with an entire street named Skridlof, dedicated to fine leather goods. Once you’ve had your fix of retail therapy, it’s time to soak up a little of Chania’s history.
The Hania Archaeological Museum is a good place to start, as it is in a restored 16th-century Venetian church. Look out for ancient Roman floor mosaics, as well as Hellenistic jewellery and marble sculptures. Stretch your legs at the Firkas Fortress, which sits at the west end of Chania’s harbour. It was originally built to protect the city from Turkish invasion, and today, a section of it houses the fascinating Maritime Museum of Crete, which delves into the island’s naval history. Attempt to reach the top for spectacular views across the harbour, particularly at sunset.
Frequently mentioned in Greek mythology, Corfu is a bustling, elegant town that combines the ambience of medieval and modern. Venture across cypress-studded hills to find higgledy-piggledy villages in the fertile interior, and sandy coves lapped by cobalt-blue waters.
Located just off Greece’s northwest coast, Corfu shares much of the cuisine and culture of the mainland, with some British, French and Venetian influences mixed in. On one of our Corfu cruises, you can pick your own adventure: wanting to soak up the sun? Head to one of the island’s beaches, such as Longás. Surrounded by red rock cliffs and with views out to the Diapóndia islets, it’s the perfect spot to catch the sunset.
Elsewhere on the island, you’ll find diverse architecture to admire. The Palace of St Michael and St George in Corfu Town dates back to 1819 and is now the home to the immersive Corfu Museum of Asian Art. The Palaio Frourio is built in a Venetian style, and sits atop a headland to the east of Corfu Town. It’s enormous and sprawling, comprising a lighthouse, a bridge and a gatehouse which contains the Byzantine Collection of Corfu. A leisurely stroll up the hill and around the grounds is the perfect activity for a balmy early evening.
With its gorgeous hilltop villages, stunning sunsets, and volcanic beaches decorated with black, red or white sand, Santorini is one of the most beautiful destinations on earth. Take the winding coastal paths past fascinating rock formations through tiny villages, stopping at a restaurant to linger over the famous Greek cuisine.
The island’s intrigue reaches deep into the past, with the fascinating Minoan Bronze Age site of Akrotiri, which dates back to the fifth millennium BC and was excavated in 1967. And nestled deep in the volcanic rock, the gorgeous traditional Cyclades hilltop villages of Oia and Fira are other Greek gems worth visiting.
On one of our Santorini cruises, you’ll have plenty of time to explore both. Fira/Thera is the capital of the island and is home to a vast number of cultural gems, from Akrotiri – a Bronze Age settlement – to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. Oia is the place to go for sweeping panoramic views. It overlooks Santorini’s famous caldera and is also home to the Venetian Oia Castle.
If you’re a keen walker, you can lose yourself on walks in Santorini. Start at the white-sand Paralia Vlichada, which has a dramatic location between rugged cliffs. Perissa Beach features black volcanic sand, while Kamari Beach sits at the foot of Mesa Vouno Mountain. As the sun begins to set in a riot of orange, gold and pinks, head to one of Santorini’s many wineries. Sipping a crisp white wine on a balmy evening overlooking the caldera is the perfect way to round off your time in Santorini.