With 3,000 years of history, you can’t turn around in Athens without encountering the past. The Acropolis, a UNESCO site, the Plaka, and the Acropolis Museum are must-sees. But leave time if you can to climb Pnyx Hill for photos of the Parthenon at sunset, to buy your own set of Greek komboloi (worry beads), and to explore the metro stations that serve as mini-museums for the relics that are constantly being unearthed.
8:00 AM TO 5:00 PM
This Gibraltar-like town tied to the mainland by a single thread of causeway holds treasures that are old even by Mediterranean standards, with town walls and several churches dating to the 12th century. Climb to the upper town for an up-close look at the castle and Agia Sophia, a Byzantine church. Wander the lanes of the lower town lined with Venetian mansions, many of which have been lovingly restored. Savor the sun on a smooth pebble beach.
8:00 AM TO 4:00 PM
This exuberant little port is the very essence of all that we celebrate as Greek. Cheerful pastel houses are littered among intriguing whitewashed lanes and staircases. Playful sculptures welcome you to the harbor’s cheerful shops, coffee houses, and waterfront cafés. This is a perfect place to enjoy a cup of rich coffee or a glass of ouzo while you watch the world go by. To explore further, consider an excursion to the Dyros Caves, often cited as the most beautiful in the world.
8:00 AM TO 2:00 PM
day 5 Messina (Taormina), Italy
The cobblestone streets of Messina, Sicily, are the perfect launching point for an optional visit to nearby Taormina. Stroll along flower-filled streets in search of a delightful lunch or an artist’s palette of colorful gelati. The ancient Greek Theater is an ideal place to sit back and admire shimmering waters below and Mount Etna, languidly smoking in the distance.
10:00 AM TO 11:59 PM
UNESCO World Heritage Sites abound in Sorrento. Optional tours will take you to the archaeological areas of Pompeii and Torre Annunziata, or the 4th century B.C. city of Herculaneum. Perhaps your choice will be a boat ride to Positano, the legendary home of the Sirens. Perched on a terrace on the spectacular Amalfi Coast, Sorrento offers exceptional views of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius.
Welcome to the island where real Romans go to vacation. Cars are scarce here and with only one main street and a casual, laid-back atmosphere that will have you relaxing in no time. There is little shopping available here and simplicity of this island adds to its charm. Check out the botanical garden or the blue grottoes. Take the bus around the entire island, find a beach to hang out at or sit with the locals and watch the fishing boats come and go.
In this enchanting city the past and present intersect in perfect harmony. Casually intermingled among ancient ruins and majestic cathedrals are the trappings of a modern metropolis: Skyscrapers, Internet cafes, boutiques selling designer footwear. But of course what you seek first in the heart of Rome is its breathtaking history. A good place to begin is the Vatican, with its Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Works by Bernini, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Raphael are just a few of those on display, any one of which is worth hours of contemplation. Then the ancient ruins—Colosseum, Forum, Circus Maximus. And of course the Trevi Fountain for the obligatory coins promising your return to the Eternal City.
*Rates shown are per person, based on double occupancy, reflect all discounts and include non-discountable amounts. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses are additional.