The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is a city where old meets new and arts and culture shine, making it one of the must-see cities in the world. Fascinating sights abound whether you are exploring the narrow winding streets of the Barri Gothic, strolling on the beautiful boulevard known as La Rambla, admiring the waterfront and beaches, or trying to understand the fanciful modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi – including his La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – where construction has been ongoing since 1882. A fun pastime in Barcelona is sampling tapas (a variety of small dishes). Dine like a local, accompanying your meal with Spanish cava (champagne). The colorful La Boqueria food market, with its small restaurants, is a foodie must-do stop. In addition to his famous multi-spired cathedral, where Gaudi himself is buried in a crypt, check out Gaudi’s Casa Mila on the Passeig de Gracia – the white stone façade looks to some like a skeleton, and inside not a single wall is straight. Passeig de Gracia is also a prime place to shop for Spanish designer goods.
9:00 AM TO 5:00 PM
Palma de Mallorca
day 2 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Mallorca is steep, green, and fringed with enticing coves and more than 200 lush beaches. But all that natural beauty is just the beginning. Stroll along the tree-shaded Paseo de Born in search of tapas. Shop for a Siurell; a traditional red, green, and white clay whistle dating back to the time of the Moors. Watch the street performers on the piazza around the church, or cross the island to beautiful Sóller. Not to be missed is the cultural landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8:00 AM TO 10:00 PM
What an entrance you will make as you cruise into one of the deepest natural harbors in the world. Picturesque Mahon is home to lovely white-sand beaches and delightful architecture, a gin distillery, and a dairy plant where delicious white cheese is made.
The popular tourist spot of Calvi with its crescent-shaped bay and gorgeous beaches, is distinguished by a large medieval citadel that overlooks the marina. Built between the 13th to the 16th centuries, it is basically an entire small town enclosed by fortified walls but offering panoramic views of the harbor and the Corsican coast. Another must-see is the “Big Pink Church,” Orthodox-style L’Eglise Santa Maria and make time to take a walk along the Quai Landry esplanade, lined with interesting restaurants.
8:00 AM TO 10:00 PM
day 6 Bastia, Corsica, France
As the principal port of Corsica, Bastia has vibrant historical neighborhoods with narrow streets and alleys between ancient shuttered buildings of the 18th century. One of the main squares is the Place du Marche, home of a morning market and the impressive 16th century Saint-Jean-Baptiste church. On the other side of the harbor sits the substantial citadel, the beautiful gardens of Jardin Romieu and the once very-elegant houses of the Terra Nova district.
7:00 AM TO 5:00 PM
day 7 Portoferraio, Italy
The tranquil island of Elba is an oasis of pine-scented forests and miles of sandy beaches, vineyards, and delightful fishing villages. The island was not quite as appealing to French emperor Napoleon, who was exiled on Elba for nine months beginning in May 1814, though he did live in two mini-palaces that are both open today for visitors. One is a hillside villa in Portoferraio, the other a summer home in the countryside called Villa San Martino, where the décor includes an Egyptian room with a ceiling painted in the signs of the Zodiac. Elba is one of seven islands in the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Hikers can enjoy trails up mountains and through pine-scented forests. Biking from Portoferraio along the north of the island brings breathtaking views of lush vegetation and the Ligurian Sea.
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.
7:00 AM TO 10:00 PM
On your Italy cruise you’ll visit the small and pretty city of Sorrento. It’s a delightful place to linger, catching views of the Bay of Naples; exploring the city’s squares; and sitting at a sidewalk café, sampling the local cuisine while watching the world go by. Don’t forget to taste the locally produced limoncello (lemon liquor) – a gourmet tour provides further insight into limoncello and olive oil production.
From Sorrento, you may also explore more of the gorgeous Amalfi Coast including Positano; the famous fishing village rises from the blue sea uphill in steep steps, with its square, white Moorish-style houses creating a dream-like scene. Or dive into ancient history at the remarkable ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the year 79, the city of 20,000 was buried by ash. Much appears as it was, frozen in time.
8:00 AM TO 5:00 PM
The town of Amalfi lies at the mouth of a deep ravine surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. As part of the Amalfi Coast, it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an important tourist destination. The whole region is famed for its lemons, which are about double the size of other lemons, and the production of the limoncello liqueur. An optional tour can take you to the UNESCO archaeological areas of Pompeii, Positano and Ravello.
12:00 PM TO 5:00 PM
day 12 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.
11:00 AM TO 10:00 PM
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. Or go exploring on an optional tour of Mystras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8:00 AM TO 5:00 PM
day 15 Monemvasia, Greece
This medieval castle town, on an island off the eastern tip of the Peloponnese, is impressively carved into the slopes of a large rocky plateau that carries the nickname “Gibraltar of the East.” A popular vacation destination for wealthy Greeks, Monemvasia can’t be seen from the mainland. Most visitors arrive on a short causeway, and walk through one massive Venetian gate (cars are not allowed), or via a short shuttle. Most ships are too large to call here. The isolation lends a fairytale quality. Wandering the narrow cobblestone lanes past restored, red-roofed medieval stone houses and dozens of Byzantine churches, you might imagine you are in another time. The 13th century Church of the Agia Sophia, which tops the cliffs, offers views of the town and sea. In the lower town, ruins include a Muslim Mosque, a reminder that the town once was occupied by the Ottomans – as well as the Byzantines, Crusaders and Venetians. Monemvasia is known for its excellent rooftop restaurants.
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.
*Rates shown are per person, based on double occupancy, reflect all discounts and include non-discountable amounts. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses are additional.