Whitewashed buildings, deep blue waters, dramatic cliffs, ancient wonders and modern attractions: these are some of the highlights of a cruise of the Greek Isles.
The mainland of Greece lies at the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula and includes the city of Athens and its port, Piraeus. If your cruise begins or ends in Athens, you may want to spend an extra day or two there, visiting spectacular historical sites like the Parthenon and the Acropolis.
Sprinkled in the waters around the Greek mainland (which include the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas) are thousands of islands, as many as 6,000 by some counts. Cruise ships most often call on the islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete, although some luxury lines and their small to mid-size ships visit other, less-traveled islands, too.
You’ll want to be on deck when your ship reaches Santorini. You’ll sail right into the caldera of an ancient volcano, a stunning sight. Santorini is one of the most visually dramatic of the Greek Isles, with multi-hued cliffs nearly 1,000 feet high, beaches of black volcanic stone, and pastel-tinted houses. Take the funicular railway (or a donkey) up the cliff to the town of Fira, where charming cafes overlook the sparkling water below.
While Santorini is known for rugged beauty, Mykonos is famous for its golden-sand beaches and a carefree lifestyle. The island first became a retreat for the wealthy during the 1930s; by the 1960s, it was an exclusive playground for celebrities; today, it welcomes cruise ship guests, too. Visit Paradise Beach to party, or quiet Angrari Beach to relax; or, tour romantic Little Venice or the island’s Venetian-built windmills.
When you dock in Crete, you may be surprised by how big and modern the capital city of Heraklion is. Take a closer look, and you’ll see marvelous antiquities, too: a fort built in 1540 by occupying Venetians sits right next to the harbor. You can tour the nearby Knossos Palace, which dates back to the Bronze Age: this is where the Minotaur supposedly lived in an underground maze. Or, browse the shops and stalls of Market Street, then rest in Fountain Square, watched over by the fountain’s stone lions.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of the things you can see and experience on a Greek Isles cruise. Many itineraries call on ports in Turkey and Italy, too. Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, for more information about the Greek Isles.
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