8 days with Ponant Rating:
Day 1 – ISTANBUL
Embarkation from 16H00 to 17H00. Departure at 18H00.
Located on the Bosphorus, Istanbul is one of the most beautiful of all Turkish cities. Named Byzantium when founded by the Greeks, and then Constantinople under the Roman Empire, this city is steeped in history and, for this reason, is a listed UNESCO World Heritage site. On Sultanahmet hill, you’ll see the great Blue Mosque, the mysterious Hagia Sophia and the vast Topkapi palace and its countless mosaics. In the Beyazit district, you can admire the elegant covered passages of the Grand Bazaar. A little further away, the delicate aroma of loukoum and spices will draw your attention at the Egyptian Bazaar.
Day 2 – MOLYVOS
Lesbos, this mountainous island whose volcanic origins explain the presence of many warm springs, does not only attract visitors for its magnificent sandy beaches or the memory of the poet Sappho. For example, the preserved Byzantine fortress of Molyvos, the best preserved in the Western Mediterranean, offers sumptuous panoramas from its ramparts, while a petrified forest, the only one in the region, is a geological witness to the dense subtropical vegetation of giant conifers that covered the region 20 million years ago. Finally, the monasteries are active pilgrimage sites, particularly that of Taxiarchis (Archangel Michael), the patron saint of the island.
Day 3 – VOLOS
Volos, one of the biggest port cities in Greece, is located at the foot of Mount Pelion. According to mythology, Mount Pelion was a place of celebration for gods and heroes, and the home of the centaurs. The beauty of the place and the magical atmosphere that reigns here can indeed only have been inspired by the gods: the clear water that flows from a multitude of sources bathes the plane trees, apple trees, oaks, beech trees, gardenias, camellias, and hydrangeas that thrive in the fertile soil of Thessaly. Do not miss your chance to visit picturesque villages in the hills, such as Makrinitsa and Portaria. They have remained intact over the centuries and visitors will enjoy discovering mansions with an architecture that is unique in Greece, as well as typical fountains and churches.
Day 4 – HYDRA
This unusual gem belonging to the Saronic islands is located to the east of the Peloponnese. There are no cars here. Named after the island, the harbour town is layered up the slopes of a mountainous bay. You may be surprised to see beautiful stone mansions. These are traditional here, as are the multi-coloured caïquesalong the quays. Further along the shore, within the walls of the “Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary” is a museum of Byzantine art. Collections from Athens National History Museum are exhibited in the elegant villa Koundouriotis.
Day 5 – RETHYMNO, CRETE
Between the Sea of Crete and Libya, appears the island of Crete with its unimaginable beauty. Discover Rethymnon, home of Zeus, king of the Gods. With a huge fine sandy beach to the east and a rocky coastline to the west, this small town enchants visitors with its natural beauty and its fascinating history. The cradle of the Cretan Renaissance, a town of letters and intellectuals, from its rich past it has retained Venetian buildings from the 16th century, which cohabit harmoniously with the many minarets, testimony of the Turkish presence. Do not fail to admire its old Venetian port as well as its historical district offering a maze of narrow streets, before you head to the famous site of Cnossos, birthplace of the Minotaur.
Day 6 – RHODES
With its particularly agreeable climate, the island of Rhodes invites you to walk its pathways and discover its immaculate villages and sumptuous medieval city, a UNESCO World Heritage site. At the centre of the island the mountains are covered in forest and on the western slopes we find vineyards and crops. Rhodes also owes much of its charm and its character to the Knights of St John who reigned over the island from 1310 to 1522 and built impressive defensive walls punctuated with majestic gateways. Do not miss this delightful island with its peaceful beaches, its large walkways and its lively nightlife, perpetuating the myth of the famous Colossus, the legendary statue that is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Day 7 – NAFPLION
The engaging town of Nafplion is staggered up green hillsides of the Argolic Gulf, to the east of the Peloponnese. Don’t be surprised by its extremely varied cultural heritage. For instance, you’ll see the ancient agora on the plateau of Akronafplia, Italianate arcades in Syntagma square as well as the baroque fortress of Palamidi on a hillside of the same name. At the top of the hill, views of the gulf and the surrounding mountains are simply awesome. If you want to chill out by the water’s edge, walk along the Arvanitia promenade to a beautiful creek in the shade of cedars and cypresses.
Day 8 – ATHENS
Disembarkation at 06H00.
The Greek capital city is located on the edge of the Saronic gulf, in the east of the country. It bears a plural name in reference to the first villages that surround the Acropolis. You will be enchanted by the rocky plateau presided by its monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage. In the city below, you can visit some of the liveliest districts in Athens: Plaka, with its maze of colourful streets, and where, in the evenings the drifting aroma of moussaka and garlic prawns will tickle your taste buds. Don’t miss anything of the city’s cultural past. Pay a visit to the National Archaeological museum, or the Cycladic Art Museum.
All This Included
From Turkey to Greece, PONANT proposes an exceptional itinerary all around the Aegean Sea. During 8 days, Le Bougainville will take you to places brimming with history, to discover sites that are among the most beautiful in Greece.
From Istanbul, you will sail to Molyvos, on the north cost of the island of Lesbos. You will fall under the charm of this village, whose rich heritage dates back to the Ottoman Empire, with its paved narrow streets.
The cruise will then enable you to discover Hydra, a small island of old-worldly charm where motorised traffic is banned.
Further south, you will also discover Greece’s largest island, Crete. It is home to many archaeological remains, such as the Palace of King Minos, in Knossos, where the Minotaur was imprisoned in the famous labyrinth.
Le Bougainville will then take you to Rhodes, whose old medieval town, built by the Knights of St John, is surrounded by ramparts. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands and, like Alexandria, it was once home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: its famous Colossus.
We will then head back to the coast, to the charming town of Nafplion, the departure point for visiting the famous Epidaurus Theatre and the Mycenae site, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Cruising: Standard cabin onboard Le Bougainville
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.