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Athens (Piraeus) to Lisbon

15 days with Silversea   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
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Day 1 Athens (Piraeus), Greece
It's no wonder that all roads lead to the fascinating and maddening metropolis of Athens. Lift your eyes 200 feet above the city to the Parthenon, its honey-color marble columns rising from a massive limestone base, and you behold architectural perfection that has not been surpassed in 2,500 years. But, today, this shrine of classical form dominates a 21st-century boomtown. To experience Athens—Athína in Greek—fully is to understand the essence of Greece: ancient monuments surviving in a sea of cement, startling beauty amid the squalor, tradition juxtaposed with modernity. Locals depend on humor and flexibility to deal with the chaos; you should do the same. The rewards are immense. Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. Read more
 
Day 2 Monemvasia (Laconia), Greece
Monemvasia boasts a varied and colorful history that can be traced to the 8th-century when Greeks fleeing the Slav invasion of Lakonia found refuge here. In its heyday it controlled sea travel between the Levant and European shores. The wall-encircled Lower Town extends along the slopes of a 985-foot-high crag that projects into the sea on the east side of the Peloponnese. For centuries an impressive stronghold, population dwindled as the inhabitants moved to the mainland. But with the beginning of a restoration program aimed to preserve Monemvasia's heritage, the Lower Town experienced a new lease on life, and people have begun to return. The Upper Town is situated on top of the Rock of Monemvasia. It is reached via a zigzagging, paved lane. An almost impregnable bastion in earlier days, it has been uninhabited for centuries, but still manages to preserve its magnificent appearance. Visitors today can explore the remains of the ancient citadel-castle and visit the church of Hagia Sofia. From the summit there is also a fantastic view of the surrounding area.
 
Day 3 Itea, Greece - Nafpaktos, Greece
Journey to the centre of the world, as you explore the ancient wonders of Delphi. The pretty orange dome of Itea's church beckons you ashore, as you prepare to journey onwards to the location of some of the world's most richly-woven mythology and history. Set on the slopes of the mighty Mount Parnassus, which looms high over the area’s vineyards, almond trees and olive groves, Delphi is a location that’s blessed with a dense tapestry of incredible heritage. Known as the naval of the world by the Ancient Greeks, mighty leaders would journey here to consult the famous oracle, before making decisions that would ripple across the world. Pilgrims visited the Oracle of Delphi for prophesies, which were said to be channelled directly from the god Apollo.
 
A past as deep as the ocean, Nafpaktos is the quintessence of Greece. Seeped in history since the 15th century, this ex-Venetian stronghold was more commonly known as Lepanto. Liberated in 1829 when Greece gained independence, Nafpaktos (meaning “boatyard”) is an ancient Greek name, which was revived in the 19th century. Historically the name goes as far back as the Doric period, as the Dorian first used the island to build rafts. Legend has it that Heraclidea built a fleet of ships in the harbor which were then used to invade the Peloponnese. Set on the mainland at the entrance to the Corinthian Gulf, Nafpaktos was initially chosen as a strategic point due to its high hills and fertile land. The Byzantine navy used it as a communication point and, amongst others, the Knights Hospitaller occupied it in 1378 before it was captured by the Venetians in 1407. Over 600 years later, today the town could be considered one of the oldest in Greece. Unsurprisingly for a town with such a rich past, its present is very much respectful of tradition. The city is picturesque, and it has kept its style, beauty and feel for centuries. Take a stroll in the pretty old town with its naval houses and mansions and be transported back by several centuries! The port, the smallest in the Mediterranean, is a relic from the city’s Venetian past, while the bougainvillea that clings to the whitewashed walls, cobbled streets and shady squares could be from a movie set. At the time of writing – 2019 – Nafpaktos had still not fallen prey to mass tourism like many other of its neighbouring islands. So do not expect hordes of tourists – moreover authentic tavernas selling locally caught fresh fish, squid and octopus and beachside restaurants serving Grecian cuisine at very reasonable rates.
 
Day 4 Ksamil, Albania
Albania is a country that has long played her cards close to her chest. Closed to foreigners for almost all of the 20th century, tourism here is still in its very early stages, which is good news for all those who want to truly experience Balkan authenticity at its grass roots. Ksamil is what Mediterranean coastlines should look like. Lush vegetation tops craggy cliffs and long ribbons of golden sand. Tiny islands are within easy swimming distance from the shore. Further along the shore, pretty cove beaches provide complete isolation for those who really do not want to be found. While Ksmil’s charms may centre on beach days and long-lazy lunches in the shade (be sure to try the mussels – a local speciality), those who want to venture further afield might like to stretch their legs and go to Butrint, about 5 km from Ksmil. Here you can expect a UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses archaeological remains dating back to the second half of the second millennium B.C. About an hour’s north of Ksamil lies Syri I Kalter Lake (loosely translated as “the blue eye”). The drive up to the lake is a worthy excusion all of its own! Winding, uphill roads pass through a plethora or terrain; from palm trees on the shore, to green and dense, almost mountainous forest areas. Upon arrival have a cool drink at the little restaurant and take in the extraordinary beauty of the area. The lake is fed by a natural spring, giving it the curious natural phenomenon where bubbles from the water create a dark blue colour. Where the bubbles reach the surface, the water seems a darker blue, thus giving the lake its name. Definitely a must for those who want to cool off from the Albanian heat but prefer to avoid the beach.
 
Day 5 At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
 
Day 6 Sousse, Tunisia
 
Day 7 Porto Empedocle (Sicily), Italy
Porto Empedocle has long served as the port for Agrigento, the capital of the province of the same name. Located on Sicily’s southwest coast, ancient Agrigento was Akragas to the Greeks, who established the first settlement on a ridge between two rivers in 581 BC. Through massive trade with the Phoenician port of Carthage, the city rose to such wealth and power that Pindar called Agrigento “the most beautiful city built by mortal men". Despite frequent attacks over the centuries, the city survived through the Roman era, the Middle Ages and into the modern age. Structures from all these eras stand side by side in Agrigento today. Much of the area has drastically changed due to the development of modern Agrigento. However, the historic town center, with its huddle of narrow, winding streets, still offers some sites worth exploring. Among its main points of interest is the cathedral, which stands on the foundation of a temple of Jupiter from the 6th century BC. Outside the city, the chief attraction is the Valley of the Temples, which is one of the most impressive classical sites in all of Italy. It draws scores of visitors from around the world who come to marvel at the remains of the magnificent structures scattered throughout the archaeological area. Some of the most impressive finds are displayed in the museum at the entrance to the site. The small town of Empedocle has one main street, along which are a few shops, bars and restaurants.At lunchtime, the place looks deserted; shopkeepers close their doors and head home. From Empedocle it is approximately six miles to Agrigento. Venture ashore to visit the famous Valley of the Temples or explore Agrigento’s busy town center with its numerous shops. When the hustle and bustle gets to you, cool off in a shady sidewalk café and sip a campari or enjoy a cappuccino.
 
Day 8 Trapani (Sicily), Italy
Trapani, the most important town on Sicily’s west coast, lies below the headland of Mount Erice and offers stunning views of the Egadi Islands on a clear day. Trapani’s Old District occupies a scimitarshaped promontory between the open sea on the north and the salt marshes to the south. The ancient industry of extracting salt from the marshes has recently been revived, and it is documented in the Museo delle Saline. In addition to the salt marshes,Trapani’s other interesting environs include the beautiful little hill town of Erice, the promontory of Capo San Vito stretching north beyond the splendid headland of Monte Cofano, the lovely island of Motya and the town of Marsala. Trips farther afield will take you to the magnificent site of Segesta or the Egadi Islands, reached by boat or hydrofoil from Trapani Port.
 
Day 9 Cagliari (Sardinia), Italy
The serene sea approach to Cagliari is an exquisitely beautiful way to first lay eyes on the city’s mesmerising interplay of colour, spires and domed churches. Sat on Sardinia’s south coast, Cagliari is the island’s largest city, and a sun-blessed escape of beaches, architecture and Mediterranean food – where stress evaporates on contact. That first sight of Cagliari’s mosaic of architecture reveals much about the island’s history, and is a living document of the civilisations and influences that have passed through. Combining Byzantine churches with crumbling Roman ruins and Pisan towers, it’s an elegant, beguiling place to explore. Usher in the morning with a short, sharp espresso hit, before wandering along to San Benedetto market’s bustle, crammed full of overflowing heaps of local produce. Taste crisp, freshly-baked bread, thin shavings of sheep’s cheese, and ripe red strawberries, as you wander amid the market’s melody of good-natured bartering. The Castello quarter’s tight, flower-draped streets and salmon-hued brick buildings incline up above the Med’s softly lapping waves. Climb Bastione di Saint Remy staircase to Terrazza Umberto’s views of the turquoise Gulf of Angels. Next, Cathedral of Santa Maria awaits, with its marbled interiors, elaborate side chapels and intricately decorated crypt. Once you’ve unravelled Cagliari’s historical tapestry, Poetto Beach invites you to find a spot on almost five miles of uninterrupted sand, met by a dazzling expanse of turquoise water. On a hot summer’s day, soak up some sun before saluting the sunset with an ice cold Spritz at a beachside bar. Spaghetti with salted bottarga and artichokes will keep the good times rolling, perfectly accompanied by a glass of ruby-coloured Cannonau wine.
 
Day 10 Bejaia, Algeria
Situated between the sea, a cape and a mountain, Bejaïa is one of Algeria’s prettiest cities. With a population of about 200,000 it is also the capital of Bejaïa province. The old town lies on the slopes of Mount Gouraya descending to the French sector along the sea. Main landmarks include a 16th-century mosque, a Spanish fortress, also from the 16th century, and an old Kasbah. The history of Bejaïa can be traced to the founding by the Carthaginians in the 1st century BC. From the 2nd to the 5th centuries the town was under Roman rule and flourished as a commercial and military center called Saldae. In the 12th century, Bejaïa became the capital of the Berber Hammadid dynasty only to be annexed one hundred years later into the Hafsid Empire of Tunis. During the Middle Ages, Bougie, as the town was known then, was a favorite pirate stronghold. Later followed a succession of Spanish and Ottoman rulers. In 1833, when the French occupied Algeria, Bejaïa declined as Algiers had become the preferred port. A project in the early 1900s to improve the harbor and the construction of an oil pipeline in 1959 regained Bejaïa’s former importance and made it a leading port for oil transported from the oil fields at Hassi Messauoud. After long and fierce battles, independence from France was achieved in July 1962. Algeria has three languages – Arabic, French and Amazigh (the Berber language). While French has long been used in universities, research and journalism, Arabic is more and more taking the place of French. Guests are advised that in order to go ashore in this port, participation in one of the organized tours is required. This regulation is waived for guests who come provided with their own individual Algerian visa. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to dock at the port of Bejaïa. Distance to the town center is approximately 500 yards. Metered taxis are generally available at the pier gate, though English-speaking drivers are not easy to find. Shopping Pottery, traditional dress, carpets, jewelry and local handicrafts make for genuine Algerian souvenirs. Carpet patterns are distinct according to regions. Price and quality vary accordingly. State run shops, offering, a wide range of handicrafts and souvenirs, are a good place for comparative pricing. Store hours are normally from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The local currency is the dinar. Cuisine Fresh seafood, lamb dishes and couscous are found on most menus. The best choice is at one of the more upscale hotels. Other Sites Attractions in and around Bejaia are covered in the organized shore excursions. Private arrangements are only possible (subject to availability) for guests who are in possession of an individual Algerian visa.
 
Day 11 At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
 
Days 12-13 Seville, Spain
Whether you pronounce it Seville or Sevilla, this gorgeous Spanish town is most certainly the stuff of dreams. Over 2,200 years old, Seville has a mutli-layered personality; home to Flamenco, high temperatures and three UNESCO-World Heritage Sites, there is a noble ancestry to the southern Spanish town. Not forgetting that it is the birthplace of painter Diego Velazquez, the resting place of Christopher Columbus, the inspiration for Bizet’s Carmen and a location for Game of Thrones filming, Seville is truly more than just a sum of its parts. This city is a full on experience, a beguiling labyrinth of centuries old streets, tiny tapas restaurants serving possibly the best dishes you’ll taste south of Madrid and a paradise of Mudejar architecture and tranquil palm trees and fountain-filled gardens.
 
Day 14 Portimão, Portugal
Portimão is a major fishing port, and significant investment has been poured into transforming it into an attractive cruise port as well. The city itself is spacious and has several good shopping streets—though sadly many of the more traditional retailers have closed in the wake of the global economic crisis. There is also a lovely riverside area that just begs to be strolled (lots of the coastal cruises depart from here). Don’t leave without stopping for an alfresco lunch at the Doca da Sardinha ("sardine dock") between the old bridge and the railway bridge. You can sit at one of many inexpensive establishments, eating charcoal-grilled sardines (a local specialty) accompanied by chewy fresh bread, simple salads, and local wine.
 
Day 15 Lisbon, Portugal
Spread over a string of seven hills north of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) estuary, Lisbon presents an intriguing variety of faces to those who negotiate its switchback streets. In the oldest neighborhoods, stepped alleys whose street pattern dates back to Moorish times are lined with pastel-color houses decked with laundry; here and there, miradouros (vantage points) afford spectacular river or city views. In the grand 18th-century center, calçada à portuguesa (black-and-white mosaic cobblestone) sidewalks border wide boulevards. Elétricos (trams) clank through the streets, and blue-and-white azulejos (painted and glazed ceramic tiles) adorn churches, restaurants, and fountains. Of course, parts of Lisbon lack charm. Even some downtown areas have lost their classic Portuguese appearance as the city has become more cosmopolitan: shiny office blocks have replaced some 19th- and 20th-century art nouveau buildings. And centenarian trams share the streets with "fast trams" and noisy automobiles. Lisbon bears the mark of an incredible heritage with laid-back pride. In preparing to host the 1998 World Exposition, Lisbon spruced up public buildings, overhauled its subway system, and completed an impressive second bridge across the river. Today the former Expo site is an expansive riverfront development known as Parque das Nações, and the city is a popular port of call for cruises, whose passengers disembark onto a revitalized waterfront. Downtown, all the main squares have been overhauled one by one. In its heyday in the 16th century, Lisbon was a pioneer of the first wave of globalization. Now, the empire is striking back, with Brazilians and people from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa enriching the city’s ethnic mix. There are also more than a few people from other European countries who are rapidly becoming integrated. But Lisbon's intrinsic, slightly disorganized, one-of-a-kind charm hasn't vanished in the contemporary mix. Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) are at ease pulling up café chairs and perusing newspapers against any backdrop, whether it reflects the progress and commerce of today or the riches that once poured in from Asia, South America, and Africa. And quiet courtyards and sweeping viewpoints are never far away. Despite rising prosperity (and costs) since Portugal entered the European Community in 1986, and the more recent tourism boom, prices for most goods and services are still lower than most other European countries. You can still find affordable places to eat and stay, and with distances between major sights fairly small, taxis are astonishingly cheap. All this means that Lisbon is not only a treasure chest of historical monuments, but also a place where you won’t use up all your own hard-earned treasure. Though Baixa, or downtown, was Lisbon’s government and business center for two centuries until the mid-20th century, the most ancient part of the city lies on the slopes of a hill to its east. Most visitors start their exploration there, in Alfama. All but the very fittest ride the antique 28 eléctrico (streetcar) most of the way up to Saint George’s Castle (or take the 737 bus or a taxi all the way up). The views from its ramparts afford a crash course in the city’s topography. You can then wander downhill to absorb the atmosphere (and more views) in the winding streets below. There are several museums and other major sights in this area, so give yourself plenty of time. Baixa itself is interesting mostly for its imposing architecture and its bustling squares, as well as an unusual cast-iron elevator that affords yet more panoramic views. But a new design museum is what persuades most visitors to linger. On the slope to the west is the chic Chiado district, traditionally the city’s intellectual center, with theaters, galleries, and literary cafés. A little farther uphill is the Bairro Alto. Originally founded by the Jesuits (whose church is among Lisbon’s finest), it was long known for rather sinful pursuits and today is a great place for barhopping. Both neighborhoods are great places to shop. Modern Lisbon, meanwhile, begins just north of Baixa. The city’s tree-lined central axis, the Avenida da Liberdade, forges up to the Praça Marquês de Pombal roundabout, with a rather formal park beyond. Dotted around the area north of here are major museums and other sights. West of Baixa, along the river, former docklands such as Alcântara are now home to stylish restaurants and nightclubs, as well as the odd museum. Farther west is historic Belém, which boasts yet more museums—and some famous pastries. On the city’s eastern flank, the Parque das Nações has family-oriented attractions and green spaces.
Map
All This Included
Seven countries in 14 days might seem like a lot, but this adventure is tempered by days at sea, making room for ample R&R. Leaving the iconic Acropolis in your wake, sail the Mediterranean Sea to the Iberian Peninsula looking for traces of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian networks on your way. Hop from pretty islands and fabled shores to famous cities for a Mediterranean history lesson that you will never forget.
  • 1 night hotel
  • Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
  • Enrichment lectures by a highly qualified Expeditions Team
  • Spacious suites
  • Butler service in every suite
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Personalised service – nearly one crew member for every guest
  • Choice of restaurants, diverse cuisine, open-seating dining
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship, including champagne, select wines and spirits
  • In-suite dining and room service
  • Onboard entertainment
  • Onboard gratuities
Accommodations
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Cloud
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation. 
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
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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.