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Setting sail from Istanbul
This is one of those destinations that really does live up to the hype! Istanbul is the place where East meets West, where Asia Minor reaches out across the Bosphorus and almost touches Europe. In its earlier incarnation as Constantinople, the city was the eastern bastion of the Byzantine Empire, holding out for centuries before finally capitulating to the Ottomans in 1453, and it remains a bristling, bustling cultural melting pot, the skyline dotted with magnificent minarets and domes.
Try and go for an authentic Turkish experience with a bath in a hamam. Discuss your options with the receptionist. Cagaloglu Hamami is the most spectacular.
Limnos is off the beaten track, with a refreshingly low key approach to tourism compared to other Greek islands. Ascend the ruins of the Venetian castle for the best views of the island’s beautiful volcanic landscapes, or spend some time wandering around the charming harbourside capital, Myrina.
Syros is one of the smallest of the Cyclades islands, though it’s also the administrative capital of the archipelago. Not many cruise ships call here, so you’ll find the beaches are much less crowded than other islands, and the main town, Ermoupoli, is home to a fascinating mix of architectural styles.
Saint John is said to have written the Book of Revelations in a cave on Patmos, and today the spot is marked by the hillside Monastery of the Apocalypse. As well as spirituality, the island is known for its beaches and upmarket vibe, with a scattering of stylish restaurants and bars.
Symi was occupied by Italy during the 20th century, a legacy still visible in the neoclassical architecture of the pretty harbour at Gialos. This is a sleepy island that only smaller cruise ships can reach, and the coastline is punctuated by beautiful blue coves and sandy beaches.
Bodrum is one of the trendiest destinations on Turkey’s Aegean coast, with plenty of private yachts bobbing alongside the traditional gulet boats in the harbour. Whitewashed buildings draped in bougainvillea give the town a Greek feel, overlooked by the imposing 15th century crusader castle.
Kos is the second largest of the Dodecanese Islands after Rhodes, and is best known for its excellent beaches. There are plenty of cultural treasures here too: Kos Town’s harbour is guarded by an impressive castle built by the Knights of St John, and the island is scattered with Greek and Roman ruins.
Sun-kissed Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, is steeped in history; the medieval heart of Rhodes Town was once home to the crusading Knights of St John, and later fell to the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The hillside village of Lindos, with its pretty whitewashed houses, is another highlight.
The mountainous island of Amorgos is one of the lesser known gems of the Cyclades group, with impressive scenery, superb hiking trails and some fascinating historic buildings. Most spectacular of all is the bright white Hozoviotissis monastery, which hugs a cliffside high above the crashing waves.
Arriving in Athens (Piraeus)
Athens is a city awash with historical and cultural significance. Towering over the city are the gleaming columns of the Parthenon, surely one of the most iconic sights in the whole of Europe. And yet Athens is much more than an open air museum; this is a dynamic, bustling metropolis, and a place where history is still very much unfolding. For all its faults, the Greek capital possesses an energy and an optimism that are manifest in everything from the burgeoning art scene to the restaurants and bars that continue to pop up on a regular basis.
Obviously don’t miss the Acropolis, nor the new adjacent museum, where space has pointedly been left for the frieze we call the Elgin Marbles – it is really excellent. Then take time to stroll on the hills and slopes around the outcrop.
Your home from home
Sleek and stylish, Ponant's wonderful Explorer yachts blend luxury and intimacy with a discreet elegance and tasteful décor.
What we love
Named after six of France's most famous explorers, Le Champlain, Le Lapérouse, Le Bougainville, Le Dumont d'Urville, Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier offer exciting and adventurous itineraries in the utmost comfort. Technologically advanced, with the latest in environmentally friendly hardware, the new ships embody Ponant's trademark élan and flair, with just 92 spacious rooms and suites, a stylish pool deck and an intimate, refined onboard ambience.
|Style||Refined with a wonderful mix of a modern super yacht and nautical tradition, all with a French flair.|
Tailor-make your trip
Our recommended hotel in Istanbul
We love the intimate Four Seasons at Sultanahmet, but – top Mundy tip! - it is so small that it’s often fully booked, so don’t hang about.
See more of Turkey
Take a few extra days and travel to Cappadocia for the extraordinary Star Wars scenery, rock caves and churches.
Extend your stay in Athens
At Mundy, we have long been hunting for the perfect Athenian hotel - our favourite so far is the Electra Palace in Plaka.
Excursions from Athens
Delphi is an absolute must – you’ll need a full day though, it’s quite a drive.