Setting sail from Lisbon
The roots of historic Lisbon's fame lie in its strategic position on the edge of the Atlantic and the fact it offers one of the world's greatest natural harbours. No surprise therefore that it became the home of the world's most famous explorers such as Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator. Built on seven hills, we always find Lisbon to be soulful, captivating and picturesque, with architecture which reflects its status as a great port.
The appeal of Lisbon lies in the city itself with its two distinct architectural styles: the 16th century Belem district (Manueline) and the 18th century city centre (Pomabaline). Our tip: potter about...
Portimão is a bustling fishing port and gateway to the Algarve, with a pleasant riverside promenade where the smell of sizzling sardines fills the air. The most popular attraction is Praia da Rocha just to the south, one of the Algarve’s loveliest beaches.
Seville is a wonderful destination, a sophisticated and sun-kissed city on the banks of the Guadalquivir river. It’s a treat for all the senses, from the smell of orange blossom to the heart-tugging sounds of flamenco, and the highlight of the calendar is undoubtedly Semana Santa, when a spectacular Easter parade fills the streets.
Sovereignty of ‘The Rock’ has been a thorny issue ever since Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713, though on the ground it’s clear where most locals’ sympathies lie. Gibraltar is often described as ‘more British than Britain’, a curious enclave of red postboxes, double decker buses and chip shops.
Málaga boasts plenty of chic restaurants and bars where you can ease into the rhythms of life in southern Spain, before exploring sights including the intriguing, unfinished Gothic cathedral, and a museum devoted to the city's most famous son, Pablo Picasso.
Cartagena was founded by the Carthaginians around 227 BC, who named it after their home city in North Africa. These days the city is best known for its well-preserved Roman theatre, which was remarkably only discovered in 1987, in spite of its location in the centre of town.
Spain’s third city is a dazzling destination that combines historic architecture, cutting edge design and an inviting stretch of beach. Don’t miss the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, designed by local architect Santiago Calatrava, or the old riverbed, now a delightful park.
The busy port of Tarragona, situated on the Catalan coast to the south of Barcelona, is a city full of history. This was the base from which the Romans launched their conquest of the Iberian peninsula, and there are plenty of reminders of this period, including an impressive seafront amphitheatre.
France: Saint Tropez
Ever since Brigitte Bardot put Saint Tropez on the map with the seminal ‘And God Created Woman’ in 1956, this diminutive fishing village on the French Riviera has been a magnet for the international glitterati.
Monaco: Monte Carlo
Renowned for its casino, its Grand Prix and its oligarch-friendly tax policies, Monte Carlo is glamour and hedonism personified, with a price tag to match. This little principality enjoys a lovely setting, the villas and penthouses tumbling down the hillside towards the sweeping blue expanse of the Mediterranean.
The colourful facades along Portovenere’s UNESCO-listed harbourfront make this one of the most picturesque villages on the Ligurian coast, and it has often been described as the ‘sixth town’ of the Cinque Terre. Wandering the narrow alleyways is a delight, and it’s worth the climb to the impressive hilltop Castle Doria.
The lovely town of Sorrento, draped across rugged cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples, has been charming visitors since the days of the Grand Tour. The Renaissance palaces and many craft shops make Sorrento an attractive destination in its own right, and it’s also a jumping off point for Capri, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
Taormina enjoys a truly spectacular setting on Sicily’s east coast, perched on a mountainside looking out towards the smouldering Mount Etna. The medieval streets are pleasant but often crowded in high season, so we’d recommend getting out and exploring the surrounding countryside.
The volcanic island of Santorini (known officially as Thira) is one of the most spectacularly beautiful in the Mediterranean. The pretty village of Oia, with its whitewashed houses and windmills tumbling down the hillside, is particularly photogenic.
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.
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Tailor-make your trip
Our recommended hotel
The Pousada de Lisboa, newly opened in May 2015, has a great location in the heart of the city and an interior to wow you.
Take a day trip from Lisbon
Visit Sintra – Roman and Moorish influences make this magical city with its fairytale palaces and extravagant villas a must.
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.