The treasures of Turkey await in vibrant, offbeat Istanbul, the only city in the world to span two continents. World-class shopping, fabulous dining and a spirited nightlight coexist with ancient mosques and he labyrinthine Grand Bazaar. Mingle with the beautiful people in trendy Bodrum or visit the imposing Castle of St. Peter looming over the harbor. The medieval citadel of Rhodes beckons in the distance, with its unspoiled beaches and remote monasteries. The blue-domed buildings of picture-postcard Santoríni invite you to explore the stepped streets of Fira, while the startling wall paintings at Akrotiri reveal hints of the ancient Minoans. Go shopping in the upscale boutiques on beguiling Mykonos in search of great jewelry and other finds - or visit the artists' quarter known as Little Venice.
Throughout thousands of years, Istanbul's geographical position has maintained its importance. Today it is a huge metropolis connecting continents, cultures and religions, home to eleven million people, and one of the greatest business and cultural centers of the region. Don't miss Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.
Kusadasi, Turkey (Ephesus)
Kusadasi is a popular Turkish port of call for cruise ships, as not only is it a bustling resort town full of shops, bars and restaurants, but it is also the main access point for the famous archeological site at Ephesus, where extensive excavations have revealed an ancient city through which visitors can now wander and observe the wonders of a bygone civilization.
Not far from the pier you'll come across Meryemana, the House of the Virgin Mary, said to be where St. John took the mother of Jesus after the crucifixion. From there you'll enjoy a panoramic view of Ephesus below. Take time in Kusadasi for a little shopping and a cup of Turkish coffee.
The beautiful island of Rhodes (Island of Roses) has a rich and varied history. The beach at Lindos is among the best on the island, whose capital, Rhodes Town is a bustling mecca for both sightseers and shoppers alike. This thriving port provides access to the many beautiful sights on this popular island. On the Eastern coast of Rhodes, poised high above two spectacular bays is the Acropolis of Lindos below which one can find a labyrinth of winding streets and dazzling white buildings. Lindos was once the principal city of the island before the founding of Rhodes Town in 408 BC.
Once a cozy fishing village of only a few thousand people, Bodrum has experienced a renaissance in the last half century that has transformed this once-sleepy community into one of Turkey's most popular vacation hot spots. Writers, intellectuals, artists and musicians have long called this Aegean town home, or second-home, attracting a vibrant cultural scene paralleled only by the town's nightlife. Windswept beaches and glittering waters provide the backdrop to the perfect beach getaway.
The island of Santorini is perhaps the most breathtaking of all the Greek Islands. Around 1500 BC, a volcanic eruption destroyed the center of the island, leaving a crescent shaped rim of cliffs around a harbor formed in the volcano's caldera. Santorini is a spectacular sight, especially when approached by sea. Steep cliffs rise dramatically from deep azure waters. The capital of Fira is located 1,000 feet above our anchorage, accessible by donkey, cable car, or foot. The views from on top are unforgettable: stark white-washed buildings are scattered along the clifftop village; the sea stretches outward from black volcanic sands. Santorini has an explosive history of volcanic activity, and some say that here in the ruins at Akrotiri lie the remnants of the lost civilization of Atlantis.
One of the most cosmopolitan of all the Greek Islands and quite justifiably attracting visitors from all over the world, Mykonos is a contrast of rocky hills and beautiful beaches. Hora, the capital, spreads around a colorful harbor in which fishing boats nestle side by side with luxury yachts. The brilliant white cubic houses with white-washed balconies built close together with little shops and tiny churches, make up the backstreets of the town. The harbor is overlooked by a variety of tavernas, and is a popular meeting place as the sun goes down, turning the brilliant whites to beautiful shades of pinks and reds.
The Piraeus is the ancient port of Athens and still functions as the chief exit point from the city by sea for destinations amongst the Aegean Islands and elsewhere in the east Mediterranean. Domestic destinations include all of the Aegean islands except the Sporades and some smaller Cyclades and Dodecanese isles that require a connection. International destinations (apart from cruise ships) include Cyprus and the Middle East.