Rhodes is the largest and also perhaps the most popular of the Dodecanese islands. It’s a much-loved destination due to its abundance of beautiful beaches, diverse architecture and combination of traditional and contemporary culture.
Throughout Rhodes you can find many medieval structures, however one of the most well-preserved is the Palace of the Grand Master of Knights of Rhodes. The Palace was built in the 14th century, however a gunpowder explosion in 1856 destroyed much of the building. It was restored by the Italians in a rather grand manner between 1937 and 1940 and soon became a holiday home for the King of Italy and Bunito Mussolini. If you visit the palace today you’ll find a museum along with sculptures and other antiquities from Greek heritage.
Mandraki harbour is one of the key meeting spots for locals and you’ll find it a hive of activity. Here you can admire the boats and yachts bobbing in the harbour and appreciate how one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World (the Colossus of Rhodes) may have once stood over the entrance. Today the entrance to the harbour is marked with two bronzes of a stag and a doe to represent the emblem of Rhodes. In the harbour you’ll also find boating excursions as well as lots of places to dine or grab a refreshing drink.
Rhodes is known for having some of the best beaches in Greece and one of them is Elli Beach. This beautiful beach features crystal clear waters, soft golden sand and plenty of sun umbrellas and loungers to keep you shaded and comfortable as you relax. There’s also plenty of amenities nearby so you won’t have to wonder far for something to eat or drink.
Corfu has one of the biggest medieval towns in Greece. Here you can explore in delight as you wander narrow, cobbled streets scattered with boutique stores offering a selection of wares from jewellery and clothing to handmade crafts. After shopping you can catch a caffeine break at Liston Arcade which features Parisian style architecture. The Arcade is located at the front of the shopping and restaurant district which can be found near Spianada Square. If you venture behind the arcade, you’ll discover St. Spyridon’s Church. Touted as one of the most important churches among the Ionian islands, it is said to be the final resting place of Corfu’s patron saint.
To the east and west of Corfu are the Old and New Fortresses. Research has found that some of the fortifications from the site of the Old Fortress date back to the 6th Century AD. The fortress sits on a promontory looking out to sea and we’d recommend a walk up there if only to admire the panoramic views. In comparison to the Old Fortress, the new Fortress is a formidable structure. Several buildings stand within the New Fortress, these were built by the British during their rule of the island between 1815 and 1863. Both structures offer a fascinating look into historic architecture and are well worth a visit.
Just outside of Corfu town (30 minutes walk) you’ll discover two delightfully tiny islands; mouse island and Vlaherna. Via a floating causeway, you can walk to Vlaherna and from there you can catch a boat to Mouse Island. On Vlaherna you’ll find a beautiful Venetian monastery whilst on Mouse Island you’ll discover a charming Byzantine chapel. If you don’t feel like walking to the islands you can appreciate their beauty from the mainland. The views over the two tiny islands and out to sea are incredibly striking. If you’re feeling peckish then you’ll be pleased to discover there are plenty of dining venues here also, so you can grab a bite and whilst you admire the view.
Mykynos has become famed for its music scene and party atmosphere. It has first-class clubs that frequently play host to some of the most talented and highly regarded DJ’s from around the world. Despite this contemporary vibe, Mykynos remains as a destination which is quite simply charming. Take in the contrast of the cobalt blue sea against the bright, white homes and buildings and you’ll quickly fall in love with this dazzling destination.
Perhaps one of the most iconic sites of Mykonos are the windmills. There are 16 in total and many of them were built in the 16th century and used to mill wheat. You’ll see several of the windmills as you come into the harbour of Alefkandra.
Hidden amongst all the hustle and bustle, is one of the most authentic eating experiences in Greece – Giora’s Wood Medieval Mykonian Bakery. The bakery has been in operation for over 500 years and it still uses a traditional wood fire oven to serve up delicious handmade cookies and other sweet and savoury pies and pastries.
Santorini is undeniably one of the prettiest destinations around the world. A cornucopia of cubical, white-washed houses, cling to the cliff face, looking out over the azure blue sea. Santorini wasn’t always this way though. An enormous volcanic eruption broke up the once singular island and created a volcanic crater (the largest in the world!), known as a caldera. Today, Santorini curves around the sea-filled Caldera with its 300ft cliffs framing the deep abyss.
Fira is the main city of Santorini. Here’s you’ll find a multitude of dining venues, shops and art galleries to explore. If you enjoy a lazy lunch with a great view then this is the place for you! If you have a keen interest in history and archaeology you might want to visit the Museum of Prehistoric Fira to see some of the ancient artifacts which have been uncovered in the region.
What you’ll love about Santorini most are the views. Whether you’re looking up at the city from your ship, or looking down across the caldera from the cliffs, you’ll be awe-struck by the beauty of the destination.
To get from your cruise ship to the old port, you’ll transported by a small tender boat. From there you have two options to get up to the city. There’s a steep climb of around 600+ steps (often where you’ll have to navigate around the donkeys carrying people and resources up) or alternatively there are cable cars, these provide a great view but it might be worth noting there are sometimes queues which can last an hour or two, so plan your time carefully to make sure you’re back on the ship before it departs.
Olympia (Katakolon Port)
Katakolon is the gateway port to Olympia and it’s quite remarkable in its own right. The colourful properties and homes which line the marina make for a welcoming sight as you approach by water, and the lush green forest which stands just behind the village only adds to the almost whimsical charm of the destination. There are plenty of small boutique shops and restaurants here to keep you occupied, but don’t forget one of the most important historical and cultural sites awaits you a 45 minute train journey away.
Olympia is one of the most important historic sites in the world, being the birthplace of the Olympic games which were originally founded in honour of the Greek God Zeus. Every four years the Olympic Games were held here between 8th Century BC and 4th Century AD. Wander around the ancient site and you’ll see the ruins of the Temple of Hera, Palaestra and the Philippeion which was a memorial to honour Phillip II of Macedonia. The temple housed gold and ivory statues of Philip and his family. Gold was a recurring theme in Olympia as there once stood a large golden and ivory statue of Zeus – which was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
To this day, the Olympic flame is still lit in Olympia using sunlight and a curved mirror in front of the Temple of Hera. The flame is then transported by torch to the destination of the games. As you explore the ancient site, you can’t help but imagine how the games would have compared to how we know them today.
To get from Katakolon to Olympia you can use the train. The train station is situated at the end of the shopping parade, approx 200 yards from the port gates. If you’re cruise ship is moored at the longest pier, you’ll need to allow around 5-10 minutes to walk from your ship to the station. A round trip costs 10euro and once you arrive at the station the Oympia site is within walking distance. If you have walking difficulties you can also catch a taxi. Three trains run this route, each around 2 hours apart. You can find more information about the train on the Katakolon website.
How to Book your Cruise Holiday
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