Though once ruled by Venetian doges, Turkish sultans and French invaders, today's Corfiot citizen is as Greek as they come. Marvel at the 17th-century icons in St. George's Church, the medieval Palace of Phrourio or the 19th-century Achilleion Palace. The greenest of the Greek Isles, Corfu also boasts thriving vineyards and olive orchards among its rugged mountains.
This typical Mediterranean town is located at the end of Kotor Bay, which sits on the Montenegrin coast in the southern Adriatic. Due to the history of Kotor, it is the oldest town in Montenegro and is now a historical monument protected by the state. This town of Kotor has belong to many countries, around 3 B.C. the town was colonized by the Greeks, and later was an affiliate of Roman and Byzantine empires. In 1797, this town became a vital naval base under Austria's possession. In 1918, after World War II, this town became the property of Yugoslavia and is now included in the constituent republic of Montenegro. Kotor has been a 16th century cathedral, town walls, and a medieval fort.
The narrow passageways of Mykonos are a twisted maze of whitewashed houses, miniature churches, lazy windmills, and tiny cafes serving up Greek specialties. Sample the freshest squid or lobster just snatched from the blue Aegean Sea, or shop for typical flokati rugs.
One of the most spectacular bays in the world lies in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. Visit the San Carlo Opera House and the cathedral of San Janarious, or tour the ancient ruins in the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
With its steep volcanic flanks looming straight up from the sea, and the tiny white village of Thira clinging high atop the cliffs, Santorini is perhaps the most breathtaking and legendary of all the Greek Isles. To the south is Akrotiri, where recent Minoan excavations support the theories that Santorini might be the fabled lost continent of Atlantis.
Piraeus is the seaport for Athens, the capital of western civilization, which boasts a fantastic mix of classical ruins and vivacious modern life. In a single day, you can climb the hill of the Acropolis to wonder at the Parthenon, join the lively Athenians in Constitution Square, and then find a welcoming taverna for some spirited bizouki music, plenty of ouzo to drink, and with luck, energetic Greek dancing.
Barcelona is the cultural heartland of Spain, yet its first language is Catalan, the native tongue of the proudly independent Catalonia region. Stroll down the shady, tree-lined Ramblas between street musicians and elegant bistros. Then perhaps visit the venerable Gothic cathedral, Picasso Museum or enjoy the architectural genius of Antonio Gaudi's Church of the Holy Family.
Jewel of the Dalmatian coast, girded in ninth-century walls that rise sheerly from the water's edge, Dubrovnik is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Within the ancient fortifications is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways and a striking Renaissance boulevard called the "Stradun."
A lovely seaport in its own right, Haifa is a departure point for Tel Aviv and Holy Land sightseeing. Jerusalem beckons with the Mount of Olives and the Western Wall. Jericho, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and the crusader city of Acre are also within reach.
The birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, is nearby on this island - the third largest in Europe. Explore what is now called the Medieval Museum, a restored castle where Richard the Lionheart married in 1191. Visit a mosque, browse the local artisan shops and take in the natural and architectural delights of Cyprus.
Legend has it that Apollo blessed this isle with sunshine and beauty. True to the myths, the "Island of Roses" is rich in magnificent scenery and umbrella-lined beaches. Take an excursion to Lindos, where high on a hill rises an ancient acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena. You will also want to see the medieval Old Town, once home to the Crusading Knights of St. John, and tour the Grand Master's Palace, an Italian restoration famed for its superb mosaic floors.
The port of Civitavecchia is the gateway to The Eternal City, where all roads lead. Mad traffic careens past monuments of the great civilizations of the past. You will want to see it all: the soaring inspiration of St. Peter's, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel; the flow of life along the Spanish Steps, the Coliseum, the Via Veneto and Trevi Fountain. Be sure to leave time for la dolce vita in one of the piazzas.
The Knights of St. John made this their base in the Mediterranean Sea. The castles, cathedrals and fortresses they built still are their remaining legacy. But Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians and Arabs preceded them and left their marks as well. Take a drive to M'dina, the former capital, and wonder at Europe's third-largest dome in Mostra.
Venice enchants you from your first glimpse as your ship glides through the Grand Canal. A world power in the middle ages, its affluence lives on in its beautiful old buildings like those surrounding Piazza San Marco. Be sure not to leave without a romantic ride along the canals in a gondola.