Jet off to the trip of a lifetime awaiting you in Europe!
Check-in to your hotel and spend the afternoon getting a sneak peek at Athens, Europe’s oldest city. This evening meet your Tour Representative and fellow Contiki travellers. Start your tour off with a night to remember and get to know your group at an optional dinner in the rustic district of Plaka. Perched on the shady slopes beneath the Acropolis, Plaka is full of traditional tavernas that spill out onto the pavements. Please note: Departures until October 2012 feature a slightly modified itinerary - Day 1: Arrive Athens Day 2: Athens and sail to Istanbul Day 3: Cruise from Athens to Istanbul Day 4: Istanbul and the Bosphorus Day 5: Cruise from Istanbul to Izmir Day 6: Cruising to Mykonos via Patmos Day 7: Cruising to Rhodes Day 8: Cruising to Santorini via Crete Day 9: Arrival into Athens
This morning, we board our cruise ship bound for Istanbul. Settle into your cabin and watch the sun set over the Aegean then kick off the cruise with your new friends in the nightclub.
Today, we wake up in Istanbul! With a day here, there’s plenty of time to get a real feel for this cultural melting pot. Begin with an optional tour of Istanbul and get an insider’s angle on the city with our Local Guide, who’ll show off the city’s core sites. Cross the Galata Bridge for stunning views, check out Emperor Constantine’s Hagia Sophia and then eat at the magnificent Topkapi Palace, former home of the sultans. Our Rep shows you one of the city’s major draw cards, the stunning Blue Mosque. It’s an amazing building with a series of domes and minarets dominating the skyline, complete with a breathtaking interior of tens of thousands of blue tiles. After that, we head right into the heart of the city and plunge into several kilometres of shops at the Grand Baazar. It’s an unforgettable shopping experience, where tacky trinkets and authentic treasures are sold side by side. With carpets, jewellery, spices, music, electronics and more, the place is buzzing, so make sure you’ve got your haggling hat on. Otherwise, live a bit of Istanbul’s daily life. Try your hand at backgammon in a sidewalk café and watch the crowds go by as you sip on Turkish coffee. Chill out in a tea garden, or take to the time-honoured tradition of the hammam (steam bath house) and get scrubbed down on heated marble stones. Tonight, head to Greece’s stunning islands as you sail between two continents - Europe and Asia - on the world’s narrowest navigated straight.
Then its on to the Aegean paradise of Mykonos - the island of white-washed houses, windmills and blue domed churches. Get ready for 24 hours on Mykonos! We'll head on land & make our way to the hotel for the evening. Enjoy the sunset over “Little Venice” and soak up the atmosphere at this idealic location. Grab yourself some delicious Greek cuisine at one of the cute little restaurants that dot the area & sit back & soak up the atmosphere of Mykonos town.
With a full free day, hang out on this island with its azure seas, golden beaches, and young, vibrant party culture - it's not hard to see why it's one of the most famous islands in Greece. You could opt to head to Paradise Beach, world renowned for its warm water & party vibe. Grab a sun lounger & a cocktail & rotate between sunbathing & swimming for a blissful experience. before returning to the ship this evening for dinner & entertainment.
Wake up to Patmos, with its sacred spots and wild countryside. Get the background from our Rep on why the island attracts both pilgrims and holiday makers. Explore the monasteries, traditional settlements and country churches. Get into the spirit of the island with an optional excursion that takes you to Patmos’ UNESCO World Heritage sites: the 11th century Monastery of the Apocalypse and to the Grotto of St John – the hilltop cave where John the Apostle lived for many years. Our next port of call is the Turkish town of Kusadasi. Rummage through the Grand Bazaar and go local bargaining for leather goods, jewellery and or local crafts. Otherwise hook up with the group and our Local Guide for an optional excursion to ancient Ephesus, a stunningly preserved city that Mark Antony and Cleopatra once visited.
Fit in some last minute shopping in Turkey before boarding your cruise ship and setting sail to Rhodes in the Greek Islands. On the way you’ll make at stop on Patmos, with its sacred spots and wild countryside. Get into the spirit of the island with an optional excursion that takes you to Patmos’ UNESCO World Heritage sites: the 11th century Monastery of the Apocalypse and to the Grotto of St. John – the hilltop cave where John the Apostle lived for many years. Rhodes is one of the most beautiful & popular Greek Islands. It’s medieval castles, amazing sea views & pristine clean beaches make it a fantastic place to chill out. After dinner with the group, head out into Rhodes for a taste of local life in this gorgeous World Heritage-listed Old Town. There are lots of fantastic & varied places for a slice of Rhodes by night – it’s all action here. Head to Orfanidoy Street & the Old Town for a look – from clubs to bars, to beach bars – there’s something to suit every taste.
Today we start the day off with a visit to the biggest of the Greek Islands, Crete. Choose an optional excursion to the Palace of Knossos where our Local Guide will tell you the story of this 4000 year old mythical Minoan Palace, where the minotaur (half-man/half-bull) was slain. Next up: Santorini. This island will make your jaw drop with its stunning natural beauty – the result of a massive volcanic eruption. From the water look up at the iconic blue–domed, whitewashed churches. Once we’re back on land, head up the cliff and the twisting stone steps, save your breath on a donkey ride or take it easy in the cable car for views of neighbouring volcanic islands. Your Rep will fill you in on Fira – dramatically perched on the edge of the crater - as the group explores its narrow streets. Get tips on the best places to pick up a piece of Santorini’s famous jewellery and where to try out the delicious local speciality, domatoktedes (fried tomato balls). Otherwise head to one of the distinctive black or red sand beaches, and soak up the breathtaking scenery. You could jump on an optional boat ride out to the active volcanic island of Nea Kamini. Cruise past lava formations and get up close to the active crater.
After breakfast and a farewell to our hosts, we disembark and head to Syntagma Square. Set right in the heart of Athens and home to Greece’s parliament, this is where our tour ends. For those who are keen to learn more, there’s a chance to step back in time to the birthplace of democracy. Get the run down on the Parthenon and the Acropolis from our Local Guide, as you wander around the famous columns perched above the city sprawl.