Day 1: Athens
Athenians don’t live in the past. Ahead of its time, Athens exudes glamour and a sense of possibility - housing galleries, gelaterias, bijoux boutiques alongside a plethora of museums. And you can’t help but marvel at the archaeological wonders of the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Stroll through vibrant streets and markets, dance at buzzing bouzoukia, sing along in tavernas. At night, head to the harbour, where dimly lit bars serve the local ice cold beer. And, as you inhale the salty air and watch Greek fishing boats peacefully depart for their catch, reflect on this ancient city's progressive attitude.
Day 2: Paros
Unveil picturesque Paros' unadorned charms from ancient remains to traditional tavernas and sweet villages and blue-domed churches to a bounty of blonde-sand beaches. Head out to Parikia to find the awe-inspiring AD326 Byzantine monastery or take a ferry across to explore caves in the rugged natural beauty of Antiparos. Walk through the island's ancient archaeological history at the tiny museum and lose yourself in the labyrinth of lanes at the old Venetian port of Náoussa. Banish any tension on a sunlounger, then breeze through home-cooked mezze feasts in white-washed tavernas. Windsurf, kite-surf, dive, swim au naturel and enjoy a network of walking trails. Somehow Páros has managed to preserve more of the soft spirit than some of her Cyclade cousins.
Day 3: At sea
Sailing at sea.
Day 4: Fiskardo (Kefalonia)
Experience the vibrant, cosmopolitan charm of Kefalonia. Wind through the crescent-shaped Venetian architecture surrounded by the sounds of classical music. Head to pebbled coves, bijoux boutiques and gelato caverns, or snorkel, dive, kayak and hike through nature in all its Mediterranean glory, surrounded by the scents of pine, lavender and cedar. Slip across to the secluded beaches of Ithaca – home to Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ and vibrant underwater reefs. And relax at lavish seafood eateries and sip robola as you mingle amid refined, elegant guests.
Day 5: Dubrovnik
Marvel at this chic walled city paved with a wealth of aristocratic palazzi, ancient forts and epic Adriatic views. Enter grand Pile Gate to lose yourself in intricate alleys, stage-set squares, museums and baroque churches. Ease out of town to kayak around sturdy ramparts, taste Dalmatian wines in the Konavle countryside, and visit archaic Cavtat and history-packed Mostar. Escape the crowds to cacti-clad Lokrum for a spot of yoga and botanical walking, or join in to graze at trendy restaurants on the rocks. It’s no wonder the glitterati flock to the strength of this charming and inspiring medieval Dalmatian marvel.
Day 6: Split
Sheltered by mountains and hills of pine, Split casts a sirenic spell, its terracotta-tiled rooftops spilling straight down to the sparkling Adriatic. Wander within the ancient walls of Diocletian’s seafront palace to its collonaded courtyard and cathedral, the sinuous streets and sunny squares abuzz with cafes and shops, and everyday life ongoing amid the palace’s atmospheric alleyways. From here, people-watch over coffee on the Saint Tropez-esque Riva promenade; climb to the hilltop park, small churches hidden along the way, for a sundowner; or seek the sandy Bacvice beach, swimming the shallows as Splicani play picigin (ballgame), and perfecting the Dalmatian art of fjaka, the sweetness of doing nothing.
Day 7: Rovinj
Squeezed onto a tiny yin-yang island of terracotta roofs and green gardens, pretty little Rovinj is the belle of Croatia. Pastel-coloured houses teeter over the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic and climb up the hillside to the iconic bell tower of St. Euphemia Church, a permanent reminder of the city’s Venetian roots. Delve into the maze of narrow streets lost in time, galleries and museums overhung with wooden balconies and Italianate shutters. Circle the city in a flat-bottomed batana fishing boat or kayak around the pine-forested shores of outlying islands, forage for local wines and honey in timeless markets and taste the flavours of the Istrian Peninsula in waterfront cafes.
Day 8: Venice (Marghera)
Delve into ancient palaces, century-old galleries, and modern-day exhibits as you whirl through Venice. Walk through masterpieces, catch an opera, gaze at medieval buildings, blow Murano glass and drift down the Grand Canal by gondola to visit churches, convents and campi “squares” that vary in spirit and scale. Cross hump-backed bridges, reach teeming Piazza San Marco’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace, or duck down passages to escape reality. From palazzos to perfumeries and the must-see Bridge of Sighs, you’re only moments from a place of beauty in this liquid-gold city of treasures.