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Favorite Mediterranean Rivieras/Nautica
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Nautica

Favorite Mediterranean Rivieras - 22 night cruise



Cruise only from €6,429

Price based on lowest available cruise only fare for double occupancy. Subject to change at any time.


Description

Gratuities

Dates and Prices

Elegantly charming, Nautica's lounges, suites and staterooms boast luxurious, residential furnishings and her decks are resplendent in the finest teak, custom stone and tile work. Nautica offers every luxury you may expect on board one of our stylish ships. She features four unique, open-seating restaurants, the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center, eight lounges and bars, a casino and 333 luxurious suites and chic staterooms, nearly 70% of which feature private verandas. With just 656 guests to pamper, our 400 professionally trained staff ensure you will wait for nothing.

In a dramatic re-inspiration process, Nautica will become a completely redesigned ship without peer. Every surface of every suite and stateroom will be entirely new, while in the public spaces, a refreshed colour palette of soft sea and sky tones will surround a tasteful renewal of fabrics, furnishings and lighting fixtures that exquisitely encompasses the inimitable style and comfort of Oceania Cruises. From the bejewelled new chandeliers in the gracious Grand Dining Room to the beckoning Reception Hall, Nautica will celebrate a rejuvenation so sweeping, you will find it positively unimaginable to resist her welcoming embrace.

How much you choose to tip is a personal matter and completely at your discretion. For your convenience, the following gratuities are automatically added to your shipboard account.

For guests occupying staterooms, gratuities of $16.00 per guest, per day will be added.

For guests occupying Penthouse, Oceania, Vista or Owner's Suites where Butler Service is provided, gratuities of $23.00 per guest, per day will be added.

In addition, an 18% service gratuity is automatically added to all beverage purchases, spa services and dinner at La Reserve. Naturally, guests may adjust gratuities while on board the vessel at their sole discretion.

Date Time Price * Booking
25 August 2023 18:00 €6,429 Call us to book

* Price based on lowest available cruise only fare for double occupancy. Subject to change at any time.


Itinerary*


Day 1 Barcelona, Spain

The infinite variety of street life, the nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gòtic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau facades, the art and music, the throb of street life, the food (ah, the food!)—one way or another, Barcelona will find a way to get your full attention. The capital of Catalonia is a banquet for the senses, with its beguiling mix of ancient and modern architecture, tempting cafés and markets, and sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches. A stroll along La Rambla and through waterfront Barceloneta, as well as a tour of Gaudí's majestic Sagrada Famíliaand his other unique creations, are part of a visit to Spain's second-largest city. Modern art museums and chic shops call for attention, too. Barcelona's vibe stays lively well into the night, when you can linger over regional wine and cuisine at buzzing tapas bars.

Day 2 Toulon, France

Day 3 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Villefranche-Sur-Mer is located on the Côte d'Azur in Provence – known for its fields of lavender and warm weather – and is highly appreciated for its 14th Century architecture.

Day 4 Bastia, France

Corsica's northern capital, Bastia, is the centre of commerce and industry and a thriving freight and passenger port. Commerce, more than tourism, is its main focus, providing employment for many Corsicans. Bastia's industrial sprawl, however, is offset by its aged charm. The presence of an overwhelming Italian atmosphere adds to the city's attraction. Two distinct areas comprise the city: Terra Vecchia, the old quarter, consisting of haphazard streets, flamboyant Baroque churches and lofty tenements, with their crumbling golden-grey walls set against a backdrop of fire-darkened hills; and the more orderly Terra Nova, the historic district favoured by prominent doctors, lawyers and architects. The city dates from Roman times, when a base was set up at Biguglia to the south. Under the Genoese, Bastia was the island's capital for four centuries and of major importance for the export of wine to the Italian mainland. They built a fortress (bastiglia), which gave the town its name. The Genoese also were responsible for laying the foundation for the area's prosperity by planting vines, olives, chestnut trees and other experimental crops. This resulted in an energetic and enterprising region, still a characteristic of today's northern Corsica. Although Napoleon had appointed Ajaccio the capital of the island in 1811- initiating a rivalry that still exists - Bastia established a stronger trading position with mainland France. As a result, the Nouveau Port was created in 1862 to cope with the increasing traffic with France and Italy. Bastia's economic prominence and a German division based here during World War II accounted for severe bombing attacks. Many buildings were destroyed, including much of the old governor's palace. Of the two largest towns on the island, Ajaccio and Bastia, the latter boasts a more genuine Corsican character. Visitors can experience an authentic feel of island life by wandering through the maze of narrow streets of Bastia's old quarter and by exploring its fortifications. Don't miss the vast Place Saint-Nicolas just north of the old quarter; it is the focal point of the city. Open to the sea and lined with shady trees and sidewalk cafes, it is a perfect place for people watching and for taking in the local ambiance. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to dock at the port of Bastia. The city's focal point, Place Saint-Nicolas, is a distance of 650 feet (200 metres) to walk. Taxis are generally available at the pier but it is highly recommended to book in advance if you want to be sure to get one. It is recommended to establish the fare before leaving the port. Shopping The main shopping streets, Boulevard Paoli and Rue Cesar Campinchi, are less than one half miles (500 metres) from the port terminal. Handicrafts and the area's specialties such as honey, wine and liqueurs may be of interest. Most shops are open from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Shops are closed for the day on Sundays and some shops may also close Monday mornings (some souvenirs shops may open Sundays during the high season of July-August). The local currency is the euro. Cuisine A variety of restaurants offer a good choice of eating possibilities. Some of the best restaurants are found around the Vieux Port and on the Quai des Martyrs. French cuisine and seafood feature prominently on menus as well as such Corsican specialties as wild boar, charcuterie and aziminu, a local version of bouillabaisse. Evidence of Bastia's strong Italian influence is apparent in the numerous pizza and pasta places in the Nouveau Port area. For outdoor dining and people watching, cafes around lively Place Saint-Nicolas are a perfect place. Other Sites Oratoire de Saint-Roch Located in the Terra Vecchia quarter, the chapel is a Genoese Baroque extravaganza built in 1604. The walls are covered with finely carved wooden panelling and the organ is magnificent with its decoration of gilt and wooden sculpture. Oratoire de L'Immaculee Conception Although its exterior is rather austere, the flamboyant interior of this 17th-century church with gilt and marble ceiling, frescoes and crystal chandeliers creates an ambiance of an opera house. Vieux Port Site of the original Porto Prado, the area around the Vieux Port is the most appealing part of town. Its soaring houses seem to bend inwards towards the water. Once busy with Genoese traders, the building of the ferry terminal and commercial docks have reduced much of the action at Vieux Port. Terra Nova As the administrative core of old Bastia, Terra Nova displays a distinct air of affluence. Its most impressive building is the 14th-century Governor's Palace. During the Genoese heyday the governor and the bishop lived here, entertaining foreign dignitaries and hosting massive parties. Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board, subject to the availability of English-speaking guides.

Day 5 Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

Day 6 Amalfi, Italy

At first glance, it's hard to imagine that this resort destination was one of the world's great naval powers, and a sturdy rival of Genoa and Pisa for control of the Mediterranean in the 11th and 12th centuries. Once the seat of the Amalfi Maritime Republic, the town is set in a verdant valley of the Lattari Mountains, with cream-colored and pastel-hued buildings tightly packing a gorge on the Bay of Salerno. The harbor, which once launched the greatest fleet in Italy, now bobs with ferries and blue-and-white fishing boats. The main street, lined with shops and pasticcerie, has replaced a raging mountain torrent, and terraced hills flaunt the green and gold of lemon groves. Bearing testimony to its great trade with Tunis, Tripoli, and Algiers, Amalfi remains honeycombed with Arab-Sicilian cloisters and covered passages. In a way Amalfi has become great again, showing off its medieval glory days with sea pageants, convents-turned-hotels, ancient paper mills, covered streets, and its glimmering cathedral.

Day 7 Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Trapani, the most important town on Sicily's west coast, lies below the headland of Mount Erice and offers stunning views of the Egadi Islands on a clear day. Trapani's Old District occupies a scimitarshaped promontory between the open sea on the north and the salt marshes to the south. The ancient industry of extracting salt from the marshes has recently been revived, and it is documented in the Museo delle Saline. In addition to the salt marshes,Trapani's other interesting environs include the beautiful little hill town of Erice, the promontory of Capo San Vito stretching north beyond the splendid headland of Monte Cofano, the lovely island of Motya and the town of Marsala. Trips farther afield will take you to the magnificent site of Segesta or the Egadi Islands, reached by boat or hydrofoil from Trapani Port.

Day 8 Valletta, Malta

Malta's capital, the minicity of Valletta, has ornate palaces and museums protected by massive fortifications of honey-color limestone. Houses along the narrow streets have overhanging wooden balconies for people-watching from indoors. Generations ago they gave housebound women a window on the world of the street. The main entrance to town is through the City Gate (where all bus routes end), which leads onto Triq Repubblika (Republic Street), the spine of the grid-pattern city and the main shopping street. Triq Mercante (Merchant Street) parallels Repubblika to the east and is also good for strolling. From these two streets, cross streets descend toward the water; some are stepped. Valletta's compactness makes it ideal to explore on foot. City Gate and the upper part of Valletta are experiencing vast redevelopment that includes a new Parliament Building and open-air performance venue. The complex, completed mid-2013, has numerous pedestrian detours in place along with building noise and dust. Before setting out along Republic Street, stop at the tourist information office on Merchant Street for maps and brochures.

Day 9 Crotone, Italy

Day 10 Durrës, Albania

Day 11 Kotor, Montenegro

Backed by imposing mountains, tiny Kotor lies hidden from the open sea, tucked into the deepest channel of the Bokor Kotorska (Kotor Bay), which is Europe's most southerly fjord. To many, this town is more charming than its sister UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dubrovnik, retaining more authenticity, but with fewer tourists and spared the war damage and subsequent rebuilding which has given Dubrovnik something of a Disney feel.Kotor's medieval Stari Grad (Old Town) is enclosed within well-preserved defensive walls built between the 9th and 18th centuries and is presided over by a proud hilltop fortress. Within the walls, a labyrinth of winding cobbled streets leads through a series of splendid paved piazzas, rimmed by centuries-old stone buildings. The squares are now haunted by strains from buskers but although many now house trendy cafés and chic boutiques, directions are still given medieval-style by reference to the town's landmark churches.In the Middle Ages, as Serbia's chief port, Kotor was an important economic and cultural center with its own highly regarded schools of stonemasonry and iconography. From 1391 to 1420 it was an independent city-republic and later, it spent periods under Venetian, Austrian, and French rule, though it was undoubtedly the Venetians who left the strongest impression on the city's architecture. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia, some 70% of the stone buildings in the romantic Old Town have been snapped up by foreigners, mostly Brits and Russians. Porto Montenegro, a new marina designed to accommodate some of the world's largest super yachts, opened in nearby Tivat in 2011, and along the bay are other charming seaside villages, all with better views of the bay than the vista from Kotor itself where the waterside is congested with cruise ships and yachts. Try sleepy Muo or the settlement of Prcanj in one direction around the bay, or Perast and the Roman mosaics of Risan in the other direction.

Day 12 Dubrovnik, Croatia

Nothing can prepare you for your first sight of Dubrovnik. Lying 216 km (135 miles) southeast of Split and commanding a jaw-dropping coastal location, it is one of the world's most beautiful fortified cities. Its massive stone ramparts and fortress towers curve around a tiny harbor, enclosing graduated ridges of sun-bleached orange-tiled roofs, copper domes, and elegant bell towers. Your imagination will run wild picturing what it looked like seven centuries ago when the walls were built, without any suburbs or highways around it, just this magnificent stone city rising out of the sea.In the 7th century AD, residents of the Roman city Epidaurum (now Cavtat) fled the Avars and Slavs of the north and founded a new settlement on a small rocky island, which they named Laus, and later Ragusa. On the mainland hillside opposite the island, the Slav settlement called Dubrovnik grew up. In the 12th century the narrow channel separating the two settlements was filled in (now the main street through the Old Town, called Stradun), and Ragusa and Dubrovnik became one. The city was surrounded by defensive walls during the 13th century, and these were reinforced with towers and bastions in the late 15th century.From 1358 to 1808 the city thrived as a powerful and remarkably sophisticated independent republic, reaching its golden age during the 16th century. In 1667 many of its splendid Gothic and Renaissance buildings were destroyed by an earthquake. The defensive walls survived the disaster, and the city was rebuilt in baroque style.Dubrovnik lost its independence to Napoléon in 1808, and in 1815 passed to Austria-Hungary. During the 20th century, as part of Yugoslavia, the city became a popular tourist destination, and in 1979 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the war for independence, it came under heavy siege. Thanks to careful restoration, few traces of damage remain; however, there are maps inside the Pile and Ploce Gates illustrating the points around the city where damage was done. It's only when you experience Dubrovnik yourself that you can understand what a treasure the world nearly lost

Day 13 Ancona, Italy

Ancona is the capital of Italy's Marche region. Ancona's main attraction is her tactile museum for the blinds. It's also a great place to take a dip and enjoy great sea views under the sunshine.

Day 14 Venice, Italy

Venice is a city unlike any other. No matter how often you've seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history in what was a wealthy trading center between Europe and the Orient. Getting lost in the narrow alleyways is a quintessential part of exploring Venice, but at some point you'll almost surely end up in Piazza San Marco, where tourists and locals congregate for a coffee or an aperitif.

Day 15 Venice, Italy

Venice is a city unlike any other. No matter how often you've seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history in what was a wealthy trading center between Europe and the Orient. Getting lost in the narrow alleyways is a quintessential part of exploring Venice, but at some point you'll almost surely end up in Piazza San Marco, where tourists and locals congregate for a coffee or an aperitif.

Day 16 Split, Croatia

Split's ancient core is so spectacular and unusual that a visit is more than worth your time. The heart of the city lies within the walls of Roman emperor Diocletian's retirement palace, which was built in the 3rd century AD. Diocletian, born in the nearby Roman settlement of Salona in AD 245, achieved a brilliant career as a soldier and became emperor at the age of 40. In 295 he ordered this vast palace to be built in his native Dalmatia, and when it was completed he stepped down from the throne and retired to his beloved homeland. Upon his death, he was laid to rest in an octagonal mausoleum, around which Split's magnificent cathedral was built.In 615, when Salona was sacked by barbarian tribes, those fortunate enough to escape found refuge within the stout palace walls and divided up the vast imperial apartments into more modest living quarters. Thus, the palace developed into an urban center, and by the 11th century the settlement had expanded beyond the ancient walls.Under the rule of Venice (1420–1797), Split—as a gateway to the Balkan interior—became one of the Adriatic's main trading ports, and the city's splendid Renaissance palaces bear witness to the affluence of those times. When the Habsburgs took control during the 19th century, an overland connection to Central Europe was established by the construction of the Split–Zagreb–Vienna railway line.After World War II, the Tito years saw a period of rapid urban expansion: industrialization accelerated and the suburbs extended to accommodate high-rise apartment blocks. Today the historic center of Split is included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.

Day 17  Cruising

Day 18 Santorini, Greece

Undoubtedly the most extraordinary island in the Aegean, crescent-shape Santorini remains a mandatory stop on the Cycladic tourist route—even if it's necessary to enjoy the sensational sunsets from Ia, the fascinating excavations, and the dazzling white towns with a million other travelers. Called Kállisti (the "Loveliest") when first settled, the island has now reverted to its subsequent name of Thira, after the 9th-century-BC Dorian colonizer Thiras. The place is better known, however, these days as Santorini, a name derived from its patroness, St. Irene of Thessaloniki, the Byzantine empress who restored icons to Orthodoxy and died in 802. You can fly conveniently to Santorini, but to enjoy a true Santorini rite of passage, opt instead for the boat trip here, which provides a spectacular introduction. After the boat sails between Sikinos and Ios, your deck-side perch approaches two close islands with a passage between them. The bigger one on the left is Santorini, and the smaller on the right is Thirassia. Passing between them, you see the village of Ia adorning Santorini's northernmost cliff like a white geometric beehive. You are in the caldera (volcanic crater), one of the world's truly breathtaking sights: a demilune of cliffs rising 1,100 feet, with the white clusters of the towns of Fira and Ia perched along the top. The bay, once the high center of the island, is 1,300 feet in some places, so deep that when boats dock in Santorini's shabby little port of Athinios, they do not drop anchor. The encircling cliffs are the ancient rim of a still-active volcano, and you are sailing east across its flooded caldera. On your right are the Burnt isles, the White isle, and other volcanic remnants, all lined up as if some outsize display in a geology museum. Hephaestus's subterranean fires smolder still—the volcano erupted in 198 BC, about 735, and there was an earthquake in 1956. Indeed, Santorini and its four neighboring islets are the fragmentary remains of a larger landmass that exploded about 1600 BC: the volcano's core blew sky high, and the sea rushed into the abyss to create the great bay, which measures 10 km by 7 km (6 mi by 4½ mi) and is 1,292 feet deep. The other pieces of the rim, which broke off in later eruptions, are Thirassia, where a few hundred people live, and deserted little Aspronissi ("White isle"). In the center of the bay, black and uninhabited, two cones, the Burnt Isles of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, appeared between 1573 and 1925. There has been too much speculation about the identification of Santorini with the mythical Atlantis, mentioned in Egyptian papyri and by Plato (who says it's in the Atlantic), but myths are hard to pin down. This is not true of old arguments about whether tidal waves from Santorini's cataclysmic explosion destroyed Minoan civilization on Crete, 113 km (70 mi) away. The latest carbon-dating evidence, which points to a few years before 1600 BC for the eruption, clearly indicates that the Minoans outlasted the eruption by a couple of hundred years, but most probably in a weakened state. In fact, the island still endures hardships: since antiquity, Santorini has depended on rain collected in cisterns for drinking and irrigating—the well water is often brackish—and the serious shortage is alleviated by the importation of water. However, the volcanic soil also yields riches: small, intense tomatoes with tough skins used for tomato paste (good restaurants here serve them); the famous Santorini fava beans, which have a light, fresh taste; barley; wheat; and white-skin eggplants.

Day 19 Piraeus, Greece

It's no wonder that all roads lead to the fascinating and maddening metropolis of Athens. Lift your eyes 200 feet above the city to the Parthenon, its honey-color marble columns rising from a massive limestone base, and you behold architectural perfection that has not been surpassed in 2,500 years. But, today, this shrine of classical form dominates a 21st-century boomtown. To experience Athens—Athína in Greek—fully is to understand the essence of Greece: ancient monuments surviving in a sea of cement, startling beauty amid the squalor, tradition juxtaposed with modernity. Locals depend on humor and flexibility to deal with the chaos; you should do the same. The rewards are immense. Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way. From many quarters of the city you can glimpse "the glory that was Greece" in the form of the Acropolis looming above the horizon, but only by actually climbing that rocky precipice can you feel the impact of the ancient settlement. The Acropolis and Filopappou, two craggy hills sitting side by side; the ancient Agora (marketplace); and Kerameikos, the first cemetery, form the core of ancient and Roman Athens. Along the Unification of Archaeological Sites promenade, you can follow stone-paved, tree-lined walkways from site to site, undisturbed by traffic. Cars have also been banned or reduced in other streets in the historical center. In the National Archaeological Museum, vast numbers of artifacts illustrate the many millennia of Greek civilization; smaller museums such as the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum illuminate the history of particular regions or periods. Athens may seem like one huge city, but it is really a conglomeration of neighborhoods with distinctive characters. The Eastern influences that prevailed during the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire are still evident in Monastiraki, the bazaar area near the foot of the Acropolis. On the northern slope of the Acropolis, stroll through Plaka (if possible by moonlight), an area of tranquil streets lined with renovated mansions, to get the flavor of the 19th-century's gracious lifestyle. The narrow lanes of Anafiotika, a section of Plaka, thread past tiny churches and small, color-washed houses with wooden upper stories, recalling a Cycladic island village. In this maze of winding streets, vestiges of the older city are everywhere: crumbling stairways lined with festive tavernas; dank cellars filled with wine vats; occasionally a court or diminutive garden, enclosed within high walls and filled with magnolia trees and the flaming trumpet-shaped flowers of hibiscus bushes. Formerly run-down old quarters, such as Thission, Gazi and Psirri, popular nightlife areas filled with bars and mezedopoleia (similar to tapas bars), are now in the process of gentrification, although they still retain much of their original charm, as does the colorful produce and meat market on Athinas. The area around Syntagma Square, the tourist hub, and Omonia Square, the commercial heart of the city about 1 km (½ mi) northwest, is distinctly European, having been designed by the court architects of King Otho, a Bavarian, in the 19th century. The chic shops and bistros of ritzy Kolonaki nestle at the foot of Mt. Lycabettus, Athens's highest hill (909 feet). Each of Athens's outlying suburbs has a distinctive character: in the north is wealthy, tree-lined Kifissia, once a summer resort for aristocratic Athenians, and in the south and southeast lie Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni, with their sandy beaches, seaside bars, and lively summer nightlife. Just beyond the city's southern fringes is Piraeus, a bustling port city of waterside fish tavernas and Saronic Gulf views.

Day 20 Kusadasi, Turkey

Whilst the busy resort town of Kusadasi offers much in the way of shopping and dining – not to mention a flourishing beach life scene, the real jewel here is Ephesus and the stunning ruined city that really take centre stage. With only 20% of the classical ruins having been excavated, this archaeological wonder has already gained the status as Europe's most complete classical metropolis. And a metropolis it really is; built in the 10th century BC this UNESCO World Heritage site is nothing short of spectacular. Although regrettably very little remains of the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), the superb Library of Celsus' façade is practically intact and it is one of life's great joys to attend an evening performance in the illuminated ruins once all the tourists have left. The history of the city is fascinating and multi-layered and it is well worth reading up on this beforehand if a visit is planned. Another point of interest for historians would be the house of the Virgin Mary, located on the romantically named Mount Nightingale and just nine kilometres away from Ephesus proper. Legend has it that Mary (along with St. John) spent her final years here, secluded from the rest of the population, spreading Christianity. An edifying experience, even for non-believers. For the less historical minded amongst you, Kusadasi offers plenty in the way of activities. After a stroll through the town, jump in a taxi to Ladies' Beach (men are allowed), sample a Turkish kebap on one of the many beachfront restaurants and enjoy the clement weather. If you do want to venture further afield, then the crystal clear beaches of Guzelcamli (or the Millipark), the cave of Zeus and the white scalloped natural pools at Pamukkale, known as Cleopatra's pools, are definitely worth a visit.

Day 21 Dikili, Turkey

Day 22 Istanbul, Turkey

The only city in the world that can lay claim to straddling two continents, Istanbul—once known as Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine and then the Ottoman Empire—has for centuries been a bustling metropolis with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. Istanbul embraces this enviable position with both a certain chaos and inventiveness, ever evolving as one of the world's most cosmopolitan crossroads. It's often said that Istanbul is the meeting point of East and West, but visitors to this city built over the former capital of two great empires are likely to be just as impressed by the juxtaposition of old and new. Office towers creep up behind historic palaces, women in chic designer outfits pass others wearing long skirts and head coverings, peddlers' pushcarts vie with battered old Fiats and shiny BMWs for dominance of the noisy, narrow streets, and the Grand Bazaar competes with modern shopping malls. At dawn, when the muezzin's call to prayer resounds from ancient minarets, there are inevitably a few hearty revelers still making their way home from nightclubs and bars. Most visitors to this sprawling city of more than 14 million will first set foot in the relatively compact Old City, where the legacy of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires can be seen in monumental works of architecture like the brilliant Aya Sofya and the beautifully proportioned mosques built by the great architect Sinan. Though it would be easy to spend days, if not weeks, exploring the wealth of attractions in the historical peninsula, visitors should make sure also to venture elsewhere in order to experience the vibrancy of contemporary Istanbul. With a lively nightlife propelled by its young population and an exciting arts scene that's increasingly on the international radar—thanks in part to its stint as the European Capital of Culture in 2010—Istanbul is truly a city that never sleeps. It's also a place where visitors will feel welcome: Istanbul may be on the Bosphorus, but at heart it's a Mediterranean city, whose friendly inhabitants are effusively social and eager to share what they love most about it.

Day 23 Istanbul, Turkey

The only city in the world that can lay claim to straddling two continents, Istanbul—once known as Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine and then the Ottoman Empire—has for centuries been a bustling metropolis with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. Istanbul embraces this enviable position with both a certain chaos and inventiveness, ever evolving as one of the world's most cosmopolitan crossroads. It's often said that Istanbul is the meeting point of East and West, but visitors to this city built over the former capital of two great empires are likely to be just as impressed by the juxtaposition of old and new. Office towers creep up behind historic palaces, women in chic designer outfits pass others wearing long skirts and head coverings, peddlers' pushcarts vie with battered old Fiats and shiny BMWs for dominance of the noisy, narrow streets, and the Grand Bazaar competes with modern shopping malls. At dawn, when the muezzin's call to prayer resounds from ancient minarets, there are inevitably a few hearty revelers still making their way home from nightclubs and bars. Most visitors to this sprawling city of more than 14 million will first set foot in the relatively compact Old City, where the legacy of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires can be seen in monumental works of architecture like the brilliant Aya Sofya and the beautifully proportioned mosques built by the great architect Sinan. Though it would be easy to spend days, if not weeks, exploring the wealth of attractions in the historical peninsula, visitors should make sure also to venture elsewhere in order to experience the vibrancy of contemporary Istanbul. With a lively nightlife propelled by its young population and an exciting arts scene that's increasingly on the international radar—thanks in part to its stint as the European Capital of Culture in 2010—Istanbul is truly a city that never sleeps. It's also a place where visitors will feel welcome: Istanbul may be on the Bosphorus, but at heart it's a Mediterranean city, whose friendly inhabitants are effusively social and eager to share what they love most about it.

* Itinerary is subject to change. The exact itinerary can be confirmed at the time of booking.

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