Guide: Those two are the Kameni Islands. This Warrior Vase, from the 12th century BC, shows women gathered to wave goodbye to a group of warriors heading off to war — sporting fancy armor with duffle bags hanging from their spears. Plumbing ran under the streets, and water was plentiful. I love how, in the middle of all this modern tourism, the traditional culture carries on. The island's main city, also called Rhodes, was one of the great cities of antiquity. Our ship functions as our floating hotel, and takes us effortlessly from port to port as we settle into the relaxing tempo of an Aegean holiday. Many of these dwellings originated as humble caves. In addition to town walks and tours of the Delos archaeological site, he enjoys leading a 2.5-hour "Food on Foot" town walk around Mykonos, with tasting stops, and an all-day "Ambrosial Mykonos" experience, including a town walk and a drive around the island to an artisanal creamery, brewery, and vineyard, plus a beach break. These days, tacky trinket stalls share the lanes with top-end fashion boutiques. His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. Visitors wander the remains of what was the city's principal shopping mall and administrative center. There's a pier for only one ship, so most ships drop the hook and shuttle their people in by tender. In the next order, Ionic, the capitals are decorated with understated scrolls. Agios Sostis, an old hippie beach at the north end of the island, has none of the thumping party energy of Paradise Beach. From Athens to Mount Ararat, join Rick as he meets the people and explores the ancient sites of Greece and Turkey. Its capital is Athens. Its main town, also called Hydra, is home to about 90 percent of the island's 3,000 residents. ©2021 Rick Steves' Europe, Inc. | Its superb harbor is surrounded by an amphitheater of rocky hills. The Ottoman Turks finally defeated the Knights of St. John in the 1500s. There are 3,000 passengers on this ship. Of its hundreds of islands, we'll visit three: Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes. Get inspired with Rick Steves’ recommended places to go and things to do, with tips, photos, videos, and travel information on Greece. Like so many great civilizations, ancient Greece peeked and then faded. Lindos' beach is a broad and sandy strip, great for families. See more ideas about rick steves, europe travel, travel. I hope you've enjoyed our Greek island cruise as we've explored just three of the countless islands that make the Aegean Sea such a popular destination. The Golden Mean and everything. Rick: Spinach pie. The flow of people into the sprawling city continues, and four million people — roughly one out of every three Greeks — call Athens home. Penny: Zeus wanted to know where the center of the world was. To get the absolute most out of our Santorini day, I've booked half a day with Dimitris. Being on the top deck as you approach the day's destination gives you a quiet, bird's eye view. So, they honored Helios by building a colossal statue. Rick: So a balance of things. The Aegean Sea offers the quintessence of Mediterranean island charm. These mansions survive today as grand old hotels, embassies, and museums. Leonidas: Eggplant. Greek architecture evolved in stages. Terms of Service | Privacy. It's the perfect companion to the Rick Steves Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese guidebook! They claim the soldiers' outfits have 400 pleats — one for each miserable year of Turkish occupation (and don't you forget it). And tonight the place is all ours, as our enthusiastic cook welcomes us into his kitchen. The 80-year period from about 480 to 400 BC is known as the Golden Age of Greece — the age of Socrates and Pericles — and Athens was the center. With little building material on the island, it just made sense to dig into the cliffs. In the 14th century the knights built the Palace of the Grand Master — an imposing residence and capital for their leader. It's especially worth visiting if you're traveling beyond Athens, because it displays artifacts found all around Greece, including Mycenae, Epidavros, Santorini, and Olympia — and the treasures displayed here are generally better than those remaining at the sites themselves. Within minutes you'll be powering up the switch-backs into the island as your guide narrates the drive. And with Dimitris, I know exactly what I'm eating. The National Archaeological Museum is far and away the top ancient Greek art collection anywhere. Because Santorini's pier is small, giant cruise ships drop anchor and tender their passengers in on small shuttle boats. Most cruisers get nervous about missing the ship and head back earlier than necessary. A fleet of taxis shuttle people to outlying hamlets and beaches. But the ease of not having to change hotels with every new destination and the abundance of entertainment on board can contribute to a nice vacation. Hi, I'm Rick Steves back with more of the best of Europe. The capitals, or tops of the columns, were both functional and decorative. As the nearest Greek island to the Holy Land, Rhodes was a natural gathering point for Crusaders from all over Europe. It housed big bronze statues of Hephaestus, the blacksmith god, and Athena, patroness of the city. They'd pass through this imposing entryway and up to the religious heart of the city and the Parthenon. For islands not covered by this book I simply looked on YouTube to get a great idea of the feel and look of those places. See, you can eat them! With my favorite irresistible dinner views on Hydra, this scenic spot lets you watch the sun dip gently into the Saronic Gulf, with Kaminia's adorable port in the foreground. Rhodes, or "Rhodos," as locals call it, is the fourth largest of the Greek islands. In the morning, we'll be in Santorini. I cap my visit by climbing to the summit of the island. We're catching one for a windy survey of the island and to be dropped off for a scenic hike back into town. But when the Greeks won their independence from the Ottoman Turks in the early 1800s, they chose little-but-historic Athens to be their capital. see our FAQ. Enjoying the island with a local guide and then taking a short break to enjoy a cliffside bar — filled with happy travelers from around the world — is a reminder that even if on a cruise, you can exercise your independence and spark some great travel moments. (photo: Cameron Hewitt) A row of windmills sits … I'm Rick Steves. Mykonos' status in the last generation was as a fashionable destination for jet-setters. A two-hour drive northwest of Athens takes us to Delphi, one of the most important sights in the ancient world. Colorfully costumed evzone guards stand at attention at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and periodically do a ceremonial changing of the guard to the delight of tourists (guards change five minutes before the top of each hour, less elaborate crossing of the guard around :25 after, full ceremony with marching band Sundays at 11:00—get there early as they may start a bit before 11:00). And just beyond the acropolis is the more exotic St. Paul's Beach, named for a legendary visit by the apostle Paul nearly 2,000 years ago. Archaic statues all looked like cousins. Allow 1.5–2 hours for the site (hiking to the stadium alone is nearly a half-hour round-trip), and another 45–60 minutes for the museum. The Kameni Islands are actually made of lava rock. This museum is a great way to either start or finish off your sightseeing through Greece. And we'll connect it all by cruise ship, enjoying fun on board as we sail. The Horse and Jockey of Artemision, cast in the second century BC, is filled with this Hellenistic energy. They were also called the "Knights of St. John Hospitallers." After the noise of Athens, Hydra's traffic-free tranquility is a delight. You can do the archaeological site and the museum in either order. Other than one very well-preserved temple and a rebuilt stoa, it's a field of humble ruins. This point, where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet, is famously windy — long powering windmills. Coming from all over Europe, they gave Rhodes a cosmopolitan feel. Along with its beaches, Mykonos offers a major historic attraction. Walk once around fast for a time-lapse effect, then go around again for a closer look. The windy roads feel like a fairground racetrack for tourists, busy with an array of easy-to-rent vehicles. And, with a little luck, you can make a friend and be invited in — or, in this case — up onto the roof — for a pleasant chat and a cup of strong Greek coffee. The pope recognized the Knights of St. John as a religious order, and they eventually became "soldiers of the cross" — with an economic agenda and a mighty navy. But Greek art evolved with its society. The one must-see sight outside the central tourist zone is the National Archaeological Museum. Local guides like Penny Kolomvotsou brings these ancient and mythic events to life. The king gave a speech from this balcony, granting his people — whose ancestors invented the concept — democracy. And it retains a certain hip cachet. At a time when Rome was just a village, it was here that the foundations of our Western civilization were laid. Presided over by hotels that run bars for young beachgoers, the Paradise action is nonstop. Penny: Yeah, everything in moderation, no vices. Relax and take in a sea busy with water taxis, ferries that connect this oasis with Athens, old freighters — like castles of rust — lumbering slowly along the horizon, and cruise ships anchored as if they haven't moved in weeks. We'll learn of Crusader history and marvel at stunning Greek isle views. Buoyant after winning freedom from its Turkish overlords, the new capital city flourished. Two hundred years ago, Athens was just a small town surrounded by big ruins, sitting on lots of history. With each port you've got sightseeing options: You can take the organized tour and be on their time table, or, you can hire a private guide. You can also watch Greek sculpture evolve, from prehistoric Barbie dolls, to stiff Egyptian-style, to the David-like balance of the Golden Age, to wet T-shirt, buckin'-bronco Hellenistic, and finally, to the influence of the Romans. The town stretches away from the harbor — a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, flanked by whitewashed homes. At the top of town, the humble Taverna Leonidas has been around so long it doesn't need a sign. Mykonos is another small island with a small port inundated by cruise-ship crowds. Can you tell me about them? Rhodes then became part of the Ottoman Empire for several centuries. Back lanes offer tranquility away from the cruise crowds. Approaching an exotic and fabled island like Santorini — as the moon sets and the sun rises, just kissing the lip of the breathtaking cliffs — is worth getting up for. We'll start up there, at the historic, cultural, and literal high point of any trip to Athens — the Acropolis. As is standard around here, beaches rent comfortable lounge furniture with umbrellas. Terms of Service | Privacy, Athens, Greece: Ancient Acropolis and Agora, Athens, Greece: National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece: The Tranquil Anafiotika Neighborhood. Delos was important in three different ancient eras: first as a religious site, then as the treasury of the Athenian League — that was sort of the "Fort Knox" of the ancient world. About five centuries before Christ, Athens was the center of the Western world. Sure, there's nothing culturally broadening about this — in fact, the only thing broadening about all this lazy time on ship with unlimited food and drink is the effect it might have on your waistline. The difference with the local salad is that we use the local tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes, the local cucumbers, and instead of the feta cheese, we use the goat cheese, and we add the capers and the caper leaves. Visitors here can enjoy the building's fine interiors, a wide-ranging collection of artifacts, and the highlight of the entire palace: its fantastically detailed floor mosaics. 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