Set sail from Northern Europe towards the warm Mediterranean waters. Depart form England towards Portugal, where after a day in Oporto, you’ll get to explore the country’s capital – Lisbon. Here, you can’t miss the picturesque sights of the culturally rich and charming Alfama neighbourhood, a showcase of the city’s Visigoth roots, Arabic influence and fishing port heritage. On the southern side of the Iberian Peninsula, you’ll get to experience the many cultural facets of Spain. Stopping first in Cadiz, one of Europe’s oldest cities, where cobbled medieval streets spill out into whitewashed Spanish plazas and Roman ruins. Then after Malaga and Cartagena, you’ll come to enjoy the colourful and whimsical sights of the architecture in Barcelona. A modern city that architect and artist Antoni Gaudi used as a canvas over a century ago.
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Take a drive out to the Duoro Valley and admire it beautiful landscapes and vineyards. Take a stroll through the Historic Centre of Oporto an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Taste a little wine in Oporto famous for it port wines.
Hop on a rattling yellow tram for a ride around the seven hills of Lisbon, checking out the ancient Moorish Alfama district and hill top St. George’s Castle, the narrow lanes of the Bairro Alto and riverfront Belem with its Monument to the Discoverers. Stop for delicious pastries and maybe a seafood lunch down by the water.
Founded over 3,000 years ago, Cadiz grew rich on treasures brought back from Spain’s New World and the atmospheric streets of the old town have changed little since this golden era. It’s also the port for Seville, a romantic city with gorgeous Moorish architecture, and for Jerez de la Frontera at the heart of Spain’s sherry region, where wine tasting is a must.
Sol and the beautiful white villages of Andalusia, Malaga is a great city in its own right. Sights to see include the Moorish Alcazaba, the hilltop Gibralfaro Castle and the birthplace of Picasso now a gallery devoted to his work. Then why not stop for lunch? The restaurants around the old cathedral are great for fish and seafood.
Go back to the swashbuckling era at the mighty Fort Bocachica or to La Popa Monastery for a spectacular view. Cartagena was once a favored destination of pirates and adventures, now is now a bustling seaport.
Life in the Catalan capital is as fast and fun as anywhere in Europe. Take a stroll down Las Ramblas, where the street theatre is just as crazy as the fantastical Art Nouveau architecture of the city’s most famous son, Gaudi. The Gothic Quarter with its narrow streets and vast cathedral is big on atmosphere and the neighbourhood tapas bars are just the place to refill.
Cannes and glamour go hand-in-hand and no more so than during the May film festival when the who’s who of Hollywood descends on the town. But any time of year, it’s one of the Riviera’s most chic resorts. Take a stroll along La Croisette, the palm-shaded beachfront promenade, passing Belle-Époque hotels, designer boutiques and elegant pavement cafés – perfect for people watching.
How lucky to visit the Tuscan region, Florence & Pisa, resplendent in art and history. What’s even more fortunate is that all the main attractions in Florence are centrally located for the perfect walking tour. See Santa Croce, Piazza del Duomo and Michelangelo’s David.
Civitavecchia has been the port for Rome since the 13th-century and the Eternal City is still the big draw. It wasn’t built in a day, but you’ll see a lot in yours, from the massive Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City to the sun-filled piazzas, fabulous fountains, ultra-chic designer stores and oh-so-tempting pavement cafés, where you can do as the Romans do.