Lord Byron called Venice (Venezia) "a fairy city of the heart." La Serenissima, "The Most Serene," is an improbable cityscape of stone palaces that seem to float on water, a place where cats nap in Oriental marble windowsills set in colorful plaster walls. Candy-stripe pylons stand sentry outside the tiny stone docks of palazzi whose front steps descend into the gently lapping waters of the canals that lace the city.
A whimsical stroll through the city can lead one to a hidden world of ornately decorated piazzas and shops. As you explore colorful marketplaces and busy town squares, marvel at a priceless legacy of Baroque architecture. Admire the richness of St. Mark's Basilica and the lavishness of the Palazzo Ducale. Getting lost in Venice can be a truly delightful experience. The place of dreams, this romantic city will live long in your memory.
Fronting the Adriatic Sea, this southern Croatia city is known for its distinctive Old Town, encircled with massive stone walls completed in the 16th century. Its well preserved building range from baroque St. Blaise Church to Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector's Palace, now a history museum. Today, tourism is the most important industry in Dubrovnik and the proudest feather in Croatia's cap, an elite destination with one of the most beautiful towns in the Mediterranean. Adding to it's popularity in recent years, is its starring role in the HBO TV hit "Game of Thrones" where Old Town has stood in for fictional places in the TV series.
Located along one of Montenegro's most beautiful bays is Kotor, a city of traders and famous sailors, with many stories to tell. The Old City of Kotor is a well-preserved urbanization typical of the Middle Ages, built between the 12th and 14th century. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor an UNESCO listed “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site". Through the entire city the buildings are criss-crossed with narrow streets and squares. At one of them there is the Cathedral of Sveti Tripun , a monument of Roman culture and one of the most recognizable symbols of the city. The Church of Sveti Luka (13th century), Church Sveta Ana (12th century) Church Sveta Marija (13th century), Church Gospe od Zdravlja (15th century), the Prince’s Palace (17th century) and the Napoleon Theatre (19th century) are all treasures that are part of the rich heritage of Kotor.
Argostoli (Cephalonia), Greece
Located west of mainland Greece, this island in the Ionian Sea is marked by sandy coves and dry rugged landscapes. It's capital, Argostoili, is built on a hillside overlooking the narrow harbor. Mostly famous for the exotic beaches, including Myrtos, Antisamos, Lourdas and Skala, the island was chosen for filming the Hollywood movie Captain Corelli's Mandolin
. Apart from swimming, Cephalonia also has many places to see, from picturesque villages to Medieval castles and beautiful monasteries.
Of all the Cyclades Islands, Santorini is often considered the most dramatic. Once an active volcano, in approximately 1620 BC, the volcano erupted with such force that the center of the island literally exploded, leaving a submerged crater. The island's small villages were preserved in the ashes giving a fascinating view of everyday life from 3,600 years ago. Santorini's landscape offsets its simple buildings, which shine in the brilliant sunlight. The rich volcanic soil is ideal for grapes and the local vines produce a crop known for its "special volcanic taste." Thíra, or Firá Town, is laid out along the edge of a cliff that forms a portion of the rim of the now extinct caldera. This picturesque site has a charm and atmosphere that can be attributed to the easy-going Greek lifestyle
The largest of Greece's Dodecanese islands in terms of land area, Rhodes is known for its beach resorts, ancient city ruins and remnants of its occupation by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades. The city has an Old Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and featuring the medieval Street of the Knights and the castle-like Palace of the Grand Masters. Outside the city of Rhodes, the island is dotted with small villages and spa resorts with mineral-rich spring water offered for various health treatments.
Mykonos is famed as a cosmopolitan destination among the Greek islands and widely recognized as one of the great travel meccas. In Greek mythology, the Mykonos was named after its first ruler, Mykonos, the son or grandson of the god Apollo and a local hero. The island is also said to have been the location of a great battle between Zeus and Titans and where Hercules killed the invincible giants having lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus.
Mykonos Town (Chora) is a stunningly picturesque Cycladic town with a maze of tiny streets and whitewashed steps lanes, houses and churches, gathered around its harbor in the middle of a wide bay. It is one of the most cosmopolitan and crowded towns of the Aegean. The streets are lined with little shops, boutiques, art galleries, cafes, stylish bars and restaurants.
The landmark hill of the Acropolis looms over Greece's busy metropolis. This age-old symbol of Athens was built by the Athenians during the 5th century BC in honor of the goddess Athena, patroness of the city. The temple complex was regarded as a citadel of the gods, with the Parthenon standing out as the most architecturally sophisticated temple of that period.
In 1834, Athens became the capital of modern Greece with a population of fewer than 10,000. Today, about a third of the country's more than four million people live in the city. The central area of modern Athens is relatively small, stretching from the Acropolis to Mount Lycabettus. Its layout is simple: three main streets - Stadiou, Venizelou and Akademias - link the two main squares, Syntagma and Omonia. A stroll around the main squares or in areas off the beaten path can provide a feel of the unique character of Athens. Observe the activities at the central market or simply enjoy a cool beverage in one of Athens' many sidewalk cafés.