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A Greek Odyssey through the Spectacular Aegean Sea
Heroes of legend spent long periods at sea, leaving behind home life to discover the extraordinary sights and sounds that form the basis of Greek mythology. What they didn’t have was Wind Star, a fully equipped, four-masted sailing yacht that accommodates just 148 guests, provides four decks, and imbues every epic journey with genuine service from the heart. Plus, there’s an impressive Watersports Platform on the aft with complimentary kayaks and paddleboards. 

Delighted modern-day voyagers describe Wind Star as their own private yacht. Its intimate scale helped Windstar win the AFAR Travelers’ Award for Small Ship Cruises and enables it to visit locales that bigger ships can’t for a truly unforgettable cruise. On this incredible voyage, that means exclusive stops at little-known, historic gems such as the Byzantine empire-era architecture of Patmos and Monemvisia that other cruise lines aren’t able to access. A Biblical experience, Patmos is where the Book of Revelations was written and with no airport on the island, you can only get there by boat. You’ll also dine in the shadow of the ancient city of Ephesus—under the stars and with live music performed by the Aegean Chamber Orchestra—at a complimentary Destination Discovery event. Enjoy it all as you cruise along the Aegean Sea, taking in the coastal scenery and visiting hallowed ancient treasures all along the way.
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    Day 1
    Athens
    Starting with an appropriately grand entrance, your journey begins in Athens, the Greek capital, eternal birthplace of civilization, and still one of the world’s most important cultural centers. Its port, Piraeus, is the largest in Europe and second largest in the world—and arguably the best vantage point for a first look at the breathtaking splendor of the Athenian cityscape. Linger on deck in the sunshine to appreciate the sweeping view, crowned by the gleaming white columns of the Parthenon. 

    Book a full or half day tour to see as many sites as possible. Among the many unforgettable points of interest to explore when you disembark, the Temple of Hephaestus, National Archeological Museum, Ancient Agora, and Mount Lycabettus (whose summit, at 277 meters above sea level, is the highest point in Central Athens) are fascinating places to explore.
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    Mykonos and its windmills
    Day 2
    Mykonos
    More marvels delight the eyes in Mykonos, most famous among the Cyclades islands. As you approach, pause to admire the island’s Cycladic architecture, dotting green hills with stunning structures of pure white, and the famous windmills that line the coast. Once on terra firma, relax and dig your toes in the soft sand of Agios Sostis Beach, visit the Aegean Maritime Museum, and meander through Mykonos Town’s “Little Venice” (an historic 18th-century district). 

    Pay your respects at the textbook example of Cycladic architecture, the historic Panagia Paraportiani Church. Its chalk-white exterior and astonishing asymmetry will leave you breathless. Another snow-hued island feature, resident pelicans roam around the church and surrounding harbor. Consider booking an excursion to the tiny uninhabited island of Delos, a UNESCO World’s Cultural Heritage Site—it’s a 45-minute ferry ride and spirits you off to the mythical birthplace of the Greek god Apollo and his twin sister Artemis.
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    Roman ruins in Ephesus
    Day 3
    Kusadasi
    Welcome to Turkey! Entering the port of Kusadasi, archeology buffs won’t want to miss a major attraction that’s just a half-hour drive away. The ancient Roman city of Ephesus is the most well-preserved Classical city in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

    Outside of Ephesus lies the provincial town of Selcuk, home to two of the country’s biggest religious attractions, the House of the Virgin Mary and the Basilica of St. John. Explore the Basilica’s ruins, and you’ll be greeted by a marble slab that marks the (reputed) grave of St. John the Apostle. The Best of Ephesus tour will take you to all the above. Another highlight of Kusadasi, a forty-minute drive from the port, is rural Sirince, whose gorgeous landscape features charming wood-and-mortar houses, verdant olive groves and vineyards.
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    Patmos
    Day 4
    Patmos
    Off the west coast of Turkey, your next stop is the seahorse-shaped island of Patmos, part of the Dodeconese Archipelago. Only accessible by sea, the island has no airport. Travelers with an interest in religion will be exalted to set foot on Patmos, so thoroughly is it steeped in Biblical history. Patmos is world-renowned for being the place where the Book of Revelation was written. Among its hills and valleys lie more than three hundred churches and shrines; many hilltops are home to magnificent mansions. 

    Here, it’s easy to become a wandering pilgrim, and one’s journey is richly rewarded. Atop the island’s central hill sits the Byzantine Monastery of St. John, built in 1066. Around it, the structures comprising the village of Chora, home to an Orthodox convent, Evangelismos, display an extraordinary icon painting of Madonna and Child. A little over a mile away, halfway between Chora and Skala, is the Cave of the Apocalypse, where John envisioned the Second Coming. The Spirit of Patmos tour will take you to all of the fascinating highlights.
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    Santorini
    Day 5
    Santorini
    One of the most popular destinations in all of Greece is this beautiful volcanic island in the Cyclades, situated in the middle of the Aegean. Visit the village of Ola to see the iconic blue domes. The dramatic ocean views throughout Santorini will enchant you, as will the beaches—especially the black pebble beach of Kamari. Scuba diving and snorkeling are very popular, particularly at Red Beach.  

    If you can part with the sand and surf, head to the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, to view the artifacts discovered among the ruins of Akrotiri, a Bronze Age settlement that’s now a UNESCO site. Oenophiles can embark on the Wineries of Santorini and Ola Village excursion or simply dive into wine tasting at one of Santorini’s many vineyards, among them Argiros Estate, Boutari Winery, Roussous Winery, and Santo Wines.
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    Monemvasia
    Day 6
    Monemvasia
    Welcome to Southern Greece, the region known as the Peloponnese. Off the Peloponnese’s east coast is Monemvasia, a picturesque town situated on a rock that rises from the sea, enabling visitors to step back in time. Anyone with a soft spot for the medieval era will feel right at home in Monemvasia. The town walls and many of the churches have stood here since the Middle Ages. The Monemvasia Castle walking tour will help you navigate through the narrow streets within the castle walls for an enlightening stroll.. Climbing to the top of the rock permits you to take in a view of the ruins of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine fortress—as well as the beautiful water below.
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    A belfry at the top of Palamidi fortress in Nafplio
    Day 7
    Nafplio
    Start your excursion in Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece until 1834, with a visit to Karathona Beach. A ten-minute walk from this stunning beach brings you to the storied Palamidi Castle, built in 1686 on Palamidi Hill, named for the Homeric hero Palamidis. Climb its 999 steps to reach the top and be richly rewarded with ancient architecture along the way, concluding with panoramic views.  

    The Fortress was impenetrable until its occupation by the Turks in 1715, and  returned to Greek control in 1822, when the Greeks won independence from the Ottoman Empire. (Find out more at Nafplio’s War Museum, an annex of the Athens War Museum; and visit the Archeological Museum of Nafplio to see artifacts from the Prehistoric and Mycenaean Era.) Renowned for making komboloi, the worry beads used to pass time in Greek (and Cypriot) culture, Nafplio showcases billions of beads at its Komboloi Museum. Also highly recommended for more cultural insight is the Argolis UNESCO sites tour that takes guests to the ancient ruins of Mycenae and on to Epidaurus, where people have come for centuries in search of healing from the Greek gods.
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    The Acropolis
    Day 8
    Return to Athens
    Now that you’ve seen the former Grecian capital, don’t say goodbye to the current one without a tour of the Acropolis, whose name literally translates to “highest point of the city.” You can’t visit the legendary Mount Olympus, but you can see the Temple of Zeus, the Balcony of Athens, and tour the new Acropolis Museum. The latter is an archaeological mecca built to house every single artifact found at the site of the Acropolis and on the surrounding slopes, from the Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. This is an ideal time to reflect on the epic odyssey you’ve just completed. “Happy is the man,” wrote Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba the Greek), “who has the good fortune to sail the Aegean Sea.”