Dotted throughout the sea surrounding Greece are 227 inhabited islands (nearly 6,000 in total) with their own distinct scenery, vibrant culture and history. It’s no surprise that Greece and the Greek Isles regularly top travel wish lists for those who want a variety of experiences—ancient ruins, miles of gorgeous beaches and incredible food—all in one trip.
With Royal Caribbean, you can easily and safely island-hop–or island “cruise”–minus the daily ferry schedules or packing and unpacking at every new place. This summer, Jewel of the Seas is embarking on a series of seven-night itineraries to Greece’s breathtaking shores, and it’s one of the easiest ways for you and your family to savor all that this country’s idyllic destinations have to offer.
Take a peek at the unforgettable adventures you can experience in some of the country’s most popular spots:
A visit to Greece is complete with time well spent in Athens, even if you plan to enjoy the bulk of your cruise vacation on the beach. As one of the oldest cities in the world, Athens holds an incredibly influential place in history as the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of Western civilization. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time when touring the centuries-old Temple of Olympian Zeus by foot or van, shopping in Plaka, the city’s oldest district, or marveling at the grandeur of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis of Athens.
The sun-drenched island of Mykonos—best known for its classic whitewashed buildings with eye-catching blue shutters and doors— is considered one of the most elegant destinations in Greece. Travelers who have been there say that a stroll through Mykonos’ charming streets is like wandering through a fairytale. Make no mistake, though, the island’s quaint villages—as well as its beautiful Kalafatis beach and the nearby excavated sites of Ancient Delos—are as stunning as they say.
Few sunsets in the world rival those over the village of Oia in Santorini—and for many, this alone makes the adventure unforgettable. The dramatic cliffside villages of Santorini are a sight to behold (just ask all the selfie-takers!), but there’s a lot more than breathtaking scenery. Shaped by a catastrophic Minoan volcanic eruption, the island’s dramatic geography is also the perfect backdrop for a day of sailing and swimming in the clear blue Aegean Sea or exploring the Bronze Age Akrotiri ruins preserved in ash (the area is fertile ground for assyrtiko grapes and vin santo wines).
The island of Rhodes might best be known for once being home to the Colossus—one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This must-see structure originally stood as high as the Statue of Liberty, making it the tallest statue in the ancient world. Today, Rhodes offers plenty of other sights for travelers looking for historical adventures. Trace the steps of the past by strolling through the medieval old town, where you’ll spy Byzantine churches, Roman ruins, synagogues and minarets, or visit the archaeological site of the ancient city of Lindos. Boasting the longest summer season of all the other Greek Isles, you’ll also want to take in the beauty of Rhodes’ white sand beaches or enjoy some of the local delicacies like stuffed clams, grilled sea bass and squid.
Located on the western coast of Greece, the Ionian Islands are home to a unique cultural identity (including some Italian influences), rooted in many centuries under Venetian rule. One of the best ways to unlock this storied history is by taking a walking food tour in Corfu—literally a moveable feast—or pedaling your way through mountainside villages to explore the island’s coastal roads. On Cephalonia, the largest of these islands, you’ll find Argostoli—a city full of natural and cultural wonders that includes the hidden Melissani Lake, known as the Cave of Nymphs in Greek mythology.
This is just a sampling of the adventures that await when you cruise to Greece with Royal Caribbean. Other thrills include exploring the original site of the ancient Olympic Games in the small beach town of Katakolon and tastings at Manousakis Winery in Chania, Crete.
If you want to see and experience Greece’s beauty, history and culture first-hand, start planning your vacation here.