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With mountains to the west and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea to the east, Barcelona possesses panoramic beauty. Among the most-visited sites in the Catalonia region's capital are structures designed by Antoni Gaudi, including the colorful Casa Batllo, whimsical Park Guell and Barcelona's most iconic building, the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family, known locally as the Sagrada Familia. Walking tours are popular here, with plenty to admire in the Gothic Quarter and on La Rambla, a bustling pedestrian street lined with stalls and trees. Foodies find themselves on tours of tapas restaurants or exploring the sprawling Mercat de la Boqueria, a covered market with roots in the 13th century. For soccer fans, an excursion to Camp Nou, the home stadium for FC Barcelona, proves an exciting pilgrimage.

Language: Spanish
Currency: Euro (EUR)

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Sitting on the western shore of its namesake strait, this port serves as the gateway to Sicily, the isle just off Italy's "boot." Major attractions include Piazza del Duomo's cathedral and adjoining bell tower, which houses the world's largest astronomical clock; a 12th-century church; and a regional museum with works from Caravaggio. Shore excursions embark to Sicilian sites like hillside Taormina's ancient Greek theater or the rumbling Mount Etna. Rich soil makes the area an ideal grape-growing spot, so some tour-goers sip wine in the shadow of Europe's highest volcano. For seaside splendor, take a boat out to Isola Bella, known as the Pearl of the Ionian Sea. Themed excursions for "The Godfather" trilogy lead movie buffs to filming locations, while history aficionados will be enchanted with tales of deserted Tindari.

Language: Italian
Currency: Euro


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The Fortress City of Valletta, Malta's capital, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the perfect place to start your Malta adventure. Verdant gardens overlook an island topped with medieval castles, forts, the Grand Harbor, minarets, and Baroque churches. Many tours visit the Grandmaster's Palace, home to the country's government since it was built in 1571, as well as the must-see St. John's Co-Cathedral and Museum, which displays two of Caravaggio's masterpieces. Various outings stop in the walled town of Mdina (the former capital), where you can shop and dine along quaint streets and tour a hand-blown glass factory for up-close looks into the production of the island specialty. The clear-blue Mediterranean waters welcome divers for excursions among artificial reefs, WWII military wreckage and-most famously-underwater caves.

Language: Maltese, English
Currency: Euro (EUR)

Language: Greek

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Piraeus serves as Athens' primary port. Attractions here include archeological and maritime museums, the hilltop quarter of Kastella, Mikrolimano's seafood restaurants and the remains of the Piraeus Wall. After making the 6-mile journey to Greece's capital city, head to the Acropolis, the 7-acre rock formation that's home to the Propylaea, Erechtheum, Parthenon and Temple of Athena Nike. Nearby, the Acropolis Museum features exhibitions dedicated to these monuments and offers views of the city. Guided excursions may visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus; the Theatre of Dionysus, possibly the world's oldest theater; and the Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first modern Olympics. Occurring every hour on the hour, the changing of the guard ceremony at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier is a spectacle worth seeing. Food tours entice with Athenian delicacies such as olives, feta cheese and baklava.

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Language: Greek

Currency: Euro (EUR)

The second-largest city on the Greek island of Crete is known for its charming blend of ancient history and modern development. The picturesque Old Town is a huge draw to visitors, with its Venetian harbor and neoclassical mansions. Here, cruisers can stroll the cobblestone streets, dine at local cafes, grab a drink at a tavern, browse for artworks and souvenirs and soak in all the rich views and historic architecture. The modern city beyond the Old Town also is bursting with things to do, from museums to public gardens to the busy market square. The summer is a particularly busy time of year, with frequent festivals and other cultural events.  For active excursions, opt for a sea kayaking adventure through the historic harbor and out into the Aegean Sea or head out into the countryside for an off-roading expedition in the White Mountains.


Language: Greek

Currency: Euro (EUR)

This island is celebrated for its natural beauty and delightful climate. Its most outstanding site is the Acropolis of Lindos; take a donkey trek to the site and pass charming, whitewashed cottages on the way. The island's capital city is ringed with more than two miles of 15th-century walls. Most excursions include the medieval castle and Turkish market.

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Language: Turkish

Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)

Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor during the time of the Roman Empire, and now it is one of the world's most impressive and best-restored archaeological sites. Walk the marble-paved streets and see the spectacular ruins of the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, the house where the Virgin Mary spent her last days and the amphitheater where St. Paul once preached. Kusadasi is a Turkish resort known for its extensive marina and miles of beaches, but it is famed for the ancient treasures just minutes away: Miletus and its Greco-Roman theater and Temple of Athena, Didyma and its Temple of Apollo, and the most glorious of all, the marble city of Ephesus.

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