The infinite variety of street life, the nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gòtic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau facades, the art and music, the throb of street life, the food (ah, the food!)—one way or another, Barcelona will find a way to get your full attention. The capital of Catalonia is a banquet for the senses, with its beguiling mix of ancient and modern architecture, tempting cafés and markets, and sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches. A stroll along La Rambla and through waterfront Barceloneta, as well as a tour of Gaudí's majestic Sagrada Famíliaand his other unique creations, are part of a visit to Spain's second-largest city. Modern art museums and chic shops call for attention, too. Barcelona's vibe stays lively well into the night, when you can linger over regional wine and cuisine at buzzing tapas bars.
Wheelchair Accessible - Must Transfer from ChairNew Tour Programme
DAY AT SEA
Tue 04 Aug
Tuesday 04 Aug
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Wed 05 Aug
Wednesday 05 Aug
Encircled by dramatic medieval walls, which rise abruptly from deep-blue waters, Alghero’s defences shelter one of Sardinia’s largest and most spectacular old towns. Uneven cobbled streets, rich history and a fiery Catalan flare provide a real depth of character, and the Coral Riviera’s pristine beaches, which stretch out nearby, help to make Alghero a real highlight of Sardinia.
Alghero has changed hands numerous times over its tempestuous history, but it’s the Catalan influence that you’ll feel most acutely, as you explore. It was the Catalans who upgraded the defensive ramparts of the ‘Sardinian Barcelonetta’ into the spectacular, imposing fortress we see today, enclosing the old town’s evocative knot of narrow streets and rose-gold-coloured masonry. Wander the streets at your leisure, enjoying the cooling shade of the tight, cobblestone streets with lemon-gelato in hand, or enjoying fresh tuna steak at the bustling La Boqueria market.
Read more Alghero Cathedral is hidden amid the labyrinth of narrow streets, but it’s the distinctive Baroque-dome of Chiesa di San Michele that you’ll immediately notice peeking ostentatiously over the terracotta roofs of the old town, flaunting its rainbow-coloured patterning.
Plush restaurants revel in Alghero’s historical collision of cultures and produce delicious fare like plump clams tangled in tagliatelle, and succulent porcetto pork – slowly roasted to perfection in smoky wood ovens. Wash it down with mirto, a crushed berry liqueur, or sample the fruits of local vineyards, with a platter of Sardinia’s renowned pecorino sheep’s cheese.
The city dominates Sardinia’s Coral Riviera – so named because of the red coral found here that’s been used for jewellery since Roman times. Lie back and listen to the waves washing ashore at Spiaggia di Maria Pia beach, breathing in the smell of pine-needles on the breeze.
France’s sunniest and oldest city may not have the glamour of some of its Cote D’Azur neighbours, but what it lacks in glitz, it certainly makes up for in authenticity and cultural depth. France's second-biggest city, Marseille served as European Capital of Culture in 2013 and is a fantastic hub of museums, creativity and colour. The Le Panier district is a vivid illustration of this - with its faded streets revitalised by overflowing flowerpots and pretty naturally-distressed doorways.
Look down to the yacht-crammed port - where fishermen still unload fresh catches - from the viewpoint at the spectacular Notre-Dame de la Garde - a true crowning glory. Standing over walled fortifications - and capped by an elegant dome - the soaring golden statue of Madonna and Child rises high into the air and is visible all over the city. The huge Marseille Cathedral is equally impressive, with its stunning zebra-striped exterior.
Read more Palais Longchamp, built-in 1862, twinkles with flowing water, and its saturated gardens and splashing fountains were built to celebrate the engineering feat of successfully redirecting water to the city.
You can’t leave Marseille without tucking into its famous fish stew – bouillabaisse. Flavoured with thyme, garlic and hunks of Mediterranean fish and plump prawns, it’s a bold and delicious taste of Provence. Wash your hands clean after, with some of Marseille’s traditional soap, created using a fragrant recipe of rich olive oil. Escape the hubbub of the city, to soak in the natural glory of Calanques National Park. Hike, kayak and sail your way through a treasure trove of limestone cliffs, dropping off to hidden beaches.
A glitzy, glamorous coastal resort that needs no introduction, Saint Tropez is the French Riviera hotspot of choice for A-listers and flotillas of gleaming yachts. The sparkle of its beaches, and clarity of its light, continues to attract artists - but it was the famous presence of Brigitte Bardot that leant Saint Tropez its enduring glamour and steamy appeal. Nowadays, speedboats skim offshore, while fine vintages from the vineyards nearby are uncorked in top-notch restaurants, in this well-heeled highlight of the Cote d'Azur.
Famous bars offer views of the port along Quai Jean Jaurès, with its iconic cherry-red directors' chairs. Here you can admire the monstrous wealth of yachts that sparkle on the waters. On the same corner, big-name brand labels glimmer in the shops of rue François Sibilli - which cuts inland from the charming waterfront.
Read more The earthier appeal of boules clinking and thumping into the ground can be enjoyed at Place des Lices, where sun-wrinkled locals compete. Saint Tropez has a few beaches of its own, but famous stretches like Pampelonne Beach draw the biggest crowds to relax on star-studded golden sands.
La Ponche, the authentic fishing quarter, retains its cobbled, historic elegance, and a 17th-century, hexagon-shaped citadel watches over the city and coastline from above. Coastal walks in the sea air snake away from the city’s bustle, and a series of headlands shape the stunning riviera landscape surrounding Saint Tropez. The historic monochrome Cap Camarat lighthouse adds a pleasing accent to hikes above the sparkling Mediterranean’s waves.
Calvi’s illustrious citadel dominates the city’s harbour, watching over a port bustling with luxury yachts dropping anchor, and well-heeled visitors wandering the Quai Landry’s elegant seafront promenade. Cafes and restaurants clink and clatter, while the interplaying voices of trios of Corsica’s polychronic singers provide a wonderfully evocative soundtrack. Calvi’s grand, moon-shaped bay, completes the postcard-perfect appeal, and you can wander the fringe of soft sandy beach which stretches for five miles. Or, dip into the tempting turquoise waves that lap softly against the shore, while admiring the crowning glory of Calvi’s majestic citadel.
The stacked 13th-century Genoese fortress is Calvi’s heart and has played a central role in fending off invaders from across the waves throughout the city’s history.
Read more Positioned high above the port, and overlooking the sea below, there’s a labyrinth of cobbled streets tucked in behind its steep, protective walls. The clanging bells of the domed Cathedral St. Jean Baptiste echo evocatively down its stone-clad streets, and the church has a rustic beauty to its faded, sandpapered façade. Reach the ruins of a humble house – destroyed by Lord Nelson’s besiegement of Calvi - and you may raise an eyebrow at the signs proclaiming your arrival at Christopher Columbus’s birthplace. Raise your suspicions with the locals, however, to be met with pityingly smiles at your naïvety – they firmly believe the common theory that he was born in Genoa was a deliberate piece of misinformation spread by Columbus himself.
Twist up through the fragrant pine trees of Chapelle de Notre Dame de la Serra for a spectacular view of Calvi’s majesty unfolding before you. Best appreciated at sunset, you can absorb the view with the last rays of the day bouncing off the tips of the waves below, as you’re embraced by the island’s ragged mountains and Calvi’s timeless beauty.
There are few more elegant places to salute the sunset than Terrazza Mascagni, Livorno’s refined chessboard piazza. A historic port, and a beachy gateway to Tuscany, Livorno welcomes you ashore to explore this enchanted Italian region's sun-soaked beauty, rich flavours and world-renowned fine art.
Stay in Livorno to explore 'Piccolo Venezia', or ‘Little Venice’ - a quarter of the town that's laced with canals, little marble bridges and plenty of tempting eateries. With its bustling market, fortresses and iconic waterfront, there’s plenty to keep you busy here, but most will be tempted to venture inland to explore more of Tuscany’s many charms and artistic wonders.
Test your nose, as you breathe in the subtleties of Tuscany’s vineyard-draped scenery, and visit wineries showcasing the best of the renowned flavours of the Bolgheri wine-growing area. Or head out to Prato, where you’ll find tightly-woven textile history.
Read more Pisa’s showpiece tower is within reach, as is Florence’s city of immense and imaginative renaissance beauty. Admire the delicate carving of Michelangelo's masterpiece, the David statue, and note the provocative stance as he casts a dismissive glance towards Rome. Stand before the city’s majestic black and white cathedral - the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - with its colossal brick dome. The view down over Florence's river and grand dome from Piazzale Michelangelo, meanwhile, is one of Italy's finest. However you choose to spend your time in Tuscany, you’ll discover an artistic region, filled with beauty designed to appeal to every sense.
On one of the best stretches of the Mediterranean, this classic luxury destination is one of the most sought-after addresses in the world. With all the high-rise towers you have to look hard to find the Belle Époque grace of yesteryear. But if you head to the town's great 1864 landmark Hôtel de Paris—still a veritable crossroads of the buffed and befurred Euro-gentry—or enjoy a grand bouffe at its famous Louis XV restaurant, or attend the opera, or visit the ballrooms of the casino, you may still be able to conjure up Monaco's elegant past. Prince Albert II, a political science graduate from Amherst College, traces his ancestry to Otto Canella, who was born in 1070. The Grimaldi dynasty began with Otto's great-great-great-grandson, Francesco Grimaldi, also known as Frank the Rogue. Expelled from Genoa, Frank and his cronies disguised themselves as monks and in 1297 seized the fortified medieval town known today as Le Rocher (the Rock).
Read more Except for a short break under Napoléon, the Grimaldis have been here ever since, which makes them the oldest reigning family in Europe. In the 1850s a Grimaldi named Charles III made a decision that turned the Rock into a giant blue chip. Needing revenue but not wanting to impose additional taxes on his subjects, he contracted with a company to open a gambling facility. The first spin of the roulette wheel was on December 14, 1856. There was no easy way to reach Monaco then—no carriage roads or railroads—so no one came. Between March 15 and March 20, 1857, one person entered the casino—and won two francs. In 1868, however, the railroad reached Monaco, and it was filled with Englishmen who came to escape the London fog. The effects were immediate. Profits were so great that Charles eventually abolished all direct taxes. Almost overnight, a threadbare principality became an elegant watering hole for European society. Dukes (and their mistresses) and duchesses (and their gigolos) danced and dined their way through a world of spinning roulette wheels and bubbling champagne—preening themselves for nights at the opera, where such artists as Vaslav Nijinsky, Sarah Bernhardt, and Enrico Caruso came to perform. Along with the tax system, its sensational position on a broad, steep peninsula that bulges into the Mediterranean—its harbor sparkling with luxury cruisers, its posh mansions angling awnings toward the nearly perpetual sun—continues to draw the rich and famous. One of the latest French celebrities to declare himself "Monégasque," thus giving up his French passport, is superchef Alain Ducasse, who said that he made the choice out of affection for Monaco rather than tax reasons. Pleasure boats vie with luxury cruisers in their brash beauty and Titanic scale, and teams of handsome young men—themselves dyed blond and tanned to match—scour and polish every gleaming surface. As you might expect, all this glitz doesn't come cheap. Eating is expensive, and even the most modest hotels cost more here than in nearby Nice or Menton. As for taxis, they don't even have meters so you are completely at the driver's mercy (with prices skyrocketing during events such as the Grand Prix). For the frugal, Monaco is the ultimate day-trip, although parking is as coveted as a room with a view. At the very least you can afford a coffee at Starbucks. The harbor district, known as La Condamine, connects the new quarter, officially known as Monte Carlo with Monaco-Ville (or Le Rocher), a medieval town on the Rock, topped by the palace, the cathedral, and the Oceanography Museum. Have no fear that you'll need to climb countless steps to get to Monaco-Ville, as there are plenty of elevators and escalators climbing the steep cliffs. But shuttling between the lovely casino grounds of Monte Carlo and Old Monaco, separated by a vast port, is a daunting proposition for ordinary mortals without wings, so hop on the No. 1 bus from Saint Roman, or No. 2 from the Jardin Exotique - Both stop at Place du Casino and come up to Monaco Ville.