Spend 11 epic days in Greece and Malta. By Katy Heerssen
Greek culture is a tapestry of myth, legend, and history woven together at the geographical crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is blessed with a wealth of white sand beaches, sun-bleached ruins, cobbled footpaths, aquamarine coastlines, and 130 million bountiful olive trees spread among 2,000 islands in the Mediterranean. Nearby, the tiny island of Malta is a lesser-known jewel with an equally rich history and ancient ruins to rival those in Greece. Combine these countries for a perfect seaside getaway.
Launch your journey with two days in the ancient capital of Athens. You will need time to take in the unique blend of past and present alive in the city’s streets. Take a private walking tour to visit a few culture-defining sites, including stops at the UNESCO World Heritage Athenian Acropolis, the Hephaisteion temple, Hadrian’s Library, the Roman Agora, and the New Acropolis Museum. Guided by an expert, explore the traditional markets and authentic character of Athens’ many picturesque neighborhoods. Stay in Hotel Grande Bretagne, a heaven of uncommon grandeur and service. From the iconic Greek pillars to romantic views of the Acropolis, its enchanting location within walking distance of the capital’s best offers a palatial ambience from which to explore the city. After acclimating to the relaxed pace and embracing the famous Greek joie de vivre, it’s time to island-hop.
The chic island of Santorini brims with dramatic views, aromantic atmosphere, and mysterious sunsets. Its famed whitewashed houses are perhaps best encapsulated at Canaves Oia. While it will be difficult to tear yourself away from your cliffside suite, you will not want to miss out on nearby delights: tasting award-winning wines at a local winery, wandering through the scenic paths of Oia, dining under the stars, and mingling with locals. Visit smaller islands via your private yacht on the Aegean Sea. A highlight here is Folegandros, a jewel-box island dubbed by locals as the “Island of Peace” that has become fashionable to international jetsetters. Despite this reputation, it is still an untouched piece of true Greece.
Continue onward to Mykonos, perhaps the most renowned of all the Greek Islands. Explore its divine sandy beaches, unique Cycladic architecture, cosmopolitan nightlife, and giant whitewashed windmills and chapels scattered along the countryside.Enjoy the view from your waterfront bungalow at Mykonos Blu. Orient yourself with the most famous beaches and architectural marvels of the island with a private guided tour, followed by a private boat excursion in search of some of the more pristine, off-the-beaten-track beaches and snorkeling spots. If you are inspired to break away from the beach, take a day cruise to Delos, and visit one of the most important mythological, archaeological, and historical sites in Greece.
Known as the “Jewel of the Mediterranean,” the Maltese Islands—though small—boast some of the best sights and views on planet Earth. Here you will find temples that pre-date Stonehenge and the pyramids at Giza, some of the clearest waters in the world, and a capital city more akin to a baroque masterpiece than a metropolis.
Go for full immersion upon arrival with an exclusive cooking class and dinner in a private home. Then step into the quiet luxury and impeccable style of boutique luxury hotel accommodations at Palazzo Consiglia. A walk through the rolling countryside will take you from St. Thomas Bay to the Delimara Lighthouse and ends at the Marinisi Estates of Marsovin Winery, complete with a picnic lunch. You will also encounter local artisans in the gilding studios of a Maltese clockmaker and explore the cities of Rabat and Mdina.
On your final day in Malta, set out on a half-day tour of the capital city of Valletta, where a veritable treasure trove of monuments, art, and a buzzing culture await. For the grand finale of your morning, visit to St. John’s Co-Cathedral, arguably the most important site in Valletta and the mother church of the Knights of St. John. End your trip on a high note, with a private sailboat dinner cruise through the Grand Harbor of Valletta.