Piraeus is 12 kilometers south-west of Athens and is the city's port. The port town itself has a long nautical history, as told in the Maritime Museum, and close to the port is the area of Piralki and its fish taverns. Walking beyond the peninsula, the coast is dotted with picturesque creeks. The hillside area of Kastella has narrow alleys, the church of Profitis Ilias and fantastic views of the Acropolis.
Chios is well-known for its wild jasmine and a cluster of medieval villages, the Mastihochoria. Mesta, a castle-village, is little-changed since the 14th century and Pyrgi has uniquely decorated black and white plastered houses. Chios is also renowned for the World Heritage Site of Nea Moni, an 11th-century monastery with wonderful mosaics. The prettiest region of the island is Kambos, a green valley where the Genoese built their villas among citrus groves and ancient cisterns.
Corfu Town, or Kerkyra, is the charming port for the lovely island of Corfu. There are many restaurants and shops radiating out from Kapodistra and the elegant, colonnaded Liston building. Overlooking the harbour is the palaia Anaktora, formerly the residence of British-Greek royalty. Paleokastritsa has lovely beaches backed by olive, cypress and lemon trees, and one of Corfu's key sights is the handsome Palace of Achilleion and its gardens.
The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf and the Aegean Sea, allowing ships to avoid a journey of 430 miles around the Peloponnese Peninsula. It is almost 4 miles long, with steep cliff walls reaching a height of 52 meters. The journey through the canal is dramatic, as the width of the water is just 79 feet, and most vessels must be boarded by the pilot and towed by a Tugboat.
The sacred and uninhabited isle of Delos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. It was a holy sanctuary where death and birth were forbidden by the Delphic Oracle, and the impressive remains lead off from the Sacred Way and include the Maritime Quarter, Terrace of Lions, the House of Dionysus and the Sanctuary of Apollo.
The town of Heraklion has a picturesque harbour, tree-shaded squares and a splendid Venetian loggia and fountains. Boutiques can be found on Daedalou Street, and curios and gifts along 1866 Street. Koules Venetian Fortress is situated on the harbour walls close to the Natural History Museum of Crete, where visitors can stand on the 'experience an earthquake' platform. The famous Minoan Palace of Knossos is only 25 minutes' drive from Heraklion.
This interesting island has no roads or vehicles, and the only transportation is by donkey. It has a wild and sparsely populated interior, and some magnificent mansions built by 19th-century shipping magnets. In the 50s and 60s it was a favourite haunt for artists, among them Leonard Cohen, who were inspired by its natural beauty. There are coves and beaches close to Hydra Town.
The small seaside town of Katakolon has a beach at the end of the pier, and tavernas and bars along the waterfront. It is used as the gateway to the ancient site of Olympia, 35 kilometers away, which is where the Olympic Games began.
This is the largest of the Ionian Islands, and is largely unspoilt by tourism. The main port and capital is Argostoli, a modern town with a busy central square, the Plateia Valinou and shops along Lithostroto Street. Cephalonia is famous for the remote, curving arc of Myrtos Beach backed by steep cliffs and the underground lake of Milissani. The most picturesque coastal village is Fiskardo, which is also the oldest settlement on the island.
The Venetian harbour and town of Chania on Crete is an historic area with a thriving nightlife and waterfront restaurants. The Old Town area of Kastli is interwoven with narrow alleys and pretty balconied houses. Aside from the pleasure of exploring this picturesque town, places of interest include the Byzantine Museum, the Ottoman Baths and the Fortress of Souda on an island in the bay.
The island of Kos has long been a popular destination and has good facilities for tourists. It lies just off the Turkish coast, with mountainous terrain and good sandy beaches. Kos Town has a mixture of ancient, medieval and modern buildings, with broad, leafy streets. Connected to the town and harbour by a bridge is the 14th-century Castle of the Knights of Saint John. South of the town is the Asklepieion, the ruins of an ancient Greek centre of medicine.
Mykonos is one of the most fashionable and cosmopolitan of the Greek islands. Its hills are dotted with white-washed cube houses and churches, and the thatched windmills for which the island is famous. Pink pelicans are often spotted from the waterfront tavernas. The main sight in the town is lovely white domed Parportiani Church, which incorporates 5 separate buildings. The cruise port is a mile north of Mykonos Town, where ferries make the 40-minute journey to the sacred island of Delos.
Mytilene is the port for the island of Lesbos. There is a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty overlooking the harbour, which runs alongside the town. Teriade Museum has an excellent collection of books illustrated by Chagall, Matisse and Picasso and the town has a castle, parts of which date back to the 5th century, and neo-classical mansions.
Nafplion is one of Greece's most attractive towns with narrow streets, elegant Venetian houses and neoclassical mansions. On a high cliff overlooking the harbour is the Palamidi Fortress, built by the Venetians in the 15th century and accessible by a flight of 857 steps. Bourtzi Castle sits on an island in the bay, and hosts the summer music festival. Calls to Nafplion might include a visit to the ancient site of Mycenae.
Whitewashed cube houses, narrow paved alleys and wild flowers make Paros one of the most popular of the Cyclades. Cafes line the main street of the capital and port, Parikia, where the Monastery of the Hundred Doors was built in 4AD by Eleni the mother of Emperor Constantin. The white marble mined on Paros was used by sculptors in antiquity, notably for the Venus de Milo.
Skala is the pretty harbour of Patmos, built below the fortified monastery and the Sacred Grotto where St John wrote the Book of Revelation, both open to visitors. It is easy to get around by boat or bus, and around the harbour there are numerous picturesque tavernas and a few nightclubs. Beaches can be found at nearby Grikos and Diakofti.
Rhodes port in the ancient Mandraki harbour is next to the walled Old Town with shops, restaurants and chief sights all within walking distance. These include the Palace of the Grand Masters built by the Knights of St John, the Sulemain Mosque, Byzantine churches, Venetian mansions and old Crusader inns along the Street of the Knights. The famous Acropolis of Rhodes on a hillside beyond the city is not to be missed.
The best way to arrive in Santorini is by sea, with spectacular views of the high caldera walls and the cliff-top town of Fira. Cruise ships berth in the old port, where the journey to the town is via donkey or cable car ' either option provides dramatic views of the Mediterranean and the volcanic island of Nea Kameni. Along the narrow alleys of the cliff-top are brilliant white and blue buildings, and the much-photographed church of Ag Mina.
Thessaloniki is a free port and one of the Aegean's largest, being the trade hub of the Balkans and the cruising gateway to the eastern Mediterranean. This sophisticated city has several attractions, among them the Roman Place of Galerius, large squares beside the waterfront, traditional tavernas and an excellent Archaeology Museum.
The busy cruise, cargo and ferry port of Volos is surrounded by ancient sites and is situated on the Pelion Peninsula. To the west are the ruined acropolis of Dimini and of Sesklo ' the oldest in Greece - and across the Thessaly plains, the monasteries of Meteora, built on top of limestone pillars. Volos' waterfront and centre is full of shops, and bars and cafes are tucked away around St Nikolas Square.
Zakynthos is the most southerly of the Ionian islands. Its landscape is a mixture of mountains and plains, with a main town and port clustered around a waterfront of bars and white-cube houses. Navagio Bay is the beach famous for the shipwrecked hulk of the Panagiotis, and the offshore islet of Marathonisi is a nesting site for Caretta-Caretta turtles. The Blue Caves near Volimes are a major attraction and can be reached by local hire boats.