Mediterranean and Iberian Odyssey

Tracing Ancient Civilizations and Coastal Wonders

Athens, Greece to Bordeaux, France
April 27-May 20, 2024
24 Days / 23 Nights 
Aboard National Geographic Explorer
From $26,325 / per person*

Combine two itineraries, Crossroads of the Mediterranean: A Voyage Through Greece, Malta, and Sicily and Barcelona to Basque Country: Tracing History and Culture on the Iberian Peninsula, for an epic 24-day voyage across the Mediterranean and around the Iberian Peninsula. National Geographic Photography Expert Macduff Everton will join on the first portion of the voyage—Athens to Barcelona—and National Geographic Photography Expert Krista Rossow will join on the second portion—Barcelona to Bordeaux. Note that staff and crew are subject to change in Barcelona. 

SMED + BARB combo Map July 2023_r1.jpg

Expedition Overview 

Embark on a journey from Athens to Bordeaux, where the Mediterranean’s far-reaching empires and vibrant cultures come alive. Travel alongside expert historians and archaeologists as you explore ancient ruins in Greece, unravel the medieval history and architecture of Malta, and uncover the enigmatic remnants of prehistoric cultures in Menorca and Corsica. Trace the captivating shores of the Iberian Peninsula, bearing witness to the legacies of the Romans, Moors, and the explorers who spearheaded the Age of Discovery. Experience the allure of captivating cities, including Barcelona and Lisbon, and venture into the countryside to visit the timeless villages of the Algarve, Galicia, and Basque country. As you sail through time, savor local cuisine, indulging in iconic dishes like paella and port at their very source.

Highlights 

  • Discover multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Acropolis, the Alhambra, and the cities of Valletta and Porto 
  • Learn about important civilizations that once ruled over the region—from the Greeks and Ottomans to the Arabs and Vandals—and how they influenced the culture, art, architecture, and more
  • Hike the stunning Gorge of Samaria in Crete and a portion of the Camino de Santiago after visiting Santiago de Compostela’s medieval cathedral in Spain  
  • Savor the flavors of the Iberian Peninsula and Mediterranean Sea, indulging in regional delicacies like paella, port, and Greek cheese 

Day-by-Day

Day 1 Athens, Greece
Arrive in Athens, the birthplace of Western Civilization, and set out on an afternoon visit to the Acropolis Museum. Through its collection of antiquities, learn about the daily lives, history, and culture of the people who inhabited the Acropolis for almost 4,500 years. Check into the hotel and enjoy a welcome dinner with your fellow travelers.
Meal Included: Dinner
 

Day 2 Athens 
This morning, explore the ruins of the Acropolis by foot. On a guided walking tour, pass by the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a Roman theater completed in 161 AD. Visit the Propylaia, the ceremonial gateway to the Acropolis, on your hike to the hilltop site of the Parthenon. After lunch, head out into the city for a tour before embarking the ship in the late afternoon.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 3 Chania
Known for its mix of Ottoman, Greek, and Venetian architecture from centuries of foreign rule, Chania’s Old Town is an inviting labyrinth of charming streets. Take a guided walk through this area in the heart of the Venetian Port, and visit the Ottoman Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque, built in 1649. In the afternoon, choose to explore the Gorge of Samaria—a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve where sheer 1,000-foot cliffs are only separated by a few yards in parts. Those embarking on this demanding hike will be rewarded with spectacular scenery and perhaps sightings of Mediterranean fauna such as the endemic species of wild goat. Or, delve into Crete’s culinary traditions: sheep and goat’s milk cheeses, kalitsounia (cheese pies), brandy distilled from grapes called raki, and more.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 4 At Sea
Enjoy National Geographic Explorer’s amenities during this day at sea. Listen to talks by our onboard experts, get photo tips from a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor, or spend some time on the Bridge with our officers, who are happy to answer questions. A massage from our wellness specialist is an inviting option, or relax with a book on the observation deck.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 5 Valletta, Malta
Be on deck this morning as we approach the impressive bastions, walls, and towers of Valletta, Malta’s baroque capital city. Heavily fortified in the 16th century by its founders, the Knights of St. John, Valletta is home to stunning palaces and domed churches. Take a leisurely walk within the city’s walls and see the many fine auberges, or palaces of the Order of St. John. In the dazzling St. John's Co-Cathedral, view Caravaggio’s famous 17th-century painting “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist.” This afternoon, visit the medieval town of Mdina or contemplate the mysteries of Malta’s early inhabitants at Bronze Age megalithic temples.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 6 Siracusa, Sicily, Italy
Cross into the Ionian Sea overnight and awaken off the coast of Sicily. Head ashore at Siracusa, one of the most powerful cities in the classical world. Explore the archaeological park, where a well-preserved Greek amphitheater with carved limestone seats is still used today. Paradise Quarry, now an attractive garden and orange grove, was the primary source of that limestone, and is the site of the curious Ear of Dionysius—a huge cave with incredible acoustics. Make the most of your time in port: explore the city's excellent market or explore the adjacent island of Ortigia, where a stunning cathedral was built on the columns of the 6th-century Temple of Athena. Alternatively, take an evening stroll through the city's piazzas.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Days 7-8 At Sea / Aeolian Islands / Bonifacio, Corsica, France
In the early hours of the morning, we pass through the narrow Strait of Messina, which separates Sicily from the “boot” of Italy. It is the purported location of Homer’s monsters Scylla and Charybdis, the rock and the hard place through which Odysseus had to sail. We'll sail through the Aeolian Islands, not only famous for the winds of the god Aeolus, but also for some of the most well-known classical volcanoes. With a bit of luck, we will witness the pyrotechnics of the active volcanic island of Stromboli. We continue sailing to the northwest across the Tyrrhenian Sea, towards Corsica. During our time at sea, enjoy free time on the National Geographic Explorer's deck soaking up the blue hues of the Mediterranean, or in the lounge taking in fun facts and historical insights from our expert staff onboard. We'll arrive in Bonifacio in the evening of Day 8.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 9 Bonifacio
Wake up to the sunrise over the layered cliffs of Bonifacio. Enter the narrow harbor to dock and enjoy the day in one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful towns. Begin with a walking orientation to the citadel, established by the powerful margraves of Tuscany in the ninth century. The rest of the morning is devoted to enjoying this lovely destination. In the afternoon, we offer an option to drive inland to view some of the menhir standing stone alignments of the Sartène region of Corsica, or to experience the characteristic Corsican maquis, the herbal scrubland known for its fragrances.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 10 Masua, Sardinia, Italy 
Spend the morning at sea as we navigate along the western shores of Sardinia before docking in Masua. Mining has shaped the landscape and culture of Sardinia for two thousand years, with Phoenicians, Romans, and subsequent civilizations extracting precious metals like gold and silver as well as iron, zinc, and other natural resources. In the seaside cove of Porto Flavia, learn about the feats of engineering that enabled the twin tunnels of the Masua Mine to be dug directly into the cliffs, allowing workers to load ore directly onto cargo ships. Via kayak or Zodiac, see these unique mine entrances overlooking the sea. 
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 11 At Sea / Ciutadella de Menorca, Menorca, Spain
The Vandals, the Moors, and the British Empire have ruled over this stunning little island where prehistoric civilizations left intriguing rock mounds and megalithic monuments dating back some 4,000 years. This afternoon, explore this history while traveling overland to the southeast of Menorca. Walk through the Bronze Age village of Torralba d’en Salord and see the characteristic T-shaped stone monuments left by the Talayotic peoples. This evening, set a course west toward Spain’s eastern coast.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 12 Barcelona 
Arrive in Barcelona and explore the city’s iconic architectural masterpieces, experience the energetic street rhythms coming from Las Ramblas, and take in the beautiful views atop Montjuïc. 
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day 13 Valencia / Albufera National Park
In sunny Valencia, old-world cafes mingle with Gothic cathedrals and futuristic architecture. Explore the rich birdlife of Albufera National Park—Thekla’s Lark, the Wood Sandpiper, and more—by hopping aboard private fishermen’s boats along the canals of the lake, where they cultivate rice and harvest shellfish. Enjoy a traditional paella, Valencia’s signature dish.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 14 Cartagena
Today we explore Cartagena, where Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors all left their mark. Walk amid the city’s medieval fortress and visit the lookout at Parque Torres to view the ruins of the Roman amphitheater side by side with a modern-day one.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 15 Motril / Granada / Alhambra
Nestled at the foot of Spain’s Sierra Nevada range, Granada is a city rich in history and culture. Its legacy as the last stronghold of the Moors lives on in the architecture, cuisine, and culture of the modern-day city. Spend the day exploring Granada’s vibrant center, or choose to explore the Alhambra on a private tour, a fortified palace complex boasting exquisite Moorish architecture and decor, as well as meticulously landscaped gardens. This evening, we enjoy the Alhambra by night, watching as it magically twinkles into the distant valleys below.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 16 Málaga / Ronda
Choose to dedicate your day to discovering Málaga, the birthplace of Picasso and a gem of a coastal city surrounded by charming Andalusian towns. Or spend the day in Ronda, where bullfighting originated. Discover the town’s iconic Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge spanning the gorge and separating the new and old towns, or set for a hike in the countryside.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 17 At Sea
After having navigated through the Strait of Gibraltar overnight, enjoy National Geographic Explorer’s amenities during this day at sea. Listen to talks by our onboard experts, get photo tips from a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor, or spend some time on the Bridge with our officers, who are happy to answer questions. A massage from our wellness specialist is an inviting option, or relax with a book on the observation deck.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 18 Portimão, Portugal
Portimão is our gateway to Portugal’s southernmost province, the Algarve, known for its picturesque beaches, whitewashed villages, lush farmlands, and remnants of Moorish culture. Travel north to Silves, home to a fortified sandstone castle built by the Moors and learn about the tradition of harvesting cork from cork oak trees. Or, spend the afternoon exploring the sea caves of the Algarve coast by small boat while savoring a glass of medronho, a local fruit brandy.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 19 Lisbon / Sintra
Lisbon, the second oldest European capital, maintains a reputation as one of the continent’s most vibrant and charismatic cities. Begin your exploration of this fascinating city on a morning tour. See the stunning 18th-century downtown area of the city and take in views in the Graça District, one of Lisbon’s oldest suburbs located atop the city’s highest hill. Enter Terreiro do Paço, “the palace’s square,” where the royal palace stood for over two centuries, and marvel at the grandeur of Lisbon Cathedral.  In the afternoon continue to Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This intricately carved building was crafted to showcase the magnificent wealth that the age of exploration brought to the Portuguese empire. Continue to Belém Tower, a 16th-century fortification that served as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon and as a start and ending point for Portuguese explorers. 

Alternatively, spend the day in Sintra, a charming town hidden in the pine-covered hills of the Serra de Sintra. Home to the whimsical Palácio Nacional de Pena, the medieval Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the Moorish Castelo dos Mouros, and the Arabian-inspired Monserrate Palace, Sintra was the first European site listed by UNESCO as a Cultural Landscape.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 20 Porto
Take a panoramic drive from the port into the UNESCO World Heritage site of Porto in the early morning. The birthplace of port wine, Porto straddles a gorge on the Douro River linked by numerous bridges and filled with medieval architecture. Throughout the day, pick out your favorite azulejo tiles covering the facades of the old town and take in the views from the iron masterpiece Ponte Dom Luís. Take a tour of the Bolsa Palace Stock Exchange and the Monument Church of Saint Francis, or opt to discover the Clérigos Church and Bell Tower and the surrounding hilltop neighborhood of Clérigos. This afternoon, explore the iconic Ribiera along the waterfront at your leisure. Reconvene for a special dinner this evening at one of the historic port houses along the Duoro river, during which you will learn the secrets of port-making and enjoy a tasting. 
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 21 Villagarcía de Arousa, Spain / Santiago de Compostela
Anchor in Villagarcía de Arousa and take a day trip to the Galician countryside, where you’ll visit a winery, watch fishermen as they collect mussels, and enjoy the verdant Galician landscapes from the river. Alternatively, travel to Santiago de Compostela, and visit the cathedral that has welcomed millions of pilgrims over the centuries. Enjoy a typical Galician musical performance and a tapas lunch at the adjacent Hostal dos Reis Católicos. Take the opportunity to hike a portion of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, offering beautiful views of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela through meadows and forests, before heading back to the ship.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 22 At Sea
Navigating around Cape Finisterre and into the Bay of Biscay, we are greeted by one of the most active bodies of water in Europe. The Bay of Biscay has over 30 rivers that empty into its basin and currents running through it from the North Atlantic. Spend time on the Bridge today and learn from our officers about the sailing history in this region, while we navigate along the Spanish coast.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 23 San Sebastián
This morning, explore Spain’s Basque capital of San Sebastián. Discover the connection to the Celts and hear the bouncing rhythms of a trikitixa, a traditional accordion. Learn some of the regional language that pre-dates Romance languages, and delve deeper into the gastronomic traditions of this gem along the Bay of Biscay.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day 24 Bordeaux, France / Disembark Ship
From the stunning symmetrical architecture of Place de la Bourse to charming side streets brimming with cafés, Bordeaux has no shortage of nooks and crannies worth discovering. Arrive in the picturesque riverside city this morning. After breakfast, disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Pricing*

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4 Category 5 Category 6 Category 7 Category Solo A Category Solo B
$26,325  $27,150  $31,680 $34,350  $38,850  $44,918  $50,528  $38,305  $42,368 
All prices are per person based on double occupancy, unless specified otherwise

 

 

Special Offers

$1,000 Hotel Credit
Book by March 13, 2024. Receive $1,000 per cabin credit, deducted from cabin fare prior to any additional applicable savings with the purchase of cabin fare. Valid on select departures, for new bookings only, subject to availability, and may not be combined with other offers and if not applicable on airfare or extensions. Call for details.

*Pricing reflects the 25% off back-to-back voyages offer.

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