140 Night Legends of Cruising - World Cruise 2020 departing from Ft Lauderdale to Amsterdam onboard Silver Whisper.
Legend has it that there are those who think and those who act. That there are those who believe they belong to the 1%, and those who actually do. And then there are those who are part of the 1% of the 1%. If you are one of these enquiring few, then read on. Unlike any other World Cruise ever conceived, Legends of Cruising takes you on a journey that lets you set foot on all 7 continents. It gives you the opportunity to swim in every ocean, learn of countless cultures and see innumerable natural wonders. We want you to be one of the select few who are able to say yes they have seen the unspoilt, snowy plains of Antarctica and bathed in the vibrant rhythm of South America. Yes — they have felt the heat of Africa, drank from the melting pot of Australia, found peace in Asia and imbibe in the captivating history of Europe. And yes – they are the true 1% of the 1%. Legends of Cruising is a journey that will take you further than ever before in just 140 days, in every sense. So join us. Become a Legend.
Highlights of this cruise:
Ft Lauderdale, Florida
Like many southeast Florida neighbors, Fort Lauderdale has long been revitalizing. In a state where gaudy tourist zones often stand aloof from workaday downtowns, Fort Lauderdale exhibits consistency at both ends of the 2-mile Las Olas corridor. The sparkling look results from upgrades both downtown and on the beachfront. Matching the downtown's innovative arts district, cafés, and boutiques is an equally inventive beach area, with hotels, cafés, and shops facing an undeveloped shoreline, and new resort-style hotels replacing faded icons of yesteryear.
San Juan,Puerto Rico
If you associate Puerto Rico's capital with the colonial streets of Old San Juan, then you know only part of the picture. San Juan is a major metropolis, radiating out from the bay on the Atlantic Ocean that was discovered by Juan Ponce de León. More than a third of the island's nearly 4 million citizens proudly call themselves sanjuaneros. The city may be rooted in the past, but it has its eye on the future. Locals go about their business surrounded by colonial architecture and towering modern structures.
This bustling capital city is a major duty-free port with a compact shopping area. The principal thoroughfare is Broad Street, which leads west from National Heroes Square.Amongst top attractions here, the Pelican Villagea cluster of workshops located halfway between the cruise-ship terminal and downtown Bridgetown where craftspeople create and sell locally made leather goods, batik, basketry, carvings, jewelry, glass art, paintings, pottery, and other items. It's open weekdays 9 to 5 and Saturday 9 to 2; things here are most active when cruise ships are in port.
Devil's Island, French Guiana
Discarded off the coast of French Guiana, lies an ominous, key-shaped island of sharp rocks and swaying palm trees - Devil's Island. As the site of one of history’s most infamous and feared prisons, the island's reputation as hell on earth was well earned, having been used to brutally imprison, torture and punish the French Empire's most notorious criminals. Closed down in 1953, it now lies in an eerie purgatory, and the sense of unease as you approach it is hard to avoid, with its laden-coconut trees duplicitously waving you ashore.
Called the "City of Light," Fortaleza claims that the sun shines on it 2,800 hours a year. And it's a good thing, too, as the coastline stretches far beyond the city. To the east, along the Litoral Leste or the Costa Sol Nascente (Sunrise Coast) are many fishing villages. To the west, along the Litoral Oeste or the Costa Sol Poente (Sunset Coast), there are pristine stretches of sand. The shores here are cooled by constant breezes and lapped by waters with an average temperature of 24°C (72°F).
Natal has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past decade. The capital of Rio Grande do Norte has become an important industrial center, yet no industry has had more effect on the economy than tourism. The past few administrations have invested heavily in the infrastructure and promotion, effectively placing it on the map as one of the prime tourism destinations for Brazilians traveling within Brazil.Although it has little in the way of historical or cultural attractions, the city's main asset is its location along one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in Brazil.
Salvador De Bahia, Brazil
According to Salvador's adopted son Jorge Amado, "In Salvador, magic becomes part of the every-day." From the shimmering golden light of sunset over the Baía do Todos os Santos, to the rhythmic beats that race along the streets, Salvador, while no longer Brazil's capital, remains one of its most captivating cities. A large dose of its exoticism comes down to its African heritage—at least 70% of its 2,675,000 population is classified as Afro-Brazilian—and how it has blended into Brazil's different strands, from the native Indians to the Christian colonizers.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Welcome to the Cidade Maravilhosa, or the Marvelous City, as Rio is known in Brazil. Synonymous with the girl from Ipanema, the dramatic views from Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain, and fabulously flamboyant Carnival celebrations, Rio is a city of stunning architecture, abundant museums, and marvelous food. Rio is also home to 23 beaches, an almost continuous 73-km (45-mile) ribbon of sand.
Punta Del Este, Uruguay
Part Hamptons, part Cote d'Azur, part South Beach (with a dash of Vegas tossed in for good measure), Punta del Este is a flashy destination. "Punta"—five minutes here and you'll shorten the name just as everyone else does—and the handful of surrounding beachfront communities are, famously, jet-set resorts—places where lounging on golden sand and browsing designer boutiques constitute the day's most demanding activities. The resort takes its name from the "east point" marking the division of the Río de la Plata on the west from the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Glamorous and gritty, Buenos Aires is two cities in one. What makes Argentina's capital so fascinating is its dual heritage—part European, part Latin American. Plaza de Mayo resembles a grand square in Madrid, and the ornate Teatro Colón would not be out of place in Vienna. But you’ll know you’re in South America by the leather shoes for sale on cobbled streets and impromptu parades of triumphant soccer fans. Limited-production wines, juicy steaks, and ice cream in countless flavors are among the old-world imports the city has perfected.
Uruguay’s capital city hugs the eastern bank of the Río de la Plata. A massive coastal promenade (malecón) that passes fine beaches, restaurants, and numerous parks recalls the sunny sophistications of the Mediterranean and is always dotted with Montevideans strolling, exercising, and lounging along the water. Montevideo has its share of glitzy shopping avenues and modern office buildings, balanced with its historic old city and sumptuous colonial architecture, as well as numerous leafy plazas and parks.
Puerto Madryn, Argentina
Approaching from Ruta 3, it's hard to believe that the horizon line of buildings perched just beyond the windswept dunes and badlands is the most successful of all coastal Patagonia settlements. But once you get past the outskirts of town and onto the wide coastal road known as the Rambla, the picture begins to change. Ranged along the clear and tranquil Golfo Nuevo are restaurants, cafés, dive shops, and hotels, all busy—but not yet overcrowded—with tourists from around the world.
Stanley, Falkland Islands
Tiny Stanley, capital of the Falklands, seems in many ways like a British village fallen out of the sky. Many homes are painted in bright colours, adding visual appeal to this distant outpost. Not far offshore, the wreck of the Lady Elizabeth, is one of the many vessels remaining as a silent testimonial to the region's frequent harsh weather conditions. The islands, also known by their Spanish name of Islas Malvinas, are home to arguably more tuxedo-clad inhabitants of the penguin variety than human residents.
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the westerly winds and the funneling effect of the passage. The Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary where cold polar water flows northward and warmer equatorial water moves southward, is within the Drake Passage. When these two currents meet, nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Black-browed Albatross, Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels glide in the air currents alongside and in the wake of the ship.
Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals and the iconic penguins. The Antarctic Peninsula – the main peninsula closest to South America – has a human history of almost 200 years, with explorers, sealers, whalers, and scientists who have come to work, and eventually intrepid visitors coming to enjoy this pristine and remote wilderness.
At 55 degrees latitude south, Ushuaia (pronounced oo-swy-ah) is closer to the South Pole than to Argentina's northern border with Bolivia. It is the capital and tourism base for Tierra del Fuego, the island at the southernmost tip of Argentina.Although its stark physical beauty is striking, Tierra del Fuego's historical allure is based more on its mythical past than on rugged reality. The island was inhabited for 6,000 years by Yámana, Haush, Selk'nam, and Alakaluf Indians.
Winding through the vast expanses of the Chilean Fjords will reveal mountains looming on both sides, waterfalls, and the marvel of hardy flora clinging to barren rocks. Seals and dolphins patrol the length of these uninhabited fjords as they have done for millennia. Small fishing-boats come out of Punta Arenas luring fish and trapping for king crab, while terns dip and glide coaxing their own small fish out of the deep, dark fjord waters amongst tiny islands thick with vegetation.
Puerto Chacabuco, Chile
The drive from Coyhaique to the town of Puerto Aisén and its port, Chacabuco, is beautiful. The mist hangs low over farmland, adding a dripping somnolence to the scenery. Dozens of waterfalls and rivers wend their way through mountain formations. Yellow poplars surround charming rustic lodges, and sheep and cattle graze on mossy, vibrant fields. The picture of serenity terminates at the sea, where the nondescript town of Puerto Aisén and its port Chacabuco, Coyhaique's link to the ocean, sits, a conduit to further beauty.
Puerto Montt, Chile
For most of its history, windy Puerto Montt was the end of the line for just about everyone traveling in the Lake District. Now the Carretera Austral carries on southward, but for all intents and purposes Puerto Montt remains the region's last significant outpost, a provincial city that is the hub of local fishing, textile, and tourist activity.Today the city center is full of malls, condos, and office towers—it's the fastest-growing city in Chile—but away from downtown, Puerto Montt consists mainly of low clapboard houses perched above its bay, the Seno de Reloncaví.
Valparaíso's dramatic topography—45 cerros, or hills, overlooking the ocean—requires the use of winding pathways and wooden ascensores (funiculars) to get up many of the grades. The slopes are covered by candy-color houses—there are almost no apartments in the city—most of which have exteriors of corrugated metal peeled from shipping containers decades ago. Valparaíso has served as Santiago's port for centuries. Before the Panama Canal opened, Valparaíso was the busiest port in South America.
Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile
Robinson Crusoe Island is located 600 kilometres off the coast of Chile. The island is a rugged volcanic speck where 70 percent of its plant species are endemic, and is the largest of the Juan Fernandez Islands, a small archipelago that since 1935 is a Chilean National Park which was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. This island has witnessed and played an important role in Chilean and world history. In 1750 the village of San Juan Bautista was founded at Cumberland Bay and by 1779 there were already 7 fortresses bristling with guns.
Easter Island, Chile
Discovered (by the Western world) on Easter Sunday, 1722, Easter Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most isolated places on the face of the Earth, some 2,300 miles from the Chilean mainland. Although more Polynesian than South American in character, the 64-square mile island was annexed by Chile in 1888, and is now famous as the world’s largest ‘open air museum’ on account of the Moai, or human-like stone statues, that can be found on the island.
Adamstown, Pitcairn Islands
With a total of 56 residents on the island, Adamstown is the capital of the Pitcairn Islands and the only populated settlement, as all of the other Pitcairn Islands are uninhabited (although were populated by Polynesians in the 11th through 15th centuries). Halfway between Peru and New Zealand, Pitcairn was the perfect hiding spot for the famed HMS Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives. Not only had the island been misplaced on early maps of the region, but it can also be very difficult to come ashore as large breakers tend to build up just in front of the small harbour of Bounty Bay.
Mangareva, Gambier Islands
In the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia, Mangareva is the largest island with a population of over 1,200 people. Most live in the largest village on the island, Rikitea. A high central ridge runs the length of Mangareva peaking with Mt. Duff, which rises over 440 meters from the sea on the island's south coast. The island has a large lagoon sprinkled with coral reefs whose tropical fish helped ancient islanders survive much more successfully than on nearby islands with no reefs. Small ships are able to enter the lagoon of Mangareva.
Papeete will be your gateway to the tropical paradise of French Polynesia, where islands fringed with gorgeous beaches and turquoise ocean await to soothe the soul. This spirited city is the capital of French Polynesia, and serves as a superb base for onward exploration of Tahiti – an island of breathtaking landscapes and oceanic vistas. Wonderful lagoons of crisp, clear water beg to be snorkelled, stunning black beaches and blowholes pay tribute to the island's volcanic heritage, and lush green mountains beckon you inland on adventures, as you explore extraordinary Tahiti.
Moorea, French Polynesia
Moorea is called the "sister island" of Tahiti and its proximity—just 19 km (12 mi) away across the Sea of Moon—has assured a steady stream of both international and local visitors. Many Tahitians have holiday homes on Moorea and hop over in their boats or take the 30-minute ferry. The draw is South Seas island charm and a relatively slow-paced life. Moorea is an eighth of the size of Tahiti but packs all the classic island features into its triangular shape.
Bora Bora, Society Islands
Simply saying the name Bora Bora is usually enough to induce gasps of jealousy, as images of milky blue water, sparkling white beaches and casually leaning palm trees immediately spring to mind. The imagination doesn't lie, either, and if you visit, you’ll soon realise this island is every bit as gorgeous as you ever imagined. Thatched wooden huts stand out over shallow, sparkling seawater, with vivid fish swirling just below. Soak up the sun, scuba dive, or simply revel in the opulent luxury of one of the island's many magnificent resorts.
Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Even high praise like the 'world's most beautiful island' from Lonely Planet's co-founder, Tony Wheeler, won't prepare you for the intoxicating intensity of the coal blue ocean, the glow of the pure white sand, and the soothing ripple of the palm-tree forests at incredible Aitutaki. Breathless romance hangs thick in the air here, especially when a riot of purples, reds and oranges are spreading across the sky, accompanying the sun's descent each evening.
As the Kingdom of Tonga's largest island and capital, Nuku'alofa is the hub of city life, with Tonga's greatest concentration of hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. It is also the seat of Tonga's government and the island's historic center, where you'll find the royal palace, the government and business districts, as well as churches, the colorful Central Market, and ancient vestiges of the island's storied past. As Tonga's only deep-water port, Nuku'alofa is also its hub for boat rides and excursions to the many outer islands.
Neiafu, Vava'U Group, Tonga
With a population of 6,000, Neiafu is the capital city and the second largest municipality in the Polynesian nation of Tonga (a 169-island archipelago in the South Pacific). The city is situated in a deep- water harbor (Port of Refuge) on the south coast of Vava͛u, the main island of the Vava͛u archipelago in northern Tonga. The waters of this region are known for their clarity and beauty, and the area attracts many humpback whales between June and November.
Ovaka is a small island less than two miles across and just half a mile from north to south. It is one of 70 islands of the Vava’u archipelago in the nation Tonga. According to Polynesian legend, the Vava’u islands were brought to the surface by the demi-god Maui, fished from the bottom of the sea by his magic hook. The namesake village on this island is located at the northeast corner of this oddly-shaped land mass.
North of Nadi through sugarcane plantations and past the Sabeto Mountains is Lautoka, nicknamed the Sugar City for the local agriculture and its big processing mill. With a population of around 50,000, it's the only city besides Suva and, like the capital, has a pleasant waterfront. It's the sailing point for Blue Lagoon and Beachcomber Cruises but is otherwise unremarkable for tourists, itself having few hotels and fewer good restaurants. Locals recommend the city as a less-expensive place to shop for clothing, but note that it can take as long as 45 minutes to drive here.
Champagne Beach, Vanuatu
Champagne Beach is found in Hog Harbor on Espiritu Santo Island in Vanuatu. The island got its European name in the early 17th century when Pedro de Quiroz believed he had reached the famous unknown southern land or the “Tierra Australis Incognita.” He called Vanuatu’s largest island, “La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo.” Huge fish poison trees and Alexandrian laurel give cooling shade to the picture-perfect beach and crystal-clear water. The name “Champagne Beach” comes from effervescent bubbles of volcanic origin that are occasionally found in the waters of this stunning spot.
Pentecost Island, Vanuatu
Pentecost Island is a lush mountainous, tropical island stretching over 37 miles from north to south. It was named after the day on which the first European, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, sighted it on 22 May 1768. There are no towns on Pentecost - most of the islanders live in small villages and grow their own food in small gardens. Local traditions are strong, including the age-old ritual of land diving. This unique ritual was first given international exposure by David Attenborough in the 1950’s. Later, in the 1980’s, New Zealander AJ Hackett used the idea to invent bungee jumping.
Lifou, New Caledonia
Lifou is a commune of France in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia. Lifou is made up of two main islands - Lifou Island and Tiga Island- in additional to a number of uninhabited islets. Lifou Isand is the largest atoll in the world. The island is actually made of fossilized coral - known as a makatea. Lifou island does not have any surface water and it relies on a freshwater reservoir accessed by caves. Lifou Island is best known for its vast atoll (the largest in the world). This ring-shaped coral reef affords some of the best snorkelling in the world.
Sydney belongs to the exclusive club of cities that generate excitement. At the end of a marathon flight there's renewed vitality in the cabin as the plane circles the city, where thousands of yachts are suspended on the dark water and the sails of the Opera House glisten in the distance. Blessed with dazzling beaches and a sunny climate, Sydney is among the most beautiful cities on the planet.With 4.6 million people, Sydney is the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia.
Consistently rated among the "world's most livable cities" in quality-of-life surveys, Melbourne is built on a coastal plain at the top of the giant horseshoe of Port Phillip Bay. The city center is an orderly grid of streets where the state parliament, banks, multinational corporations, and splendid Victorian buildings that sprang up in the wake of the gold rush now stand. This is Melbourne's heart, which you can explore at a leisurely pace in a couple of days.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Kangaroo Island is with 1,740 square miles the third largest island off the coast of Australia. It is 96 miles long and 34 miles wide, and known for its outstanding natural beauty. Due to its remote location, Kangaroo Island was less affected than the mainland by the impact of European development. To this day, the island is rich in diverse flora and fauna seldom found elsewhere. As one of the world’s last unspoiled wilderness places, about 30 percent of the island has been designated as National Parks.
Proclaimed a city on July 1, 1998, Albany with a population of 28,000 is rapidly expanding. It is the commercial center of Western Australia's southern region and the oldest settlement in the state, established in 1826. Boasting an excellent harbor on King George Sound led to Albany becoming a thriving whaling port. Later, when steam ships started traveling between England and Australia, Albany was an important coaling station and served as a penal and a military outpost. The coastline offers some of Australia's most rugged and spectacular scenery.
Perth (Fremantle), Western Australia
The port city of Fremantle is a jewel in Western Australia's crown, largely because of its colonial architectural heritage and hippy vibe. Freo (as the locals call it) is a city of largely friendly, interesting, and sometimes eccentric residents supportive of busking, street art, and alfresco dining. Like all great port cities, Freo is cosmopolitan, with mariners from all parts of the world strolling the streets—including thousands of U.S. Navy personnel on rest and recreation throughout the year.
Bali (Benoa), Indonesia
Bali really is as alluring as everyone says. This island, slightly bigger than Delaware, has it all: beaches, volcanoes, terraced rice fields, forests, renowned resorts, surfing, golf, and world-class dive sites. But what sets Bali apart from other nearby tropical destinations is Balinese tradition, and villagers dedicated to celebrating it. The hundreds of temples, dances, rituals, and crafts linked to their ancient Hindu faith aren't a show for tourists, but a living, breathing culture in which visitors are warmly received by the Balinese, who cherish their own identities.
Semarang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, situated on Java's north coast between the shore of the Java Sea and a small ridge of mountains. Ceded to the Dutch West India Company in 1677 by King Amangkurat I in payment of his debts, it became their headquarters and the seat of the Dutch governor of the northeast provinces. Semarang's usefulness as a port waned due to the gradual silting up of the harbor; by the 19th century, Surabaya had eclipsed Semarang as Java's premier port.
The main island of Singapore is shaped like a flattened diamond, 42 km (26 miles) east to west and 23 km (14 miles) north to south. Near the northern peak is the causeway leading to West Malaysia—Kuala Lumpur is less than four hours away by car. It is at the southern foot where you will find most of the city-state’s action, with its gleaming office towers, working docks, and futuristic "supertrees," which are solar-powered and serve as vertical gardens.
Phuket is one of the region's economic powerhouses—millions of tourists visit the island every year, enjoying the many delights that are offered in this established resort island. Phuket is a modern, vibrant island with more than 6 million annual visitors, a number that is only increasing year-to-year. If you've never been to Phuket, you will likely love it; returning visitors will find a new island that eagerly greets its next wave of tourism. Koh Phuket is linked to the mainland by a causeway, and the rest of the world by an international airport.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's capital and largest city, Colombo offers fine restaurants, a buzzing nightlife scene, and good museums, parks, and beautiful Buddhist temples that are all worth visiting. The beach resort of Mt. Lavinia is only a short taxi ride from the downtown area and offers a golden, sandy beach and sunset views to die for. As an exciting blur of colors and cultures, Colombo presents a neatly packaged microcosm of this island nation.
Kochi, formerly and still commonly known as Cochin, is one of the west coast's largest and oldest ports. The streets behind the docks of the historic Fort Cochin and Mattancherry districts are lined with old merchant houses, godowns (warehouses), and open courtyards heaped with betel nuts, ginger, peppercorns, and tea. Throughout the second millennium this ancient city exported spices, coffee, and coir (the fiber made from coconut husks), and imported culture and religion from Europe, China, and the Middle East.
Delhi may be the capital city, but it's Mumbai that encapsulates all the dynamic, chaotic parts that make up modern India. This is where you'll find everything from succulent street food to haute cuisine, bargain-basement bazaars to the finest haute couture, humbling poverty to staggering wealth, sacred temples to hedonist nightclubs. Mumbai is India—vibrant, hectic, frustrating, enervating, and exhilarating, warts and all. Mumbai is a city of extremes, where slum-dwelling strivers making dollars a day serve Bollywood stars and industrial billionaires.
Oman's capital city is hemmed in on one side by spectacular jagged-peaked mountains and on the other by royal blue sea. The architecture is a traditional, sophisticated arabesque blend of white-washed, low-rise buildings surrounded by manicured palms, intricately designed domes set atop the minarets of the mosques, sand-colored villas, a surprising blend of modern art installations, like a giant incense burner that towers over the Corniche, and ancient forts set in the rocky hills.
The lush landscape around Salalah is the intriguing result of a quirk of nature. Since it is uniquely situated in the path of the Khareef, or South Western Monsoon, this stretch of the Dhofar Coast is covered in fine mist and frequent rain from mid-June through mid-September. By the time the monsoons cease, the entire coastline is a verdant stretch. Waterfalls, rolling grasslands, and thickly wooded wadis (riverbeds) thrive alongside rapid mountain streams.
The resort town of Aqaba, on the Red Sea at the southern end of Jordan, is a popular spot for divers with some of the best coral reefs in the world. Snorkeling and other water sports are popular, and it's easy to hire a boat for a day or half-day, including lunch.Aqaba has become quite a bustling destination, with several large luxury hotels and a large shopping area. There are many jewelry stores selling pearls, gem stones, and gold and silver jewelry.
Port Safago has been undergoing a transformation, slowly metamorphosing into a holiday rsort. Like other cities on the Red Sea, the commercial port town sits close to great offshore dive sites. Unlike others, however, tourist development hasn't taken off in a meaningful way. But if the mass tourism in Hurghada is a turnoff, Safaga offers a small-scale and much more low-key alternative, though the best dive sites can still be seen on a day trip from Hurghada.
Suez Canal Transit
After several debates over its building, the Suez Canal opened under French Control on 17 November 1869, paving a gateway from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. This history-bound canal enhanced the colonisation of Africa throughout the next 50 years and facilitated World Commerce. Today, it still plays a pivotal role in trading and tourism, offering a fast access to Asia from the Mediterranean and vice versa.
The medieval cliff-hanging town of Taormina is overrun with tourists, yet its natural beauty is still hard to dispute. The view of the sea and Mt. Etna from its jagged cactus-covered cliffs is as close to perfection as a panorama can get—especially on clear days, when the snowcapped volcano's white puffs of smoke rise against the blue sky. Writers have extolled Taormina's beauty almost since it was founded in the 6th century BC by Greeks from nearby Naxos; Goethe and D. H. Lawrence were among its well-known enthusiasts.
Sorrento may have become a jumping-off point for visitors to Pompeii, Capri, and Amalfi, but you can find countless reasons to love it for itself. The Sorrentine people are fair-minded and hardworking, bubbling with life and warmth. The tuff cliff on which the town rests is spread over the bay, absorbing sunlight, while orange and lemon trees waft their perfume in spring. Winding along a cliff above a small beach and two harbors, the town is split in two by a narrow ravine formed by a former mountain stream.
Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Italy's vibrant capital lives in the present, but no other city on earth evokes its past so powerfully. For over 2,500 years, emperors, popes, artists, and common citizens have left their mark here. Archaeological remains from ancient Rome, art-stuffed churches, and the treasures of Vatican City vie for your attention, but Rome is also a wonderful place to practice the Italian-perfected il dolce far niente, the sweet art of idleness. Your most memorable experiences may include sitting at a caffè in the Campo de' Fiori or strolling in a beguiling piazza.
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.
Spread over a string of seven hills north of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) estuary, Lisbon presents an intriguing variety of faces to those who negotiate its switchback streets. In the oldest neighborhoods, stepped alleys whose street pattern dates back to Moorish times are lined with pastel-color houses decked with laundry; here and there, miradouros (vantage points) afford spectacular river or city views. In the grand 18th-century center, calçada à portuguesa (black-and-white mosaic cobblestone) sidewalks border wide boulevards.
Oporto (Leixoes), Portugal
Lively, commercial Oporto is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. Also called Porto for short, the word easily brings to mind the city's most famous product - port wine. Oporto's strategic location on the north bank of the Douro River has accounted for the town's importance since ancient times. The Romans built a fort here where their trading route crossed the Douro, and the Moors brought their own culture to the area. Oporto profited from provisioning crusaders en route to the Holy Land and enjoyed the riches from Portuguese maritime discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Ask any Dubliner what's happening and you may hear echoes of one of W. B. Yeats's most-quoted lines: "All changed, changed utterly." No matter that the decade-long "Celtic Tiger" boom era has been quickly followed by the Great Recession—for visitors Dublin remains one of Western Europe's most popular and delightful urban destinations. Whether or not you're out to enjoy the old or new Dublin, you'll find it a colossally entertaining city, all the more astonishing considering its intimate size.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Before English and Scottish settlers arrived in the 1600s, Belfast was a tiny village called Béal Feirste ("sandbank ford") belonging to Ulster's ancient O'Neill clan. With the advent of the Plantation period (when settlers arrived in the 1600s), Sir Arthur Chichester, from Devon in southwestern England, received the city from the English Crown, and his son was made Earl of Donegall. Huguenots fleeing persecution from France settled near here, bringing their valuable linen-work skills.
Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye ranks near the top of most visitors' priority lists: the romance of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, combined with the misty Cuillin Hills and their proximity to the mainland all contribute to its popularity. Today Skye remains mysterious and mountainous, an island of sunsets that linger brilliantly until late at night and of beautiful, soft mists. Much photographed are the really old crofts, one or two of which are still inhabited, with their thick stone walls and thatch roofs.
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland
In bustling Kirkwall, the main town on Orkney, there's plenty to see in the narrow, winding streets extending from the harbor. The cathedral and some museums are highlights.
Many visitors fall in love with Bergen, Norway's second-largest city, at first sight. Seven rounded lush mountains, pastel wood houses, the historic wharf, winding cobblestone streets, and Hanseatic relics all make it a place of enchantment. Its many epithets include "Trebyen" (Wooden City), "Regnbyen" (Rainy City, due to its 240 days of rain a year), and "Fjordbyen" (gateway to the fjords).
One of the most scenic train routes in Europe zooms high into the mountains between the towns of Myrdal and Flåm. After the day-trippers have departed, it's a wonderful place to extend your tour and spend the night.
Leith (Edingburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is to London as poetry is to prose, as Charlotte Brontë once wrote. One of the world's stateliest cities and proudest capitals, it's built—like Rome—on seven hills, making it a striking backdrop for the ancient pageant of history. In a skyline of sheer drama, Edinburgh Castle watches over the capital city, frowning down on Princes Street’s glamour and glitz. But despite its rich past, the city’s famous festivals, excellent museums and galleries, as well as the modern Scottish Parliament, are reminders that Edinburgh has its feet firmly in the 21st century.
Amsterdam combines the unrivaled beauty of the 17th-century Golden Age city center with plenty of museums and art of the highest order, not to mention a remarkably laid-back atmosphere. It all comes together to make this one of the world's most appealing and offbeat metropolises in the world. Built on a latticework of concentric canals like an aquatic rainbow, Amsterdam is known as the City of Canals—but it's no Venice, content to live on moonlight serenades and former glory.