In Greece, Santorini sparkles above the Mediterranean.
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What colors do you associate with the Greek islands? On Santorini, doors and domes are painted kyanos (cyan) because of an ancient belief that the color keeps evil spirits away. But the island is perhaps best known today for its black and red volcanic beaches and its white wine (mostly from the local Assyrtiko grape). This 12-day cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette stops at several islands as well as Athens, where Western civilization began and relics are just a part of everyday life. From $1,789.
Dubai is a city of artifice, with man-made islands, an indoor ski resort, and the tallest structure ever built—the Burj Khalifa, at 2,717 feet. But the luxury is real. Revel in splendor on this 15-day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Serenade of the Seas, which takes you from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea by way of the Suez Canal. In Egypt, go from glam to grace in Sharm el-Sheikh, a Red Sea spot known for its marine biodiversity, and Safaga, gateway to the fabled Temple of Luxor. Cleopatra’s palace lies underwater off the shore of Alexandria, also home to a national museum housing some 1,800 artifacts from Egypt’s glittering history. Back across the Mediterranean, end your tour in Spain, where you could lose yourself in the hedge maze at Barcelona’s Labyrinth Park. From $1,019.
The town of Bariloche on the shores of Argentina’s Lake Nahuel Huapí once hid a secret pass through the Andes. Today it’s famous for artisanal chocolate, used in desserts, savory dishes, and even massages. This 10-day tour of South America’s greatest hits also includes Buenos Aires, where you might enjoy a tango lesson followed by lunch plus wine from Mendoza Province. En route to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, visit Parque das Aves to check out more than 150 species of birds near Iguaçú Falls, nearly three times the width of Niagara Falls. From $6,099.
England and Scotland may not be balmy in the winter, but you can plan ahead to enjoy a pleasantly mild summer on this eight-day tour of Great Britain. Get a bird’s-eye view of the English landscape from the London Eye, a 443-foot-high giant Ferris wheel. Move on to castle country in Yorkshire, stopping along the way at the real-life Sherwood Forest (of mythical Robin Hood fame). At the border between England and Scotland, once the northern border of the Roman Empire, you’ll find Hadrian’s Wall, built to separate the Romans from the “barbarians.” Finish your trip at Edinburgh Castle, where a cannonball was fired to celebrate Mary, Queen of Scots’ marriage in 1558 and later found almost two miles away. From $2,349.
Photography by Melvyn Longhurst/Alamy (Greece); Than217/Wikipedia (Ramesses II); Bex.Walton/Wikipedia (London Eye); Martin St-Amant/Wikipedia (Iguaçú Falls)
This article was first published in November 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
For more information, visit any AAA branch or go to AAA.com/travel.