The Mediterranean contains some of the world’s most popular cruise destinations and ports of call, and it is not difficult to see why. Cities like Rome and Athens boast thousands of years of history (as well as a lively, modern holiday atmosphere).
Islands like Santorini contain both quaint charm and mystery, and modern metropoli like Barcelona and Cannes are on quite a few people’s ‘bucket lists’. Here, we’ll look at seven of the most amazing Mediterranean coastal cities, and what makes them so special. If you’d like to see for yourself, well, we have just the itinerary for you!
Cannes is of course one of the jewels of the French Riviera, known for its white sand beaches, chic resorts, and the carnival atmosphere of the city itself, epitomised by the Promenade de la Croisette.
The Grande Palais hotel is well worth a visit, as is the picturesque Le Suquet fishing village. However, Cannes is at its best when explored leisurely. Wander the city, explore less-trodden byways, and enjoy the truly world-class food and entertainments it has to offer – if you ever make it in from the beach.
Florence is simply stunning. Of more interest is the fact that it was just as stunning 600 years ago, when it was the centre of one of Europe’s richest trade empires. Over the centuries, much of that wealth has built up in Renaissance museums like the Uffizi, which can claim the better part of a day all on its own.
When you finally drag yourself away from the wonders of the past, enjoy the best view of the skyline from the Piazzale Michelangelo, or climb the Duomo di Firenze. It wouldn’t do for any ‘foodie’ to miss the Mercato Centrale, or for any art lover to miss Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
All roads once led to Rome, so they say, and the same can be said for Mediterranean cruises. Rome is celebrated as one of the birthplaces of Western culture and offers some truly unique sites to those who can tear themselves away from the dazzling modern shopping, dining and nightlife it also sports.
No trip to Rome would be complete without viewing iconic structures like the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica or museums like the Museo e Galleria Borghese and the Capitoline.
Athens has been one of the most important cities of the Grecian peninsula, even before there was a ‘Greece’. The relics of those ancient days are huge features in today’s Athens, but don’t think there is nothing to the city but ruins like the Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Acropolis. Modern Athens boasts sites like the Benaki Museum, famous restaurants like Spondi or Telis, and vital street markets like the Varvakios Agora.
Whether or not Santorini is the remains of fabled Atlantis, it was a populous, civilised trade hub when even ancient Greece was no more than a collection of tiny villages. Santorini itself plays host to thousands of tourists from all parts of the world and has the hotels, restaurants and evening entertainment such a population demands.
A visit to Santorini would not be complete without taking one or more guided tours, whether that be hiking the caldera between Fira and Oia, a gentle cruise to see the volcano and hot springs, or exploring some of the local wineries.
Malta is truly its own culture, and Valletta is the ideal port of call to see it all. Almost everything is in easy reach, from the 16th century Grand Master’s Palace to Saint John’s Cathedral and the National Museum of Archaeology.
At night, Valletta becomes surprisingly quiet, though there is usually something worth seeing at the St James Centre or the Manoel Theatre. If you want ‘proper’ nightlife, though, travel back down to the waterfront to enjoy drinks and dancing with a lovely harbour view.
Barcelona is a major world city, but one that is not so huge that you can’t explore it on foot. The tourist buses are fine, but you can see so much more travelling at your own pace. Make sure to set aside time to look around Montjuïc castle and the Laribal gardens, as well as parks alike the Ciutadella and the Joan Miró.
Once you’ve had your fill of the Gaudí and Modernist architecture, make sure you dedicate some of your attention to the city’s theatres, art museums, and of course its clubs and restaurants. If you take one of the popular ‘vermouth crawls’, be sure to tip a glass to the statue of Dante Alighieri in the square!