Incorporating Spain, Italy and France, the Western Med has been influenced by cultures from all over the globe -- and each one has left its mark on the region's architecture, food and traditions. Vibrant cities and iconic landmarks are located close to many of the ports, so you'll have scenic surrounds, mouth-watering cuisine and fantastic shopping opportunities a stone's throw away. Wherever you visit, you're guaranteed to discover something new about your European neighbors. But deciding where to focus your day in port could become an overwhelming task. To help you pick from the many options available, here are some of our favorite shore excursions in the Western Mediterranean.
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Unless your heart's set on sailing the Greek Islands, beaches might not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a Mediterranean cruise. The region lures visitors with its culturally rich cities, food and wine, and historic landmarks. But behind all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and
Sponsored by Silversea Cruises Whether you're on a cultural odyssey through the cradle of European civilization or are in search of the hippest sun-soaked hot spots around the Mediterranean, a cruise showcases the very finest the region has to offer. The Mediterranean is the kind of place you'll come back to again and again, so here are the essentials in 10 of our favorite ports -- and also some intriguing alternatives.
The Western Mediterranean has among the greatest concentration of art, architecture and archeological ruins in the world. As you sail through the region, thousands of years of history will be unfolded layer by layer. In fact, there's so much to take in that you might not know where to start. Here are our must-see picks for culture vultures cruising the Western Med.
The crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea sparkle year-round, making cruises in the region a hot ticket for passengers around the globe. (Even Australians make the long trek during their winter.) But with so many ports spanning the Med, how do you pick which itinerary is right for you? Generally, Mediterranean cruises are divided into Western Mediterranean – Monaco, Spain and France -- and the Eastern Mediterranean, which includes but is not limited to Croatia, the Balkan countries, Greece and Turkey. Italy does double duty, serving as an embarkation/debarkation homeport for both (usually Rome for Western Med cruises and Venice for eastern routes); Italian ports of call feature in both itineraries, as well. It's hard to go wrong with either. Both itineraries include UNESCO-approved cultural and historic sites that will help you complete your bucket list. Both also offer fabulous ports of call with outstanding cuisine and local wines, beaches for all sorts of travelers and opportunities for shopping. Keep in mind that either itinerary will be port-intensive; this is not a cruise where you spend lots of time lolling near the ship's pool. Read on to find out how to choose between an Eastern Mediterranean vs. a Western Mediterranean cruise.
Sponsored by Azamara Why do we travel? Would you agree we travel to immerse ourselves into new places and seek connection in both the familiar and the foreign? Italy is one of these places where so many of us feel an immediate sense of coming home. That’s what happened to me when I first stepped foot on the Italian boot -- I felt a lightness, joy and sense of belonging that has kept me coming back and each time going deeper into its magical culture. Italy’s 4,720 miles of coastline make it the perfect place to explore via a cruise. Nearly every destination you might want to visit is close enough to the coastline to easily explore on port visit. And, on a cruise, you can cover more ground in Italy than you ever could by traveling on land; popular around-Italy itineraries may start or end in Venice or Rome, and make stops in Amalfi, Sorrento, Sicily, Portofino, Florence, Elba and Brindisi (along with a foray into nearby Montenegro’s Kotor). With stops in so many Italian ports you will feel truly immersed in the culture and might just be speaking some of the language by the end of your cruise.
From its labyrinthine cobbled lanes and charming shady squares to its majestic medieval architecture and broad leafy boulevards, Palma de Mallorca is by any measure one of the finest cities in the Mediterranean. Add world-class dining, buzzing nightlife, and a long stretch of sandy beach into the mix and you've got more than enough excuses to spend a couple of days in the capital of the Balearics before or after your cruise trip. But how to cram in all of the city's ample attractions into just 48 hours? Whether you're there over the bustling and searing summer months or the cooler and quieter winter, we've put together guide on how to do just that.
Named for an ancient tribe that lived along the eastern coastline of the Adriatic Sea in the first millennium BCE, the Dalmatian Coast is best known as the place the white and black spotted dog came from. But with a history that dates back to a time before the Greeks and includes long sweeps of time under the rule of various empires (Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Yugoslavian), there's so much to learn about and see in any of the cities and towns that dot the area's islands and coastline. The Dalmatian Coast stretches southeast from Italy's Venice (rulers from here used to oversee this part of the world), encompassing Croatia and parts of Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. The ports are often visited as part of Eastern Mediterranean itineraries (although it's technically on the Adriatic Sea), as well as by small ship cruise lines that stop at smaller cities and towns exclusively along the coastline. Whether you sail an itinerary that sticks exclusively to the Dalmatian Coast or a Mediterranean journey that stops at select ports on the way to elsewhere, you'll visit towns with quaint old city centers, narrow stone streets, medieval fortified walls, cathedrals that span hundreds of years and subtle signs of the war that raged through this area in the mid-1990s. With excursions on offer that range from classic city tours and culinary tastings to hikes or kayak trips through pristine natural environments, a cruise along the Dalmatian Coast offers a rich experience to history buffs, foodies, active travelers and anyone who simply wants to explored a less-traveled path.
World-famous sights such as the Parthenon in Athens, charming seaside tavernas and crystal-clear waters are all part of a Greek island-hopping cruise. Only 227 of the 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas of Greece are inhabited and some are only accessible by boat, making a small ship cruise the best way discover these idyllic destinations. Take a look at our list of the 10 best cruise lines for a Greek island-hopping odyssey.