Stunning azure seas, quaint villages and historic ports. It’s not surprising that so many people dream of visiting the Mediterranean. And there truly is no better way to explore this extraordinary part of the world than on a Holland America cruise. Simply hop aboard a ship, unpack your bags and then sail from one amazing port to another. In fact, probably the most difficult thing you will have to do in preparation for your trip will be choosing your itinerary. To help you decide which cities are “must sees,” you’ll want to check out the following brief descriptions of some of the more popular Mediterranean cruise ports that can be found on many itineraries.
Athens is truly an interesting city, and one that is filled with many contradictions. It is both very old and very new, rich and poor, sophisticated and grungy. It is also a city that is undergoing constant transformation. In 2004, for example, the city overhauled its Metro system, which made it much easier for cruisers to visit Athens’ many amazing historical sites, including the Temple of Athena and the Parthenon. Athens also banned cars from its historical center, which created a roughly three-kilometer pedestrian zone that connects many of the city’s famous ancient sites. This is an excellent city for history and museum lovers and also a great place if you just want to relax at a taverna, enjoying a delicious Greek meal.
If you love great food, good wine and interesting architecture, then a stroll through beautiful Barcelona is a must. Fortunately, Barcelona’s port is located just a short walk away from its center, so you can easily enjoy the best this lovely city has to offer. If catching some rays is more your style, then you can always head to one of Barcelona’s gold-sand beaches. And you will rarely have to worry about the weather.Barcelona, which is the capital of the Catalonia region, enjoys approximately 300 days of blissful sunshine a year.
The world is fortunate to still have this jewel of a city mostly intact. In the early 1990s, Dubrovnik was heavily shelled during the Croatian War of Independence, but it survived and is now a very popular port on many cruise itineraries. Why? Because historic Dubrovnik, which is located on the Dalmatian Coast, is a beautiful walled city that is known for its white buildings, orange-red roofs and marble streets. And you won’t find any cars on the Old Town of Dubrovnik’s streets. This lovely city requires that you enjoy its beauty on foot.
Istanbul—which was once known as Constantinople, is one of the world’s most interesting cities, both culturally and geographically. Because the Bosporus Strait, which divides Europe and Asia, runs through Turkey, Istanbul is the only city in the world that can boast that it lies on two continents. Not surprisingly, Istanbul’s sites are quite diverse. You’ll find pretty mosques, large palaces and ancient Roman ruins in this historic city. One of Istanbul’s most famous attractions is the Blue Mosque, which was built between 1609 and 1616. And, of course, a visit to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, which is home to thousands of shops, is also a must for cruisers.
Have you always wanted to see where the rich go to play? Then you’ll want to check out glitzy Monte Carlo. You’ll know almost immediately that you’ve arrived in a port that is popular with the rich and famous because as you enter the harbor, you’ll be surrounded by some of the world’s most fantastic yachts. At only 485 acres, Monaco is a tiny principality that is the second smallest state in Europe. But it has a lot to offer curious cruisers, including its famous Casino. Lucky cruisers who arrive to Monte Carlo during the Monaco Grand Prix may even be able to get a glimpse of the famous race from the deck of their ship.
With its lovely canals, pretty bridges and historic buildings, Venice is definitely one of the most photogenic cities in the world. And it is also one of the most romantic places to visit, as well. This is an excellent city for strolling or enjoying a meal al fresco. And whatever you do, don’t let the naysayers talk you out of a gondola ride with your friends or family. Yes, it is a bit expensive and a very touristy thing to do, but it is one of the best ways to view this wonderful and unique city. No matter where your Mediterranean cruise might take you there is sure to be more to see, do and experience than you can possibly fit in to one trip! Consider a cruise that hits many different spots the first time around, so you can pick a few places to go back and explore further!