Ah, the Med. If there’s one thing we love, it’s hopping from one amazing destination to the next on a Mediterranean cruise. From east to west, these are our favourite ports stops to explore.
Italy does double duty as a port stop for both eastern and western Mediterranean cruise routes, which means that no matter which cruise you choose, you’re pretty much guaranteed a taste of La Dolce Vita (the good life).
As one of the most fascinating cities in Europe, Florence is a popular port stop for many cruise ships sailing the Mediterranean. Cruise ships will typically port in Livorno and offer day trips to Florence, stopping at Pisa or Lucca en route. Admittedly, it’s a long drive for a day trip, but Florence is well worth the effort. Use the time you have in the city to explore the Academy of Fine Arts (Academia Gallery), one of Florence’s best museums and home to Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. Don’t forget to visit the Duomo, Florence’s cathedral. Its 15th-century cupola is an architectural wonder dominates the city skyline.
Even though you’re only in town for a day, you can still squeeze a lot of juice out of your Barcelona experience. In fact, one of the most famous streets in the world is only a few minutes away from the port. La Rambla, renowned for its eccentric locals and eclectic shopping, starts at sea and leads straight to another attraction, the Plaza Catalunya. It’s a 25-minute walk from one to the other, but totally worth it, especially with a stop at La Boqueria, the largest market in the city. If you want to explore further afield, Barcelona is small enough that it doesn’t take longer than half an hour to get anywhere, whether by taxi, public transport or taking a brisk walk.
You could spend months exploring Venice, but with only a day in the city, focus on seeing a combination of its highlights as well as its hidden gems. Try to explore as much as you can on foot or by water – and be sure to squeeze in the Campanile and St Mark’s Basilica.
While Mykonos is known for its summer party atmosphere with dance clubs attracting world-renowned DJs, there’s still plenty to explore on a port stop day trip. Iconic landmarks include a row of 16th-century windmills, which sit on a hill above Mykonos town, and the narrow, mazelike lanes lined with white cubiform houses – these trimmed with bougainvillaea and blue doors and shutters. Go shopping in Matoyianni Street and heat to Little Venice to enjoy waterfront bars and seafood restaurants. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the Panagia Paraportiani, a whitewashed church with a famously lumpy, lopsided shape.
An iconic island with whitewashed, cubiform houses clinging to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater), getting from the port to Fira, the island’s commercial heart is part of the adventure. The steep road is traditionally traversed on a donkey, but if you only a few hours to experience the island, take a taxi instead. Visit the ruins of Ancient Thera, which lie on a dramatic bluff that drops to the sea on 3 sides. In town, enjoy a lively bar scene and dine on grilled seafood at a taverna. If you can, try and catch the sunset over the old fortress at Oia.
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