Bucket List Stop-off Points for Your Next Mediterranean Cruise

The coast of the Mediterranean Sea near the city of Antalya. Mountains in the background – Essential stops on a Mediterranean cruise

Looking for the best Mediterranean destinations for your upcoming cruise or road trip through the region? Here we showcase them all.

There’s plenty to see when you take a Mediterranean cruise, so much so that you’ll struggle to fit it all in even if you’re sailing for multiple weeks. 

There are no two Mediterranean cruises that are the same. Some take travelers to the Italian and French rivieras to enjoy wine, food, and cultural pursuits. Others might sail east to the Greek Islands or have an itinerary that’s a mix of urban tourist capitals. 

If you’re considering booking a European adventure at sea, consider these stop-off points whatever your travel style.

Barcelona

Depending on your itinerary, Barcelona can be a port of call or an embarkation port. It has much to offer first-time and repeat visitors. 

Cruise ships dock at the end of Las Ramblas. This is the main thoroughfare in the old part of the city. As such, it’s easy to leave the ship and simply wander off to explore this fascinating Spanish city.

Try not to miss a meal of tapas or a visit to Gaudi’s fantastical buildings. 

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo is a gateway to the French Riviera, but it’s also an attractive port. Take a look around the town and you’ll walk past opulent casinos, a palace, and a stunning oceanographic museum.

From the town, you can venture further afield, taking twisty-turny Corniche coastal roads to places such as Cannes, Nice, Eze, and Grasse. 

Related read: Cannes Weather Guide: What to Expect Each Month

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is a popular destination for Game of Thrones fans. However, if you’re not interested in the GOT tour this famous walled city is still likely to have you captivated. 

You can choose to walk along the walls or enjoy scenic views of the old town from the water.  

Rome

To get to Rome you have to disembark at the cruise port of Civitavecchia and then take the bus or train. It’s quite a painful journey, but well worth it because you get to experience the Eternal City firsthand. 

While in Rome, don’t turn down the chance to tour the Vatican and Sistine Chapel at St Peter’s Cathedral. Take a step back in time by visiting the Roman Forum and Colosseum. Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain and climb the Spanish Steps. 

When you’ve had enough of walking around this historical city, take a breather with a plate of pasta or gelato. And if you have more time to explore it, check out our guide to three amazing days in Rome.

Rhodes, Greece

Rhodes is a historic port that used to have a Colossus but it’s still got plenty of appeal. The Old Town is easy to walk around and the cobblestone streets are lined with stores and restaurants. Many are housed in structures dating back to the 14th century. 

If shopping doesn’t float your boat, keep walking until you reach the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. Tours are available or you could head out to one of the city’s beaches.  

Naples, Italy

Naples is a favorite port for many because it has so many options for what to do. You can explore the city on your own and sit down to lunch the region’s famous pizza. Alternatively, use it as a jumping-off point for a tour to Capri, Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii, or the Amalfi Coast. 

By the way, this article will help you make up your mind if you are wondering whether you should visit Pompeii or not.

Ashdod, Israel

Not many cruisers stick around Ashdod, but if you get a chance to visit make sure to take it. It’s the gateway to Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem. The sites you get to see are amazing, but be ready for a long bus ride and days off the ship touring. 

Istanbul

Istanbul is a vibrant city that serves as a departure port and port of call on many Mediterranean cruises. 

It’s a city that offers something for everyone. For example, you can experience:

  • The cultural icons of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque
  • Intense shipping experiences at the Grand Bazaar
  • Traditional Turkish baths
  • Byzantine palaces
  • Bosphorus day cruises between Europe and Asia
  • Flavorful cuisine
  • Plenty of neighborhoods to explore

When is the Best Time to Book a Mediterranean Cruise?

It’s a good idea to make your Mediterranean Cruise booking several months in advance. That way you can take advantage of early booking discounts and promotions. It’s also likely that you’ll have the widest selection of cabins, suites, and dining times. 

An early booking is also the best option if you plan to use miles to book your flights or points for a pre-cruise hotel. Another tip is to look for fall sales as this is when the current Mediterranean season winds down.

Make your booking during January or February and you might be able to take advantage of a cruise line’s “wave season” sales. Often, these come loaded with extra freebies included in the cost of the sailing. You might also find last-minute deals on European spring cruises or still be considered early for fall itineraries. 

Final Thoughts: Best Mediterranean Destinations

The Mediterranean is a fantastic region to cruise and sailing around the sea can be a wonderful introduction to Europe if you’ve never been before.

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