Most people would assume that the summer season is the best time to cruise around the Mediterranean. But, they may be wrong. We’ve found that there are many benefits to travelling during the shoulder seasons. And here’s our 7 reasons why…
- Travelling outside the summer months means fewer crowds due to people aiming for the hottest weather. You also miss the summer school holidays.
- Travel is cheaper. You’re more likely to snap up a bargain choosing a time when the kids are still in school. If you compare prices during October & December to prices during July & August, you can be paying £100 plus extra per person.
- With the weather slightly cooler in temperature, you can make more of your days. Not having to walk around in the blistering heat means you can really explore each port to the fullest.
- The autumn months are a great time to visit the local vineyards as they’re in their post-harvest period.
- The locals are more welcoming during autumn once the summer rush is over. You’ll find yourself having more conversations with them and immerse yourself fully into their culture.
- During autumn the sea will be warm still after soaking up all that summer sun. In the springtime, though it will still be cold so just be prepared.
- To benefit from visiting the Mediterranean during shoulder seasons, look for cruise itineraries that head further south to really get that first/last bit of summer sun.
Whether you’re looking at visiting the East or the West, there are plenty of amazing ports in the Mediterranean that will make for a perfect cruising holiday.
From sampling tapas in Barcelona, walking through the old town of Dubrovnik or even sailing down the canals in Venice, there is so much to do in the Med, the experiences are endless. So, to help you narrow down your choice (a little), we’ve pulled together a list of what we believe (from years of experience), are the Top 10 ports to visit in the Mediterranean.
Our top 10 Mediterranean destinations to visit…
This romantic island will take your breath away each time you turn a corner. With white-washed buildings and their iconic blue dome-shaped buildings are spotted everywhere you look, Santorini really will be one of the most beautiful ports you visit on your cruise.
Top Tip: If you’re feeling energetic when arriving in Santorini, why not Hike from Fira to Oia. The route is well marked and you can even get a bus ride back to make sure you make your embarkation time.
Not only is Lisbon full of history and culture, but it is also really budget-friendly. So if you’ve spent all your pennies on every other port you have visited on your cruise so far, you’ll still be able to enjoy this beautiful city. Explore the city’s unique infrastructure where it has the perfect combination of the old and the new.
Top Tip: Track down the local markets and restaurants for super-fresh seafood. The prices are very reasonable compared to other European countries. Why not try Arroz de Marisco? A medley of rice and a mix of all the local seafood.
The best thing about visiting Barcelona on a cruise is that the port brings you right into the centre of the city. So you can experience the buzz as soon as you step off the ship. Las Ramblas is filled with lots of interesting shops to explore as well as street artists for some light entertainment as you stroll your way through. Be sure to visit all of the famous work from Gaudi on your visit. It really is something special.
Top Tip: If you want to visit the famous Sagrada Familia, book your tickets in advance. Queues on the day can be big and if it’s a hot day you can be standing in the heat for a while. Booking ahead reduces the risk of this greatly.
Although it’s hardly a hidden secret, Dubrovnik’s majestic old town exceeds expectations. It’s straight out of a fairy tale with its well-preserved baroque buildings and ancient city walls. This is a city that’s best explored on foot to really see all its cobbled streets and timeworn hideaways, flanked by the sparkling waters of the Adriatic Sea. Take the cable car to Mt Srd to enjoy the sweeping views over Dubrovnik’s red roofs, or take a day trip out into the inland countryside to go wine tasting in the abundant sunshine.
Top Tip: You can also explore from above by walking the 1.5 miles of old city walls to gain a different view of Old Town, though beware of the steep steps!
Explore thousands of years of history and culture in cosmopolitan Athens, from the ancient Acropolis with its famed Parthenon temple to its contemporary art galleries. You’ll see traces of the Byzantine and Ottoman eras in its multi-layered architecture, combined with a modern buzz – Athens is a hotspot for urban street art! Gather in central Syntagma Square to watch the world go by, imagining this ageless city as it was centuries ago.
Top Tip: Make sure you take advantage of the metro as it’s relatively easy to navigate. Unlike the London underground, there are 3 lines that stretch across the whole city so you are less likely to get onto the wrong line. It’s also very affordable!
Although it’s an Italian region, the island of Sardinia offers a one-of-a-kind culture all its own, and there’s perhaps no better place to experience this than Cagliari. Stride past its medieval walls to the Castello District to explore centuries-old cathedrals, piazzas and galleries. Cagliari is a festive place at any time, whether you’re taking in a performance at the Bastione Saint-Remy or a traditional parade.
Top Tip: Visit Cagliari’s largest food market The San Benedetto market. It’s full of local products that you can sample as you walk around. You can also get your hands on any treats you’d like to take home.
Kotor isn’t always the first place that comes to mind when you think of the Mediterranean, but this small town in Montenegro is definitely worth a visit. Entering the port you will be surrounded by beautiful fjord-like mountains. Take a walk into a UNESCO world heritage site that is the old town which was built between 12th and 14th centuries. Even though this hidden gem of the Mediterranean is now very popular with tourists, it still holds on to its authentic charm.
Top Tip: A short 15-minute boat ride from Kotor will take you to a tiny island where there are two small churches to explore. Visiting the churches you’ll hear tales of the churches and why one is called ‘Our Lady of the Rocks’.
Being the largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, Rhodes has a wealth of rich history, from the ancient buildings to the historic streets. Take a stroll through the UNESCO Medieval City, the gothic architecture will have you in awe as you step back in time. The authentic Greek cuisine will leave you wanting more, from the traditional desert ‘melekouni’ to the island speciality ‘pitaroudia’.
Top Tip: Make sure you visit the Palace of the Grand Master, learn the stories of the knights that occupied the castle in the 11th century under the Grand Master.
Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta has a slightly cooler climate during the Autumn season, although the occasional Scirocco wind from Africa brings high temperatures. Enjoy the tranquil scenery with plenty of sightseeing opportunities and get lost in the open-air markets. With over 7,000 years of history, Malta has an abundance of heritage and culture ready to be discovered.
Top Tip: One of the must-see attractions in Malta is St.Johns Co-Cathedral. To get there from Valletta harbour, take a short walk to the local lift which takes you to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, from there you can take a 10-minute stroll to the Cathedral.
Good things come in small packages! And that’s exactly right when it comes to Monte Carlo, it has the second smallest country population in the world. You can step back in time to the glitz and glamour of the famous Monte Carlo casino.
Top Tip: If you have time, visit the Oceanographic Museum, located on a cliff’s edge. It hosts an aquarium with over 200 species of invertebrate and a museum, perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
Have you cruised to the Mediterranean before? What did you think? What’s your favourite port in the Mediterranean? Let us know in the comments below…
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