The best part of taking a Mediterranean cruise is the variety of cultures you’ll experience from one port to the next. One minute you’re exploring ancient ruins or sampling the local cuisine, then enjoying a sun-washed beach soaking up the atmosphere. To make the most of your usually all-too-quick stopover, it’s best to speak to your personal travel manager. However, here’s a quick guide to memorable (and not too cliché) things to do in these key Mediterranean cruise stops.
This colourful city where east meets west, offers up a wonderful mix of ancient and modern delights. While the Acropolis is not to be missed and is the pinnacle of Greek culture, there is something to be said about just mingling with the locals in one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas of the city. Just below the towering Acropolis hill is the area known as Plaka. You can lose yourself in the winding labyrinth of pedestrian-only streets filled with everything from antique markets to leather sandal peddlers, elaborate courtyards, cafés, churches and notable monuments. By night the Acropolis is illuminated and makes for a stunning backdrop for dinner from one of the many restaurants to choose from.
Travel tip: All cruise ships dock at the port city of Piraeus, where very little happens. It’s easy to take a metro starting from as little as 1 Euro or grab a taxi to the city centre (approximately 11kms).
What better way to understand the Italian culture than through its music? Let your ears transport you to one of the most memorable periods – The Baroque era. You can hear the best of Vivaldi, born in Venice in 1678, by the Interpreti Veneziani – Venice’s prized string orchestra, who perform at the atmospheric San Vidal Church off the Grande Canal near the Academia Bridge. The immediate area is also home to some trendy cocktail bars, so be sure to sip on an Italian-inspired Bellini before your concert.
Travel tip: To get from the port to the city centres of Piazza San Marco and Piazzale Roma will involve either a brief walk to the Peoplemover Tram (and a two minute ride) or a water taxi, water bus or a private boat.
For an experience that feels like Its New Year’s Eve every night, head to the Magic Fountain of Montjuic after dark. This monumental fountain, built in 1929 by more than 3000 workers, continues to dazzle visitors with its spectacular display of colour, light, motion and music to deliver a water acrobatics you will never forget. Even by day the site of the Magic Fountain, located at the end of the Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina, just below the Palau Nacional, boasts spectacular vistas of Barcelona from the Plaça Espanya to the slopes of Tibidabo.
Travel tip: The port Vell is at the foot of La Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous Boulevard, which runs through the heart of the city centre so you are a hop skip and a jump away from the action. Taxis are readily available should you want to go further afield.