Cruises to the Mediterranean are much-loved cruise sailings for a multitude of reasons. First off, the countries that call the Mediterranean home are stunning in their beauty, with cobblestoned roads, white and terracotta colored houses, and luscious gardens and hills bordered by sea water in various shades of teal and turquoise. Secondly, the people who live in the towns and cities of the Mediterranean are often welcoming and happy to introduce visitors into their laidback, pleasant lifestyle. And thirdly, there is a lot to do in the Mediterranean.
There are so many different activity options when cruising the Mediterranean that it can make it difficult to know which is right for you. To help you, here are some of the different types of shore excursions you can do while in the Mediterranean and in what ports of call.
While in Naples, Italy, take advantage of the fact that you’re nearby a preserved ancient town and partake in the Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii Day Trip from Naples, which provides you with transportation and a guided tour of Pompeii, a town that was horrifically covered in ash in 79 A.D. after nearby Mt Vesuvius erupted. Today, visitors can see bodies and buildings preserved by the ash in the remnants of Pompeii. During the tour, you can also climb Mt Vesuvius and walk around the crater of the still active volcano.
See more ancient wonders when your cruise docks in Athens, Greece, on the Acropolis Walking Tour. You’ll be accompanied by a local expert guide who will explain the history behind the Parthenon, Greek Parliament House and other artifacts you’ll discover during your exploration of the Acropolis and other areas of the Plaka neighborhood of Athens.
While in Kusadasi, Turkey, take advantage of all of the wondrous nearby historical sights on the Private Tour to Ephesus including House of Virgin Mary and Temple of Artemis excursion. Ephesus is an ancient Roman city that has been spectacularly preserved. Travel down its main street and see the library, houses and other buildings the civilization of Ephesus lived and worked in. Your knowledgeable guide will explain the history of each part of Ephesus. Your tour will also visit the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; and the House of the Mary Virgin, where it is said that the Virgin Mary spent her final days.
Tuscany and Chianti are two names that often come up when one thinks of wine tasting in Italy, and when you’re docked in Livorno during your cruise, you can experience both wine regions on the Chianti and Tuscany Countryside Private Wine Tour. See the rolling green hills and prettily placed vineyards covering the countryside of Tuscany, before heading to a Chianti winery for tastings of both wine and olive oil.
Bordeaux, France, is also a popular wine destination and during the Full-Day Private Medoc Wine Tour, you’ll be able to experience why first hand. You’ll visit three different wineries, where you’ll taste Bordeaux’s most popular wine varietals in gorgeous chateaus. You’ll also get to see the Bordeaux countryside while you’re chauffeured from one winery to the next.
Eating is part of the fun when traveling, and on the Istanbul by Night Turkish Dinner and Show excursion, the fun of trying new cuisine is taken one notch higher by serving it alongside a belly dancing and folklore show. You’ll be served four courses, including a Turkish dessert, in a first-class restaurant. Many cruise itineraries have overnights in Istanbul, Turkey, making this a viable and exciting shore excursion option while in the vibrant city.
In Malaga, Spain, get acquainted with the city and its cuisine on the Private Malaga Sightseeing Tour with Tapas. Located on the southern coast of Spain, Malaga is an eclectic city with gorgeous sights, such as the Cathedral of Malaga and the Moorish fortress of Alcazaba. After you’ve finished your sightseeing in Malaga led by your private guide, you’ll head to a tapas bar to try some authentic Spanish tapas. Tapas are similar to appetizers, but with a Spanish twist; and eating them is a popular social activity in the country since plates of tapas are meant to be shared.
The crescent shape of the island of Santorini, Greece, is a result of a volcano erupting thousands of years ago. Today, that volcano is still a prominent fixture of the island of Santorini as it can be seen from several of Santorini’s most visited towns and Santorini’s caldera curves around it. A short boat ride from the shore of Santorini will take you to the volcano’s base on the Private Tour of Thira Volcano and Hot Springs shore excursion. You’ll get the opportunity to walk around the crater of the volcano and take a relaxing dip in the natural hot springs.
If you’ve traveled to most of the major Greek Islands before, try something a bit different when in the port of Mykonos. Instead of spending time on the island of Mykonos, take the Private Tour to Delos Island. The nearby island is a less-traveled piece of history that has ancient artifacts and – according to legend – is the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Historical sights you’ll visit include the House of Cleopatra, the House of Dolphins and the Temple of Apollo.
The Spanish island of Palma de Mallorca has a few sights that can’t be missed – even if you have to go underground to see them. On the Mallorca Day Trip to Majorica Pearl Factory and Cavern of the Dragon, you’ll get a lesson in pearl making and caving. After learning how the Majorica Pearl Factory makes its stones, you’ll head to one of Mallorca’s top natural wonders: the Cavern of the Dragon. This series of caves houses one of the largest underground lakes in the world. As you travel through the water beneath the caves you’ll see light shows and be serenaded by classical music.
Experience Barcelona’s creative side on the Private Montserrat, Gaudi and Modernism Day Trip from Barcelona. You’ll leave Barcelona, Spain, for nearby Montserrat, where you’ll encounter historical architecture and have time to visit the Museum of Montserrat. Next, you’ll be immersed in the world of Antoni Gaudi, the famous architect who hailed from Barcelona. First, you’ll visit Gaudi’s work at Colonial Guell, where you can see an unfinished church by Gaudi, followed by your return to Barcelona and tour of the impressive Park Guell, Gaudi’s only major foray in landscaping.
Experiencing the Sea
Not all excursions are done on land. In Dubrovnik, experience the life waiting outside the seaside city’s famous walls by participating in the Sea Kayak and Snorkeling Small-Group Tour. The calm sea lapping at the shores of Dubrovnik is ideal for a pleasurable day of kayaking and provides great visibility for snorkeling. You’ll be able to kayak right around Dubrovnik’s walls and below the famous St. Lawrence Fortress. After kayaking, you’ll take a break on serene Betina Beach and have a snack before hopping back into the water to snorkel.
In addition to these diverse and exciting shore excursions, most cities and towns that make up ports of call in the Mediterranean for cruise ships also have walking tours you can participate in. Whether you’re looking for a self-guided, city bus hop-on and hop-off type of day, or a guided tour by a local expert, you can find the shore excursion that fits your ideal day in port. Most importantly, it will also immerse you into the culture and history of the Mediterranean location you’re visiting for the day.
– Gina Douglas