Ports of history and beauty in the Mediterranean

Ports of history and beauty in the Mediterranean

With so much to be discovered along the Mediterranean coastline, it’s no wonder cruises in this part of Europe remain popular. Beyond the sunshine and relaxation, Mediterranean cruises are a chance to discover new destinations. Often, the ports you’ll come across form an entryway into the area’s intriguing history.

Ports are worthy attractions, whether visiting as part of a cruise or not. Access to the sea was (and still is) essential for many trades and entire civilisations were built around them as a result.

Here are some must-visit ports for your next Mediterranean adventure.

Valletta, Malta

The capital city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it a natural choice for history lovers. Founded by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century, the entire city is a masterpiece of military architecture. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the imposing bastions and forts that guarded Malta for centuries.

You can climb these fortifications for 360-degree views of the Grand Harbour (also known as the Port of Valetta), a natural inlet that has served as a port since prehistoric times. The narrow streets are lined with golden-hued Baroque churches and the opulent Grand Master’s Palace, which was once the seat of power for the Knights, now houses the Maltese Parliament. Make sure you explore the Upper Barrakka Gardens, known for its stunning views of the harbour.

Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

For a taste of glamour and sophistication, head to the port town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Nestled on the French Riviera between Nice and Monaco, this picturesque town is home to a colourful harbour lined with yachts and bobbing fishing boats. Here, you can stroll along the palm-fringed promenade, then lose yourself in the local history by exploring the 16th-century Citadelle, topped off with panoramic views of the coastline.

Villefranche is the perfect base for exploring the French Riviera. Take a day trip to Nice to visit renowned museums like the Musée Matisse or venture further east to Monaco to see the Prince’s Palace perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean.

Heraklion, Crete

Crete is the largest Greek island and its capital, the port city of Heraklion, is your gateway to explore its fascinating past. Step back in time to the Palace of Knossos, the legendary labyrinth believed that housed the Minotaur in Greek mythology. Immerse yourself further in Minoan civilisation at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses a vast collection of artefacts from Knossos and other key sites.

For a change of pace, wander through the Venetian Harbor, a picturesque port built in the 14th century. This bustling area is lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, offering a taste of the local culture.

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