Here is a compilation of recommendations of the best Mediterranean cruise ports covering most cruising regions in the Mediterranean, otherwise known as “The Cradle of Civilization”.
Whether you are looking for history, beautiful beaches, turquoise seas, amazing ruins, amazing landscapes, and amazing food and wine, there is Mediterranean cruise port or town for you!
So, if you want to know how to best spend your day in port, here are recommendations from fellow cruisers of the best cruise ports in the Mediterranean.
Did You Know?
- The Mediterranean Sea has a coastline of about 46,000 kilometres or 28,600 miles.
- A total of 22 countries or principalities have a border with the Mediterranean, including Albania, Croatia, Greece, Israel and Tunisia.
- Eight different species of whales, dolphins and porpoises can be found in the Mediterranean.
“I fell in love with the Mediterranean philosophy of good wine, good food and family.”– Stephen White –
Best Time to Visit the Mediterranean
- The Mediterranean high season is in early to mid-Summer running from July through to August. The weather is hot and sunny, and the water is the perfect temperature for swimming. However, this also when the tourist season is at its peak.
- The best time to cruise the Mediterranean is in mid to late spring in the months of May and June, or early to mid-Autumn / Fall in the months of September and October. The weather is warm, the sun is bright, and the crowds are far fewer than in Summer.
- During the shoulder seasons, April to May, and September to November, is when cruise lines offer cheap cruise deals.
Best Mediterranean Cruise Ports – Croatia
Dubrovnik Cruise Port
Recommended by Olivia at ‘Inspired by Croatia’
Dubrovnik is a popular cruise destination in the Mediterranean. The city’s magnificent architecture and incredible history are what draws in most visitors to the Pearl of the Adriatic. Not to mention the fact that Game of Thrones and Star Wars were both filmed in Dubrovnik!
As one of the last remaining walled towns in the world, Dubrovnik is a true gem. In addition to marvelling at impressive cultural and historic sights, there is something for everyone to do in Dubrovnik. From getting lost in the old city streets, riding the cable car up to the top of Mount Srd for the most amazing vistas, going on a Game of Thrones walking tour, or visiting Lokrum Island…you won’t be short on things to do.
When in Dubrovnik, you’ll also want to try the city’s famous Rozata Cake. It is a light and refreshing summer dessert, somewhat similar to a Creme Brûlée. This dessert can be found at the many restaurants in town. If you love sunsets and cocktails, be sure you don’t miss Buza Bar. This is a unique bar perched on the cliffside beneath the walls of Dubrovnik that offers breathtaking sunset views every evening.
Top Tip: Walk the walls of Dubrovnik! The best times to do this are in the early morning between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM, or just before sunset from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM.
Best Mediterranean Cruise Ports – France
Cannes Cruise Port
Recommended by Steph at ‘Cruise with Amber’
Famous for its annual film festival, Cannes oozes French Rivera chic. Yes, there’s Hollywood glamour and luxury yachts but there is much more to Cannes if you look a little further beyond the iconic shoreline.
Take a walk around the charming old port where quaint fishing boats sidle up to mega yachts. Other free sites to visit include La Mairie de Cannes (Town Hall), Les Murs Peints (Painted Walls), or amble around the cobbled, medieval alleys of Le Suquet.
Make your way onto the Palais des Festivals to take photos on the iconic film festival steps, (if you’re lucky, the red carpet might be out). Continue along La Croisette which runs along the shoreline, on to the Carlton InterContinental Hotel. If you feel like splashing out on a little Hollywood glamour, reserve a table for lunch or hire a deckchair for the day at the Cartlon Beach Club (in July and August reservations are only available for hotel guests).
If you wish to explore further afield, head to Monaco via train from Cannes (the journey takes around 75 minutes each way), or visit the photogenic village of Eze, just 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) north of Cannes. Perched 427 metres (1,400 feet) above the French Rivera, this location delivers on all counts – stunning views, medieval architecture, and lots of tempting shops and galleries.
The only downside to Cannes is that it is a tender port, so cruise passengers with restricted mobility may find it a difficult port to access on a Mediterranean cruise.
Top Tip: Use Cannes as your base and book a small group excursion to take in the best of the French Rivera. This will allow you to visit Eze and Monaco before returning for some free time to explore Cannes on foot before re-joining your ship. Be sure to leave enough time to catch your return tender to the ship – and don’t leave it to the last one.
Marseille Cruise Port
Recommended by Nadine at ‘Le Long Weekend’
As France’s second-largest city, Marseille couldn’t be more different from Paris. Yet, it’s most definitely a side of the country you’ll want to experience. Multicultural and Mediterranean, Marseille is full of surprises. From the quaint Le Panier district with its peeling paint and village feel to the modern developments around the Vieux Port, to the bustling markets and grandiose parks – it’s as diverse as it is exciting. And you can experience all of this on a day trip from the cruise port.
While the port itself is located a short drive from the centre of town, it’s not hard to navigate your way there by taxi, bus, or even by foot. Make sure to wander around the Old Port where you’ll find the main attractions, alongside the bustling daily life of the city.
To try the city’s most famous dish, bouillabaisse (fish stew), head along to Chez Fonfon in the Vallon des Auffes, an iconic fishing port. Here you can also take a dip in the sea alongside the locals in the swimming zone at the end of the port. If you have more than a day to explore and want to see Provence beyond its biggest city, you can take tours to nearby attractions such as the lavender fields, the fishing village of Cassis, the cultural town of Aix-en-Provence, or the mighty Calanques National Park.
Top Tip: Be sure to head along to The Rowing Club’s rooftop bar for a sunset drink after a day exploring the city.
Villefranche-sur-Mer (Nice) Cruise Port
Recommended by Emma at ‘Emma Jane Explores’
The beautiful town of Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera is the busiest cruise port in the entire Cote d’Azur. Just a short distance from neighbouring Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer offers up picturesque scenery and laid-back beach life that makes it the perfect stop for sightseeing.
From Villefranche-sur-Mer, the many gorgeous towns of the French Riviera are easily accessible, with a train station located right in the heart of town on a line that services Menton, Monaco, Nice, Cannes and Antibes.
But before venturing outside of Villefranche-sur-Mer, you’ll be delighted to see how much this little village has to offer. Firstly, the town features spectacular sandy beaches and crystal clear sea water which is perfect for a day sunbathing on the beach.
The old town of Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the prettiest on the French Riviera, featuring pastel painted houses with coloured shuttered windows lining cobblestone streets. Strolling through here is one of the best things to do in the town.
Finally, a visit to the Citadelle Saint-Elme is a must do for stunning panoramic views of the harbour as well as being an historic medieval fortress and a tourist site in its own right.
The French are known for their amazing food and Villefranche-sur-Mer is no exception in this space. The French Riviera staples of moules marinière washed down with a glass of Provence wine can be found at many oceanside restaurants. However, a particular favourite dining experience for seafood has to be La Mère Germaine which has been in operation since WWII.
Top Tip: Make sure you leave plenty of time to get lost amongst the gorgeous laneways of the old town which wind their way up towards the gates of the Citadelle.
Best Mediterranean Cruise Ports – Greece
Athens Cruise Port
Recommended by Anda at ‘Travel for a While’
While Athens isn’t a port itself, it has the largest port in Greece-Piraeus, nearby. Getting to the centre of Athens, only 12 km from the harbor, is easy enough. There are public buses available, but the metro is the most convenient option. The walk from the cruise terminal to the metro station in Piraeus takes about 25 minutes. The metro will take you directly to the centre of Athens at Monastiraki Station. A ticket costs EUR€1.20 / USD$1.40 / AUD$1.90, but you can also choose a 24-hours pass for EUR€4.10 / USD$4.85 / AUD$6.50.
Depending on how much time you have in the city, you should sketch an itinerary of the things you want to see in Athens. My suggestion is to start with the Acropolis of Athens early in the morning before it gets crowded. Also, the sun can be ruthless in Athens, so it’s better to avoid the noon hours on the Acropolis as there isn’t a lot of shade on its slopes.
Wear comfortable shoes for your walk and don’t forget to take a hat with you. Sunscreen is also a must.
For lunch, take a stroll through the Plaka, the colourful area full of restaurants and shops just at the foot of the Acropolis. You’ll find plenty of inviting restaurants in this beautiful part of Athens.
For the rest of the day, you can choose from a lot of historic landmarks. One idea would be to visit the Temple of Zeus. You could then pass through the National Gardens, a lovely park close to Syntagma Square, and exit just in front of Panathinaikos Stadium.
Top Tip: A visit to the Acropolis Museum is an absolute must. Allow 2 hours do wander around and see the best of ancient Greek sculptures, paintings, and artefacts from ancient and classical civilisations.
Mykonos Cruise Port
Recommended by Chrisoula at ‘Greece Travel Ideas’
Mykonos Island in Greece is one of the most popular cruise ports of call in the Mediterranean and with good reason. Mykonos is one of the most famous and beautiful Greek islands with iconic white and blue houses, windmills, a vibrant nightlife, and turquoise beaches.
Cruise ships dock at the new port in Mykonos town which is a 2km walk to the centre where all the attractions can be found. Alternatively, there is a water taxi and a public bus service to take you there.
Once in the centre, you can explore the famous windmills, Little Venice, the countless churches, and the picturesque alleyways with the pink bougainvillea. While in Mykonos, you can also spend some time on one of the spectacular beaches. A great beach day option is Platis Gialos Beach which is a short bus ride away.
Finally, you can take the boat to the nearby island of Delos which is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Keep in mind that you need 4 to 5 hours to properly explore and get back.
Top Tip: If you get hungry Paraportiani taverna in Mykonos town is a great option for food. It serves traditional Greek food and fresh seafood.
As you can see there are plenty of things you can enjoy with only one day in Mykonos.
Santorini Cruise Port
Recommended by Anna at ‘No Space in My Passport’
Santorini is one of the most breath-taking places in the world. It may be a very touristy island, but this is for a reason – it looks exactly the same in real life as it does in pictures! Every corner here is postcard perfect and you will not be able to stop taking photos.
Santorini has two ports for cruise ships. Generally, Athinios Port is used for those booked on tours organised by the cruise ship, and the Old Port of Fira for those that plan on exploring the island independently. Both the ports are too small for the cruise ships to be docked directly, therefore you will have to rely on a ship’s tender to reach the ports.
Some things to do in Santorini are to walk around Oia, explore Oia, Fira and Imerovigli, and visit one of the many black or red volcanic sand beaches. If you are short on time, I would definitely suggest visiting Oia first as this is where you will find the most iconic photo spots and landmarks.
You can also explore the ‘Greek Pompei’ or ‘Lost Atlantis’ in the archaeological site of Akrotiri. Here you will learn some fascinating history about Santorini and how it came to be.
A hidden gem of Santorini also happens to be the best restaurant spot that I discovered when visiting Santorini a few weeks ago. The place is called ‘Amoudi Bay’ and this is where you will find the freshest seafood restaurants in Santorini. The restaurant I recommend visiting is called ‘Sunset Tavern’. Be aware that in order to get here you will need to descend quite steep stairs. However, there is also an alternative option to take a taxi.
Top Tip: Gialos, the Old Port of Fira, is nestled at the foot of a rocky cliff below Fira. The easiest and most common way to reach Fira is by a cable car and takes only three minutes. If you are feeling fit, you can walk the 587 steps, or a local donkey ride is another easy way to get there.
READ MORE: THE BEST GREEK ISLANDS
Best Mediterranean Cruise Ports – Italy
Cagliari (Sardinia) Cruise Port
Recommended by Daniel at ‘Urban Abroad’
When searching for the best Mediterranean cruise ports of call, Cagliari in Sardinia Italy should be somewhere near the top of your list. Not only does it make the ideal location for both couples and families to get some sun during the winter months, but the city is oozing in history.
Cagliari, which is the capital of Sardinia, is home to The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari which is one of the most important museums when it comes to displaying some of Italy’s artefacts. As you get further acquainted with Sardinia and all the things to do in Cagliari, you’ll quickly see why it makes a great Mediterranean destination to visit.
With landmarks such as Bastione Saint Remy, which attracts people from all over the globe, you’ll get breathtaking views over the city that span as far as the ocean. Also, with the nearby Da Marino al St. Remy, one of Cagliari’s most famous restaurants, you can taste a selection of cuisines presented in the most intimate setting.
All in all, Cagliari makes a great Mediterranean cruise stop for anyone interested in the sea, sand, and of course history.
Top Tip: Whilst in Cagliari be sure to try out Vermentino, a Sardinian wine that pairs perfectly with the local seafood dishes.
Naples Cruise Port
Recommended by Katy at ‘Untold Italy’
Vibrant Naples has it all. Italy’s fun southern city that lives in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, has some of Europe’s most exciting scenery, culture and outdoor experiences right on its doorstep. Not to mention the world’s best pizza!
From Naples you can reach the stunning sights of the Amalfi Coast and its picturesque towns like Positano and Ravello. If your cruise only docks in Naples for a day, a trip down this coastline, by private boat or driving service, is our top pick of things to do. Unless of course you’re a history lover and in that case, you’ll want to head to Pompeii and learn about the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD that both destroyed the city but kept it preserved for hundreds of years. You could also head out to the islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Will it be Ischia, colourful Procida or enchanting Capri?
But, if you’re keen to discover one of Italy’s most exciting cities, stay in Naples where the people live for food, football and fun. Pizza was invented here and recipes for dough, sauce and toppings are copied far and wide, but never matched by those made in Napoli. Head to Pepe in Grani where Chef Franco Pepe has perfected the balance of flavours and textures to bring you the ultimate pizza experience.
No port in the Mediterranean has so many sights and unique experiences within easy reach which is why Naples remains a firm favourite port of call.
Top Tip: Naples cruise terminal, Stazione Maritima, is located in the southern part of the city, within a short walking distance to the historic Naples Old Town.
Palermo (Sicily) Cruise Port
Recommended by Michelle at ‘Moyer Memoirs’
Palermo, Sicily is a cruise port worth visiting on your next Mediterranean cruise. It is a city that is rich in history and architecture, not to mention a great option for street food lovers. All types of travellers will find something interesting to see and do at a port-of-call in Palermo Sicily.
Some of the key sites to see in Palermo include Teatro Massimo, the largest opera house in Italy. Also a visit to the Palermo Cathedral, restored many times in different architectural styles so that the exterior is a grand sight, and Fontana Pretoria, also known as the Fountain of Shame, with its nude statues that were a bit too scandalous for Palermo. Each street in Palermo is filled with interesting architecture, churches, sculptures, and shrines to the patron Saint Rosalia.
When choosing a place to dine in this cruise port, a visit to the Palermo street food market is a MUST. The two biggest markets are Ballero and Capo markets, which are open every day for locals and visitors to browse and sample. The markets are always bustling with colours, smells, and tastes of the delicious Sicilian street food, with the vendors offering up the daily specials of produce, desserts and other street food goodies like panelle, Sicilian fritters.
Top Tip: Don’t leave without trying a genuine Sicilian cannoli. These desserts are a Sicilian creation of fried dough that can be filled with anything from ice cream to ricotta. Try a few and see which one is the best!
Rome Cruise Port
Recommended by Pamela at ‘The Directionally Challenged Traveler’
One of the best cruise ports in the Mediterranean is located in the heart of Italy. Rome is easy to get to from most major cities, making it a convenient port to explore. Its convenience and its rich history can captivate any traveller.
You can see a lot of Rome in three days – from Vatican City to the Pantheon! Walk in the steps of gladiators or visit Julius Caesar’s burial site at the Roman Forum to learn about the Eternal City’s history. Don’t forget to toss a coin into the Trevi fountain before you leave. It is said that you will return to Rome in the future if you toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.
Wander through Trastevere neighbourhood for a different Roman perspective. If you need a break from sightseeing, and just want to people watch surrounded by beautiful architecture, head to Piazza Navona. This public square dates back to the 15th Century and is often filled with street performers and artists.
Don’t be afraid to use public transportation in Rome. It’s a cheap, reliable, and quick way to get around the city!
The wonderful combination of delicious food and incredible history makes Rome one of the best cruise ports in the Mediterranean.
Top Tip: For some of the best pasta in Rome, head to Cantina e Cucina. The staff here prides themselves on local, fresh ingredients with impeccable service!
Best Mediterranean Cruise Ports – Montenegro
Kotor Cruise Port
Recommended by Helen at ‘Helen On Her Holidays’
Kotor is an increasingly popular cruise port in Montenegro, a small country that sits just below Croatia and across the Adriatic from the heel of Italy. A cruise ship stop in Kotor is a chance to enjoy a UNESCO heritage site, with beautiful scenery and fascinating sights.
Part of the charm of Kotor is its location. To dock in Kotor, cruise ships must turn into one bay, then continue through another narrow channel to enter the Bay of Kotor. The Bay of Kotor is often compared to the Norwegian fjords for its deep waters and mountainous surroundings.
Kotor itself is an old Venetian walled city, much like a miniature version of Dubrovnik, and full of cafes and restaurants. The city is set between the twin defences of the long, narrow bay and the mountains behind, so it’s fitting that the top attraction in Kotor combines the two. From the walls behind the old city, visitors can walk up the side of the mountain for amazing views across the bay, first from the cute Church of Our Lady of Remedy and further up from the ruined Castle of San Giovanni. Energetic walkers can continue up the mountain to where it joins an old military trail for an even more incredible view.
Top Tip: If you are planning on doing some shopping, do it in the morning as some shops close for lunch between 12pm and 4pm.
Best Mediterranean Cruise Ports – Spain
Cadiz Cruise Port
Recommended by Alison at ‘Alison in Andalucia’
With cruise liners docking a short walk from the historic centre of Western Europe’s oldest city, you’re ready to explore the cobbled streets and narrow alleyways of Cadiz just minutes after disembarking.
Be sure to visit the Mercado Central de Abastos, a typical Spanish food market with over 150 stalls and where the local fishermen sell their daily catch. Then head to Plaza de la Catedral for a visit to the 18th Century Cathedral. The entrance fee includes admission to the cathedral, crypt, and clock tower and the (easy) climb to the top of the tower shouldn’t be missed as you’ll be rewarded with outstanding views of Cadiz’s beaches and old town buildings.
For the best view of the Cathedral itself, head to Avenida Campo del Sur which runs along the seafront. It’s then a pleasant walk along the promenade to La Caleta beach with Castillo de San Sebastian on one side, and Castillo de Santa Catalina on the other.
Top Tip: If you’re in town in the evening then this is the place to be to watch one of the sunsets that Cadiz is famous for.
When in Cadiz you should definitely try some fried fish, the speciality of the region. There are plenty of ‘freidurias’ to choose from but, if you can get a table, I’d recommend Freiduria las Flores in Plaza Topete. Enjoy a plate of pescaito frito (a mix of fried fish including calamari, cod, dogfish, and anchovies) or, my favourite, tortillitas de camarones (shrimp fritters) washed down with an ice-cold beer or a glass of local sherry.
Gibraltar Cruise Port
Recommended by Kerry at ‘VeggTravel’
Gibraltar is a fabulous country at the tip of southern Spain that makes one of the best cruise ports of call. Having such a prime location on the peninsula means that Gibraltar has a thriving port. In fact, Harbour Bay is actually the most happening place in the country. The harbour itself is beautiful and the prime place in Gibraltar to watch the sunset. But this area also has ‘Ocean Village’ which houses plenty of trendy restaurants, bars, and casinos, creating a vibrant nightlife.
Whether you are arriving from the Mediterranean Ocean, or from the Atlantic, you will cross the Gibraltar Strait where both oceans meet. The chances of seeing dolphins, particularly in the Autumn months, is extremely high so be on the look-out.
There are many things to do in Gibraltar. If you have the time, to take the Cable Car to the Upper Rock. This is where you will see the famous barbary monkeys and excellent views of the country. Visit the Mon Calpe Suite at the top of the rock where you can combine stunning views and monkey watching with an enjoyable meal.
There is also a nature reserve on the rock where you can see WW2 siege tunnels and cannons that signify the significance of Gibraltar in history, as well as the many battles that have been fought to try and claim this land. The trails are beautiful and not to be missed if you’re visiting.
If you have time for the beach, then head to Eastern Beach or Catalan Bay. Gibraltar may be small, but you will enjoy it so much you will wish you had more time.
Top Tip: The cruise terminal is located a short and easy 20 minute walk from Casemates Square.
Malaga Cruise Port
Recommended by Joanna at ‘The World in My Pocket’
Malaga is a fantastic Mediterranean cruise port of call that offers so much on a short visit. Because most of the attractions are located near the harbour, the centre of Malaga can be easily visited in a few hours. Some smaller cruise ships come all the way to the Paseo Marimito, which is across the street from the old town.
There are two main touristic attractions in Malaga that tourists shouldn’t miss: the Alcazaba and the Picasso Museum. The Alcazaba is a beautiful Moorish fortress located on the hill, overlooking the harbour. It takes a couple of hours to visit all of it, but, you can also only just climb up the hill and admire the panorama, without going in. The views from up there are gorgeous, you can see the entire city, part of the Costa del Sol and, on a sunny day, all the way to Morocco.
Picasso is Malaga’s biggest artist and has two dedicated museums in the city. One is the memorial home and the other one is his memorial home. They have an impressive collection of original art created by the famous painter. Visiting the museum on a Sunday afternoon is one of the most valuable free things to do in Malaga, as on the last two opening hours there is no charge.
Top Tip: A dish that you must eat in Malaga is the espetos, at a chiringuito (rustic beach bar) on the beach. Espetos are grilled sardines cooked over an open fire, a staple of Malaga’s cuisine.
Valencia Cruise Port
Recommended by Laura at ‘Travelers Universe’
Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, offers a bit of everything — historic sites, culture, relaxing city squares, delicious cuisine, and generous urban beaches. The main attractions are the futuristic complex of the City of Arts and Sciences, the Old Town, and of course, eating the world-famous paella. This scrumptious rice dish was born in the nearby villages and you should definitely book a table at one of the best paella restaurants in Valencia while you’re in the city. Some of them still prepare the paella the traditional way over a wooden fire.
In terms of relaxation, you can head to the beach and enjoy some peaceful moments walking on the fine golden sand, sunbathing, or going for a fun swim in the Mediterranean. The kilometres-long promenade is great for nightlife and a tapas crawl. And if you’re into water sports, you’ll find plenty of activities to join as well.
As for the Old Town, this is home to one of the largest fresh produce markets in Europe, an impressive cathedral, a lavish silk exchange that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a wealth of museums. All in all, Valencia can be a fun city to visit for anything from a few hours to a few days, however, I do recommend you spend at least 3 days in Valencia if possible.
Top Tip: La Tomatina, the tomato fight, is an annual festival held in the nearby town of Buñol in August.
In Summary – The Best Mediterranean Cruise Ports
Whatever your interest or travel style, with more than 150 cruise ports in the Mediterranean Sea, there is a port to suit every taste. Enjoy the multitude of at-sea adventures along the coasts of Mediterranean countries such as Spain, France, Greece and Italy.
Selecting a Mediterranean cruise can be challenging but our list above of the best Mediterranean cruise ports should help you with this decision. Whichever cruise you choose, you are sure to have the perfect holiday with a great mix of relaxation, historical beauty, natural landscapes, culture and a taste of local cuisines and wines.
Are you planning a Mediterranean cruise? Have you visited one of the cruise ports listed above, or have we missed a cruise port you love to visit? Post your tips and questions below.
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