Best cruise ports in the Western Mediterranean
With its azure waters, rocky hillsides and ancient architecture, the Mediterranean coastline is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and towns in the world. I’ve been on a number of cruises around the Western Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean and Middle East. I haven’t seen it all but I can confidently say I’ve seen a fair few cruise ports around the world. For this post I want to bring to you a compilation of the best cruise ports in the Mediterranean but I have decided to divide them in two lists according their location, I mean the Western Mediterranean Ports and the Eastern Mediterraean Ports. Here are the Western Ports, enjoy and let me know your thoughts!
Barcelona is one of the cities that receive the most cruise passengers every year. Perfectly located in the Mediterranean it’s one of those iconic locations that you can’t miss. Even if you only have a day in Barcelona you’ll still be able to see plenty of the famous Gaudí artworks around the city, maybe sample a few tapas and do some shopping on the Rambla. If you feel like venturing off the beaten track make sure to pay Bunkers del Carmel a visit, it’s a park on the outskirts of Barcelona with a stunning view over the city.
Palma de Mallorca (Spain)
Continuing with the Spanish harbours an extremely popular cruise destination is Palma de Mallorca. Palma is a city on the Spanish island of Mallorca, in the western Mediterranean. Palma de Mallorca has something to offer for everyone. With its beautiful beaches, stunning nature and history there is something for every type of cruise passenger. The Santa Maria cathedral, a massive gothic cathedral that overlooks the harbour of Palma, is one of the main attractions. You can easily spend a day in Palma de Mallorca walking along the tourist harbour, getting lost in the cobbled side streets and admiring the view from the top of the Santa Maria cathedral.
La Spezia (Italy)
While the city of La Spezia in Italy might not have much to offer in itself, it is perfectly located to discover other beautiful parts of Italy, such as Florence, Pisa and Cinque Terre. The five towns of Cinque Terre; Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia and Monterosso, are a short 20-minute train away from La Spezia. Whether you decide to adventure there alone or on an organised excursion from your cruise ship one day is plenty of time to see the five towns and walk at least part of the famous Sentiero Azzurro, the cliffside hiking trail that connects them.
Pisa and Florence are a bit further away, respectively about 1 hour and 2 hour drives away, but it is still possible to visit Tuscany on a day trip from La Spezia. In Pisa you can admire the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and Piazza dei Miracoli, whilst in Florence you can explore the bustling central streets, visit the museum degli Uffizi, the Duomo cathedral and end the day watching the sunset over the rooftops of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo, before heading back to your cruise ship for dinner and an evening show.
Sardinia in Italy has the most beautiful beaches and water I have ever seen. If you’re looking for an awesome beach destination during your Mediterranean cruise, make sure Cagliari harbour features in your travel itinerary. Personally I have only ever visited the north of Sardinia and the famous Archipelago of la Maddalena, known for it’s pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear turquoise water. I have heard the south and Cagliari are just as beautiful.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a popular cruise harbour thanks to its strategic location in the French Riviera. When you visit Villefranche during a cruise you have the options of either enjoying the peaceful town of Villefranche, or doing a day trip to the most chaotic and bustling Nice. Both are great depending on what you’re looking for. If you want to peacefully stroll along the harbour and get lost in the small side streets of colourful houses, Villefranche is for you. If you want to experience life in the French Riviera head to Nice to check out the high-end fashion shops, trendy bars and tasty restaurants.