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5 bucket list ports in Europe

5 bucket list ports in Europe

Whether you've taken countless cruises or planning your first, you'll be amazed at the incredible variety of places you can visit by ship. Over the past few years, as our appetite for cruising has grown, cruise line planners have been busy exploring every corner of the globe to find ever more appealing ports to tempt us on board. However there are a few tried and tested destinations that are perennially popular for a wealth of reasons – all of them compelling.

 

  1. The Swedish capital, Stockholm is spread across 14 islands, including Stadsholmen – home to the quaint old town of Gamla Stan. There’s a cosy feeling amongst the cobbles, with narrow streets, quirky designer shops and cafés where you can indulge in ‘fika’, the Swedish concept of taking time out with friends over a coffee and a cake. The Royal Palace is here, which provides the pageantry of the changing of the guard each day at noon. The 226-foot-long warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in the middle of Stockholm in 1628 and was salvaged 333 years later. Now it is the only preserved 17th century ship in the world and a unique art treasure - little wonder the Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in Scandinavia.

 

  1. Backdrop for classic films such as war epic ‘Battle of Britain’ and Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’, Malta’s capital Valletta became the headquarters of the Knights of St John in 1565 due to its strategic position at the heart of the Mediterranean. It also became the base for the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet; as a result it suffered some of the most severe bombardments of World War II. Sailing into the natural bastion that is Grand Harbour, with its imposing fortifications, is not to be missed. Excursions visit the Palace of the Grand Masters as well as the baroque masterpiece that is St John’s Co-Cathedral – home to Caravaggio’s Beheading of St John the Baptist. Other attractions include the ancient Hypogeum, the three Tarxien Temples and Manoel Theatre.

 

  1. Founded in the 6th century, the medieval city of Dubrovnik is a timeless citadel awash with honey-coloured stone buildings separated by narrow limestone pavements; little wonder it’s called the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. Stari Grad, the perfectly preserved citadel, is unique for its honey-coloured stone double walls and fortifications, marble-paved squares, and cobbled streets. In the early 1990s Dubrovnik endured a modern medieval siege. Now the honey-coloured stone buildings, separated by narrow limestone pavements, look better than ever in this timeless city. You can get a unique perspective by walking atop the city’s ramparts. Secreted within the Baroque façades are the Gothic Renaissance Sponza Palace and the Rector’s Palace - which has been converted into a museum of Croatian history. More recently Dubrovnik has been the setting of Westeros for ‘Game of Thrones’.

 

  1. The impossibly pretty village of Villefranche-sur-Mer nestles discreetly along the deep scoop of harbour between Nice and Cap Ferrat on the Côte d’Azur. It’s a tumble of time-worn dwellings painted in bright orange and red pastel hues, steep narrow streets and picturesque Riviera charm. From the cruise terminal at the Port de la Santé, it’s a short stroll to explore the cascading alleyways of the Old Town with its medieval atmosphere, nowhere more so than the Rue Obscure – a passageway dating back to 1260. The Place Amélie Pollonais has an antiques market in the morning, while in the afternoon Les Palmiers is a great place to sip an aperitif and soak up the dreamy atmosphere.

 

  1. Ships sailing into Ibiza, the smallest of the three Balearic Islands, either dock at Port d’Eivissa at the edge of town or, if they’re small enough, come alongside the pier that lies in the shadow of Ibiza’s Dalt Vila (Upper Town). One of the oldest settlements in the Mediterranean, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a hilltop fortress of Renaissance parapets and watchtowers overlooking the stunning natural harbour. As a result of tourism this labyrinth of streets leading down to the harbour transforms at sunset into a catwalk for street performers, stilt walkers, club promoters and beautiful people in full-blown party mood. If you set sail before the nightlife gets into full swing then don’t miss the trendy shops and Museum of Contemporary Art in the Plaça de la Vila.

 

If these five sensational ports whet your appetite to climb aboard a cruise then our team can give you more details, find out more at 0808 265 6742.

  • 23rd January 2018