Are these top 10 places to visit in the Mediterranean on your bucket list?
For many people, the Mediterranean is one of the world’s dream destinations thanks to cliff side coastal villages, cosmopolitan cities with historic sites, and a "dolce vita" ambiance that extends beyond Italy.
The Mediterranean Sea is located in southwest Europe and its region extends from the shores of Croatia to the southern coast of Spain.
Here are the top 10 places to visit in the Mediterranean that you don’t want to miss -- and which you can see when you sail to the Mediterranean on a cruise vacation.
Barcelona and the Buildings of Gaudi
The entire city of Barcelona is worth experiencing, but the places you can’t miss while there are the ones designed by Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s most famous architect.
Gaudi’s works are known for uniquely curving lines and gothic attributes. You can tour one of a kind homes, gardens, and other buildings designed by Gaudi, but the one structure you cannot miss is the Sagrada Familia cathedral, Gaudi’s still unfinished masterpiece. Though Gaudi died in 1926, his vision for Sagrada Familia is still being carried out and it is estimated to be completed in 2026.
Despite still being a work in progress, Sagrada Familia is well worth a visit now, as you can marvel at its sunburst inspired ceiling, gothic exterior, and abstract sculptures. Then make a calendar note to schedule a cruise in 2026 to see the (hopefully) finished cathedral!
The island of Santorini is iconic due to its images of blue domed churches perched on the cliff of a stunning caldera overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. While all of Santorini is beautiful to behold, if you only have one day on the Greek isle, make sure some of it is spent in the village of Oia. One look at Oia and you'll see why it is one of the top 10 places to visit in the Mediterranean.
Oia is where you’ll find whitewashed buildings seemingly stacked on top of each other down the side of the steep caldera with pops of bright blue from the church roofs.
Oia provides incredible views of the top of the submerged volcano that gave Santorini its unique aesthetic. It is also a prime place to watch the sunset if your cruise ship stays in port late enough – be sure to make reservations if you want to watch it while enjoying dinner as Oia is a popular place in the evenings.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the most incredible places to visit not just in Italy, but all of the Mediterranean. The region of Cinque Terre gets its name due to the five tiny villages that make it up: “Five Lands.”
Each of these villages border the coastline, which may be lined with cliffs or beaches, depending on the village. Adding to the villages’ charm is the trail that connects them to each other. The trail provides incredible views of the sea and surrounding countryside, including farmsteads and vineyards. If hiking the trail (and its many steps) doesn’t appeal to you, just take the convenient train in between the towns and have fun exploring the different personalities of each town.
Even if you don't have time to make it to all five towns, you'll still see why Cinque Terre is one of the top 10 places to visit in the Mediterranean.
French Riviera, France
Aw, the French Riviera. It can conjure up images of ritzy boardwalks, beautiful beaches, and enjoying glasses of wine by fields of lavender. The French Riviera, also called the Côte d'Azur, is home to multiple cruise ports. Cruises dock in Nice, Cannes, Marseille and Toulon (gateway to Provence).
Nice is known for its massive boardwalk that is lined on one side by lovely, rocky beaches, and on the other side by luxurious shops and sea view restaurants. Cannes may be most famous for its film festival, but there is plenty more to do there like strolling down the luxurious Rue d'Antibes and window shopping. In Marseille, take an excursion to the seaside Calanques National Park or visit the intricate Notre Dame de la Garde. To explore the countryside of Provence, walk around the charming town of Aix-en-Provence and then make time for a journey to the region's fields of lavender and grapes.
Monaco is a short distance east of the French Riviera, but has its own charm with a hefty dose of glitz and glam thrown in.
Monaco is one of the smallest countries in the world at just three miles long by half a mile wide. The principality is known for its decadence, with opulent casinos and resorts catering to travelers who like the level of escapism Monaco offers.
Top things to see in Monaco include the Monte Carlo Casino, Prince’s Palace, Vieux Monaco, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, and walking along Monte Carlo Harbor. If you happen to be in Monaco when the Monaco Grand Prix is happening, you can’t miss experiencing the car race spectacle.
The southern coast of Spain is another area of the Mediterranean you don’t want to miss. The beaches of Costa del Sol in the Andalusia region of Spain stretch magnificently down the coastline and are perfect for beach lounging and relaxation.
From the Costa del Sol, it is easy to take an excursion to one of Andalusia's (and all of Europe’s) most breathtaking sites: Alhambra.
Alhambra is a palace and fortress located in Granada, Spain, that is an incredible example of Moorish architecture. Alhambra once served as the royal residence of the monarchs of Granada and much of its construction dates back to the 12th century, with some parts built even earlier.
The complex of Alhambra was meticulously planned and built, and the attention to detail stands out upon touring it. You’ll walk through dreamy rooms, impressive halls, and be astounded by the tile work and other design details of Alhambra.
Malta is an island nation located in the middle of the Mediterranean south of the coast of Sicily.
Malta's capital city of Valletta was named Europe’s 2018 City of Culture and it’s easy to see why once there. From the old town's massive City Gate to the Baroque and Modernism influences that are visible in the palace and other buildings lining the city, history abounds in Valletta. Inside those buildings you'll find bustling shops, vibrant restaurants serving local delicacies, and museums and art galleries featuring exhibits and artifacts about Malta's history and culture.
Beyond Valletta, you’ll find an island full of beauty and natural wonders to explore.
You can’t have a must-see sights of the Mediterranean list and forget about the Italian city built on water. Venice is iconic for its water-based landscape and buildings built on stilts over canals, which is why it easily gets a spot for the top 10 places to visit in the Mediterranean.
A gondola ride through those canals is the quintessential thing to do while in Venice, but the city is much more than just gondoliers and waterways.
Amble along narrow, scenic streets until you reach the expansive St. Mark’s Square, home to some of Venice’s top sights. Tour the 11th century St. Mark’s Basilica and head up to its roof for a bird’s eye view of the city.
Perpendicular to St. Mark's Square is Doge's Palace. You can take a tour of this palace, which once served as the residence of the doges (rulers) of Venice.
Then cross the Bridge of Sighs, located over a pretty canal and characterized by its white limestone exterior and ornate details. Legend says that the Bridge of Sighs gets its name due to the fact that it once provided criminals with their last view of the outside view before being locked in the dungeon, which would result in a sigh from the prisoners.
The walled city of Dubrovnik is beautiful from pretty much any angle, whether seeing it from afar, from atop the wall, or when walking inside the walls of its historic old town.
Dubrovnik’s fortified exterior can be accessed near the entrance to the old town and walking along the top of the walls is one of the iconic things you must do while in Dubrovnik. You’ll have incredible views of the city and the sparkling sea.
After your walk, head to a restaurant patio and enjoy some local wine or fresh seafood.
Ancient Rome, Italy
Rome might not be right on the Mediterranean coast, but thanks to Mediterranean cruises, Rome is easy to get to so you can see the sites of ancient Rome.
Cruises will drop you in the city of Civitavecchia for a Rome port of call, which is located about an hour and a half away from Rome. You can take a train or bus into Rome and begin seeing all of its amazing ancient sites like the the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Baths of Caracalla, Catacombs of Rome, Pantheon, and more.
See the Top 10 Places to Visit in the Mediterranean on a Cruise
Celebrity Cruises has a number of Mediterranean cruise itineraries that visit the top 10 places to visit in the Mediterranean, and some of the itineraries will let you check multiple places off of your bucket list. Browse all of the Mediterranean cruise itineraries and turn your Mediterranean dream into reality.