15 Europe Cruise Ports You Don’t Want to Miss
Europe is full of incredible cities, islands, villages, and historic landmarks, and a cruise vacation is an amazing way to visit the continent’s top sites. When planning to sail to Europe for a cruise vacation, keep your eye out for itineraries that include one or more of these 15 Europe cruise ports you won’t want to miss.
Top Europe Cruise Ports in the Mediterranean
Santorini is one of the most incredible islands in the world due to its unique landscape created by a volcanic explosion centuries ago. The eruption caused part of the island to sink into the sea, creating Santorini’s crescent shaped caldera, home to cliff-hugging villages. The other side of the island has a number of stunning beaches that are hued red and black from volcanic rock. Plus, Santorini is simply breathtaking to journey to via water as you sail into caldera, which makes it a Europe cruise port you don’t want to miss.
Barcelona is a beloved European city that also happens to be a major cruise hub. Ships regularly embark from Barcelona or make calls at the port, providing cruise passengers with the opportunity to explore this Catalonian city. Barcelona is known for its gothic architecture, best viewed while walking around the Gothic Quarter or touring one of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces. Barcelona is also home to fun shopping on its well-loved Las Ramblas, a wide tree-lined street that also has many restaurants and cafes perfect at which to stop for some tapas.
People tend to love it or hate it when it comes to Athens, but one thing is for sure – it’s a Europe cruise port you have to see. Ships dock in Piraeus and from there it’s a short metro ride or bus ride to the city center of Athens. Once there, you’ll get to see the Acropolis, where famous philosophers like Socrates and Plato once stood, and the huge columns that remain of the Temple of Zeus. In addition, Athens is home to bustling, eclectic neighborhoods like Monastiraki, where you can browse flea markets and try some authentic Greek cuisine.
A port of call in Naples, Italy, gives you a wide variety of ways to spend the day. You can hang out in Naples and see the sites of the old town and have a slice of its famous pizza, or you can head out of the city on an exciting excursion. On these excursions you can take a ferry across the Gulf of Naples to the ritzy island of Capri where you’ll find high-end shops and gorgeous coastline, including the mesmerizing Blue Grotto; learn about ancient history with a tour to Pompeii, a Roman city buried and remarkably preserved after Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered the city in ash in 79 A.D. and seemingly preserved the city in time; or see the picturesque cliffside towns along the famed Amalfi Coast on a scenic shore excursion.
Venice, Italy is an iconic port of call that every traveler should see at least once. Marvel at how the city really is built over water and wander its many tiny alleyways that crisscross over peaceful canals. No trip to Venice is complete without taking a gondola ride around those canals, and you also wouldn't want to miss seeing St. Mark’s Square while in this famous Europe cruise port.
Dubrovnik, Croatia is one of the most picturesque Europe cruise ports due to its walled old town. The city’s fortified old town juts out dramatically into the Adriatic Sea, and the top of the wall can be walked along for stunning views of the terracotta colored roofs and teal blue water. Walking around inside of the walls is also charming, with cobblestoned streets and a maze of alleyways and courtyards that are perfect for exploring.
The Cote d’Azur, commonly referred to as the French Riviera, is located on the southern shores of France and is one of the most beautiful areas of Europe. It is epitomized by the Provence region of France, which is known for its beautiful vineyards and high-quality wine, sprawling lavender fields, and quaint towns that look straight out of a storybook. The Europe cruise ports of Marseille and Toulon all provide easy excursion access to Provence.
Valletta is the 2018 European City of Culture and cruise passengers who have a port of call in the capital city of Malta get to experience why that is firsthand. Valletta has a number of art and history museums, impressive medieval architecture, and the stately Grandmaster’s Palace that you can tour. Beyond Valletta, the island of Malta is home to beautiful natural scenery and more historic sites, like Hagar Qim Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the world’s oldest freestanding structures.
The ports of call for Florence and Pisa (Livorno and La Spezia) provide the gateway to the arts and wines of Tuscany. See the Statue of David in Florence, the gravity-defying architecture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or opt for a wine tasting tour around the Tuscan countryside. This port of call is also close enough to Cinque Terre to make it possible to explore the stunningly scenic five towns during your day in port.
Top Northern Europe Cruise Ports
There are many gorgeous and beloved ports of call along the Irish coast, but if it’s your first time to Ireland, you can’t miss seeing Dublin. Excitingly, Dublin also recently became a cruise homeport for Celebrity Eclipse. Whether starting a cruise in Dublin or visiting it as a port of call, cruisers have a number of options for how to spend their time: tour the Guinness Storehouse and enjoy a perfectly pulled pint, visit Trinity College and see the Book of Kells, which is believed to be the oldest book in the world; visit the underground crypt at Christ Church Cathedral; or take a whiskey tour at Jameson Distillery.
Edinburgh is a vibrant city located in southeast Scotland and has royal sights to see like Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle, plus a plethora of pubs and shops to browse. Edinburgh is also home to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a popular festival full of music, dance, and culture that is a highlight of Celebrity Cruises’ Signature Sailings line-up.
A Norwegian Fjords cruise is a bucket list journey and the cruise port of Bergen is a highlight of this region of Europe. Bergen is located on the southwest coast of Norway and is nestled between two of Norway’s alluring fjords: Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord. Bergen is home to artisan and food markets, a quaint, photo-worthy harbor, and an incredible historic area called Bryggen that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its preserved wharf, buildings, and streets leftover from the Middle Ages and which are an incredible example of Bergen’s Hanseatic past.
Experience the city life of Scandinavia in the Europe cruise port of Copenhagen. Walk around the bustling harbor and old town area, escape to the amusement park and manicured gardens that make up the massive Tivoli Gardens, and experience the city’s history with visits to its many palaces and the famous Little Mermaid statue, inspired by Copenhagen native Hans Christian Andersen’s short story.
Top Europe Cruise Ports by the Atlantic Ocean
Lisbon has the excitement of a big cosmopolitan European city while still having elements of small town charm. Setting Lisbon apart is its incredible ocean views, best viewed from the walkable ruins of Saint George’s Castle, and unique neighborhoods. The can’t-miss neighborhood to see while in port is the Alfama District, characterized by white washed buildings and colorful streamers hung over its alleys. Stick around Alfama in the evening if you have a late port of call in Lisbon to experience the city’s haunting Fado music.
Contrary to its name, Iceland is a hot destination right now. Travelers are becoming more aware of the allure of this beautifully rugged and pristine island. Located in the north Atlantic Ocean, Iceland is surrounded by beautiful coastal views and has an inland full of waterfalls, thermal lagoons, and mountain peaks. A cruise port of call in Reykjavik provides an excellent starting off point to experiencing Iceland’s natural wonders.
Book Your Vacation to Your Favorite Europe Cruise Port
Which Europe cruise port of call has you most excited? If you can’t pick just one, don’t worry – many European cruise itineraries visit more than one of these ports of call in the same sailing. Find the itinerary that best matches your Europe cruise dreams and then start planning all the fun you’ll have in port and on board the ship.