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Hidden gems to explore on a Mediterranean cruise

Tuesday 18 April 2023

Hidden gems in the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean is a location of wanderlust, beauty and encapsulating views, making it one of the most popular destinations for holidaymakers and cruisers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

But, with thousands of stunning locations to choose from within the Mediterranean, how are you ever supposed to choose just one place to visit? With Ambassador Cruise Line, you don’t have to; you can choose one of our Mediterranean cruises and enjoy all of the best sun-soaked locations on one holiday.

In this guide, we take you to some of the best-hidden gems you HAVE to explore around the Mediterranean, from Valetta to Jerusalem and Messina. Keep reading to find out more and to learn all about these magical locations.

Hidden gems to explore on a Mediterranean cruise:

  • Istanbul, Turkey

  • Santiago de Compostela, Spain

  • Jerusalem, Israel

  • Valetta, Malta

  • Messina, Sicily

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul is a city in Turkey and is classed as a Mediterranean location because it is situated on the country's south coast. Although not the capital of Turkey, Istanbul is the largest city in the country and is a cultural and historical hub, often its main draw for tourists and visitors.

Alice from the blog Adventures Of Alice recommended Istanbul when we asked about hidden gems of the Mediterranean, telling us: “The Mediterranean is like a colourful tapestry – strands of Europe, Asia, and Africa blend together to create a rich and diverse cultural canvas. However, many never get to see the whole picture. The Mediterranean has many wonderful hidden gems, from sparkling cities to lesser-known islands. If you’re travelling to the area, it’s great to immerse yourself in a bit of both.

“I cannot recommend visiting Istanbul enough. The city is like a kaleidoscope of colours, bustling streets, wonderful food, and unexpected beauty. The tranquillity you'll find in parks or walking along the Bosphorus perfectly contradicts the hustle and bustle of the city centre. It's an intoxicating mix, and you may not want to leave!”

Istanbul is the most populous European city and one of the most interesting. Wander the bustling streets and stumble across ancient temples, the Grand Bazaar, and historic locations like Sultanahmet Square and Dolmabahçe Palace.

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Messina, Sicily

Known around the world for being the home to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Santiago de Compostela is a city in northwestern Spain and is centred around the ancient cathedral, which was previously the shrine of Saint James the Great. The famous pilgrimage site symbolises the Spanish Christians’ struggle against Islam. Today, visitors can experience the great cathedral, which dates back to the 10th century.

The city is a metropolis of historic buildings that can be explored on a cruise stopover, including the middle-aged Porch of Glory, the Museo del Pueblo Gallego, which is an Ethnography museum in a former convent and the Monasterio de San Martín Pinario, which was a Benedictine monastery and is now home to an art museum.

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Situated in Israel, Jerusalem is best known due to its prominence in multiple religions, ancient history and fortified links back to pilgrimage. Sitting between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel and therefore dynamic and advanced for its historical age. Those that visit the city will be in awe of its historical buildings, beautiful architecture and unique culture, so a stroll around this hidden gem is a real must.

If you’re looking to find out a little more about the mighty history of the location, then head to locations like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall and Yad Vashem, or for those who want to immerse themselves in the local culture should head to areas like Machaneh Yehudah Market and Gethsemane.

READ MORE: How to spend your stopover in Jerusalem, Israel

Valetta, Malta

Valetta, Malta

A city that looks like something out of a fairytale, Valetta in Malta is a peaceful and romantic location with historic buildings dating back to the 16th century with huge baroque influence. The city is the smallest capital within the European Union, but it definitely packs a punch and has much to offer tourists. If history is your passion, then you’ll love Valetta as it has 320 monuments within a 0.55sq kilometre area, so you’ll never run out of things to see and do.

Malta is another location that Alice from Adventures of Alice recommended to us, and she loves the temples and natural wonders of the location. “I also recommend the quieter side of the Med. Peaceful Malta has a bit of everything. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s a year-round European travel destination that, quite literally, has something for everyone. From historic temples to gorgeous natural wonders, beautiful beaches and old town streets, it's easy to fall in love with this Mediterranean hidden gem.”

Messina, Sicily 

Messina, Sicily

A harbour city in Sicily, Messina has a similar feeling to Valetta due to its historic buildings and Greek history. The small coastal town is perfect for walking and exploring and all of its main attractions are accessible on foot, making it perfect for cruises who want to see the area in a few hours.

Some of the top attractions in the city include the Bell Tower and Astronomical Clock, the Museo Regionale Interdisciplinare which houses fascinating artefacts from the local area, as well as the vast selection of magnificent fountains the area is home to. Whilst strolling through the beautiful city centre, it’ll be hard to miss the exquisite Orion Fountain which dates back to the 16th century and honours the city’s founder.

If you plan on enjoying a Mediterranean cruise and one of these locations is on your itinerary, you’re in for a treat. Our cruises to the Mediterranean stop at some of the best locations in the area, so get your next cruise booked now and dream about sunshine and sangria.

For more articles like this, make sure you head to our blog and feed your wanderlust.

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