Panoramic view of Monte Carlo
Destination Immersion

5 Mediterranean Land Programs We’re Excited About

Tuesday, June 22, 2021
By Azamara

There’s a reason the Med is one of cruising’s hottest destinations year after year—it’s simply marvelous. The rich history, the vibrant culture, the delicious cuisine, the welcoming people, the stunning landscapes all create an endlessly explorable place. Popular ports like Venice, Rome, and Athens always impress, but we want you to explore those incredible places that exist beyond the shorelines. Those that are more than a day trip away. Those that other cruise lines can only dream of.

That’s where our immersive new Land Programs come in. Before or after your Mediterranean cruise, set out on an overland adventure where we take care of every detail, so you can take more pictures, take time for yourself, and take in all the incredible experiences we have in store. Here are five Mediterranean Land Programs we’re really excited about.

For Food and Fashion: Milan & Lake Como

people walk along the canal in Milan.

Never been to northern Italy? Now is your chance to see it in splendid style. Fly into fashionable Milan before we whisk you away to the sparkling gem of the Lombardy region, Lake Como, where it’s time to live life luxuriously. In Milan, we’ll show you the highlights of this city that sets the standard for the world’s fashion and design, and brings an air of cosmopolitan chic. Climb to the top of the intricate, elaborate Duomo for a panoramic view of the city to get your bearings and get an up-close look at the incredible architectural details of Italy’s largest Gothic Cathedral. We’ll also make stops at the imposing Castello Sforzesco and the opulent Scala opera house.  

Mediterranean oleander flowers near Lake Como in Italy

After dinner and time to explore Milan on your own, the next day takes you to Lake Como. In Varenna, your inner foodie can run wild. A local food connoisseur and historian will show you how locals live as you make your way past medieval walls, churches and towers, with stops at eateries that give a chance to meet with vendors and taste the flavors of the region. Be sure to try northern Italy’s traditional take on risotto served with lake-sourced perch fish.

Shaped like an upside-down letter Y, you’ll be staying right in the crux of at the 5-Star Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio. Once frequented by world leaders, including Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy, it’s easy to see how this hotel earned each of those five stars—think Murano glass chandeliers, Michelin-level dining, and more. 

The mountain-bounded lake is calling, and your answer awaits on day three of your tour. Head to the local pier for a cruise that takes you past charming villages and grand villas as your captain regales you with tales of local lore and family traditions. With a gourmet picnic lunch and Prosecco, we’re pretty sure this is what they meant by la dolce vita

For the Wine Lovers Dream: Castellos & Wine of Tuscany

Tuscany landscape at golden hour with curved road and cypress trees

This fairy tale tour takes you to the heart of Tuscany—complete with castle stays! If you love all that is wine, this indulgent experience through sweeping valleys, centuries-old vineyards and ancient hilltop villages (with plenty of wine tasting opportunities everywhere in between) is a must-do. Beginning in Rome, we’ll sweep you away by motor coach to soak in the wonder of rural Italy, with a stop in Orvieto along the way. 

This town is perched on a volcanic rock high above the gorgeous Paglia Valley—and its crowning glory is the Orvieto Cathedral. You couldn’t miss this gilded beauty with its gleaming golden mosaics if you tried. Inside, head to the San Brizio Chapel where frescoes with themes of apocalypse and redemption play out across vibrant mosaics—you’ll get some serious Sistine Chapel vibes here. Elsewhere in Orvieto, you’ll dine on traditional Umbrian cuisine with a local family. With strong farming roots, food in these parts is seasonal, rustic, and definitely delicious. 

Your accommodations for the next two nights will be at Belmond Castello di Casole, a 1,000-year-old castle with all the modern comforts and luxuries you deserve. Sip a glass of vino on your patio and soak in a spectacular Tuscan sunset over lush olive groves.

Day two is where we really get into wine. At Chianti’s Winery, you’re in for an unforgettable food and wine experience. Take a guided tour paired perfectly with special tastings, then get hands-on as you prepare an authentic meal of local pasta. Enjoy the fruits (and carbs) of your labor accompanied with a little more wine for good measure. 

Siena Skyline

Your next day is full of exploring the region’s picture-perfect medieval towns. Siena sings with its sprawling Piazza del Campo. It’s perfect for people-watching, or if you feel like getting a few hundred steps in, get a bird’s eye view of the city’s maze-like streets and surrounding countryside from the top of Torre del Mangia. Discover Etruscan history and 15 eye-catching towers in San Gimignano before another winery and lunch stop, then it’s a quick pit stop in the ring wall town of Monteriggioni before spending your last night at Castello Banfi. Are you tired of castles and wineries yet? We didn’t think so. 

For Classic Glamor: Stay Local in Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo at sunset

Monte Carlo seems like the stuff of the silver screen (and it certainly has been) with swanky hotels and superyachts, but there’s so much more to discover at this legendary playground for the world’s elite. We’ll give you ample time to experience this opulent enclave just like locals do, but first, you’ll get some time to explore on your own. The city is divided into ten wards, each equally worth exploring, but some that you should explore before day two are Fontieville for its gorgeous rose garden dedicated to former princess Grace Kelly, and Larvotto for its popular beach and seaside promenade. 

Monte Carlo Casino

We’ll show you the very best of Monaco on day two, beginning with La Condamine covered market, where you’ll be drawn in by the enticing aromas of vibrant flowers and fresh coffee. This is where locals love to shop for food and wine, and it’s the perfect place to start your day. Next, we’ll take to the streets of the famed Monaco Grand Prix. Don’t worry, we’ll be driving at a much more leisurely pace so you can enjoy every twist and turn, and the famed Monte Carlo Casino. In contrast, The Prince’s Palace is calm and serenely perched above the city on “The Rock”. Stop to marvel at amazing Med views and take a peek at the mega yachts in the harbor below. It wouldn’t be a Cote d’Azur stay without a tour along winding corniche roads that hug the mountainside or a visit to an elegant perfumery in the medieval town of Eze—where you’ll sample exotic fragrances and search for your new signature scent. 

If two nights in this dazzling city, aren’t enough, you can always opt for our Stay Local Longer in Monte Carlo land program, which includes a visit to the Colombe d’Or Hotel in St. Paul de Vence, France. This chic boutique hotel offered artists like Picasso and Matisse free rent in exchange for paintings, many of which adorn the dining room and garden. 

For Unbelievable Immersion: In-Depth Exploration of Greece

Skyline of Athenth with Acropolis on the hill in the background

Greece is the cradle of Western civilization, and one of our favorite places to visit. We’re often all about island hopping, but now we’ve partnered with one of the world’s oldest travel companies to bring you the very best of what lies north, beyond the shore. You’ll spend five nights exploring ancient sites, incredible cuisine, and landscapes that you’ll have to see to truly believe. 

Starting in Athens, dive right in to Greek culture with dinner at a taverna and a traditional folklore show. The next morning, meet your expert guide for a drive along the scenic Saronic Gulf and Corinth Canal to Mycenae, home of ancient poets like Homer and Agamemnon—the king that united the country’s ancient city states. Everywhere in Greece gives an air of nostalgic romance, but nowhere more so than Nafplio. With Venetian and Ottoman influences from mansions to fortresses, you’ll fall in love instantly. 

The Tholos at Delphi, Greece

On day three, we’ll take you to Delphi—and it doesn’t disappoint. Where priestesses predicted the future for the ancient world’s most important leaders, you can feel the mythical energy in the air as you enjoy a picnic lunch. You’ll spend the night in Kalambaka and feast at a famed family restaurant in the shadow of tomorrow’s destination: majestic Meteora.

Meteora monastery, Greece

Perched on precipitous rocky outcrops, the 24 monasteries of Meteora wouldn’t look out of place in the misty setting of Avatar (or in a certain James Bond film). A local historian will enlighten you to their religious and cultural importance, and give you insight into the simple, ascetic lifestyle of their inhabitants.

Before you head home or start your Azamara cruise, you’ll be treated to a tour of Athens’ best highlights including the Acropolis and its new museum, the Temple of Zeus, as well as the birthplace of the modern Olympic games. We’re going to pass on the “all Greek” puns. This incredible land program is all local, all authentic, and all yours to discover.

For Moving Moments: Historic Cities & Sites of Israel

Tel Aviv Skyline

From the ancient era to the modern day, Israel’s story has unfolded on an epic, emotive scale—and this can’t miss land program takes you to from the heights of King Herod’s Palace at Masada to the lowest point on Earth. Starting with more modern pursuits in Tel Aviv, where cool, curving Bauhaus buildings pepper Rothschild Avenue, and jazz music flows out of trendy bars and cafés in the Neve Tzedek district. Your guide will show you around, then take you through contrasts of old and new as you visit Independence Hall where the state of Israel was born, and Jaffa, one of the world’s oldest ports that has undeniable charm.

Cityscape of Nazareth, Israel

Next, Nazareth and Capernaum will have you tracing the path of Jesus’ early life from his boyhood home to the ancient synagogue where he once taught. Nazareth is also the country’s largest Arab city, with traditional markets that are definitely worth exploring. You’ll spend the night in Tiberias at your leisure, where a stroll along the seafront promenade brings a cooling breeze, or a visit to Rachel’s Tomb—the matriarch of the Jewish faith—gives greater insight into how different religions coexist in this holy land. 

Jericho and Bethlehem are next on your itinerary. Jericho is thought to be one of the world’s oldest cities, and the cable car ride up to the Mount of Temptation is stunning. It’s here that Jesus was said to be tempted by the devil under the shady trees during his 40 days of fasting. The compact, winding streets of Bethlehem are best navigated with the help of a guide, which we offer at many points throughout all of our Land Programs. You’ll get to take in the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square before it’s off to Jerusalem for the night.

Skyline of the Old City in Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s history dates back over 3,000 years, and as a counterpoint to Bethlehem where Jesus’ life began, you’ll explore the sites where he spent his final days here. In addition to Christian landmarks, we’ll bring you to important sites of the Muslim and Jewish faiths as well. On your final day before departing for Athens, we’ll take you to infamous King Herod’s desert fortress for breathtaking views of the world’s lowest point—the Dead Sea. 

These are just some of the Land Programs we offer in the Mediterranean. We’re taking cruising to the next level with these and all of our other pre- and post-cruise excursions. Discover them all here and create your ideal Azamara experience.  

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