View of Jerusalem, Israel
Destination Immersion

5 Mediterranean Azamara Ashore Land Experiences We Are Excited About

Thursday, January 27, 2022
By Azamara

There’s a reason the Mediterranean is one of cruising’s hottest destinations year after year — it’s simply marvelous. The rich history, vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning landscapes all create an endlessly explorable place. Of course, popular ports like VeniceRome, and Athens always impress, but we want you to explore incredible places that exist beyond the shorelines. Those that are more than a day trip away and other cruise lines can only dream of.That’s where our immersive Azamara Ashore Land Experiences come into play. Before or after your Mediterranean cruise, set out on an overland adventure where we take care of every detail. Meaning you can take more pictures, take time for yourself, and take in all the incredible experiences we have in store.

For Food and Fashion: Milan & Lake Como

people walk along the canal in Milan.

Ever 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, see 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 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. You’ll also make stops at the imposing Castello Sforzesco and the opulent Scala opera house. After lunch, the mountain-bounded Lake Como is calling. 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.

Mediterranean oleander flowers near Lake Como in Italy

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 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. Finally, you’ll make your way to Venice, with a stop along the way in fair Verona — where the Capulets and Montagues waged war in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Here, you’ll see Romeo’s and Juliet’s houses before continuing on to Venice for some time spent in the world’s most romantic city. We’re pretty sure this is what they meant by la dolce vita.

For the Wonder Loving Wanderer: Wondrous Cappadocia

Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia

This fairy tale tour takes you through the heart of central Turkey — complete with cosmopolitan cities, natural beauty, and cultural caches that are destined to inspire. This land experience will have you looking high in the sky at Turkey’s famous fairy chimneys one minute, and exploring deep underground cities the next. And it all begins in Istanbul.

For centuries, Istanbul marked the end of the Silk Road — a legendary trade route that made its way through Asia to Europe. For many, Istanbul was their first glimpse at Europe, and it proved popular. In fact, merchants often decided to stay in the city, cultivating a sense of multiculturalism that remains its hallmark to this day. On this Land Experience, you’ll visit some of Istanbul’s most celebrated landmarks, including Topkapi Palace. Once home to the court of the Ottoman Empire, 25 different sultans called the palace home between the 15th and 19th centuries. And each had their own vision for the palace. The result is a fascinating melting pot of styles, themes, and visual grandeur, not unlike Istanbul itself. You’ll also journey to the Hagia Sophia Mosque to sample Ottoman cuisine, the Byzantine Hippodrome, and the Blue Mosque (named for — you guessed it — the 20,000 shimmering blue tiles you’ll find inside.) Then it’s off to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets on Earth. Bask in its vibrancy before departing Istanbul for Cappadocia.\

The ornate stylings of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey

Here, learn about the region’s beautiful stone structures, starting in the Red Valley — home to rock-cut churches. Then make your way to the village of Ҫavuşin before arriving in Pigeon Valley to visit the iconic Underground City. This city comprises nearly one hundred tunnels, and was once home to thousands of people. After spending time learning the techniques used to create hand-woven Turkish carpets, return to your accommodations to freshen up. Next, it’s time for an evening at a local cave restaurant, sampling Turkish cuisine and culture — including folk, belly, and fire dancers.

Bright and early the following day, it’s off to the Devrent Valley, which translates to Imaginary. One look, and it’s easy to understand where this valley got its name. This is where you’ll find Turkey’s ‘fairy chimneys’, which give the landscape a distinct otherworldly feel. These rock formations result from geological processes that took place over millions of years. Today, some of the most striking of these rock towers stretch over 100 feet into the sky. This display of natural art will be complemented perfectly later in the day with a visit to the Göreme Open Air Museum, where you’ll find a breathtaking collection of Byzantine art. 

For Classic Glamor: A 2-Night Stay 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. You’ll have 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 famous beach and seaside promenade.

Monte Carlo Casino

You’ll see 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, take to the streets of the famed Monaco Grand Prix. Don’t worry, you’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 Mediterranean 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 to stay longer with a Land Experience that 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: Mythological 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 this Land Experience takes you through a very different Greece with a deep dive into its magnificent mythological history. 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 into Greek culture with dinner at a taverna and a traditional folklore show. The following day, meet your expert guide for a drive along the scenic Athenian Riviera to Cape Sounio, home of the Temple of Poseidon —a tribute to the Greek God of the Sea built in 444 BC. Then, return to Athens to explore the Parthenon, one of the country’s most iconic structures

The Tholos at Delphi, Greece

On day three, you’ll be treated to a tour of one of Athens’ best highlights, the Acropolis museum, before embarking on a scenic country drive to the archaeological site of Mycenae. This Homeric city offers plenty to take in, including The Lion Gate, the Royal Tombs, and its Cyclopean Walls. Fuel your adventurous spirit with lunch at a nearby restaurant.

Day four begins in Ancient Olympia, where you’ll see the remains of the Temple of Zeus and the birthplace of the modern Olympic games. You’ll then travel to Agriturismo Magna Grecia. Foodies and wine-lovers are sure to enjoy this family-owned homestead known for producing olive oil and wine. You’ll take a guided tour through the olive grove and vineyard. Along the way, you’ll learn about harvesting local olives and grapes, as well as the vital part they’ve played in the region’s history. Oh, and of course, you’ll have a chance to sample some delicious dishes when you sit down for a local lunch.

Next, it’s off to Delphi — and it doesn’t disappoint. This is where priestesses predicted the future for the ancient world’s most influential leaders. You can almost feel the mythical energy in the air as you enjoy exploring the city. Be sure to take it all in, because tomorrow’s destination looms large in the distance: 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 their inhabitants’ simple, ascetic lifestyle.

We’re going to pass on the “all Greek” puns. This incredible Land Experience 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 Experience  takes you 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. Here a stroll along the seafront promenade brings a cooling breeze. And 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 our Azamara Ashore Land Experiences. 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. Finally, we’ll take you to the infamous King Herod’s desert fortress for breathtaking views of the world’s lowest point — the Dead Sea. These are just some of the Azamara Ashore Land Experiences 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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