Traveling the world is about more than just seeing new cities, countries, and cultures — it’s about experiencing them. When you cruise with Azamara, we make sure ports are more than just a stamp on your passport — they are unforgettable moments filled with memories that will stay with you long after your journey has concluded. By sharing fascinating ports — from iconic cities to more secluded spots larger ships can’t reach — we at Azamara are proud to offer guests endless opportunities to see the beauty of the world from different perspectives.
Over the last few months, we’ve asked our guests which ports we visit connected with them as places with a wide variety of things to do. And, as always, they were happy to share their thoughts with us. These are the ports in the Mediterranean with the most to do in 2022, as determined by our guests.
Number Five: Paros, Greece
Paros might not be the first island that comes to mind when you think about the Cyclades — Mykonos or Santorini all but make sure of that. But the island’s relative anonymity is part of its appeal. And with fewer crowds than its Greek isles counterparts, it means more chances to explore and take in everything this charmer has to offer.
The town of Parikia on the island of Paros is home to Panagia Ekatontapiliani, one of the most beautiful churches in the Mediterranean. For nearly 1700 years, this church has stood, even predating the adoption of Christianity as the state religion. The church, said to have been built by Constantine himself, is most well-known for its silver-clad Madonna icon and archeology museum. You can tour the church and museum when you join us on a walking tour of Parikia. This guided tour will unlock the secrets of Panagia Ekatontapiliani, including answering the question of why it is known as the “Church with the 100 Doors.” From here, we’ll visit the Castle of Paros to get up close and personal with its intricate stonework. And after a little walk, you’ll enjoy a much-deserved tour and tasting at the Moraitis Winery. This family-owned vineyard has produced some of the island’s most impressive vintages for over a century.
Elsewhere on Paros, you can explore the sandy shores of Chrissi Akti beach, stroll secluded villages, and uncover the ancient marble quarries of Marathi. The island certainly makes a compelling case for visiting somewhere unexpected and being delighted by all it has to offer!
Number Four: Barcelona, Spain
From a pleasant surprise to an icon that continues to live up to the hype. Barcelona certainly comes with more name recognition than a spot like Paros, but with that recognition comes expectation. Luckily, boundless Barcelona rises to surpass all expectations with its incredible mix of natural beauty, iconic architecture, and culinary delights.
In a country known for its architecture, Barcelona stands on its own. After all, this is the city of Antoni Gaudi. His masterpieces of Catalan Modernism tower over the town — quite literally! Perhaps his most famous work, Church of the Sagrada Familia, is a signature piece of the Barcelona skyline. The sprawling design interweaves biblical allegories with complex organic, geometric shapes — reflecting Gaudi’s philosophy that nature is the work of God. Construction began on the church nearly 140 years ago and is expected to continue for several more years. Gaudi always knew he would not live to see the structure’s completion and had a good sense of humor about it, once remarking, “My client is not in a hurry” when asked about timelines.
When you visit Barcelona with us, you can explore Sagrada Familia through an expert’s lens on the Architect’s Perspective On Gaudi shore excursion. We’ll visit the basilica and several of Gaudi’s other famous works with an architect who will offer plenty of analysis and insight into Gaudi’s fascinating structures and style.
And Gaudi’s only the beginning! You can explore Barcelona by bike or visit local markets for a delicious Spanish cooking experience. Embrace the rhythm of the flamenco at Tablao de Carmen or follow in the footsteps of Pablo Picasso’s Barcelona. There are activities for wine lovers, food fanatics, history buffs, and those who simply like to sample a bit of everything. Whether wandering Las Ramblas or tasting the tapas, Barcelona has something for everyone.
Number Three: Heraklion (Iraklion), Crete
Crete’s capital city, Heraklion, is teeming with history waiting for you to discover. And that makes sense! This city can trace its roots back to the 9th century, and has seen the rise and fall of Arab, Venetian, and Ottoman empires. Equal parts vibrant and tranquil, this is the kind of destination that absorbs you fully in its traditions, culture, and beauty.
If the past fascinates you, then the Heraklion Archaeological Museum should be at the top of your list. Here, you’ll receive a crash course in over 5,500 years of Cretan history. You’ll find plenty of ancient artifacts on display, as well as examples of pottery, sculptures, and paintings from throughout the years. Of particular interest is the magnificent Minoan collection showcasing masterpieces from the civilization that called Crete home between approximately 3500 BC – 1100 BC. And for amateur historians, this is only the tip of the iceberg. When you travel with us, we’ll explore the legend of the Minotaur at Knossos Palace, ride a traditional boat to the island of Spinalonga to tour an ancient fortress, and embark on an insightful walking tour of Heraklion and get face-to-face with its storied history. Prefer to do your historical sightseeing on four wheels? Hop aboard a four-wheel drive vehicle to travel the Minoan route past mythological landmarks. Or journey to the Lasithi Plateau to explore the Kera Monastery while taking in unparalleled views of the surrounding valleys.
Number Two: Seville, Spain
Number two on our list brings us back to Spain for even more intrigue, this time in Seville. Food, fiestas, and flamenco reign supreme here, as does an unmistakable charm and love of life that’s simply irresistible.
Legend has it that Seville is the birthplace of tapas, small savory snacks or appetizers meant to be shared with your fellow travelers. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why foodies have long been enamored with this city. For an inside look at local cuisine, join us for a gourmet cooking class with Amelia Gomez. Renowned as one of the Andalusia region’s most acclaimed chefs, Amelia Gomez will take you on a culinary adventure through local markets to select (and sample!) ingredients to use during your cooking class. And, of course, once your creations are complete, you can celebrate a job well done by dining on your authentic Spanish meal!
You can also taste the secret flavors of Seville on shore excursion while learning more of Seville’s story and culture. You’ll try Seville’s decadently sweet churros y chocolate, Spanish tortilla and squid balls, cheeses, stuffed olives, oxtail, and Iberian ham. Our mouths are watering just thinking about all of these delicious delights! As you graze, you’ll visit local gems, all while catching a first-hand glimpse of the real Seville and the people who call it home.
Eager to see that passion Sevillanos are famous for on full display? Experience a flamenco evening at Tablao El Arenal, one of the world’s best venues for taking in this evocative dance. Or explore Spanish history at the Italica archeological site. In addition, there are options to stroll the historic streets of Cordoba, cruise along the Guadalquivir River, and visit the Palacio de las Dueñas to walk its stately gardens.
With no shortage of sights, sensational Seville is sure to delight.
Number One: Rhodes, Greece
When it comes to things to do, Azamara guests have decided that all roads lead to Rhodes, Greece. This, despite the fact that Rhodes is an island! All kidding aside, with thousands of years worth of history and an average of 300 sunny days per year, it’s easy to understand why travelers love Rhodes.
The city of Rhodes is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities, and travelers could spend their entire visit simply strolling the cobblestone Street of Knights, looking skyward at the turreted buildings. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s history around every corner, and there’s no better way to take it all in than on the Walk Through Historic Rhodes shore excursion. We’ll start in Old Town for a real local’s perspective on things. They’ll discuss the stunning architecture and point out significant buildings before taking you to the Palace of the Grand Masters and the Hospital of Knights museum. Interested in seeing Rhodes’ Old Town in a different light? Join the Old Town by Night excursion for tales of Medieval knights and Greek songs echoing out of Romeo’s Traditional Restaurant. Enjoy a glass of wine and raise a toast to a fantastic evening.
On a journey to the village of Lindos, climb to the village’s ancient Acropolis, where myths and mysteries of the temples, churches, and fortifications of Rhodes will be revealed. And for a unique memento of your visit to Rhodes, visit the Bonis Ceramics Factory for a special pottery workshop. Here, owner Dimitris Bonis will explore the history of Greek ceramics with you before sharing the expert techniques used for crafting his acclaimed pieces. With this knowledge, you’ll then participate in a pottery class to craft your masterpiece! Once your work is complete, it will be cured and shipped to your home — a special token of an unforgettable day on the Island of Knights.
There’s so Much to do in the Mediterranean!
With so much to see and do, the only thing missing from the Mediterranean is you! Start planning your Mediterranean cruise today and enjoy the endless experiences that await in this fantastic part of the world.
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