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15 Breathtaking Views You Can Only Get on a Mediterranean Cruise

For the breathtaking views and spectacular scenery that are the hallmarks of the Mediterranean's most iconic ports and destinations, you need to see them from the water. Whether you're on a sailboat or a cruise ship, you'll want to search out these destinations, and views, from a watery perch.

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Barcelona at sunrise viewed from park Guell, SpainPajor Pawel/Shutterstock

Barcelona, Spain

The best-known views of this Spanish architectural gem are of La Sagrada Família, a spired cathedral masterwork designed by celebrated Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. After you’ve soaked up the scenery from a cruise ship like Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, ramble along La Rambla, Barcelona’s lively pedestrian thoroughfare, and to Güell Park to see the mosaics that line the walls. Be sure to add these incredible cruises to your travel bucket list too.

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Palma de Mallorca port marina in Majorca with Cathedral church Balearic IslandsTono Balaguer/Shutterstock

Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, makes a major impression with its sun-kissed shores, limestone bluffs, verdant valleys, turn-of-the century architecture, Gothic medieval cathedral La Seu, and orange groves that inspired Catalan surrealist painter Joan Miró. Don’t miss a trip to La Granja de Esporles, a 17th-century mansion surrounded by lush vegetation and natural springs, with a guided tour that highlights traditional crafts, cooking, and the cultural of Mallorca.

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Marseille, France at night. The famous european harbour view on the Notre Dame de la Gardevichie81/Shutterstock

Rome, Italy

Landmarks of the “Eternal City” include the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona, and you can even travel to another country by crossing into Vatican City to see the Sistine Chapel. The cruise port in Rome is called Civitavecchia, and Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines can organize guided tours that take you to see the sights and also try out cool activities such as hands-on gladiator training at the Gladiator School and Museum of Rome. Here are some fascinating themed cruises for every type of traveler.

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beautiful naples panoramic viewtanialerro.art/Shutterstock

Naples, Italy

Legend once said that you “see Naples and die,” since its beauty is so overwhelming. Although you shouldn’t take it quite so literally, the city’s setting along the Tyrrhenian Sea, with views of Mt. Vesuvius towering in the east and the sparkling Bay of Naples spread out in front with Capri in the foreground, is definitely impressive. The city is also dotted with no fewer than four elaborate castles, a palace, numerous churches and cathedrals, and several impressive museums, adding substance to its good looks. If you’re traveling with kids, take advantage of the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas‘ authentic Neapolitan pizza-making workshop. From there, visit the ruins of ancient Pompeii to see a remarkably well-preserved slice of ancient life, and walk down Roman streets to see millennia-old houses, temples, shops, cafes, and amphitheaters. Blend in with the beautiful surroundings by acting gracefully; these are mistakes that polite cruise passengers never make. 

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Coast of Sorrento, Italy. BAHDANOVICH ALENA/Shutterstock

Capri, Italy

A short ferry ride across the bay from Naples brings you to this gorgeous Italian island. Take the funicular to Capri Town and scenic La Piazzetta, always bustling with visitors. Continue across the island to the southern shore and Marina Piccola for the island’s most stunning beaches. Don’t miss the legendary Grotta Azzurra (the Blue Grotto), a luminescent sunken cave. These are the 15 most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean.

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Bay of Positano ItalyKyle Besler/Shutterstock

Florence, Italy

Known for its Renaissance art and architecture, this picturesque city’s scenic highlights include the magnificent Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza Santa Croce, and the glittering Arno River crossed by the Ponte Vecchio bridge. The port of call here is called La Spezia, and you can easily take in Pisa, and its leaning tower, on a stop with a guided tour.

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Colorful traditional houses on the promenade in the port of Cassis town, Provence, FranceBoris Stroujko/Shuttertstock

Cassis, France

In this tiny, charming Mediterranean fishing port, the views include clay-colored buildings, rosé-producing vineyards, and pebbled beaches. You’ll also be able to spot the Calanques, picturesque narrow inlets framed by towering white limestone cliffs. Set sail with 10 of the best cruise lines in the world.

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Marseille, France at night. The famous european harbour view on the Notre Dame de la Gardevichie81/Shutterstock

Marseille, France

A cosmopolitan fishing port may sound like an oxymoron, but this Mediterranean spot is the second largest city in France (after Paris), and the views include twinkling city lights in addition to fishing boats and yachts docked along the fish market of Quai des Belges. Look up to spot the 19th-century basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde, rising 1,600 feet above the sea. Have you realized that cruise ships are always white? This is the reason why. 

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The Monte Carlo Casino, gambling and entertainment complex in Monte Carlo, Monaco, Cote de Azul, Europe. It includes a casino, Grand Theatre de Monte Carlo, and office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

Monaco

Monaco is the fabled home of royalty and movie stars (and even a movie star who was royalty). Highlights you can see from ships such as Star Clippers’ tall-masted sailboats include the magnificent Palais du Prince and opulent casinos that remind you of an elegant prewar era. With more wealth concentrated in one small area than almost any place on earth, this tiny principality retains its gilt-edged allure. Check out these little-known cruise ports you need to see before everyone else discovers them.

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A view of Mykonos port with boats, Cyclades islands, GreecePawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

Mykonos, Greece

Everywhere you look on this popular Greek island, you’ll get postcard-perfect views, from the fuchsia bougainvillea draped over whitewashed walls to the cobalt blue roofs and doors on the whitewashed buildings that line the twisting corridors of the old town. Along the port, you’ll also see Little Venice, where the windmills that line the sea catch the breeze.

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Fira town on Santorini island, Greece. Incredibly romantic sunrise on Santorini. Oia village in the morning light. Amazing sunset view with white houses. Island of lovers Zick Svift/Shutterstock

Santorini, Greece

This Grecian island offers a mesmerizing mix of volcanic terrain, eye-catching structures (the white houses carved into the cliffs of Fira and Oia are instantly recognizable), and stunning beaches that combine to create the ultimate romantic island getaway. This is the definitive list of the best Greek islands.

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Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri Skopelos island Greecerobotrecorder/Shutterstock

Skopelos, Greece

You might not know the name of this Mediterranean hideaway, but if you’ve seen the popular ABBA-soundtracked Mamma Mia films, you’re definitely familiar with the gorgeous scenery of this movie star island. This is a port that can only be accessed by small ships, such as Star Clippers’ tall-masted sailboats on their special Mamma Mia cruise. The fabulous scenery includes the tiny chapel of Agios Ioannis Kastri, where Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie was to be married, which sits perched atop a rock cliff more than 300 feet above the Aegean Sea with 100 steps carved into rock leading to the church’s entrance.

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Dubrovnik, Croatia. Spectacular twilight picturesque view on the old town of Ragusa from the Lovrijenac Fortress.cge2010/Shutterstock

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Completely encircled by ancient tenth-century stone walls, Dubrovnik looks like a fairy tale come to life, its golden-hued fortresses and buildings seeming to glow in the daylight. Keep your eyes peeled for swimmers leaping into the sea from hole-in-the-wall bars (literally bars carved into walls, with panoramic views and incredible rocky steps down to the azure Mediterranean).

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Valletta Malta city Skyline, colorful house balcony Malta Vallettafokke baarssen/Shutterstock

Malta

Nestled between Sicily, Italy, and the North African coast is the small archipelago of Malta. Known for a rich history that’s ripe with historic sites and plenty of breathtaking coasts, Malta’s views include Valletta’s Grand Harbour and its 16th-century fortifications. The island’s 7,000 years of history can be seen in its eclectic mix of Mediterranean, Arabic, and European influences. You’ll get a great deal if you visit Malta in the winter. Here are more of our favorite off-season travel destinations.

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Aerial view at Hvar town in Southern Croatia, famous luxury travel destination in Europe, Mediterranean.Dreamer4787/Shutterstock

Hvar, Croatia

Dubbed the queen of Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands, Hvar is a paparazzi-free utopia where privacy-seeking celebs frolic on the beaches of Dubovica and Milna. It’s also blessed with lavender fields, rocky coves, and olive groves. Hovering above Hvar is Fortica, a hilltop fortress. The yacht-filled harbor, Cathedral of St. Stephen, and Franciscan Monastery are worth checking out too. These are the best all-inclusive cruises for a truly relaxing vacation.