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The Best Mediterranean Cruise Excursions

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16 Stops Across Spain, France, Italy, Montenegro, and Greece On An Oceania Cruise In Mediterranean Lux Style

Sunkissed aquamarine waters beckon beach lovers to bask in hot Mediterranean summer days. Coastal towns, home to ancient churches, magnificent beaches, festive markets, busy restaurants, and throngs of people who want to see and be seen. Visit many UNESCO World Heritage Site locations while you explore the best Mediterranean cruise excursions in these exciting European cruises destinations.

Oceania Cruise lines sails the Mediterranean with a wonderful mix of shore excursions — some anchored, some docked — but all with options to fit your hearts desire. Below are some of my favorite stops, and whether you sail with Oceania or another cruise line, you will love exploring these beautiful and historic cities.

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1. Barcelona, Spain

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Estrella beer on Montjuic Hill

Barcelona is a bucket list destination for many travelers, and with good reason. Rich with art, history, beautiful architectural masterpieces, and delicious cuisine, Barcelona is perfect for a pre- or post-cruise extension. There is so much to see and do, three days will barely scratch the surface of everything Barcelona has to offer.

When visiting a large city for a few days, I like to start with a Big Bus Tour. Just hop on, relax and see all the interesting sites. The first day, I typically just ride the bus for the full loop to get a feel for the city.

Take the cable car up to Montjuic Castle for a spectacular panoramic view of the city. Explore Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia with a skip the line (and there will be a long line) tour. Also, Gaudi’s Park Guell and Casa Batllo are excellent attractions. Wander along Las Ramblas, the main thoroughfare in Barcelona where you will find lovely cafes, entertaining memes, artists, and lots of pigeons.

My favorite excursion in Barcelona is the cooking at The Paella Club. How To Spend 48 Hours In Barcelona will get you started on all the great locations in the gorgeous city.

2. Palamós, Spain

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Platja de Palamós

Mediterranean cruises offer lots and lots of beach stops. One of my favorite was Platja de Palamós in Costa Brava. A day sitting on the beach enjoying the beautiful blue water is the perfect way to relax on your Mediterranean cruise. The city is walkable with lots of cafes and shops.

Other tours of interest in this small port are Girona City and Peralada, an alluring medieval village.

3. Marseille, France

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
The Hostellerie Des Vins de Rognes

Food tours and wine tastings are my achilles heel. I always aim for foodie focused excursions. In Marseille, there is a truffle and wine experience not to be missed. We visited The Hostellerie Des Vins de Rognes where a master truffle hunter and his border collie demonstrated the fine art of hunting truffles. After our time in the vineyard looking for these delicate fungus, we toured the winery, followed by a Rose and truffle tasting. Amazing!

You can take the city highlights tour, Marseille is an amazing city with a deep and varied history. You are close to Aix-En-Provence, a beautiful town in the south of France. Another lovely tour is the villages of St. Remy & Arles, both charming destinations.

It is difficult to choose just one tour in this amazing city.

4. Monte Carlo, Monaco

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Port Hercules, Monaco

Monaco is the storied playground of the uber rich and famous. This sparkling city is benchmarked by the Casino on one end and the Prince’s Palace on the other end. It is a good walk, but you can actually see both spots in one day. There are no Ubers in Monaco, but you can find a taxi stand sprinkled here and there.

The Prince’s Palace is not always open, but the square is filled with fun happenings. There are shops and cafes all along the side streets leading up to the palace. There is also a charming garden along the cliffs, an aquarium, and a cathedral before you get to the palace.

The Casino is a must. Even if you don’t plan on gambling, just viewing the jaw dropping opulence is an event. The steady stream of fancy cars circling the Casino and park is a lesson in luxury automobiles. You can enter the casino in the morning when there is no gambling, you need your passport and the fee is about $20. Visiting the lobby is free. If you want to visit late afternoon to place a bet, you can re-enter with your ticket from your morning visit.

You can take the ship’s shore excursion, but Monaco is easy to navigate and beautiful to explore on your own.

5. Saint-Tropez, France

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Port Grimaud, France

Grimaud & Port Grimaud are charming villages that make for a full days excursion. Port Grimaud is an ancient seaport with bridges, sweet homes, and lots of boats. Grimaud is perched high about the Gulf of Saint-Tropez and filled with medieval buildings, twisting walkways, and lovely little shops.

Of course, Saint-Tropez is known for stunning beaches. Pampelonne Beach is one of the most glamorous beaches on the Mediterranean. It is where you want to see and be seen. You may even find a few celebs soaking up some sunshine.

6. Livorno, Italy

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
San Gimignano, Italy

Livorno is the port for Tuscany (Florence and Pisa) so there are a plethora of excursion options. Almost too many to choose from. But choose you must.

The undulating hills of Florence, punctuated by vineyards is a gorgeous ride, especially if you end up at a wine tasting. Medieval San Gimignano is a magical trip back in time — winding cobbled streets and many towers. Pisa is another option if you love architecture, visitors have mixed feelings about Pisa — it’s great to say you have been, but it is a long ride for a little show. Art aficionados will adore visiting the Uffizi and Accademia — who can resist Botticelli, da Vinci, and Michelangelo.

If you want to immerse yourself into the Tuscan lifestyle, if that is truly possible in one day, a visit to Bocelli’s villa will set you on the path. Enjoy an aperitif from the stone balcony while you gaze over the sweeping vineyards lined by majestic Cedars. Partake in a dinner paired with house wines (I shipped a case home when I was there) while serenaded with music from the maestro’s collection.

7. Amalfi/Positano, Italy

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Almalfi, Italy

Stunning is the only word to describe Amalfi and Positano. It is why celebrities flock to this rocky coastline destination.

The famous Amalfi Drive will raise the hair on the back of your neck and you will see beautiful panoramic Mediterranean views as you ride along the winding roadway. However, you can explore Italy’s Amalfi coast on a relaxing small boat cruise. Watch as the hillside homes rise above the sea in a charming higgly-piggly pattern. Stop at one of the little villages for a gelato and walk about. It is the best way to explore the Amalfi Coastline.

8. Sorrento/Capri, Italy

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento offers beautiful views, great seafood, and lots of hidden gems. The center of town is pedestrian friendly and fun to explore the ancient art, Italian cuisine that will entertain your taste buds, and lots of little nooks and crannies to explore.

Cruise excursions include panoramic bus tours of the Sorrento regions, boat trips to Capri and the Blue Grotto (always weather dependent), trips to Pompii and Vesuvius, wineries, and cooking classes.

9. Crotone, Italy

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Underground Crypts, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Crotone, Italy

In the southern city of Crotone, Calabrian wines are the crowning jewel of the region. For non-wine enthusiasts, a walking tour of Crotone including the underground crypts is quite the showstopper. Visit villages like Cacurri or Santa Severina as an alternative to Crotone.

10. Rome Civitavecchia, Italy

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Pasta Class, Florence, Italy

Civitavecchia is Rome’s seaport, however it is over an hour to Rome’s city center. You can enjoy the port in a few hours, so this is a good place to consider a shore excursion.

If you have never been to Rome, then you might want to consider taking a full day (10 hours) fast as lightning Rome in a day tour. The Eternal City is filled with historic sites that require more than a quick visit. One option is to just visit Vatican City. It is still a full day, but you get to truly experience Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.

If you have been to Rome, then there are lots of other wonderful half day tours that require less time on the bus. Truffle hunting, wine tasting, cooking classes, Ostia Antica, and others. Plus you will have time left over to tour Civitavecchia.

11. Venice, Italy

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Artisinal Paper Mache Mask, Venice Souvenir

Venice recently changed port requirements restricting cruise ships over 25,000 GRT (gross tonnage) forcing them to dock in Chioggia, Trieste, or Ravenna. These ports all have something to offer unto themselves, and range from one to two plus hours from Venice. Exploring the Adriatic Sea coastline is a lovely way to spend a few hours, so it is just a small hardship.

A walking tour around Venice is the best way to see this water centric city. Although completely touristy, a gondola ride will showcase the city’s beautiful architecture. Visit the Islands of Murano and Burano and enjoy the colorful homes and gorgeous hand blown glass. Make time to visit St. Mark’s Square & Doge’s Palace either on your own or with a tour.

Venice is one of my favorite cities. Walk beyond the Grand Canal and explore her hidden gems, little restaurants tucked into a side street along a forgotten canal and neighborhood piazzas filled with local families at work and play.

12 Taormina (Sicily), Italy

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Mount Etna

Ask a local where they are from and they will say ‘I am Sicilian first, Italian second.’ Beautiful and still not too overwhelmed with tourists, Taormina sits at the foot of Mount Etna. Sometimes the cruise ships sail by Mount Etna at night — plot your course and set your alarm for some stunning night shots of the towering volcano.

A Highlights of Taormina tour is a comfortable way to see the city. You can also take a bus tour to Mount Etna. For some exciting options, try an Etna 4×4 tour, helicopter tour, or hike the mountain with a guide (safety first!).

Excellent wines are being cultivated on the slopes of Mount Etna, worth a sip or two.

Mount Etna is an active volcano and depending on the current state of the eruptions, tours may not be advisable nor available.

13. Messina (Sicily), Italy

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions

Messina is a walkable city. If you want to ride, a highlights of Messina tour is a good choice. A Cape of Tindari tour and most, if not all, of the port of Taormina tours should be available.

14. Valletta, Malta

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Valletta, Malta

Malta, Valletta’s capital city, is a beautiful ancient port. Tour Malta’s highlights, historic Mdina, or sail to the Island of Gozo.

The beaches are small and difficult to access, but stunning to see. Watersports are king in the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

15. Corfu, Greece

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Kerkyra (Corfu) Harbor, Greece

Corfu is a playground island on the Ionian Sea. With rugged mountains and sandy beaches, you might want to stay more than a day.

In addition to the traditional highlights of … shore excursions, Corfu offers fun for the adventurous types. Options to tour with 4×4 vehicles, mountain biking, caving, and more. Alternatively relax on a quiet beach and swim in crystal turquoise waters.

16. Kotor, Montenegro

the best Mediterranean cruise excursions
Montenegro Fjords

The Montenegro fjords are a spectacular site. If your ship is sailing through them early in the morning — set your alarm and get up on deck — your morning coffee never had such a stunning view.

A Highlights of Montenegro tour provides gorgeous photo opportunities where you can grab a slice of memory of Kotor and beyond. Spend several hours at Jaz Beach in Budva where the sand is soft and the sun shines bright. Tour Budva, Perast, or Prcanj. Take a trip into the Montenegro countryside and explore the art of olive oil production — learn how to tell if your olive oil is truly the real thing.

Vendors Offering Tours

Most of the Mediterranean cruises offer their own shore excursion packages. These packages are selected by the cruise line based on their corporate criteria. In general, I prefer to choose excursions offered by the ship; it is seamless and there is staff onboard to assist with questions and changes.

Even if you book with your cruise line, they are not required to wait for a late excursion. However, I have seen two different lines (Oceania and AmaWaterways) wait for guests returning late. I was actually on a late excursion with AmaWaterways and was thrilled they waited for us.

Sometimes, I do choose to book my own options and try to ensure there is plenty of time to return to the ship before it sails. I also want to have a plan “B” — Uber, taxi, etc. When I book off ship I use Viator or Get Your Guide. Another great option is to grab a Big Bus Tour ticket, in large cities it is a fun and informative way to get the lay of the land. Check the tour company reviews and book thoughtfully.

Pro Tip: It doesn’t matter if you book with the cruise line or an independent tour agent, circumstances can happen and your tour can be changed, canceled, or delayed.

A Word About Medical & Other Insurance

There are many different types of trip insurance. Each traveler needs to consider their personal requirements and what each trip entails.

If you are on Medicare or other basic health insurance plans, you probably need medical insurance if you leave the US. I prefer Safety Wing which offers a variety of plans. If you are over 70 years old, Allianz is my preferred vendor.

Consider evacuation insurance if you are visiting a country that may not have the best medical facilities. Some health insurance plans offer medi-vac, but if they do not, MedJet is a great evac policy.

Also consider your tolerance for delays and cancellations. What are your requirements if your luggage or flight is delays? Do you need to cancel for any reason (CFAR)? This insurance is very expensive, but worth it if you have to cancel because your cat is sick. And yes, that was a question in one of my travel groups — actually the question was is a cat considered a family member? Hmmm….

Mediterranean Excursions

Explore Europe and the Mediterranean region to revel in her extraordinary beauty. Whether you sail on Oceania or one of the other wonderful cruise lines, the best Mediterranean cruise excursions for you will be the highlight of your cruise adventure.

Happy Travels,



the best Mediterranean cruise excursions

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  1. It’s a good way to see different places with the Mediterranean Cruise Excursions. I’ve heard so many stories about Malta that it’d be interesting to visit and explore.

  2. Wow! These Mediterranean cruise excursions look fabulous! I would love to do a Mediterranean cruise and visit some of these places. I love the pictures!