Looking for beautiful beaches and incredible historic sites? Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean on the west all the way to Asia on the east, the Mediterranean is home to all that and more, with a wide variety of food, nature and culture to boot. You can explore many of the world’s most popular destinations here, like Greece, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, many of them known for great weather year-round.
When you cruise to the Mediterranean with Royal Caribbean, what you have in store is a variety of ships of all sizes and with a lineup of experiences for everyone, different destinations and several departure cities to choose from.
Want to island-hop in Greece, visiting hotspots like Santorini and Mykonos? Or would you rather take in ancient Roman architecture in Italy, like the Colosseum in Rome? Prefer to taste your way through the rich flavors of France? A Royal Caribbean cruise can make all of that happen, and then some.
From lush islands to sandy beaches, rolling hills to rocky mountains, cultural landmarks and medieval towns, there’s plenty to discover in the Mediterranean. Get a jumpstart on your vacation with these 10 fun facts:
1. Greece is made up of about 6,000 islands and islets, though only 227 of these are inhabited. However, each one has its own history, culture and unique landscapes. Speaking of history, Greece is also home to 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including many that are world famous like the Acropolis of Athens and the Temple of Apollo that you can visit in Delphi.
2. Corfu is one of the greenest islands in Greece, and its lush landscapes feature millions of olive trees and thousands of species of plants and herbs, including several rare orchids. It’s also home to more than 300 species of birds. Exploring it by bike is one of the best ways to discover its beautiful natural scenery, like on the popular 5.3-mile trail from Lefkimmi to the quiet beach of Arkoudilas.
3. Marseille, France, the country’s largest port and the second largest in the Mediterranean, is best known for its fresh seafood and history dating back to classical Greece. It’s also increasingly becoming famous for its hip-hop scene, thanks to talented artists like Jul and Keny Arkana. How about hitting up a great spot for live music—many of which are around Place Thiars—while you’re there to hear it for yourself?
4. The Cote d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, stretches from St-Tropez to the French-Italian border. One of the greatest perks? It gets about 300 days of sun every year, which makes it a popular destination at any time. Soak up its plentiful rays for yourself at one of its many world-famous beaches, like Plage de la Réserve in Nice.
5. In ancient Rome, it seems there were residences that had central heating, indoor plumbing and even heated floors. Inventions that can also be traced back to the Romans include concrete, newspapers and sewer systems. Take in centuries of history when you tour the many ancient Roman buildings and palaces in the city, including Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini and the Baths of Caracalla.
6. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba is widely believed to be the world’s first pizzeria, supposedly having opened its doors in Naples, Italy, in 1738. And not only is the restaurant historic, but its pizzas are also delicious. Get a taste for yourself and drop in for their wood-fired slices that are baked in an oven lined with lava rocks from nearby Mount Vesuvius (the volcano that erupted in 79 A.D. and buried Pompeii under its ashes) or take a pizza-making class to learn how to toss your own authentic Neapolitan pie.
7. Believe it or not, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of several leaning buildings in town: The Basilica of San Nicola and the bell tower at the Church of San Michele degli Scalzi, also both in Pisa, Italy, each have similar tilts caused by the unstable soil in the area. Climb up the almost 300 steps of the Leaning Tower for breathtaking views of the city.
8. While Barcelona, Spain, is ranked a top travel destination year over year, many would be surprised to hear that its famous beaches didn’t exist until 1992. The city revamped its coastline (including importing sand from Egypt to cover a little over a 2-mile stretch) ahead of hosting the Olympics that summer. Check the seashores out for yourself at Barceloneta—often considered the Miami Beach of Spain.
9. Malaga in Spain was built by the Phoenicians in the 7th and 8th centuries B.C., which makes it one of the oldest cities in the world. You can still see some of the original city walls in the cellar of the Museo Picasso Malaga, which was built to honor the city’s most famous native: Pablo Picasso. Stroll through the museum—which also happens to be Picasso’s birthplace—to view over 285 of his works all donated by members of his family.
10. Despite sitting on a narrow peninsula on Spain’s southern coast, Gibraltar is a British overseas territory. South of it you’ll find the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea joins with the Atlantic Ocean and where Spain nearly touches Africa—which is just 8 miles wide at its narrowest point. Head out for a scenic drive and see if you can spot Africa—or, at the very least, the area’s most famous attraction, the Rock of Gibraltar.
Inspired to experience all the Mediterranean has to offer? Explore the Royal Caribbean cruises that will take you to this wish-list-worthy part of the world here.