Hidden highlights to explore on a Mediterranean Cruise

Join us on a Mediterranean cruise taking in seven wonderful destinations – Barcelona, Genoa, Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon, Gibraltar and Alicante. Each city has much to offer, but if you’d like to explore some lesser known corners, as well as some well known highlights, here are some ideas for the places you might visit.


Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city and the capital of the Catalonia region. One of its most famous landmarks is Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished church of the Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction since 1882, with a planned completion date of 2026.

To get  away from the tourist-orientated areas of the city, explore the district of Raval, whose maze of streets offer fashionable and unique shops.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by Maradentro_

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona


Genoa is an historical Italian city and the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, the explorer who discovered the Americas. The home where he was allegedly born is in an area known as the Piazza De Ferrari, where the Teatro Carlo Felice Opera and Palace of the Doges is also located.

To search out a tasty treat, explore Recco to the east of Genoa, the birthplace of cheese focaccia, where cheap and delicious focaccia bread is served on the seafront.


Alcazaba in Malaga


Malaga is in the Spanish region of Andalusia and enjoys a subtropical climate. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and is surrounded by mountains to the north, the harbour to the south and two rivers, the Guadalmedina and the Gualdhorce.

For a view over the city try the Alcazaba, a Moorish fortress that enjoys wonderful views of the Plaza de Toros and the port. Perfect for lazy afternoons when other attractions may be closed.


Cadiz is a seaport to the south of Spain and has been the main homeport of the Spanish navy since the 18th century. Commonly known as Casco Antiguo (Old City), it is many narrow streets, which connect a number of stunning plazas.

For a break from city sightseeing seek out the Donana National Park to the north of the province, the largest Natural Park in Spain and home to a range of wildlife.


Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and the most populated city in the country. The most popular area for shopping, entertainment and nightlife is Bairro Alto, where Portugal’s national song Fado, can still be enjoyed. The monument Cristo Rei overlooks the whole city and resembles the Corcovado monument in Rio de Janeiro.

Off the beaten track , you’ll find Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, home to an esteemed art collection and surrounded by serene and beautiful gardens.

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon


Gibraltar lies at the entrance to the Mediterranean and is an overseas British controlled territory at the end of the Iberian peninsular. Its famous landmark is the Rock of Gibraltar with its upper area covered by a nature reserve, which is home to over 200 Barbary Macaques, the only wild monkeys found in Europe.

For a different perspective, the World War II Seige and St Michaels Cave’s are popular with tourists, but enquire at the Rock Hotel about ways to see more of the tunnels.

St Michael's Cave, Gibraltar

St Michael’s Cave, Gibraltar


Alicante is an historic Mediterranean port that is overlooked by the Castle of Santa Barbara, which sits on Mount Benacantil. The Explanada de Esparia is a tree-lined promenade where concerts often take place and the El Palmeral Park is a great place to relax by the lakes, enjoy a picnic or take a stroll.

To escape the bustle, the Old City has some stunning architecture, ‘Spanish colonial’ style buildings and streets that are generally quiet.

My thanks for this article to www.Travel247.ie, an Irish owned tour operator that specialises in Mediterranean Cruises and package holidays globally.

Photo Credits: Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by Maradentro, Alcazaba in Malaga by Manuelfloresv, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian by Sheilaellen, St Michael’s cave, Gibraltar by Mouseshadows

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

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  • Reply
    Barbara Weibel
    April 7, 2011 at 2:29 am

    I’ve actually been to all of these with the exception of Barcelona and Alicante, but by ground. The idea of visiting by cruise sounds intriguing, especially given the high cost of accommodations in Barcelona.
    Barbara Weibel´s last blog post ..Chiang Khong- Thailand – Border Town with Benefits

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 5:41 am

    I did not rate Gibraltar when I went, but I must of missed the caves that you mention.
    Natalie´s last blog post ..20 Black and White Pictures of Turkey

  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    April 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Unlike Barbara – I’ve never been to any of these places!! But I would definitely like to go see them – they look lovely. Plus – it appears that you can cover a lot of ground taking the cruise – a good alternative.
    Sherry Ott´s last blog post ..signs

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I’ve never travelled to these facinating places, but can imagine taking a cruise would be the best way to relax and enjoy this beautiful part of the world. Love your photos.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Hi, Heather!

    I thought the Alcazaba was the sort of satellite fort lower down, in the town; the one on top of the hill, from where you can see the bullring is called Gibalfaro.

    Maybe I got it wrong … ?
    Keith´s last blog post ..Oman Video

  • Reply
    April 8, 2011 at 3:08 am

    I’m excited I found your blog, I’m a subscriber now. I’m excited to go on my first Mediterranean cruise this summer. I really want to see Barcelona I’m really in love with its architecture and can’t wait to see it in person.
    Carol´s last blog post ..The Banana Blast Smoothie

  • Reply
    Nicole @ WomanSeeksWorld
    April 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Ive never done a cruise before, but am curious now – thanks for an insightful post!
    Nicole @ WomanSeeksWorld´s last blog post ..Top 5 Stations For Art On The London Tube Network

  • Reply
    April 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Really interested by your article and more generally your blog.
    I had the chance to go to Barcelona and it’s an awesome city with very particular architecture.
    Thank you.
    Tiffany´s last blog post ..Air France Shuttle

  • Reply
    mediterranean cruise - BLUE CRUISE GUIDE – BLUE CRUISE GUIDE
    April 9, 2011 at 6:59 am

    […] Hidden highlights to explore on a Mediterranean Cruise | Heather … Description : on a mediterranean cruise taking in barcelona, genoa, malaga, cadiz, lisbon, gibraltar and alicante you’ll find some lesser known corners, as well as some well known highlights to visit. Tags : mediterranean cruise, barcelona, genoa, malaga, cadiz, lisbon, gibraltar, alicante, europe, spain, portugal, http://www.heatheronhertravels .. […]

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    April 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    @ Keith – you’ve probably got it right, as this was a guest article, the writer could be mistaken. I have a friend in Malaga and I’ll ask her to check.

    @ Carol – I love Barcelona for the Gaudi, I’m sure you’ll have a great time on your cruise

  • Reply
    Hotel in Barcelona
    November 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    All these cities have a special personality. So, sure you´ll find enough attractions.

    Barcelona is a must-see. Barcelona is cosmpolitan, Mediterranean, funny, passionate… if you want to discover a different place Barcelona might be your city.

    You don´t need to know about architecture nor art to feel impressed by Barcelona. It’s full of places where to enjoy such movements as Modernism and Gothic.

    Also Barcelona is very well known for its charming gastronomy and life. Try how many tapas you´re able to eat!

    And finally you can find beaches, mountains and entertainment options all around the city.

    • Reply
      November 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm

      @ Hotels in Barcelona – I know there are many faces to Barcelona to enjoy

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