Beautiful things often come in the smallest of packages and nowhere is this the case more than in the ports of the Mediterranean. While the vast cities of Rome, Barcelona and Kotor attract eager explorers year after year, there is also real beauty to be found in some of the Mediterranean’s tiniest destinations. Here is our pick of the pretty yet petite ports that are calling out to be explored on a Mediterranean itinerary this summer.
Located on the southern coast of Cyprus, Limassol benefits from year-round sun and is a unique destination where old meets new. Aphrodite, Alexander the Great and Cleopatra are all reported to have staked their claim on Limassol and it is easy to see how the small but perfectly formed city captured their hearts.
Those in search of the city’s more cosmopolitan side should head to the seafront promenade, where restaurants serve authentic Cypriot fare including the obligatory meze of feta, halloumi and hummus.
Limassol’s Roman roots are on display across the city and a visit to the ruins of Amathus, Limassol’s well-preserved amphitheatre, is a must. Kolossi Castle and the city’s many Byzantine churches are very photogenic, as are the cobbled streets, vineyards and ancient olive groves that are spread across the city.
Even at 64km2, Haifa is Israel’s largest port and third biggest city. The vibrant destination is considered one of the Middle East’s most picturesque cities and is deserving of its ever-increasing popularity as a port of call.
Mount Carmel dominates the Haifa skyline and its hillsides are scattered with neighbourhoods, all of which offer something new to the last. Ride a cable car from the beach to the peak of the mountain and relax with a cold drink and a spectacular view. The world famous Bahá’í Gardens decorate the northern slope of the mountainside in stunning fashion; a staircase of 19 terraces leading to the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb that sits in the garden’s centre. The Bahá’í Gardens are considered holy as the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í faith and attract many pilgrims of the faith. Those who visited are rewarded with the most breathtaking of views across Haifa, the Galilee Hills and the Mediterranean Sea.
Haifa is known to attract avid divers thanks to the shipwrecks that sit just off the coast, whilst the city’s Carmel Beach is popular for water sports.
Perched just off Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is Hvar, an island on which beautiful people live and to which even more beautiful people flock each and every summer. Mega-yachts more in the harbour; Hollywood’s A-list dine in restaurants overlooking the sea; and white sandy beaches are littered with perfectly bronzed bodies. Hvar is the new St Tropez and it is looking more glamorous than ever.
Dine on pizza in the piazza, where you can sit in the shade of the imposing St Stephen’s Cathedral. The city is bordered with ancient walls and overlooked by a Spanish fortress, its hillsides dominated by droves of vineyards, olive groves and fields of lavender.
Hvar’s coastline is made up of a combination of pebbly bays to the south and white sandy beaches to the north, with crystal clear blue seas lapping the shore on both sides of the island; it is easy to see why the island is often recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful. Make the most of the azure waters with a scuba diving trip in the Pakleni Islands which sit just of Hvar’s coast.