Empires of the Mediterranean map

The Eastern Mediterranean includes Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and the Republic of Cyprus. While each of these nations has its own distinct cultures and customs, they share much in common, and their history has been inextricably intertwined.

Here is the storied Cradle of Civilization, where early humans learned to cultivate crops for food and left behind their nomadic ways, giving rise to the greatest empires history has ever known … and leaving behind a treasure trove of historic relics, a feast for the senses, and one of the finest cruise destinations in the world.

Eastern Mediterranean Sights and Landmarks

Egypt’s port city of Alexandria is the gateway to Cairo. This ancient city is one of the most invigorating places you’ll ever experience, and seeing the magnificent Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx up close far surpasses anything you may have read about them.

From Piraeus, Greece, a short drive into Athens delivers you to the Erechtheion, on the Acropolis. This marble temple has come to symbolize civilization itself, having stood atop its imposing hill since 421 BC. It is an enthralling glimpse into early Greek culture.

Istanbul, Turkey’s Sultanahmet District is home to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar, the world’s largest covered marketplace. Ottoman treasures and Byzantine wonders appear around every corner in this scintillating city that straddles Europe and Asia.

The Port of Ashdod in Israel is an ideal hub for visits to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, considered holy ground to three of the world’s major religions. Ancient landmarks in these cities figure prominently in religious history, and each holds endless intrigue and wonder no matter your beliefs.

Eastern Mediterranean Entertainment and Activities

In Paphos, Cyprus, go horseback riding through the majestic hills along the sea or visit Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, home to 2,000-year-old mosaics and incredibly preserved amphitheaters.

In the port city of Rethymnon on the Greek island of Crete, an Old Town harkens back to the days of Venetian rule, anchored by a splendidly preserved fortress. The city’s stunning beaches are transformed into a sea of umbrellas in the heat of the Aegean sun, painting a stunning canvas of Greece at leisure.

Alexandria, Egypt is home to the Montazah Palace Gardens. These beautiful grounds comprised the personal gardens of King Farouk, the last of the Egyptian monarchs. Today, they are a quiet respite from bustling city life, tended to meticulously—just as they must have been in the days when royal fetes took place on these very grounds.

Athens, Greece is an ideal city to explore by bicycle. Indeed, some parts of the city are difficult to access any other way. Bicycle tour guides are known for being both knowledgeable and friendly, and they’re the perfect source for insider information.