There's no place I'd rather be than sitting at the table of a seaside boardwalk patio sipping an off-dry white, watching sailboats and yachts move slowly along the stark blue waters of the Mediterranean, wondering where people are from and where they're going.
Off to explore the ruins of Ephesus? The Treasury in Petra? The olive groves of Crete? For a gondola ride in Venice? From the tavernas of Chania in Crete to the crepe café at Villefranche-sur-Mer near Nice, portside cities have all the charm, culture and beauty that one can only dream of encountering.
This week, TripAtlas.com brings you to 10 Stunning Portside Cities along the eastern Mediterranean Sea that will inspire you and spoil you, all the same.
We also bring you the ports of Italy, France and Spain: 10 Top Portside Cities in the Western Mediterranean Sea.
Top 10 Portside Cities in the Eastern Mediterranean
So, what makes a great portside city? Clear waters that reflect the most unimaginable and intense hues of blue? Maybe cute little homes with walls washed in white or ivory. Great beaches and the freshest seafood?
If you're salivating already, be sure to read up on Acquainting Yourself with the Aegean Islands of Greece.
The 10 destinations that we chose as some of the best portside cities of the eastern Mediterranean Sea were picked because they're known by avid travelers to have beautiful sights, great beaches, restaurants with a view, history, culture, and great attractions for everyone: singles, couples, students, luxury travelers, and more.
So read on and adventure with us through the Eastern Mediterranean Sea!
10) Nessebar, Bulgaria. Voyage your way to one of the oldest towns in Europe and the finest beaches located on coast of the Black Sea (in the Eastern Mediterranean area, so it counts on this list!). Nessebar is where no less than 41 ancient churches once stood, and where a few of them continue to perch above the harbor. Nessebar draws a moderate crowd of vacation-goers looking for 3 and 4 star resorts, sandy beaches, a taste of antiquity, a small-town getaway, water skiing and surfing.
9) Yalta, Crimea. Yalta is best known for hosting the wartime Yalta or Crimea Conference in 1945 where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met. Today, Yalta boasts of sunbathing resorts, ancient Greek and medieval castles, mosques, monasteries and palaces. One such site is Swallow's Nest, a mock-medieval castle that stands overlooking the Ai-Todor cape of the Black Sea. Luckily, you'll find mainly Russian or Ukrainian tourists walking along the spacious boardwalks and enjoying the sunny beaches, rather than American tourists!
8) Limassol, Cyprus is another haven for sunning and swimming travelers, with the high-class hotels to accompany them. A bonus is that Limmasol is the base for most of Cyprus' wineries. It reminisces of a Miami Beach of the east with its palm trees, big hotels and walkways, but with a touch historical flavor from the churches, castles and sculptures that live to tell their stories. If you get the chance, visit Limassol during Carnival or during its Wine Festival for masquerades, free wine tasting and traditional folk dancing.
7) Kusadasi/Ephesus, Turkey. Kusadasi is located in northwest Turkey and facing the Aegean Sea, is known as a resort town. It is however, nearby to the cities of Izmir and the capital, Aydin. However, what draws people to Kusadasi is its proximity to the ancient cities of Ephesus, Miletus, Didim and UNESCO site, Hierapolis-Pamukkale, which boasts of massive limestone walls and hot springs.
6) Bodrum, Turkey. You would never know that this sleepy fishing village would turn into the artistic and academic soul of Turkey. Today, it is lined with yachts, sailboats and cruiseliners carrying travelers along the Turkish Riviera to see the Bodrum Castle or Castle of St. Peter, built by the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes and Malta. Bodrum was built on the ruins of the ancient city, Halicarnassus, and it's here that you'll find one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Mausoleum or Tomb of Mausolus, a governor of the Persian Empire.
5) Mykonos, Greece is the Cyclades' most popular island, attracting thousands of visitors every year. It is famous for its busy streets by day and buzzing nightlife at dark. Miniature churches, white washed homes, cafes, and giant seafood are what Mykonos boasts. Sights in Mykonos include its famous ivory towered windmills - as well as its nude beaches!
4) Corfu, Greece. Even Homer described Corfu, the emerald isle of Greece, as a "beautiful and rich land." Located off the west coast of the Greek peninsula, Corfu is one of Greece's Ionian islands and has been occupied by the Venetians, Turkish and French. You'll find great nightlife, umbrella'd beaches, lush green havens, vineyards, ancient fortresses, and olive orchards. Skip over to see the island of Othoni's cave, where Calypso was said to have kept Odysseus captive in Homer's The Odyssey.
3) Istanbul, Turkey is a city overflowing with history, sights, culture and things to experience. Once known as Byzantium and Constantinople, Turkey has been the center of Europe's forefront time and time again. Hundreds of monuments, castles, palaces, churches, synagogues, mosques and museums tell Istanbul's history, including the renowned Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. Don't miss out on the Turkish Baths!
2) Parga, Greece is located in the Epirus region of northwest Greece. Known as one of the finest port cities in all of Greece, Parga is ideally picturesque and one of the most enchanting towns in Greece. Its waters are filled with colourful boats looking on at Parga's sloping hill of multicoloured three-tiered homes. The town offers beaches, outdoor tavernas, and cafés for all the Greek coffee and ouzo you can drink. Private and secluded beaches are yours for the taking, and while you're in the area, don't forget to visit Nikopolis, a Roman city built by Octavian.
1) Ashdod/Jerusalem or Haifa, Israel. Ashdod is the seaport that brings you to your pilgrimage into the Holy Land: to Jerusalem. From here, pilgrims or travelers alike visit the stations of the cross, the Western or "Wailing" Wall, Mount of Olives, Bethlehem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Nazareth, Jericho, the Church of the Nativity, and other holy sites to Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions.
So, from us at TripAtlas.com to you - Bon Voyage!
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Gizelle Lau is a freelance writer & photographer in Toronto, Canada with a passion for food and travel.
Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: cities, culture, food/wine, paths-less-travelled, photography, wildlife