Travelling the Eastern Mediterranean is a life changing event as you explore the cradle of civilization. The ancient Pyramids, the Acropolis, the ruins of Ephesus and the Blue Mosque are just some of the significant historical sights you can see in the region. There are many other pleasures too like excellent beaches, fabulous food and wine, stunning scenery and some unique shopping experiences. Take a look at this roundup of the fascinating Eastern Mediterranean for ideas on your next vacation.
The Greek Isles
- One of the world’s top destinations for all types of travellers, the Greek Isles offer everything you could want in a vacation: Sun, sand, scenery, history, excellent nightlife and glowing sunsets.
- Cruising is the perfect way to experience these magical isles. Viewing them from the sea, as they were by ancient mariners, is a dream experience, then go ashore and explore at a leisurely, Mediterranean pace. Discover such magical places as Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Crete.
- For more on cruising the Greek Isles and Eastern Med, see this month’s Cruising article.
- Mainland Greece will captivate you with its mix of archaeological sights and museums. How could you not be moved by experiences like standing at the top of the Acropolis in Athens, looking across the city where modern democracy was founded?
- There’s a wonderful culinary heritage here as well. Food and wine is meant to be enjoyed with friends leading to some very lively tavernas wherever you go. You’ll see fresh sea food hanging to dry on nets along the waterfronts. This could be your next meal!
- From the mountains of the north to the southern Peloponessos, often called the real Greece, there are many intriguing regions to visit. The mountaintop monasteries of Meteora; the spiritual centre of Delphi and ancient Olympia where the Olympic Games began are just a few of the important sights to see.
- Turkey is filled with highlights for travellers. From the therapeutic pools of Pamukkale, one of the natural wonders of the world, to the rock cut churches of the Cappadocia Region, there is much of interest for visitors.
- Straddling Europe and Asia is the city of Istanbul. It sits on the Bosphorus River, with Europe on the west side and Asia on the east. Here you’ll enjoy the majesty of the Topkapi Palace, the famous Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia, now a museum of Christian and Islamic art. The Grand Bazaar is more like a small town than a market. Home to 4,000 shops, along the miles of passageways you’ll come across mosques, police stations, banks and restaurants.
- Ephesus is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world. Dating back to the 12th Century BC, this thriving city had a population of 250,000 in Roman times. Notable sights include the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the well preserved Celsius Library, a favourite with visitors. For more on visiting Ephesus, see the Planning article.
The Near East
- At its most easterly, the Mediterranean borders the countries of Israel, Lebanon and Syria, countries off the beaten tourist track yet rich in history with much to offer visitors.
- Israel draws pilgrims to the holy land to visit biblical destinations like Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea and more.
- Israel’s Tel Aviv is a very popular resort destination right on the coast. In this cosmopolitan city English is widely spoken and the people are known for their friendliness. The fabulous beaches have warm, clear water and no rocks so swimming is comfortable. Cuisine is Mediterranean and delicious accompanied by local wines which are surprisingly good, both red and white.
- This is a place of legend. The Pyramids, Great Sphinx of Giza, Temple of Karnak, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankamun conjure images of Egypt’s spellbinding history.
- Modern Cairo is a bustling city with many museums and street markets of interest while coastlines from the Mediterranean to the coral reefs of the Red Sea offer some outstanding beach resort locations.
- Cruising the Nile River is a great way to see the interior of the country. Uniworld offers 9 and 13-day Nile sailings which they tell us are “like watching 5,000 years of culture unfold before your eyes. Marvel at the contrasts as you sail past simple villages surrounded by luxuriant palm groves, fertile plantations, romantic desert hills, lush oases, modern cities and ancient colonnaded temples and pyramids.”
The Eastern Mediterranean is one of the richest areas in the world for discovering ancient history. In this extraordinary region you’re sure to enjoy some of the most enriching and powerful experiences possible.
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