The Iberian Peninsular is full of historical gems, beautiful architecture and just about every port of call can be easily explored in one day on a luxury cruise holiday.
Each destination offers something different although many do have a very similar feel and atmosphere.
Also referred to as the Atlantic Coast, the Iberian Peninsular offers up destinations including Casablanca, Lisbon, Malaga, Bordeaux, Bilbao, Vigo, Opporto, Tangiers and Gibraltar.
Malaga is incredibly beautiful; pretty little boutique stores, charming café’s and exquisite churches await you around every corner here. In fact some of the most impressive architecture you may ever see will simply appear as if by magic from the corner of many a side alley.
Whilst here you must pay a visit to Mount Gibralfaro. Here the views across Malaga are breath-taking and on a clear, sunny day will offer stunning photograph opportunities.
The Church Of Santiago is also a must and is a perfect example of that mentioned above, where the most beautiful of buildings will just simply appear. The Church of Santiago incorporates elements from both Christian and Islamic tradition.
If you are hoping to do a little shopping then the main city is ideal for this, but the recently developed Marina is also home to some interesting stores and delicious restaurants and is just a short walk from the main cruise pier.
Casablanca is located at the very entrance to North Africa and is an ideal opportunity to glimpse into a place that is full of culture, fascinating history and one of the most impressive Mosque’s in the world.
The main attraction here is the Hassan II Mosque and even if you are not religious it is certainly worth visiting. The Mosque is the largest in the country, 7th largest in the world, and even at a distant glance it is easy to see why it is the country’s main landmark. Its minaret is the tallest in the world standing at a staggering 689ft and the light which graces the top of it points directly towards Mecca.
If you are hoping to pick up local goods then the Old Medina is the place to go. Built in the 19th century, the Accienne Medina is filled with narrow streets and stalls at every turn. Here you can buy everything from leather goods to Argan Oil and all at a reasonable price. The Medina is not far from the cruise pier and could easily be reached on foot.
Lisbon is a typical and bustling major European city and it has a lot to offer.
The sail into Lisbon up the Tagus River actually offer some of the best views of the city. As you make your entrance under the impressive 25th of April Bridge you will get your first glimpse of beautifully coloured houses, the Belem Tower, Monument to the Discoveries and the Cristo-Rei which was inspired by Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer.
Once ashore it is time to explore and the main city centre is a great place to start. The three main districts are Baixa, Bairro Alto and Alfama. There are old cobbled streets, vintage tram’s, numerous restaurants and café’s serving delicious treats like fresh lobster and buttery pastries and an energetic city centre that during the summer months is alive with tourists from all over the world.
Lisbon is not just about food and shopping though, you can uncover its history and passion for art by visiting the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Coach Museum or the Carmo Archaeological Museum.
Gibraltar may be small but she is a mighty cruise destination and aside from some fantastic shopping opportunities a trip to the famous Rock is an absolute must.
There are many taxi’s available outside the terminal building that will whisk you to the top of the Rock for a small fee, but if you have a full day in port it may be nice for you to walk to the cable car, which is accessible from the Grand Parade, and really get a feel for this wonderful port.
The views across the Moroccan Mountains and Algeciras Bay from the top of the Rock and wonderful and on a clear day you really can see for miles across North Africa. One thing to remember during your trip is that the Rock is also home to Barbary Apes and although they are very friendly they won’t think twice about snatching your camera or sunglasses if given the opportunity so please keep your valuables securely locked away inside your bag.
Shopping is also a big attraction here and leather, electrical goods, china, alcohol and jewellery are top of the list. The prices in Gibraltar are sometimes 50% cheaper than they are in the UK so make the most of your shopping opportunity here. It’s a great place to grab Christmas gifts if cruising later in the year.
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