Charming European Ports Only A Small Ship Can Go To With APT
There are some places the bigger ships simply can’t go. That’s where APT’s Small Ship Cruises raise the benchmark. Offering the perfect balance between the spacious comfort of a large ocean liner and the boutique advantages of a smaller vessel, their exclusive fleet of small ships grant access to some of Europe’s most pristine and untouched ports.
Imagine stepping ashore right in the centre of town – often free of the hustle of typical tourist crowds – for a truly intimate and authentic immersion at each port of call. When you embark on a small ship cruise, the possibilities open up. Discover a whole new take on Europe’s beautiful landscapes, cultures and top attractions.
Here’s a glimpse at just some of the charming ports that only a small ship cruise can take you to.
It’s not hard to see why French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte chose Elba as his place of exile. It’s beautiful and wild; the cliffs are stunning, mountains covered in chestnut and olive trees and the rolling plains dominated by vineyards.
Despite being Italy’s third largest island, it remains a peaceful and quiet enclave of everyday Italian life. A wander through the historic streets inside the fortress walls offers a rich taste of history. Admittedly, it tastes better by the glass; Elba has long been a producer of beautiful Tuscan wines and there are generations-strong family wineries dotted all over the island.
Beyond that, Elba is all beautiful beaches, sublime panoramic views and hiking trails.
Soak up in Italian vibes in Elba.
Port de Soller, Spain
A beautiful horseshoe harbour provides the perfect backdrop for this picturesque Mediterranean village on the Balearic Island of Mallorca. Surrounded by the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Serra de Tramuntana, expect magnificent mountain scenery in one direction and dreamy ocean vistas in the other.
Anchoring off Port de Soller, step ashore in the centre of this traditional Majorcan town – a place to relax, with a shallow beach and café-laden promenade. One of the most popular things to do on a day at port however is the vintage tram ride – passing through citrus-filled gardens – to the stylish and cosmopolitan capital Palma, home to a stunning 13th century cathedral, a former Arabic fort, hilltop Gothic castle and an interesting and very modern art museum.
Mallorca is also paradise for walkers; the island flaunts many spectacular hikes, including the walk up to Mirador de ses Barques, where stunning whole-island panoramas await.
Port de Soller.
Itea, Corinth Canal, Greece
No other port in Greece can get you this close to the incredible site of Delphi – one of the ancient wonders of classical Greece and the holy sanctuary of Apollo. It’s just a short 20 minute ride away and on every cruise that pulls in, it’s a not-to-be-missed excursion.
Join the trip to explore the archaeological remains as they stand scattered along the southern slopes of Mount Parnassos, with magical views looking out over the valleys below. There’s a palpable sense of power and mysticism that has to be felt to be believed.
Once considered the centre of the world, Delphi is home to the esteemed Oracle of Delphi, the Temple of Apollo, an ancient theatre and stadium, plus treasuries and the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia – dating back to the Neolithic period, around the 4th century BC.
In Itea itself, there are several fine beaches to enjoy.
Don't miss the incredible excursion to the sacred site of Delphi.
Douarnenez, Locronan, France
Lacronan is one of the most picturesque medieval villages in France – charming and unspoilt. With 2000 years of history to its name, it’s a haven of remarkable architecture and atmospheric street scenes and thankfully, it’s cut off to traffic so it’s a pedestrian-only affair that’s easy to navigate in a day.
Traces of its golden age are to be found in its solid granite Renaissance houses with traditional roofs, lining the cobbled streets. Highlights include the many little art galleries, the 15th-century grandiose St Ronan church – a fine example of flamboyant 15th century art – and the cobbled Place de l’Eglise – one of the France’s best preserved medieval squares.
To top it off, the locals are friendly and welcoming.
Nordfjord, Olden, Norway
Nordfjord is region dominated by glittering fjords, towering mountains, beautiful lakes, green valleys and blue glaciers. At the end of the 150-kilometre stretch from Norway’s wild ocean waters to Europe’s biggest mainland glacier, cruise into the little village of Olden.
Olden itself is full of character, gorgeous scenery and local foodie experiences. But it’s mostly famous as the gateway to the mighty icefields of the Jostedal Glacier. Here, natural beauty takes centre stage. With so many glaciers on its doorstep, there’s an abundance of waterfalls and emerald lakes to admire too.
On the cultural side, Olden boasts an interesting folk museum and some gorgeous old churches to admire.
Olden is pristine the gateway to the stunning Europe's largest mainland glacier.
It’s one of Poland’s oldest cities and with centuries of maritime comings and goings, a cruise is the iconic way to stop by. Gdansk exudes a unique feel compared to the rest of the country, with so many influences over the course of its history.
There are some important historical attractions to tick off, starting with the Royal Way – the famous promenade street of Polish kings – as well as historic cathedrals, 17th century monuments and town squares. The impressive mansion, Artus Court, also impresses – a symbol of the city's power in the 16th and 17th centuries and home to a museum – as does the architecture dating as far back as the Middle Ages.
The modern edge of Gdansk sees a plethora of cool cafes play out – plus modern shops among the colourful facades of the cobbled Main Town centre, an area which, in parts, had to be reconstructed after WWII. For these reasons and more, Gdansk remains one of the greatest ports on the Baltic Sea, yet blissfully free of the big cruise ship crowd.
There's an interesting ensemble of historic attractions to tick off in Gdansk.
Images by courtesy.