9 Awesome European Ports You’ve Never Heard Of

by Gayle Keck

9 Awesome European Ports You’ve Never Heard Of

by Gayle Keck

Whether you’re a veteran cruiser who’s done all the major routes, or a newbie who wants to avoid the crowds, these lesser-known ports have a lot to offer. We’re talking everything from gorgeous beaches to landmarks dating back to dates that end in B.C. Here’s our list of undiscovered ports you should know, including which ships will take you there.

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Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia / iStock / scanrail
Sète, France
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1. Sète, France

A small fishing town in the south of France, Sète offers café-lined canals, a lively covered market, and nearby beaches. From September to April, the dish to order is the local oysters.

A small fishing town in the south of France, Sète offers café-lined canals, a lively covered market, and nearby beaches. From September to April, the dish to order is the local oysters.

Kirkwall, Scotland
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2. Kirkwall, Scotland

This Orkney Islands capital is rich with standing stones and other archaeological sites dating to thousands of years B.C., plus the town itself is a historic charmer.

This Orkney Islands capital is rich with standing stones and other archaeological sites dating to thousands of years B.C., plus the town itself is a historic charmer.

Hvar, Croatia
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3. Hvar, Croatia

Celebs — including Prince Harry and Beyoncé — sneak off to this Dalmatian Coast island, known for beautiful beaches, city walls, and a Spanish fortress.

Celebs — including Prince Harry and Beyoncé — sneak off to this Dalmatian Coast island, known for beautiful beaches, city walls, and a Spanish fortress.

Akureyri, Iceland
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4. Akureyri, Iceland

Despite its location near the Arctic Circle, this town offers some of Iceland’s warmest weather — plus hot springs, mountain and fjord views, and a chance to see the Northern Lights.

Despite its location near the Arctic Circle, this town offers some of Iceland’s warmest weather — plus hot springs, mountain and fjord views, and a chance to see the Northern Lights.

Tallinn, Estonia
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5. Tallinn, Estonia

Opulent churches (some with "onion" domes) and a palace founded by Peter the Great make this UNESCO-designated city with 13th-century origins a haven for culture vultures.

Opulent churches (some with "onion" domes) and a palace founded by Peter the Great make this UNESCO-designated city with 13th-century origins a haven for culture vultures.

Monemvasia, Greece
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6. Monemvasia, Greece

It almost seems like time has forgotten this Peloponnese hamlet, which is built of stone with narrow pedestrian streets, hidden nooks, a Byzantine church, and medieval fortifications.

It almost seems like time has forgotten this Peloponnese hamlet, which is built of stone with narrow pedestrian streets, hidden nooks, a Byzantine church, and medieval fortifications.

Sognefjord
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7. Flåm, Norway

Located on the world’s deepest fjord, Flåm is surrounded by stunning scenery, including mountains and waterfalls. Take the 12-mile Flåm Railway to the top for spectacular views.

Located on the world’s deepest fjord, Flåm is surrounded by stunning scenery, including mountains and waterfalls. Take the 12-mile Flåm Railway to the top for spectacular views.

Lipari, Italy
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8. Lipari, Italy

In this colorful port, located in southern Italy, you can take in views of the smoking Stromboli volcano on a nearby Aeolian island, explore the castle, or chill at the beach, where lava formations enhance the scenery.

In this colorful port, located in southern Italy, you can take in views of the smoking Stromboli volcano on a nearby Aeolian island, explore the castle, or chill at the beach, where lava formations enhance the scenery.

La Rochelle, France
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9. La Rochelle, France

On France’s Atlantic coast, this city with 12th-century origins has a rich maritime and merchant history, evident in the massive towers guarding the Old Port and in lavishly decorated half-timbered houses.

On France’s Atlantic coast, this city with 12th-century origins has a rich maritime and merchant history, evident in the massive towers guarding the Old Port and in lavishly decorated half-timbered houses.

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