CRUISE IBERIA; SEE THE CHANGE

Cutting edge style on show in Valencia

Cutting edge style on show in Valencia

If the appeal of conventional, week long ‘Meddy-Go-Round’ cruises from Barcelona, Venice or Athens is beginning to pale for you, then you could do a lot worse than consider another seven day alternative that has slowly but surely grown in popularity over the past five years or so; a seven day jaunt around the highlights of the Iberian peninsula.

Many of these run in the early to mid Autumn months, and some encompass all the scenic highlights as part of a repositioning voyage. But however it is done, there are some stunning visual sights along the way that are well worthy of your consideration.

Valencia is an amazing city, a unique mix of old world overkill and stunningly modern, free form architecture. It’s also the birthplace of authentic paella. Cartagena has a sublime, yacht studded harbour, some fabulously over the top Art Nouveau architecture, and broad, sunlit plazas thronged with street cafes and good fish restaurants.

There’s Cadiz, with its magnificent old fortifications and wide, sandy beaches drummed by surging Atlantic rollers. A city so beloved of Francis Drake that he burned it twice, sending in his fireships in delaying attacks against the slowly massing Spanish Armada. Today, the long silent cannons still point out to sea, as if expecting him to return at any moment.

There’s also matchless, magnificent Malaga. The perfect jump off place for sunny, cosmopolitan Marbella, or the yacht studded hedonistic splay of Puerto Banus. But Malaga itself has more than enough charm to hold your attention, with an elegant and inviting waterfront, and easy access to the fabled Moorish masterpiece that is the Alhambra,

Costa offers up Iberia in sizzling Italian style

Costa offers up Iberia in sizzling Italian style

By way of a contrast, there’s sunny, British accented Gibraltar, with its famous rock and Barbary apes. The amazing series of defensive tunnels, hewn into the rock, are a definite highlight of any time spent here. The fish and chips are not too bad, either.

And last, but far from least, comes the always gorgeous panorama that is the Lisbon waterfront. Spread along the vast, winding sprawl of the River Tagus, the  stately, elegant capital of Portugal has such wonderful sights as the Belem Tower, Edward VII gardens and the famous Alfama district to tempt you into staying longer

. WHO GOES THERE: For a big, contemporary European megaship experience with all the bells, whistles and fun of a magnificent floating resort, choose from either Costa or MSC Cruises. Still want continental chic, but not so big? Consider Spanish operator, Pullmantur. This has the advantage of being an all inclusive product. And if you like your sailing to be resolutely British, check out Thomson Cruises for some good, tempting itineraries next year. Enjoy.

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