Why do we recommend this Mediterranean cruise package from Venice to Athens? Quite simply for the fantastic destinations you visit during the 10-day cruise.
Explore Italy, beautiful Croatia, and exciting ports in Turkey. Then follow the sun across the Aegean sea to Greece and her islands. Experience historic Athens before you fly home.
Many of these ports are bucket list destinations you should visit at least once. We show you how to create your cruise package with Norwegian Cruise Line for the ultimate European summer vacation.
Plan and book your Mediterranean cruise
This article will help you plan and book a 15-night cruise package. Booking your own holiday means you get the best value for money and have complete control over your reservation.
Start in Italy with two nights in Venice followed by two nights in Trieste, where you then begin a 9-night cruise on the Adriatic Sea to Croatia and the Greek Isles. Finish your vacation with two nights in Athens.
Hotel: 2 nights in Venice
Hotel: 2 nights in Trieste
Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line: Venice to Athens
Cruise Port: Embarkation: Port of Trieste
Name of Ship: Norwegian Viva – read more about the fantastic Norwegian Viva ships here!
Start Date: Departures from May to August (Tip! Cruise dates and itineraries are subject to change at any time. Check with Norwegian Cruise Line at the time of booking)
Length of Cruise: 9 days
Cruise Port: Disembarkation: Port of Athens, Greece
Hotel: 2 nights in Athens
Fly to Venice and home from Athens
You will need to book an open-jaw flight ticket to fit this itinerary. An open jaw means flying into one city and home from another. It differs from a “return” ticket to and from the same destination.
When making your flight reservation, book your ticket like this. Let’s say, for example, you are flying from New York:
Outbound flight ticket: New York to Venice (Venice Marco Polo Airport)
Inbound flight ticket: Athens to New York (Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport)
You should still book this as one ticket. Most often, you will get a better price booking one “open-jaw” ticket than booking two separate tickets (one for your outbound journey, another for your inbound trip). For more information about these types of flight tickets, please read our article here.
Enjoy Venice before you start your cruise
Decide how many nights you can spend in Venice before your cruise and choose your hotel. Search the price comparison sites such as booking.com to find the best price for your stay. We have a list of recommended hotels for cruise guests to help you decide where to stay in Venice.
Explore transfer options to travel from the airport to Venice island. Once you arrive, cars, taxis, and buses are not allowed beyond the central transport hub of Piazzale Roma. You need to walk or take the Vaporetto water boat to your hotel. Your hotel’s website often provides detailed information on the nearest Vaporetto stop to the hotel entrance.
Venice hosts travelers, holidaymakers, cruise ships, festivals, and galas throughout the year. Follow our Venice itineraries to explore this wonderful city before you start your cruise.
Transfer by train from Venice to Trieste
We recommend spending at least two nights in Trieste before you start your cruise so that you have time to enjoy the city and are close to your departure port on embarkation day.
It is easy to travel from Venice to Trieste by train. Purchase train tickets traveling to Trieste Centrale. The quickest journey is about 2 hours and costs around 15 euros per person.
If you are staying on the mainland in Venice, take the train from Venezia Mestre train station, which sits just across the canal from Venice island. But if you stay on Venice island itself, head to Venezia Santa Lucia train station
Find out how to search, plan and book train travel in Italy.
Where to stay in Trieste
Here are our top 4 hotel recommendations for your stay in Trieste. All are within a 15-minute taxi journey from Trieste central station. There are plenty of taxis outside the station but check the price with the driver. It should cost around 20 euros or more if you travel at night or on the weekend.
Embarkation day can be hectic, but staying in Trieste overnight removes the stress of getting from Venice to Trieste in time for your cruise departure.
Learn why we recommend Booking.com for hotel bookings.
1. Double Tree by Hilton Trieste
The Double Tree by Hilton hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the cruise port. There is a good selection of cafes and restaurants close to the hotel. Become a Hilton Honors member before booking for discounts and extra perks at check-in.
2. Savoia Excelsior Palace
This is an excellent hotel, architecturally stunning, right next to the cruise port near Piazza Unità d’Italia. Enjoy good service and friendly staff – everything you’d expect for a 4-star plus experience. Ask for a balcony room directly overlooking the pier for a beautiful view. And to top it all, their lounge has an excellent cocktail menu.
3. Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta
This small, intimate boutique hotel has good facilities and an excellent restaurant, Harry’s Piccolo. It’s located right on Piazza Unità d’Italia and has unbeatable views.
A popular feature includes a heated indoor pool in a city center location, and the hotel enjoys an excellent rating at Booking.com.
4. Hotel Continentale
Centrally located, the hotel Continentale is a 10-minute walk from the central train station in Trieste and 15 minutes from the cruise port. Some rooms are a little dated, but overall an excellent 4-star experience.
Discover the port city of Trieste
The average cruise guest for Venice often overlooks Trieste. Many travelers only transfer to Trieste when they need to board their cruise ship. However, Trieste is well-deserving of your time. Plus, staying here will be less expensive compared to Venice hotel prices.
Trieste, located in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, is the historic capital of the area. The architecture, cuisine, and languages reflect its multicultural diversity, a mixture of Mediterranean and central European heritage.
We love this little city.
The Trieste cruise port is located in the heart of the city, just a short walk from many of the city’s most popular attractions. The port is modern and well-equipped with several amenities for travelers, including a tourist information center and a variety of dining options.
Piazza Unità d’Italia (Unity of Italy square) is a great central starting point for exploring. This is the main square in Trieste and the city’s commercial hub. It is home to several historic buildings, including the Palazzo del Governo and the Clock Tower. It is also a popular spot for outdoor concerts and events and is right next to the cruise port.
During your time in Trieste, take the opportunity to explore the hiking and biking trails in the surrounding area, offering stunning views of the city and the Adriatic Sea.
9 nights Greek Isles cruise: Italy, Croatia & Greece with Norwegian Cruise Line
Time to cruise! Your Greek Isles cruise from Trieste, including nine more fantastic destinations in Italy, Croatia, and Greece, is finally here! Check out from your hotel and transfer to the Trieste cruise port terminal.
The easiest way to get from your hotel to the port (if you are not within walking distance)for your cruise is by taxi. Ask your hotel for help in making a reservation.
Before you leave home, we recommend that you download the Norwegian Cruise Line app onto your mobile telephone. It’s a great way to easily check in for your cruise, stay connected with family and friends on the ship, plan your activities, make reservations and see all that’s happening on board. And you do not need Wi-Fi to use it!
Day 1: Trieste
For information about getting to Trieste and the cruise port, and how to see the best of Trieste, visit our Trieste Cruise Port essential guide.
Day 2: Ravenna, Italy
Ravenna, located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, is a quaint, historic city located 150km south of Venice on the Adriatic Sea.
Proudly home to eight Unesco World Heritage monuments, the historical center of Ravenna is a charming maze of tiny streets packed with museums, parks, local cafes, restaurants, and local boutiques.
There are plenty of ways to spend one day in Ravenna. The city is the old capital of the Roman Empire, and we recommend booking a tour with a local guide to learn the history of Ravenna’s famous Byzantine Mosaics. You can also shop on the main streets of Via Cavour, Via Diaz, and Cairoli to find small artisan shops, local wines, and food.
Day 3: Split, Croatia
The beautiful city of Split on the Adriatic sea dates back to Roman times. It can get crowded in the narrow, winding city center streets and the pavements are cobbled, so wear good shoes.
Experience specialty coffee shops, seafood restaurants, and local cafes. If you are exploring on your own, start at the entrance to Diocletian Palace. It is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture.
Then walk to the cathedral, and climb the bell tower for a fantastic view over the city. Continue to the vibrant food markets, and you will get a glimpse of the lifestyle of the locals in this mesmerizing city.
Looming over the city is Marjan, a hilly forest region with walking trails, mountain climbing, and bike routes.
Split has numerous tiny, stony beaches along the ocean, ideal for swimming. Try Bačvice for a quick swim, just a short walk from the city center.
Day 4: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Quite possibly, our favorite stop on this cruise, despite all destinations being incredible, is Dubrovnik. Described as one of the most picturesque European cities, step into Dubrovnik’s traffic-free old city and admire the mixture of medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture.
This stunningly beautiful, thriving UNESCO World Heritage site is full of quaint shops, cafes, and local craft markets. Take time to explore the surrounding area, too, with beaches, sub-tropical vegetation, and pine woods covered in orange and lemon fruit trees,
We recommend booking a day tour with a trusted supplier offering a local guide.
Day 5: Corfu, Greece
Corfu is a real gem on this Greek Isles cruise itinerary. With its unique mountain range encircling small coves and hidden bays along its clear-blue coastline, you need to disembark your cruise ship early to make the most of your day here.
Getting to the old town by foot from Corfu port takes about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can find taxis and buses right outside after exiting the passenger cruise terminal upon arrival in port.
There are plenty of sightseeing trips that your cruise line can offer you. However, we recommend packing your hiking shoes for this port and exploring yourself.
Discover mountain villages amongst the olive groves, Venetian palaces, and secluded off-the-beaten-track coves.
The island has fantastic nature, just waiting to be explored. Take a backpack, refreshments, sunscreen, and sun hat, and explore on your own. Keep an eye on the time, so you make it back to your cruise ship before departure!
Day 6: Santorini
Your final stop on this cruise is the rocky island of Santorini, whose legendary beauty is indisputable.
Santorini is a tender port. The cruise ship will anchor in the bay and get you to the island on small tender boats. Cruise ships will often stay in the bay long into the evening, which means you can enjoy the breathtaking sunset.
Santorini is “the island that time forgot” and has a rich history of ancient Greeks who lived in caves carved into volcanic rock. It is known for using volcanic rock and lava in jewelry and beauty products. They make great souvenirs to take home with you.
Explore both Fira and Oia
It is possible to visit both Fira and Oia during your port stop at Santorini.
Book a ship excursion or a tour with an independent supplier if you need help with transportation and are unable to walk far. One of our favorite excursions in Santorini is with Viator, in particular Santorini Delight: The Perfect Day from Your Cruise Ship. The meeting point for the tour is at the top of the cable car in Fira Town. Once you arrive on shore from your cruise tender boat, but a cable car ticket and the booth for 6 euros per person and take the 3-minute ride to the top. Your guide will be waiting for you.
Santorini gets hot and crowded, with many cruise ships arriving at the port in high season. Queues can be long, so come prepared with sunscreen, a hat, and a water bottle. An ideal combination is a half-day private tour followed by a half-day exploring yourself.
If you want to explore without a guide, you can get to the capital, Fira, from the port by cable car. Buy cable car tickets for 6 euros per person when you arrive at the ticket booth. There is the option of a donkey ride however many cruise guests do complain of the treatment of these donkeys for transporting guests and we like to avoid this option altogether when visiting.
As an alternative to the cable car, there are about 600 steps to climb up and down again to the tender port. We cannot stress enough the importance of wearing good walking shoes if you intend to use the steps. It can get a little slippery in places, and the walk down can be quite tough.
Fira offers art, jewelry, local crafts, and fantastic vineyards.
Walking to Oia from Fira is impossible as it will take too long (the 10km hike takes around 4 hours). A taxi takes about 15 minutes and costs around 40 euros, alternatively hop on a local bus from central Fira.
Visit Oia and experience a little piece of paradise
Oia, a beautiful village of white-washed houses, is located on the north-western tip of Santorini. It is a half-hour bus ride from Fira. We usually recommend that you start your day in Oia by hopping on a local boat from the port to Oia when you first arrive by tender. When the boat drops you off in Oia, it’s just a short bus ride to the center. You can then catch a local bus back to Fira to use the cable car to return to the port.
Oia is famous for its sunsets. Look out over the roofs of the famous Blue Domed Churches, probably one of the most well-known images of Santorini.
Note that the areas around these churches are private, so you cannot walk too close, watch out for the private property signs and respect these. If you have time, walk down the cliffside from the town to Ammoudi Bay Harbor. A beautiful, cozy waterside bay with excellent seafood!
If you are looking for a beach day, the most famous are Black Beach and Red Beach. These are so named for their colorful stones derived from volcanic rock.
A private excursion is an great way to discover Santorini. Starting with a boat tour as soon as you get to the island, you avoid the queues for the cable car ride up to Fira. Viator's Santorini Private Scenic Shore Excursion: Oia, Mt Profitis and Ilias Monastery is an excellent tour that includes the boat ride followed by a private car to Fira. You visit Profitis Ilias, the highest peak on the island. The views are spectacular and your local guide can tell you all about the history of the island. You will than be taken onto Oia. At the end of the day, you are transferred back to Fira to get the cable car back down to the port area ready for your tender boat back to the ship.
Day 7: Kusadasi, Turkey
Kusadasi is a charming seaside resort on the west coast of Turkey. It’s a major port for all the large cruise ships. An excursion to nearby Ephesus is not to be missed at this port of call.
The ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus stand on the coast of Ionia and is just 30 minutes from the port. We highly recommend a cruise line shore excursion to this destination. Local tour guides accompany you for a fantastic insight into the story and historical significance of the ruins.
Ephesus is home to some of the best-preserved ancient ruins in Turkey, including the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Library of Celsus. Visitors can also explore the well-preserved Roman streets and visit the ancient theater, which has a seating capacity of over 25,000.
In addition to the ancient ruins, Ephesus is also home to various museums and cultural attractions, including the Ephesus Museum and the House of the Virgin Mary. Whether you are interested in history, archaeology, or simply soaking up the local culture, a visit to Ephesus is a fantasy shore excursion for anyone visiting the port in Kusadasi.
Day 8: Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is a vibrant and historic city known for its stunning architecture, rich culture, and delicious cuisine. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan your shore excursion, especially during a one-day cruise stop at the port.
However, these are a few highlights you won’t want to miss during your short visit to the city.
The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a stunning example of Ottoman architecture and is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The mosque’s interior is adorned with beautiful blue tiles, hence its name. It is open every day except during prayer times. Book your tickets before you travel to avoid long queues.
Explore the Grand Bazaar, a huge covered market in the heart of Istanbul, home to thousands of stalls selling everything from souvenirs and jewelry to textiles and spices. It’s a great place to browse, shop and buy keepsakes to bring home.
Take a boat tour on the Bosphorous, the narrow strait that separates the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. A boat tour is a great way to see the city from a different perspective and visit some landmarks along the way, including the Dolmabahce Palace and the Rumeli Fortress.
Visit the Hagia Sophia, a historic building that has served as a church, mosque, and museum over the centuries. It is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture and is home to a wealth of art and artifacts. Visitors can take a guided tour of the building to learn more about its history and see its stunning interior.
Enjoy a traditional Turkish lunch during your excursion. Istanbul is known for its delicious cuisine and countless restaurants and cafes to choose from. Try traditional Turkish dishes such as kebabs and baklava.
Day 9: Mykonos Greece
Mykonos is our favorite Greek island with its simple, white-washed houses, beautiful beaches, and friendly locals.
This is a tender port, meaning that your cruise ship is anchored in the bay, and you are tendered to shore onboard a smaller boat. It’s a short journey.
You will get off the cruise ship quicker if you book an excursion with your cruise line. Otherwise, call your tender boat ticket as early as possible from the customer service personnel on board.
If you want to explore Mykonos on your own, you can walk to Mykonos Town from your boat’s arrival point.
The town offers a charming maze of traditional white stone houses and narrow streets lined with shops peddling everything from designer sunglasses to elaborate lace tablecloths.
There are also many restaurants serving up traditional Greek food and snacks and, of course, delicious Greek coffee.
The island is a magnet for travelers from all over the world, with its beautiful beaches like Platis Gialos and Paraga Beach – both considered some of Europe’s finest stretches of sand.
In addition, you can visit famous attractions such as the Blue Caves (also known by their Turkish name, the Limani).
Mykonos is a popular destination for celebrities and is famous as an artists’ colony with many galleries showcasing everything from paintings to sculptures.
Day 10: Athens
After your last breakfast on board, disembark your cruise ship at the Port of Piraeus outside of Athens. Book a transfer to your hotel in central Athens. We recommend at least two nights in Athens. However, if you also plan to visit Olympia, you will need a whole extra day for this excursion.
Follow our two days Athens guide for great itineraries, hotel options, and much more to make the most of your time in this beautiful city. You’ll find detailed itineraries, including:
Transport options to Athens International Airport
Here are the transport options you have to get to Athens International Airport – officially called Athens Eleftherios Venizelos – from your city center hotel:
Airport Shuttle Buses
Athens has an excellent bus system if you travel on a budget and want to save money. The bus is the cheapest option, but the trip can take up to 60 minutes, depending on traffic conditions in Athens.
Syntagma Square is the most central stop in the city. Purchase bus tickets from your hotel concierge to board the bus. The fare is 6 euros per person and half price for children under 18.
Taxi or Uber
A taxi or Uber ride will cost you about €50 and takes approximately 40 minutes. This is the most expensive option; however, you don’t have to carry your luggage and get door-to-door service straight from your hotel. If you are four people traveling together, this will be the most convenient option and the best value for money.
Be sure to ask your hotel to arrange an official taxi for you. Never take a cab from someone who approaches you offering you a journey.
Another alternative is the metro station that will give you easy access to Athens airport from Athens City Center (Syntagma).
The trains depart the station (Syntagma) frequently. When you arrive at the airport, use the elevated walkway to get to your departure terminal. A single ticket costs €10 per person.