Eastern Europe is the latest traveling fad among history buffs and adventurers, and a Black Sea cruise is the perfect way to travel back in time to the old world charm of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. You will find rest for your soul in the sunny Crimean Coast, adventurous activities in Istanbul's imperial mosques, and mingle with the greatest artists and writers of all time in Odessa. Some of the most intriguing ports of call in the Black Sea include:
Istanbul: Highlights of Istanbul include a visit to the Grand Bazaar, Turkey's largest covered market, where you'll discover treasures galore of jewelry, carpets, gold and much more. You'll tour the Suleymaniye Mosque, world renowned as the most stunningly beautiful imperial mosque of Istanbul. Your senses will be delighted at the Egyptian Spice Bazaar with exotic and ecclectic scents. And don't miss the famous Blue Mosque or Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Nesebur: Medieval churches and winding cobblestone lanes await you here, dotted with architectural buildings boasting facades of ceramic discs and rosettes. Romance has certainly not gone out of style here, with its Balkan churches and flowering gardens.
Odessa: Pretty pastel buildings, warm waters and sun-bathed beaches beckon visitors here, attracting hundreds of thousands of world travelers, and for good reason. The Art Nouveau, ornate French architecture and white stone buildings embedded with seashells give one a feeling of opulance and old world charm. It's no wonder this gem is often referred to as the "Pearl of the Black Sea."
Yalta: This charming seaside resort with a backdrop of mountain peaks is the highlight of a Black Sea cruise. It was a favourite among Russian czars, with tours available in many of their palaces. The White Palace in Livadia was the former Romanov vacation home. Don't miss the Chekhov House museum and garden while you're here, and take some time to see the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens on a hilltop just outside of Yalta.
Varna: This romantic riviera town is a shipyard and port, decorated with Baroque architecture and shady promenades. It will take you back in time with its seaside gardens and vineyards, but it also has a cosmopolitan feel. The oldest gold treasure in the world was discovered here years ago; no wonder this was a playground for Romanian royalty.
Trabzon: The largest port on the Black Sea coast, Trabzon offers a variety of tourist attractions, some of which date back to ancient times. The Gulbahar Hatun Mosque is worth seeing, and the Sumela Monastery is not to be missed. It's perched on the facade of a cliff amidst the clouds, and offers a chapel, church and library in the tour. On one of the many beautiful plateaus in Trabzon, the famous Kadirga Festival takes place every spring.
Cruising around the Black sea will take you to these and many other unique Mediterranean destinations. Where else in the world can you go where you'll feel like royalty!
Check out a selection of Black Sea cruises here