Málaga is a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, known for its high-rise hotels and resorts jutting up from yellow-sand beaches. Looming over that modern skyline are the city’s 2 massive hilltop citadels, the Alcazaba and ruined Gibralfaro, remnants of Moorish rule. The city’s soaring Renaissance cathedral is nicknamed La Manquita (“one-armed lady”) because one of its towers was curiously left unbuilt.
The port city of Valencia lies on Spain’s southeastern coast, where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean Sea. It’s known for its City of Arts and Sciences, with futuristic structures including a planetarium, an oceanarium and an interactive museum. Valencia also has several beaches, including some within nearby Albufera Park, a wetlands reserve with a lake and walking trails.
Genoa (Genova) is a port city and the capital of northwest Italy’s Liguria region. It’s known for its central role in maritime trade over many centuries. In the old town stands the Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo, with its black-and-white-striped facade and frescoed interior. Narrow lanes open onto monumental squares like Piazza de Ferrari, site of an iconic bronze fountain and Teatro Carlo Felice opera house.
Busan, a large port city in South Korea, is known for its beaches, mountains and temples. Busy Haeundae Beach features the Sea Life Aquarium, plus a Folk Square with traditional games such as tug-of-war, while Gwangalli Beach has many bars and views of modern Diamond Bridge. Beomeosa Temple, a Buddhist shrine founded in 678 A.D., is at the base of Geumjeong Mountain, which has hiking trails.
Bari is a port city on the Adriatic Sea, and the capital of southern Italy’s Puglia region. Its mazelike old town, Barivecchia, occupies a headland between 2 harbors. Surrounded by narrow streets, the 11th-century Basilica di San Nicola, a key pilgrimage site, holds some of St. Nicholas’ remains. To the south, the Murat quarter has stately 19th-century architecture, a promenade and pedestrianized shopping areas.
Chania is a city on the northwest coast of the Greek island of Crete. It’s known for its 14th-century Venetian harbor, narrow streets and waterfront restaurants. At the harbor entrance is a 16th-century lighthouse with Venetian, Egyptian and Ottoman influences. Opposite, the Nautical Museum has model ships, naval objects and photographs. The former monastery of St. Francis houses the Archaeological Museum of Chania.
Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily. The 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances. Also in the center are the Palazzo dei Normanni, a royal palace started in the 9th century, and the Cappella Palatina, with Byzantine mosaics. Busy markets include the central Ballarò street market and the Vucciria, near the port.
Brisbane, capital of Queensland, is a large city on the Brisbane River. Clustered in its South Bank cultural precinct are the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, with noted interactive exhibitions. Another South Bank cultural institution is Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, among Australia’s major contemporary art museums. Looming over the city is Mt. Coot-tha, site of Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
In 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique’s port city of Beira. Many died and entire neighborhoods were flooded. The city is now setting up large green areas designed to absorb future floodwaters. But entire fishing communities need to relocate.
Rotterdam is a major port city in the Dutch province of South Holland. The Maritime Museum’s vintage ships and exhibits trace the city’s seafaring history. The 17th-century Delfshaven neighborhood is home to canalside shopping and Pilgrim Fathers Church, where pilgrims worshiped before sailing to America. After being almost completely reconstructed following WWII, the city is now known for bold, modern architecture.