Bordered by three diverse continents with countless cultural influences, the Mediterranean Sea holds great appeal for visiting history buffs. Your Mediterranean cruise could very well offer you a trip through time, starting with ancient wonders. Few destinations offer the amazing amount of antiquities available throughout this region.
See the stomping grounds of Greek gods in Athens, where you can tour temples and the towering Parthenon atop the rocky Acropolis. The ruins of the Roman Empire are on display throughout the Eternal City (home to the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Roman Forum, to name a few favorites) as well as Ephesus, the Turkish city that holds the remains of the Library of Celsus. More Roman relics await in Istanbul -- the Byzantine Empire, the Romans' eastern offshoot, dotted the former Constantinople with gilded, domed churches like the city's crown jewel, Hagia Sophia.
No trip to Italy would be complete without a glimpse of the country's Renaissance treasures. Florence, a bustling artists' haven between the 14th and 16th centuries, is crowned by airy, sun-filled chapels that highlight priceless paintings from the era. Spain celebrated its own artistic revolution in the mid-19th century with the spread of an Art Nouveau-style of architecture known as Catalan modernism in Barcelona. The city is dotted by the elaborate designs of Antoni Gaudí, including his unfinished masterpiece, the cathedral known as Sagrada Família.
Looking for something a bit more stylish? Head for Monaco's seaside gambling district, where the Casino de Monte Carlo -- the chic, 150-year-old Beaux Arts landmark that inspired a recent James Bond movie -- is available for high-stakes gaming and jaw-dropping tours of its elegant, marbled interior. Not far from Monte Carlo, the French Riviera also offers historic points of interest, in addition to some high-end shopping and posh gambling halls. This stretch of sand was notorious throughout the 1920s, drawing such Jazz Age luminaries as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway; today, visitors can tour the authors' favorite waterfront cafes and casinos.