Europe is home to some fascinating cities that go beyond the capitals of the respective countries. Whilst European city breaks continue to grow in popularity, cruisers have found that they can also experience the sights and sounds of these destinations as part of a relaxing float along the river. And, if you find the right itinerary, there’s the chance to visit more than one of these fantastic places on the same trip.
Bursting at the seams with history and offering exciting attractions and delicious cuisine, these cities will be the highlight of many a European river cruise.
At the mouth of the Douro River lies a city that is most famous for the fortified wine that it produces but that also features plenty of history and a thriving riverfront area. The Ribeira district is a melange of narrow streets that lead down to the harbour area where you can find various bars and restaurants from which to soak up the sun and watch the action on the river. History can be enjoyed at the cathedral, Palácio da Bolsa and Church of São Francisco, whilst the Dom Luís Bridge is an iconic landmark.
It’s not exactly news that Paris is a beautiful city, but those who have never been before may be surprised by just how spectacular it is. Whilst returning visitors find something new on every trip, first-timers will love playing the tourist and exploring all the major sights. Arriving in the city on a serene Seine River cruise will give you a totally different perspective of the ‘City of Love’.
The fact that Amsterdam is usually the starting point for our Rhine River and Belgian Waterways cruises means that there’s always the option to add a land stay to your trip and explore the city a bit more. Known for bicycles, Anne Frank and a questionable district that it’s easy to stumble into without meaning too, the Dutch capital is also the place for flower markets, fantastic art galleries and plenty of charming picture opportunities.
The iconic image of Cologne is one that you cannot get away from whilst in the city, but why would you want to? The stunning Gothic cathedral flanked by the Hohenzollern Bridge can be seen from all areas, especially when taking a stroll along the picturesque river bank. This is the most visited attraction in all of Germany but is not the only thing you should see during your time in Cologne. The Lindt chocolate museum offers an interesting afternoon to those with a sweet tooth, the Rhine Park cable car will allow you to see the city from on high and the Schildergasse will provide some retail therapy before you continue on your Rhine River cruise.
Known for being spectacular in the winter, when a dusting of snow gives everything a magical feel, Vienna is just as beautiful during the other seasons. An old worldly charm fills the city, which can be increased by taking a tour in one of the famous fiaker horse carriages or simply sitting in one of the many coffee houses to soak up your surroundings. Art lovers are drawn to Vienna for so many different reasons that include world class galleries, show-stopping opera and palatial buildings filled with antiques. If you want to see everything at once, however, ride to the top of the Riesenrad Ferris wheel.
The sound of music is exactly what you will hear in this alluring Austrian city and not just because it was used as the filming location for the movie which won five Oscars and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. Salzburg is also known as the birthplace of Mozart and there are tributes to him everywhere. Aside from music, though, the city offers an impressive hilltop castle, a great zoo and a variety of hiking routes.
Bisected by the Danube, the areas of Buda and Pest on either side of the river have been part of a combined city for 143 years. Today, the capital of Hungary acts as one big UNESCO World Heritage Site, with protected areas such as Buda Castle and Heroes’ Square dotted all over the city centre. The river itself plays an important role in making this one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe and even the various bridges that cross it are regarded are tourist attractions. The hot springs that flow throughout Budapest have helped to establish a thermal bathing culture here.
If Paris is for art lovers and romantics then Lyon is for those travellers who like to explore with their taste buds. Christened the gastronomic capital of the world on more than one occasion, foodies will love to sample the local dishes in some of the many bouchons (small restaurants) that line the streets. And speaking of streets, Lyon is home to a maze of confining alleys called traboules that were used by the silk merchants in the past to get around quickly. Situated at the confluence of the Saone and Rhone Rivers, it is the perfect river cruise destination.
If you would like to experience any of these fascinating European cities, we have a wide range of itineraries all over the continent. Contact us today for more info and to find your perfect trip.