The open fjords, the lava caves and the breath taking and continental cities of Europe make it a top destination for cruises. Europe’s collection of countries differ greatly, not just in terms of language, but landscape too.
If you’re on a European cruise, there are some must-see destinations, which demonstrate the diversity of this small continent. Relics from ancient civilisations make for sites of interest both visually and archaeologically.
Best Places to Visit on a European Cruise
European Cruise to Barcelona
With some of the most impressive architecture, stunning miles of beaches and a vibrant food market in its centre, Barcelona is a European city that has it all. Including a port, which enables it to be easily accessed on the cruise circuit.
Soak up the sun and the quirky entertainment as you stroll down Las Ramblas or visit Gaudi’s Parc Guell, with its impressive views of the city and cascading bougainvillea. Getting lost in the backstreets of Barcelona and uncovering some of its quirky restaurants, bars and galleries are all part of the fun.
Like a living gallery, everything in Barcelona is covered in fantastic street art, and the beaches often boat impressive sandcastle structures.
Sprawling and cosmopolitan these days, Rome is home to the impressive ruins of the Colosseum and speaks of its history in almost everything you see. Whilst it is vast, there is a lot of Rome you can see on foot and its impressive history lives through its monuments.
Offering some of the most incredible experiences, Rome is a must-not-miss place that frequently crops up on European tours. From shopping to culture and history to contemporary, Rome has a slice of something for everyone, and of course pizza!
A million miles away from the cosmopolitan cities and resplendent architecture of the other two destinations, a European cruise with a difference takes in all of the incredible Viking history and dazzling archipelago that make up parts of Norway.
Slowly moving through these deep crevices in the landscape and imaging our Norse forefathers’ fleet manoeuvring through them is nothing short of majestic, and is the kind of once in a lifetime experience that a cruise should be. Offering unrivalled scenery, Norway cruises are a unique way to connect with history.
Arguably Scandinavia’s most naturally picturesque capital, Helsinki is an energetic seaside city compromised of beautiful islands and vast green parks. Any one of the 300 islands that compromise its archipelago are worth a visit and none get too crowded although Pihlajasaari is only a short ferry ride from the heart of Helsinki and has all the forest and wildflowers you’ll need to enjoy an authentic Finish experience.
The design scene in Helsinki is also widely regarded as one of the most advanced in the world today, with the boutiques, workshops and galleries that make up its design district contributing to its 2012 status as the World Design Capital.
Located in the extreme south of Croatia, Dubrovnik is a stunningly beautiful city with a rich history as well as great modern cultural significance. Otherwise known as ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’, Dubrovnik became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979, largely because of its majestic Old Town.
Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667 much of the city’s Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, palaces and statues remain and provide the perfect architectural base for King’s Landing in HBO’s epic fantasy series Game of Thrones.
Filming tours now take place in the old town and offer fans of the show a unique chance to see the buildings that inspired the television version of the Red Keep, Blackwater Bay, Great Sept of Baelor.
Often regarded as the birthplace of Western civilization, Athens was a cultural hotspot for tourists before many modern-day countries even came into existence. Today, Greece’s capital is a perfect mix of ancient and contemporary with two thousand five-hundred-year-old buildings standing side by side with state-of-the-art tower blocks.
Home to well over 3 million Greeks, construction for the 2004 Olympics did much to help alleviate the pollution and overpopulation that had become heavily associated with Athens during the twentieth century. New Metro lines and improved roads helped alleviate traffic congestion and a series of newly constructed pedestrian-only streets help network the city’s most revered and historical sites
The city where East meets West, Istanbul is the point at which Europe and Asia touch. One of the few places on earth, you’ll see almost as many as holy Christian landmarks as you will holy Islamic landmarks, Istanbul has an embarrassment of historical sights of interest. Everywhere you visit in the city, you’ll find museums, palaces, grand mosques and churches that attest to the city’s magnificent history as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
No trip to Istanbul is complete without visiting the vibrant and busy Grand Bazaar, located at the heart if Istanbul’s Old City for centuries. Starting as a small vaulted warehouse, built in 1461, it grew to cover a vast area of neighbouring shops and is now the countries’ largest covered market.
Portugal’s busy capital city offers a perfect combination of history, culture, modern architecture and natural beauty. Its hilly landscape will have you wandering from quiet courtyards overlooking gothic quarters to modern terraces offering magnificent views across the whole city. Saint George’s Castle is the landmark most commonly associated with the city and can be seen from anywhere inside Lisbon’s perimeter.
The Lisbon locals are renowned for their nightlife so why not join them for sunset shots of traditional ginjinha (cherry liqeur) in their unrivalled cultural hotspot, Bairro Alto, where revellers hit the street to chat, drink and dance before heading to the city’s riverside mega club Lux.