Cruises around Europe are the most popular choice for UK cruisers. From the sunshine of the Mediterranean to the stunning scenery of the Baltics, you will find so much to explore. Many European cruise holidays depart from Southampton - great for an easy start to your holiday.
Walk within the walls of history as you visit Prague’s Old Town or follow the footsteps of ancient philosophers as you climb the steps to Athens' Acropolis, taking in the wealth of cultural sights. If you are more of a foodie than a culture vulture, the menu of Europe is incredibly flavoursome! Enjoy Belgian beer, Italian ice cream, French cheese and German bratwurst, with some of the best culinary experiences in the world.
Cruises visit these regions and more, seeing some of the most popular landmarks across Europe. The Mediterranean is a playground of paradise ports, with shopping in Barcelonaand sunbathing on Grecian beaches; the Baltics are home to Scandinavian splendour,including major citiessuch as Latvia, Germany and Finland. Why not headto Northern Europe and sail to the nation of Norway where the fjords are a visual treat for any cruisers. You can even enjoy a cruise around the British Isles,seeing many more places than possible in a land holiday of the same duration.
Cruise from the UK for as little as two or three nights and you can visit nearby countries such as Holland, Belgium and Guernsey.
Here at Cruise118.com, we have a team of cruise experts who are on hand to offer expert advice and help to plan every aspect of your holiday. So, if you would like any help, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
Southampton is a port city on England’s south coast. It’s home to the SeaCity Museum, with an interactive model of the Titanic, which departed from Southampton in 1912. Nearby, Southampton City Art Gallery specialises in modern British art. Solent Sky Museum features vintage aircraft like the iconic Spitfire. Tudor House & Garden displays artifacts covering over 800 years of history, including a penny-farthing bike.
SummaryDover is a coastal town in England’s southeastern county of Kent. It’s a major port for ferries to Calais, in France. Built to repel invasions from across the English Channel, medieval Dover Castle overlooks the town and houses the extensive Secret Wartime Tunnels. The iconic White Cliffs of Dover are symbolic safeguards at Britain’s closest point to continental Europe.
SummaryLiverpool is a maritime city in northwest England, where the River Mersey meets the Irish Sea. A key trade and migration port from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, it's also, famously, the hometown of The Beatles. Ferries cruise the waterfront, where the iconic mercantile buildings known as the "Three Graces" – Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building – stand on the Pier Head.
Isle of Portland
SummaryThe Isle of Portland is a tied island, 6 kilometres long by 2.7 kilometres wide, in the English Channel. The southern tip, Portland Bill lies 8 kilometres south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England. A barrier beach called Chesil Beach joins it to the mainland.
SummaryJTilbury is a town in the borough of Thurrock, Essex, England. The present town was established as separate settlement in the late 19th century, on land that was mainly part of Chadwell St Mary. It contains a 16th century fort and an ancient cross-river ferry.
SummaryPortsmouth is one of the most densely populated cities in Southern England, and is unusual as most of its built-up area occupies Portsea Island, linked to the mainland by road and rail bridges. Although there is a Roman fort at nearby Portchester, occupied later by the Saxons and Normans, there was no settlement on the site of Portsmouth at the time of the 1086 Domesday Book. The town developed in medieval times and received its first charter in 1194 from King Richard I; soon afterwards it became a major naval base. It has the world’s oldest dry dock, and is home to several famous ships, including HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose, raised from the Solent in 1982. Portsmouth remains an important naval base and is home to a large proportion of the British service fleet. The waterfront area is now dominated by the Spinnaker Tower, 560 feet high, the United Kingdom’s tallest building outside London. Other things to see in the city include the house where Charles Dickens was born, and the City Museum, which contains a permanent exhibition devoted to another famous writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who lived in the town.
SummaryGreenwich is a borough in London, England, on the banks of the River Thames. Known for its maritime history, it's home to the Cutty Sark, a restored 19th-century ship, the huge National Maritime Museum, and the classical buildings of the Old Royal Naval College. The modern O2 arena sits on a peninsula to the north. Overlooking peaceful Greenwich Park, the Royal Observatory is the site of the Greenwich meridian line.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Summary Newcastle upon Tyne is a university city on the River Tyne in northeast England. With its twin city, Gateshead, it was a major shipbuilding and manufacturing hub during the Industrial Revolution and is now a centre of business, arts and sciences. Spanning the Tyne, modern Gateshead Millennium Bridge, noted for its unique tilting aperture, is a symbol of the 2 cities.
SummaryFalmouth is a town on the coast of Cornwall in southwest England. It’s known for its deep natural harbour on the Fal Estuary, and beaches like Swanpool and Gyllyngvase. The National Maritime Museum Cornwall has interactive galleries and a flotilla of model boats. On Pendennis Point, Pendennis Castle is a well-preserved 16th-century fortress built by Henry VIII. To the southwest, Trebah Garden has subtropical plants.
Saint Mary's, Isles of Scilly
SummarySt Mary’s is the Isle of Scilly’s largest island with a population of 1800 residents and an area of 6.58 square Kilometres; this is the gateway to the rest of the magnificent islands. Hugh town -a beautiful Old town with its own beach, nature reserve and church is the main attractions of St Mary’s, with tiny streets brimming with shops to pick up the perfect souvenir. St Mary’s is a hidden gem, with long stretches of white sandy beaches and a breath-taking untouched landscape. The coastline holds many archaeological sites along with miles of splendid walks along the coastal and country paths.
SummaryNewport is a city and county borough in Wales, situated on the River Usk close to its confluence with the Severn Estuary, 12 miles northeast of Cardiff. With a population of 145,700 at the 2011 census, Newport is the third-largest authority with city status in Wales, and seventh most populous overal
Cowes, Isle of Wight
SummaryThe 147-square-mile island with its pretty bays and thatched villages is like a miniature England. A well-preserved Victorian character dates from no other than Queen Victoria herself, who favored the island as her summer residence and made it her permanent home after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Several other great names have close associations with the Isle of Wight, such as Tennyson, Dickens and Keats. The small port of Cowes at the northern tip of the island hosts every year in August Britain’s most prestigious sailing event – Cowes Week, often called “the yachtsman’s Ascot.”This is when the cozy and laid-back island bursts with visitors from all over, who fill the ranks of the island’s retired folk. Apart from being a haven for sailing craft, the world’s first hovercraft made its test runs here in the 1950s. For a place of relatively small size, the Isle of Wight packs a startling variety of landscapes and coastal scenery, ranging from a terrain of low-lying woodland and pasture to open chalky downland fringed by high cliffs. In addition, there are a number of historic buildings and a splendid array of well-preserved Victoriana. The town of Cowes is bisected by the Medina River, with West Cowes near the harbor being the old, pretty part, while East Cowes is more industrialized. Outside the suburbs stands Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s favorite residence. The grand mansion was largely designed by Albert, and the interior has been left very much as it was in the Queen’s lifetime. Around the island, some of the highlights include the Needles, three tall chalk stacks beneath the cliffs at the far west end of the island. The small village of Shanklin is known for its golden cliffs and a scenic steep ravine whose mossy, fern-filled woods have been embellished with tiny lights and thatched tea shops. The port of Yarmouth features an attractive fortress and quaint pubs in the main square. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to anchor off Cowes. Guests will be taken ashore via ship’s tender. Walking distance to the town center is approximately 5 minutes. Taxis are generally available for trips around the island. Shopping Shops in the town center of Cowes carry maritime items and yachting attire, local glassware and the famous Isle of Wight colored sand. Normal opening times are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The local currency is the pound. Cuisine Not surprisingly, seafood is a good choice as well as other popular English fare. If you fancy lunch ashore, you may want to give the Amadeus Restaurant in Cowes a try, or stop in one of the local pubs for a quick meal and a cold beer. Other Sites Most of the island’s sights are covered in the organized excursions. Additionally, at the far west end of the island is the site of The Needles, a cluster of three tall chalk stacks beneath steep cliffs. The drive there takes about 45 minutes each way. Nearby is Alum Bay. The oxidized sandstone cliffs are popular for their multicolored sands, which are collected and arranged in diverse glass bottles, making popular souvenirs. Private arrangements are not encouraged in this port.
SummaryOnce a northern defense post against Irish raiders, Holyhead later became best known as a ferry port for Ireland. The dockside bustle is not matched by the town, however, which maintains just a small population. Nonetheless, thousands of years of settlement have given Holyhead rich historical ruins to explore, with more in the surrounding hiking friendly landscape.
SummaryLocated on the north side of the Milford Haven Waterway, Milford Haven is a small Welsh town with a beautiful marina. It’s a great place to discover the Welsh culture, and to do some diving and sailing.
SummaryThe capital city of Wales, Cardiff is a hub of entertainment. The city is popular for its history and bay area, as well as its cosmopolitan centre for shopping, eating and entertainment.
SummaryPembroke is located on the Pembroke Peninsula of Wales amidst long stretches of sandy beaches and stunning coastal scenery. This historic valley settlement features a number of timeless buildings centered along its quaint Main Street that runs inside the original walls of the town. The municipality itself is surrounded by residential estates, farmland and woods along the estuary of the River Cleddau. Pembroke’s rich history dates back to the 11th century when the namesake was little more than a timber fortification on the banks of the Pembroke River. In 1457, this scenic spot was the birthplace of Henry VII of England, also known as Henry Tudor.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands
SummaryIn bustling Kirkwall, the main town on Orkney, there's plenty to see in the narrow, winding streets extending from the harbor. The cathedral and some museums are highlights.
Summary The port of Invergordon is your gateway to the Great Glen, an area of Scotland that includes Loch Ness and the city of Inverness. Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, has the flavor of a Lowland town, its winds blowing in a sea-salt air from the Moray Firth. The Great Glen is also home to one of the world's most famous monster myths: in 1933, during a quiet news week, the editor of a local paper decided to run a story about a strange sighting of something splashing about in Loch Ness. But there's more to look for here besides Nessie, including inland lochs, craggy and steep-sided mountains, rugged promontories, deep inlets, brilliant purple and emerald moorland, and forests filled with astonishingly varied wildlife, including mountain hares, red deer, golden eagles, and ospreys.
Lerwick, Shetland Islands
SummaryFounded by Dutch fishermen in the 17th century, Lerwick today is a busy town and administrative center. Handsome stone buildings—known as lodberries—line the harbor; they provided loading bays for goods, some of them illegal. The town's twisting flagstone lanes and harbor once heaved with activity, and Lerwick is still an active port today. This is also where most visitors to Shetland dock, spilling out of cruise ships, allowing passengers to walk around the town.
SummaryTrendy stores, a booming cultural life, fascinating architecture, and stylish restaurants reinforce Glasgow's claim to being Scotland's most exciting city. After decades of decline, it has experienced an urban renaissance uniquely its own. The city’s grand architecture reflects a prosperous past built on trade and shipbuilding. Today buildings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh hold pride of place along with the Zaha Hadid–designed Riverside Museum.Glasgow (the "dear green place," as it was known) was founded some 1,500 years ago. Legend has it that the king of Strathclyde, irate about his wife's infidelity, had a ring he had given her thrown into the river Clyde. (Apparently she had passed it on to an admirer.) When the king demanded to know where the ring had gone, the distraught queen asked the advice of her confessor, St. Mungo. He suggested fishing for it—and the first salmon to emerge had the ring in its mouth. The moment is commemorated on the city's coat of arms.The medieval city expanded when it was given a royal license to trade; the current High Street was the main thoroughfare at the time. The vast profits from American cotton and tobacco built the grand mansions of the Merchant City in the 18th century. In the 19th century the river Clyde became the center of a vibrant shipbuilding industry, fed by the city’s iron and steel works. The city grew again, but its internal divisions grew at the same time. The West End harbored the elegant homes of the newly rich shipyard owners. Down by the river, areas like the infamous Gorbals, with its crowded slums, sheltered the laborers who built the ships. They came from the Highlands, expelled to make way for sheep, or from Ireland, where the potato famines drove thousands from their homes.During the 19th century the population grew from 80,000 to more than a million. And the new prosperity gave Glasgow its grand neoclassical buildings, such as those built by Alexander "Greek" Thomson, as well as the adventurous visionary buildings designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and others who produced Glasgow’s Arts and Crafts movement. The City Chambers, built in 1888, are a proud statement in marble and gold sandstone, a clear symbol of the wealthy and powerful Victorian industrialists' hopes for the future.The decline of shipbuilding and the closure of the factories led to much speculation as to what direction the city would take now. The curious thing is that, at least in part, the past gave the city a new lease of life. It was as if people looked at their city and saw Glasgow’s beauty for the first time: its extraordinarily rich architectural heritage, its leafy parks, its artistic heritage, and its complex social history. Today Glasgow is a vibrant cultural center and a commercial hub, as well as a launching pad from which to explore the rest of Scotland, which, as it turns out, is not so far away. In fact, it takes only 40 minutes to reach Loch Lomond, where the other Scotland begins.
SummaryOban, "little bay" in Gaelic, today has a resident population of 8,500 and is the unofficial capital of the West Highlands - the "Gateway to the Isles." The panoramic views of the mountains, lochs and islands which have captivated artists, authors, composers, and poets for centuries are as striking now as they were when Dunollie Castle, a ruined keep which has stood sentinel over the narrow entrance to the sheltered bay for around six hundred years, was the northern outpost of the Dalriadic Scots. It is no surprise to find Oban in the 21st-century remains a magnet for travellers from all over the world. The town's present day popularity owes much to the Victorians, and as early as 1812, when the Comet steamship linked Oban with Glasgow, the town played host to intrepid travellers touring Staffa - the inspiration for Mendelssohn's Hebridean Overture - and Iona - home of Scottish Christianity since St Columba stepped ashore in AD563. Indeed once Oban had the royal seal of approval from Queen Victoria, who called it "one of the finest spots we have seen," the town's destiny as an endearingly enchanting holiday destination was as firmly set as the lava columns of Fingal's Cave in Oban is justifiably known as the “gateway to the Isles.” The town's south pier is the embarkation point for car ferries to Mull, Coll, Tiree, Barra, South Uist, Colonsay, Lismore and Islay. From these islands you can travel further a field to Iona, Staffa and to many of the smaller less well known isles.
SummaryUllapool is an ideal base for hiking throughout Sutherland and taking wildlife and nature cruises, especially to the Summer Isles. By the shores of salty Loch Broom, the town was founded in 1788 as a fishing station to exploit the local herring stocks. There's still a smattering of fishing vessels, as well as visiting yachts and foreign ships. When their crews fill the pubs, Ullapool has a cosmopolitan feel. The harbor area comes to life when the Lewis ferry arrives and departs.
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
SummaryTour description Stornoway, Scotland The Isle of Lewis and Harris is the northernmost and largest of the Outer Hebrides-the Western Isles in common parlance. The island's only major town, Stornoway, is on a nearly landlocked harbor on the east coast of Lewis. It's the port capital for the Outer Hebrides and the island's cultural center, such that it is. Stornoway has an increasing number of good restaurants. Lewis has some fine historic attractions, including the Calanais Standing Stones-a truly magical place. The Uists are known for their rare, plentiful wildlife. Stornoway. Besides being the island's main entry point for ferries, Stornoway is also Lewis's main arts center. You'll find some good restaurants in town if you want to have lunch off the ship. The town can be explored by bicycle if you are so inclined. Local rental shops can give you advice on where to ride, including a route to Tolsta that takes in five stunning beaches before reaching the edge of moorland. An Lanntair Arts Centre. The fabulous An Lanntair Arts Centre has exhibitions of contemporary and traditional art, as well as a cinema, a gift shop, and a restaurant serving international and Scottish fare. There are frequent traditional musical and theatrical events in the impressive auditorium. Kenneth St.. Black House. In the small community of Arnol, the Black House is a well-preserved example of an increasingly rare type of traditional Hebridean home. Once common throughout the islands-even into the 1950s-these dwellings were built without mortar and thatched on a timber framework without eaves. Other characteristic features include an open central peat hearth and the absence of a chimney-hence the soot and the designation black. On display inside are many of the house's original furnishings. To reach Arnol from Port of Ness, head south on the A857 and pick up the A858 at Barvas. Off A858, 21 mi southwest of Port of Ness. Admission charged. Calanais Standing Stones. These impressive stones are actually part of a cluster of several different archaeological sites in this area. Probably positioned in several stages between 3000 BC and 1500 BC, the grouping consists of an avenue of 19 monoliths extending northward from a circle of 13 stones, with other rows leading south, east, and west. Ruins of a cairn sit within the circle on the east side. Researchers believe they may have been used for astronomical observations, but you can create your own explanations. The visitor center has an exhibit on the stones, a gift shop, and a tearoom. On an unmarked road off A858. Admission charged. Dun Carloway. One of the best-preserved Iron Age brochs (circular stone towers) in Scotland, Dun Carloway dominates the scattered community of Carloway. The mysterious tower was probably built around 2,000 years ago as protection against seaborne raiders. The Dun Broch Centre explains more about the broch and its setting. Off A857. Gearrannan. Up a side road north from Carloway, Gearrannan is an old black-house village that has been brought back to life with a museum screening excellent short films on peat cutting and weaving. For a unique experience, groups can rent the restored houses. Leverburgh. At Leverburgh you can take the ferry to North Uist. Nearby Northton has several attractions; St. Clement's Church at Rodel is particularly worth a visit. MacGillivray Centre. Located in a round building overlooking the bay, the MacGillivray Centre gives insight into the life and work of William MacGillivray (1796-1852), a noted naturalist with strong links to Harris. MacGillivray authored the five-volume History of British Birds. This is a great location for a picnic (there are tables for just such a purpose). A walk to a ruined church starts at the parking lot. A859, Northton. Seallam! Visitor Centre and Co Leis Thu? Genealogical Research Centre. The center is where you can trace your Western Isles ancestry. Photographs and interpretive signs describe the history of Harris and its people. The owners organize guided walks and cultural evenings weekly between May and September. Off A859, Northton. Admission charged. St. Clement's Church. At the southernmost point of Harris is the community of Rodel, where you can find St. Clement's Church, a cruciform church standing on a hillock. This is the most impressive pre-Reformation church in the Outer Hebrides; it was built around 1500 and contains the magnificently sculptured tomb (1528) of the church's builder, Alasdair Crotach, MacLeod chief of Dunvegan Castle. Rodel is 3 mi south of Leverburgh and 21 mi south of Tarbert. A859, Rodel. Port of Ness. The stark, windswept community of Port of Ness, 30 mi north of Stornoway, cradles a small harbor squeezed in among the rocks. Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. At the northernmost point of Lewis stands the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, designed by David and Thomas Stevenson (of the prominent engineering family whose best-known member was not an engineer at all, but the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson). The structure was first lighted in 1862. The adjacent cliffs provide a good vantage point for viewing seabirds, whales, and porpoises. The lighthouse is northwest of Port of Ness along the B8014. Shopping Harris tweed is available at many outlets on the islands, including some of the weavers' homes; keep an eye out for signs directing you to weavers' workshops. Harris Tweed Artisans Cooperative. The Harris Tweed Artisans Cooperative sells stylish and quirky hand-crafted tweed clothing, hats, accessories, all made by artists belonging to the cooperative. 40 Point St., Stornoway. Borgh Pottery. At Borgh Pottery, open from Monday to Saturday 9:30 to 6, you can buy attractive hand-thrown studio pottery made on the premises, including lamps, vases, mugs, and dishes. Fivepenny House, A857, Borve.
Portree, Isle of Skye
SummaryThe Isle of Skye ranks near the top of most visitors' priority lists: the romance of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, combined with the misty Cuillin Hills and their proximity to the mainland all contribute to its popularity. Today Skye remains mysterious and mountainous, an island of sunsets that linger brilliantly until late at night and of beautiful, soft mists. Much photographed are the really old crofts, one or two of which are still inhabited, with their thick stone walls and thatch roofs. Orientation on Skye is easy: follow the only roads around the loops on the northern part of the island and enjoy the road running the length of the Sleat Peninsula in southern Skye, taking the loop roads that exit to the north and south as you please. There are some stretches of single-lane road, but none poses a problem.
SummaryLeith is a buzzing port district, home to hip creatives and longtime locals.
Tobermory, Isle of Mull
SummaryYou'll always receive a welcome to remember, as the colourful cafes, houses and shops that line Tobermory's picturesque harbour salute your arrival. Located on the craggy Scottish Inner Hebrides, Tobermory serves as the capital of the Isle of Mull. There's a high chance you'll recognise the town’s colourfully-daubed buildings, as their charming exteriors have featured in countless TV shows - most notably in the children’s favourite, Balamory. There's always a new story to discover here – not least the legend that suggests there's a sunken Spanish galleon, brimming with lost gold, sitting just below the waves that roll around the harbour. Learn a little more of the area’s history at the Mull Museum, or head out to enjoy some of the fabulous wildlife watching opportunities on offer on a boat tour. You can spot majestic birds like white tail and golden eagles circling in the skies, or turn your attention to the waves, where friendly dolphins and Minke whales are regular visitors. Treat yourself to a sample of one of the island's finest exports before leaving, as you drop in at the Tobermory Distillery for some whiskey tasting. Established in 1798, it’s one of Scotland's oldest distilleries.
Saint Petersburg (ex Leningrad)
SummaryCommissioned by Tsar Peter the Great (1672–1725) as "a window looking into Europe," St. Petersburg is a planned city whose elegance is reminiscent of Europe's most alluring capitals. Little wonder it's the darling of fashion photographers and travel essayists today: built on more than a hundred islands in the Neva Delta linked by canals and arched bridges, it was called the "Venice of the North" by Goethe, and its stately embankments are reminiscent of those in Paris. A city of golden spires and gilded domes, of pastel palaces and candlelit cathedrals, this city conceived by a visionary emperor is filled with pleasures and tantalizing treasures. With its strict geometric lines and perfectly planned architecture, so unlike the Russian cities that came before it, St. Petersburg is almost too European to be Russian. And yet it's too Russian to be European. The city is a powerful combination of both East and West, springing from the will and passion of its founder to guide a resistant Russia into the greater fold of Europe, and consequently into the mainstream of history. That he accomplished, and more. With a population of nearly 5 million, St. Petersburg is the fourth largest city in Europe after Paris, Moscow, and London. Without as many of the fashionably modern buildings that a business center like Moscow acquires, the city has managed to preserve much more of its history. Here, you can imagine yourself back in the time of the tsars and Dostoyevsky. Although it's a close race, it's safe to say that most visitors prefer St. Petersburg's culture, history, and beauty to Moscow's glamour and power. That said, St. Petersburg has begun to play a more active role in politics in recent years, as if it were the country's northern capital. It may be because of the affection the city holds in the heart of the country's political elite, many of whom are natives of the city. New high-speed trains now travel between Moscow and St. Petersburg, a new international airport and metro stations have just opened, and some crumbling parts of the city are undergoing reconstruction. St. Petersburg revels in its historic beauty but also embraces the new.
De Long Islands
SummaryThe Kamchatka Peninsula is part of the Eastern frontier of Russia. Due to its close proximity to the United States, the region has played a strategic role in the defense of Russian territory throughout modern history. As a result, the territory was closed for many years to foreigners and Russians alike. Fortunately, the region's isolated position played a significant role in preserving and protecting its unique wilderness and rich biodiversity. With few roads, most regional transportation is by plane, boat, or helicopter. Kamchatka is a spectacular, lavish landscape dotted with fuming volcanoes (150, of which 29 are active), fast-running rivers, and a wilderness that is inhabited by the largest brown bear population (10,300) in the world. The largest eagle in the world, the Steller's sea eagle (approximately 4,500 in number), is also found in the region. Kamchatka is poised to become one of the most exciting sport-fishing destinations in the world, with an estimated third of the world's Pacific salmon population.
Goritsy, Kirillovsky District
SummaryKorsakov is used as a technical stop for ships clearing in and out of Russia. In addition to being a port of call for these formalities, the city was once home to an Ainu fishing village frequented by regional traders and early Russian expeditions. History also suggests that there may have been a significant Japanese population here at one time with reports of a Japanese religious temple on record.
SummaryCologne is a city in western Germany located across the Rhine river. It is the oldest in Germany, dating back 2000 years and is considered the region’s cultural hub. The city is known for its iconic landmark of the twin-spired Cologne Cathedral set against the reconstructed Old Town buildings. When in Old Town, visit the historic Old Town Hall and the Roman Church Great St Martin, or take time out and sit at one of the traditional breweries and enjoy the scenery around you. Historical sites such as the Roman Dionysus mosaic and the medieval Overstolzenhaus are worth a visit too. Another iconic sight in Cologne is at Hohenzollern Bridge. Here, local and tourist couples affix padlocks to the railings of the bridge and swear their loyalty to each other, they then throw the key into the Rhein to ensure everlasting love. Cologne is home to over 30 stages providing cabaret, free ensembles, theatre and dance and also celebrates its openly gay culture.
SummaryPassau is a German city located in the Southeast of Germany on the Austrian border. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz. The Three Rivers City, as it’s also known, is unique for its three contrasting currents of blue, green and black. Old Town of Passau is home to towering buildings of striking architecture: the majestic fortress Veste Oberhaus, the Pilgrimage Church Mariahilf and St Stephen's Cathedral. Many of Passau’s attractions can be found in this area, including the New Bishop’s Residence, the Gothic Town Hall, as well as many churches and museums. Visitors can stroll along the riverfront promenades and romantic lanes whilst enjoying the picturesque landscape. For modern art, The Museum of Modern Art and Glass Museum Passau are recommended as they offer something a bit different. Theatre and cabaret are a popular evening pastime, with performances at the former Prince Bishopric Theatre or some lively cabaret and Jazz at the Scharfrichterhaus. Visitors will also find many traditional local Bavarian and Austrian cafes and restaurants offering a cosy atmosphere with home cooked food from local produce.
SummaryMiltenberg is a city located in Bavaria and Southern part of Germany. Located on the banks of the river Maine the city grew from its medieval roots through Viniculture, wine trade, fishery, and general river traffic, into the established and preserved town of today. Visit the Museum Stadt Miltenberg, housed in the half timbered house called the Alte Amtskellerei (The Provost’s Office) and discover the town’s history through collections depicting culture back to the Romans. A visit to castle Miltenberg is also recommended. The castle dates back to the 11th century and is now owned by the city administration. With the castle in need of rehabilitation, the Museum Burg Miltenberg was opened to exhibit classic icons and contemporary art in a historical and significant setting. The keep of the castle, which reaches twenty seven metres high, offers picturesque views of the Main Valley below and is the perfect setting to relax and enjoy some refreshments.
SummaryLocated in the West of the country, Koblenz is one of the oldest cities in Germany. It is situated on both banks of the river Rhine, at its confluence with the Moselle River. The beginnings of Koblenz can be traced back to its military beginnings around 8 BC. The city is rich in its history and heritage and is easily explored on foot. Take the cable car crossing over the river Rhine for spectacular aerial views or enjoy the city from the one thousand year old fortress, Ehrenbreitstein. The upper middle Rhine Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its unique landscape can be enjoyed and discovered through the interactive multimedia journey at the Romanticum. Historical and architectural sites of interest include Stolzenfels Castle, the Electoral Palace of Koblenz and Old Town. From the romantic winding streets and small squares of Old Town, stroll through the alleyways from the Church of the Holy Virgin to the St Kastor Basilica and enjoy the picturesque buildings and squares along the way. Koblenz is also very popular for its Riesling and strong Spatburgunder wines since the Romans introduced it two thousand years ago.
SummaryRegensburg is a medieval city of Bavaria in southeast Germany. It is situated on the northern point of the Danube River at its confluence with the Regen and Naab rivers. The city is famous for its iconic 12th Century stone bridge and sixteen arches, crossing the Danube into Old Town and is the oldest preserved bridge in Germany. Regensburg is also noted for its 13th Century Regensburg Cathedral and Gothic twin spires that feature prominently on the city’s skyline. Recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, the city is home to many preserved sites. Visit the the 2nd Century Porta Praetoria which served as the north gate to a Roman camp and St Peter’s Cathedral, with its French Gothic architecture. Also the 18th Century Thurn and Taxis Palace and the Old Town Hall, which is now home to the Imperial Diet Museum, are also worth a visit. Regensburg benefits from lots of parks and gardens for visitors to relax in, as well as walks and cycle paths along the banks of the rivers.
SummaryBreisach is a town located in Southwest Germany on the French border. The town is situated in the Rhine Valley on the banks of the river Rhine and dates back over four thousand years. Breisach and its history can be experienced through the City History Museum, which houses a permanent exhibition taking you from Stone Age through the Celtic, to the Romans and Middle Ages, right up to modern day. St Stephen's Cathedral is home to the city’s famous art treasures, the wheel wells, which are housed in the neighbouring Radbrunnenturm with the forty one metre deep water well. The cathedral is also home to many other treasures including the High Altar of Master HL and wall paintings by Martin Schongauer as well as High Gothic and Roman architecture. A visit to the Blue House, the former Jewish Community Centre, is highly recommended. Now owned by the Friends of Former Jewish Community House Breisach it exhibits memorials to Breisach’s Jewish heritage.
Rüdesheim am Rhein
SummaryRudesheim am Rhine is a town in the Rhine Valley in Germany and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rhine Gorge. It is known for its production of Riesling wine and has been popular for its wine making since ancient times. The Medieval Bromserburg Castle is home to the Rheingau Wine Museum and wine is a crucial part of Rudesheimer culture. The town is surrounded with vineyards and wineries, as well as many local wine bars and seasonal wine taverns. Wine tasting is a must do in Rudesheim and dining out is a great accompaniment. The local cuisine is seasonal and is closely intertwined with the wine growing traditions together with soups such as Zwiebelkuchen, Handkäs mit Musik and Spundekäs. Nordic Walking is popular around town, with five adventure trails around the vicinity, as well as many popular cycling routes. Great views of the town can be found from the water, the cable car to Niederwald Monument and the Monument itself. Old Town has the best examples of the town’s architecture with Eagle Tower, Oberstrasse and Rheinstein Castle some key sites to visit.
SummaryNuremberg is a medieval city located in northern Bavaria in Germany. It is Bavaria's second largest city and is noted for its iconic red roofed buildings and medieval architecture. The imperial Castle overlooks Nuremberg and was one of the most important fortifications of the Roman Empire. For more significant cultural history, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, one of the largest cultural history museums in the German speaking world, offers visitors exhibitions from Prehistoric all the way to present day. Walking tours around the city offer an enjoyable and active way to learn of Nuremberg’s history and culture. Through Old Town, discover fountains, wells, churches, and art treasures, as well as learning of the colourful past and cosmopolitan present of the city and its people. Nuremberg is also home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, where visitors can purchase traditional handmade decorations and enjoy the famous gingerbread, mulled wine, and grilled sausage from over one hundred and eighty wooden stalls.
SummaryBamberg is a German town located over a landscape of seven hills and the confluence of Regnitz and Main rivers. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre with Old Town home to structures dating back to the 11th century. An iconic landmark to visit in Bamberg is the town hall Altes Rathaus, located on an island in the Regnitz and covered in murals. Bamberg Cathedral, with its four towers and numerous stone carvings, is a striking example of Romanesque architecture. Head to the Market Gardeners District and visit the historical houses where centuries ago the town gardeners would grow and export produce such as onions, seeds and liquorice. In the town centre and heart of Little Venice, the rivers and arched bridges connecting the island city are reminiscent of Venice, with a lively atmosphere and modern shops set in historical surroundings. After a day shopping, head to one of the many Brewery pubs for some popular German beer. Bamberg is famous for its beer and is where its name originated from, with the town being populated by nine traditional breweries.
SummarySince being designated a European Capital of Culture for 2013, with an estimated €660 million of funding in the bargain, Marseille has been in the throes of an extraordinary transformation, with no fewer than five major new arts centers, a beautifully refurbished port, revitalized neighborhoods, and a slew of new shops and restaurants. Once the underdog, this time-burnished city is now welcoming an influx of weekend tourists who have colonized entire neighborhoods and transformed them into elegant pieds-à-terre (or should we say, mer). The second-largest city in France, Marseille is one of Europe's most vibrant destinations. Feisty and fond of broad gestures, it is also as complicated and as cosmopolitan now as it was when a band of Phoenician Greeks first sailed into the harbor that is today's Vieux Port in 600 BC. Legend has it that on that same day a local chieftain's daughter, Gyptis, needed to choose a husband, and her wandering eyes settled on the Greeks' handsome commander Protis. Her dowry brought land near the mouth of the Rhône, where the Greeks founded Massalia, the most important Continental shipping port in antiquity. The port flourished for some 500 years as a typical Greek city, enjoying the full flush of classical culture, its gods, its democratic political system, its sports and theater, and its naval prowess. Caesar changed all that, besieging the city in 49 BC and seizing most of its colonies. In 1214 Marseille was seized again, this time by Charles d'Anjou, and was later annexed to France by Henri IV in 1481, but it was not until Louis XIV took the throne that the biggest transformations of the port began; he pulled down the city walls in 1666 and expanded the port to the Rive Neuve (New Riverbank). The city was devastated by plague in 1720, losing more than half its population. By the time of the Revolution, Marseille was on the rebound once again, with industries of soap manufacturing and oil processing flourishing, encouraging a wave of immigration from Provence and Italy. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Marseille became the greatest boomtown in 19th-century Europe. With a large influx of immigrants from areas as exotic as Tangiers, the city quickly acquired the multicultural population it maintains to this day.
SummaryItaly's vibrant capital lives in the present, but no other city on earth evokes its past so powerfully. For over 2,500 years, emperors, popes, artists, and common citizens have left their mark here. Archaeological remains from ancient Rome, art-stuffed churches, and the treasures of Vatican City vie for your attention, but Rome is also a wonderful place to practice the Italian-perfected il dolce far niente, the sweet art of idleness. Your most memorable experiences may include sitting at a caffè in the Campo de' Fiori or strolling in a beguiling piazza.
SummaryNaples, in the Campania region, is Italy's third largest city. Its claim to fame is the spectacular location along one of the world's most splendid bays, backed by the perfect cone of Mount Vesuvius. In addition to its beautiful setting, Naples' surprises with other outstanding attractions such as the Royal Palace, San Carlos Opera House, the impressive National Archaeological Museum and the Castel Nuovo, dating from the 13th-century. The city's central area is best explored on foot. Chaotic traffic conditions make driving around the city a very frustrating experience. Naples provides a convenient starting point for trips to such favored destinations as Pompeii, Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius. The Isle of Capri can be reached via a 45-minute hydrofoil service. The region of Campania was home to Greeks settlers some 300 years before Rome was founded. Pompeii, too, was a Greek town before being conquered by the Romans during the 5th century BC. It was under the Romans that Pompeii flourished and grew prosperous. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the population of 20,000 was wiped out, but dozens of buildings were preserved under layers of cinder more than 20 feet deep. The most important finds from Pompeii are displayed in Naples' National Archaeological Museum. A visit here will no doubt enhance a visit to ancient Pompeii.
SummaryGenoa is a port city in the Northwest of Italy. Home to the Genoa Aquarium, famous for having the largest exposition of biodiversity in Europe, the city is also a great place to visit for anyone interested in architecture.
Venice is a city unlike any other. No matter how often you've seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history in what was a wealthy trading center between Europe and the Orient. Getting lost in the narrow alleyways is a quintessential part of exploring Venice, but at some point you'll almost surely end up in Piazza San Marco, where tourists and locals congregate for a coffee or an aperitif.
SummaryHome to the Museo Regionale of Messina, known for featuring two of Caravaggio's paintings, the city is also famous for having been the capital of the ancient kingdom of Sicily.
SummaryLivorno is a gritty city with a long and interesting history. In the early Middle Ages it alternately belonged to Pisa and Genoa. In 1421 Florence, seeking access to the sea, bought it. Cosimo I (1519–74) started construction of the harbor in 1571, putting Livorno on the map. After Ferdinando I de' Medici (1549–1609) proclaimed Livorno a free city, it became a haven for people suffering from religious persecution; Roman Catholics from England and Jews and Moors from Spain and Portugal, among others, settled here. The Quattro Mori (Four Moors), also known as the Monument to Ferdinando I, commemorates this. (The statue of Ferdinando I dates from 1595, the bronze Moors by Pietro Tacca from the 1620s.)In the following centuries, and particularly in the 18th, Livorno boomed as a port. In the 19th century the town drew a host of famous Britons passing through on their grand tours. Its prominence continued up to World War II, when it was heavily bombed. Much of the town's architecture, therefore, postdates the war, and it's somewhat difficult to imagine what it might have looked like before. Livorno has recovered from the war, however, as it's become a huge point of departure for container ships, as well as the only spot in Tuscany for cruise ships to dock for the day.Most of Livorno's artistic treasures date from the 17th century and aren't all that interesting unless you dote on obscure baroque artists. Livorno's most famous native artist, Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920), was of much more recent vintage. Sadly, there's no notable work by him in his hometown.There may not be much in the way of art, but it's still worth strolling around the city. The Mercato Nuovo, which has been around since 1894, sells all sorts of fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, and fish. Outdoor markets nearby are also chock-full of local color. The presence of Camp Darby, an American military base just outside town, accounts for the availability of many American products.If you have time, Livorno is worth a stop for lunch or dinner at the very least.
SummaryOnce the intellectual capital of southern Europe, Palermo has always been at the crossroads of civilization. Favorably situated on a crescent-shaped bay at the foot of Monte Pellegrino, it has attracted almost every culture touching the Mediterranean world. To Palermo's credit, it has absorbed these diverse cultures into a unique personality that is at once Arab and Christian, Byzantine and Roman, Norman and Italian. The city's heritage encompasses all of Sicily's varied ages, but its distinctive aspect is its Arab-Norman identity, an improbable marriage that, mixed in with Byzantine and Jewish elements, created some resplendent works of art. No less noteworthy than the architecture is Palermo's chaotic vitality, on display at some of Italy's most vibrant outdoor markets, public squares, street bazaars, and food vendors, and above all in its grand climax of Italy's most spectacular passeggiata (the leisurely social stroll along the principal thoroughfare).
SummaryLocated right in the heel of the Italian boot, Otranto’s scenic landscape often plays the protagonist in displaying the beauty of Puglia, Italy’s easternmost region. Facing the Adriatic sea, the seducing weather and pristine waters have made it a popular destination where on a clear day, wanderers can see the coast of Albania. Like much of Italy, the city boasts a rich and mixed history. Once a Greek and Roman port, it was later occupied by the Byzantines, the Normans and the Spanish before the Ottoman invaded in during their Jihad to conquer Europe. Remains of forts are still visible and are a living testimonial of the town’s rich history along with Otranto’s cathedral, which still encloses today the relics of martyrs who refused to convert to Islam.
SummaryLa Spezia is sometimes thought of as nothing but a large, industrialized naval port en route to the Cinque Terre and Portovenere, but it does possess some charm, and it gives you a look at a less tourist-focused part of the Riviera. Its palm-lined promenade, fertile citrus parks, renovated Liberty-style palazzos, and colorful balcony-lined streets make parts of La Spezia surprisingly beautiful. Monday through Saturday mornings, you can stroll through the fresh fish, produce, and local-cheese stalls at the outdoor market on Piazza Cavour, and on Friday take part in the busy flea market on Via Garibaldi. There's also Porto Mirabello, a newly built tourist port with a pool club, shops, and several restaurants that overlook the fleet of super-yachts.
SummarySorrento may have become a jumping-off point for visitors to Pompeii, Capri, and Amalfi, but you can find countless reasons to love it for itself. The Sorrentine people are fair-minded and hardworking, bubbling with life and warmth. The tuff cliff on which the town rests is spread over the bay, absorbing sunlight, while orange and lemon trees waft their perfume in spring. Winding along a cliff above a small beach and two harbors, the town is split in two by a narrow ravine formed by a former mountain stream. To the east, dozens of hotels line busy Via Correale along the cliff—many have "grand" included in their names, and some indeed still are. To the west, however, is the historic sector, which still enchants. It's a relatively flat area, with winding, stone-paved lanes bordered by balconied buildings, some joined by medieval stone arches. The central piazza is named after the poet Torquato Tasso, born here in 1544. This part of town is a delightful place to walk through. Craftspeople are often at work in their stalls and shops and are happy to let you watch; in fact, that's the point. Music spots and bars cluster in the side streets near Piazza Tasso.
SummaryThe infinite variety of street life, the nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gòtic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau facades, the art and music, the throb of street life, the food (ah, the food!)—one way or another, Barcelona will find a way to get your full attention. The capital of Catalonia is a banquet for the senses, with its beguiling mix of ancient and modern architecture, tempting cafés and markets, and sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches. A stroll along La Rambla and through waterfront Barceloneta, as well as a tour of Gaudí's majestic Sagrada Famíliaand his other unique creations, are part of a visit to Spain's second-largest city. Modern art museums and chic shops call for attention, too. Barcelona's vibe stays lively well into the night, when you can linger over regional wine and cuisine at buzzing tapas bars.
Palma de Mallorca
SummaryIf you look north of the cathedral (La Seu, or the seat of the bishopric, to Mallorcans) on a map of the city of Palma, you can see around the Plaça Santa Eulàlia a jumble of tiny streets that made up the earliest settlement. Farther out, a ring of wide boulevards traces the fortifications built by the Moors to defend the larger city that emerged by the 12th century. The zigzags mark the bastions that jutted out at regular intervals. By the end of the 19th century, most of the walls had been demolished; the only place where you can still see the massive defenses is at Ses Voltes, along the seafront west of the cathedral.A torrent (streambed) used to run through the middle of the old city, dry for most of the year but often a raging flood in the rainy season. In the 17th century it was diverted to the east, along the moat that ran outside the city walls. Two of Palma's main arteries, La Rambla and the Passeig d'es Born, now follow the stream's natural course. The traditional evening paseo (promenade) takes place on the Born.If you come to Palma by car, park in the garage beneath the Parc de la Mar (the ramp is just off the highway from the airport, as you reach the cathedral) and stroll along the park. Beside it run the huge bastions guarding the Almudaina Palace; the cathedral, golden and massive, rises beyond. Where you exit the garage, there's a ceramic mural by the late Catalan artist and Mallorca resident Joan Miró, facing the cathedral across the pool that runs the length of the park.If you begin early enough, a walk along the ramparts at Ses Voltes from the mirador beside the cathedral is spectacular. The first rays of the sun turn the upper pinnacles of La Seu bright gold and then begin to work their way down the sandstone walls. From the Parc de la Mar, follow Avinguda Antoni Maura past the steps to the palace. Just below the Plaça de la Reina, where the Passeig d'es Born begins, turn left on Carrer de la Boteria into the Plaça de la Llotja (if the Llotja itself is open, don't miss a chance to visit—it's the Mediterranean's finest Gothic-style civic building). From there stroll through the Plaça Drassana to the Museu d'Es Baluard, at the end of Carrer Sant Pere. Retrace your steps to Avinguda Antoni Maura. Walk up the Passeig d'es Born to Plaça Joan Carles I, then right on Avenida de La Unió.
SummaryBelieved to be the oldest town on the Iberian Peninsula, the Andalusian port of Cádiz enjoys a stunning location at the edge of a six-mile promontory. The town itself, with 3,000 years of history, is characterised by pretty white houses with balconies often adorned with colourful flowers. As you wander around be sure to take a stroll through the sizeable Plaza de Espãna, with its large monument dedicated to the first Spanish constitution, which was signed here in 1812. Cádiz has two pleasant seafront promenades which boast fine views of the Atlantic Ocean, and has a lovely park, the Parque Genoves, located close to the sea with an open-air theatre and attractive palm garden. Also notable is the neo-Classical cathedral, capped by a golden dome.
Vega de Terrón
SummaryValencia, Spain's third-largest municipality, is a proud city with a thriving nightlife and restaurant scene, quality museums, and spectacular contemporary architecture, juxtaposed with a thoroughly charming historic quarter, making it a popular destination year in year out. During the Civil War, it was the last seat of the Republican Loyalist government (1935–36), holding out against Franco’s National forces until the country fell to 40 years of dictatorship. Today it represents the essence of contemporary Spain—daring design and architecture along with experimental cuisine—but remains deeply conservative and proud of its traditions. Though it faces the Mediterranean, Valencia's history and geography have been defined most significantly by the River Turia and the fertile huerta that surrounds it.The city has been fiercely contested ever since it was founded by the Greeks. El Cid captured Valencia from the Moors in 1094 and won his strangest victory here in 1099: he died in the battle, but his corpse was strapped into his saddle and so frightened the besieging Moors that it caused their complete defeat. In 1102 his widow, Jimena, was forced to return the city to Moorish rule; Jaume I finally drove them out in 1238. Modern Valencia was best known for its frequent disastrous floods until the River Turia was diverted to the south in the late 1950s. Since then the city has been on a steady course of urban beautification. The lovely bridges that once spanned the Turia look equally graceful spanning a wandering municipal park, and the spectacularly futuristic Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences), most of it designed by Valencia-born architect Santiago Calatrava, has at last created an exciting architectural link between this river town and the Mediterranean. If you're in Valencia, an excursion to Albufera Nature Park is a worthwhile day trip.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
SummaryThe largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a beautiful and scenic island which enjoys year-round sunshine and is dominated by Mount Teide. The mountain range runs through the centre of the island, with fertile valleys on the northern side. In the central part of the range is the gigantic natural crater of the Cañadas del Teide, about 14 miles in diameter. Santa Cruz, the island’s pretty capital, was originally a small fishing village but has now grown into a modern city, and also contains 16th-century civic buildings and ornate private mansions. Near the pier is the Santa Cruz Palmetum, a Botanical Garden covering an area of 29 acres, specialising in palms.
SummaryAs you sail into Malaga you will notice what an idyllic setting the city enjoys on the famous Costa del Sol. To the east of this provincial capital, the coast along the region of La Axarqua is scattered with villages, farmland and sleepy fishing hamlets - the epitome of traditional rural Spain. To the west stretches a continuous city where the razzmatazz and bustle creates a colourful contrast that is easily recognisable as the Costa del Sol. Surrounding the region, the Penibéetica Mountains provide an attractive backdrop overlooking the lower terraced slopes which yield olives and almonds. This spectacular mountain chain shelters the province from cold northerly winds, giving it a reputation as a therapeutic and exotic place in which to escape from cold northern climes. Malaga is also the gateway to many of Andalusia's enchanting historic villages, towns and cities.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
SummaryPerhaps the prettiest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is an almost circular isle with the peak of Pozo de Las Nieves, its highest point, at the centre. With a wealth of natural beauty and all the exciting attractions of city life in the capital, the island offers the best of both worlds. You will no doubt wish to see the sights of the capital’s old quarter, which dates back to the 15th century and encompassses the Vegueta and Triana districts, and wherever you go you can enjoy the glorious subtropical climate, perfect for growing exotic palms and fruits.
A Mediterranean city and naval station located in the Region of Murcia, southeastern Spain, Cartagena’s sheltered bay has attracted sailors for centuries. The Carthaginians founded the city in 223BC and named it Cartago Nova; it later became a prosperous Roman colony, and a Byzantine trading centre. The city has been the main Spanish Mediterranean naval base since the reign of King Philip II, and is still surrounded by walls built during this period. Cartagena’s importance grew with the arrival of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century, when the Navidad Fortress was constructed to protect the harbour. In recent years, traces of the city’s fascinating past have been brought to light: a well-preserved Roman Theatre was discovered in 1988, and this has now been restored and opened to the public. During your free time, you may like to take a mini-cruise around Cartagena's historic harbour: these operate several times a day, take approximately 40 minutes and do not need to be booked in advance. Full details will be available at the port.
Santa Cruz de La Palma
SummaryAlso known as ‘La Isla Bonita’ (the beautiful island), La Palma is typified by lush forests of pine, laurel and fern which contrast with the rugged splendour of the gigantic Taburiente crater. The island is dotted with attractive villages, which are a delight to discover, and the capital Santa Cruz also makes for an interesting day of exploration. Perched on the edge of the volcanic crater of La Caldereta, Santa Cruz comfortably blends modern architecture with old colonial buildings. Perhaps visit the fascinating Natural History Museum, stroll around the historic quarters and the Plaza de Espana or travel a few miles outside the city to the exquisite Church of Our Lady. If you enjoy shopping, you can find reasonably priced silver jewellery, leather goods and beautifully embroidered clothes, tablecloths and napkins, a speciality of the Canary Islands.
SummaryHedonistic and historic, Eivissa (Ibiza, in Castilian) is a city jam-packed with cafés, nightspots, and trendy shops; looming over it are the massive stone walls of Dalt Vila —the medieval city declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999—and its Gothic cathedral. Squeezed between the north walls of the old city and the harbor is Sa Penya, a long labyrinth of stone-paved streets that offer some of the city's best offbeat shopping, snacking, and exploring. The tourist information office on Vara de Rey has a useful map of walks through the old city.
SummaryOdessa is a port city in Ukraine located on the Black Sea. Founded in the 18th Century, Odessa is a great destination for anyone interested in history and architecture.
SummaryAmsterdam combines the unrivaled beauty of the 17th-century Golden Age city center with plenty of museums and art of the highest order, not to mention a remarkably laid-back atmosphere. It all comes together to make this one of the world's most appealing and offbeat metropolises in the world. Built on a latticework of concentric canals like an aquatic rainbow, Amsterdam is known as the City of Canals—but it's no Venice, content to live on moonlight serenades and former glory. Quite the contrary: on nearly every street here you'll find old and new side by side—quiet corners where time seems to be holding its breath next to streets like neon-lit Kalverstraat, and Red Light ladies strutting by the city's oldest church. Indeed, Amsterdam has as many lovely facets as a 40-carat diamond polished by one of the city's gem cutters. It's certainly a metropolis, but a rather small and very accessible one. Locals tend to refer to it as a big village, albeit one that happens to pack the cultural wallop of a major world destination. There are scores of concerts every day, numerous museums, summertime festivals, and, of course, a legendary year-round party scene. It's pretty much impossible to resist Amsterdam's charms. With 7,000 registered monuments, most of which began as the residences and warehouses of humble merchants, set on 160 man-made canals, and traversed by 1,500 or so bridges, Amsterdam has the largest historical inner city in Europe. Its famous circle of waterways, the grachtengordel, was a 17th-century urban expansion plan for the rich and is a lasting testament to the city’s Golden Age. This town is endearing because of its kinder, gentler nature—but a reputation for championing sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll does not alone account for Amsterdam's being one of the most popular destinations in Europe: consider that within a single square mile the city harbors some of the greatest achievements in Western art, from Rembrandt to Van Gogh. Not to mention that this is one of Europe's great walking cities, with so many of its treasures in the untouted details: tiny alleyways barely visible on the map, hidden garden courtyards, shop windows, floating houseboats, hidden hofjes(courtyards with almshouses), sudden vistas of church spires, and gabled roofs that look like so many unframed paintings. And don’t forget that the joy lies in details: elaborate gables and witty gable stones denoting the trade of a previous owner. Keep in mind that those XXX symbols you see all over town are not a mark of the city's triple-X reputation. They're part of Amsterdam's official coat of arms—three St. Andrew's crosses, believed to represent the three dangers that have traditionally plagued the city: flood, fire, and pestilence. The coat's motto ("Valiant, determined, compassionate") was introduced in 1947 by Queen Wilhelmina in remembrance of the 1941 February Strike in Amsterdam—the first time in Europe that non-Jewish people protested against the persecution of Jews by the Nazi regime.
SummaryRotterdam is a city that's a long way removed from most people's stereotypical notion of the Netherlands. There are few, if any, canals to be found here nor are there any quaint windmills. There is, however, a thriving modern city which is one of the busiest ports in the entire world.
SummaryNorth Holland’s ‘Gate to the North Sea’, IJmuiden has four harbours: the Vissershaven, Haringhaven, IJmondhaven and the Seaport Marina - the latter used by pleasure craft. It is the largest Dutch fishing port, but is a relatively young town: it grew up in the 1870s when the North Sea Canal was opened. During World War II, the German Navy demolished much of the town and built huge fortified concrete bunkers for their torpedo boats and submarines. After 1945, the town was rebuilt by the architect Willem Marinus Dudok. He designed IJmuiden’s most impressive building, the Stadhuis van Velsen, which houses local government offices. For cruise passengers IJmuiden is the gateway to Amsterdam, the Dutch capital and one of Europe’s truly great cities, where elegant canals are lined by old brick gabled houses, and superb art galleries and museums are home to some of the world’s best-known paintings. Please note that complimentary shuttle buses operate from the port to the centre of IJmuiden, not to Amsterdam.
SummaryExplore Antwerp, Belgium's second city. Known for its diamond cutting industry, fashion and the many great artists that lived in its vicinity, Antwerp is a city focused on art and culture.
SummaryIn 1895 work began to construct a new seaport and harbour next to the tiny village of Zeebrugge, situated on the North Sea coast. Today the fast-expanding port of Zeebrugge is one of the busiest in Europe and its marina is Belgium’s most important fishing port. Many attempts were made to destroy this important port during both World Wars. Zeebrugge is ideally located for discovering the historic city of Bruges, and delightful seaside resorts with long sandy beaches can be visited by using the trams that run the whole length of the Belgian coast. Please note that no food may be taken ashore in Belgium. We shall not be offering shuttle buses to Bruges, but you may visit the city on an optional excursion: those visiting Bruges should note that there may be quite a long walk from the coach to the town centre.
Roudnice nad Labem
Kralupy nad Vltavou
Ustí nad Labem
Agios Nikólaos, Kríti
SummaryUndoubtedly the most extraordinary island in the Aegean, crescent-shape Santorini remains a mandatory stop on the Cycladic tourist route—even if it's necessary to enjoy the sensational sunsets from Ia, the fascinating excavations, and the dazzling white towns with a million other travelers. Called Kállisti (the "Loveliest") when first settled, the island has now reverted to its subsequent name of Thira, after the 9th-century-BC Dorian colonizer Thiras. The place is better known, however, these days as Santorini, a name derived from its patroness, St. Irene of Thessaloniki, the Byzantine empress who restored icons to Orthodoxy and died in 802. You can fly conveniently to Santorini, but to enjoy a true Santorini rite of passage, opt instead for the boat trip here, which provides a spectacular introduction. After the boat sails between Sikinos and Ios, your deck-side perch approaches two close islands with a passage between them. The bigger one on the left is Santorini, and the smaller on the right is Thirassia. Passing between them, you see the village of Ia adorning Santorini's northernmost cliff like a white geometric beehive. You are in the caldera (volcanic crater), one of the world's truly breathtaking sights: a demilune of cliffs rising 1,100 feet, with the white clusters of the towns of Fira and Ia perched along the top. The bay, once the high center of the island, is 1,300 feet in some places, so deep that when boats dock in Santorini's shabby little port of Athinios, they do not drop anchor. The encircling cliffs are the ancient rim of a still-active volcano, and you are sailing east across its flooded caldera. On your right are the Burnt isles, the White isle, and other volcanic remnants, all lined up as if some outsize display in a geology museum. Hephaestus's subterranean fires smolder still—the volcano erupted in 198 BC, about 735, and there was an earthquake in 1956. Indeed, Santorini and its four neighboring islets are the fragmentary remains of a larger landmass that exploded about 1600 BC: the volcano's core blew sky high, and the sea rushed into the abyss to create the great bay, which measures 10 km by 7 km (6 mi by 4½ mi) and is 1,292 feet deep. The other pieces of the rim, which broke off in later eruptions, are Thirassia, where a few hundred people live, and deserted little Aspronissi ("White isle"). In the center of the bay, black and uninhabited, two cones, the Burnt Isles of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, appeared between 1573 and 1925. There has been too much speculation about the identification of Santorini with the mythical Atlantis, mentioned in Egyptian papyri and by Plato (who says it's in the Atlantic), but myths are hard to pin down. This is not true of old arguments about whether tidal waves from Santorini's cataclysmic explosion destroyed Minoan civilization on Crete, 113 km (70 mi) away. The latest carbon-dating evidence, which points to a few years before 1600 BC for the eruption, clearly indicates that the Minoans outlasted the eruption by a couple of hundred years, but most probably in a weakened state. In fact, the island still endures hardships: since antiquity, Santorini has depended on rain collected in cisterns for drinking and irrigating—the well water is often brackish—and the serious shortage is alleviated by the importation of water. However, the volcanic soil also yields riches: small, intense tomatoes with tough skins used for tomato paste (good restaurants here serve them); the famous Santorini fava beans, which have a light, fresh taste; barley; wheat; and white-skin eggplants.
SummaryIt's no wonder that all roads lead to the fascinating and maddening metropolis of Athens. Lift your eyes 200 feet above the city to the Parthenon, its honey-color marble columns rising from a massive limestone base, and you behold architectural perfection that has not been surpassed in 2,500 years. But, today, this shrine of classical form dominates a 21st-century boomtown. To experience Athens—Athína in Greek—fully is to understand the essence of Greece: ancient monuments surviving in a sea of cement, startling beauty amid the squalor, tradition juxtaposed with modernity. Locals depend on humor and flexibility to deal with the chaos; you should do the same. The rewards are immense. Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way. From many quarters of the city you can glimpse "the glory that was Greece" in the form of the Acropolis looming above the horizon, but only by actually climbing that rocky precipice can you feel the impact of the ancient settlement. The Acropolis and Filopappou, two craggy hills sitting side by side; the ancient Agora (marketplace); and Kerameikos, the first cemetery, form the core of ancient and Roman Athens. Along the Unification of Archaeological Sites promenade, you can follow stone-paved, tree-lined walkways from site to site, undisturbed by traffic. Cars have also been banned or reduced in other streets in the historical center. In the National Archaeological Museum, vast numbers of artifacts illustrate the many millennia of Greek civilization; smaller museums such as the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum illuminate the history of particular regions or periods. Athens may seem like one huge city, but it is really a conglomeration of neighborhoods with distinctive characters. The Eastern influences that prevailed during the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire are still evident in Monastiraki, the bazaar area near the foot of the Acropolis. On the northern slope of the Acropolis, stroll through Plaka (if possible by moonlight), an area of tranquil streets lined with renovated mansions, to get the flavor of the 19th-century's gracious lifestyle. The narrow lanes of Anafiotika, a section of Plaka, thread past tiny churches and small, color-washed houses with wooden upper stories, recalling a Cycladic island village. In this maze of winding streets, vestiges of the older city are everywhere: crumbling stairways lined with festive tavernas; dank cellars filled with wine vats; occasionally a court or diminutive garden, enclosed within high walls and filled with magnolia trees and the flaming trumpet-shaped flowers of hibiscus bushes. Formerly run-down old quarters, such as Thission, Gazi and Psirri, popular nightlife areas filled with bars and mezedopoleia (similar to tapas bars), are now in the process of gentrification, although they still retain much of their original charm, as does the colorful produce and meat market on Athinas. The area around Syntagma Square, the tourist hub, and Omonia Square, the commercial heart of the city about 1 km (½ mi) northwest, is distinctly European, having been designed by the court architects of King Otho, a Bavarian, in the 19th century. The chic shops and bistros of ritzy Kolonaki nestle at the foot of Mt. Lycabettus, Athens's highest hill (909 feet). Each of Athens's outlying suburbs has a distinctive character: in the north is wealthy, tree-lined Kifissia, once a summer resort for aristocratic Athenians, and in the south and southeast lie Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni, with their sandy beaches, seaside bars, and lively summer nightlife. Just beyond the city's southern fringes is Piraeus, a bustling port city of waterside fish tavernas and Saronic Gulf views.
SummaryAlthough the fishing boats still go out in good weather, Mykonos largely makes its living from tourism these days. The summer crowds have turned one of the poorest islands in Greece into one of the richest. Old Mykonians complain that their young, who have inherited stores where their grandfathers once sold eggs or wine, get so much rent that they have lost ambition, and in summer sit around pool bars at night with their friends, and hang out in Athens in winter when island life is less scintillating. Put firmly on the map by Jackie O in the 1960s, Mykonos town—called Hora by the locals—remains the Saint-Tropez of the Greek islands. The scenery is memorable, with its whitewashed streets, Little Venice, the Kato Myli ridge of windmills, and Kastro, the town's medieval quarter. Its cubical two- or three-story houses and churches, with their red or blue doors and domes and wooden balconies, have been long celebrated as some of the best examples of classic Cycladic architecture. Luckily, the Greek Archaeological Service decided to preserve the town, even when the Mykonians would have preferred to rebuild, and so the Old Town has been impressively preserved. Pink oleander, scarlet hibiscus, and trailing green pepper trees form a contrast amid the dazzling whiteness, whose frequent renewal with whitewash is required by law. Any visitor who has the pleasure of getting lost in its narrow streets (made all the narrower by the many outdoor stone staircases, which maximize housing space in the crowded village) will appreciate how its confusing layout was designed to foil pirates—if it was designed at all. After Mykonos fell under Turkish rule in 1537, the Ottomans allowed the islanders to arm their vessels against pirates, which had a contradictory effect: many of them found that raiding other islands was more profitable than tilling arid land. At the height of Aegean piracy, Mykonos was the principal headquarters of the corsair fleets—the place where pirates met their fellows, found willing women, and filled out their crews. Eventually the illicit activity evolved into a legitimate and thriving trade network. Morning on Mykonos town's main quay is busy with deliveries, visitors for the Delos boats, lazy breakfasters, and street cleaners dealing with the previous night's mess. In late morning the cruise-boat people arrive, and the shops are all open. In early afternoon, shaded outdoor tavernas are full of diners eating salads (Mykonos's produce is mostly imported); music is absent or kept low. In mid- and late afternoon, the town feels sleepy, since so many people are at the beach, on excursions, or sleeping in their air-conditioned rooms; even some tourist shops close for siesta. By sunset, people have come back from the beach, having taken their showers and rested. At night, the atmosphere in Mykonos ramps up. The cruise-boat people are mostly gone, coughing three-wheelers make no deliveries in the narrow streets, and everyone is dressed sexy for summer and starting to shimmy with the scene. Many shops stay open past midnight, the restaurants fill up, and the bars and discos make ice cubes as fast as they can. Ready to dive in? Begin your tour of Mykonos town (Hora) by starting out at its heart: Mando Mavrogenous Square.
SummaryEarly travelers described Rhodes as a town of two parts: a castle or high town (Collachium) and a lower city. Today Rhodes town—sometimes referred to as Ródos town—is still a city of two parts: the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site that incorporates the high town and lower city, and the modern metropolis, or New Town, spreading away from the walls that encircle the Old Town. The narrow streets of the Old Town are for the most part closed to cars and are lined with Orthodox and Catholic churches, Turkish houses (some of which follow the ancient orthogonal plan), and medieval public buildings with exterior staircases and facades elegantly constructed of well-cut limestone from Lindos. Careful reconstruction in recent years has enhanced the harmonious effect.
SummaryCorfu town today is a vivid tapestry of cultures—a sophisticated weave, where charm, history, and natural beauty blend. Located about midway along the island's east coast, this spectacularly lively capital is the cultural heart of Corfu and has a remarkable historic center that UNESCO designated as a World Heritage Site in 2007. All ships and planes dock or land near Corfu town, which occupies a small peninsula jutting into the Ionian Sea.Whether arriving by ferry from mainland Greece or Italy, from another island, or directly by plane, catch your breath by first relaxing with a coffee or a gelato in Corfu town's shaded Liston Arcade, then stroll the narrow lanes of its pedestrians-only quarter. For an overview of the immediate area, and a quick tour of Mon Repos palace, hop on the little tourist train that runs from May to September. Corfu town has a different feel at night, so book a table at one of its famed tavernas to savor the island's unique cuisine.The best way to get around Corfu town is on foot. The town is small enough so that you can easily walk to every sight. There are local buses, but they do not thread their way into the streets (many now car-free) of the historic center. If you are arriving by ferry or plane, it's best to take a taxi to your hotel. Expect to pay about €10 from the airport or ferry terminal to a hotel in Corfu town. If there are no taxis waiting, you can call for one.
Heraklion (Iraklion), Crete
SummaryHaving been controlled by Arabic, Venetian and Ottoman empires over the years - it's no surprise that Heraklion is a diverse patchwork of exotic cultures and historical treasures. Celebrated as the birthplace of the Spanish Renaissance artist, El Greco, you can visit to explore the storied ruins of the Minoan empire's capital, and unearth the rich cultural treasures that Crete’s bustling modern capital has to offer.
SummaryFor better or worse, it can be difficult to reach Patmos—for many travelers, this lack of access is definitely for the better, since the island retains the air of an unspoiled retreat. Rocky and barren, the small, 34-square-km (21-square-mi) island lies beyond the islands of Kalymnos and Leros, northwest of Kos. Here on a hillside is the Monastery of the Apocalypse, which enshrines the cave where St. John received the Revelation in AD 95. Scattered evidence of Mycenaean presence remains on Patmos, and walls of the classical period indicate the existence of a town near Skala. Most of the island's approximately 2,800 people live in three villages: Skala, medieval Chora, and the small rural settlement of Kambos. The island is popular among the faithful making pilgrimages to the monastery as well as with vacationing Athenians and a newly growing community of international trendsetters—designers, artists, poets, and “taste gurus” (to quote Vogue’s July 2011 write-up of the island)—who have bought homes in Chora. These stylemeisters followed in the footsteps of Alexandrian John Stefanidis and the English artist Teddy Millington-Drake who, in the early ’60s, set about creating what eventually became hailed as one of the most gorgeous island homes in the world. The word soon spread thanks to their many guests (who included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) but, happily, administrators have carefully contained development, and as a result, Patmos retains its charm and natural beauty—even in the busy month of August.
SummaryKatakolon could not seem less of a cruise port if it tried. A tiny enclave clinging to the western Peloponnese coast, it's a sleepy place except when ships dock. But it's a popular cruise destination because of its proximity to Olympia. Ancient Olympia was one of the most important cities in classical Greece. The Sanctuary of Zeus was the city's raison d'être, and attracted pilgrims from around the eastern Mediterranean, and later the city played host to Olympic Games, the original athletic games that were the inspiration for today's modern sporting pan-planetary meet. At the foot of the tree-covered Kronion hill, in a valley near two rivers, Katakolon is today one of the most popular ancient sites in Greece. If you don't want to make the trip to Olympia, then Katakolon is an ideal place for a leisurely Greek lunch while you watch the fishermen mend their nets, but there's just not much else to do there.
SummaryOraia (beautiful) is the word Greeks use to describe Nafplion. The town's old section, on a peninsula jutting into the gulf of Argos, mixes Greek, Venetian, and Turkish architecture; narrow streets, often just broad flights of stone stairs, climb the slopes beneath the walls of Acronafplia. Tree-shaded plazas surround neoclassic buildings. The Palamidi fortress—an elegant display of Venetian might from the early 1700s—guards the town. Nafplion deserves at least a leisurely day of your undivided attention, and you may want to spend several days or a week here and use the city as the base from which to explore the many surrounding ancient sights.
SummaryLively, commercial Oporto is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. Also called Porto for short, the word easily brings to mind the city's most famous product - port wine. Oporto's strategic location on the north bank of the Douro River has accounted for the town's importance since ancient times. The Romans built a fort here where their trading route crossed the Douro, and the Moors brought their own culture to the area. Oporto profited from provisioning crusaders en route to the Holy Land and enjoyed the riches from Portuguese maritime discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries. Later, port wine trade with Britain compensated for the loss of the spice trade and the end of gold and gem shipments from Brazil. In the 19th century, the city went through a period of new prosperity with the rise of industries. In its wake followed the building of workers' quarters and opulent residences. Since the declaration of Oporto as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the city aims to build up a cultural reference that will provide it with a new image, based on deep historical roots. Among the attractions that make Oporto such an interesting place are its graceful bridges spanning the Douro River, a picturesque riverfront quarter and, most notable, its world-famous port wine lodges. Although Oporto is a bustling centre and home to many different businesses, the source of its greatest fame is the rich, sweet fortified red wine we know as port.
SummarySet on seven hills on the banks of the River Tagus, Lisbon has been the capital of Portugal since the 13th century. It is a city famous for its majestic architecture, old wooden trams, Moorish features and more than twenty centuries of history. Following disastrous earthquakes in the 18th century, Lisbon was rebuilt by the Marques de Pombal who created an elegant city with wide boulevards and a great riverfront and square, Praça do Comércio. Today there are distinct modern and ancient sections, combining great shopping with culture and sightseeing in the Old Town, built on the city's terraced hillsides. The distance between the ship and your tour vehicle may vary. This distance is not included in the excursion grades.
SummaryFormed by a volcanic eruption, Madeira lies in the Gulf Stream, about 500 miles due west of Casablanca. Discovered by Portuguese explorer João Gonçalves Zarco in 1419, this beautiful island became part of Portugal’s vast empire and was named for the dense forest which cloaked it - 'Madeira' means 'wood' in Portuguese. Sugar plantations first brought wealth here, and when King Charles II of England granted an exclusive franchise to sell wine to England and its colonies, many British emigrants were drawn to the capital, Funchal. Today’s travellers come to Madeira for the varied and luxuriant scenery, from mountain slopes covered with vines to picturesque villages and a profusion of wild flowers. The natural beauty of the island has earned it many pseudonyms such as ‘The Floating Garden of the Atlantic’, 'The Island of Eternal Springtime' and ‘God’s Botanical Gardens’ and our selection of excursions aim to show you why.
Ponta Delgada, Azores
SummaryOffering solace on the long journey across the Atlantic, Ponta Delgada is the Azores Islands' largest city, and a welcome relief for any weary sailor. Located on an archipelago of Portuguese islands, some 1,100 miles from the mainland, you can explore humbling volcanic scenery, as well as Sao Miguel's verdant landscape - which glows with colour when the hydrangeas that the Azores are known for bloom into life during the summer months. The striking black and white facade of the Church of Sao Jose welcomes you to the city itself, while you can head to the markets to pick up the pineapples, tea leaves and coffee beans that add a little flavour to the island. As the largest city of the Azores, Ponta Delgada is well stocked with places to eat delicious local seafood, or pick up a little shopping, as you enjoy setting your feet on dry land, following a long journey at sea. Volcanic firepower has carved these stunning islands, and a journey up to Caldeira das Sete Cidades is a must do, where you can hike beside the water-filled crater, and admire views of steep green walls, and the uninterrupted Atlantic Ocean stretching beyond them. Lagoa de Fogo offers yet more humbling views, with the crater lake dropping off sharply to rippled ocean far below.
SummaryPortimão is a major fishing port, and significant investment has been poured into transforming it into an attractive cruise port as well. The city itself is spacious and has several good shopping streets—though sadly many of the more traditional retailers have closed in the wake of the global economic crisis. There is also a lovely riverside area that just begs to be strolled (lots of the coastal cruises depart from here). Don’t leave without stopping for an alfresco lunch at the Doca da Sardinha ("sardine dock") between the old bridge and the railway bridge. You can sit at one of many inexpensive establishments, eating charcoal-grilled sardines (a local specialty) accompanied by chewy fresh bread, simple salads, and local wine.
SummaryEver since the Romans constructed a fort here and began using it as a trading post, Oporto has been a prosperous commercial centre. In the 15th and 16th centuries the city benefited from the wealth generated by Portugal’s maritime discoveries, and later, the establishment of a lucrative wine trade with Britain compensated for the loss of the spice trade. Today, Portugal’s second-largest city is a thriving, cosmopolitan place and is famous for its production of the fortified, sweet 'port' wine. Its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city was also awarded the status of European Capital of Culture in 2001. A large sandbar prevents ships from sailing into Oporto itself, so for over a century they have used nearby Leixões instead, a man-made seaport constructed nine miles from the city. Leixões is one of Portugal's major sea ports and is also home to one of the country's oldest football clubs, winners of the Taça de Portugal cup in 1961.
SummaryStockholm is a city in the flush of its second youth. Since the mid-1990s, Sweden's capital has emerged from its cold, Nordic shadow to take the stage as a truly international city. What started with entry into the European Union in 1995 gained pace with the extraordinary IT boom of the late 1990s, strengthened with the Skype-led IT second wave of 2003, and solidified with the hedge-fund invasion that is still happening today as Stockholm gains even more global confidence. And despite more recent economic turmoil, Stockholm's 1 million or so inhabitants have, almost as one, realized that their city is one to rival Paris, London, New York, or any other great metropolis.With this realization comes change. Stockholm has become a city of design, fashion, innovation, technology, and world-class food, pairing homegrown talent with an international outlook. The streets are flowing with a young and confident population keen to drink in everything the city has to offer. The glittering feeling of optimism, success, and living in the here and now is rampant in Stockholm.Stockholm also has plenty of history. Positioned where the waters of Lake Mälaren rush into the Baltic, it’s been an important trading site and a wealthy international city for centuries. Built on 14 islands joined by bridges crossing open bays and narrow channels, Stockholm boasts the story of its history in its glorious medieval old town, grand palaces, ancient churches, sturdy edifices, public parks, and 19th-century museums—its history is soaked into the very fabric of its airy boulevards, built as a public display of trading glory.
SummaryGotland is Sweden's main holiday island, a place of ancient history, a relaxed summer-party vibe, wide sandy beaches, and wild cliff formations called raukar (the remnants of reefs formed more than 400 million years ago). Measuring 125 km (78 miles) long and 52 km (32 miles) at its widest point, Gotland is where Swedish sheep farming has its home. In its charming glades, 35 varieties of wild orchids thrive, attracting botanists from all over the world.
SummaryDon't tell the residents of Göteborg that they live in Sweden's "second city," but not because they will get upset (people here are known for their amiability and good humor). They just may not understand what you are talking about. People who call Göteborg (pronounced YOO-teh-bor; most visitors stick with the simpler "Gothenburg") home seem to forget that the city is diminutive in size and status compared to Stockholm.Spend a couple of days here and you'll forget, too. You'll find it's easier to ask what Göteborg hasn't got to offer rather than what it has. Culturally it is superb, boasting a fine opera house and theater, one of the country's best art museums, as well as a fantastic applied-arts museum. There's plenty of history to soak up, from the ancient port that gave the city its start to the 19th-century factory buildings and workers' houses that helped put it on the commercial map. For those looking for nature, the wild-west coast and tame green fields are both within striking distance. And don't forget the food. Since its inception in 1983, more than half of the "Swedish Chef of the Year" competition winners were cooking in Göteborg.
SummaryBudapest is the capital city of Hungary and is located over the River Danube. It is one of the largest cities in the European Union and much of its historical sites have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Originally formed in 1873 by the joining of Buda, Pest and Old Buda, the city suffered heavy destruction during World War II and was rebuilt into the country's political, cultural and commercial hub it is now. Bridges and railways connect the city over the Danube, including the six small islands situated on the river themselves. Some of Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage sites include Chain Bridge, Budapest Parliament, the striking Matthias church and the iconic Royal Palace visible from every location within Budapest City. The Castle Hills district architecture represents over a thousand years of the city's history with examples of Roman, Turkish, Gothic, Renaissance and Art Nouveau styles. Budapest also has a rich Jewish heritage and is home to the largest synagogue in Europe. The city has an abundance of restaurants offering international cuisines, as well as traditional Hungarian dishes ,including goulash soup, a very popular lunchtime dish. Hungarians enjoy their coffee so a traditional cafe is never hard to find.
SummaryVienna is the capital and largest city of Austria. Located on the Danube River in the East of the country, the city is renowned for its strong music heritage and rich culture, and is the largest German speaking city in the world, outside of Berlin. In 2001, Vienna was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts magnificent architecture. The city is home to over 27 castles and 150 palaces including the symbolic Gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral and the iconic Schönbrunn Palace. Art and music are in abundance and all tastes are catered for. Live music venues offer everything from Rock to Opera. Enjoy world class performances at Vienna State Opera and experience the epicentre of international concert life at Musikverein. Modern and historical art can be found in indoor and outdoor spaces around the city, and a visit to the famous Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) is highly recommended. Enjoy views of the city from the Danube Tower and the Giant Ferris Wheel, then relax in the ample cosy coffee houses, cafes, bars and restaurants where traditional and international cuisines are served, as well as the locally produced wines.
SummaryLinz is a city in northern Austria located on both banks of the Danube River and is a short distance from Salzburg and Vienna. Linz has been awarded UNESCO City of Media Arts status and prides itself on offering a broad spectrum of events, activities and cultural institutions. Enjoy popular open air concert such as Klassik am Dom and extravagant street performances, which attract large crowds and popular international artists. Art galleries and centres are in abundance around the city as well as many museums housing international collections and depictions of the history and heritage of Linz. The architecture of the city also plays an important role in Linz’s cultural heritage with Main Square, Old Town and Mariendom Cathedral being some key attractions. Families will enjoy a trip to Postlingberg, located high up in the mountains and featuring a zoo, the Grottenbahn and spectacular views of the river and city below.
SummaryKrems an der Donau is a city in Northeast Austria located approximately forty three miles from Vienna. The city is situated on the banks of the river Danube and is one of the oldest of the Wachau Valley. Krems prides itself on historical preservation and has recently been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The history of the city dates back more than a thousand years with evidence found in its streets, squares, monasteries, churches and fortifications. Krems is also a modern city which celebrates its contemporary art and modern literature as well as being a leader in biotech application research. Exploring Krems is easily done on foot with city walking tours being very popular. Discover Old Krems and the Art Mile and learn about the city’s rich history at Museum Krems. As with many wine cities, food and drink is in abundance with popular restaurants and wine bars housed in historical buildings which enhance and deepen the dining and wine tasting experience.
SummaryMelk is an Austrian town situated on the River Danube. Located west of Vienna, the town is mostly famous for its 11th Century Melk Abbey, a magnificent monastery built high above the town. Melk Abbey is the largest example of Baroque architecture in the Wachau Valley, with the valley itself awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2000. Its steep terraced vineyards mean vinters cultivate with traditional manual practices and the springtime sees this unique landscape covered in apricot tree blossoms. Strolling around the streets of Melk Old Town, visitors will find the Town Hall Square, the Main Square, the old Post Office, now a local museum, Old Abbey Tavern, and Kremser Strasse. River cruises, self-guided walking tours and cycle tours are also extremely popular around Melk, as the Wachau Valley offers unique landscape to be explored and enjoyed. Art festivals and Baroque music is celebrated each year with the Melk Baroque Days, an international festival.
SummaryDürnstein is a town located in the Northeast of Austria, situated on the Danube river. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site and wine region of Wachauer. It is a popular destination for wine lovers as many wineries offer accommodation. In addition to wine tasting and vineyard tours, visitors will find exploring the area on foot is easy and enjoyable. Take one of the many beautiful hiking trails across ancient rocks and admire the impressive views across the Danube valley. Children will enjoy exploring the outdoors of Dürnstein too, with outdoor playgrounds and theme trails available to keep them entertained. In addition, children and adults will enjoy Austria’s only outdoor biological swimming pool, Kuenringerbad, with an average temperature of 23 degrees celsius. Enjoy views of the town from overhead helicopter tours, leisurely river excursions, or hike up into the mountains and explore some of Dürnstein’s ruins. The mountains offer the ruins of Dürnstein castle and city wall as well as beautiful flora and fauna to spot.
Neuhofen an der Ybbs
Lepenski Vir Archeological Site
SummaryBasel is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the Swiss, French and German borders. It is located on the bend of the River Rhine and benefits from a Mediterranean climate. It is the third most populated city in Switzerland and has been the commercial hub for Swiss arts and culture since the Renaissance. In 1967 the people of Basel voted to acquire two paintings by Picasso, who was so moved by the Basel people that he donated 3 paintings and a study to the city's Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts). Visit the Augusta Raurica, one of the largest Roman archaeology parks in Switzerland, and enjoy a river crossings over the River Rhine by non-motorised ferries. During the summer months, time is spent outdoors, either swimming in the River Rhine, dining al fresco, enjoying open air concerts, cinema, street parties and festivals. Basel is home to over 20 restaurants that have won GaultMillau or Michelin awards, and boasts Switzerland's largest collection of theatre shows, including modern contemporary dance, touring and puppetry theatre.
SummaryBy the 11th century, Copenhagen was already an important trading and fishing centre and today you will find an attractive city which, although the largest in Scandinavia, has managed to retain its low-level skyline. Discover some of the famous attractions including Gefion Fountain and Amalienborg Palace, perhaps cruise the city’s waterways, visit Rosenborg Castle or explore the medieval fishing village of Dragoer. Once the home of Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen features many reminders of its fairytale heritage and lives up to the reputation immortalised in the famous song ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’.
SummarySkagen Denmark is a brand, initially of watches, of Skagen Designs Ltd., that has grown into being a wider American contemporary accessories brand based on Danish design.
SummaryAalborg is a city in the Jutland region of Denmark. It’s known for its revitalized waterfront on the Limfjord, the body of water that cuts through Jutland. Also notable are the Aalborg Havnebad outdoor pool, exhibitions at the Utzon Center and concerts at the futuristic House of Music. Nearby is the 16th-century, half-timbered Aalborghus Castle. The Aalborg Historical Museum tells the city’s 1,000-year history.
SummaryÅrhus is Denmark's second-largest city, and, with its funky arts and college community, one of the country's most pleasant. Cutting through the center of town is a canal called the Århus Å (Århus Creek). It used to run underground, but was uncovered a few years ago. Since then, an amalgam of bars, cafés, and restaurants has sprouted along its banks. At all hours of the day and night this waterfront strip is abuzz with crowds that hang out on the outdoor terraces and steps that lead down to the creek.The VisitÅrhus tourist office has information about the Århus Passport, which includes passage on buses, free or discounted admission to the 12 most popular museums and sites in the city, and tours.
SummaryBornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea off the south coast of Sweden. In its north are the clifftop ruins of Hammershus, a medieval castle. By the jagged Helligdomsklipperne rocks near the town of Gudhjem, Bornholm Art Museum shows the work of painters attracted by the island’s natural light. West, in the port town of Rønne, Bornholm Museum reflects 10,000 years of local history, including the WWII occupation.
SummaryA warm welcome by locals can always be expected at this Danish port, and after a short stroll on the beach, a dip in the sea, and a bicycle ride around the city’s historic old town and fortress why not travel the 37 miles/60 kilometres to Odense to the birthplace of Denmark’s great children’s author, Hans Christian Andersen. Visit Andersen’s childhood home to (re)discover the works of this emblematic writer. The adjacent museum is particularly interesting as it allows a full exploration of Andersen’s creative talents and gives an idea of his enormous imagination – which was not just limited to the fairy tales that are so loved by children the world over. Do look out for the paper cuttings, which are superb in their delicacy and handling.
SummaryA city of the sea, Helsinki was built along a series of oddly shaped peninsulas and islands jutting into the Baltic coast along the Gulf of Finland. Streets and avenues curve around bays, bridges reach to nearby islands, and ferries ply among offshore islands.Having grown dramatically since World War II, Helsinki now absorbs more than one-tenth of the Finnish population. The metro area covers 764 square km (474 square miles) and 315 islands. Most sights, hotels, and restaurants cluster on one peninsula, forming a compact central hub. The greater Helsinki metropolitan area, which includes Espoo and Vantaa, has a total population of more than a million people.Helsinki is a relatively young city compared with other European capitals. In the 16th century, King Gustav Vasa of Sweden decided to woo trade from the Estonian city of Tallinn and thus challenge the Hanseatic League's monopoly on Baltic trade. Accordingly, he commanded the people of four Finnish towns to pack up their belongings and relocate to the rapids on the River Vantaa. The new town, founded on June 12, 1550, was named Helsinki.For three centuries, Helsinki (Helsingfors in Swedish) had its ups and downs as a trading town. Turku, to the west, remained Finland's capital and intellectual center. However, Helsinki's fortunes improved when Finland fell under Russian rule as an autonomous grand duchy. Czar Alexander I wanted Finland's political center closer to Russia and, in 1812, selected Helsinki as the new capital. Shortly afterward, Turku suffered a disastrous fire, forcing the university to move to Helsinki. The town's future was secure.Just before the czar's proclamation, a fire destroyed many of Helsinki's traditional wooden structures, precipitating the construction of new buildings suitable for a nation's capital. The German-born architect Carl Ludvig Engel was commissioned to rebuild the city, and as a result, Helsinki has some of the purest neoclassical architecture in the world. Add to this foundation the influence of Stockholm and St. Petersburg with the local inspiration of 20th-century Finnish design, and the result is a European capital city that is as architecturally eye-catching as it is distinct from other Scandinavian capitals. You are bound to discover endless engaging details—a grimacing gargoyle; a foursome of males supporting a balcony's weight on their shoulders; a building painted in striking colors with contrasting flowers in the windows. The city's 400 or so parks make it particularly inviting in summer.Today, Helsinki is still a meeting point of eastern and western Europe, which is reflected in its cosmopolitan image, the influx of Russians and Estonians, and generally multilingual population. Outdoor summer bars ("terrassit" as the locals call them) and cafés in the city center are perfect for people watching on a summer afternoon.
Oro Fortress Island
Bay of Bothnia, Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia
SummaryBratislava is the capital city of Slovakia and is located along the Danube a river on the borders of Austria and Hungary. The city is surrounded by the Little Carpathians Mountains and vineyards as well as its iconic reconstructed Bratislava Castle overlooking Old Town. The castle offers a picturesque view of the city, the neighbouring countries and is home to the Museum of History. Bratislava offers a blend of historic and modern attractions including the Old Town Hall, now home to the Bratislava City Museum, the UFO Bridge, Martin’s Cathedral, Michael’s Gate and Blue Church St Elizabeth’s. Bratislava is home to one of the oldest city parks in Central Europe and is popular with walkers, runners and cyclists as is the city forest park and foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The city is popular for its locally brewed beers and has many micro-breweries and underground beer cellars. The local cuisine of Bratislava is an eclectic influence of European cultures including Slovak, Hungarian, Austrian and German and serves as a reminder of the history of this cosmopolitan city. However, visitors will find an array of offerings to suit all tastes with lunch being the main meal of the day and roast goose with lokse considered a signature dish of the area.
SummarySurrounded by mountains and sparkling fjords, the waterside city of Bergen has a spectacular setting. There has been a settlement here since medieval times and the colourful waterfront buildings of the Hanseatic wharf, known as Bryggen, are testament to its fascinating history of trade. As Norway’s best known medieval settlement, the Bryggen is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Our comprehensive selection of excursions allows you to discover the many sides of Bergen, such as the fish market and narrow cobbled streets, as well as stunning views of the city from the summit of Mt Fløyen. Alternatively, those who have visited the city previously may like to experience one of the tours that travel further afield. Just 300 yards from the main piers, you will find the Fortress Museum (Fesningsmuseum), which has an interesting collection of objects related to World War II.
SummaryWith its centre located on the island of Tromsø, the municipality of Tromsø is more than five times the size of Norway’s capital, Oslo, and is the world’s northernmost university city. Lying 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle, it is known as the 'Gateway to the Arctic' because it was used as a starting point for hunters looking for Arctic foxes, polar bears and seals. In the 19th century it was a base for explorers on Arctic expeditions – a history that is remembered in the city’s Polar Museum, which you can visit on an excursion. Also commemorated in the area is the history of Norway’s indigenous people, the Sami. Visitors can learn about the traditions, heritage and modern preservation of the Sami culture at the Tromsø Museum. Nowadays, Tromsø is a charming mix of old and new, with wooden buildings sitting alongside contemporary architecture such as the impressive glacier-like Arctic Cathedral, which features one of the largest stained glass windows in Europe. Looking down on the city is Mount Storsteinen, and a cable car runs to the top, giving wonderful views over the surrounding countryside of forested peaks and reindeer pastures.
SummaryMolde, the 'Town of Roses', is a city and municipality in Romsdal in Møre og Romsdal County, Norway. The municipality is located on the Romsdal Peninsula, surrounding the Fannefjord and Moldefjord. The city is located on the northern shore of the Romsdalsfjord. The city of Molde is the administrative centre of Møre og Romsdal County, administrative center of the municipality of Molde, commercial hub of the Romsdal region and seat of the Diocese of Møre. Molde proper consists of a 6.2-mile (10-kilometre) long and 0.62-1.24 mile (1-2-kilometre) wide strip of urban land running east-west along the north shore of the Moldefjord, an arm of the Romsdalsfjord, on the Romsdal Peninsula. The city is sheltered by Bolsøya and the Molde Archipelago, a chain of low-lying islands and islets, to the south and the wood-clad hills of Moldemarka to the north. The city centre is located just west of the River Moldeelva, which runs into the city from the north, originating in the Lake Moldevatnet and running through the Valley Moldedalen.
Kristiansund is a town and also name of the municipality on the western coast of Norway. It is known as the dried codfish capital of Norway.
It is a city situated in the middle of the sea, located over four islands. The small local ferry Sundbaten takes visitors and locals alike between the Kirkelandet, Innlandet, Nordlandet and Gomalandet.
The Norwegian Clipfish Museum is located at Milnbrygga wharf. The town was built partly on the fishing heritage of clipfish, which is split, salted cod dried traditionally on the cliffs along the sea.
Kraftkar cheese is from here, and Snadderfestivalen is the annual food festival every June, which celebrates local food, craft beer and aquavit.
SummaryMore than 600 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the world's northernmost town is also one of the most widely visited and oldest places in northern Norway. "Hammerfest" means "mooring place" and refers to the natural harbor (remarkably free of ice year-round thanks to the Gulf Stream) that is formed by the crags in the mountain. Hammerfest is the gateway to the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, a jumping-off point for Arctic expeditions. Once a hunting town, Hammerfest's town emblem features the polar bear. In 1891 the residents of Hammerfest, tired of the months of darkness that winter always brought, decided to brighten their nights: they purchased a generator from Thomas Edison, and Hammerfest thus ecame the first city in Europe to have electric street lamps. In addition to two museums, there are several shops within Hammerfest's small city center. There is also a market selling souvenirs and other goods outside the town hall.
SummaryThe capital of Nordland is a peaceful city, but beneath the surface lies a fascinating and colourful military past. During the Cold War it was an important NATO base, stationing fighter jets to intercept Soviet naval vessels and aircraft. The situation culminated when Premier Kruschev threatened to destroy Bodø with nuclear weapons after a CIA U-2 spy plane bound for the city was shot down over the Soviet Union. You can learn more about the city's Cold War history at the Norwegian Aviation Museum, which is uniquely designed to resemble a biplane and houses an intact U-2 plane, a Spitfire, a rare Hønningstad C-5 polar seaplane and many other interesting exhibits. As well as its military heritage, Bodø boasts the world's strongest maelstrom at Saltstraumen, which attracts a host of visitors every year.
Finnsnes is a small town in the municipality of Troms og Finnmark county.
Finnsnes has an avid fishing and agriculture industry, with fish farming growing in importance, and popular week-long summer festival. Its central park has a natural lake within it.
It is known as the gateway to Senja, being located on the mainland near the Island of Senja just across the Gisundet Strait.
Senja is known as an adventure-filled island and a minuature Norway, with mountains, fjords and small communities.
Sortland, Vesteralen Islands
SummarySortland is a town in Norway's Nordland county, in the region of Vesterålen. The Norwegian Coastguard has a base here, and it is also a popular place for observing the Northern Lights. The town is the location of the Sortland Bridge, which provides a road connection between Langøya and Hinnøya by road. Sortland is sometimes nicknamed the Blue City, as many of its houses are painted in that colour.
SummaryKirkenes is a small town in the North-East of Norway, bordering both Russia and Finland, located only 250 miles away from the Arctic Circle. Known for its wildlife, beautiful scenery and winter sports activities, Kirkenes has a kind of fantastical charm.
Nesna is a pretty, former trading post village on the mainland of Norway that is part of the Helgeland traditional region in Norway's Nordland area.
The picturesque islands of Hugla, Handnesoya and Tomma are seen from the village and by cruise ships sailing in the area. The village still runs in quite a traditional way and locals can be seen going about their daily lives, mainly involved in the local fishing industry.
The small fishing village of Øksfjord in Finnmark lies in the far north of Norway, in the Articabove 70°. It is an ideal port to see what real rural Norwegian life is like, with a population of merely 500 in the whole district of Loppa, whichØksfjord is the administrative centre for.
Øksfjordjøkulen, the fifth largest glacier in Norway is nearby, to the southeast of the village, and stands at nearly 4,000ft above sea level. It is the only glacier in mainland Norway which calves directly into the sea. This is something that only happens with glaciers in the Arctic, and nowhere else in the world, so is a facinating and unique event to see.
12,000 years ago, the Komsa, a tribe of Meolithic hunter-gathers lived in the area.
Øksfjord grew in the nineteenth century, when huge shoals of herring arrived. The main industries there today are fish processing plants and shipyards, showing the importance of maritime industry to the area.
SummaryThe coastal town of Ålesund is the commercial capital of the Møre og Romsdal district. But more important, it is noted for its characteristic Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) buildings, which some claim make Ålesund one of the most beautiful towns in Norway. This Art Nouveau style emerged when the town was completely rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1904 destroyed nearly 800 buildings and left 10,000 residents homeless. It is said that the fire started by a tipped oil lamp. Rebuilding was carried out with the help of many young, foreign architects who added their own flourishes to the architectural blend of German Jugendstil and Viking roots. Today, narrow streets are crammed with buildings topped with turrets, spires and gables that bear decorations of dragonheads and curlicues. As one of the few remaining Art Nouveau towns in the world, in 1998 Ålesund was awarded the coveted Houens National Memorial Prize for the preservation of its unique architecture.
SummaryDublin is making a comeback. The decade-long "Celtic Tiger" boom era was quickly followed by the Great Recession, but The Recovery has finally taken a precarious hold. For visitors, this newer and wiser Dublin has become one of western Europe's most popular and delightful urban destinations. Whether or not you're out to enjoy the old or new Dublin, you'll find it a colossally entertaining city, all the more astonishing considering its intimate size.It is ironic and telling that James Joyce chose Dublin as the setting for his famous Ulysses, Dubliners, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man because it was a "center of paralysis" where nothing much ever changed. Which only proves that even the greats get it wrong sometimes. Indeed, if Joyce were to return to his once-genteel hometown today—disappointed with the city's provincial outlook, he left it in 1902 at the age of 20—and take a quasi-Homeric odyssey through the city (as he so famously does in Ulysses), would he even recognize Dublin as his "Dear Dirty Dumpling, foostherfather of fingalls and dotthergills"?For instance, what would he make of Temple Bar—the city's erstwhile down-at-the-heels neighborhood, now crammed with cafés and trendy hotels and suffused with a nonstop, international-party atmosphere? Or the simple sophistication of the open-air restaurants of the tiny Italian Quarter (named Quartier Bloom after his own creation), complete with sultry tango lessons? Or of the hot–cool Irishness, where every aspect of Celtic culture results in sold-out theaters, from Once, the cult indie movie and Broadway hit, to Riverdance, the old Irish mass-jig recast as a Las Vegas extravaganza? Plus, the resurrected Joyce might be stirred by the songs of Hozier, fired up by the sultry acting of Michael Fassbender, and moved by the award-winning novels of Colum McCann. As for Ireland's capital, it's packed with elegant shops and hotels, theaters, galleries, coffeehouses, and a stunning variety of new, creative little restaurants can be found on almost every street in Dublin, transforming the provincial city that suffocated Joyce into a place almost as cosmopolitan as the Paris to which he fled. And the locals are a hell of a lot more fun! Now that the economy has finally turned a corner, Dublin citizens can cast a cool eye over the last 20 crazy years. Some argue that the boomtown transformation of their heretofore-tranquil city has permanently affected its spirit and character. These skeptics (skepticism long being a favorite pastime in the capital city) await the outcome of "Dublin: The Sequel," and their greatest fear is the possibility that the tattered old lady on the Liffey has become a little less unique, a little more like everywhere else.Oh ye of little faith: the rare ole gem that is Dublin is far from buried. The fundamentals—the Georgian elegance of Merrion Square, the Norman drama of Christ Church Cathedral, the foamy pint at an atmospheric pub—are still on hand to gratify. Most of all, there are the locals themselves: the nod and grin when you catch their eye on the street, the eagerness to hear half your life story before they tell you all of theirs, and their paradoxically dark but warm sense of humor. It's expected that 2016 will be an extra-special year in the capital, as centenary celebrations of the fateful 1916 Easter Rising will dominate much of the cultural calendar.
SummaryCork City's nearby harbor district has seen plenty of history. Cork Harbour's draws include Fota Island—with an arboretum, a wildlife park, and the Fota House ancestral estate—and the fishing port of Cobh.
SummaryKillybegs The days start early in Killybegs, as this quiet fishing town rumbles to life, and ships with red and blue paint peeling from their hulls quietly depart, ready for a morning's hard work at sea. Located in a scenic part of County Donegal, Killybegs is Ireland's fishing capital, and the salty breeze and pretty streets serve as a revitalising medicine for visitors. The town is also your gateway to some of the country's most majestic coastal scenery, which is dotted with flashing white lighthouses, keeping watch over invigorating seascapes. Killybegs enjoys a privileged position on the coast of north west of Ireland, close to the spectacular Slieve League - a titanic mountain, which explodes upwards from frothing ocean. Walk as close as you dare to the coastline’s sheer drops, or admire the folding cliffs from the best vantage point, down on the water.
SummaryThe largest town in the Southeast and Ireland's oldest city, Waterford was founded by the Vikings in the 9th century and was taken over by Strongbow, the Norman invader, with much bloodshed in 1170. The city resisted Cromwell's 1649 attacks, but fell the following year. It did not prosper again until 1783, when George and William Penrose set out to create "plain and cut flint glass, useful and ornamental," and thereby set in motion a glass-manufacturing industry long without equal. The famed glassworks closed after the 2008 financial crisis, but Waterford Crystal has triumphantly risen again from the flames in a smaller, leaner version, opened in 2010 and now relocated to the Mall.
SummaryCork City received its first charter in 1185 from Prince John of Norman England, and it takes its name from the Irish word corcaigh, meaning "marshy place." The original 6th-century settlement was spread over 13 small islands in the River Lee. Major development occurred during the 17th and 18th centuries with the expansion of the butter trade, and many attractive Georgian-design buildings with wide bowfront windows were constructed during this time. As late as 1770 Cork's present-day main streets—Grand Parade, Patrick Street, and the South Mall—were submerged under the Lee. Around 1800, when the Lee was partially dammed, the river divided into two streams that now flow through the city, leaving the main business and commercial center on an island, not unlike Paris's Île de la Cité. As a result, the city has a number of bridges and quays, which, although initially confusing, add greatly to the port's unique character. Cork can be very "Irish" (hurling, Gaelic football, televised plowing contests, music pubs, and peat smoke). But depending on what part of town you're in, Cork can also be distinctly un-Irish—the sort of place where hippies, gays, and farmers drink at the same pub.
SummaryGalway is a city in the West of Ireland in the province of Connacht. It lies on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay and is surrounded by County Galway. It is the fourth most populous urban area in the Republic of Ireland and the sixth most populous city in the island of Ireland. It is both a picturesque and lively city with a wonderful avant-garde culture and a fascinating mixture of locally owned speciality shops, often featuring locally made crafts. Indeed local handcrafts are a feature of the entire region including hand knits, pottery, glass, jewellery and woodwork. The city’s hub is 18th-century Eyre Square, a popular meeting spot surrounded by shops, and traditional pubs that often offer live Irish folk music. Nearby, stone-clad cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the winding lanes of the Latin Quarter, which retains portions of the medieval city walls. The city bears the nickname "The City of the Tribes" because "fourteen tribes" of merchant families led the city in its Hiberno-Norman period. The merchants would have seen themselves as Irish gentry and loyal to the King. They later adopted the term as a badge of honour and pride in defiance of the town's Cromwellian occupier.
SummaryNothing can prepare you for your first sight of Dubrovnik. Lying 216 km (135 miles) southeast of Split and commanding a jaw-dropping coastal location, it is one of the world's most beautiful fortified cities. Its massive stone ramparts and fortress towers curve around a tiny harbor, enclosing graduated ridges of sun-bleached orange-tiled roofs, copper domes, and elegant bell towers. Your imagination will run wild picturing what it looked like seven centuries ago when the walls were built, without any suburbs or highways around it, just this magnificent stone city rising out of the sea.In the 7th century AD, residents of the Roman city Epidaurum (now Cavtat) fled the Avars and Slavs of the north and founded a new settlement on a small rocky island, which they named Laus, and later Ragusa. On the mainland hillside opposite the island, the Slav settlement called Dubrovnik grew up. In the 12th century the narrow channel separating the two settlements was filled in (now the main street through the Old Town, called Stradun), and Ragusa and Dubrovnik became one. The city was surrounded by defensive walls during the 13th century, and these were reinforced with towers and bastions in the late 15th century.From 1358 to 1808 the city thrived as a powerful and remarkably sophisticated independent republic, reaching its golden age during the 16th century. In 1667 many of its splendid Gothic and Renaissance buildings were destroyed by an earthquake. The defensive walls survived the disaster, and the city was rebuilt in baroque style.Dubrovnik lost its independence to Napoléon in 1808, and in 1815 passed to Austria-Hungary. During the 20th century, as part of Yugoslavia, the city became a popular tourist destination, and in 1979 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the war for independence, it came under heavy siege. Thanks to careful restoration, few traces of damage remain; however, there are maps inside the Pile and Ploče Gates illustrating the points around the city where damage was done. It’s only when you experience Dubrovnik yourself that you can understand what a treasure the world nearly lost
SummarySplit's ancient core is so spectacular and unusual that a visit is more than worth your time. The heart of the city lies within the walls of Roman emperor Diocletian's retirement palace, which was built in the 3rd century AD. Diocletian, born in the nearby Roman settlement of Salona in AD 245, achieved a brilliant career as a soldier and became emperor at the age of 40. In 295 he ordered this vast palace to be built in his native Dalmatia, and when it was completed he stepped down from the throne and retired to his beloved homeland. Upon his death, he was laid to rest in an octagonal mausoleum, around which Split's magnificent cathedral was built.In 615, when Salona was sacked by barbarian tribes, those fortunate enough to escape found refuge within the stout palace walls and divided up the vast imperial apartments into more modest living quarters. Thus, the palace developed into an urban center, and by the 11th century the settlement had expanded beyond the ancient walls.Under the rule of Venice (1420–1797), Split—as a gateway to the Balkan interior—became one of the Adriatic's main trading ports, and the city's splendid Renaissance palaces bear witness to the affluence of those times. When the Habsburgs took control during the 19th century, an overland connection to Central Europe was established by the construction of the Split–Zagreb–Vienna railway line.After World War II, the Tito years saw a period of rapid urban expansion: industrialization accelerated and the suburbs extended to accommodate high-rise apartment blocks. Today the historic center of Split is included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
Osijek is located on the River Drava, where the lovely boardwalk spans for several miles along the riverside. It also offers many outdoor pursuits. Cycling is popular along the riverside, while nearby Kopacki Rit national park is nearby and great for hiking. Osijek Zoo has 80 species of animals that roam freely in a safari-like set up.
Osijek is the gastronomic capital of the Slavonia Baraja region of Croatia, famous for its slow cooked stews, meats and game. Fruit and vagetables with heavily paprika-spiced meats and popular Slavonia flavours.
Croatian wine varietals of babic white wine, and malvazija red wine is grown in the region and recommended for wine lovers.
SummaryDalmatia's capital for more than 1,000 years, Zadar is all too often passed over by travelers on their way to Split or Dubrovnik. What they miss out on is a city of more than 73,000 that is remarkably lovely and lively despite—and, in some measure, because of—its tumultuous history. The Old Town, separated from the rest of the city on a peninsula some 4 km (2½ miles) long and just 1,640 feet wide, is bustling and beautiful: the marble pedestrian streets are replete with Roman ruins, medieval churches, palaces, museums, archives, and libraries. Parts of the new town are comparatively dreary, a testament to what a world war followed by decades of communism, not to mention a civil war, can do to the architecture of a city that is 3,000 years old. A settlement had already existed on the site of the present-day city for some 2,000 years when Rome finally conquered Zadar in the 1st century BC; the foundations of the forum can be seen today. Before the Romans came the Liburnians had made it a key center for trade with the Greeks and Romans for 800 years. In the 3rd century BC the Romans began to seriously pester the Liburnians, but required two centuries to bring the area under their control. During the Byzantine era, Zadar became the capital of Dalmatia, and this period saw the construction of its most famous church, the 9th-century St. Donat's Basilica. It remained the region's foremost city through the ensuing centuries. The city then experienced successive onslaughts and occupations—both long and short—by the Osogoths, the Croatian-Hungarian kings, the Venetians, the Turks, the Habsburgs, the French, the Habsburgs again, and finally the Italians before becoming part of Yugoslavia and, in 1991, the independent republic of Croatia. Zadar was for centuries an Italian-speaking city, and Italian is still spoken widely, especially by older people. Indeed, it was ceded to Italy in 1921 under the Treaty of Rapallo (and reverted to its Italian name of Zara). Its occupation by the Germans from 1943 led to intense bombing by the Allies during World War II, which left most of the city in ruins. Zadar became part of Tito's Yugoslavia in 1947, prompting many Italian residents to leave. Zadar's most recent ravages occurred during a three-month siege by Serb forces and months more of bombardment during the Croatian-Serbian war between 1991 and 1995. But you'd be hard-pressed to find outward signs of this today in what is a city to behold. There are helpful interpretive signs in English all around the Old Town, so you certainly won't feel lost when trying to make sense of the wide variety of architectural sites you might otherwise pass by with only a cursory look.
SummaryŠibenik's main monument, its Gothic-Renaissance cathedral, built of pale-gray Dalmatian stone and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands on a raised piazza close to the seafront promenade. From here a network of narrow, cobbled streets leads through the medieval quarter of tightly packed, terra-cotta–roof houses, and up to the ruins of a 16th-century hilltop fortress. The city has never been a real tourist destination. Before the Croatian war for independence, it was a relatively prosperous industrial center, but when the factories closed, Šibenik sank into an economic depression. However, the cathedral more than warrants a look, and it makes a decent base for visiting the waterfalls of Krka National Park.
SummaryOff the coast of Croatia in the southern Adriatic Sea lie some thousand islands and the largest of them, Korçula, is considered the most beautiful. With an average of 3,000 hours of sunshine per annum, which guarantees a wide assortment of Mediterranean vegetation, it is not difficult to understand why seasoned travelers compare Korçula to a latter-day Eden. Separated from the mainland by a channel of only one mile, Korçula's main town, named the same as the island, ranks among the best preserved medieval towns in the Mediterranean. It is the island's main tourist, economic and cultural center. Thanks to its strategic location along the sea trade routes, Korçula has always attracted travelers and settlers. Korcula was founded by Greek colonists, who were followed by Illyrians, Romans and finally the Croats. The Korçula Statute of 1214 is one of the oldest legal documents to have been adopted in this part of Europe. The same century saw the birth of the famous world traveler, Marco Polo. The house said to be his birthplace can be seen in town. Korçulans have always been known as keen seafarers, excellent shipbuilders, stonemasons and artists. From their many voyages, sailors brought back new ideas, which eventually mixed with local customs. To this day, Korçula has maintained the tradition of performing knightly games such as the chivalrous Moreska dance, which has been in existence for more than 400 years. Visitors to Korçula enjoy its stunning location, natural beauty and medieval ambiance. And if that's not enough, the town offers numerous attractions that are within walking distance from the pier, including the City Museum andthe Bishop's Treasury.
Summary The Croatian island of Hvar bills itself as the "sunniest island in the Adriatic." Not only does it have the figures to back up this claim—an annual average of 2,724 hours of sunshine—but it also makes visitors a sporting proposition, offering them a money-back guarantee if there are seven consecutive days of snow (snow has been known to fall here; the last time being February 2012).
SummaryOne of the true jewels of the Mediterranean, Rovinj is a jaw-droppingly beautiful town, which juts out into sparkling Mediterranean. Dominated by the pencil-like bell tower of the Venetian Saint Euphemia Cathedral, pine tree forests flow to the borders of the quaint Old Town - which evokes the romantic, tangled backstreets of the Venice. Rovinj - or Rovino in Italian - is a city of split personalities, with two official languages - having been owned by the Kingdom of Italy between 1919 and 1947.
SummarySarandë is a city in southern Albania on the coast of the Ionian Sea. Sarandë can be reached easily from the Greek island of Corfu by ferry. An early Christian monastery dedicated to 40 saints (Santi Quaranta) gave Sarandë its name. The city center of Sarandë has been scarred by communist architecture but since the fall of communism many small shops and bars have sprung up which give it a Mediterranean feel. This southernmost harbour of Albania was once the ancient port of Onchesmos. Today, Sarandë’s main attractions are its sunny climate and the nearby ruins of Butrint. Please Note: For your convenience, shore excursions offered for this port of call are available to reserve in advance at www.silversea.com, unless otherwise noted in the description. The deadline to reserve these tours is August 19, after which they will be available for purchase on board, unless otherwise noted in the description. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to anchor at Main Pier. The town center is 875 yards from the pier. Taxis are generally available at the pier. Shopping Typical souvenirs include t-shirts, postcards, wood carvings and dolls in national costume. Cuisine Albanian cuisine has been strongly influenced by Turkey. Grilled meats like shisqubap (shish kebab), romstek (minced meat patties) and gofte (meat balls) are served all across the Balkans. Some local dishes include comlek (meat and onion stew), fërges (a rich beef stew), rosto me salcë kosi (roast beef with sour cream) and tavë kosi (mutton with yoghurt. Lake Shkodra carp and Lake Ohrid trout are the most common fish dishes. Try the ice cream (akullore), which is popular everywhere. Other Sites Blue Eye Spring The iridescent blue water gushes from the depths of the earth and feeds the Bistrica River. Catacombs Recently discovered catacombs of the church of the Forty Saints can also be explored. Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.
SummaryToday a port town surrounded by industrial suburbs, Koper nevertheless warrants a visit. The Republic of Venice made Koper the regional capital during the 15th and 16th centuries, and the magnificent architecture of the Old Town bears witness to the spirit of those times.The most important buildings are clustered around Titov trg, the central town square. Here stands the Cathedral, which can be visited daily from 7 to noon and 3 to 7, with its fine Venetian Gothic facade and bell tower dating back to 1664. Across the square the splendid Praetor's Palace, formerly the seat of the Venetian Grand Council, combines Gothic and Renaissance styles. From the west side of Titov trg, the narrow, cobbled Kidriceva ulica brings you down to the seafront.
SummaryRīga has an upscale, big-city feel unmatched in the region. The capital (almost as large as Tallinn and Vilnius combined) is the business center of the area while original, high-quality restaurants and hotels have earned Rīga some bragging rights among its Western European counterparts. The city also doesn't lack for beauty—Rīga's Old Town (now a UNESCO World Heritage site) is one of Europe’s most striking examples of the art nouveau architectural style. Long avenues of complex and sometimes whimsical Jugendstil facades hint at Rīga's grand past. Many were designed by Mikhail Eisenstein, the father of Soviet director Sergei. This style dominates the city center. In many ways, the wonder of Rīga resides less in its individual attractions and more in the fabric of the town itself. In the medieval Old Town, an ornate gable or architrave catches the eye at every turn. The somber and the flamboyant are both represented in this quarter's 1,000 years of architectural history. Don't hesitate to just follow where your desire leads—the Old Town is compact and bounded by canals, so it's difficult to get totally lost. When the Old Town eventually became too crowded, the city burst out into the newer inner suburbs. The rich could afford to leave and build themselves fine fashionable mansions in the style of the day; consequently, city planners created a whole new Rīga. Across the narrow canal, you'll find the Esplanāde, a vast expanse of parkland with formal gardens and period mansions where the well-heeled stroll and play. Surrounding this is the art nouveau district. Encompassing avenues of splendid family homes (now spruced up in the postcommunist era), the collection has been praised by UNESCO as Europe's finest in the art nouveau style. The best examples are at Alberta 2, 2a, 4, 6, 8, and 13; Elizabetes 10b; and Strēlnieku 4a. If the weather permits, eschew public transport and stroll between the two districts, taking in the varied skylines and multifaceted facades, and perhaps stopping at a café or two as you go. The city has churches in five Christian denominations and more than 50 museums, many of which cater to eclectic or specialist tastes.
SummaryEstonia's history is sprinkled liberally with long stretches of foreign domination, beginning in 1219 with the Danes, followed without interruption by the Germans, Swedes, and Russians. Only after World War I, with Russia in revolutionary wreckage, was Estonia able to declare its independence. Shortly before World War II, in 1940, that independence was usurped by the Soviets, who—save for a brief three-year occupation by Hitler's Nazis—proceeded to suppress all forms of national Estonian pride for the next 50 years. Estonia finally regained independence in 1991. In the early 1990s, Estonia's own Riigikogu (Parliament), not some other nation's puppet ruler, handed down from the Upper City reforms that forced Estonia to blaze its post-Soviet trail to the European Union. Estonia has been a member of the EU since 2004, and in 2011, the country and its growing economy joined the Eurozone. Tallinn was also named the European City of Culture in 2011, cementing its growing reputation as a cultural hot spot.
SummaryOn one of the best stretches of the Mediterranean, this classic luxury destination is one of the most sought-after addresses in the world. With all the high-rise towers you have to look hard to find the Belle Époque grace of yesteryear. But if you head to the town's great 1864 landmark Hôtel de Paris—still a veritable crossroads of the buffed and befurred Euro-gentry—or enjoy a grand bouffe at its famous Louis XV restaurant, or attend the opera, or visit the ballrooms of the casino, you may still be able to conjure up Monaco's elegant past. Prince Albert II, a political science graduate from Amherst College, traces his ancestry to Otto Canella, who was born in 1070. The Grimaldi dynasty began with Otto's great-great-great-grandson, Francesco Grimaldi, also known as Frank the Rogue. Expelled from Genoa, Frank and his cronies disguised themselves as monks and in 1297 seized the fortified medieval town known today as Le Rocher (the Rock). Except for a short break under Napoléon, the Grimaldis have been here ever since, which makes them the oldest reigning family in Europe. In the 1850s a Grimaldi named Charles III made a decision that turned the Rock into a giant blue chip. Needing revenue but not wanting to impose additional taxes on his subjects, he contracted with a company to open a gambling facility. The first spin of the roulette wheel was on December 14, 1856. There was no easy way to reach Monaco then—no carriage roads or railroads—so no one came. Between March 15 and March 20, 1857, one person entered the casino—and won two francs. In 1868, however, the railroad reached Monaco, and it was filled with Englishmen who came to escape the London fog. The effects were immediate. Profits were so great that Charles eventually abolished all direct taxes. Almost overnight, a threadbare principality became an elegant watering hole for European society. Dukes (and their mistresses) and duchesses (and their gigolos) danced and dined their way through a world of spinning roulette wheels and bubbling champagne—preening themselves for nights at the opera, where such artists as Vaslav Nijinsky, Sarah Bernhardt, and Enrico Caruso came to perform. Along with the tax system, its sensational position on a broad, steep peninsula that bulges into the Mediterranean—its harbor sparkling with luxury cruisers, its posh mansions angling awnings toward the nearly perpetual sun—continues to draw the rich and famous. One of the latest French celebrities to declare himself "Monégasque," thus giving up his French passport, is superchef Alain Ducasse, who said that he made the choice out of affection for Monaco rather than tax reasons. Pleasure boats vie with luxury cruisers in their brash beauty and Titanic scale, and teams of handsome young men—themselves dyed blond and tanned to match—scour and polish every gleaming surface. As you might expect, all this glitz doesn't come cheap. Eating is expensive, and even the most modest hotels cost more here than in nearby Nice or Menton. As for taxis, they don't even have meters so you are completely at the driver's mercy (with prices skyrocketing during events such as the Grand Prix). For the frugal, Monaco is the ultimate day-trip, although parking is as coveted as a room with a view. At the very least you can afford a coffee at Starbucks. The harbor district, known as La Condamine, connects the new quarter, officially known as Monte Carlo with Monaco-Ville (or Le Rocher), a medieval town on the Rock, topped by the palace, the cathedral, and the Oceanography Museum. Have no fear that you'll need to climb countless steps to get to Monaco-Ville, as there are plenty of elevators and escalators climbing the steep cliffs. But shuttling between the lovely casino grounds of Monte Carlo and Old Monaco, separated by a vast port, is a daunting proposition for ordinary mortals without wings, so hop on the No. 1 bus from Saint Roman, or No. 2 from the Jardin Exotique - Both stop at Place du Casino and come up to Monaco Ville.
SummaryThe 202-hectare Principality of Monaco is located east of France’s Mediterranean coast. Known for its royal family, especially Prince Albert of Monaco, its casinos and racetracks and for being a wealthy state with no applied taxes. Monaco is reachable by air through the French airport of Nice Côte d'Azur, located approximately 16 miles from the principality.
SummaryMalta's capital, the minicity of Valletta, has ornate palaces and museums protected by massive fortifications of honey-color limestone. Houses along the narrow streets have overhanging wooden balconies for people-watching from indoors. Generations ago they gave housebound women a window on the world of the street. The main entrance to town is through the City Gate (where all bus routes end), which leads onto Triq Repubblika (Republic Street), the spine of the grid-pattern city and the main shopping street. Triq Mercante (Merchant Street) parallels Repubblika to the east and is also good for strolling. From these two streets, cross streets descend toward the water; some are stepped. Valletta's compactness makes it ideal to explore on foot. City Gate and the upper part of Valletta are experiencing vast redevelopment that includes a new Parliament Building and open-air performance venue. The complex, completed mid-2013, has numerous pedestrian detours in place along with building noise and dust. Before setting out along Republic Street, stop at the tourist information office on Merchant Street for maps and brochures.
SummaryMalta is situated approximately 58 miles (about 93 kilometres) south of Sicily, and approximately 179 miles (about 288 kilometres) north of Africa. The Maltese Archipelago lies at the centre of the Mediterranean. Gozo, the ‘Isle of Calypso’, is a unique island that forms a part of the Maltese Archipelago, and is famous for its mythical legends, folklore and crafts. Some parts of Gozo are still undiscovered and unspoilt. The southern part of the island facing Malta is low-lying, but it rises near the coast and forms the vertical cliffs of Ta’ Cenc that jut out like a bastion into the sea. Several narrow valleys cut through and dissect the plateau; the best-known being Xlendi.
SummarySprawling Reykjavík, the nation's nerve center and government seat, is home to half the island's population. On a bay overlooked by proud Mt. Esja (pronounced eh-shyuh), with its ever-changing hues, Reykjavík presents a colorful sight, its concrete houses painted in light colors and topped by vibrant red, blue, and green roofs. In contrast to the almost treeless countryside, Reykjavík has many tall, native birches, rowans, and willows, as well as imported aspen, pines, and spruces.Reykjavík's name comes from the Icelandic words for smoke, reykur, and bay, vík. In AD 874, Norseman Ingólfur Arnarson saw Iceland rising out of the misty sea and came ashore at a bay eerily shrouded with plumes of steam from nearby hot springs. Today most of the houses in Reykjavík are heated by near-boiling water from the hot springs. Natural heating avoids air pollution; there's no smoke around. You may notice, however, that the hot water brings a slight sulfur smell to the bathroom.Prices are easily on a par with other major European cities. A practical option is to purchase a Reykjavík City Card at the Tourist Information Center or at the Reykjavík Youth Hostel. This card permits unlimited bus usage and admission to any of the city's seven pools, the Family Park and Zoo, and city museums. The cards are valid for one (ISK 3,300), two (ISK 4,400), or three days (ISK 4,900), and they pay for themselves after three or four uses a day. Even lacking the City Card, paying admission (ISK 500, or ISK 250 for seniors and people with disabilities) to one of the city art museums (Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir, or Ásmundarsafn) gets you free same-day admission to the other two.
SummaryAkureyri, called the Capital of the North is the second largest urban area in Iceland, and a lively one at that. Hemmed by the 60-km (37-mile) long Eyjafjörður, Akureyri is sheltered from the ocean winds and embraced by mountains on three sides. Late 19th-century wooden houses impart a sense of history, and the twin spires of a modern Lutheran church rising on a green hill near the waterfront, provide a focal point. To the south of Akureyri is the pyramid-shape rhyolite mountain Súlur. Beyond it is Kerling, the highest peak in Eyjafjörður District.
SummaryTwo colossal terraces of sheer rock stand either side of this extraordinarily located town - which rides a jutting spit onto an immensity of black fjord water. Surprisingly, considering the remoteness of its location and its compact size, Isafjordur is a modern and lively place to visit, offering a great choice of cafes and delicious restaurants – which are well stocked to impress visitors. The town is a perfectly located base for adventures amongst Iceland's fantastic wilderness - with skiing, hiking and water-sports popular pursuits among visitors.
SummaryIt’s hard to imagine, as you stroll Heimaey’s idyllic streets of white wooden houses, that this island was literally torn apart by a spectacular volcanic eruption, just over 40 years ago. The fact that you can visit incredible Heimaey at all is something of a miracle – because the oozing lava of the Eldfell volcano threatened to seal the harbour off completely. Fortunately, its advance was halted by gallons of seawater, pumped onto it by the plucky islanders, who saved their fishing industry in the process. Iceland's famous for its scenery, and the huge castles of volcanic rock that rise out of the sea's waves here are some of the country's most dramatic.
SummarySeyðisfjörður, a beautiful 19th-century Norwegian village on the east coast of Iceland, is regarded by many as one of Iceland's most picturesque towns, not only due to its impressive environment, but also because nowhere in Iceland has a community of old wooden buildings been preserved so well as here. Poet Matthías Johannessen called Seyðisfjörður a 'pearl enclosed in a shell'. The community owes its origins to foreign merchants, mainly Danes, who started trading in the fjord in the mid-19th century. But the crucial factor in the evolution of the village was the establishment of the Icelandic herring fishery by Norwegians in 1870-1900. The Norwegians built up a number of herring-fishing facilities, and in a matter of years the little community grew into a boom town. Today, about 800 people live in Seyðisfjörður. The local economy has long been based on the fisheries, while light industry also flourishes. Tourism is playing a growing role, as the picturesque town in its spectacular surroundings attracts more and more visitors. The car/passenger ferry Norrøna, which plies between continental Europe and Iceland every summer, docks at Seyðisfjörður every Thursday. Seyðisfjörður has been a cosmopolitan community from its foundation, and the ferry service has contributed to ensuring that it remains so.
SummaryIt may be surrounded by pulse-raising volcanic scenery, boast extraordinary wildlife, and sit on a dramatic, jutting fjord - but it's fair to say Djúpivogur likes to take things slow. In fact, Djúpivogur relishes its peace and quiet so much that it's won recognition as a 'Cittaslow' - a Slow City. So prepare to take a new, leisurely look around, as you relax into the breathtaking natural glory of Iceland, and explore this unique location - filled with folklore, fabulous food and fantastic fjords.
SummaryThe town of Húsavík sits below Húsavíkurfjall mountain on the eastern shore of Skjálfandi bay. Just above the town is lake Botnsvatn, a popular place for outings. The lake is just the right size for a nice hike around it. The lakes surroundings are rich in vegetation and bird life and trout is said to be abundant, though small. Húsavík harbour lies below the bank right in the heart of town. The harbour once boasted a large fishing fleet, bustling with the activity of fishermen. It still serves as a fishing harbour but today's activity revolves more around the successful whale watching businesses. The first organised whale watching excursions in Iceland started from here in 1995. Since then, whale watching has become a major attraction and Húsavík continues to be the leading destination for whale watching. In addition to the tours, a fascinating whale museum is located right by the harbour. Húsavík is considered to be the oldest settlement in Iceland. The Swedish explorer, Gardar Svavarsson, spent one winter there in 870 AD during which time he built himself a house from which the settlement derives its name.
SummaryOn 14 November 1963, a trawler passing the southernmost point of Iceland spotted a column of smoke rising from the sea. Expecting to find a burning boat they were surprised to find instead, explosive volcanic eruptions. They were witnessing the birth of a new island. Columns of ash reached heights of almost 30,000 feet in the sky and could be seen on clear days as far away as Reykjavík. The eruptions continued for three and a half years, ending in June 1967. Once formed, Surtsey was 492 feet above sea level and covered an area of almost 2 square miles. The island was named after the Norse fire god Surtur. It is a perfect scientific study area used to understand the colonization process of new land by plant and animal life.
SummaryTagged on to the end of Iberia, the intriguing British outpost of Gibraltar is dominated by a sandy peninsula and the stunning 1,400-feet-high limestone Rock. Although small, Gibraltar has always been seen as having great strategic importance on account of its advantageous position where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, just 12 miles from the coast of Africa. Ever popular with British holidaymakers, Gibraltar is very much a home from home, boasting excellent duty-free shopping in many familiar British high street shops. Please note: Gibraltar’s small size and narrow winding roads mean that excursions are operated by 22-seater mini-buses, accompanied by a driver/guide. Local health and safety regulations prohibit the carriage of walking aids and collapsible wheelchairs on these vehicles. If you do wish to bring a mobility aid, we can arrange the Rock Tour by taxi, which has extra space. If this suits your requirements, please advise the Tours and Travel office when you join the ship, as numbers are limited.
SummaryMariehamn is the capital of the fractured Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland, which encompasses some 6,700 islands and skerries, which spray out across the Gulf of Bothnia towards Sweden. There's ample opportunity to stretch your legs here, with every outdoor activity imaginable available, and you can breathe in the freshest sea air you’ve ever tasted, as you kayak between islands, stroll flower-speckled fields, and sizzle in outdoor hot tubs. Known for being one of the Baltic’s sunniest destinations, you’ll also find a healthy supply of charming beaches, where you can lap up the rays. The region serves as a gateway to the Gulf, and has been a key witness to countless struggles and tussles over the years. It has a proud maritime heritage, and you can take a voyage through the exhibitions of the Aland Maritime Museum to learn more. See the genuine pirate flag on display - which is one of only three known to still be in existence. Its ominous skull and crossbones are sure to shiver your timbers. You can also experience life aboard an ocean-faring ship from Mariehamn's past, as you climb aboard the mighty, four-masted Pommern windjammer ship, which was donated to the museum once World War II had concluded.
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Cruiselines that sail in this location
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are practically the best time to explore Europe via cruise holiday. So, ideally, you should book your cruise to Europe in April and May or September and October. This is if you wish to enjoy smaller crowds, decent weather, and reasonable prices.Will there be cruises in Europe 2022? ›
Awe-Inspiring Europe Cruises in 2022
Discover the wonders of the old continent during one of our spectacular 2022 Europe cruises, where you'll get to explore newly unveiled destinations and embark on exciting itineraries around the Mediterranean, the Norwegian Fjords, Iceland, the British Isles, and more.
European river cruise prices start around $250 per person, per night for budget river cruises. However, prices can soar up to $1,500 per person, per night, for an all-inclusive luxury experience or depending on your itinerary and the time of year you're cruising.What cruise lines are in Europe? ›
The majority of oceangoing cruise lines offer itineraries in Europe, crisscrossing the countries of Northern, Eastern and Western Europe. Princess Cruises, Celebrity, Norwegian, Regent, Azamara, Silversea, Royal Caribbean, Crystal, Holland America and more cruise lines have itineraries here.What months should you avoid cruises? ›
If you dislike large numbers of children, avoid sailing late June through August or during school break times (late December, early January and March through mid-April).What cruise line is best? ›
- #1. Celebrity Cruises. #1 in Best Cruise Lines for the Money. ...
- #2. Holland America Line. #2 in Best Cruise Lines for the Money. ...
- #3. Royal Caribbean International. #3 in Best Cruise Lines for the Money. ...
- #4. Norwegian Cruise Line. ...
- #5. Carnival Cruise Line. ...
- #6. Princess Cruises. ...
- #7. Costa Cruises. ...
- #8. MSC Cruises.
Yes, there are cases on ships. However, the numbers seem to be relatively contained. With the fast-moving spread of the Omicron variant, it's obvious that at least early in 2022, cruise ships have a challenge to keep passengers health. Starting in 2021, the CDC assigned color status to ships.Are Mediterranean cruises being Cancelled for 2022? ›
Celebrity Cruises has canceled Celebrity Infinity's 2022 Mediterranean cruise season. The ship will now be redeployed to sail Caribbean voyages this summer and fall. The now-canceled season was scheduled to run from April 15, 2022, through November 28, 2022.Will European cruises sail this summer 2022? ›
The entire MSC Cruises fleet will be sailing during summer 2022, deployments in the Mediterranean, Europe, UK, and vaccinated sailings. MSC Cruises confirms that its entire 19 ship fleet will be sailing during summer 2022.Is food free on cruise? ›
Your cruise fare always includes food for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a cruise ship. However, not all venues that offer food will be free. The main dining room and cruise ship buffet will always be included in your cruise fare, though a few specialty items might cost extra.
On most mainstream cruise lines, however, only certain beverages are included in the fares. Complimentary drinks typically include tap water, basic coffee, tea (iced or hot), hot chocolate (from a packet or machine), milk and a selection of juices with meals.How much money do you need on a cruise? ›
What Is The Average Amount of Cash to Bring on a Cruise? On a cruise, most guests bring between $100-$120 in cash per day to be spent on transportation, tips, gifts, food, and shopping. In a survey of 850 cruisers, 71% stated that they took over $100 per person per day when cruising.What is the best month for a Mediterranean cruise? ›
The best time to take a Mediterranean cruise, however, is in the spring (May-June) or fall (September-October). Temperatures are comfortably warm, the sun is bright, and the crowds are far, far fewer than in July and August.What is the best time to take a Mediterranean cruise? ›
For optimal weather and adventures aplenty, the best time to cruise the Mediterranean is in the spring, summer or fall season, from early April through late November. During the winter, many locals close up shop, making it difficult for travelers to enjoy the full Mediterranean experience.What is the best time of year to cruise Northern Europe? ›
The months of March and April make up the shoulder season in Europe, which means great deals on cruise vacations. Whether you are seeking a low-key retreat or an adventure, you can do so during the months of March and April.What is the best time to visit the Mediterranean? ›
July to August is one of the peak seasons for tourism in Mediterranean region when weather is weather is hot and sunny and water is warm. This is the perfect time of the year to enjoy the sea and soak up sun. However, May to June and September to October is the best time to take a Mediterranean cruise.