With a history and heritage linked to seafaring, the stunning and vibrant city of Lisbon is often included as start or end stopover on Douro river cruise itineraries. Lisbon is a fantastic example of the interplay between old and new. With three UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites: Mosteiro dos Jerónimo, the Torre de Belém and the Cultural Landscape of Sintra. Imagined from the ruins of an old monastery, the latter became the first ever centre for 19th century Romantic architecture.
Contrasting completely against the port city’s rich history is its contemporary culture and vibrant city life. In neighbourhoods and districts that colour Lisbon’s streets, you’ll find the real draw to this city. Head to Chiado at the heart of the city for top restaurants, theatres and slick coffee shops. Try a few hours in Campo de Ourique for pastry shops and bakeries that are simply out-of-this-world, and if you still have the energy, pay a visit to trendy Príncipe Real for daytime shopping and drinks at dusk.
While many travellers are charmed by the rural delights of Bavarian Munich, or the multicultural, laissez-faire culture of Berlin, Germany is a country made up of many interesting–and very different–towns and cities.
If your European river cruise is in the Rhineland, then Cologne simply cannot be missed. Instantly recognisable by its stunning and intricate cathedral, Cologne sits by the Rhine, un-flinched by its sister cities in the spotlight. Our top tip for Cologne? Climb to the top of the Cathedral and look out across this beautiful cityscape. Next up? Visit the Schokoladenmuseum chocolate museum and make your own tasty chocolate in one of their classes!
If you cruise along the river Danube, once you’re done with Budapest and the other cities that often steal the limelight, why not take a chance on Belgrade, Serbia?
Unlike ‘iconic cities’, where towering, universally recognised landmarks dictate your adventure from the moment you land, Serbia is a little more low-key. As with all low-key cities, we recommend starting with the alternative quarter, which in this case is Skadarlija. Skadarlija is a perfect neighbourhood to grab a cold beer, listen to some local music and have a bite to eat. Once there, you can begin to ponder the rest of your trip. If history’s your bag, you might fancy a walk to Belgrade Fortress, where views of the Danube down below are fantastic. If that doesn’t take your fancy, head down to the Church of Saint Sava with is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world. Who said cities had to be iconic?
Bucharest, in southern Romania, is a city that should be on your visit list if your next river cruise stops nearby.
With great value drinks, and the pound going further than in most countries (despite Brexit), visitors to Bucharest will find themselves in a similar situation to what Budapest must have feel like 15 years ago.
Home to the world’s heaviest building, (the Palace of the Parliament, erected in the 1980s under the Ceausescu Communist regime – we’re not entirely sure how they) weighed it, Bucharest is not short of culture. With cool bookshops littering the streets, and a mix-match of eras of architecture, it’s no wonder they call Bucharest the Paris of the East.
We thought it suitable to end with a more classic city: Amsterdam. If you’re headed up towards the Dutch capital, you’ll want to make sure you stop off for amazing waffles, the home of Anne Frank, romantic canal boat rides and a tasty lager or two in this wonderful city.
For a bonus, we recommend taking a visit to the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, the world’s largest Van Gogh collection, to see some outstanding works that defined a legend.
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