Popular River Cruise Ports & Cities

FRANCE

Paris

Although it seems as if we all know Paris even before we see it, nothing compares to actually being there. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walking along the Seine at dusk, or sipping coffee at an elegant sidewalk cafe are quintessential Parisian experiences.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Musee d’Orsay, The Louvre, La Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmarte, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore

EATS:  Dinner at Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee, exquisite French steak at Le Severo, after-dinner coffee on the terrace of Cafe de Flore

Rouen

Rich in history, Rouen is where Richard the Lionheart lived and where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on the Place du Vieux-Marche.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Musee de la Ceramique, Musee Des Beaux Arts, Joan of Arc statue by Maxime Real de Sarte

EATS:  Don’t miss the sole and duck at La Couronne, where Julia Child once remarked she had “the most exciting meal of my life”

Vernon-Giverny

In the minds of art lovers, Claude Monet and Giverny are forever entwined. Spring and summer are the best times to see the gardens, which have been replanted to look as they did in Monet’s time. Beware the summer crowds: plan a midweek visit.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Monet’s Garden, Château des Tourelles, Museum of Impressionism

EATS:  Giverny restaurants can costly – try dining in Vernon, or opt for a picnic by the Seine

Marseille

This colorful Mediterranean port has seen the arrival of Greek settlers, Roman conquerors, swashbuckling sailors, religious crusadors, and tourists looking for sunny skies.

HIGHLIGHTS: Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde for views overlooking the city, Musee d’Art Contemporain for contemporary art

EATS: Home-style French food at Arret Buffet, Le Julien for excellent French cuisine, Le Rhul for good Bouillabaise

Bordeaux

Bordeaux has some of France’s best 18th-century architecture and a major fine-arts museum. The city is a walker’s paradise, especially im the compact center, where the only transportation is an electric tram.

HIGHLIGHTS: Miroir d’Eau fountain, La Cite Du Vin wine museum, Musee des Beaux Arts, Cathédrale St-André

EATS:  The Arcachon bay has some of the finest oysters in the world. Find excellent seafood at Chez Jean-Mi, the Marché des Capucins

Strasbourg

A 2,000-year-old city in Alsace-Lorraine, Strasbourg offers an intriguing blend of cultures. The town is famous for its beautiful, unfinished Gothic cathedral and its timbered houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Palais Rohan Strasbourg, Eglise Saint Thomas, Barrage Vauban and Ponts Couverts bridges, Quartier Kurtenau

EATS:  Try Alsace food specialities like the tarte flambee, Choucroute garnie, and kugelhopf.

Italy

Milan

Although it’s Italy’s most prosperous city, Milan doesn’t draw the tourists that may overrun Rome, Florence, and Venice. But its streets are lined with famous sites, and the city is bursting with a perfect mix of history, polished style, and urban energy.

HIGHLIGHTS:  The Duomo and Piazza del Duomo, Castello Sforzesco, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous work The Last Supper

EATS:  Fine dining at Cracco, great ambience at Trattoria dei Cacciatori, hob-nob with glitterati at Trussardi alla Scala

Venice

Venice is romance: a bridge arching over a canal, a gondola gliding by, the moon’s reflection on the water. It is history: the Palazzo Ducale, the Grand Canal. And it is modern: the headline names of the Venice Film Festival, the buzzing excitement of Carnival.

HIGHLIGHTS: Piazza San Marco, the islands of Burano and Murano, the Lido in fair weather, Rialto Bridge, Via Garibaldi

EATS:  Ca’ d’Oro alla Vedova for cicheti and baked mussels, risotto alla Torcellana at Locanda Cipriani, bigoli in salsa at Trattoria Gatto Nero

Portugal

Lisbon

The hodgepodge of historical periods and cultures represented in Lisbon is a major source of its charm. Restored medieval facades, wonderful art-nouveau buildings, mosaic sidewalks (or calcada), fine museums and plenty of modern shops await visitors.

HIGHLIGHTS:  The view from Castelo de Sao Jorge, window shopping in Chiado, Torre de Belem, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

EATS:  Seafood at Sea Me, acorda de mariscco at Restaurante Pap’Acorda, pastel de belem at Confeitaria de Belem

Spain

Madrid

Madrid is a bustling city of movement. But take a cue from Madrilenos and incorporate some quiet time into your schedule: people-watch at a terrace cafe, linger over El Greco’s paintings, savor the subtle hint of saffron in a dish, and appreciate the mournful beauty of flamenco.

HIGHLIGHTS:  The Puerta del Sol, 18th century fountains along Paseo del Prado, Palacio Real and the statue-lined Plaza de Oriente

EATS:  Tapas near Cava Baja and around Plaza de Santa Ana, Basque cuisine at Zalacain, Valencian paella at Casa de Valencia

Germany

Nuremberg

An interesting mix of the quaint and the cosmopolitan, Nuremberg was once dubbed “the most German of German cities” by a former mayor. It has a polished, modern feel, but also a strong sense of the historical, with many baroque buildings and historic sites of remembrance.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Nuremberg Castle, City Walls dating back to 14th Century, Schöner Brunnen fountain, Nuremberg Palace of Justice

EATS:  Check out Bratwurst-Röslein’s unparalleled bratwurst variety, and for a sweet treat try Lebkuchen, the city’s famed gingerbread

Passau

Situated at the convergence of three rivers, the Danube, Ilz, and Inn, Passau was rebuilt after fires in the 17th century, giving the town the baroque–and almost Italian–flair it displays today.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Take a stroll through the Old Town and monastic district to Ortspitze to get the best view of the rivers.

EATS:  Try Heilig-Geist-Stift-Schenke for traditional Bavarian food, and Bouillabaisse for great seafood.

Deggendorf

Nestled between Regensburg and Passau sits a town surrounded by the foothills of the Bavarian Forest, Deggendorf. Journey deep into the alluring Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany’s first national park, and discover outdoor leisure at its best. 

HIGHLIGHTS:  Tour the Theresienthal crystal glass factory, and take in the beautiful countryside in a horse-drawn carriage ride

EATS:  Classic Deggendorf specialties are fresh-baked bread and schnapps.

Cologne

Located on the Rhine River, the delightful city of Cologne can trace its origins back to the Roman era. Apart from its sights, the best reason to visit Cologne is to experience its friendly atmosphere–it’s one of the most fun-loving cities in Europe.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Cologne Cathedral, Cologne Chocolate Museum, Brühl Castle, plentiful entertainment options from opera to festivals

EATS:  Much of Cologne’s activity centers around its pubs. Try the local beer, kolsch, on a pub crawl.

Austria

Vienna

Vienna today is robed in 18th century charm and 19th century grandeur. The Viennese invented the cafe society, and they continue to perfect the art of sophisticated relaxation. Vienna is a safe, clean city, and it has an excellent public transportation system.

HIGHLIGHTS:  The Imperial Palace, Sigmund Freud Museum, the Stephansdom catacombs, Advent markets during Christmas season

EATS:  Enjoy a glass of wine in the garden of a heurige, coffee at a traditional Viennese coffee house, and Wiener schnitzels at Figlmuller.

Linz

West of Vienna, this ancient industrial city is a nice place to spend the day. Some historic figures who spent time in Linz include Napoleon, the medieval astronomer Johannes Kepler, and composers Beethoven, Bruckner, and Mozart.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Neuer Dom Cathedral, and The Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz,  with impressive works by Picasso, Matisse, and others

EATS:  Try the famed raspberry-and-almond Linzer torte, traditional Knödel dumplings, and hearty goulash.

Czech Republic

Prague

Gothic and baroque spires, art-nouveau facades, and even cubist structures reflect the German, Italian, Flemish and Bohemian artistic movements that have influenced Prague, a city of stunning beauty.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Old Town Square’s candy-colored buildings and spires, 1,000-year-old St. Vitus Cathedral, the cliff-top fortress of Vysehrad

EATS:  Old Town Square’s candy-colored buildings and spires, 1,000-year-old St. Vitus Cathedral, the cliff-top fortress of Vysehrad

Slovakia

Bratislava

Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, is a charming city that sits at the point where the Carpathian Mountains meets the Danube. Don’t miss Hlavne Square in Old Town, an attractive pedestrian zone, with a wonderful Christmas market in December

HIGHLIGHTS:  Museum of Wine Production,  the Clock Museum, Museum of Jewish Culture, and the art nouveau St. Elizabeth Church

EATS:  Visit Prazdroj for traditional beer-hall ambience, and be on the look out for local sausages and palacinky (crepes).

Hungary

Budapest

The Danube flows through the heart of the city, dividing Buda and Pest in a yin-yang fashion. Few visitors can resist the Budapest baths, but the city’s allure goes beyond its spa status. Hills, islands, and parks coexist with hotels, theaters, and cafes in an eclectic balance.

HIGHLIGHTS:  Budavari Palota, the Franz Liszt Museum, Rudas and Kiraly Gyogyfurdo (Turkish baths),  Hosok tere (Heroes Square)

EATS: Elso Pesti Reteshaz for the best strudels, Tigris Etterem for great wine, and Gerbeaud for traditional Hungarian coffee and pastries

Switzerland

Basel

Basel’s location is its biggest asset. It’s on the Rhine River where Switzerland, France, and Germany meet, which makes it a good base for exploring 3 scenic areas: the Jura (in Switzerland and France), the Vosges (in France), and the Black Forest (Germany).

HIGHLIGHTS:  The old market place by the Rhine, the famous Tinguely Fountain, the  modern BIZ building by Mario Botta

EATS:  Basler Mehlsuppe soup, Schlumbergerli bread, Hefegugelhopf cake, Schoggiweggli buns, Hyprokras spiced red wine

Belgium

Antwerp

Antwerp has a long history as a bustling trade hub and is the world’s diamond capital. Here, diamond polishing became an art form, and the term “Antwerp cut” became synonymous with quality. 

HIGHLIGHTS: Visit the Diamond District, with more than 1,800 diamond dealers.

EATS: Chocolate Antwerpse Handjes, Elixir d’Anvers liquor,  sweet Cuberdon, Belgian truffles, Speculoos cookies

The Netherlands

Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a much smaller population than most European capitals, and much of the city center can be explored on foot. Most visitors fall in love with the city and return again and again.

HIGHLIGHTS: The view from The Westerkerk’s tower, the Van Gogh Museum, Dam Square, a guided tour of the city’s hidden courtyards

EATS: Smoked eel at Haesje Claes, french fries with mayonnaise from the Albert Cuyp Markt, rijsttafel at Tempo Doeloe

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