The approach of summer always enhances wanderlust just that little bit more. The warmer weather makes it easy to imagine yourself wandering cobbled streets in the sunshine, sipping fine wine while soaking up breathtaking views and relaxing by azure waters.
Europe has it all when it comes to vacation destinations, and cruising is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to experience the marvels of this multicultural wonderland. Here are a gathering of European gems that double as cruise ports, so instead of walking away from stunning waterfront views, you will be sailing off into the sunset on to new horizons.
St Petersburg, Russia
Both the Oceania Nautica and the Marina cruise vessels berth here overnight, giving passengers an abundance of time to explore the elegant canals and immense palaces of the onetime Russian capital. The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is a must-see; a dazzling construction that boasts intriguing origins as well as top-notch photo opportunities. A longer stay offers you the chance to take in the Russian ballet, visit your choice of ornate palaces, and take your time to browse the wonders of the Hermitage Museum – one of the world’s largest art galleries.
The medieval two-tiered old town of Tallinn is beautifully preserved and offers up gorgeous historical architecture, charming churches and squares, and one of the oldest continuously running apothecaries in Europe. To discover what life was like in olden time Estonia, visit a recreated rural village nestled by the sea, complete with thatched farm buildings, historic windmills and staff in period costume, ready to welcome you into the past.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast was the birthplace of the Titanic, and the construction of the ill-fated vessel is detailed in the Titanic Belfast centre, where a multimedia extravaganza charts the history of Belfast and making of the world’s most famous ship. Almost 14 hours in port aboard the Oceania Nautica gives you ample time to visit the spectacular Giant’s Causeway, with time at the end to explore Belfast’s lively downtown, with its glitzy waterfront and pubs thrumming with live music.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo is internationally known for its glamorous casino, but there are a host of other leisure facilities that make it a charming port of call. The divine weather makes it easy to catch the stunning views of Monaco and the Old City from a drive along the famous Grand Corniche, and a visit to the pink-tinged Prince’s Palace of Monaco will delight your sense of history and romance in one hit.
More European Inspiration
Surrounded by rocky hills and crowned with a jaw-dropping castle, Edinburgh is a modern metropolis that never lets you forget its historical significance. Whether you’re admiring the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Mary, Queen of Scot’s chambers, or raising a glass with the ebullient locals in one of many watering holes, you’ll find a hundred quirky and enticing experiences that will make you wish you had more time to explore.
Immerse yourself in Florence’s old-world charm as you stroll the cobbled streets and marvel at the historical architecture on your way to see Michelangelo’s David or any number of other artistic masterpieces. The Florentine air is rich with the mouth-watering aromas of world-famous cuisine, and the bridge over the river Arno offers a view that changes with every hour of the day, but remains equally as spectacular. Your Oceania cruise ship will dock at Livorno port, with plenty of time to fit in a trip to nearby Pisa or to dip in to the glory of the Tuscan countryside.
Natural beauty and sophistication abound in the Norwegian capital. Delve into the country’s seafaring history at the Viking Ships Museum as an appetiser to the many galleries and historical treasure houses that are housed in this contemporary city. Nature is never far away in one of Europe’s greenest cities, and Vigeland Park is adorned with over 200 life-size sculptures by artist Gustav Vigeland. Forests, lakes and hills fringe the city, enticing nature-lovers with many opportunities for outdoor pursuits.
The seven hills of Lisbon play host to a city of charming alleyways, ancient ruins and hand-painted-tile architecture. The topography ensures a wealth of stunning views from a collection of viewpoints (miradouros) that offer a great place to enjoy a tumbler of sangria while enjoying the extraordinary vistas. A quick tram ride will take you to the picturesque Belem Tower, or Belem Cultural Centre, which is home to a fantastic collection of art from greats such as Dali, Picasso and Warhol. Don’t forget to explore the foodie scene; Portugal is the home of the egg custard tart, after all.
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Croatia Coastal Cruising
What was once the Kingdom of Dalmatia stretches north from Montenegro past Bosnia and Herzegovina and into Croatia. The seemingly endless islands that dot the modern-day Dalmatian Coast give this relatively small region a delightfully disproportionate stretch of coastline.