Undoubtedly one of the great pleasures of a river cruise is pulling up in a beautiful new city, town or historic region early in the day, disembarking and exploring the local sights, cultures and culinary offerings. Our UK marketing manager, David Winterton, offers his 10 favourite river cruise destinations to explore on foot – from major cities to the hidden gems off the beaten track.
1 – Melk Abbey
The golden Benedictine abbey of Melk, Austria; Melk Abbey is positioned on the banks of the Danube, and has been wowing river travellers for hundreds of years. One of the Danube’s most famous fixtures and the focus of one of our EmeraldPLUS experiences; Melk Abbey is a popular daytrip for guests navigating this historic waterway.
This is always a highlight whenever I’m on the Danube. I see something new each time I visit. Look out for the gorgeous gardens to the right of the main abbey, where you can take a lovely walk in the summer.
For more information about beautiful Melk Abbey, visit our in-depth guide here.
2 – Dürnstein
A small and picturesque Austrian town; Dürnstein is notable for its wonderful architecture, natural beauty and wonderful viticulture.
Such a pretty village along the Danube river. From the ship mooring, take a short five-minute walk to the village where the locals are on hand to show you their local wares. I can never resist the local whiskey liquor!
Explore Dürnstein as part of our Splendours of Europe river cruise, sailing throughout 2017.
3 – Amsterdam
The charming capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is notable for its laid-back atmosphere, unique architecture, winding canals and friendly locals. With a range of beautiful public parks and awe-inspiring museums to visit, Amsterdam is a wonderful city to explore by foot.
One of my favourite cities in the world. I love the hustle and bustle of a big city but I enjoy heading out of the main commercial area and exploring one of over 30 public gardens and parks. My personal favourite is Vondelpark which covers 48 hectares in the south of city.
Pay homage to Amsterdam during the Netherlands and the Beauty of Belgium river cruise.
4 – Budapest
Affectionately known as the Queen of the Danube, Budapest is always a highlight during cruises down this ancient waterway. Dissected by the river with many of the city highlights perched on the water’s banks; a river cruise directs you into the heart of the beautiful Hungarian capital.
Where do I begin! Such amazing architecture it would truly take a full week to enjoy this beautiful city in full. With a few hours to spare, I’d suggest keeping to the river banks as both sides have the best of the fabulous buildings and stunning bridges.
Explore Dürnstein as part of our Danube Delights river cruise, sailing throughout 2016.
5 – Salzburg
Based on the German border; the enigmatic, multicultural Austrian city of Salzburg is an absolute smorgasbord of architecture, cuisine and experiences. The birthplace of Mozart, the city’s contribution to global culture continues to this day.
Travel on our optional Discover More excursion from Passau and you will be transported to this magical city. Of course it is home to the Sound of Music and you too can sing Do Ra Me on the very steps where Julie Andrews sang to the Von Trapp family. (Discover More excursion to Salzburg approximately €75).
6 – Cologne
With a history dating back a couple of millennia, and one of the world’s most recognisable cathedrals; Cologne continues to inspire passionate artists and dedicated historians. The High Gothic architecture of the city is striking, still showcasing many of the battle scars of Germany’s past.
Ok, Cologne isn’t the most picturesque city but it does have some fabulous shops and cafes to sit and people watch. Take a walk over the Hohenzollern Bridge and see the thousands (if not millions) of love locks. And at the same time gain a picture of the bridge and cathedral.
Explore Cologne on the Jewels of the Rhine river cruise from Emerald Waterways.
7 – Porto
One of Europe’s oldest cities and the birthplace of Port, Porto’s identity is entwined with its position on the Douro as it empties in the ocean. Located wonderfully close to some of Europe’s finest vineyards – Porto provides the cultural start to a delightfully relaxed tour of Portugal (and the bottom of empty wine glasses).
I’m so excited that we will be cruising the Douro river next year. And our cruises will start from the exciting city of Porto. Porto is a coastal city and so expect gorgeous fresh fish served with the finest Port while sitting on the river banks overlooking stately bridges and buildings.
Enjoy a wonderful round trip from Porto on the Secrets of the Douro river cruise.
8 – Wachau Valley
Amongst the most visually striking stretches of the river Danube, this Austrian valley is made up of rolling hills surrounding the winding waterways. With a feast of world-leading wines created in the regions, and home to some of the planet’s most respected chefs; Wachau Valley is a treat for the taste buds.
For me, this is the best day of cruising I have ever experienced. Mile-upon-mile of blue water beneath me and blue skies above, pierced either side with picturesque riverbanks and hills dotted with olde-worlde villages and towns. A truly unique experience.
9 – Black Forest
The winding waters of the Rhine, striking mountains and delightfully perched villages make up the fairy tale world of Germany’s Black Forest. With stretches impossible to reach by car and ship, the Black Forest is truly best explored on foot.
The Black Forest is a mountainous region in southwest Germany. A dense evergreen forest littered with picturesque villages. It inspired the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and is renowned for its cuckoo clocks. Of course with Emerald Waterways you’ll have the opportunity to taste a traditional Black Forest Gateaux.
10 – Antwerp
A lovely little city. After taking our walking tour head to the little independent shops where you can test the chocolate and beer before you buy. Then head to one of the many squares and order a cappuccino before people watching for an hour or so.
For more information about all of the fantastic Emerald Waterways itineraries, visit our homepage or call our friendly team on 0808 301 4705.