Five Under-the-Radar European Hot Spots I’m Itching to See via River Cruise

Five Under-the-Radar European Hot Spots I’m Itching to See via River Cruise

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It’s undeniable that cruises are great. They’re the easiest way to see a multitude of destinations in a short amount of time, and you only have to unpack once (my favorite). All of the planning and logistics are taken care of – no need to book hotels, figure out where to eat dinner each night, and the best part -someone else does all the driving/steering and direction-giving! It quite possibly couldn’t be any simpler. My kind of trip for sure!

River Cruising with AmaWaterways | www.apassionandapassport.com

River cruises come with all those spectacular benefits, and more. When you’re sailing down the river, you have the opportunity to visit much smaller, lesser-known destinations than when aboard a larger cruise line splashing throughout the ocean. And guess what? Lesser-known is synonymous with fewer crowds and usually more character.

I’m itching to get on a river cruise myself, and particularly fell in love with the itineraries of AmaWaterway’s Provence & Spain, The Romantic Danube, and The Enticing Douro. Vineyards in Dürnstein and a trip to Lyon, France?! Just pinch me!

With all this talk about these smaller destination gems, let’s dive right in to some that I’d love to visit ASAP!

Dürnstein, Austria 

See this on The Romantic Danube.

Where to Stop on a River Cruise: Durstein, Austria | www.apassionandapassport.com

Calling all wine enthusiasts! Dürnstein, a small, intimate port in the vineyard-rich Wachau Valley, is the perfect place to do some tastings! With over thousands of acres of vineyards, multiple wine processing facilities, and tons of wine shops and tasting bars, any wine lover would in fact, love this place!

Wine lover or not, this quaint, fairytale-like port will make everyone overcome with joy. With medieval buildings, a historic monastery, and ruins of an 1130-era castle, Dürnstein is sure to please the masses.

And don’t forget your camera! The exterior of the entire town is downright beautiful, and you’ll be snapping away like there’s no tomorrow. If you’re a fan of Baroque architecture, don’t miss Stiftskirche, a 15th century parish church which is just phenomenal on the inside. Definitely a lot of character and charm here!

Lyon, France

See this on Provence & Spain.

With numerous quarters to explore and enough culture, history, and first-class shopping to last a lifetime, Lyon is a destination not to be missed. From a walk in the park to a day at the spa, there really is something for everyone here. Lyon boasts a dynamic university, antique markets, a vibrant theatre scene and a range of interesting museums to hold anyone’s attention for hours.

Don’t miss Parc de la Tete d’Or, a huge park close to the center of town with a spectacular rose garden, and Des Hauteurs Park, for an amazing view of the city.

Lyon is a wonderful place to discover the authentic French lifestyle! Rent a bike and wander around the city – be on the lookout for art and murals in various parts of town!

All in all, Lyon is a very laid-back city with enough to do for any type of traveler.

Linz, Austria

See this on The Romantic Danube.

Where to Stop on a River Cruise: Linz, Austria | www.apassionandapassport.com

Surprisingly, Linz is the third-largest city of Austria. I definitely couldn’t tell you that without a little help from Google since I’ve never heard of the place before! And shame on me – just one look at Linz will have you swooning!

Definitely a destination for technology lovers, as Linz has been recently highlighting its technological achievements and is one of the world’s most future-orientated locations.

Don’t worry if you’re not super fascinated with tech and media, as the city boasts museums, cathedrals, and art museums. Don’t miss Mariendom (New Cathedral), Musiktheatre, Lentos, and the Main Square of Linz City!

And if museums and chapels are not your thing, the stunning natural landscapes will win you over. Nestled in the green foothills of the Alps, Linz is ridiculously beautiful in every way.

Regensburg, Germany 

See this on The Romantic Danube. 

Since 2009, Regensburg has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site – meaning it cannot be dramatically changed, ever! The Old Town of Regensburg has many cultural and architectural influences of a central-European medieval trading centre, and some of the buildings even date back to the 9th century! Talk about an intense history here! Spend a few hours wandering the streets admiring the many churches and chapels which signify the area – don’t miss St. Peter’s Cathedral and The Old Chapel! There are also enough museums, galleries, parks, and squares for everyone’s interest.

Make sure you try a Regensburger sausage, as they are made in the historic Sausage Kitchen “Wurstkuchl,” the oldest snack company in the world. How interesting! And with only 155,000 people living here, you can have as much sausage as you like (there’ll be more than enough to go around)!

Any beer lovers in the house? You’re in luck. Drink a cool home-brewed beer in the beautiful Spital beer garden; you’ll find postcard views and enough drinks for days.

Douro Valley, Portugal 

See this on The Enticing Douro.

Where to Stop on a River Cruise: Douro River Valley, Portugal | www.apassionandapassport.com

Douro Valley is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, but very do-able in a day on a river cruise! Wine lovers can choose to take part in a classic wine tasting tour with the gorgeous river and mountains setting the mood, or choose a less traditional experience where you can learn to stomp grapes.

I promise you after seeing one photo of this hidden gem, you’ll be booking a river cruise with a stop in Douro Valley, Portugal in no time. I’m pretty tempted right now myself!

So make 2016 the year you get yourself cruising, especially down a river! 😉

Have you been cruising before?

Think you’ll enjoy a river cruise?

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