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Top 10 favourite sites to visit on a cruise in Europe

Europe cruise holidays are utterly jam-packed with amazing sights and experiences but new research has revealed the top 10 visitor attractions you shouldn’t miss.

Europe cruises have come under the spotlight in a recent survey as holidaymakers unveiled their favourite site to visit on a cruise to Europe.

In pole position came The Colosseum in Rome, Italy – available to visit on a plethora of Mediterranean cruises, with 30 percent of cruisers polled naming it one of the excursions they most enjoyed on a Europe cruise.

In second place was The Dubrovnik Walls in Croatia, selected by 26 percent of respondents followed by the Acropolis in Athens, Greece in third place.

Cruise specialist cruise.co.uk polled almost 900 people for the survey and also examined travellers’ preferences when it came to excursions.

According to the survey, most cruise passengers prefer using excursions organised by the cruise line when exploring during their trip, with 45 percent choosing cruise line excursions. This came just slightly ahead of exploring alone – with 44 percent enjoying independent exploration. Only 11 percent favoured third-party excursions.

These excursions, available to passengers during their one or two-day stops at different destinations, offer various activities like bus tours, guided historical site visits, hiking, beach days or even cooking classes. Passengers can book them through the cruise line or local companies in port or plan their own adventures.

Best visitor attractions on a Europe cruise

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Rome, ItalyThe Colosseum

The Colosseum in Rome, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an iconic ancient amphitheatre renowned for its grandeur and historical significance – and its first place among the best things to see on a Europe cruise is far from surprising!

Constructed in the 1st century AD, it hosted gladiatorial contests, chariot races and various public spectacles, accommodating up to 80,000 spectators. Today, it stands as an enduring symbol of Roman engineering prowess and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, drawing millions of visitors who marvel at its colossal architecture and rich history.

CroatiaThe Dubrovnik Walls

The Dubrovnik Walls envelop the historic core of Dubrovnik, forming a remarkable defensive perimeter that dates back to medieval times.

These well-preserved fortifications offer panoramic vistas of the Adriatic Sea and the charming city below, making it a favourite destination for history buffs and photographers alike, so be sure to walk along them on your cruise to Europe!

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Dubrovnik Walls encapsulate the city’s heritage and provide a unique perspective on its past.

woman parthenon athens greek island cruise

Athens, GreeceThe Acropolis

In third place of best things to see on a Europe cruise is The Acropolis in Athens – an iconic citadel perched atop a rocky outcrop, showcasing ancient Greek architectural excellence.

Dominated by the awe-inspiring Parthenon temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a symbol of Greece’s cultural and historical significance. Visitors can explore this ancient complex, admire the intricate marble structures, and absorb the legacy of classical Greece.

Barcelona, SpainSagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona stands as a masterpiece of Modernist architecture designed by Antoni Gaudí.

This basilica, still under construction since the late 19th century, is famous for its imaginative and unconventional design, blending Gothic and Art Nouveau elements. Its intricate facades, impressive interiors and towering spires make it a captivating symbol of Barcelona and a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts on a cruise to Europe.

Gaudi's incredible but unfinished La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
MSC Cruises Rome Italy

Vatican CitySt. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is a preeminent religious and architectural marvel, serving as the centrepiece of Christianity. This vast basilica houses a treasure trove of religious art, including Michelangelo’s breathtaking Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Pilgrims and tourists flock to St. Peter’s Square to admire the stunning Renaissance and Baroque features of the basilica, and it remains one of the most significant pilgrimage destinations in the world.

ItalyThe Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an internationally recognised bell tower famous for its peculiar tilt, which resulted from a shifting foundation.

Despite this structural anomaly, the tower, part of the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), is a UNESCO World Heritage site and continues to attract visitors who enjoy its architectural quirk and picturesque setting.

Pisa cathedral italy cruises

Rome, ItalyThe Trevi Fountain

Another Italian entrant of the best things to see on a Europe cruise, the Trevi Fountain in Rome is a stunning Baroque masterpiece known for its ornate sculptures and the tradition of throwing coins into its waters to ensure a return to Rome.

Designed by architect Nicola Salvi in the 18th century, it is a symbol of romance and wishes fulfilled, and it remains one of Rome’s most enchanting and photogenic landmarks.

Reykjavik, IcelandThe Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon, located near Reykjavik, is a geothermal spa known for its azure, mineral-rich waters and rejuvenating properties.

Set amidst otherworldly lava fields, the Blue Lagoon offers visitors on a cruise to Europe a unique and relaxing experience, allowing them to soak in the warm, milky-blue waters while surrounded by Iceland’s striking natural landscapes.

Istanbul, Turkey Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Istanbul, TurkeyHagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a historically significant architectural wonder that has served as a cathedral, mosque and museum over the centuries.

Built in the 6th century, its colossal dome and exquisite mosaics reflect the fusion of Byzantine and Islamic architectural styles. Recently, it has returned to its status as a mosque, maintaining its place as an emblem of Istanbul’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Barcelona, SpainCamp Nou Stadium

Bringing up the rear of the top 10 best things to see on a Europe cruise is Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona – the hallowed home of FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most renowned football clubs. This iconic stadium has witnessed countless historic football moments and is a shrine for passionate football fans.

Visitors can tour the stadium, explore its museum, and feel the energy of the beautiful game in the very heart of Catalonia.


Top 10 best things to see on Europe cruises

1. The Colosseum – Rome, Italy
2. The Dubrovnik Walls – Croatia
3. The Acropolis – Athens, Greece
4. Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain
5. St. Peter’s Basilica – Vatican City
6. The Leaning Tower of Pisa – Italy
7. The Trevi Fountain – Rome, Italy
8. The Blue Lagoon – Reykjavik, Iceland
9. Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey
10. Camp Nou Stadium – Barcelona, Spain

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Oh My Gaudi cruise & stay with Royal Caribbean

Duration: 8 nights
Stay: 1x night Barcelona hotel stay
Where: Mallorca, Spain | Marseilles, France | La Spezia (for Florence & Pisa), Italy | Civitavecchia (for Rome), Italy | Naples, Italy
Ship: Oasis of the Seas
Price: From £1,199 pp
(Including: flights with regional airport options available; one-night 4* Barcelona hotel stay; all meals, (excluding speciality dining), children’s clubs, theatre shows and gym while onboard)

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Published 10.01.24