The Best European Cruise Destinations for Your Trip
When it comes to a cruise to Europe, you have a myriad of options. You can choose an itinerary that focuses more on exotic islands or one that will take you to historic cities. Experience the coastal wonders of the Adriatic Coast or sail through deep grooves in the earth of the Norwegian Fjords. On a European cruise you can even see the Northern Lights, marvel at the Eiffel Tower, scuba dive in the deep blue of the Mediterranean, or enjoy a pint of beer while in a city bordering the Baltic Sea.
With so many choices, it can sometimes be overwhelming to find the European cruise that’s best for you. We break down the top European cruise destinations and what to expect from each type of Europe cruise itinerary.
European Cruise Destinations in the Mediterranean
Sailing across the Mediterranean is a quintessential cruise experience. The Mediterranean is a European cruise destination that provides many of the beloved aspects of traveling the continent: cobblestoned towns and walled cities, fresh cuisine and romantic vineyards, and ancient history and famous art.
When sailing on a Mediterranean cruise, you can do a three to four week itinerary that sails all around the Mediterranean Sea, but if you don’t have that much vacation time (and most people don’t) there are plenty of one to two week itineraries that focus on a particular region of the Mediterranean.
Those dreaming of exotic islands will enjoy a Greek isle cruise that sails to Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, and also visits the wonders of Athens. Other islands that are fun to see during a cruise through the Mediterranean are the Spanish island of Mallorca and the island-state of Malta.
The beauty of Italy is alluring to many travelers looking to cruise the Mediterranean, and you can find itineraries that sail out of Venice and Rome. In addition, there are Italian ports of call up and down both sides of the country, and some itineraries that have ports of call in Sicily as well.
Another popular Mediterranean cruise itinerary is one that departs out of Barcelona, Spain, and sails along the southern edge of Spain. One more southern coastline you may not want to miss while in the Mediterranean is the gorgeous south of France, where you can visit the lovely areas of Provence, Marseille, and Nice.
European Cruise Destinations in the Baltic
The Baltic Sea is located in northern Europe, and in terms of cruise ports, the Baltic Sea runs from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Hamburg, Germany.
Choosing the Baltic as your European cruise destination means you can explore the rugged cities and tiny fishing villages along the southern borders of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Two of the Scandinavian cities that lie along the Baltic that you can visit on a cruise are Stockholm, which has a lovely café-lined harbor to explore, and Copenhagen, which has picturesque streets and parks that are perfect for a bicycling shore excursion.
The northern coast of the Baltic is also home to Helsinki, Finland, where you’ll find beautiful squares and cathedrals alongside bustling markets in which to shop.
On the other side of the Baltic, more cultural fun and exciting sites await. While in the port city of Warnemunde, Germany, embark on a shore excursion to Berlin and see the remains of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, and other pieces of history. Another enticing port of call along the southern Baltic Sea is Tallinn, Estonia, famous for its well-preserved medieval Old Town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the far eastern end of the Baltic Sea, you’ll come to St. Petersburg, Russia, where you can see churches with balloon-shaped spires and take a backstage pass of Mariinsky Theatre before watching a ballet performance.
Baltic cruise also often stop in the countries directly west of the Baltic Sea, with popular ports of call being Brugges, Belgium, where you can partake in chocolate or Belgian beer tastings; Amsterdam, Netherlands, which is a lovely place for a canal cruise to take in the city’s charming architecture; and Oslo, Norway, home to intriguing Olympic sites and an artsy city center.
European Cruise Destinations in the Atlantic and Arctic
European cruise destinations don’t just pertain to the seas of Europe. You can also cruise right in the Atlantic Ocean. Travel from Scotland to Iceland, or from Ireland down to Portugal. Soak in the views of the wild, blue ocean and the horizon that seems to go on forever as you enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine on your own private stateroom veranda.
You can even visit the Arctic Ocean while on a European cruise, courtesy of the Northern Sea and a Norwegian Fjords itinerary. The west coast of Norway borders the Northern Sea and is adjacent to a maze of deep, wide, jaw-droppingly beautiful fjords. These crevices in the earth are wide enough for ships to sail down and they provide stunning scenery that surrounds you on all sides. Norwegian Fjords itineraries also include ports of call in Norwegian fishing villages like Bergen and Geiranger, two locations that also just happen to be breathtakingly picturesque.
Days at Sea vs. Port-Packed Itineraries
Since the main seas of Europe border many countries, it’s not hard to find an itinerary that stops in a port most days – if not every day – of the cruise. If you want more days at sea so you can enjoy all the fun there is to have on the ship (such as the pool, the spa, casino, shops, lounges, and so much more), look for an itinerary that crosses a large channel or moves from northern Europe down to the Mediterranean. Examples of such itineraries are ones that sail from Dublin, Ireland to Iceland, or from London down to Paris and around the outer rim of Portugal and Spain.
Book Your Cruise to Europe
No matter which European cruise destination most excites you for your upcoming vacation, we can help you figure it out. We offer cruises all over Europe with a variety of itineraries, number of nights, and ships so you can find the vacation that’s perfect for you.