On your British Isles cruise, you’re sure to be swept up in the romance of Cherbourg, from its chateaus and gardens to its scenic city center. Nature excursions are among some of the top things to do during a Cherbourg cruise stop, whether you’re walking through the gardens of Ravalet Castle, exploring the nearby Jardin Botanique de Vauville, or taking a dip at Querqueville Beach. There are also several museums and exhibits dedicated to the importance of maritime trade in the region, which is an ideal afternoon activity for the history buffs in your travel party.
Of course, you could spend your entire time in Cherbourg walking through the historic city center, shopping, and stopping in at brasseries and cafes along the way. Cherbourg has become known for its fresh seafood, including crab, mussels, and scallops, so don’t miss the chance to sample the local fare. Whatever your ideal pace of life is, Cherbourg is a town that’s happy to meet you halfway, whether you love cultural experiences or fine dining, nature excursions or historic sites.
The Cherbourg cruise harbor and maritime museum has a bit of a reputation, as Cherbourg was a port of call for the famous RMS Titanic. Today, exhibits devoted to the history of sea trade and cruising, the mysteries of the sea, and the importance of the Normandy region in 20th-century history are both informative and interactive for all ages.
Head beyond the city center to the outskirts of Cherbourg, and you’ll find the Chateau des Ravalet, a castle with a rich history and incredible stories to tell about France. Though the interior of the chateau is closed to the public, visitors can stroll through the top-rated gardens and feel like they’ve traveled back in time.
On cruises to Cherbourg, spend a few hours in nature and return to the cruise ship rejuvenated when you visit the Jardin Botanique de Vauville, which is less than a half hour from Cherbourg. The garden is home to many protected and preserved plant species, making it a must-see for nature lovers. Bring a picnic and take your time exploring the grounds.
Spend the day on a walking tour through downtown Cherbourg, where you’ll find plenty of storefronts, shops, restaurants, and cafes to keep you occupied. This is peak seaside France, where there’s no particular rush to do anything, but plenty to see in every square.
This impressive museum is home to over 300 pieces of artwork from Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Flemish, and French artists from the past 500 years. It’s one of Cherbourg’s top attractions for art historians, culture buffs, and art appreciators alike.
Most of the better beaches in Normandy aren’t near Cherbourg and would require a car or longer transit to get to. However, Querqueville Beach is just conveniently located enough to spend an afternoon during your Cherbourg cruise stop. Lie on the pebbly beach, pop up an umbrella, or take a memorable dip in the English Channel when you go.
39 Rue Grande Rue, 50100 Cherbourg-Octeville, France
Le Pily has brought fine dining to Cherbourg since 2007 and has earned a Michelin star each year since 2010. Ingredients are locally sourced and will suit any fancy. The creative, rich dishes have made Le Pily a top choice on some of the best restaurant lists in Cherbourg. Reservations are recommended.
Le Plouc 2
59 Rue au Blé, 50100 Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, France
Classic French dishes are beautifully done at Le Plouc 2, a top-rated restaurant in the area. Try the tender duck and salmon mains, or spring for the coq au vin. When in France, be sure to try the creme brulee, and finish dinner with an espresso.
42 Rue François la Vieille, 50100 Cherbourg-Octeville, France
For something a little more informal in Cherbourg, there’s Le Commerce, a neighborhood staple with a friendly vibe. They specialize in comfort food at a reasonable price. It’s conveniently located in the center of Cherbourg for those moments when you need a rest and a quick coffee.
The town was originally created in the 11th century, but didn’t rise to prominence as a commercial trade center and port city until much later, during the 1700s. The town faced major destruction during World War II, as many German troops were based in Normandy, and Allied forces often fought battles in the region in an effort to reclaim it for the French. Today, the region commemorates its history through various museums, renovated gardens, and a commitment to Cherbourg’s maritime past. When you visit, you’ll mostly hear French spoken. Like other coastal parts of France, the Cherbourg area embodies a slower pace of life compared to bigger cities in France.
Your Cherbourg cruise ship will dock in one of two places: Quai de Normandie or Quai de France. One of the most convenient parts of stopping in Cherbourg is that there will be a free shuttle bus waiting to take passengers into the center of the city, which is a short ride away. There are some amenities at the port facilities, including free wifi, access to La Cité de La Mer, and an information desk.
Taxis are plentiful in Cherbourg, and a shuttle bus takes ferry passengers to the city center from the ferry terminal. Because Cherbourg is in the region of Marche, there are also a network of trains running from Marche to Normandy and beyond. Of course, walking is the most common way to get around once you’re in the center of the city. You can walk 15 minutes from the cruise terminal to the city center, or take the free shuttle bus.
The historic city center is where most of the shopping and restaurants in Cherbourg are located. Shops within the pedestrian zone of the town are a highlight and representative of the slower pace of life here in Cherbourg. Look for beautifully made artisanal goods sold by local vendors.
The official currency of Belgium is the Euro, and you’ll find plenty of ATMs while on your Bruges, or, as it’s stylized in Dutch, Brugge cruise. When shopping in Bruges, you’ll quickly notice that bargaining and haggling is common in local markets, but not widely practiced in higher end stores. Tipping isn’t common in Belgian culture.