A tulip-filled, canal-laced delight, Amsterdam is sure to captivate your heart. You’ll find a blend of small-town charm and cosmopolitan attractions, like the legendary De Bijenkorf department store, where you can snack on hand-cut fries as you shop.
Rent a bike to travel like a true Amsterdammian and head over to the 47-hectare Vondelpark. Guided tours are offered to learn more about this popular and beautiful park–the largest in the Netherlands. Afterwards, swing by Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market and a historic landmark founded in 1862 on the Singel Canal. If you’re yearning for more history and culture, there’s no better place to visit than Museumplein, where Anne Frank’s House and the Van Gogh Museum are among the treasures to be explored.
Have longer than a few hours? Take advantage of the Netherlands' small size (and great trains) and hop on a day-long excursion to the tulip fields of Keukenhof, or to Zaanse Schans, where towering windmills and wooden houses recreate a scenic slice of history.
You might be tempted to skip over Athens if you're eager to fast-forward to the islands–but you’d be missing out on exploring the fascinating cradle of Western civilization. Begin your visit by climbing up to the Acropolis and getting the lay of the land with a stunning panorama of the city; then check out the bustling and eclectic Monastiraki Street, a flea market filled with stalls selling trinkets, souvenirs and hand-crafted items.
When you start working up an appetite, a wide range of delicious options await. Grab a tasty street snack, like gyros made with thin-sliced pork and tangy tzatziki sauce. Or try one of the many award-winning restaurants for full-service takes on such Greek classics as the moussaka eggplant casserole, green salads with sharp feta and briny kalamata olives, and flaky, nut-filled baklava bathed in local honey.
No visit to Athens is complete without exploring three Greek landmarks: the Parthenon, the Theatre of Dionysus and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. At Syntagma Square (Constitution Square), housing the Greek parliament, you’ll find an impressive plaza well-worth wandering and yet another reason so many name Athens among the most memorable destinations.
Barcelona's cool coastal and cosmopolitan vibe is the perfect complement for the centuries-old art and culture it has fostered. Start your day catching rays at Barceloneta Beach, then make a beeline for Park Güell, one of the most impressive public parks in the world and the work of visionary artist Antonio Gaudí. Gaudi's other masterful work, Barcelona’s the Sagrada Familia Cathedral–under construction for more than a century–is part of what makes Barcelona among the best places to visit on a European cruise.
You can also admire the creative genius of another revered Catalonian artist, Joan Miró. You’ll find his red, yellow and blue mosaic along the iconic Las Ramblas pedestrian boulevard, and at the Fundacio Joan Miro museum in Parc de Montjuïc, visitors can take a deep dive into his work.
A foodie paradise, Barcelona is fragrant with the wafting aromas of delicious bites, such as the Catalan-style tapas you’ll savour at La Boqueria market. In the mood for fresh seafood? Head over to Barceloneta and drop into one of the countless eateries dotting the neighbourhood's narrow, winding streets.
You have probably seen picturesque images of Copenhagen’s Nyhavn Harbour, an idyllic canal-front district lined by 17th century townhouses–many of which have been transformed into restaurants, cafes and bars. This is definitely a spot worth lingering in and soaking up the sights from an outdoor cafe. Once you’ve wandered and viewed to your heart’s content, consider swinging by the iconic statue of the Little Mermaid before heading to Tivoli Gardens. One of Europe's oldest amusement parks, Tivoli offers thrilling rides, riveting shows and international restaurants in a magical and bucolic park setting. So magical, in fact, it reportedly inspired Walt Disney!
Copenhagen is also a dream-come-true for history buffs and lovers of architecture. Take a tour of the 18th-century rococo-style Amalienborg Palace, where the Danish queen resides in the winter. Or travel back to the Renaissance at Rosenborg Castle, a spiralled and amazingly well preserved window into history. If time permits, visit Christiansborg Palace, the impressive seat of the Danish government.
Despite all the history, you can also enjoy a decidedly modern urban experience in Copenhagen's city centre. Take a stroll down Strøget, a pedestrian street filled with stylish boutiques, fun cafes and assorted eateries. As you explore, shop and taste your way through this fairy-tale town, we’re pretty sure you’ll agree it’s one of the top 10 in Europe, if not the entire world.
Despite its distance from the continental mainland, Dublin is, through and through, a veritable European gem. Whether you’re perched atop the observation deck of the Guinness Brewery, gazing down on the city (pint in hand!) or traipsing through Dublin’s storied streets recalling James Joyce’s novels, its magnetic draw is inescapable.
To catch a spectacular sunrise or sunset, head down to the River Liffey, a tranquil waterway with such nearby landmarks as the 18th-century Custom House and the Ha'Penny Bridge–the most popular place to cross the water. Of course, a visit to the riverside Temple Bar neighbourhood–with its cobblestone streets, lively pubs and quirky shops–is a must. Do keep in mind that large crowds flock to this picture-perfect spot, so time your arrival as early in the day as possible.
On a rainy day, visit the picturesque Trinity College library, whose seemingly endless stacks more than live up to their modern-day social media hype, and take to the lush lawn of St. Stephen's Green.
"Game of Thrones" might be over, but if you want to see where your favourite scenes were filmed, you can still take a tour of the walled Old City. Alternatively, ascend the walls on your own, to look down onto the terracotta roofs and cobbled streets of the coastal citadel. Afterward, sit down at an al fresco table at any of the dozens of restaurants, which in addition to international cuisines, feature Croatian dishes like crni rizot–a creamy black risotto.
Make sure you get outside of the city walls, too. The easiest way to do this is to exit through the Old Port and head to Banje Beach. Or, ride the Dubrovnik Cable Car to Mt. Srd, and take in the sweeping panoramas.
If you have extra time on your hands, consider hopping on a sailing trip through Croatia's stunning islands, or heading north to Split and inland to Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Begin your visit in the grand Praça do Comércio, a magnificent harbour-facing plaza conceived in the 1700s as the entrance to Lisbon. From here, walk or take an Americano streetcar up the steep Rua Augusta, which winds through trendy Baixa Chiado on its way up to Alfama and the Santa Luzia viewpoint.
Another way to explore Lisbon is to head west along the River Tagus. Drop by the 15th-century Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, then grab a sweet Pastel de Nata tart for an irresistibly decadent indulgence. To experience Lisbon’s answer to the Golden Gate Bridge, cross the 25 de Abril Bridge and enjoy panoramic views from Cristo Rei, which, in turn, evokes Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.
You can also take a day excursion from Lisbon. Marvel at the colourful Pena Palace and mysterious Quinta da Regaleira castle in spellbinding Sintra. Or head instead to Cascais, whose whitewashed city centre contrasts strikingly with the cobalt-colored North Atlantic.
On the hunt for the breathtakingly beautiful playground of the rich and famous? You need look no farther than Nice, the hub of the French Riviera. In this pristine paradise, you can sun yourself by the turquoise waters of the Promenade des Anglais then settle in a cafe for tasty nibbles and people-watching. Wander through the Cours Saleya flower market in the Old Town, then trek up to the Castle of Nice, which overlooks Port Lympia and also provides sweeping views of the city's main beach. Or walk eastward to Villefranche-sur-Mer and the Rothschild Villa–the epitome of mid-20th-century opulence.
Positioned in the heart of the Côte d'Azur, Nice is a great home base from which to explore surrounding sights. Head to nearby Cannes (even if you can't attend the film festival) or to luxurious Saint-Tropez. Hop a train to Eze with its incredible views of the Mediterranean, or head to Monaco, and hope Lady Luck meets you at Monte Carlo Casino!
A fascinating city packed with 3,000 years of history, Rome is one of those rare places you want to experience over and over again. If it’s your family’s first time exploring the Eternal City, head directly to the ancient ruins at the Roman Forum, where you’ll feel instantly transported to the time of togas, horse-drawn chariots and vengeful gods.
Continue your foray into history at the Colosseum, the famous site of countless gladiator combats, animal fights and other chilling events. Try to also swing by the awe-inspiring St. Peter’s Basilica–the world’s largest church–as well as the Pantheon, an architectural gem and the final resting place of nobility and such prominent figures as Raphael.
When you are ready for refreshments, good food and fun boutique shopping, find your way to Trastevere, a charm-soaked bohemian enclave filled with cafes, one-of-a-kind shops and tempting eateries. Stop by Osteria der Belli for memorable fresh seafood, or grab a quick bite at any of the many restaurants, redolent of fresh garlic and herbs. Wherever you go in Trastevere, you really can’t go wrong.
There are few destinations on earth more unique than the "floating city" of Venice. Whether you walk across the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal or hire a gondolier to take you on a private ride through smaller waterways, it's difficult not to fall in love with Italy's most romantic city. Stroll into St. Mark's Square as night falls — if, of course, you don't wander into a delicious restaurant on your way.
Several islands in the Venetian Lagoon between the centre of Venice and the Italian mainland are well worth visiting. Hop into a vaporetto water taxi and get off at Burano, which is lined with houses painted in a vibrant palette of colours. Or choose Murano–famous for its hand-blown glass, as exquisite and special as Venice and its surrounding areas.