25
Oct 2013

Touring the Great Capitals of Europe

Submitted by: HAL Destinations Team
Kit Haas and family on Stockholm's rooftop.
Kit Haas and family on Stockholm's rooftop.

Holland America Line ships call at dozens of ports throughout Europe. From the smallest of Greek isles to the remotest of Norwegian towns, each itinerary is carefully crafted to feature lesser-visited calls, as well as visits to some of the most well-known and popular ports in the region. The names of certain cities go hand-in-hand with special monuments or sights, like Rome and the Colosseum or Athens and the Parthenon. Shore excursions are designed to highlight these special features and ensure that guests don’t miss an important stop when touring around. Here are some popular and unique tours that highlight the best that these European capitals have to offer.

Sensational Rooftop Walk & Stockholm’s Old Town
They say the best views are often from above, so guests with an adventurous side can see the sights of Stockholm, Sweden, from a unique vantage point — the city’s rooftops! The Sensational Rooftop Walk & Stockholm’s Old Town tour takes guests to the Old Parliament Building where they’ll take the elevator up to the top floor and, via the attic, step out into the open. Under the strictest of safety standards, participants buckle up with a safety harness and take the first steps along the narrow rooftop path. With breathtaking views, the tour is more than just beauty. The guide share stories en route about the history of Stockholm.

Rooftop

Back on the ground, the tour continues through Stockholm’s oldest quarter, Gamla Stan, as well as Stortorget (the Great Square) — the hub of the Old Town. After all that exercise, it’s time to relax on a panoramic sightseeing drive through Stockholm, passing the Parliament Building, the Royal Opera, the city center with Sergels Torg and the Concert Hall.

Kit Haas wrote: This was a great tour, besides the bus trip around Berlin, my favorite excursion and destination on the Baltic cruise. Despite the fact that we were up so high, it was a view like no other of Stockholm and the river.

“Highlights of Rome”
Guests calling at Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, have an opportunity to experience iconic Rome with Holland America Line’s Highlights of Rome shore excursion. Beginning with St. Peter’s Basilica the tour winds through the Vatican before taking a drive along the Tiber River to view the remains of the Imperial Palaces and the Circus Maximus. A stop at the Colosseum gives guests a chance to walk the ruins before making way to Trevi Fountain, Rome’s most beloved monument. After Trevi Fountain guests enjoy lunch and a few hours to break away and explore the city on their own.

Vatican City and St. Paul's Cathedral.

Vatican City.

The Colosseum.

The Colosseum.

The Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi Fountain.

It should be noted that the tour is a long one, but guests who have taken it agree that it’s well worth it. Highlights of Rome is a fantastic way to have a complete Roman holiday in one day!

A reviewer from Scotland wrote: The Highlights of Rome is an excellent trip for those that have never been there before. Rome is such a beautiful city and there is so much to see. Although the tour did not show you everything, it gave you a taster. Our guide was very informative.

“Berlin’s Top Sights by Train”
Berlin combines complicated history with beauty and rebirth. Holland America offers a shore excursion that features Berlin’s Top Sights by Train. Enjoy a light breakfast and take time to wake up on a three-hour train ride from the port of Warnemunde to see Berlin’s main highlights. The remnants of East and West Berlin’s separation can be seen in the ruins of the Berlin wall and Checkpoint Charlie – where U.S. and Soviet tanks briefly faced off in 1961 as well as the Brandenburg Gate, the only remaining city gate of Berlin.

Berlin2

Take a walk through the old Jewish Quarter to see the new Synagogue/Centrum Judaicum on your way to the western sector where you’ll see Bellevue Palace — the official residence of the President of Germany — and Congress Hall.

Modern architecture in Berlin offers a sense of hope and renewal to the city’s storied past. One great stop on the tour is the glass dome designed by architect Sir Norman Foster to house the parliament of the newly founded German empire.

The Glass Dome

Kurfurstendamm is Germany’s most famous shopping boulevard and the tour ends at the Allied Museum, offering a glimpse into Cold War-era Berlin. After a long day of touring, the train ride back to port is a great chance to relax and reflect on the day in Berlin.

WWWDJ wrote: This was truly an enjoyable day – the train was a wonderful and enjoyable experience. The Top 10 tour of Berlin was terrific and set at an enjoyable pace … This is a tour worth the high cost. You will bond with your shipmates while learning a great deal about Berlin.

“Gaudi’s Barcelona”
When the ships call at Barcelona, Spain, next summer, the Gaudi’s Barcelona tour is one that’s not to be missed. Guests who want to learn more about this famous architect and see the city through his eyes will visit many of his works. His most famous creation in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is plenty of time to take photos of this beautiful structure, inside and out.

La Sagrada Familia.

La Sagrada Familia.

Next, guests will venture to Casa Milá, also known as La Pedrera. A walk down Barcelona’s widest avenue, Passeig de Garcia, leads towards La Manzana de la Discordia. After an eventful tour filled with beautiful sights, guests will have an understanding of the special relationship between Gaudi and the city of Barcelona.

The XYZ.

The Casa Milá.

Cyrus wrote: We have been to Barcelona several times and have seen it with Spanish friends, but we saw a lot more (in depth) this time … Although I have seen La Sagrada Familia in different stages throughout the years, I have never been inside. Oh, my goodness! How extraordinary! Believe me, it is the most unique church I have ever seen in my life, but gorgeous. You do not want to miss it.

Ancient Olympia & Mercouri’s Vineyards:
Guests will have the opportunity to learn the history of Ancient Olympia and enjoy authentic Greek food in Katákolon on the Ancient Olympia & Mercouri’s Vineyards tour. Ancient Olympia is located just 25 miles east of Katákolon. Guests will step back 2,000 years into the past and imagine the Temple of Zeus crowded with athletes, orators, merchants and philosophers. They will picture the temples, treasuries and statues as they once were and imagine the excitement in the air as the athletes took their marks. After visiting Olympia, guests will then travel to Mercouri Estate, located in a beautiful area where the Refosco grape was first planted after being imported from Italy. This modern winery and distillery was built in 1930 by the Mercouris and updated again in 1990. Guests will experience the beauty and charm of the vineyards and taste the locally produced wines.

greece

Renae wrote: Wonderful trip to where the Olympic games started and you can even walk or run on the original field. Pretty fantastic. At the end of the winery tour, there’s a tasting underneath the trees with views of the ocean in the background … Ancient Olympia is a must see and it’s a bit outside of town so may as well take a tour. Our guide, Saskia, was wonderful!!!

1 Comment

  1. It’s a cruise I strongly relate to. Well done, HAL! It’s a pity I can’t afford it.

    Best wishes.

    Graham Thomson.

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