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The Warnemünde quarter in Rostock is a famous German seaside resort that you can visit when you reach the German coasts on your MSC cruise of northern Europe.
At the mouth of the river Warnow, in the Baltic Sea, Warnemünde will surprise you with its villas, hotels and the large white and silver beach. Its heart is Am Strom, next to the port, where the homes of old captains and fishermen have been turned into coffee shops and boutiques. With an excursion during the cruise, you can continue towards Schwerin.
Surrounded by lakes and with a fairytale Schloss that tickles the imagination, the town represents a pleasant surprise, given by the architecture and spirit of a historic capital. Continuing the excursion you can admire Lubeck, one of the few cities along Europe’s northern coasts that preserves the glory of medieval times.
For more than two centuries the standard bearer of the Hanseatic League, this was one of the wealthiest and most powerful of European cities, the Venice of the Baltic. The commercial opulence is best expressed in its architecture: from the oldest Rathaus in Germany to the churches with the tallest bell-towers to the merchants’ mansions.
Lubecca is the first city in Northern Europe to be included in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in 1987. Finally, you should not leave out a visit to the cosmopolitan Berlin, the largest and liveliest city in Germany. Amongst the monuments to visit are the Brandebourgh Gate. Situated close to the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament, the monument, designed on the model of Athens’ Acropolis, was built as the city’s arch of triumph in 1791 and soon became the symbol of unified Germany.
The Brandenburg Gate looms over the ornamental gardens in Pariser Platz which extends eastwards towards the wide, tree-lined Unter den Linden avenue, that means “Beneath the linden trees”, flanked by shops and cafés.
IJmuiden is a small port city in the Dutch province of North Holland. It is the main town in the municipality of Velsen which lies mainly to the south-east. Including its large sea locks, it straddles the mouth of the North Sea Canal to Amsterdam.
La Rochelle on France’s Atlantic coast is a modern city with a turbulent wartime history.
Bilbao is one of Spain’s hidden gems. This wonderful Basque city will surprise you with its cultural heritage, fine food and go-ahead attitude.
Strung out over a series of hills facing the glistening waters of the broad estuary of the Tejo, Lisbon is one of Europe’s most handsome cities. Although its modern suburbs are ungainly, the historic centre is relatively compact and easy to explore in just a day when your MSC cruise takes you to the Lisbon.
The oldest part of the city, the warren of streets that make up the Alfama, sits below the spectacularly sited Moorish Castelo de São Jorge, its ruined walls facing another hill, the Bairro Alto or upper town, famed for its bars, restaurants and vibrant nightlife. The valley between these hills makes up the Baixa., or lower town.
The tall, imposing buildings that make up the Baixa (Lower Town) house some of Lisbon’s most interesting shops and cafés. A shore excursion on your MSC Mediterranean cruise can be the opportunity to reach via a narrow walkway the impressive Torre de Belém (Tower of Belém), an iconic symbol of Lisbon. It typifies M anueline style that was prominent during the reign of King Manuel, its windows and stairways embellished with arches and decorative symbols representing Portugal’s explorations into the New World.
Built as a fortress to defend the mouth of the River Tejo, it took years to complete, though when it opened in 1520 it would have been near the centre of the river – the earthquake of 1755 shifted the river’s course. Today, visitors are free to explore the tower’s various levels, which include a terrace facing the river from where artillery would hav ed been fired.
You can then climb a very steep spiral staircase up four lev el – framed view of the river – to a top terrace where you get a blowy panorama of Belém.
The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, famous for its towering rock, is a popular MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination.
Located on Spain’s south coast, on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, it was first settled by the Moors in the Middle Ages. From the top of the rock, enjoy views of the city of Gibraltar, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco! Or explore the town’s Palladian architecture before indulging in afternoon tea on the waterfront.
Formerly a Roman settlement, Valencia is a charismatic port city on the coast of Spain, and an MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination. Its marriage of modern and ancient architecture is a sight to behold – from the futuristic stylings of the City of Arts and Sciences to the 13th-centry Valencia Cathedral. Walk around its avenues and squares and soak up the city’s spellbinding energy. For restful pursuits, take in the beauty of its protected natural wonders including Albufera National Park.
Genoa is marvellously eclectic, vibrant and full of rough-edged style; it’s a great cruise excursion.
Indeed “La Superba” (The Superb), as it was known at the height of its authority as a Mediterranean superpower, boasts more zest and intrigue than all the surrounding coastal resorts put together.
During a holiday to Genoa you can explore its old town: a dense and fascinating warren of medieval alleyways home to large palazzi built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Genoa’s wealthy mercantile families and now transformed into museums and art galleries. You should seek out the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Renaissance palaces of Via Garibaldi which contain the cream of Genoa’s art collections, as well as furniture and decor from the grandest days of the city’s past, when its ships sailed to all corners of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Acquario di Genova is the city’s pride and joy, parked like a giant ocean liner on the waterfront, with seventy tanks housing sea creatures from all the world’s major habitats, including the world’s biggest reconstruction of a Caribbean coral reef. It’s a great aquarium by any standards, the second largest in Europe by capacity, and boasts a fashionably ecology-conscious slant and excellent background information in Italian and English.
Just 35 km south of Genoa, there’s no denying the appeal of Portofino, tucked into a protected inlet surrounded by lush cypress- and olive-clad slopes. It’s an A-list resort that has been attracting high-flying bankers, celebs and their hangers-on for years, as evidenced by the flotillas of giant yachts usually anchored just outside. It’s a tiny place that is attractive yet somehow off-putting at the same time, with a quota of fancy shops, bars and restaurants for a place twice its size.
On the spectacular coastline of the French Riviera lies Marseille, an MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination. This atmospheric port city is known for its unique mix of grit and glamour, seen in its labyrinth of streets and historical architecture. Only a few miles from Marseille’s charismatic cafes and bustling Vieux Port, stunning cities are to be found. Visit Aix-en-Provence, birthplace of Cézanne, or take in the ancient beauty of Avignon.
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