Cruise Destinations in europe

Europe’s Most Underrated Cruise Destinations

Wednesday 19th Jun 2024 |

European cruises have something for everyone thanks to the diverse landscapes, climates, cuisines and activities. But with so many routes to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to go. Luckily, with a Celebrity Cruises’ getaway, you can visit multiple ports in one trip. 

While popular destinations such as Barcelona, Rome or Marseilles tend to dominate the European cruise scene, there are plenty of underrated locations that are well worth a visit. 

To guide you in the right direction, travel experts at Iglu Cruise have revealed five underrated destinations that should be added to your bucket list. 

1. Porto, Portugal

Cruise Destinations in europe

Portugal attracts millions of tourists every year, but many flock to The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region famous for its beautiful beaches. However, Porto, located in northern Portugal has built a reputation as one of the most underrated cities in Europe. 

The charming city is known for its Baroque and Neoclassical architectural styles which helped Porto earn recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The Porto Cathedral and Palacio da Bolso are incredible displays of Portuguese architecture that feel as though you’ve stepped into a fairytale. 

Visitors can enjoy a picturesque walk along the Douro River, which runs through the city, to Cais da Ribeira, an area with plenty of lively bars and restaurants. Here you can try some delicious food whilst watching the sunset or sampling some world-famous Port wine which originates from the region. The river itself is connected to much of Porto’s history of wine production, where it transported wine from the local vineyards of the Douro Valley to Porto. 

Transportation around Porto is also very accessible. Trains, buses and trams can take you from one place to another, but many visitors enjoy walking as you can easily walk across the city in a few hours. 

Celebrity Cruise Deals to Porto:

Spain & Portugal from Barcelona, 22 October 2024 (9 nights) – From £971

Spain & Portugal from Southampton, 27 July 2024 (7 nights) – From £1,032

2. Athens, Greece

Cruise Destinations in europe

When you think of Greek cruises, Santorini, Rhodes, Crete or Mykonos may come to mind. Yet, the country’s capital shouldn’t be overlooked as a cruise destination. 

Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, and also the largest in Greece. Here, you can find some of the world’s oldest and most famous landmarks, including the Parthenon, Acropolis and Temple of Zeus. With a history spanning over 3,000 years, Athens is often regarded as the birthplace of democracy, arts and philosophy in Western civilisation. 

Once you escape the city, Athens is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, where you can swim in crystal-clear waters or relax after a busy day sightseeing. The west-facing Kavouri Beach is famous for its sunsets, where you can grab some delicious Greek food whilst looking over the Aegean Sea. 

While the capital alone is a truly fantastic place to visit, you’ll find many Mediterranean cruises that sail to Athens and also stop off at several other Greek Islands. 

Celebrity Cruise Deals to Athens:

Greece, Turkey & Italy from Athens, 3 August 2024 (7 nights) – From £1,014

Best of Greece from Athens, 17 October 2024 (9 nights) – From £1,089

3. Reykjavik, Iceland 

Cruise Destinations in europe

Coolcationing is a rising travel trend, which means vacationing in a cooler climate. If this is the type of getaway you’re looking for, then the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik is the perfect destination for your next cruise holiday. 

Renowned for being one of the best places to see the northern lights or watch active volcanoes, the “land of fire and ice” has some of the most remarkable landscapes in Europe. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Skogafoss Waterfall and Snæfellsjökull National Park are just some of the Icelandic natural beauty spots that you should visit on your voyage. 

Guests visiting Iceland can also witness incredible wildlife, including wild orcas, humpback, minke and blue whales. Wildlife tours run in every corner of the island all year round, but summer months are said to be the peak whale-watching season. 

As a city, Reykjavik is known for its nightlife, with an abundance of restaurants, bars, clubs, and entertainment venues that have a vibrant atmosphere. Many of the country’s finest restaurants can also be found in the capital, sampling food from all over the world but also traditional Icelandic dishes such as flatkökur, a flatbread with smoked lamb, salmon, cheeses or other delicious toppings.

Celebrity Cruise Deals to Reykjavik:

Iceland & Ireland from Southampton, 27 June 2024 (11 nights) – From £839

Iceland & Scottish Coasts from Southampton, 7 September 2024 (11 nights) – From £1,089

4. Zadar, Croatia

As one of Croatia’s best-kept secrets, Zadar has the historic heritage and fascinating architecture of Dubrovnik with a quieter, more intimate feel. If you’re looking for a cruise destination with fewer tourists, Zadar should be at the top of your list. 

Located on the Adriatic Sea, in the northwestern part of the Ravni Kotari region, some of Croatia’s finest beaches can be found in Zadar, which are usually quieter than the likes of Split, Hvar or Dubrovnik. As the beaches in Zadar are also west-facing, some of the best sunsets in Europe can be witnessed along the shores. 

The Sea Organ is one of the most famous attractions in the city. This is a monument that creates beautiful music played by the sea waves. Organ pipes catch the sounds of waves entering and escaping the holes built into the marble staircase to produce a unique soundtrack exclusive to Zadar. 

Mounted on a small peninsula, the old town is a treasure trove of historical wonders, featuring narrow marble streets lined with restaurants and bars, and the city’s most ancient Roman ruins, perfect for history and art lovers. As the area is pedestrian-only, visitors can only access the old town on foot, which makes you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. 

Celebrity Cruise Deals to Zadar:

Best of Italy & Croatia from Ravenna, 26 July 2024 (10 nights) – From £1,331

5. Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

Many Brits may overlook the UK as a holiday destination, especially when thinking about a cruise. However, the UK is famed for some of the best wild, natural beauty in Europe, and the Shetland Islands provide just that. 

The Shetland’s only town, Lerwick is home to half of the island’s population, and while it may be small, there’s plenty to do during your time here. Perfect for those who love spending time outdoors, you can explore this remote part of Scotland by foot as you soak up the local wildlife.

The islands have also been recognised as an important marine mammal area (IMMA) for orca, humpback, minke whale and harbour porpoise. The Shetlands join Antarctica, Madagascar, Baja in California and Patagonia who all have IMMA status, with crowds from all over the world coming to this tiny corner of Scotland to witness these animals in their natural habitat. 

In Lerwick, you can find many wonderful restaurants serving lots of fresh produce. Seafood is popular on the islands, as the waters are some of the most productive in the world, with haddock, mackerel, halibut or plaice caught fresh all year round. While lobster, crab, mussels and scallops are usually only found in the most exclusive restaurants in some parts of the world, in Lerwick, you can find these in most eateries. 

Celebrity Cruise Deals to Lerwick:

British Isles from Rotterdam, 24 June 2024 (11 nights) – From £1,250

Iceland & Scotland from Rotterdam, 4 August 2024 (12 nights) – From £1,483

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