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Shore excursions – it’s what river cruising is all about. Sometimes, the best part of your journey is getting off the ship.

From the white horses of Vienna to castles on the Rhine, what happens when your ship docks is the real reason river cruising is so popular.

And the experiences just go on getting better.

How about a tour of Chateau de Commarin, accompanied by Count Bertrand de Vogue, the 26th generation of the de Vogue family, or a champagne tasting and gastronomic lunch with the Baroness at the historic Chateau de Ricey-Bas, a stately home in Les Riceys.

We’ve picked seven shore excursions offered by leading cruise lines that no river cruiser should miss.

Amsterdam’s red light district

The Dutch people are renowned for their open-mindedness, and no where is this more evident than in the infamous Red Light District. In Amsterdam’s earlier days this neighbourhood was a rough-and-tumble area of saloons, flophouses and criminal activity that catered to sailors and merchants in the harbour nearby; today it is the safest place in the world for sex workers to ply their trade. Walk down the district’s famous alleyways complete with call girls hanging over the balconies in hopes of landing a potential client. At the Red Light Secrets museum, you’ll discover how the District has been a hub of the erotic arts for centuries. See how the sex industry works, get a look into the lives of the prostitutes. You need to be 18 years to participate.

Red Light Secrets Museum

Amsterdam’s Red Light Secrets Museum

See Teemingrivercruises.com and others

Cognac, France

Discover the ports and vineyards of Aquitaine, once Europe’s richest kingdom. Hunt for truffles in Perigord, then taste them in a home cooked meals. Create your own Cognac at the Camus distillery. Then savor France’s best oysters from the bay of Arcachon. Then sip Saint Emilion and Sauternes.

See Vikingrivercruises.com.au

Budapest on a Segway

You’ll roll on your Segway through the entire city center, seeing Vorosmarty Square, Danube Promenade, the spectacular Chain Bridge, and the sensational House of Parliament. You’ll also see Liberty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica, the city’s largest cathedral. The tour also includes the Grand Synagogue, National Museum, Central Market Hall, Andrassy Avenue, Hungarian State Opera House, and House of Terror. Segway tours usually have six or less participants, making this excursion a personal adventure designed to make you feel comfortable.

Many cruise lines offer Budapest departures or destinations.

St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum

St Petersburg is amazing enough, but the Hermitage Museum, located in the Winter Palace, is an imperial location like no other. Aside from Paris’ Louvre, no other collection rivals the size and quality of the Hermitage Museum. Founded by Catherine the Great upon purchasing 255 paintings from Berlin, the Hermitage now has over 2.7 million displays. Since 1764, it’s housed the main portions of the Hermitage Collection. With masterpieces by Da Vinci, Rafael, Monet, Rembrandt, and Renoir, it’s regarded as a marvel, both inside and out.

Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

See Vikingrivercruises.com.au

Food glorious food in Vienna

Shop with a Chef” is a Scenic shore excursion where guests join the ship’s chef and a local culinary specialist on a guided tour of the famous Naschmarkt, a market that has been operating in the same place since the fifteenth century and is especially notable for olive oils, vinegars, pickles and cheeses. Even better, participants dine on board that evening on the produce the chef has purchased.

See scenic.com.au

The Taj Mahal

Enter a world of color, culture, and cherished spiritual tradition of India. Your guided tour of India and Ganges River cruise begins in the bustling city of Delhi. You’ll tour the city with your expert local guide, and take a rickshaw ride through the Chandni Chowk bazaar—brimming with everything from silver and spices to saris of every color. You’ll visit Qutub Minar—the world’s largest brick minaret, and see Delhi’s largest Sikh gurudwara (house of worship), before traveling to Agra—site of the legendary Taj Mahal.

 

Taj Mahal

Join a sunrise excursion to the Taj Mahal—the iconic memorial built by Moghul emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife

Join a sunrise excursion to the Taj Mahal—the iconic memorial built by Moghul emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife. More than 20 years in the making, the Taj Mahal stands as the pinnacle of love’s devotion, and is also yours to experience at sunset if you wish.

Avalonwaterways.com.au

Luke Nguyen’s food tours of the Mekong

Acclaimed chef Luke Nguen has personally designed these culinary experiences, which include a five course dinner at his signature restaurant, market tour where you’ll meet Luke’s friends and relatives, cooking school. It’s an amazingly personal experience from someone who lives and breathes his country’s cuisine.

Luke Nguyen, APT

Luke Nguyen

See aptouring.com.au