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A Guide to Croatia

clock 8th December 2015 | comment0 Comments

Updated February 2017

 

Iglu Department Head, Linda, tells us all about her favourite parts of her holiday to Croatia; what not to miss, what you can side-step, and just exactly how did those goats get there?

 

croatia arial


Croatia remains an unspoilt country in the Mediterranean, oozing idyllic, old school Mediterranean charm. The sea is clean, the locals are friendly and the towns are built from local stone with their colourful wooden shutters. The weather is great from April til October, and there are so many things to see and do that you couldn’t possibly get bored of this country.

 

croatia waterfalls


Most of Croatia’s beaches are pebble beaches, which keeps the water clear and great for snorkelling. Take sandals with you so that you can walk on them, and mind the sea urchins.

Most of the larger beaches offer a rent-a-boat service. Don’t expect a yacht-like experience - you could probably swim faster - but the boat is the best way to get to one of the many uninhabited islands, and have the whole beach to yourself. Or, anchor in the middle of the water and take a dip.

Croatia has strict importation laws, so everything you eat is produced locally, fresh, and tastes great, but the portions are huge so keep this in mind. Unsurprisingly, the seafood is outstanding. Try the local cheeses, but I suggest you say no to rakija (a local spirit) no matter how kindly it is offered.

Local wines can be a hit and miss, so taste it before you buy a bottle. Some of them are outstanding, some leave much to be desired.

My favourite place is the Krka waterfalls in the Krka National Park, because of its incredible natural beauty. This is in Dalmatia, near Sibenik - a couple of hours drive from Split. Take a dip in any of the terraces of the waterfalls, go on a boat ride on the lake, discover the trails in the forest, and have some local food in any of the eateries in the park. A good tip is to avoid the weekends when all the locals visit, as the park can get very busy.

 

sibenik, croatia


Sibenik is a great little town with a lot of nice restaurants, and a market where you can pick up local produce. It has a lovely marina and a grand cathedral worth having a peek in. Try the local ice-cream on a hot summer’s day, while wandering around in the car-free town centre.

Primosten is a beautiful, traditional, stone built town on its own peninsula, with a church and cemetery on the very top of the hill. Here there are breath-taking, 360 degree views - a must see! The restaurant in the marina makes a fantastic Dalmatian cheese and ham stuffed squid.

Split has a lovely town centre and market place. Take a walk in the marina and marvel at the fancy yachts.

 

croatia islands


If you drive in Croatia, the old highway along the beach is a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of the coast - albeit much slower than the newly built highway.

Day trips include the opportunity to spend a day on a yacht with live entertainment/music and food, visiting some of the nearby islands. The Kornati Islands National Park is worth a visit, with a glass bottom boat to see the varied and colourful under-water world. If you are into fishing, you can also book a place on a fishing boat for a day, which is great fun.

 

croatia islands


Croatians say that when God created the world, he looked down and the beauty of his creation made him weep; his teardrops are said to be the many islands of Croatia. Nice story for some, but I remain unconvinced on that one. What I still don’t understand is how goats got to some of these uninhabited islands miles off the coast. You sail past and they are just there, baaah-ing. Any theories?

 

See Croatia on a cruise to the Mediterranean, or take a look at our cruises to Croatia.



9 Historical attractions you must visit on the Danube

clock 20th October 2015 | comment0 Comments

The Danube is the heartline of eastern Europe, starting from the Black Sea cutting through many major countries before ending in Germany.

Such is the diversity of the cities along the Danube, it makes the river ideal for a cruising holiday. There is so much history attached to the waterway that is best experienced on a river cruise. There are a wide variety of Danube river cruises available such as starting in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, passing through the likes of Austria and Germany and ending in Amsterdam.

Along the way there is an abundance of historical sights which help to build the history of the Danube. Let's take a look at nine must-see attractions en route.

danube river

Shoes on the Danube Bank

Starting in Budapest, the Shoes on the Danube Bank is a highly poignant memorial. A collection of shoes on the banks of the river on the Pest side of the Danube Promenade honour the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in the capital during World War II.

Created by film director Can Togay and sculptor Gyula Pauer, the memorial is a reminder of the tragedies which Budapest suffered during the war, while also commemorating the victims.

shoes on the Danube river

Schonbrunn Palace

This magnificent Baroque palace sits in the heart of Vienna, the next stop along the Danube. The 1,441-room palace is a former imperial summer residence originally purchased by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II in 1569.

It remains a focal point of Vienna's, and by a larger extent Austria's, style of architecture reflecting the changing taste of the Habsburg monarchs. Since the 1950s both the palace and the gardens have become major tourist attractions and were recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Schonbrunn Palace, Austria

 

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Staying in Vienna and another attraction to tick off is the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Translated as the Museum of Art History, this magnificent building has stood in the Austrian capital since opening in 1891. Commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary it houses some of the nation's finest art.

Notable works currently installed at the picture gallery include Jan van Eyck: Portrait of Cardinal Niccolo Albergati (c. 1431), The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Rembrandt: Self Portrait (1652). It is an absolute must for all art lovers.

Mauthausen Memorial

Not far from the Austrian city of Linz is the Mauthausen memorial. Mauthausen-Gusen was a concentration camp used by the Nazis during World War II. Between 122,766 and 320,000 people are estimated to have been killed here during Germany's occupation of Austria.

Liberated by the US Army in May 1945, Mauthausen is now a national memorial site. It remains largely intact covering almost 3,000 sq ft. There are a number of guided tours going on throughout the day.

Regensburg Dom

Moving into Germany and the Regensburg Dom should be high up on the itinerary for anyone cruising the Danube. This huge cathedral is a brilliant example of pure German Gothic architecture and forms the focal point of the city.

Founded in 1275 and completed in 1634, the Dom is home to some magnificent monuments including one by renowned German sculptor Peter Vischer the Elder. It is a sight to behold and a must-see when in Regensburg.

Regensburg, Germany

Nuremberg Palace of Justice

Nuremberg is a city of huge prominence in Germany. The second largest in Bavaria, behind Munich, it is a place of so much history none more so than the Palace of Justice. Justizpalast was built in 1916 and was the scene of the infamous Nuremberg Trials between 1945 and 1949 after World War II.

Courtroom 600 saw the trial of the main Nazi Germany personalities such as Hermann Göering, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Arthur Seyss-Inquart. The courts are still used today and are open to the public.

Rhine Gorge

A magnificent natural sight in the heart of Germany, the Rhine Gorge is where the Rhine takes over from the Danube. The 65-kilometre section of river between Koblenz and Bingen was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

The area is unusual as it produces its own microclimate and has become the home to a number of species not generally native to this part of the world. Aside from this the gorge provides some splendid views.

German National Museum of Contemporary History

Moving on to Bonn in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany and a must in this city is the German National Museum of Contemporary History. Charting the nation's past after 1945, the museum ranges from artefacts from over the previous decades to the changing face of politics in the country.

Admission is free and guide booklets can be obtained in English, as the exhibitions and tours are presented in German.

Koblenz Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Anne Frank Huis

Ending the trip in Amsterdam, a visit to the home of Anne Frank is an absolute must. Situated at the Prinsengracht in central Amsterdam, this unassuming house was where Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution.

The 17th-century canal house became a museum in May 1960, following the publication of Anne's diaries in 1957, she did not survive the war. Behind the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank Huis is well worth a visit.

Browse and book our Rhine river cruises



5 Game Of Thrones Destinations To Visit By Cruise

clock 15th June 2015 | comment0 Comments

The American fantasy drama is famed for its stunning exotic filming destinations, from the shores of Croatia to glaciers of Iceland and the rich countryside of Northern Ireland. We take a look into the spectacular locations that you can visit by cruise to relive your favourite GOT moments.

Imagine standing at the gates of King’s Landing? Or strolling around the Free City of Pentos? Discover the fantastical locations on your doorstep that are used in everyone's favourite TV series:

Alcázar de Sevilla, used as the Water Places of Dorne

 

Malta

#GOT scene: Site of the King’s Landing in series 1

Malta is a fairly new destination to the cruise world and the perfect island to exploit the exotic Mediterranean flare. However, it is not only sun and sand that makes it so appealing, it holds a rich and fascinating history.

Every building, temple and street tells a story and display the results of a significant event in Malta’s dramatic past. A trip here guarantees to create ever-lasting memories and no shortage of mysterious adventures. From the iconic stone temples, grand palaces and quaint cobbled streets to the sun-drenched beaches, water-front restaurants and vibrant cocktail bars, Malta is an enchanting paradise.

Malta exposed the perfect destination for King’s landing as the pristine rooftops of the historic buildings portray scenes of a noble lifestyle.

Cruise lines that stop here: Royal Caribbean International, P&O Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line

 

The main gate of Mdina, used as King's Landing's Gate


Croatia

#GOT scene: Site of King’s Landing from series 2

Oh beautiful Croatia – one of my favourite European cities that becomes more charming every time I visit. 

One of the most picturesque coastlines, sailing into this part of the world truly takes my breathe away with its vibrant buildings, pretty harbors and soaring ramparts that sit in front of lush green mountains. I can only imagine this is the ultimate destination to film such a fascinating drama.

The Old Town is an explorer’s playground with so much to do. As you stroll around the cobbled streets you are faced with unique carved statues, history-enriched architecture and the famous Onifrio’s Fountain. When your sight-seeing time is up, relax in one of the tucked away cafes and indulge on a delicious pastry and simply watch this mesmerizing world pass by.

Cruise lines that stop here: Thomson Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises

 

Lovrijenac fort, used as The Red Keep in the heart of Kings Landing

 

Iceland

#GOT scene: 'Beyond the wall' scene

Iceland is a destination that doesn’t quite seem real. A place where people bathe in boiling springs, active volcanoes are a normal sight and natural wonders outnumber man-made creations.

This unspoilt playground oozes with exploration and showcases sights of the unimaginable. Named the 'land of ice and fire' a trip to Iceland gives you the opportunity to delve into fascinating history, relax in steaming lagoons or enjoy a snippet of the lavish lifestyle in innovative nightclubs and bars.

Although the locals are very welcoming, it is the wildlife you are likely to make friends with. From the whale infested waters to the arctic foxes huddled along the coast, you will never be alone here.

Cruise lines that stop here: Fred Olsen Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Hurtigruten 

 

Vatnajokull Glacier, used as North of the Wall


Northern Ireland

#GOT scene: Numerous scenes

You don’t always have to look far to find something amazing and sometimes what you are searching for can be found right infront of you. Northern Ireland is the UK's hidden gem.

The highlight of any British Isles cruise, Northern Ireland illustrates a pairing of lush countryside with cosmopolitan city life. The city boasts vibrant bars, lively beer gardens and exciting museums, whereas the countryside exposes century-old remains, sensuous countryside and roaming wildlife.

There is no shortage of adventures to be had here, from the Titanic Memorial, Carrickfergus Castle and the Giant’s Causeway UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With it's soaring mountains dominating mystical landscapes, it created the ultimate setting for many enticing GOT scenes. Many of the woodland settings are filmed in Tollymore Forest, County down.

Cruise lines that stop here: Cruise & Maritime, Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruises, P&O Cruises

 

The Dark Hedges, used as Kingsroad (North of Kings Landing)

 

Morocco

#GOT scene: Daenerys walk along from series 3

The Hollywood of Europe, Morocco is a lavish city that blends old and new like nowhere else in the world. One minute you’re taken back in time by historic buildings and the next you are surrounded by a commercial jungle.

Cuisine is a key part of the Moroccan lifestyle and every new step you take presents a different restaurant with locals serving tasty treats. Influenced by its cultural background, you will be able to indulge in an array of exquisite cuisine here.

Morocco has a quirky personality that is apparent from all around. It has an infectious sense of adventure that makes you want to delve into the culture further.

With its enchanting atmosphere, awe-inspiring views and rich culture it is no suprise it was chosen for key filming scenes.

Cruise lines that stop here: Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Star Clippers

 

Aït-Ben-Haddou, used as Yunkai and Pentos


By Sally Grimes



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