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5 festivals to see on a river cruise

clock 26th January 2016 | comment0 Comments

Updated February 2017

 

A river cruise can be a leisurely and exciting way to explore a new destination. From cruising the diverse and scenic riverbanks to stepping ashore in the heart of the city, there is plenty to see and do depending on your preferred pace of holiday.

mardi gras new orleans mississippi


Most river cruises provide ample opportunities to explore on foot. Make a point to delve into new destinations whilst in port and you can enjoy local cuisine, embrace new cultures and see a whole new way of life. Depending on when you chose to cruise you may be lucky enough to catch unique community events, celebrations or local festivals during your trip.

With river cruises available worldwide, the breadth of new and exciting experiences is endless. Check out a few of our favourite events below which you could encounter on your next river cruise.



Rhine in Flames

Sail on a Rhine river cruise in summer and you might just catch the Rhein in Flammen festival which is held in various locations from Rudesheim to Bonn every year from May to September. You can expect a large audience of around a quarter of a million enjoying a fantastic firework display with flames and romantic flair amidst this beautiful castle-lined region.

Dates in 2017:

Bonn - 06.05.2017

Koblenz - 12.08.2017



Budapest Summer Festival

Held between June and August, the Summer Festival is an incredible opportunity to experience the arts and music of Budapest. With musical performances from the Budapest Symphony and various jazz groups, open-air theatrical productions, exhibitions and more. Combine your river cruise with a stay in Budapest to make the most of the wide range of cultural programmes.

 


Mardi Gras

The unique and rarely touched region of the Mississippi river takes river cruisers through some of USA’s famous musical and cultural hotspots, including Memphis and New Orleans. New Orleans in particular is known for the Mardi Gras festival where parades and floats move through the city daily. Cruise the Mississippi with American Queen Steamboat Company.

 

Mardi Gras River Cruise

 

The Vienna Festival

As one of the icons of music and culture, Vienna holds a yearly festival highly regarded for its musical productions, from classical performances to operas and exhibitions. Stop in Vienna between May and June and you can see prime examples of Austria’s cultural magnificence. Explore Austria when you river cruise the Danube.

 

Oktoberfest

Usually during the last week of September, Oktoberfest is the most famous beer festival in the world. Say prost! (cheers!) with the locals in Munich as you learn of Bavarian traditions, enjoy the locally brewed beers and experience a whole host of celebrations. See Munich on a river fly-cruise, ask one of our sales agents for more details.

 

 

At Iglu Cruise we tailor-make our cruise holidays. If you can't find an itinerary to suit your festival plans, please speak to one of our cruise agents who can help.



5 Must do's in Bratislava, Slovakia

clock 16th November 2015 | comment0 Comments

Eastern Europe has so much to offer holiday goers and explorers alike, with unique quirks, historical towns and beautiful landscapes, there is something to appeal to everyone.

The likes of Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia are now seeing an influx of visitors from Western Europe and the welcoming locals make a trip here truly unforgettable. One nation in particular which is growing in popularity is Slovakia, with the capital Bratislava an absolute must on a European cruise.

bratslavia-slovakia


Iglu Cruise offer a number of river cruises along the Danube, starting in Hungary and stopping off in Bratislava en route to Austria. So what is there to do in Slovakia's largest city? Here are our top five suggestions.

 

Bratislava Castle

Sitting on a hill of the Little Carphathians overlooking the city, Bratislava Castle is arguably the most historic and recognisable sight in the capital. It provides stunning views over Bratislava, parts of Austria and on clear days you will you be able to see as far as Hungary. As you would expect, the castle has a long and rich history. It can trace its origins back to the ninth century where it was believed to have been built by the Romans as a frontier post. It was accidentally burned to the ground by garrisoned soldiers in May 1811, leading to a full rebuild in the 1950s.

It is home to both The History Museum and the National Museum, with one of the rooms dedicated to the works of Slovakian and foreign artists. Around 3,500 paintings, statues and print are housed in the castle, the most impressive being copies of 15th century altarpieces by Paul of Levoca.

bratislava-castle

St Martin's Cathedral

Sticking with the historical theme, St Martin's Cathedral is a testament to Bratislava's Gothic architecture. Situated on the edge of the Old Town, the church can trace its history back to the 13th century when it was originally built in a Romanesque style. However, by the 14th century it was replaced by a three-nave Gothic dome and was fully transformed by 1452.

Being the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava it has been the scene of many a famous ceremony. Between 1563 and 1830 it was known for being the coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary and saw 19 Hungarian Emperors crowned during this time.

Today, it remains open to the public allowing people to wander around this magnificent structure and the see the work of famous Austrian baroque sculptor Raphael Donner.

St Michael's Street and St Michael's Gate

Both St Michael's Street and St Michael's Gate are go-to places for anyone visiting Bratislava. It is the main hub of activity in the city with shops and restaurants lining the street, making for a very lively place. Both locals and tourists alike come out to enjoy the ambiance on an evening with street bands providing a great atmosphere as the sun goes down.

At the top of the street is St Michael's Gate which remains the only city gate in Slovakia that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications. Originally built during the year 1300, it was rebuilt in 1758 and has survived several wars, occupations and the Communist rule, a period renowned for tearing down and replacing historic buildings.

Now it is seen and appreciated as a hugely relaxing area, ideal for enjoying a glass of wine or two and simply watching the world go by.

st-michaels-street-bratislava

Slovak National Theatre

If you get the chance, a visit to the Slovak National Theatre is an absolute must if you are a lover of the arts. It is the oldest professional theatre in the country and consists of three ensembles - opera, ballet and drama. It is split into two separate buildings the old, opened in 1886, and the new, opened in 2007.

The former was designed by Viennese architects R. Fellner and H. Helmer, responsible for creating ten buildings across Europe. It is the home of Neo-Renaissance opera, ballet and philharmonic performances and if you have the chance to catch a show, then it will be an unforgettable experience.

slovak-national-theatre

Novy Most

While Bratislava Castle provides a beautiful panoramic view of the city, for more spectacular views head to one of the more modern structures in Bratislava - Novy Most Bridge.

Despite being built during the era of Slovak Communism, the 1971 bridge does not follow conventional architecture of the time. It is more inkeeping with Bratislava's more historic side and has drawn comparisons to the Space Needle in Seattle.

Providing a link over the Danube, you can venture up the impressive structure to an observation desk where you can take in all the views of Bratislava. Maybe even have a spot of lunch at the restaurant UFO, a popular eatery so booking is advised.

 

Browse our Danube River cruise deals



Things to do and see in Amsterdam

clock 1st September 2015 | comment0 Comments

Amsterdam is one of the most unique cities in the whole of Europe.

Interspersed with canals and a hugely liberal way of life, the Dutch capital tends to be high up on many a bucket list. Originally developed as a small fishing village in the 12th century, Amsterdam has turned into one of the most cosmopolitan, hippest places you're likely to find. It even boasts a small medieval centre which has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Many River cruises of both the Danube and the Rhine begin in Amsterdam offering the perfect way to start your adventure by exploring this magnificent city.

So what is there to do for a day or two in Amsterdam? Here are our suggestions of what's not to be missed before you set sail through the rest of Europe.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum museum Amsterdam

Start your day with a trip to the Rijksmuseum, the largest of its kind in the whole of the Netherlands. Opened in 1800, it began life as home to a collection of art from all over the country. It moved around quite a bit during its early days before finally relocating to its current home in 1885, a building designed by Dutch architect Petrus J.H. Cuypers in a neo-Renaissance style.

Many recognise Rijksmuseum as being one of the most breathtaking in all of Europe and it is in the enviable position of displaying some world renowned pieces of art. Amongst the amazing collection of around 8,000 objects is Rembrandt's 'Night Watch' as well as several paintings by Vermeer, van Dyck and Jan Steen.

You will also be able to visit the newest exhibits following the museum's ten-year renovation, which was completed in April 2013.

It is open throughout the year with entrance charged at around €17.50 (£12).

Van Gogh Museum

Right at the top of many people's to-do lists when they come to Amsterdam is visiting the Van Gogh Museum. Honouring one of the most well-known and popular artists the world has ever seen, this is a showcase of Vincent van Gogh's (1853-1890) very best work. From paintings to drawings to letters, no stone is left unturned when discovering his incredible artwork.

Opened in 1973, the museum has quickly become one of the most popular in Europe with 1.6 million people visiting it every year. There are over 200 paintings and 500 drawings of Van Gogh's housed here, along with other works from fellow Impressionists and Post-impressionists around at the same time.

The museum is charted chronologically representing different periods in Van Gogh's life - The Netherlands, Paris, Arles, Saint-Remy and Auvers-sur-Oise. They are set in a wonderful space meaning you can take your time simply admiring this great collection of work.

Open throughout the year admission is around €17.

Oude Kerk

If you are looking for more of a spiritual experience then head to De Oude Kerk (The Old Church). Ironically situated in Amsterdam's Red Light District, this huge, monumental church is a symbol of the national character of Dutch Protestantism. It also symbolises the tradition and the present-day of the city.

Standing in the city since 1213, Oude Kerk is one of the very few Protestant churches with unique architecture. From the sculpted misericords in the choir to the impressive gravestones that line its floor, it really is a sight to behold. The focal point of the church is the 17th century grand organ which plays a major part in a series of concerts throughout the year.

Oude Kerk opens all year round with admission prices starting from €5.

Anne Frank House

Canal at Anne Frank house


Tucked in an unassuming Amsterdam suburb is the home of Anne Frank. The building at Prinsengracht 263 became a residence synonymous with the second world war and the Nazis' occupation of the city. Anne lived there for over two years with her family writing a diary to account the goings-on of the time.

Being sheltered there, they were exposed in August 1944 and deported to various concentration camps, with only Otto Frank of the group surviving the war and going on to have his daughter's diary published. In 1960, the home was converted into a museum and visitors are able to see into the exact room where the Frank family hid from the oppression of the Nazis.

While the room remains empty, visitors will still feel the atmosphere of the time.

Amsterdam Brown Cafes and Canal Walks

Amsterdam canals


With a long day of sightseeing behind you, it is time to relax a little and unwind and this is where Amsterdam comes into its own. There are over 1,500 restaurants, cafes and bars dotted across the city but for a true taste of local way of life is to visit one of the many brown cafes.

They are a quintessential side of Amsterdam culture. Known as bruine kroeg in Dutch, they are characterised by their dark wood interiors and smoke-stained walls. Relax with a wide selection of beers and borrel hapjes (typical bar snacks), before moving on to a restaurant later on in the evening.

Crown your day in Amsterdam with a stroll under the stars as you wander through the canals, just keep an eye out for hurried cyclists. Biking is a very popular form of transport in the city.

Visit Amsterdam on a relaxing Rhine river cruise. Browse our Rhine River cruise deals



The many wines of the Rhine

clock 6th August 2015 | comment0 Comments

The Rhine river cuts through some of Germany’s finest winemaking regions; ideal for cruisers who love their wine.

Renowned regions the Middle Rhine, the Rhine Valley (Rheingau) and the Rheinhessen, all lie on the banks of this famous waterway, making it easy for you to sample the wine as you go. It would almost be rude not to.

We’ve put together a guide for each of these three magnificent regions, their specialty wines and which ports are in each area.

The Rhine Valley - Rheingau


The picturesque Rheingau is one of the most famous areas in Germany for wine making. The name of the game here is quality, not quantity and each batch of wine being crafted with perfection as the goal. The region’s wine-making exploits date back to the Roman era, making it the oldest wine-growing area of Germany.

Known for its high quality Riesling grapes, the region produces some of the finest white wines in Europe with 80 per cent of the produce coming from the valley being fruity Riesling varieties. However, while it’s certainly a popular stop for those who prefer white, Rhine Valley’s reds are also high in quality. Much lighter than their neighbouring European counterparts in France, German reds are much more delicate and subtle.

Many of our river cruises take dock at Rüdesheim; a wine-making town in the heart of the Rhine Gorge. Here, you’ll be right in the heart of German wine-land, with fine Rieslings and tasty reds easy to come by in almost every bar and restaurant.

The Middle Rhine


The Middle Rhine is another area of Germany where Riesling rules the roost. While not as famous as the wineries of the Rheingau, the quality is still very high.

Dotted with picturesque castles and lines by green rolling hills, the Middle Rhine is one of the most popular sections of any Rhine river cruise with its fine wine only aiding its popularity. Vineyards are aplenty within the region, so you won’t have to travel far to find a good glass of wine when exploring your ports of call.

As well as Riesling, the Middle Rhine is known for its own delicious variety of pinot noir; spätburgunder. This full-bodied wine has a real kick to it and is one of the most celebrated reds on the Rhine.

Besides being one of the most important cities on the Upper Middle Rhine, Koblenz is also a popular stop for wine. Our Jewels of the Rhine from Basel stops at Koblenz, and so it’s the perfect choice if you’re after a few different tipples.

Rheinhessen


For a different kind of white to Riesling, although there’s still plenty around, take a stop in the Rheinhessen and enjoy a glass of Müller-Thurgau; a flowery tipple with a hint of nutmeg.

For reds, try the dry Dornfelder, This common grape is the most popular type or red in the region and can be distinguished by its deep, dark colour. For a more Mediterranean flavor, look out for Regent, one of the newer grapes to be cultivated in the area. Since 1994, this red has been popular with locals and tourists alike, and now takes up 800 hectares of the Rheinhessen’s vineyard area.

The towns of Worms and Bingen are the most important places on the Rhine in terms of wine, but you can pretty much get hold of a bottle of quality Rheinhessen tipple anywhere along the river.

A side (tasting) note


Due to the proximity of these regions, many of the wines crossover and can be found in each. If you are after a bottle to accompany your meals, don’t be afraid to ask the waiting staff for tips; they will be more than happy to help out.

Browse our Rhine River cruise deals



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