Step Back in Time with These Top Shore EXCursions for the History Buff

Step Back in Time with These Top Shore EXCursions for the History Buff

“I travel to feel the ancient intangibles and hear the whispers of history.” – Elise Abeth.

For some, wanderlust is driven by adventure or the arts, while others are passionate about discovering the rich history found in every corner of the globe. Whether it’s an ancient temple, citadel or library, Holland America Line offers an abundance experiences both on board and ashore that enable our guests to explore some of the world’s greatest historical treasures.

Whether it’s hearing about ancient ruins at an EXC Talk from an EXC Guide or choosing a Shore EXCursion that delves into some of the world’s most interesting wonders, it’s easy to become immersed in the locales we visit. Read on below for a few of our favorite tours!

Semarang, Java, Indonesia

For most visitors, the biggest thrill about arriving at Semarang is the chance to take a day trip to Borobudur, the Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates to the 8th and 9th centuries. Guests looking to explore this historic site can do so in style on our Borobudur by Train EXCursion. Take an antique train for a ride past beautiful tropical scenery, crossing the legendary swamp of Rawapening en route to Tuntangen route to the temple of Borobudur — one of the most incredible creations in Southeast Asia.

Borobudur has perhaps the finest examples of Buddhist reliefs in the world, with each of the 10 terraces symbolizing the path to Nirvana. The view from the top is extraordinary and will remain with you as one of the highlights of your visit to Southeast Asia.

Aqaba, Jordan


Lost to the desert for centuries, Petra is one of the most spectacular sites of antiquity. Admired then for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels, Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, enchanting visitors from all over the globe.

On our Petra & Wadi Rum tour you’ll have the chance to explore this rose-hued city on foot with a professional guide. Excavations of the site began in 1929, but today it’s your turn to unearth the extraordinary! Follow the footsteps of British adventurer T.E. Lawrence as you explore the bizarre and intriguing desert landscapes of Jordan. The afternoon’s adventure begins with a one-hour drive to the famous Wadi Rum — the site of the 1920s Arab Revolt championed by Lawrence. Afterwards, you’ll meet up with a Bedouin family and hop into a four-wheel-drive vehicle to forge your way into the Valley of the Moon, passing through some of the most magnificent scenery in the world!

Athens, Greece


Steeped in history and mythology, Athens has long drawn travelers from all over the world looking to explore its ancient wonders. For history buffs, no trip to Athens is complete without a visit to the eternal symbol of Western civilization — the Parthenon. On our Acropolis, Ancient Agora & Temple Of Olympian Zeus EXCursion, you’ll have a chance to visit the Parthenon as well as other notable sites! DUring a scenic ride into the heart of Athens you’ll pass major landmarks like Hadrian’s Arch, the statue of Lord Byron, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Constitution Square, the former Royal Palace, the National Gardens, the Academy, and the University Library.

Climb 80 steps through the Propylaea — the monumental gateway to the Acropolis — where you’ll enjoy remarkable views of the city below. Beyond the Propylaea on the highest point of the Acropolis stands the Parthenon, one of the greatest monuments of ancient civilization. Dedicated to the virgin goddess Athena, the white Pentelic marble temple was built 446 – 437 B.C. The tour also visits the ancient Agora, Stoa of Attalus Museum, the Old Olympic Stadium and the Temple of Olympian Zeus — the largest temple in antiquity, 700 years in the making!

Dublin, Ireland

Book of Kells

Ireland’s capital city may be small, but it’s as rich in history as it is personality. From the Malahide Castle to the Irish Emigration Museum, this charming port is teeming with “must-see” sites, but one of our favorites is lesser-known historic jewel — the Book of Kells — a hand-illuminated manuscript of the gospels.

Embark on our Dublin Highlights Shore EXCursion and begin your day with a panoramic drive to the Customs House on the north bank of the River Liffey, where many mid-18th-century public buildings grace the area. Continue on to Trinity College where you’ll visit the library housing the incredible Book of Kells. Your sightseeing tour of the city will continues past Merrion and Fitzwilliam Squares, the National Gallery and the wonderful St Stephen’s Green. You will also get to see Dublin Castle, City Hall, Christ Church Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral!

Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy


Rome is both a modern bustling city and an ancient open-air museum with so much to explore! While you can fill your day with museums, churches and archaeological sites, any history buff knows a trip to Rome isn’t complete without a visit to its most impressive attraction — the Colosseum.

On our Best of Rome tour, you’ll have the opportunity to visit this World Wonder, as well as other top sites! Your day will begin at St. Peter’s Square where you’ll walk through Bernini’s Colonnade and step into Christendom’s largest church —St Peter’s Basilica. Take time to see the Pietà, Michelangelo’s masterpiece in white marble!

You will then depart Vatican City to head for the Colosseum, where you’ll drive along the Tiber River, passing Aventine Hill for an incredible view of the imposing remains of the Imperial Palaces and the Circus Maximus. Once you’ve arrived, take time to soak in the history & marvel at the imposing structure that housed gladiatorial combats. The last stop on the tour is the famed Trevi Fountain, where King Neptune’s tritons guard the sparkling waters of Rome’s most beloved monument. Make sure you pause to toss in a coin and ensure your return to the Eternal City!

Did this post ignite your wanderlust? Where are you dreaming of cruising to next? Tell us in the comments below!


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