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Culture Vulture? Visit these Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites on Europe Cruises

From a private island paradise to penguin-covered icebergs, Holland America Line takes our guests to some of the most exclusive locales in the world. Did you know that not only do we cruise to the most beautiful beaches, monuments and landscapes around the globe, but we also visit places of great cultural, historical and natural significance? They are known as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World heritage sites are visited by millions of travelers each year and are constantly being reevaluated for public awareness and assistance. Many sites are added and nominated to be put on the exclusive list because of their endangerment, meaning their lifeline is running out and we should to visit them before it’s too late. For guests seeking to check some of these sites off of their list, European cruises are ideal because of the significant number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Europe boasts the most sites in a given region!

Within Europe, Holland America Line visits numerous countries with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the list continues to grow. If you’re looking to feed your world heritage appetite, our cruises are be the perfect way to do so. Here a some of our favorite European UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

Imagine slowly cruising through snow-capped mountains, passing waterfalls that seem to come from the clouds leaving you feeling relaxed, refreshed and alive. The Norwegian Fjords are well-known in the cruising world because of their unimaginable beauty, overwhelming presence, remoteness and exciting excursions that trail you through some astonishing sites you can only see while on the water.


While the fjord region is beautiful to see from the ship, there are many things to do on land as well. Hop on the Flam Railway and hike through Norway’s nature and wildlife; take a tour through Norway’s most beautiful valley, the Aurlandsdalen, known as the “Norwegian Grand Canyon;” or simply stroll through the city of Tromsø, nicknamed “Paris of the North.” The fjords are mesmerizing and never disappoint.

There are seven sites built by architect Antoni Gaudi throughout Barcelona showing off the artist’s eclectic creations. His designs are a testament to his involvement in the creative development of architecture and construction technology in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Gaudi's unique architecture adds to Barcelona's cultural charm.

Gaudi’s unique architecture adds to Barcelona’s cultural appeal.

The Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Milà-La Pedrera, Casa Vicens, Nativity Façade, Crypt of the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló and the Crypt of the Colònia Güell can all be explored on our shore excursions. People come from all over the world to visit Barcelona for many reasons, and if you’re visiting this cruising capital then seeing some of Guadi’s exceptional work is a must.

Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments, making it among the most popular on our list. The remains of the huge standing stones have fascinated archaeologists for years and their true purpose still remains a mystery.

Stonehenge remains one of the most magical and mysterious UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Stonehenge remains one of the most magical and mysterious UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Those who come to view the simplicity and solitude surrounding this ancient circle of stones can learn about the theories and facts while on their shore excursion. The UNESCO World Heritage Site takes approximately two hours of driving each way, but is a beautiful one to experience and perfect for any age.

“Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik,” said George Bernard Shaw. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time visiting Dubrovnik, the beauty of what “the pearl of the Adriatic” holds deep in its narrow marble streets is what makes this remarkable destination a must-see!

The walled city of Dubrovnik is a step back in time with modern-day charm.

The walled city of Dubrovnik is a step back in time with modern-day charm.

Trace the city’s history back at one of the many museums or get panoramic views at the historic Lovrijenac fortress. What will you find during your excursion? An essentially medieval town and enchanting culture. There’s much to learn and love about this surreal city, it’s no wonder UNESCO wants to protect it.

An iconic square in the Belgian capital of Brussels, Grand Place attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year with its magnificent architecture and artistic designs.

Grand Place is full of opulence and beautiful architecture.

Grand Place is full of opulence and beautiful architecture.

Our Best of Brussels city tour takes you on a stroll through the Old Town area with its Baroque guild houses and elaborate town hall. If you’re interested in trying the local food you can walk down Butchers’ Street filled with restaurants and cafés or go shopping at the St. Hubert Arcade. The cobblestone streets leading to Maison du Roi and the other guildhalls are not to be missed.

Home to some of the most recognizable art by Michelangelo, Vatican City is the one of the world’s most sacred places and remains the spiritual center for some 1.2 billion followers of the Catholic Church while attracting visitors from all religions.

When in Rome, make time to visit near-by Vatican City and witness its grand presence in person.

When in Rome, make time to visit near-by Vatican City and witness its grand presence in person.

During the Panoramic Rome and St. Peters Basilica excursion, be sure to visit the Sistine Chapel, perhaps the most famous church in the world, holding an invaluable collection of masterpieces including The Last Judgment by Michelangelo. Take your time inside St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church and center of Christianity. There are many spectacular works of art to be seen, some of which are Italy’s most celebrated pieces.

Tucked away in a mountain-like crevasse in the Italian Riviera are the colorful villages of Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Each having its own distinct characteristics, the isolated ambience gives you a local experience as you stroll the streets for the sights, Italian dishes and local wine.

The villages of Cinque Terre are nestled in the Italian Riviera.

The villages of Cinque Terre are nestled in the Italian Riviera.

Although Riomaggiore is the most popular village and named the most picturesque, all five villages are incredible to visit and easily accessible while on a shore excursion.  

Are these UNESCO World Heritage Sites on your bucket list? Tell us which ones you’d like to visit in the comments below!

1 Comment
  • Dana

    I’m thinking the four-hour roundtrip excursion to see Stonehenge would be worth it! Hope we can do a British Isles cruise some day.

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