There are some magnificent cities in Europe that developed along great rivers. Since they developed before mechanized transportation, the river was the main way to get from one place to another. Since the river was the main route people traveled, buildings along the river were designed to appeal to people riding by in boats. It’s why great buildings in cities like Paris or Amsterdam were designed and built to be most appealing to people at river-level, not necessarily up close like modern streets may place them.
Here are four great river cities and tours that offer that unique, beautiful perspectives on them from the water:
Perhaps the most obvious water-oriented city is the amazing canal city of Venice, Italy. Of all the cities I list here, Venice is the one that still retains a water-only view, as there are no streets. The city is truly one of the most beautiful in the world and the beauty can easily enjoyed from the canals from any gondola. Find a gondolier who is a great tour guide and it’s a perfect combination. Artviva offers a good private Grand Canal tour from about $75 per person.
After Venice, Amsterdam in the Netherlands offers the most intact, historic city center, with canal-perspective views still available. Although tiny roads now exist next to the canals, the city can be explored and the beautiful buildings seen from the level for which they were designed. Try renting your own boat in the evening, we’ve used Boaty boat rentals, the cost is about $120 for four hours, with everything included.
Paris has both canals and a big river, the Seine. To cruise the Seine, there’s a hop-on / hop-off river boat that cruises a regular route passing all the great tourist destinations. The Batobus offers a one-day adult pass for $21. Like Amsterdam, this city is very beautiful at night and I recommend a nighttime cruise. The Paris Essential dinner cruise is a good option, window-side table seating is $94 per person, which includes dinner and wine. Cruises depart at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. from right in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Another city, sometimes called the “Venice of the North”, St. Petersburg is slowly returning to the great, historic city it once was, after suffering under communism. This Russian city is known for the amazing Hermitage Museum, as well as some great architecture. Anglo Tourismo offers day and night river and canal tours, in English for independent travelers. Tours are around $25 per person.
You can follow travel writer Ted Sherman on Twitter @travel4seniors and check out his blog travel4seniors.com.
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