Learning more about our history is a large factor in why we travel and, whether you are a history buff or someone looking to learn more, it’s hard to deny that we are intrigued about our ancestors. Cruising is a great way to explore different regions in quick succession, while still indulging in the luxuries of a 5-star floating hotel. So, here is a list of countries that contain the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites that you can see on a cruise.
It’s no surprise that Italy has managed to land itself on top of another list, especially on one about history. The Roman Empire is one of the most celebrated civilisations to have ever existed, with dozens of Hollywood films based on the lives of famous gladiators such as Spartacus or Crixus. Even though much of their lives remain a mystery, the iconic monuments that we know and love have been left behind. Vatican City, the Colosseum and the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran have all managed to land themselves on the list for obvious reasons, but there are still plenty of lesser-known ones to explore too.
Other main attractions that reside outside of the capital include the leaning tower of Pisa, The Historic Centre of Florence, Venice and its lagoon, The Archaeological Areas of Pompeii and the Botanical Gardens of Padua.
China’s history has expanded across a long timeline, starting as early as 1250 BC with the Shang Dynasty being the first of five dynasties and ten kingdoms to rule China. Each dynasty has helped to shape China in one way or another and, whether it was through food, art, monuments or martial arts, you are likely to find constant reminders of distinct eras. As the world’s largest and most famous monument in the world, the Great Wall of China has been a staple for tourism for a long time. Even if you prefer the hustle and bustle of city life, there is no refuting that China’s Great Wall could leave anyone in awe.
Other popular monuments include the Classical Gardens of Suzhou and the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou. The latter is conveniently positioned near the port of Shanghai, while Xian’s Terracotta Army and Beijing’s Summer Palace are more of a trek to reach.
Known for being more of a relaxing retreat than a historian’s paradise, Spain has managed to conserve most of its national treasures. Many of the sites on Spain’s list include quaint towns and cities or colossal cathedrals that illustrate Spain’s influence from different countries. Visiting the larger cities can give tourists a great taste of both the seaside and the city vibe.
The main draw for Spain is still its sunny coastlines, but whilst you are recharging your batteries in the sun, there will be plenty of monuments for you to explore. Some of the best ones include La Lonja de la Seda in Valencia, the works of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Antequera Dolmens Site and the Cathedral of Seville.
Germany has cemented itself as joint fourth on the list of countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, along with neighbours France. And while France’s sights might be more popular, there’s little room for argument when discussing Germany’s small towns and cities. Each region of Germany holds its own selection of sights, so if you are interested in castles or foodie delights, you are likely to find something that takes your fancy.
Even though much of Germany is difficult to reach via ocean cruise, there are many river cruising options that run throughout the year that can get you into Germany’s centres. Famed sights include Cologne Cathedral, Berlin’s Museum Island, and the Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces at Brühl.
Well-known for its vineyards and extensive river routes, France is easily accessible by both ocean cruises and river cruises alike. Even though France’s history may not seem as interesting as Italy or China, this heaven for romantics holds many new age sights that appeal to both the older and younger generations.
Just like Germany, there is more than one cruising option to choose from when exploring France. If you would prefer to see the city sights, a river cruise could be the better option. Otherwise, if you would like a taste of more than one country, sticking with an ocean cruise could give you more flexibility. Either way, the closer-to-port sights include Mont-Saint-Michel castle and its bay, Le Havre and Amiens Cathedral. Whilst deeper into France, you find Paris’s banks of the Seine, the historic sights of Lyon and the Canal du Midi in Toulouse.
(Note: You can see Paris on both an ocean and river cruise).
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