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9 Amazing River Cruise Add-ons

Updated: Jun 19

Making a great experience even better!

🎧 Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’ve been around me for a bit, you know that I love river cruising. Ever since I went on my first one about three years ago, I cannot stop raving. It’s Europe, it’s effortless, it’s delicious, it’s charming, it’s active, it’s relaxing. I mean, what’s not to love?

But river cruise lines don’t just offer cruises: they also have packages for pre- and post-cruise land extensions that are SO GREAT. It’s a way to extend your vacation, to see and do things that the rivers don’t reach or maybe don’t have time to explore. It’s still considered part of the river cruise, just a land extension, so breakfast is included daily and your hotel is going to be wonderful. Some sightseeing is included, but also you have time to explore on your own. Today I’m going to tell you just a little bit about 10 incredible river cruise add-on cities that you’ll love to explore. They are usually available in 2-, 3-, or 4-night packages.

Prague, Czech Republic

If you experience a pre- or post-cruise extension in Prague, you’ll probably drive through the countryside to Pilzen, a city best-known for producing Pilsner beer. It’s a lovely town on your way into or out of Prague.

Prague is known as the “Golden City of a Hundred Spires,” a beautiful city which you’ll get to explore either with a city tour, or a hike to Prague Castle. The historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, location of Old Market Square and the famous Astronomical Clock.

The Prague Castle is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is actually a large complex made of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings in many architectural styles.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is a beautiful European city, stretching across several hills along the Tagus River. On a Lisbon walking tour, you’ll see Belem Tower, a fortified four-story tower made of limestone, and visit the Late Gothic Jerónimos Monastery, the burial place of many Portuguese kings and heroes. You will also taste a typical Portuguese pastry, Pastéis de Belém, and see the Discoveries Monument, built in honor of Portugal’s greatest maritime explorers.

Serra de Sintra is one of the most picturesque mountain villages in Portugal, and the former summer residence of the Purtuguese royal family. The Pena National Palace is a fairy tale castle located high on a rocky peak. You’ll also get to experience the castle of the Knights Templar and the Convent of Christ.

Madrid, Spain

The embarkation or disembarkation point for your river cruise will possibly be Vega de Terron. Between Madrid and Vega de Terron, you’ll stop in Salamanca, where you’ll see the New Cathedral and the House of Shells.

In Madrid, you’ll see the Royal Palace and the beautifully manicured Buen Retiro Park, renowned for displays of European art. The Plaza Mayor, once the heart of Old Madrid, is Madrid’s grand central square.

You’ll also see the walled city of Toledo, the ancient capital of Spain. Visit the Cathedral of Toledo and the Synagogue Santa Maria La Blanca in the Jewish Quarter. This city is a treasure trove of artistic and historical riches, with winding streets and well-preserved medieval architecture.


Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, gateway to the Swiss Alps, is a perfect place to begin or end a river cruise. Known for watch and chocolate making, you’ll be able to experience both of these crafts during your stay.

Geneva is home to beautiful castles, which you’ll get to experience. The Chateau D’Annecy, home to the counts of Geneva and bike trails winding by the lake, and Chillon Castle, a medieval island fortress, are just two of the picture-perfect edifices that you’ll visit.

You’ll stop at Dijon, France, home to the traditional mustard and also one of the best-preserved medieval centers in France, with cathedrals and palaces to enjoy.


Amsterdam, Netherlands

One of my favorite included excursions in the Amsterdam pre or post-cruise is a visit to a neighborhood called Zaanse Schans, near Amsterdam. It’s a step back into an 18th or 19th century Dutch village. The village is a collection of wooden houses and windmills. While you’re there you’ll see regional costumes, and workshops demonstrating the art of clog carving, barrel making, and pewter casting, as well as chocolate making.

In Amsterdam you’ll also get to go on a walking tour, where you’ll see all of the best canals, bridges, and architecture. Amsterdam is an amazing city, with more canals than Venice!

And you may get to enjoy a canal cruise in the Haarlem neighborhood, where you’ll sail by historic architecture, quaint bridges, and even some windmills.


Nice, France        

Nice is the scenic capital of the French Riviera, where tourism has been alive for three centuries. You’ll enjoy the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean, and experience the Saint Reparate Cathedral, the opera house, and the Prefecture Palace.

Monaco-Ville is a charming medieval village with cobblestone streets. Contrast the sleepy atmosphere there with the beauty and luxury of Monte Carlo and its famous casino, both of which you’ll experience on your pre- or post-cruise extension.


St Malo, France

You may not be familiar with the walled city of St. Malo, but if you do this pre- or post-cruise land package, you’re in for a wonderful treat. Either before or after visiting the Normandy Beaches, you’ll visit the medieval fortress of Fourgeres in Brittany, with its 13 towers. St Malo, a town on the coast of Brittany, has history steeped in pirate lore.

St. Malo has a castle, the Fort National, and the cathedral of Saint-Vincent. It’s surrounded by turquoise waters, and close to the towns of Dinard and Dinan, which are known for beautiful villas and beaches, galleries and crafts. You’ll get to experience both of these towns.

The monastery of Mont St. Michel, looking as though part of a fairytale, was the inspiration for the tower in the Disney movie Tangled. You’ll get to visit this beautiful island tower monastery.


Paris, France

Paris, of course, has so many iconic places to visit; you’ll love your pre- or post-cruise experience here. From the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, to the Louvre Museum and the shopping, you’ll find so many things to do in the City of Lights. You’ll have an opportunity to visit Monmartre, the center of the artistic area, and go on an evening lights tour.

Lake Como, Italy

If your Lake Como extension is at the end of a river cruise, you’ll probably disembark from your ship in Lucerne and stop in Bellinzona, Switzerland for lunch along the way—a wonderful little bonus stop.

Lake Como is nestled at the foot of the Alps, and everything about this location is picturesque. On your walking tour of the town, you’ll see breathtaking views of the former glacial lake and popular resort area, with azure blue water and villas lining the lakefront. You might recognize some of the scenery from the movies Ocean’s Twelve and Casino Royale!

You might also get to enjoy a scenic boat ride to the village of Bellagio, where you can explore the postcard-perfect cobblestone streets, wander in the shops, or sample the food at the local restaurants.



These are just nine of the amazing places you can discover on a river cruise land extension! There are over 20!

Let me know if you’re interested in more details or information about river cruising. It’s a wonderful way to travel, and river cruises are available on U.S. as well as European rivers!


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