Historic Ports of the Western Seaboard

Western Europe: Amsterdam to Lisbon 10 Day Expedition Cruise
SH Diana
9 Nights
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Leaving the low-lying city of Amsterdam, we follow in the footsteps of sailors, artists and royals, exploring ports along the English Channel, before venturing along the Atlantic coasts of France, Spain and Portugal. This luxury cruise of Western Europe on board our boutique ship carries you between two European capitals and covers five countries. Along the way, gaze upon Normandy beaches, wander along Gothic ramparts, feast on seafood, and explore a Roman lighthouse. Sit back and enjoy this leisurely voyage taking in fishing villages, fortified medieval towns, ancient port cities and picturesque harbours before arriving in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Trip Highlights

Take a leisurely boat tour along the waterways of Bruges, nicknamed the Venice of the North
Follow in the footsteps of French artists Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin in Brittany and Normandy
Admire outstanding Gothic architecture while walking the granite ramparts of Concarneau and St Malo
Admire the striking ship-shaped Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Explore the old streets of Gijon’s fisherman’s quarter, Cimadevilla


Day 1
Amsterdam is a gorgeous Dutch city where a boat cruise along the canals gets to the heart of things. Yet, the magic also unfolds while strolling through narrow streets and crossing the hundreds of bridges. It houses a treasure trove of fabulous art museums, including the Rijksmuseum, adorned with Dutch Masters, conveniently located near the Van Gogh Museum. To the south, picturesque stretches of countryside with windmills line the canals.
Day 2
Zeebrugge is a picturesque seaside resort and Belgium's primary port. The marina is home to Seafront, a maritime theme park situated in the historic fish auction house. The Baudouin Canal seamlessly links Zeebrugge to the captivating city of Bruges, often referred to as the Venice of the North due to its enchanting canals. Bruges is celebrated for its medieval architecture, lacemaking, exquisite Belgian beer and mouthwatering chocolate.
Day 3
Honfleur in Normandy has attracted artists for centuries, including Impressionist Claude Monet. Set on the Seine estuary, in the department of Calvados (known for apple brandy), this picturesque harbour town has cobbled streets and colourful 16th- to 18th-century townhouses around the Vieux Bassin (old harbour). An hour away is Bayeux, home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry, a 70m-long embroidery depicting the Norman conquest and Battle of Hastings.
Day 4
The medieval coastal city of Saint-Malo is a labyrinth of streets. Dating back to the 12th century, Saint-Malo was once a haven for pirates and a stopping point for merchant ships. Today, colourful shops sit alongside aromatic markets, cafes and restaurants serving oysters, crêpes and cider. Intra-Muros, the ancient walled town, forms the heart of Saint-Malo, where the striking Gothic and Romanesque Cathédrale de St Malo dominates the skyline.
Day 5
The picturesque French port city of Concarneau is in the Finistère department of Brittany. On a tiny islet, Its medieval walled city has narrow alleys and ramparts. Nearby, the artist village of Pont Aven, discovered in the 1860s by American painters, became a popular stop for French artist Paul Gauguin who set up the École de Pont-Aven art movement known as synthetism. The local speciality, galettes are melt-in-the-mouth Breton butter biscuits.
Day 6
Bilbao, the de facto capital of the Basque region, is an industrial city renowned for its culture, skyscrapers and the Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which sparked the city's revitalisation. The city’s many pintxo bars are a mainstay of the culinary scene, while the lively La Ribera Market dates back to the 14th century. Spain’s famous La Rioja wine region is a full-day trip from the port.
Day 7
The Asturian port city Gijon with colourful old houses is surrounded by green hills and is home to the Atlantic Botanical Gardens with over 2,000 plants. The monumental sculpture "Eulogy to the Horizon" by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida overlooks the sea. In the fisherman’s old quarter, Cimadevilla, the Campo Valdés Roman Baths date from around 100 AD. Local ciders are a speciality, best enjoyed in a traditional sideria.
Day 8
Finisterre lies at the westernmost point of Spain, otherwise known as Land’s End. This is literally the end of the road (finis terrae in Roman), and for pilgrims visiting Santiago de Compostela. Its rugged landscape, steeped in myths and legends, provides a sanctuary for reflection and renewal amidst the raw power of nature. A pilgrimage to Finisterre is a journey of self-discovery, where the end of the road becomes a beginning.
Day 8
Gateway to the Atlantic, Vigo is a major fishing port with a freezing and canning industry. Casco Vello, the old town with steep narrow streets and picturesque squares, leads to the fish market. Monte O Castro hill offers an old fortress and a 3rd-century BC archaeological site. Outlying Cies Islands, part of the Atlantic Islands National Park, are known for birdlife. Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage centre, is a short bus ride away.
Figueira da Foz
Day 9
The oldest resort on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, Figueira da Foz, or Figueira, has a sandy, two-mile-long beach, the longest in Portugal. Once a centre for shipbuilding and deep sea fishing, the town became a popular tourist hotspot in the 1920s. Visitors come for walks along the promenade, stop at the beachfront cafes or wander north for seafood restaurants in Buarcos, a fortified town that’s known for its fisherman’s huts and for surfing.
Day 10
Spread over seven hills with São Jorge Castle views, bustling Lisbon is one of the world's oldest cities. Elegant Baixa, hilltop Alfama with its yellow tram, and scenic Graça overviewing pastel buildings, are top areas. The Jerónimos Monastery in Belém is a World Heritage Gothic site. The classic Portuguese pastel de nata custard tarts are a local treat. Europe’s longest suspension bridge, the Ponte 25 de Abril, crosses the river Tagus.