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3 Memorable Shore Excursions On An APT Europe River Cruise

23rd February 2016

Freedom of choice: it's not something we usually encounter on a guided tour. The regimented style is often what turns people off, but APT has veered away from such restrictions on its Europe river cruises.

With its signature 'Freedom of Choice' offerings, guests on an APT river cruise can now tailor their holiday to fulfil their own travel aspirations.

Already visited Cologne? See Bonn instead. Not interested in eating homemade products on a French farm? Take a tour of a family-owned winery coupled with wine tastings.

Almost every shore excursion features multiple sightseeing options, letting you design the perfect dream holiday.

Here some of our favourite Freedom of Choice shore excursions. Unfortunately, you can't choose them all, but APT has always found a way of making tough decisions part of the fun.

1. Arles (Bordeaux And Rhone - Paris To Paris)

Option 1: Chateau des Baux

Arles is one of France's historical honey pots, home to the medieval castle, Chateau des Baux, which resides in Les Baux-de-Provence.

Built in the 10th century, the fortification isn't as impressive as it once was. However, you can still walk through and see military architecture such as towers and the keep, siege engines including a trebuchet, and religious remains.

The view from the castle is also particularly spectacular, taking in the surrounding rocky outcrops, mountains and populated valleys.

All this is followed up with a visit to an olive mill and farm in Saint Remy where you can learn first-hand the Provencal tradition of olive growing – tastings included.

Option 2: Van Gogh

A visit to the same olive farm, along with tastings, is accompanied by a morning spent immersing yourself in Van Gogh's later life.

Saint-Paul de Mausolee Asylum was where Van Gogh confined himself to a single room and produced 143 oil paintings in slightly more than one year. You'll be able to stand in the same room and experience the region's serenity that seduced Van Gogh.

The afternoon is focused on Roman history with a visit to Arles' Heritage-listed Roman relics and monuments including Arles Amphitheatre, the Roman theatre and the Church of St Trophime. The oldest dates back to the 1st century BC.

More inspiration for an APT holiday

Our Pick Of APT’s New 2017 Europe River Cruise Itineraries

16 Best Travel Experiences For 2016 With APT

2. Vienna (Magnificent Europe - Amsterdam To Budapest)

Option 1: Schonbrunn Palace

Once an imperial summer residence, Schonbrunn Palace hasn't lost any of its magnificence over the centuries.

The palace itself is a stunning assortment of lavish luxury and delicate ambition, and can be visited on a guided tour that includes the opulent Great Gallery with frescoed roof and golden chandeliers.

The exterior is just as impressive with manicured gardens of rich red roses, the photogenic Neptune Fountain, Roman ruins and panoramic views of the city.

Option 2: Bratislava

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is an idyllic river city home to 10th-century Bratislava Castle, museums with a scope of 700-plus years, an Old Town armed with charming buildings, and friendly locals who love their coffee.

Simply walking around the city gives you greater appreciation for its history, multi-layered culture and impressive architecture, such as the Slavin war memorial.

Option 3: Spanish Riding School

Lovers of Lipizzan horses, classical dressage and general equestrian performance will appreciate the goings on at Vienna's Spanish Riding School.

Depending on the time of day, a visit to the school might include witnessing a public performance or training session, while enjoying a guided tour around the historic facility, which is the oldest of its kind.

3. Madrid (Duoro Delights - Madrid To Porto)

Option 1: Culinary tour

Spanish cuisine possesses the same flair, excitement and exotic taste so apparent in the country's fascinating culture.

Delicious paella (saffron rice dish), cocido madrileno (chickpea stew), churros and marzipan all await, not to mention the various Spanish wine and beers that help keep the locals so exuberant.

This is just a smidge of what culinary delights can be found with the right guide. However, it's also the vibrant atmosphere of the restaurants and tapas bars that rewards adventurous travellers.

Option 2: Prado Museum

Art aficionados have a home away from home at the Museo Nacional del Prado (Prado Museum). Spain's headlining art museum boasts an incredible collection of European art from the 12th century to early-19th century.

Works by Francisco de Goya are some of the most famous you'll find inside, accompanied by other renowned artists such as Diego Velazquez, Peter Paul Rubens and El Greco.

You'll need some time to see the entire collection, which holds more than 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures and 8,200 drawings among other exhibits.

Option 3: Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

Home ground of the Real Madrid football club, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is one of the world's most famous venues.

It has set the stage for numerous historical matches over the last 65-plus years. A tour of the stadium grants you access to Real Madrid's trophies, the players' dressing room and more football-related displays.

You'll also be able to walk down the same dressing room tunnel used by the players, and enjoy a rare panoramic view of the stadium.