“On a Danube cruise, I opted to visit Linz, Austria, rather than Salzburg. Linz is a gold mine of authentic experiences. We found the Klosterhof-Gastgarten beer garden, sat under an umbrella of trees strung with twinkly lights, and had a sausage plate with sauerkraut and a glass of Grüner Veltliner. Folk music was playing, and the locals raised their steins and sang.” —Kathy Falkensammer of Prestige Travel; 800/553-0204; prestigecruises.com.
“Only a few cruise lines take passengers directly to Amalfi. These itineraries are a unique way to experience the town as well as the coast of southern Italy. On the way there, you’ll pass charming hillside villages, their terra-cotta buildings reflecting the sun. When you dock, Amalfi is right there, with its cobblestoned streets winding everywhere.” —Ruth Turpin of Cruises Etc. Travel; 817/732-6991.
“One of the highlights in the port of Kus 3/4adasi, Turkey, aside from the ruins at Ephesus, was shopping at the market, which sells everything from woven fabrics to leather bags. The vendors were so playful and friendly when bargaining that I learned a great deal about the culture and its people. I enjoyed every moment.” —Liz Sutton of Alabama World Travel/Sutton & Associates; 800/737-8728; awtinc.com.
“Most cruisers who visit Bilbao, in the Basque country, go to the Guggenheim, then leave. But if they’d walk around, they’d be astounded at what a treasure it is: Gothic and Renaissance churches; old factories converted into modern apartments; restaurants and art galleries.” —Karen Ann Kelley of Betty Maclean Travel; 800/865-8111; bettymacleantravel.com.
“There’s a jewelry shop called Preludio in Nauplia, a port southwest of Athens, in the Peloponnese region. It sells exquisite Byzantine-style jewelry and modern pieces (necklaces, bracelets) fashioned out of gold—all handmade and at reasonable prices.” —Anne Halsey-Smith of Gayle Gillies Travel; 858/756-4174; gaylegillies.com.
“Walking on a backstreet in Paris near the Tuileries, I stumbled upon a quaint restaurant called Le Soufflé. The dining room is tiny and there’s an extensive menu of soufflés, plus a heavenly lobster bisque. Now I always go when I’m in town, on a Seine cruise or otherwise.” —Sheryl Bernstein of American Express Travel; 800/635-9870; firstname.lastname@example.org.