Winter has the uncanny ability to stir up the inner foodie within each of us. As the days draw short and temperatures drop, we find ourselves longing for good food to warm both our bellies and our souls. But we also find ourselves longing for an escape – a trip somewhere unique to remove us from our day-to-day routine.
When you think of Dutch food, do you picture a raw herring or a big wedge of Gouda cheese? You should absolutely try these classics on your visit to Amsterdam, but don’t miss the chance to dive deeper into the city’s food culture with these can’t-miss local dining experiences.
For the obligatory herring and cheese, head to a local market. The Albert Cuyp Market is one of the most popular, but you’ll find neighborhood markets throughout town.
Come hungry because you’ll also want to try the mini-pancakes known as poffertjes, a fresh and gooey sweet stroopwafel, a cone of frites with satay sauce and onions, and maybe even a smoked eel.
Many classic Dutch dishes are hearty winter fare that you’re more likely to find in a home kitchen than on a restaurant menu. Sure, Dutch families love their stamppot (mashed potatoes with sausage and kale), but it’s not often viewed as a meal for dining out.
You will, however, find a couple of standout spots taking inspiration from traditional recipes to serve up a modern take on Dutch dining that’s both delicious and date-night-worthy.
Wilde Zwijnen is two restaurants in one: a dining room and a more casual eetbar, where dishes are smaller and meant for sharing. The latter is a wonderful place to settle in for an evening of beet bitterballen, fresh local fish, or whatever else is in season.
De Kas is another great choice, tucked in a lovely greenhouse in Park Frankendael. They grow their own food onsite and on a farm in the Beemster area of the Netherlands. The fixed-price menu changes regularly to feature the freshest ingredients in every season.
The Netherlands’ colonial history is complicated, but it left the country with a rich food culture and a uniquely delicious dining option: rijsttafel.
Literally meaning “rice table,” it’s a set-menu feast of very small Indonesian dishes for sharing among two or more people. The dishes range from spicy vegetables to satay skewers to salads to rich curries, all served with a generous portion of white and yellow rice.
Sampurna, near the flower market, has been serving satisfying rijsttafel for more than 25 years and is a solid bet in a very central location. For a more modern version, head west to the high-ceilinged Restaurant Blauw near Vondelpark for top-notch service. Or, for a gentle introduction to rijsttafel for those who may not love spice, try Mama Makan, a beautiful room where the multi-course meal ends with a flavor explosion of tropical fruit and sorbet.
Surinamese food is also woven into the Dutch culture through colonial ties. Rather than a sit-down feast, Surinamese dishes are often served as quick takeaways in the form of a sandwich (broodje) or flatbread roll (roti) packed with flavorful meat, potatoes and vegetables.
For arguably the best roti roll in town, head to Roopram Roti in Amsterdam East, where you’ll have to wait in line to order at the counter. If you don’t want to scarf down your roll under the fluorescent lights, head around the corner to Oosterpark for a picnic. During the summer, you might come across a free outdoor concert or festival to go with your meal.
If you walk away from your dining experience wanting to know more about the Netherlands’ colonial past in Indonesia and Surinam, the Tropen Museum offers a good overview that doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of this legacy.
If you’re short on time or just looking for a good introduction to Dutch food from a knowledgeable local, a food tour can be a great bet. Eating Amsterdam Food Tours (part of Eating Europe) offers tours through Amsterdam’s various neighborhoods allowing you to sample several different foods while also learning about the city.
For the most immersive Amsterdam experience, try their Amsterdam Food and Canals tour, which starts with poffertjes in a 110-year-old Amsterdam café, winds its way through a dozen local food and drink stops, and ends with wine and cheese on a classic boat as you navigate the city’s canals.
We sat down with Jennifer Halboth, Director of National Accounts at Avalon Waterways to chat about European waterways and why they’re a superb destination for immersive culinary experiences.
Q:What makes an Avalon Waterways cruise unique?
Changing your outlook can be a great thing. For Avalon, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our entire fleet of Suite Ships® in Europe and Southeast Asia feature incomparable Panorama SuitesSM with the widest windows in river cruising that transform your suite into our signature Open Air BalconySM. While other river cruise ships stick your bed against one wall only to face another wall, we’ve turned that idea on its head. With beds that actually face your wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows, you’ll stretch out to the widest views in river cruising. So, go ahead, open wide and say, “Aaaahhh!”
Beyond our wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows is a world just waiting to be discovered with Avalon's unmatched choice of included excursions and activities. Whether you want to enjoy a guided walking tour of one of Europe's great cities, join a cooking class or paddle a canoe, our Avalon Choice® selections of Classic, Discovery, and Active excursions offer a wide range of possibilities. When you prefer to explore on your own, we can help you with all the recommendations, information, and gear your need with our new Adventure Center and AvalonGO Mobile App. When it's time to refuel, your onboard dining options are as wide open as your views, with our new FlexDining® choices. Rise and shine when you please, dine where and when you wish, or take a picnic lunch to enjoy on shore.
Q:Which rivers in Europe does Avalon Waterways sail?
Danube, Saône, Rhône, Rhine, Moselle, Main, and Seine
Q:How does Avalon Waterways incorporate culinary experiences into their sailings?
From morning breakfast to elegant dinners, Avalon frees your taste buds from the ordinary. Using the freshest local ingredients, our talented chefs prepare mouthwatering recipes from the region through which you're traveling and present them in a variety of inspiring settings. Our FlexDining® approach to onboard dining lets you choose the onboard dining venue that suits your mood — from a breezy al fresco lunch at the Sky Grill to an elegant four-course dinner in the glass-walled Panorama Dining Room. For a less formal "sit-down" atmosphere, take a more casual approach to fine dining while mingling over several satisfying selections in our Panorama Bistro. Whichever table setting you choose, you'll savor local flavors and the familiar favorites you may crave — as well as our Avalon Fresh® menu options. On an Avalon cruise, every meal is part of the journey.
Q:What are some amazing culinary experiences you can have while sailing in Europe, both on board and at port?
On the Tulip Time in Holland & Belgium cruise in Maastricht, Holland, take a guided visit to an old working mill still in operation. At the end of your visit, join the interactive museum and bake your own Vlaai — a delicious Limburg pie.
In Mâcon, France, enjoy a cheese tasting onboard the Rhine & Rhone Revealed cruise.
Join a Cooking Demonstration and learn how to prepare a Lyonnaise treat while sailing to Viviers, France on the Active & Discovery on the Rhône cruise.
On Tulips of Northern Holland, in Enkhuizen, join us at the home of a Dutch family for authentic samples of local specialties.
Q:Which European routes offer the most culinary experiences?
Our Active & Discovery on the Rhône offers many culinary experiences including a cooking class, culinary walk, and a guided tour of an oyster farm.
Q:If you had to recommend just one culinary experience to have while exploring European waterways, what experience would that be?
Pam Hoffee, Managing Director of Avalon Waterways, and Chief Operating Officer of Globus family of brands, said:
“While I’ve had many amazing culinary experiences along Europe’s Waterways, my favorite was a cooking class in Vienna, making Viennese specialties at Andante with their chef instructor, Nabiel. Nabiel makes you feel right at home learning everyone’s names and putting you to work – cooking has never been so much fun! You can visit Andante to learn how to make traditional Viennese rolls during a walking tour with Avalon Waterways, or head back in the afternoon to spend more time making a full lunch including schnitzel, seasonally inspired side dishes, and apple strudel. The food is also super fresh and organic as the restaurant serves as a hub for locals to come and get their organic farm delivery each week.”
From the Seine to the Spree, Europe’s waterways pass through some of the continent’s most iconic destinations. Steeped in history and culture, they reveal the cities they occupy in all their glory, and there are few lovelier ways to experience a destination than dining on its rivers and canals. Read on for some of the best places to do just that.
On Sweden’s southwest coast, this tiny port town on so-called “herring island” is home to the country’s first floating hotel. Salt & Sill is a sleekly designed affair built on two pontoons with rooms styled as boat cabins. But it’s the restaurant which first garnered fame, drawing attention for its fresh herring boards and proximity to the ocean. Work off your meal by diving straight off the hotel’s dock into the North Sea or relax in the adjacent sauna and jacuzzi boat.
Navigate an electric-powered floating vessel around the docks of West India Quay while hosting your own barbecue aboard Skuna Boats. The company, which launched in 2017 with their floating hot tubs, recently added BBQ boats to their fleet, which proved an instant hit. They’re big enough for eight to 10 friends and provide all the necessary gear for grilling, apart from the food and drink. The founder also runs Barge East, a stunning small-plate restaurant aboard a 115-year-old Dutch Barge in Hackney Wick.
It’s hard to avoid the tourist traps and find an authentic meal in Venice, which is why it’s worth booking ahead to experience Lineadombra. The main restaurant is housed inside a converted salt warehouse, but ask your boat driver to drop you directly at the al fresco terrazzo, raised over the Giudecca Canal on wooden stilts and protected from the sun by white canopies. Enjoy classic Veneitian dishes and the catch of the day.
A péniche means barge in French, but in Paris, it more often refers to one of the many docked boats along the Seine offering evening festivities, live music and drinks. Rosa Bonheur sur Seine is one such péniche, a floating iteration of its already famed Buttes-Chaumont original – popular on summer evenings. Housed in a 19th-century inspired glass restaurant and dance hall by the Pont Alexandre III, order pizza from the wood-fired oven and then hit the dance floor – a popular after-hours destination.
A houseboat restaurant in the city’s South Harbor, Vandvid was built by its three owners, who crafted everything, from the wooden tables to the boat, by hand. The organic ingredients are sourced from the on-board vegetable garden or from producers on the small Danish island of Glænø. They are also supporters of local urban farming initiatives. In the summer, eat up on the deck and then enjoy a swim in the clean water of Copenhagen harbor. They also sell their handmade ceramics.
G’s has long been a favorite brunch spot, beloved for its dedication to the Bloody Mary with over 12 options on the menu. But they also take to the water every weekend with G’s Brunch Boat, the self-proclaimed “only brunch boat in the world.” With a retractable roof and heaters, they’re set up for all seasons. The experience includes nearly two hours of sailing with no fixed route, a drink – Bloody Marys, of course – and a choice of brunch.
A retired industrial vessel from the 1930s, The Grain Barge is now permanently moored in the city center with views of the impressive SS Great Britain across the busy waterway. It was reimagined as a classic British pub with a range of local craft beers and a line-up of live music and comedy from its hold bar. The best seats in the house are up top, though, watching the water taxis chug past or the occasional brave paddleboarder. While the food is standard pub fare, it’s about the experience of enjoying this hub of local British life.
A former supply ship has been transformed into a 23-cabin boutique hotel in the culinary hotspot of Leith in Edinburgh – and comes with its own highly rated restaurant, The Lighthouse Bar. With Art Deco interiors, it’s luxurious without being grandiose – though it's already had the royal seal of approval with a dinner visit from the Queen. The floor-to-ceiling windows look out over the water, and with all-day-dining from breakfast to post- dinner cocktails, you can take your time watching the light change over Leith’s working docks.
It's mid-March and I'm perched along the Grand Parade in Cork City, near the River Lee — one of many urban rivers that punctuate Ireland's major cities. But I'm not paying much attention to the water. I'm waiting on people — several thousand of them — to flow past in the St. Patrick's Day parade, full of bright costumes, music and movement.
This flood of gaiety is echoed around the country, from large cities like Dublin and Galway, where thousands more revelers throng the streets, to smaller towns where unsuspecting visitors may be swept right into the heart of the fun with the rest of the community.
Because St. Patrick's Day is a bank holiday, it also means many businesses across the country will be closed, although the more touristy spots stay open to capitalize on holiday crowds. Quite a few restaurants will be open, too, offering special dishes that are only the leading edge of a boom in well-justified, year-round pride for Ireland's culinary scene and local produce. There'll be Irish lamb, beef and chicken a-plenty, coddle and colcannon, bacon and cabbage, and endless platters of seafood just pulled from the ocean — and that's just the beginning.
And although St. Patrick's Day is a fitting occasion to roll out something special — from themed pop-up dinners out of local cooking schools to fine dining at Michelin-starred restaurants and a new Irish coffee flavor from the decadent Murphy's Ice Cream (made with Irish Jameson whiskey, of course) — you can chase this fresh, adventurous and innovative foodie spirit 'round Ireland all year long.
Let's start with the famed English Market in Cork City, often hailed as the very essence of Ireland's culinary scene. There, you'll find the finest local ingredients for everything from fish and meats to black pudding and cheese, alongside fresh fruit and vegetables, chocolate, and imports from a sampling of diverse cultures. It also happens to be just off the same Grand Parade I'm standing on, although the market does close for bank holidays like St. Patrick's Day.
When the market is open, you can dine in the hearty Farmgate Café on the mezzanine level, where they dish up traditional, seasonal dishes with a bird's eye view of the market. And if you followed the River Lee to the west, you'd find Café Paradiso, recognized as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Europe.
Head east to the town of Midleton and you'll find Sage Restaurant, where the ever-changing menus use only ingredients sourced from within 12 miles of the restaurant's front door. If you'd like to learn more about making your own gourmet food, the famed Ballymaloe Cookery School isn't far away, offering courses that range from a half-day to five weeks long.
Or, head south from Cork City for a meal at the award-winning Fishy Fishy Cafe in Kinsale, where you can secure a harborside table and watch fishing boats return with the ingredients for that evening's dinner. Time your visit for October and you can take part in the weekend-long Kinsale Gourmet Festival, which is as much a party as an excuse for dining on some of Ireland's finest seafood.
That doesn't mean County Cork holds a monopoly on Ireland's great food — far from it. If you take the time to look, you'll find the deep roots of food traditions twined all through the island, forever bound to its salty shores and fresh rivers.
One great example is Galway City's International Oyster and Seafood Festival, held during the last weekend of September. This is the oldest oyster festival in the world and arguably one of the region's biggest social events, drawing more than 20,000 visitors and spurring street parades, seafood trails, and even a Mardi Gras-inspired masquerade ball.
If you love oysters, it's worth making the pilgrimage north to The Lobster Pot (also known as Kelly's) in Burtonpot, Co. Donegal, where you can enjoy Irish Premium Oysters — farmed locally by the Gallagher family and distributed to top eateries around the world — or even tour the oyster farm.
And it's worth pointing out that sometimes the biggest awards come from the smallest places. Consider Nancy's Barn in Ballyliffin, also in Co. Donegal with a population of roughly 425 people. This quirky little bistro, located in a converted 19th century barn, was named World Seafood Chowder Champion in 2017 and 2018, and Ulster Café of the Year in 2019.
At nearly the opposite end of the island, the early October Dingle Food Festival draws visitors from around the world for its tasting trails, cookery workshops and street entertainment; and if you go just a little farther south, you'll find Skelligs Chocolate, where the only way to improve on some of Ireland's finest chocolate is by pairing it with the rugged, remote scenery of the Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way.
And that's only a fraction of the foodie wonders — sweet, savory, pulled from the sea and everything in between — that you'll find on a trip 'round Ireland, whether you're visiting for St. Paddy's Day or any other time of year. Like many other things in Ireland, the trick to finding even more foodie treasures is to slow down and ask around. You might just get an interesting conversation along with that pointer toward your next great meal.
Tempting dishes from our featured destinations give you a taste of local culture. From succulent roasts to exotic spicy fare and some divine desserts, you’re sure to find plenty of delicious recipes to try at home.
Exclusive and cutting edge, the globally inspired menus at Luminae are not available in any other restaurant on board. And, you’ll see each one only once—because every day features a fresh, new menu.
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Each month we’re showcasing our cruise partners to bring you the latest on the cruise line and their ships. With different cruising styles and a variety of ships to choose from, you’ll find these profiles helpful for selecting the cruise that’s right for you.
You are invited to sail with like-minded travelers on The Thinking Person’s Cruise®, a culturally rich, immersive experience designed to help you explore and engage with your destination.
Plus, the Viking Inclusive Value covers just about everything—port charges, Wi-Fi, meals, lectures, onboard activities and shore excursions—so all you have to do is relax and enjoy a great journey. And the award-winning Viking Longships® have set the standard in river cruising with spacious Veranda Staterooms, the largest suites in Europe, al fresco dining and more. Discover for yourself why Viking truly is The World’s Leading River Cruise Line®.
THE SMALL SHIP EXPERTS
Viking takes you closer to your destination
THE BEST WAY TO IMMERSE YOURSELF in new cultures is to explore the world by river. That is why we designed elegant, intimate ships with all the amenities of a fine hotel. Our ships gently carry you to the world’s greatest cities, deliver you to the center of charming towns and villages, and connect you to your destination.
TRAVEL WITH EASE. Unpack once and relax to an ever-changing canvas of breathtaking landscapes. Arrive in the center of town—often at Viking-owned dock locations—and stroll right off to begin exploring. Viking reveals the true character of the world’s historic waterways by delivering you to their doorsteps.
INNOVATIVE SHIPS ENHANCE YOUR JOURNEY. Viking Longships have set the new standard in river cruising, expertly crafted to bring the outside in. With the most al fresco dining on the rivers and vast windows that bathe the interiors in sunshine, your destination and the exhilaration of the outdoors are always within reach.
Because we own and operate our ships, no detail escapes our attention. Join us, and learn why we have consistently been the most awarded river cruise line worldwide.
UNPARALLELED STATEROOM CHOICES
The Viking patented design allows for more variety than other ships
YOUR PRIVATE SANCTUARY ON THE RIVER. Our innovative thinking provides you with more choices and a more enriching experience. Each of our spacious Viking staterooms offers a hotel-style bed topped with European linens and duvets. And you will feel pampered by bathrooms equipped with heated floors and premium Freyja® bath products.
The first-ever true (two-room) suites on Europe’s river ships
THE ULTIMATE IN LAVISH COMFORT. Viking Longships offer river cruising’s first-ever true suites, each with TWO FULL-SIZE ROOMS. These elegant spaces are the largest suites on Europe’s rivers and provide commanding views, making your destination seem close enough to touch. Our innovative Viking Longships are the most desirable way to see Europe’s great waterways.
DESTINATION - FOCUSED DINING
The most al fresco dining on the rivers
CUISINE AND WINE ARE PART OF EVERY VIKING JOURNEY. Both engage your senses and open a window to the essence of a place. Our highly trained chefs are passionate about food and committed to providing enriching culinary experiences, whether local specialties or American classics. Our ships’ dining areas are the ideal setting for hospitable, attentive and personalized service.
FRESH FARE AND REGIONAL CUISINE bring your destination to life. Locally sourced ingredients inspire our chefs to create authentic dishes. Our extensive wine list features a vintage created by our own vintner. And, our signature “Taste of…” events introduce you to the food and drink of the region, providing the perfect opportunity to sample local flavors.
IMPECCABLE SERVICE AMID CASUAL ELEGANCE. Indulge in attentive table service in the upscale Restaurant, whether over a sumptuous breakfast buffet, a light salad midday or a relaxed multicourse dinner. Open seating gives you freedom to dine with whomever you wish. Enjoy more casual meals on the Sun Deck or Aquavit Terrace®, our al fresco dining area.
Bringing culture and history to life
We are pleased to bring you a curated onboard experience to complement your time ashore.
GUEST LECTURERS expertly shed light on your destination’s art, architecture, geopolitics and more.
DESTINATION PERFORMANCES represent the most iconic cultural performing arts of the region— whether it be Portuguese fado, Viennese opera or world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre performers from St. Petersburg.
PORT TALKS provide an overview of your ports of call through informative multimedia presentations.
COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS present recipes of regional treats and drinks— Austrian apple strudel, Rüdesheim Coffee and more—so you can take the flavors of your destinations home with you.
CRAFT DEMONSTRATIONS reveal the centuries-old traditions of local artisans, from glassblowing and lace making to silk screen printing and wooden shoemaking.
WINE TASTINGS introduce you to a wide selection of regional wines or vintages crafted by our own Viking vintner.
CLASSICAL AND REGIONAL MUSICIANS, from local ensembles to acclaimed choirs, perform well-known and lesser-known melodies.
With an included excursion in every port, plus The Viking Way of exploration
THE VIKING WAY OF EXPLORATION offers behind-the-scenes insights and opportunities that set us apart. While we feature the expected and iconic in our included shore excursions and carefully curated optional tours, we also work hard to offer our guests LOCAL LIFE, WORKING WORLD and optional PRIVILEGED ACCESS® experiences.
AWARD - WINNING SERVICE
Genuine warmth and thoughtful attention
ONLY THE VERY BEST. Our knowledgeable and highly experienced Swiss management oversees your entire journey and handpicks each member of our onboard team. Rigorous training and inspiring leadership make Viking the employer of choice, which allows us to select the very best people to care for you, from stateroom stewards to the Captain.
PERSONALIZED ATTENTION. Can a reservations agent make booking your journey a pleasure? Will a waiter learn your favorite wine? Is it possible for members of your ship’s staff to feel like close friends? Yes, if those individuals work for Viking. When you have the best people, you have the best service—and Viking has both. Our English-speaking international staff is trained to the highest standards. These loyal members of the Viking family, 90% of whom return year after year, ensure you the same quality cruise after cruise.
OUR SERVICE GUARANTEE. We are so confident we will exceed your expectations that we are the only cruise line to guarantee its award-winning service. See our website for details.
VIKING INCLUSIVE VALUE
We offer the best experience, with all you need included plus the ability to customize
With Viking, we make sure that there are no surprises or hidden fees. The price you pay covers just about everything—port charges, free Wi-Fi, meals, lectures, activities and shore excursions—plus hotel accommodations on cruisetours. Although you can never put a price on hospitality, all of your included amenities and features have an added value. That is what we call Viking Inclusive Value. And, here are more ways to save: