“I could have been a contender”.
That was of course, Marlon Brando’s oft-quoted and most famous line from the 1954 classic, On the Waterfront. As far as all things waterfront go, however, Mr Brando certainly wasn’t the only contender. Some of the world’s most historic, picturesque and celebrated cities are coastal and as famous for their waterfronts as they are for some of their other features. Even better, they’re popular fixtures on many cruise itineraries, so you’ll have ample opportunity to experience at least a few of them if you like to cruise. Here’s a look at 10 of the best.
A Fjordland itinerary mainstay, Bergen boasts one of the world’s most historic and indeed colourful waterfronts, in the form of the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf. Think pastel-coloured wooden buildings which hark back to a golden maritime age, character-filled cobble streets and effortless charm. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason and you’ll realise why from the moment you first arrive on your visit.
Finland’s capital is a constant on most Baltics cruises and conveniently for those visiting for just a day on their cruise, its waterfront is one of its most happening places to be. Just a stride away from the water’s edge lies the city’s famous open-air market and the historic and picturesque Esplanade, a beautiful park and shopping district. The famous Lutheran cathedral is another must-see and dominates the waterfront skyline.
The Riviera’s known for its waterfronts, but undoubtedly, Nice has one of its finest. The famous La Promenade des Anglais or ‘La Prom’ follows the coast and showcases the waterfront perfectly, offering visitors easy access to both the beach and the city’s many restaurants and boutiques. Quite simply, one of the most memorable waterfronts to be found in the whole of the Mediterranean.
When it comes to dramatic waterfronts, few can compete with the majesty of Rio, where towering mountains come right up to the ocean, overlooking sweeping beaches and a plethora of conurbations populated by both visitors and locals. When a waterfront incorporates such legendary beaches as Ipanema and Copacabana and offers views of such iconic landmarks as Sugarloaf Mountain and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer, it automatically qualifies for world-class status. The paved waterfront is the perfect place to take a stroll and drink it all in.
Porto’s waterfront is a vibrant and lively hub; the place where the city’s characterful old town, River Douro and the sea meet. The city’s most famous landmark is the single-most unmissable feature of its waterfront – the Ponte D Luis I bridge. A masterpiece of ironwork, it links this charming Portuguese city with neighbouring Gaia. If it’s architectural waterfront charm you’re in need of, then be sure to take a stroll along Zona Ribeirinha; a great place to eat, people-watch or try a little port wine.
When a city’s two most renowned attractions are not only key features of its waterfront but world-famous, it has to make any list of top waterfronts. Here, the legendary Golden Gate Bridge crosses the San Francisco Bay, in which lies possibly the world’s most infamous prison, Alcatraz. To soak up the waterfront atmosphere in true tourist style, be sure to head to Fisherman’s Wharf, while the Exploratorium is a fascinating laboratory-meets-museum located right on the waterfront.
As far as wow-factor waterfronts go, ultra-modern Singapore is a strong contender for the title. The Waterfront Promenade is the go-to place to take a stroll and enjoy a bit to eat, while Marina Bay is one of the city’s most popular areas, offering visitors a world of retail experiences through its expansive shopping centres. The beautiful gardens by the Bay offer fantastic views over the waterfront, too.
When a city comprises 14 different islands, it figures that it will have something to offer in the waterfront department. Indeed, water’s a huge part of Stockholm’s character and many of its picturesque waterfront areas form the spearhead of its on-going commitment to being one of Europe’s most green-aware cities. There’s a lot of waterfront to explore and the city’s canals and bridges offer a picturesque path through it all.
Sydney boasts quite possible the world’s most famous harbour and a suitably stunning waterfront to match. It is of course dominated by the presence of its two landmark titans, the Harbour Bridge and the timelessly stylish Sydney Opera House, but there’s more to it than that. There’s a host of lively bars to enjoy along the quay as well as some beautiful urban beaches, while Darling Harbour is the perfect place to shop and drink in the waterfront atmosphere.
What would a list of waterfront cities be without the presence of the City on the Water itself? The classic image of gondolas moored up along the Grand Canal waterfront is just as memorable in real life in a city where the waterfront’s around every corner. The taxes and buses all operate on the water in a city where road traffic is forbidden and are your ever-flowing path to such world-famous sights as the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge.