A great way to see as much of Europe as you possibly can is to take a European river cruise. Some of Europe’s oldest cities are along the river, and the scenery is stunning. Also, most cruises include your meals and sightseeing tours, so it makes it easy to forecast ahead of time what you will spend on your trip. Here’s my tips for the best river cruises in Europe.
If your European dream includes Paris, you will want to look at the sightseeing cruises on the Seine. During a stay in Paris, cruise the Seine at night to see all the monuments of the City of Lights. Many of the Seine River cruises include cruises that travel northeast from Paris to Rouen, Honfleur and Vernon. The ancient capital of Normany is a must see along with its beaches, and you will also enjoy the charming seaside villages that you will stop at along the way.
The Danube is Europe’s second longest river and one of the most beautiful. It’s runs from Germany’s Black Forest and through 10 countries. Budapest is one of the most stunning cities you will stop at, and usually where your cruise will end or begin. Vienna is another highlight, and it’s even possible to cruise from here all the way to the Netherlands.
If you’re a food or wine lover, the Rhone river cruise in Europe is the one for you. It sails through Burgundy and Provence and highlights the region’s wine heritage. Other highlights are Arles, Avignon, Viviers, Tournon-sur-Rhône and Lyon.
If you’re a fan of history, the Elbe river cruise is one of the best river cruises in Europe to take. It takes you down some of the lesser-known rivers and visits Berlin and Prague. This river cruise will take you to parts of Europe that other cruises may miss, and the landscapes are just stunning.
The Rhine runs from the Netherlands to Switzerland and allows you to visit six countries along the way. Basel, Strasbourg, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Koblenz and Rotterdam are just some of the cities you will visit. The Middle Rhine, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it will give you beautiful views of vineyards and castles. It’s also possible to travel by boat all the way from Basel to Amsterdam. Floating through Amsterdam’s canals is definitely something you shouldn’t miss!
The Main River runs across the middle of Germany. The cruises usually run between Frankfurt and Nuremberg, with stops in Heidelberg, Wertheim, Wurzburg and Bamberg. This route will take you through some of Germany’s most historical areas, and many European cruise companies will combine this route with another one.
The Tiza River runs through central Hungary, and is a great way to visit the country’s vineyards. The landscape is bordered by the Carpathian mountains and is absolutely stunning. Some companies will combine this river cruise with one of the Danube.
The Moselle is a tributary of the Rhine and goes from from France’s Vosges Mountains all the way to Koblenz in Germany with Luxembourg one of the stops along the way. This is Joan of Arc territory, and you will find many historical sights related to her. Many of the Moselle cruises are combined with the Rhine cruises. This cruise offers beautiful castles, old towns, and vineyards. The white wine in this area is excellent. Stops along the picturesque river include Metz, France; Remich, Luxembourg; and several places in Germany, including Trier, the oldest settlement in Germany.
The Douro flows through Portugal, one of my favorite countries to visit. The itinerary usually goes from Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage city, to Lisbon. Stops include seeing the world’s deepest lock, Carrapatelo, with its 115-foot-tall walls; excursions to Lamego to visit the 18th-century Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies pilgrimage church; and a full-day excursion to Salamanca in Spain. If you are a lover of port, this is the European river cruise for you.