Europe by river
River cruising offers an opportunity to see many of the most beautiful places in Europe, whether you are interested in historic towns or stunning countryside.
There’s a very good reason why Europe is the most visited continent in the world. Its serene countryside, jaw-dropping coastlines and historic cities prove too much to refuse for anyone who appreciates good food, more culture than you can fit into any guide book, and startling contrasts in landscape, all within a relatively small area.
For most people, though, a vacation in Europe is usually quite limited. They fly in, spend a few days, or a week or two, wherever they have booked to stay, and then head home. The adventurous might hop on a train bound for one or two other destinations, but that’s where the adventure stops. Which is a shame, as this means missing out on arguably the best way to experience the best of what this continent is home to.
With rivers forging their way from the eastern Atlantic shores to the borders of Eurasia, there’s no denying that a holiday spent floating down one of Europe’s arterial waterways offers an opportunity to experience everything the region has to offer. Or at least most of it (those looking to scale the Alps might disagree). Passing through stunning towns and beautiful, unspoilt rural areas, here are our top rivers to cruise on the continent, all of which make for a marvellous vacation, irrespective of your age.
There’s one glaring reason why a Seine cruise always shines, and that’s Paris. The attractions don’t end there, though, with Monet’s garden at Giverny also a popular excursion for those whiling away their time on this iconic stretch of French water.
Rhine (including Moselle and Main)
Running from Switzerland into Holland, a trip down the imposing Rhine and its tributaries flits between historic German cities, splendid French chateaux, fairytale castles and mysterious forests as you navigate this unarguably magical landscape.
One of the continent’s most important waterways for industry is about more than big cities, with the countryside of Austria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Croatia and more to port and starboard, between Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava and Belgrade.
A gastronome’s dream come true, the Rhone cuts a path through some of France’s finest wine-growing regions, with Provence and Burgundy both on the itinerary, while Lyon is widely regarded as the country’s culinary capital. In short, get ready to gorge.
Although nowhere near as well-known as our previous entries, this southern European river is a delight to cruise. The typical routes run between Porto, Portugal, and Vega de Terron in northern Spain, offering the chance to explore cities like Salamanca.