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15 of the Best River Cruises in Europe

See fairy-tale villages, iconic landmarks, and vineyards as you explore the continent's waterways.

best river tours in europe

Much of the appeal of European river cruises lies in the small size of the ships, casual atmosphere, and accessibility. Unlike oceangoing ships that carry thousands of passengers, these vessels typically accommodate around 150 guests for a more intimate experience. Balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, and open-air viewing are features of most river cruise ships. Many also include fitness centers, spas, and internet access.

Cruises usually offer several daily shore excursions with options based on interests and activity levels. Biking and walking tours are available in most ports. On boats traveling along rivers at all hours, collecting passengers from another port, guests can choose a leisurely day in a comfortable lounge enjoying the passing scenery.

While there are several famous rivers in Europe, the Danube and the Rhine are the most popular cruise options, according to  River Cruise Advisor . The Danube River tends to be more scenic, studded with charming cities and the UNESCO-recognized Wachau Valley. Alternatively, the Rhine offers access to bustling metropolises and passes Europe's industrial hubs. Both rivers flow through excellent wine country as well. Whether you want to explore an iconic route or less-traveled waterways, these are the best river cruises in Europe.

Viking Cruises

Perhaps the best-known river cruise company, Viking Cruises promotes its “longships,” which are designed to deliver maximum space and comfort. There are ample staterooms with full balconies to choose from — including two-room suites. Guests enjoy Viking's destination-focused dining as well as the variety of itineraries.

Trip to Try: Portugal's River of Gold

This nine-night trip begins in Lisbon with a walking tour before heading to Porto, home of Port wine, to board the ship on the Douro River. Guests can explore baroque palaces, vineyards, and lush scenery along the way, arriving in the World Heritage city of Salamanca, Spain, on day six. The itinerary includes visits to Portuguese villages Pinhão and Régua to sample local food and wine before returning to Porto.

AmaWaterways

A family-owned and -operated cruise company, AmaWaterways focuses on excellent food and wine, tasteful decor, stateroom views, and innovation in its luxurious fleet. Fares include fitness classes, shore excursions, and all dining on board, including The Chef's Table specialty restaurant. New ships debut each year, but the AmaMagna, which traverses the Danube, features the most spacious suites available. Rooms outfitted with full-sized balconies are worth the splurge on these small ships; it's like having a bonus room in your cabin. For a wider berth, book a part-charter to accommodate large groups.

Trip to Try: Taste of Bordeaux

Wine lovers will want to experience this seven-night journey with visits to iconic châteaux, timeless vineyards, and delicious wine tastings while cruising the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Excursions include a Saint-Emilion tour and tasting, a stop in the Medoc wine region, and a tasting of Sauternes in medieval Roquetaillade Castle. Returning to Bordeaux, guests will explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of the wine world.

Adventures by Disney River Cruises

Chloe Rice/Adventures by Disney River Cruises

Partnering with AmaWaterways, Adventures by Disney offers cruises on the Seine, Rhine, and Danube rivers. In true Disney style, specially designed itineraries create experiences for parents, children, and teens, from active excursions to unique onboard activities. Entertainment for guests of all ages includes adults-only dinners and wine-tasting experiences, teen programming, Disney movie nights, karaoke, and trivia nights.

Trip to Try: Danube River Cruise

The seven-night trip starts in Budapest where excursions include a horse show at an equestrian park, a petting zoo, and a goulash-making competition. In Bratislava, wander cobblestone streets on a walking tour. Visit Schönbrunn Palace, enjoy a marionette show, or learn to make strudel while in Vienna. In Melk, Austria, hike to a castle or bike along the Danube for an active day. Dock in Linz, then visit Salzburg to see famous film locations featured in “The Sound of Music.” A stop in Passau, Germany allows guests to walk among treetops on a high-ropes course or spend a more leisurely afternoon with a monastic brewery tour and tasting. Say farewell to the ship in Vilshofen, Germany, before transferring to Munich for the flight home.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Uniworld River Cruises

Uniworld's one-of-a-kind vessels are inspired by the locations they visit, making them luxurious destinations in their own right. Amenities include in-suite butler service, world-class cuisine, and all-inclusive rates that cover premium spirits and wines as well as gratuities.

Trip to Try: Enchanting Danube

The seven-night Danube cruise aboard the S.S. Maria Theresa or the S.S. Beatrice begins in Budapest with a choice of tours, such as a food tour or a panoramic drive with a guided visit to the Franz Liszt Academy. In Vienna, walk between the city's best attractions or take an early-access guided tour of the Vienna Art History Museum. Excursion options include a vineyard visit and tasting or a saffron workshop in Dürnstein, or a stop at an abbey library in Melk. Dock in Linz for a full day of culinary exploration or transfer to Salzburg to visit music-themed highlights like Mozart's birthplace and "The Sound of Music" filming locations. The cruise ends in Passau after a walking tour of the city and a riverside stroll or a hike along the Ilz, a Danube tributary.

Avalon Waterways

When you cruise with Avalon Waterways, you can observe the riverfront scenery from the comfort of your bed. The line's spacious staterooms and suites boast wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows, luxurious linens, and ample closet space. Large bathrooms include full showers and L'Occitane bath amenities. Avalon offers “Active and Discovery” river cruises with options for a variety of fitness levels, from traditional sightseeing to action-packed experiences like hiking or rail cycling, which is a bike fitted to a former train track.

Trip to Try: Active & Discovery on the Rhône

Southbound on the Rhône River, this cruise begins in Lyon and heads south through the French countryside with picturesque towns and villages. Throughout Provence, stops include Avignon, Port-Saint-Louis, and Arles. During the seven-night journey, Avalon Choice excursions include culinary walks with cooking classes, hikes with panoramic views, a painting workshop, wine tastings, classic sightseeing, and more directed by three available activity levels.

Started as a New England motor coach tour company, Tauck is a family-owned travel firm offering tours and cruises to destinations worldwide. Its award-winning European river cruises are praised for personalized service, exclusive destination experiences, luxurious cabins and suites, fine dining, and professional, caring staff.

Trip to Try: Impressions from the Seine: Paris to Normandy

This seven-night round-trip cruise from Paris features stops in historic small villages and towns after sightseeing in the City of Light. In the days following embarkation, highlights include a guided tour of Versailles, Louis XIV's magnificent palace and gardens, Rouen Cathedral, and Joan of Arc Square. See the D-Day beaches of Normandy, and the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. Art lovers will enjoy a private experience of Claude Monet's home and gardens at Giverny and a visit to the Impressionist Museum.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

Scenic Cruises offers both ocean and river voyages. Both feature its fleet of “Space-Ships,” which are meticulously designed for spacious quarters. Guests enjoy personalized butler service and all-inclusive cruising. Ships offer a wellness area, massage services, a gym, and onboard entertainment. Scenic's “FreeChoice” excursions offer something for all activity levels.

Trip to Try: Charming Castles & Vineyards of the Rhine & Moselle

Board the ship in Basel, Switzerland. For seven nights, slowly sail up the Rhine to Breisach in the Alsace region of France. Stops include Koblenz, where guests can take a walking or e-bike tour. There's a private classical music concert and tour of Reichsburg Castle along the way, as well as optional visits to the iconic Eltz Castle or a walking tour of Strasbourg and its magnificent cathedral. Disembark in Mainz to conclude the trip with a transfer to Frankfurt.

Emerald Cruises

For its European river cruises alone, Emerald features a fleet of eight “Star-Ships” with stylish suites, first-class amenities, and room for 180 guests. Most carry bicycles, and all staterooms are equipped with hiking poles. Excursions include EmeraldPlus, a program of special experiences to connect with destinations, and EmeraldActive, which offers faster-paced guided tours, bike rides, hikes, and other activities.

Trip to Try: Sensations of Lyon & Provence

Travel from Lyon to Marseille on a seven-night cruise on the Rhône River. Overland to a quaint village before returning to Lyon to set sail. The ship cruises south toward Tournon, with its 16th-century castle. Other stops include Avignon and Arles. Throughout the cruise, choose from optional activities such as canoeing, hiking through vineyards, walking tours of villages, or onboard wine tastings.

CroisiEurope Cruises

Established in 1976, Croisi holds a fleet of oceangoing ships, canal barges, and river cruise ships. The company's innovative approach stems from basing its ships' design on the characteristics of the waterways. This allowed them to be pioneers on several European rivers including the Gironde, Loire, Po, and Elbe.

Trip to Try: Hamburg to Berlin: Discover the Medieval Charms of Hanseatic Cities

CroisiEurope's six-night cruise starts with guided tours of Hamburg and Lübeck, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a morning cruise, the ship passes through the Scharnebeck twin ship lift. This industrial marvel vertically raises vessels to 125 feet where the River Elbe connects to a canal. An optional visit to the Autostadt theme park, dedicated to German car design, and an afternoon cruise fill day four. The next day, there's a tour of Magdeburg, known for its fascinating architecture and culture. In Potsdam, wander the Sanssouci Palace gardens before enjoying an evening gala. The boat then docks in Berlin, where guests can tour the city before disembarking the following day.

A-ROSA River Cruises

This German cruise company's distinctive ships are easy to recognize by the large red lips and rose on the bow. The 15-strong fleet includes a hybrid-powered ship, A-Rosa Sena , that cruises the northern Rhine almost silently and emission-free. Family-friendly amenities include a kids club, heated outdoor pools, and free passage for children ages 15 and under.

Trip to Try: Highlights of the Rhine

This five-night, round-trip Rhine river cruise begins in Cologne, Germany, followed by stops in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Each city has a unique style of architecture and a thriving art scene. Sightseeing options include guided tours by bus, private car, or even pedal boats on Amsterdam's canals, each at an additional cost. Turning back toward Cologne, enjoy two days in Utrecht before disembarking.

Lüftner Cruises

Lueftner Cruises

This Austrian family business dates back more than 40 years and offers European river cruises on its fleet of 11 Amadeus ships. Five-star service, facilities, and cuisine are hallmarks, and the ships feature panoramic windows and a spacious sundeck.

Trip to Try: Saar and Moselle Fairytales

Board the ship in Cologne and spend seven nights cruising down the Rhine River to its tributary, the Moselle River, one of Europe's best-kept secrets , and the Saar River. The ship passes the Mosel vineyards and docks in the medieval town of Cochem for a guided walking tour. Guests can tour the town of Bernkastel-Kues and enjoy a wine tasting. After a morning tour of medieval Saarburg, the ship cruises along the Saar with panoramic views of Great Bend, an impressive curve in the river. It then stops in Luxembourg and Koblenz, where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet, before returning to Cologne.

Nicko Cruises

Plying Europe's rivers since the early 1990s, this German company has a fleet of over 20 river ships. Nicko Cruises focuses on giving guests a flexible itinerary to explore destinations in a way that best suits their tastes. While guests might have to pay more for a drinks package or additional excursions, this river cruise line delivers value.

Trip to Try: Renaissance and Reformation

The seven-night cruise sets off along the Elbe and Havel rivers from Potsdam, Germany, aboard the Katharina Von Bora . In Magdeburg, visit the Green Citadel, a unique space with shops and cafes designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The next stop is Wittenburg, home to the Castle Church where Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Revolution in 1517. From Bad Schandau, guests have the option to take an excursion by bus to Prague for the day. Having seen the impressive architecture, cathedrals, and Prussian fortresses, travelers sail back to Dresden to end the week.

Teeming River Cruises

Jeff and Gina Paglialonga/Teeming River Cruises

Founded in 2017 with the goal of making European river cruises more economical and personalized, this American company developed a different model. Teeming River Cruises offers a mix of programmed group activities and free time, and guests get a complimentary city tour app to explore each destination on their own. Passengers can also opt for excursions on top of the basic itinerary for an extra fee.

Trip to Try: From the Canals of Venice to Renaissance-infused Mantua

Set in northern Italy along the Po River, this six-night trip starts in Venice where guests can discover the most popular sites like St. Mark's Square. In partnership with CroisiEurope aboard the M.S. Michelangelo , the ship heads west to Chioggia. Join an excursion to Vicenza before boarding again in Porto Viro and cruising to Rovigo. After arriving in Torretta, spend time in Verona, with its ancient amphitheater and Giusti Gardens. The next days are spent in Cremona, with a visit to a violin workshop, and Mantua, where key properties of the House of Gonzaga are located. After disembarkation, take a bus back to Venice.

Les Bateaux Belmond

Belmond has another way to cruise some of Europe's rivers — on luxury barges with private chefs and excursions like truffle hunting, hot-air ballooning, canoeing, and wine tasting. Seven private charter barges make up Les Bateaux Belmond, each with its own style and size. The elegant barges cruise the waterways of Burgundy, Provence, Camargue, and Champagne. Each can accommodate four to 12 passengers, making this a personal experience.

Trip to Try: Les Bateaux Belmond's Napoleon

On the Belmond Napoleon , which runs scheduled trips as well as private charters, guests cruise the Rhône River past châteaux, rural river towns, and expansive vineyards. Begin the journey in Tain l'Hermitage and enjoy a wine tasting. After a stop at the medieval village of Viviers, the cruise continues to Grignan, where you can participate in a luxurious truffle tasting at a farm. Visit the palace where 14th-century popes lived in Avignon. In Arles, explore the surrounding landscape that inspired Van Gogh's work. Along the cruise, enjoy fragrant fields of lavender and wild roses, too.

Riviera River Cruises

WESTEND61/GETTY IMAGES 

United Kingdom-based Riviera River Cruises has four decades of experience traversing Europe's best-known waterways and lesser-visited regions. The ships, many named after British literary greats, feature standard amenities such as Wi-Fi, a fitness room, a pool, and a sauna. Staterooms have plush furnishings and balconies for outdoor lounging.

Trip to Try: Budapest to the Black Sea

While many European river cruises cover the most popular stretches of the Danube, this itinerary picks up where most end, in Budapest. The 15-day cruise follows the Danube through Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania to the Black Sea. Along the way, passengers see pastoral lands and steep river canyons. Picturesque stops include Novi Sad with its beautiful baroque architecture, the Iron Gates Gorge marking the boundary between Serbia and Romania, and Oltenița from which guests can visit Bucharest. After reaching the Danube Delta, travelers return to Budapest for disembarkation.

Related Articles

9 best river cruises in Europe

Fran Golden

River cruising in Europe is one of those delightfully slow and easy modes of travel. You're in a small floating hotel, exploring calm inland waters, gliding past castles and vineyards and scenery that changes by the hour.

Daily escorted walking tours and other excursions provided by the river line take you to key UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other city and village attractions you've come to see. Or you can choose to explore on your own, which is easy since your ship often will dock right in town.

Lazy afternoons on the ship afford the time to sit in a lounge chair and watch the world go by — kids swimming from the riverbanks, farmers tending their crops, river birds flapping their wings — as you glide to your next destination.

Which European river should you explore? The choices are broader than you might expect.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

The main rivers in Europe are the Danube and the Rhine and their tributaries. They are, by far, the most popular, doable either on one-week segments or longer itineraries that combine areas and sometimes combine rivers. Even if your cruise is only a week, don't underestimate the allure of relaxing for seven days on a river in France or on the dreamy Douro in Portugal.

Here are the best river cruises in Europe.

Upper Danube

best river tours in europe

When it comes to Europe river cruises, a perfect seven-night starter sailing is the Upper Danube, which takes you through centuries of history as you explore Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Ships visit such cultural hubs as Vienna, with its opera and art museums and elaborate royal palaces, and Budapest, Hungary, with its magnificent architecture and modern vibe. If your ship passes the Hungarian Parliament building at night, you're in for a treat; magnificently lit, it's one of the most photographed sights on the river.

Along the route, between Melk and Krems in Austria, you cruise through the Wachau Valley, a key wine-growing region producing rieslings and gruner veltliners, with sipping opportunities available. It's also a great place to bike, which is why it's nice to sail with lines, such as AmaWaterways , that carry bikes on board for passengers to use.

You might also have the option of a side trip to Salzburg, Austria, the birthplace of Mozart — and also where several scenes for the movie "Sound of Music" were filmed. A surprise for many is Old Town Bratislava, Slovakia, which might not have been on your must-do list but which charms with its beer culture and castles.

Related: Booking your first river cruise? Here's what you need to know.

Lower Danube

best river tours in europe

For a deep dive into Eastern Europe's past and present, the fascinating Lower Danube route between Budapest and Bucharest, Romania, explores history from the medieval times and Victorian era of Dracula to the rise of communism and the Bosnian War.

The seven-night river cruise takes you through Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. The most beautiful stretch of the river is a 62-mile passage through a gorge between the Balkan and Carpathian Mountains. It's also one of the deepest stretches of river in the world.

Other sights accessed on shore excursions via bus include Bulgaria's Belogradchik Rocks, which are naturally carved towering red rock pinnacles that appear to take forms such as "Madonna with child," and Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria's stunning medieval capital.

best river tours in europe

When it comes to top cruising rivers in Europe, the Rhine wins for natural beauty and fairytale landscapes. A cruise on the river between Amsterdam in The Netherlands, and Basel, Switzerland — a typical one-week route — takes you past expanses of slope-side vineyards, forests and mountains, historic cities and medieval half-timbered villages.

That's even before you get to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 40-mile stretch of river, between Rudesheim and Koblenz, Germany, has castles galore — you might imagine Rapunzel letting down her hair — and Lorelei Rock, the legendary cliff said to distract sailors with the mesmerizing song of a maiden.

The French city of Strasbourg, with its famous Gothic cathedral and robust Alsatian culinary scene, is often a favorite stop on Rhine itineraries, with other highlights including Heidelberg, Germany, and its imposing castle.

Related: Christmas market river cruises: What to expect on a holiday sailing

best river tours in europe

Sure, you can catch sight of the Eiffel Tower when boarding a river ship in Paris, but you can do that while staying in a hotel, too. The real attractions of a Seine River cruise are sailing on the river outside the city toward the English Channel and a visit to the beaches in Normandy for a perspective on World War II.

Your visit there and to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, as well as other memorials and monuments to the fallen, is a poignant experience (one that requires a two-hour bus ride from your ship, however). Avalon Waterways brings a World War II expert on board to add insight on select sailings.

Other treasures exist along the Seine, not the least of which is Giverny, the home and gardens of impressionist artist Claude Monet. If you are a fan of his art, much of the property might seem familiar.

In historic Rouen, where Joan of Arc was martyred in the Middle Ages, stop by the Rouen Cathedral (another subject of Monet) before losing yourself on cobblestone streets with wonderful cafes.

Related: River cruise packing list: What to pack when traveling by riverboat

best river tours in europe

Bordeaux river cruises are different from other water routes because you explore two short waterways — the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers — and the Gironde Estuary in Southwest France.

You'll spend more time ashore than floating down the river on this itinerary, with your ship docked for two nights in the city of Bordeaux, a mini-Paris with grand 18th-century buildings. Who cares when you are in the epicenter of French culture, in one of the most celebrated wine regions in the world?

Bordeaux serves up the opportunity to sip Medoc, Margaux, Saint-Emilion, Pomerol and Sauternes wines as you expand your wine education. You'll visit vineyards and gorgeous chateaus. Your cruise line might even host a dinner at a wine estate one evening. If you plan your cruise for September or October, you'll be able to admire the grape harvest.

Related: The 5 best cruise lines for solo travelers

Rhone and Saone

best river tours in europe

Another must for wine-lovers is exploring the interior of France, sipping Cotes du Rhone in such famous winemaking regions as Hermitage and Chateauneuf-du-Pape in Provence and Beaune in Burgundy.

Rhone and Saone River cruises typically sail between Lyon and Arles or Avignon, and they're top-loaded with such non-wine attractions as the Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard and the Roman Arles Amphitheater, as well as the massive Palais des Papes (Papal Palace) in Avignon. You'll also be able to take in the lavender fields, haystacks and other scenes that inspired painters like Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh.

best river tours in europe

For a lazy, dreamy, wonderful river cruise experience, nothing quite beats exploring the wine regions of Portugal on the Douro, one of the major rivers through the Iberian Peninsula. The home base for these river cruises is Porto, Portugal, with its historic city center, spectacular bridges and port houses.

On one-week cruises, you'll follow the river 130 miles past green hillside vineyards in the Douro River Valley, a UNESCO-recognized destination, before turning around at the Spanish border. The river cruises typically include a visit to the university town of Salamanca in northern Spain. Viticulture is very much the lesson en route, as you learn about port production on the "River of Gold."

Related: 5 cruise lines to try if you just can't stand being around kids on vacation

best river tours in europe

Due to fluctuating water levels and narrow passages, the Elbe is a challenging river that runs 680 miles between the Czech Republic and Germany. Historically, it formed part of the border between East Germany and West Germany.

River cruising here is a rare experience. Viking River Cruises is one of the few lines that visits (another is the French line CroisiEurope), offering 10-day itineraries that combine hotel stays in the cities of Berlin and Prague with a stretch of river between Prague and Wittenburg, Germany.

The cruises are on ships built specifically for the Elbe route. They stop in places such as resurgent Dresden, heavily bombed during World War II but expertly rebuilt; the Saxon Switzerland region of Germany with its striking sandstone rock formations; and the spa town of Bad Schandau.

best river tours in europe

The Po River in northern Italy is tidal, making it another challenging waterway. However, it affords the opportunity to combine a visit to Venice with a river cruise. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises does the Po in high style with its 126-passenger S.S. La Venizia, completely decked out with a sense of place, from Fortuny fabrics and Murano glass to its gilded accents.

The one-week route doesn't take you far but does include the walled city of Padua, the charming fishing village of Chioggia, and the culinary mecca of Bologna.

For those looking for a longer experience, Uniworld cleverly combines a Po cruise with luxury rail journeys to places like Istanbul, Switzerland and beyond.

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"It's perfect.. I really enjoyed it." Erhan, traveled in July 2024

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Danube Serenade: Romantic Journey from Bucharest (Turnu Magurele) to Vienna, MS Fidelio

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"The food was exceptional, the excursions fun and enlightening and the entire crew was exceptional, fun, and professional." Warren, traveled in August 2022

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"Best trip ever. We can't think of what we can do to top this trip." CynthiaRoth, traveled in October 2022

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"The inclusions were excellent, walking tour guides at most locations were brilliant and well informed." Chrisopher, traveled in October 2019

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"Crosieurope had nice food, plenty of beer and wine, very clean boat - both inside and out." Anna, traveled in April 2023

The beautiful blue Danube (port-to-port cruise) (from Passau to Budapest) Tour

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"Amazing. Wonderful. Looking forward to the next one." Alison, traveled in July 2023

Treasures of the Rhine from Basel Crucevita Superior Deluxe Balcony Tour

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"The Cruise from Basel in Switzerland to Amsterdam was very good and the Crucevita Cruise ship and staff were very good." Brent, traveled in June 2024

Enchanting Danube (2024) (Budapest to Passau, 2024) Tour

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"Various excursions to choose from for different age group and they were well-organized." AnhBui, traveled in March 2019

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"The ship, the staff, the food, the wines were excellent. Everything was beyond expectations." Gail, traveled in October 2019

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"The excursion plan is not as clear either. Overall it's still a good tour." Roxana,, traveled in April 2023

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"Fantastic trip. All staff amazing." Paul, traveled in August 2018

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"The crew was very friendly, although it was primarily a German language oriented cruise lines." ERNEST, traveled in April 2023

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"The cruise information was incomplete, leaving out interesting opportunities along the way." Marc, traveled in October 2023

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European river cruises reviews.

İts perfect ..i really enjoyed it
This was our first river cruise and it has ensured it won't be our last. From start to finish the ship MS Fidelio was excellent and the crew and service offered second to none. All staff were friendly and efficient without getting in the way. Food was plentiful and the quality impressive. I found the balance between onboard and ashore perfect. The number of inclusive tours was good, four in total in Belgrade, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna and on all occasions the guides knowledgeable and entertaining.Tours available in 3 languages , English , Spanish and Dutch. Additional optional tours were also available at a price but we chose to explore ourselves. At no point did we feel pressured in to adding further tours. Most of the sailing was done at night leaving as much time as possible in the designated places to visit. The crew went out of their way to entertain the passengers. The cruise manager Augustine was very entertaining with a fantastic sense of humour, something akin to a cross between Hi-De-Hi and Borat. Price of cruise very reasonable and drinks prices on board not overly extravagant, similar to prices in the UK. I would recommend this cruise on the Danube on board the MS Fidelio to anyone. I will also mention the ease of booking through Tour Radar and the follow up communication was exceptional. Looking forward to my next foray.
Really enjoyed the cruise. The food was exceptional, the excursions fun and enlightening and the entire crew was exceptional, fun, and professional. Bully for the Captain and Hotel Manager for setting the tone onboard. The Amabella experience must be the best! P.S. Cruise Manager Stefan is is star.

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The 10 best places to go on a river cruise in Europe 

Jun 7, 2024 • 8 min read

best river tours in europe

Appreciate the beautiful architecture of Budapest from the Danube © Sanga Park / Shutterstock

Cruising down a quiet, traffic-free river, surrounded by scenic riverfront views is an ideal way to see Europe . You can sip your wine while watching picture-perfect scenery breeze past – taking in castles, medieval villages and fields of flowers. 

By necessity, European riverboats are small and passenger numbers are often fewer than 200, making these cruises a far more social and intimate experience. There’s also plenty to do and see onshore, and with more frequent stops you can enjoy more onshore activities. Cruise lines are now also offering more immersive learning experiences such as cooking classes and home visits, or activities like bicycle trips and long hikes.

The hardest part is choosing where to go — which is why we've rounded up the 10 best places to go on a European river cruise. (Once you've chosen your cruise, check out our definitive cruise packing guide .)

River cruise boats float down a village-lined river in Germany.

1. Northern Rhine (Germany)

From gorgeous river meanders and noble German cities

The northern section of the Rhine features dramatic landscapes and a host of interesting towns. Cologne (Köln), Germany ’s fourth-largest city, offers numerous attractions starting with its famous cathedral, while Koblenz, at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, is a park- and flower-filled delight. Heading south, the Rhine meanders between hillside castles and steep fields of wine-producing grapes. Idyllic villages appear around each bend, their half-timbered houses and Gothic steeples seemingly plucked from a fairy tale. Scarcely damaged during WWII, handsome Speyer is crowned by a magnificent Romanesque cathedral. 

2. Southern Rhine (France, Germany & Switzerland)

Explore intriguing towns in this border land

The Southern Rhine forms the border between Germany and France before becoming Switzerland ’s northern frontier. Strasbourg is the perfect overture to all that is idiosyncratic about Alsace – walking a fine tightrope between France and Germany, between a medieval past and a progressive future. Further south, the Black Forest spills into Alsace in the German town of Breisach. Unsurprisingly, given its geographical and cultural proximity to France, the locals here have a passion for a good bottle of wine. Basel, at the juncture of the French, German and Swiss borders, is perhaps where Switzerland’s Franco-Germanic roots are most evident.

3. Rhône (France)

Indulge in gourmet experiences cruising the south of France

Commanding a strategic spot at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, grand old Lyon is France’s gastronomic capital. Downstream, the Rhône forges past Vienne’s Roman ruins and the centuries-old Côtes du Rhône vineyards, opening to sunny vistas of fruit orchards, lavender fields and the distant Alps as it continues south. During the 14th century, the Provençal town of Avignon was the center of the Roman Catholic world. Its impressive legacy of ecclesiastical architecture most notably includes the soaring, World Heritage-listed Palais des Papes .

Sunset's golden light signs on the Italianite city of Passau and the Danube river.

4. Western Danube (Austria & Germany)

Romantic landscapes in the heart of Europe

The baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces set the stage for Vienna ’s artistic and musical masterpieces alongside its coffee-house culture and vibrant epicurean and design scenes. Moving into Germany, the Danube gently winds its way to the Italianate city of Passau . Top billing in eastern Bavaria goes to Regensburg, a former capital and one of Germany’s prettiest and liveliest cities. Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Bavaria’s second-largest city and the unofficial capital of Franconia, is an energetic place with a history that ranges from undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire to the trials that judged Nazi war crimes.

5. Eastern Danube (Hungary & Serbia)

Travel a cross-section of Europe’s less-touristed east

The two great cities of this stretch of the Danube are the capitals of Hungary and Serbia respectively. Budapest has something for everyone – from dramatic history and flamboyant architecture to healing thermal waters. Outspoken, adventurous, proud and audacious: Belgrade ("White City") has a gritty exuberance and eclectic architecture making it one of Europe’s most happening cities today. While it hurtles towards a brighter future, its past unfolds before your eyes: socialist blocks are squeezed between art nouveau masterpieces and remnants of the Habsburg legacy contrast with Ottoman relics.

Lush green vineyards line the banks of the Duoro.

6. Douro (Portugal)

See spectacular terraced vineyards, the home of port wine

The Douro region, home to port wine, is simply one of the most glorious spots on earth. The Douro Valley showcases steep terraced vineyards carved into mountains, granite bluffs, whitewashed quintas (estates) and 18th-century wine cellars that draw visitors from around the world. Humble-yet-opulent Porto entices with its higgledy-piggledy medieval center, divine food and wine, and charismatic locals. Its charms are as subtle as the nuances of an aged tawny port, best savored slowly.

7. Elbe (Czech Republic & Germany)

A little-cruised but picturesque stretch of Central Europe

Covering the Czech Republic and a thick slice of eastern Germany, Elbe cruises are under-the-radar options. Prague , not on the Elbe but usually included on river cruises, contends with cities like Budapest and Paris in terms of beauty. Its maze of cobbled lanes and hidden courtyards is perfect for the aimless wanderer. The classic view of Dresden from the Elbe’s northern bank takes in spires, towers and domes belonging to palaces, churches and stately buildings: hard to believe that the city was all but wiped off the map by Allied bombings in 1945. While the city of Wittenberg is first and foremost about Martin Luther, the monk who triggered the German Reformation in 1517.

The pedestrian Pont des Arts crosses the River Seine, linking the Palais du Louvre (shown) and the Institut de France

8. Seine (France)

Cruise out of Paris through northern France

Paris has a timeless familiarity, with instantly recognizable architectural icons, memorable cuisine and chic boutiques. Dining is a quintessential part of the Parisian experience, and its art repository is one of the best, showcasing priceless treasures in palatial museums. Don't miss Rouen is one of Normandy’s most engaging and historically rich destinations, with its soaring Gothic cathedral, beautifully restored medieval quarter, excellent museums and vibrant cultural life. At the mouth of the Seine, Le Havre is a love letter to modernism, evoking France’s postwar energy and optimism.

9. Main (Germany)

A seductive German river connecting to the Rhine and Danube

Rising in Franconia and joining the Rhine near Mainz, the Main (pronounced "mine") is the longest German-only river. From Bamberg to its confluence, it travels some 400km through locks and picturesque scenery, dotted with historic towns. Frankfurt ’s skyscrapers are quite a contrast to the picturesque towns that follow, though it too has a rather traditional and charming old town. Scenic Würzburg is renowned for its art, architecture and delicate wines. A disarmingly beautiful architectural masterpiece, Bamberg’s entire Altstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

A river flows through lush farmland in Germany.

10. Moselle (Germany)

An intimate stretch of the wine-producing German region

Having traversed France and Luxembourg , the Moselle heads through Germany to meet its destiny with the Rhine at Koblenz. It’s a very pretty stretch of river flanked by vineyards, and makes for great leisurely cruising and exploration. With an astounding nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, gorgeous Trier shelters Germany’s finest ensemble of Roman monuments, and is enlivened by a characterful medieval center and large student population. Bernkastel-Kues are lovely twin settlements in the heart of wine country, while Cochem’s castle and pretty buildings make it a visual highlight of the Moselle .

How do I choose a route for a European river cruise?

The two major rivers for European cruises are the Rhine and the Danube. Together, they were once the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. Rhine cruises often run from Amsterdam to Basel, following the course of the river through Germany. Danube cruises start in southern Germany, wend their way through Bratislava, Slovakia; Linz and Vienna, Austria; and Belgrade, Serbia; then skirt the Bulgarian and Romanian border to reach the Black Sea.

While many first-time European river cruisers stick to these two rivers, there are many other options available. In Western Europe, you can cruise through the French countryside on the Rhône and Seine, or check out the vineyards of Portugal on the Douro. 

Even on the same river, distinct routes can be offered. One company might zip up the Rhine, allowing you to see the highlights in a few days; another might take longer, exploring smaller places along the way and offering more time for onshore experiences. You'll need to decide whether you’d like to get a look at more destinations, or more of a feel for fewer places.

When is the best time to go on a European river cruise?

Cruises on European rivers tend to begin in the spring, around March, and go through to October. Some cruises, operating in areas where Christmas markets are a feature, run right through December but inclement weather or river flooding could put a dampener on plans. Winter cruises tend to focus on places where Christmas experiences are on offer. Shorter daylight hours mean you’ll see less scenery, but the charm of the festive season has its own appeal. 

Choosing your season is very much a matter of personal preference, and there are pros and cons for each season. Summer cruises offer the most spectacular scenery, the longest daylight hours and the best weather, but the towns you visit will be far busier and you won’t be alone in port; in some smaller places, you may have to scramble across the decks of other boats to reach the shore.

Spring and autumn mean less time around the pool on the top deck, but quieter times ashore. Expect rains in spring, but also blooming flowers. Autumn is a great time to cruise the Douro, with grapes being picked and clement temperatures.

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Divergent Travelers

11 Best River Cruises in Europe For Your Bucket List

If you haven’t yet been on a European river cruise, what are you waiting for? Compared to ocean cruises, river cruises offer smaller ships, fewer people, and intimate walking tours of the places visited.

We took our first river cruise in Europe in 2016 on the Elbe River . Sure, it’s a less popular river than the Danube or Rhine, but it changed how we thought of Europe as a travel destination.

Our week-long cruise was a discovery on how to get off the beaten track, spread the tourism wealth outside of the large iconic cities, and see a side of Europe that is harder to access if you’re traveling in other ways.

Since that first sailing, we’ve taken five cruises on six different rivers across Europe .

Below we’ve compiled a list of the best river cruises in Europe. Our list includes Europe’s best-loved rivers, some lesser-known rivers, and our favorites.

11 Best River Cruises in Europe

Table of Contents

1. Upper Danube River

Cruising the Upper Danube offers a journey through the heart of Europe. Starting in Germany and flowing through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary, this river takes you to some of Europe’s most stunning cities like Vienna and Budapest .

The best time to cruise is late spring to early fall. Highlights include the Wachau Valley’s vineyards, Melk Abbey, and Bratislava’s charming old town. Expect beautiful landscapes, impressive architecture, and rich cultural experiences.

Why we love the Upper Danube River: This is your classic European river cruising experience and it offers a nice balance of big cities and small villages. Our favorite time to cruise the Upper Danube is December, during the Christmas Market season.

2. Lower Danube River

Downtown Bucharest, Romania

The Lower Danube is less traveled but equally enchanting, winding from Hungary to the Black Sea through Eastern Europe. This stretch passes through Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Highlights include Belgrade’s fortress, the Iron Gates Gorge, and the Danube Delta’s wildlife.

The best season for cruising is spring or fall, avoiding the high summer heat. This route is perfect for those seeking a blend of nature and history, with fewer crowds than the Upper Danube.

Why we love the Lower Danube River: It is more off the beaten path, offering a different type of Europe to explore. It is appealing to us due to fewer crowds and more unknown stops versus the popularity of the Upper Danube.  

3. Rhine River

David Stock walking the streets of Rudesheim, Germany during a European river cruise

The Rhine River cruise is a classic, known for its fairy-tale castles, ancient sites, and picturesque towns. Flowing from Switzerland through Germany to the Netherlands , the Rhine offers stops at Cologne, Strasbourg, and the Lorelei Rock. It is arguably the best European river cruise.

The best time to cruise is spring to fall, with summer offering the most vibrant scenery. You’ll experience medieval architecture, lush vineyards, and local culture along the way.

Why we love the Rhine River: We refer to the Rhine as the castle highway of Western Europe. There is no other stretch of river in Europe that compares. Like the Danube, it is also a fantastic option in December for German Christmas Markets . It must be said, however, that in any season it will be a busy experience due to its popularity.  We cruised the Rhine in peak summer and it was very crowded.

4. Elbe River

Cruising the Elbe River is a journey through the heart of Central Europe, from the Czech Republic to Eastern Germany. Key stops include Prague , Dresden , and Wittenburg. Highlights include Prague’s old town, Dresden’s art collections, and the scenic Saxon Switzerland National Park.

Spring and fall are the best times to cruise, offering mild weather and fewer tourists. The Elbe offers a mix of urban and natural beauty, ideal for history and nature lovers.

Why we love the Elbe River: The very first time we took a river cruise in Europe was on the Elbe River . We like to do things in a more divergent way. Although we went to popular places like Prague and Dresden, we couldn’t believe how quiet Europe could be in the summer.

5. Main River

Lina and David Stock on a bike tour in Frankfurt while on a river cruise in Europe

The Main River, a tributary of the Rhine, offers a unique blend of big cities and quieter villages. Starting in Bamberg and ending in Mainz, the cruise includes stops in Würzburg, Frankfurt, and Miltenberg.

The best time to cruise is late spring to early fall. Expect to see baroque architecture, modern cityscapes, and classic medieval towns. The Main-Danube Canal also connects this river to the Danube, making for an extended adventure.

Why we love the Main River: This is the perfect cruise if you’re looking for a Germany deep dive and want to get out of the larger cities.

6. Moselle River

Lina Stock on a Moselle River cruise in Europe

The Moselle River is renowned for its meandering path through one of Germany’s top wine regions. Starting in France and joining the Rhine in Germany, key highlights include Luxembourg , the wine towns of Bernkastel-Kues, Trier’s Roman ruins, and Cochem’s Reichsburg Castle.

This river is best cruised in late spring to early fall and offers a relaxing journey through scenic vineyards, wine tastings, and historic towns, perfect for wine enthusiasts.

Why we love the Moselle River: The wine is incredible on this route. It’s also very off the beaten path, and, as a result, the villages along the way are not too crowded. We cruised in peak summer and were surprised at how quiet it was along the way. The Moselle River is a true gem among Europe river cruises.

7. Seine River

Main square in Rouen, France

From Paris to Normandy, a Seine River cruise in Northern France immerses you in French culture and history. Highlights include Paris’s iconic landmarks, Monet’s gardens in Giverny, and the historic Omaha Beach in Normandy.

The best season to cruise is spring or fall, avoiding the summer crowds. Expect a mix of historic cities and serene countryside, with plenty of opportunities to explore French art, cuisine, and history.

Why we love the Seine River: We were not expecting to love the Seine, but we did! This river offered so many unexpected stops, stories, and history that weren’t on our radar. It offers an incredible balance of ancient and modern history, from Viking stories to the Normandy D-Day beaches, and truly everything in between.

8. Rhone River

Avignon, France at dusk from the Rhone River

The Rhone River flows through the heart of Provence, from Lyon to the Mediterranean Sea. Highlights include Lyon’s culinary scene, Avignon’s Papal Palace, and Arles’s Roman ruins.

Best cruised in spring or fall, this river takes you through vineyards, lavender fields, and historic local villages. The Rhone offers a delightful mix of natural beauty, gourmet experiences, and rich history.

Why we love the Rhone River: A true deep dive into the heart of France, there’s many reasons why this is one of the most popular rivers in France. The food and wine are spectacular right alongside the scenery.

9. Dordogne & Garonne Rivers

Vineyards at Saint-Emilion's in France along the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers

Cruising the Dordogne and Garonne rivers in southwestern France provides a journey through Bordeaux’s wine country. Highlights include Bordeaux’s historic center, Saint-Émilion’s vineyards, and the medieval town of Libourne.

The best time to cruise is from late spring to early fall. Expect to savor world-class wines, picturesque landscapes, and small towns, all while exploring the rich heritage of this region.

Why we love the Dordogne & Garonne Rivers: These two rivers are another gem that is often left off first-time river cruiser’s lists. We actually prefer the lesser-known rivers, so don’t be afraid to book these routes! You get the amazing food and wine of France, without the crowds.

10. Douro River

Porto, Portugal seen from the Douro River

The Douro River in Portugal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a scenic cruise through the country’s wine-producing region, from Porto to the Spanish border. Highlights include the terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley, the historic city of Porto, and the picturesque town of Pinhão.

The best season to cruise is late spring to early fall. Douro river cruises promise stunning landscapes, delicious wines, and a deep dive into Portuguese culture.

Why we love the Douro River: It’s a way to dive into Portugal that is different from the ever-popular road trip. There’s fantastic wine and food alongside beautiful architecture that is unique to Europe.

11. Shannon River

Lina and David Stock at Sean's Bar in Athlone, Ireland

The Shannon River cruise in Ireland is a serene journey through lush landscapes and historic sites. Key stops include the monastic site of Clonmacnoise, the lively town of Athlone, and the scenic Lough Derg.

The best time to cruise is late spring to early fall. Expect to experience Ireland’s natural beauty, rich history, and friendly hospitality, with plenty of opportunities for fishing, hiking, and exploring quaint villages.

Why we love the Shannon River: Simply because it’s so different from the other cruising experiences you can have across Europe. You won’t be cruising on a longship like the other rivers in Europe. Instead, you’ll be on a purpose-built barge, which in and of itself is a unique experience.

12. Volga River (BONUS)

Cruising the Volga River from St. Petersburg to Moscow offers a fascinating glimpse into Russia’s rich history and culture. Highlights of this journey include the opulent palaces and museums of St. Petersburg , the medieval architecture of Uglich, and the historic charm of Yaroslavl. As you approach Moscow , you’ll witness the grandeur of the Kremlin and Red Square.

This section of the river is best cruised from late spring to early fall when the weather is pleasant. Expect to experience a mix of busy urban centers and serene countryside, with plenty of opportunities to delve into Russian traditions, cuisine, and history.

Why we love the Volga River: If you’re looking for something completely off the beaten path, cruising the Volga River in Russia is a fantastic option. The trip takes two weeks and shows you a side of the country you wouldn’t see on any other available tour. We cruised this route in 2016, and highly recommend this route once it is safe to do so again.

Europe River Cruising Tips & Advice

Lina Stock standing in front of the Avalon Waterways Imagery II river ship in Europe

If you’re new to European river cruising, you may be overwhelmed by the options. Here is some advice on how to choose:

  • We’ve cruised with Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways. They are among the best river cruise lines in Europe offering hand-selected inclusions, shore excursions, exclusive access, and an occasional overnight stay on their routes.
  • The right river cruise looks different for everyone. Decide what you’re interested in, and what countries you want to see to get started.
  • Not all river cruise ships are the same. Some of the lines are more luxurious than others. Do some research and choose the company that best suits your budget.
  • If you’re open to the destination, don’t be afraid to choose a different river from the most popular journeys.

Protect Your Trip to Europe

Lastly, taking a vacation of any kind is an investment of your hard-earned money and the last thing you want is to risk a disruption or cancellation that ends with you losing that investment. This is one of the reasons  we never leave home without travel insurance.

There are a lot of options out there for insurance, but we use and stand by  Allianz Travel Insurance . Full disclosure, we receive financial compensation as ambassadors for their company.

That said, we’ve been purchasing plans through them for the past 7 years and they have never let us down. Canceled flights, delayed flights, lost luggage, rental car damage, and a global pandemic, they’ve been there for us.

We always renew their  AllTrips Premier  annual plan that covers all our trips over 12 months. For single trips, we recommend looking at their  OneTrip Prime  or  OneTrip Premier  plans.

This article is sponsored by Allianz Travel Insurance. As ambassadors we receive financial compensation. However, all opinions, stories, advice, and insane love for the river cruising in Europe are 100% ours, as always.

You might also like:

  • Ultimate Europe Travel Guide
  • When is the Best Time to Visit Europe?
  • Train Travel in Europe: Ultimate Eurail Pass Guide
  • The Only Europe Packing List You Need (For Any Season!)
  • 10 Cheapest Places to Travel in Europe

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Travel planning resources, about lina stock.

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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8 best river cruises in Europe, from the Douro to the Danube

Get to know the continent’s waterways, as well as the towns and cities on their banks, with these relaxing cruise holidays, article bookmarked.

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Some of Europe’s most famous waterways provide the backdrop for river cruises

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Europe is a continent built on its rivers, with many having played a vital role in the formation and development of its most important cities . From the Thames to the Tiber , they are an ever-flowing reminder of the continent’s long and varied history.

The opportunity to sail along these rivers, among the world’s most beautiful and peaceful waterways, is a temptation that’s easily given in to. Of course, a river cruise is about more than just spending time floating on the water (although that option is available, should you wish). It’s about the towns, cities and landmarks along the way.

These trips will take you on a relaxing and slow-paced journey to vineyards and valleys, tours and excursions, returning each night to your own floating hotel. Each day offers quick stops to discover some of the continent’s most important cultures at your own pace.

The Independent has rounded up eight of the best Europe river cruise packages, from epic continental crossing and to the finest Christmas markets to explore.

Capitals of Eastern Europe, Viking River Cruises

The Danube runs through Budapest, Bratislava, Belgrade and Vienna

Viking River Cruises’ Capitals of Eastern Europe itinerary is a 16-night trip covering the main cities on the Danube. It sets sail from Vienna, the elegant and sophisticated Austrian capital, and it finishes in Constanta, Romania, before a quick final journey overland to Bucharest to end your trip with a two-night stay.

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On the way you’ll visit a host of towns in Hungary, Serbia and even Bulgaria, but on this trip the bigger cities are the main attraction. Vienna is followed by Bratislava – where Baroque palaces meet a typically Eastern European Old Town – and then Budapest . The Hungarian capital is a highlight: from festooned “ruin bars” and thermal baths to a spectacular neo-Gothic parliament building, the city has a wide variety of architecture, activities and things to do.

How to book

The tour lasts for 17 days, starting from £5,445pp. This price includes return flights, one excursion in each port of call and all meals. vikingrivercruises.co.uk

North Rhine & The Netherlands, TUI

Boppard is one of the towns that Rhine river cruise ships stop at

Alongside the Danube, the Rhine is one of Europe’s main cruise rivers. Many operators have several Rhine packages; TUI’s offering covers a stellar range of cities for a very affordable price. Its ships have two dining options (a bistro and a more formal restaurant) with al fresco seating, as well as a wellness and activity area on the top deck. No excursions are included, but this does give you free rein to choose whatever activities you like.

The first two days are spent in Amsterdam , where you’ll have ample time to wander its canals and green spaces, such as the Vondelpark, or visit attractions such as the Anne Frank Museum, Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum.

Days three and four bring you to Rotterdam and Dusseldorf. You can enjoy the port area in the Netherlands ’ second city or simply marvel at its dramatically different modern architecture, while Dusseldorf provides a variety of museums and concerts alongside a lively Old Town. On days five to seven, you’ll visit four picturesque riverside cities and towns: Bonn, Koblenz, Boppard and Oberwesel. There are waterfront bars and restaurants galore, and each has its own slice of history (think of a Beethoven museum in Bonn and a memorial to the ruler who united Germany in Koblenz).

From £1,639pp for this seven-night trip, including three meals per day (you can add coffee, alcohol and other drinks on an all-inclusive basis for an extra £20 per night) and return flights. tui.co.uk

The Douro, Riviera Travel

Porto sits on the banks of the Douro

A trip along the northern Douro River can offer views to rival even the most idyllic of Algarve beaches. This trip starts in Porto , where bars and restaurants line the banks in the Ribeira (Riverside) district, but it is worth climbing the various hills to see other areas and sites, such as the cathedral and Dom Luis I Bridge.

After setting off along the Douro, your first two stops are Pinhao – a picturesque wine town, famous for being at the heart of the Port-producing region of the country – and Castelo Rodrigo, a 12th-century walled village located in the highlands. Day four will see you visit Salamanca, the Spanish sandstone city famous for its cathedrals and university.

The next two days are spent in Peso da Régua and Lamego – two small hillside towns – before returning to Porto on day seven. The cruise ends here, but the holiday doesn’t; this package also contains a three-night stay in Lisbon . After travelling to the capital by coach, you’ll visit the nearby towns of Coimbra (day eight) and Sintra (day 10), while you’ll have a day in the capital sandwiched in between; while in Lisbon, take in the city’s unique Manueline and Pombaline architecture while wandering through its grand squares, and visit Sao Jorge castle or the city’s famous Time Out Market.

This 11-day cruise is priced from £1,599pp, including all meals on board, excursions, airport transfers and coach travel where necessary.  rivieratravel.co.uk

Idyllic Rhône, Scenic Cruises

The Rhone stretches through Lyon and several French towns

Scenic Cruises’ luxury Rhone sailing takes you through some of the best sections of southern France , starting in Lyon . The regional capital has 2,000 years of history, so it’s blessed with a Roman amphitheatre right through to a Renaissance Old Town. Your first trip will take you north along the Saone River to Macon, a famous wine region in Burgundy.

The next two towns, Vienne and Viviers, offer spectacular views of the Rhone before you arrive in Avignon. You can enjoy a private concert at the Palais des Papes – once a Papal residence – as well as a cooking class onboard, but a visit to the city itself is worth it to wander its narrow streets and charming squares, starting with the Place de l’Horloge. Your final day takes you to Arles, at the mouth of the Rhone – from here, you can travel home, stay in the city or carry on towards Marseille .

Prices start at £2,999pp for the eight-day cruise. The package includes 20 meals, the premium concert experience, cooking lessons and 19 shore activities, ranging from walking tours to wine tastings. scenic.co.uk

Holland & Belgium, Avalon Waterways

Ghent is one of five cities on the Holland & Belgium route

Avalon’s eight-day cruise of the Low Countries is an excellent way to experience some of the region’s best cities in a relaxing way. It starts and ends in Amsterdam , where you’ll have a number of nights to wander its scenic network of canals lined with beautiful 17th-century buildings.

When you move on to Belgium, you’ll visit Ghent , Brussels and Antwerp on consecutive days. More tranquil canals await you in Ghent, and those who enjoy being by the water can continue this in Antwerp’s waterfront area. Brussels has more than its fair share of landmarks and museums (all centred around Grand Place, the main square and Unesco Heritage Site), but the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Antwerp) and St Bavo’s Cathedral (Ghent) are definitely places to visit during the other stops. Day six will take you to Rotterdam before you head back to the Dutch capital.

From £2,453pp. Meals and some activities are included; there are additional excursions in each destination that can be purchased. avalonwaterways.co.uk

Danube Delights, Emerald Cruises

Passau sits on the confluence of three rivers

This trip from Emerald Cruises takes you along the famous river to Regensburg. It starts with two nights in Budapest , with a traditional Hungarian folklore show and tour of Buda Hill on offer, along with any solo sightseeing you’d like to do. Days three and four take you to Bratislava and Vienna, where you can enjoy cycling tours and hikes.

Krems and Durnstein are the last two stops in Austria before you head to Passau, the German “City of Three Rivers”. At the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, the city is home to an impressive cathedral and Old Town. After disembarking at Regensburg, you make your way to Munich , where a good plan is to spend time exploring the Bavarian capital before you fly home.

From £1,849pp for this eight-day cruise, which includes five guided tours, 20 meals and complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner on board. emeraldcruises.co.uk

Christmas Markets on the Rhine, Ama Waterways

Cologne is one of several cities that is famous for its Christmas Markets

There’s something quite special about experiencing Christmas celebrations on a river cruise through Europe. On this AmaWaterways voyage, you sail the Rhine, boarding in Amsterdam and with a first stop in Cologne. The Gothic cathedral provides the backdrop for one of the country’s best Christmas markets, where you’ll find dozens of stalls selling festive items, many of them handmade. Other markets include the more elaborate Heinzels Wintermärchen in the Old Town and the Markt der Engel (a more rustic affair in the city’s Neumarkt square). For those who want to mix in a bit of sightseeing, the Museum Ludwig and Roman-Germanic Museum can give you a taste of arts and history.

Next on the itinerary, you’ll visit the German towns of Heidelberg and Speyer, where more markets await, before arriving in Strasbourg, France. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of French and German culture, a warm festive spirit and plenty of opportunities to wander the markets that are spread throughout the town. Wander further afield and you’ll find Petite France, a pretty district known for cobblestone streets and canals. Holidaymakers return to Germany for the penultimate stop in Breisach, before disembarking in Basel (though you can always stay in Switzerland for a taste of Swiss Christmas markets).

From £3.149, including meals and some activities; flights and airport transfer not included. amawaterways.co.uk

European Sojourn, Viking River Cruises

The European Sojourn ends in the Romanian capital, Bucharest

This ultimate itinerary bisects Europe to take passengers from Amsterdam to Bucharest, via sections of the Rhine, Main and Danube among other European rivers. Along the way, passengers will visit some of Europe’s principal cities – think Budapest, Amsterdam and Vienna – smaller (but just as beautiful) riverside settlements such as Passau and Bamberg, and lesser-known towns including Vidin and Kolocsa.

Hidden gems range from Melk, an Austrian town in the underrated   Wachau Valley wine-making region, Osijek, the fourth-largest city in Croatia, and Kinderdijk, a Dutch village famous for its set of 19 windmills. With 23 days, eight countries, 20 towns and cities, and at least 10 Unesco World Heritage Sites, there’ll be plenty to see as you traverse the length of central Europe.

From £8,045pp, including flights, 19 guided tours, all meals, transfers and amenities. vikingrivercruises.co.uk

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Our innovative ships feature an abundance of luxurious outdoor, dining, and wellness areas, along with spacious suites. Low guest numbers of only up to 163 guests provide an intimate experience. These sleek ships are also able to dock in the heart of towns, so you can enjoy more time to explore.

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Each suite offers you the luxury of personal space. Our generously-sized suites are elegantly appointed with premium amenities including a queen-size Scenic Slumber Bed, a pillow menu, and luxurious bath products. The Balcony, Junior, and Royal Suites* feature your very own window to the world with our signature Scenic Sun Lounges – some of the largest balconies offered on European waterways.

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Whether you prefer a fine dining experience with a six-course meal, a relaxed café setting or dining in the privacy of your suite, you’ll find delectable options to suit your tastes and mood. Premium international beverages^ – wine, beer, cocktails, spirits – are included and available all day, every day. It’s more than outstanding food and wine – it’s the fresh flavors of each region prepared by our innovative chefs.

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Personalize your river cruise and pursue your own interests as you set off on curated excursions throughout Europe. Scenic’s extensive and diverse list of Freechoice excursions offer an Active, Moderate, or Relaxed pace so you can choose activities best suited to you based on your preferences. Whether it’s a guided hike up beautiful Buda Hill or delectable wine tastings in the French town of Châteauneuf du Pape, the choice is yours.

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The 3 Best River Cruises in Europe [2024]

Updated : June 14, 2024

AAA Travel Editor, SMT

Table of contents.

  • Viking River Cruises
  • AmaWaterways
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
  • The Best European Rivers to Cruise
  • Book Your Perfect River Cruise With AAA

Everyone dreams of traveling through Europe, whether it’s backpacking or staying local, but have you ever thought of exploring via river cruise? 

European river cruises are a great way to travel through a country and see multiple hot spot destinations. Unlike larger ocean cruises, river cruises are smaller, so you can enjoy a more personalized, luxurious experience aboard. Plus, you can enjoy all the superb amenities offered on a cruise ship while immersing yourself in authentic experiences and the local culture. Below are the best river cruises in Europe to check out, plus what you can expect when journeying along some of Europe’s most popular rivers. 

1. Viking River Cruises

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Cruise At-a-Glance:

  • Best for: Culture and history 
  • $100 per person shipboard credit for all cruises 8-11 days 
  • $200 per person shipboard credit for all cruises 12 days or longer
  • Unique features: Spacious ships, unique itineraries, pre and post-cruise packages and onboard entertainment
  • Popular ports of call: Amsterdam, Bangkok, Cairo and New Orleans

Viking River Cruises was founded in 1997, and has since then has provided passengers with amazing river cruising experiences throughout Egypt, Asia and Europe. This award-winning river cruise company offers thoughtfully selected itineraries with luxurious onboard amenities as you cruise through the many rivers they sail on. 

Aboard the cruise ships, travelers will find immediate comfort in the spacious staterooms and will satisfy their passion for worldly culture through various destination-based lectures, music performances and cooking classes. Plus, Viking provides historic guided tours and intimate experiences in every destination. For those who want to explore more while onboard, Viking offers pre and post-cruise packages to help book your lodging and extend your stay. 

2. AmaWaterways

best river tours in europe

  • Best for: Premium luxury 
  • $200 per stateroom savings on cruises less than 7 nights
  • $300 per stateroom savings on cruises 7 to 11 nights
  • Unique features: Free Wi-Fi, onboard fitness centers, daily shore excursions, high-end restaurants and spa and wellness services, 
  • Popular ports of call: Amsterdam, Budapest and Paris

AmaWaterways is a premium luxury river cruise line and well-known for its deluxe onboard amenities and activities, including comfortable staterooms and high-end dining options. The cruise ships also include fitness centers and spa and wellness services for complete rejuvenation and relaxation. 

The cruise line runs river cruises throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Travelers can partake in authentic shore excursions and cultural experiences at AmaWaterways’s various destination ports. AAA members can enjoy Welcome Amenities and stateroom savings across several journey lengths. Experience an exclusive luxury getaway with AmaWaters, whether it's leisurely strolling through the streets of Amsterdam or enjoying the blissful views of the Seine. 

3. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

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  • Best for: Boutique-style accommodations 
  • $250 per couple savings on cruises up to 13 days
  • $500 per couple savings on cruises of 14 days or more
  • Unique features: All-inclusive amenities, daily excursions, unlimited wine and beer, onboard entertainment, airport transports and gourmet cuisine
  • Popular ports of call: Bordeaux, Venice and Amsterdam

Since 1976, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has provided travelers with luxurious pampering and unforgettable European experiences. Each of Uniworld’s 17 luxury ships is uniquely designed and provides the feel of staying in a luxury boutique hotel catered to adult passengers. While aboard guests can enjoy relaxing with Uniworld’s spa services, swimming pools and all-inclusive local wine and beer options. Guests can also indulge in tasting regional cuisine and participating in art auctions between stops. 

When guests disembark from the ship, they can fully immerse themselves in the culture of the villages and landmarks they visit. Uniworld’s unique local relationships allow guests to have authentic exploration of the destination. 

The Best European Rivers to Cruise 

best river tours in europe

Choosing the river for your European cruise is as crucial as selecting your ideal cruise line. Consider the destinations where you'd like to make stops and identify the countries that pique your interest the most. Below are some of the most popular European rivers to sail upon. 

The Danube River is home to four national capitals: Belgrade, Bratislava, Budapest and Vienna. Explore the rich history of these major destinations and beautiful views of the Balkan and Carpathian Mountains and Wachau Valley. Most cruises split between the Upper and Lower Danube River, as the river has much to see. 

Seine 

Most known for passing through Paris, the Seine has much to offer once you leave the city limits. Visit historic landmarks such as the villages in Normandy, the Château Gaillard castle and the medieval Rouen. Those interested in learning more about World War II can visit the Normandy beaches and American Cemetery and Memorial. 

Those interested in visiting Eastern Europe will enjoy a river cruise on the Rhine. Explore the wonders of Germany, such as the Heidelberg Castle and the Black Forest. See the beauty of the Netherlands and visit the beautiful Keukenhof Gardens. You may also stop in Amsterdam and visit its many museums. 

The Moselle flows through three countries: Germany, France and Luxembourg. This is a beautiful river to visit if you’re interested in sightseeing quaint villages. In France, you’ll pass by Metz and Thionville, while in Germany, you can visit Bernkastel-Kues and Trier. Explore one of the world’s smallest countries and stop by Luxembourg City along the way. 

The Main finds a home in Germany and is known for its crossing through Frankfurt. You’ll pass by many medieval villages and gothic-style castles along the route through Central Germany. You may also pass through the Main-Danube Canal and small towns such as Nuremberg and Bamberg.  

Book Your Perfect River Cruise With AAA 

With AAA Travel , booking a cruise has never been easier. Pick from one of the best river cruises in Europe highlighted above and let AAA help you book and plan your excursions throughout your trip. With an AAA Membership , you can enjoy exclusive benefits and savings to spend more on what counts—creating memories along the Seine or wherever your cruise takes you.

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10 best river cruises in europe 2024-2025, the enchanting rhine - from zurich to amsterdam, flavors of portugal & spain - cruise only, delightful douro, magna on the danube - budapest to vilshofen, rhine getaway, enticing douro, the legendary danube, gems of the danube, colors of provence - cruise only, taste of bordeaux - cruise only, get inspired to explore the best of europe in 2024-2025, european river cruises, mediterranean cruises, christmas market cruises, sailing schooners, luxury european cruises, european barge cruises, extraordinary tours of europe, 10 best tours of europe for2024-2025, top 8 european river cruise destinations for 2024-2025.

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10 Best Mediterranean Cruises for 2024-2025

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European Cruising Tips & Travel Guide

The Arctic : Get ready to explore the frigid North in style as you set out through these icy waters to see the fjords of Iceland, Greenland, and the legendary Northeast Passage across the northern coast of Russia, where Aurora Borealis can be seen. Scandinavia : Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark comprise this northerly region of Europe, where Arctic wildlife like polar bears, seals, and whales swim in these remote waters. The British Isles : Take a walk into Europe's medieval past as you explore the hauntingly beautiful castles that dot the rolling hills and highlands of Scotland & England ; stroll along the quiet beaches of Wales; Get a taste for authentic Gaelic culture in Belfast , Northern Ireland; or experience the "luck of the Irish" in the green pastures of Ireland itself. Western Europe: Breathe in the fresh Paris air as you tour this enchanting French city, or see the harrowing beaches of Normandy and the French Riviera at Nice . In Germany , the Rhine River will take you through the towns of yore, adorned by ornate castles & impressive cathedrals. A tour of the Iberian Peninsula will acquaint you with the world-renowned art and architecture that characterizes  Spain & Portugal . Eastern Europe: For half of the 20th century, a wall hid these bewitching countries from the Western world, but now you can experience all Eastern Europe has to offer as you explore the unique cultures that surround the Black Sea , like Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Slovakia, the Ukraine, and other hidden gems of this part of Europe. The melodies of the Danube River will delight you as you navigate deeper into the heart of Europe's lesser known sites & attractions. The Mediterranean :  This expansive sea borders the southern coasts of Europe and the northern tip of Africa and is known for its temperate climate, delicious food, and excellent beaches. Visit the heart of the ancient Roman empire as you explore Italy, or see the ruins of the myth-ridden Greek empire as you cruise the Greek Isles . From Sicily to the Dalmatian Coast , a Mediterranean cruise is a mix of pure relaxation, fascinating archaeological sites, and some of the best cuisine you'll ever taste.

European Cruising & Travel Guide

European river cruise highlights, best time of year to cruise europe, cruising italy, cruising europe christmas markets, cruising the legendary greek isles, introduction to cruising the mediterranean, norwegian cruises - gateway to the arctic, top 10 national parks in europe - must-see natural wonders & adventures, top 12 archaeological sites in europe - uncover ancient history & culture, top 15 architectural iconic cities in europe - rome, paris, barcelona & more, what types of european cruises exist, europe travel reviews & stories, visiting the christmas markets in germany, my rome photo workshop trip, top europe travel destinations.

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Highlights of europe river cruises.

Europe’s inland waterways and stunning seaside coasts are brimming with old-world treasures. Discover them in celebrated capitals such as Vienna and Oslo, and in delightfully surprising ports, like Bratislava, Slovakia and Skagen, Denmark. From river to ocean, you can find:

  • Cologne’s towering Gothic cathedral
  • A traditional Sami ceremony north of the Arctic Circle
  • Ancient trade routes of the Vikings
  • Budapest’s regal Parliament building and Chain Bridge
  • Sheep farming and wool production in a Faroese village
  • Vintners tending their vines in quintas along the Douro
  • The Hanseatic past of historic Bergen
  • Kinderdijk’s windmills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Picturesque Icelandic waterfalls and fjords
  • Award-winning beers at Britain’s oldest brewhouse

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The magic of our award-winning European river cruises goes far beyond the riverboat you're aboard or the landmarks you'll visit. It's in the intimate ambiance and personalized service... the places you'll discover off the beaten path... and in the uncommon access to local culture and exclusive destination driven experiences you can't get on your own, as you experience a true slice of European life and return home transformed.

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Whether you're experiencing the Rhine or the Danube, the Douro, the Rhône, Seine, Maas or Moselle... the magic of our award-winning European river cruises goes far beyond the riverboat you're aboard or the landmarks you'll visit. It's in the intimate ambiance and personalized service... the places you'll discover off the beaten path... and in the uncommon access to local culture and exclusive destination driven experiences you can't get on your own, as you experience a true slice of European life and return home transformed.

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Inspired by the Destination

For 90+ years, the Tauck family has had a passion for sailing — aboard small ships and yachts at sea, riverboats along great inland waterways, and at home on the rivers and lakes of Connecticut and New York. When we began blending our land experience with our strong passion for cruising in our first European river cruise back in 1992, we knew that no "ordinary" river cruise experience would do for our guests. We wanted them to travel Europe's rivers in the same beyond-the-ordinary Tauck style they experienced on our land trips. With that in mind, we searched to find a company to partner with that would share our values and our commitment to "do the right thing" by our guests... and found it in another family-owned company, Scylla. Together, we crafted a river cruise experience that was ahead of its time and inspired by the destinations we explore.

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Along the Danube... the Rhine... the Rhône... the Seine... or the Douro... our European river cruises are all about the unique cultural access you'll enjoy wherever we visit... the strong connections you'll make with the people you'll meet... and the traditions and genuine little moments they'll share with you  along the way...

Budapest to amsterdam by riverboat, the romantic rhine: basel to amsterdam, rendezvous on the seine, blue danube: family riverboat adventure, tauck's river cruise guide, european river facts.

Tauck shares the basic facts you need about Europe's rivers – plus the history, culture and more.

What to Expect On Europe's Rivers

Unforeseen circumstances may occur on the rivers of Europe from time-to-time, including high and low water levels. Tauck is always prepared to deal with these eventualities in order to preserve your Tauck experience.

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Choosing The Best European River Cruise For You

Tauck's European river cruise guide will help you find the right Danube, Rhone, Rhine, Seine or Douro river cruise for you.

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The 9 top river cruise lines for 2024.

Sail through Europe, Asia, the U.S. and more on one of these exquisite river cruise lines.

The Top River Cruise Lines

Top River Cruises

Courtesy of Viking River Cruises

Not one for the high seas? Explore the world along its rivers instead.

If you'd like to take a cruise but aren't interested in the hustle and bustle of a massive ocean liner, consider a river cruise. River cruises offer the chance to visit lesser-known ports around the world, thanks to the small size and maneuverability of the vessels. These sailings are known to provide exceptional, personalized service, as most welcome fewer than 200 guests at a time. On top of that, you'll spend the majority of your trip exploring a different port each day, as most destinations along the waterways are fairly close together.

Read on to discover the best river cruise lines around the world, with details about where they sail, the number of passengers you can expect onboard, a snapshot of amenities and experiences, and sentiment from recent travelers.

Viking River Cruises

Uniworld boutique river cruises, american cruise lines, amawaterways, avalon waterways, emerald cruises.

  • Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

CroisiEurope Cruises

Viking Longship Idun on the Main River in front of Johannisburg Palace, Aschaffenburg, Germany.

Number of passengers: 75 to 250 Sails to:  Europe, Asia, Africa, U.S.

Viking's 60-plus ships – known as longships – traverse major rivers across Europe, including the Danube , the Rhine, the Douro and more. Other popular routes sail Egypt's Nile River as well as the Mississippi River , and newer options include a series of Great Lakes itineraries.

What to expect: Travelers may be familiar with Viking Ocean Cruises , which operates larger ocean voyages with an emphasis on opulent accommodations and diverse enrichment activities. Viking's river cruises follow a similar road map, with meals, daily walking tours and Wi-Fi access (where applicable) included in the base fare. Other amenities and activities span guest lectures, cooking demonstrations, musical performances, libraries, outdoor decks and more. Select Viking riverboats are also equipped with swimming pools, while cabins feature minibars, premium toiletries, purified water and TVs.

On board, you can expect to find mostly English-speaking passengers. Viking's price point generally attracts older crowds in the 55-plus age group, and travelers must be at least 18 years old to cruise on the line.

What travelers say: Recent cruisers thoroughly enjoyed their experience with Viking, praising the scenic shore excursions, top-notch service and comfortable rooms. Some, however, expressed disappointment with the service as well as the food.

Book a Viking River Cruise on GoToSea, a service of U.S. News.

Pool and pool chairs on a Uniworld Boutique River Cruises ship.

Courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Number of passengers: 32 to 159 Sails to:  Europe, Asia, Africa, South America

Uniworld offers luxurious sailings in historic cities across central Europe, France , Italy , Portugal , India, Egypt and Peru.

What to expect: Its 17 ships aim to create the feel of a boutique hotel with stylish decor, antique artwork and specialty restaurants. The ships hold an average capacity of 120 cruisers, and the company boasts one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios in the industry: about one crew member for every two travelers.

Stateroom amenities vary by vessel but may include marble bathrooms, Egyptian cotton linens, French balconies, iPod docking stations, Nespresso coffee machines, rainfall showers and more. The line's all-inclusive rates cover meals, alcoholic beverages, select excursions, gratuities, onboard fitness classes and Wi-Fi access, on top of entertainment and enrichment classes. Uniworld prides itself on its top-notch cuisine, which is made with local ingredients sourced from the ports on your itinerary and also includes vegetarian and vegan options.

Uniworld's typical clientele tend to be in their 50s or 60s and reside in North America, the U.K. and Australia . The river cruise line has select itineraries aimed at families, LGBTQ cruisers and solo travelers.

What travelers say: Recent cruisers offered abundant praise for Uniworld's voyages, complimenting the stylish accommodations, attentive staff and fascinating excursions. Though complaints were few and far between, a handful of past travelers felt the experience was not worth the high price point.

Compare Uniworld Boutique River Cruises on GoToSea.

 American Cruise Lines ship on river during sunset.

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

Number of passengers: 90 to 180 Sails to:  U.S.

As the name suggests, American Cruise Lines sails exclusively on the rivers and coastlines of the United States. Popular cruises visit destinations along the Mississippi River, on the Hudson River, throughout New England , and lining the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The line also tours Alaska , the Southeast coast including Florida , and the Puget Sound between Washington state and the Canadian border.

What to expect: American Cruise Lines operates 19 relatively new small ships and river vessels (the average ship is about 5 years old), ranging from modern riverboats to small coastal ships to authentic paddlewheelers. Comfortable cabins can accommodate up to three people per room, and all ships offer single staterooms designed exclusively for solo travelers . Each room boasts picture windows, a spacious bathroom and – in some cases – a private balcony. In the ships' public spaces, cruisers can enjoy daily onboard entertainment like jazz and blues performances, as well as presentations by historians and area experts.

The line promises an all-American experience. As such, you can expect to find American staff aboard the American-built ships as well as food that pays homage to the destinations you will visit, from New Orleans -style andouille sausage gumbo to New England-inspired seafood boils. Complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeuvres are served every night prior to dinner; all meals, snacks, and wine and beer are included in the base fare. Shore excursions are not typically included in the rate.

Passengers on American Cruise Lines tend to lean North American and are typically mature retired travelers.

What travelers say: Recent cruisers enjoyed their experience, particularly on the line's themed cruises.

Read:  Cruise Packing List: Essentials for Your Next Cruise

AmaWaterways cruise ship on river near town.

Courtesy of AmaWaterways

Number of passengers: 28 to 196 Sails to:  Europe, Asia, Africa, South America  

Consider a river cruise with AmaWaterways, whether you're looking to sail through the heart of Europe or seeking a once-in-a-lifetime adventure touring destinations like Vietnam, Egypt, South Africa or (beginning in 2024) Colombia. A family-owned business founded in 2002, AmaWaterways operates 29 river cruise boats that welcome 150 passengers on average.

The cruise line aims to provide excursion-rich experiences and offers unique themed sailings for passengers with certain interests. Wine-themed voyages are perfect for oenophiles wishing to explore some of Europe's most popular wine regions, while a concierge golf program will transport passengers from one famous golf course to the next. Or, opt for a holiday river cruise to visit magical Christmas markets around Europe. In 2024, AmaWaterways will offer three new Black history-themed itineraries.

What to expect: On board, guests can expect cabins suitable for couples or single travelers, as well as a set amount of connectible rooms designed for multigenerational families. Staterooms are spacious, with perks like bathrobes, slippers and plush bedding. Cabins can feature up to two balconies with AmaWaterways' twin balcony design, which allows for a full, step-out balcony alongside a French balcony with sliding glass doors. In-room Wi-Fi is complimentary, and guests will have access to movies and music on demand.

Outside of their cabins, passengers can enjoy amenities spanning small pools, sun decks, fitness equipment, a hair salon, massage services and more.

AmaWaterways primarily attracts North American travelers in their 50s who enjoy taking part in active shore excursions that involve walking or cycling. Passengers from the U.K. and Australia sail on this river cruise line as well. You can expect to find a mix of couples, families and solo cruisers – including a growing number of millennial travelers – on your vessel, thanks to AmaWaterways' diverse cabin offerings. Adventures by Disney charters AmaWaterways ships for select sailings each year as well.

What travelers say: Recent travelers say AmaWaterways exceeded their expectations, with many noting it was especially enjoyable for families. Still, some were disappointed, particularly with the food.

Find AmaWaterways cruises on GoToSea.

Interior of guest cabin on an Avalon Waterways river cruise ship.

Courtesy of Avalon Waterways

Number of passengers: 16 to 166 Sails to:  Europe, Asia, Africa, South America

Avalon Waterways sails 19 riverboats along popular thoroughfares like the Danube, the Rhone, the Seine, the Nile, the Rhine, the Moselle, the Mekong, the Ganges and more. In 2024, it will also sail the Douro River in Portugal.

What to expect: Launched in 2004, Avalon stands out for its spacious vessels – known as Suite Ships – which feature some of the largest rooms in the river cruise industry and beds that face wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows, providing panoramic views. Additional stateroom perks include complimentary breakfast in bed, L'Occitane toiletries, sitting areas, ample storage space and mattress toppers.

Across the ship, passengers can enjoy amenities like a sun deck with lounge chairs, whirlpools and a game area, in addition to numerous restaurants and bars and a 24-hour self-serve coffee station. You will also have your pick of Classic, Active or Discovery shore excursions – ranging from standard tours with a local guide to hiking outings along a hilltop castle – depending on your interests and physical abilities.

Avalon Waterways attracts English-speaking cruisers from a variety of countries, typically in their 50s and 60s. However, children ages 8 and older are welcome on board (though there are no designated kids clubs), and some voyages draw younger or older passengers.

What travelers say: Most recent reviews are positive, with travelers highlighting the friendly, knowledgeable staff and tasty food.

Explore Avalon Waterways cruise deals on GoToSea.

Dining area on Tauck river cruise ship.

Courtesy of Tauck

Number of passengers: 84 to 130 Sails to:  Europe

Travel company Tauck wears multiple hats: It operates small-ship voyages around the world, land tours across seven continents, small group journeys for an average of 24 travelers at a time, family tours and – finally – European river cruises. Six new river itineraries in Europe are on the docket for 2024. Take your pick from nine river vessels to explore popular waterways like the Douro, the Moselle, the Rhine, the Danube and the Rhone.

What to expect: All-inclusive fares cover shore excursions, onboard activities and entertainment, gratuities, beverages and more. Plus, Tauck offers exclusive access to unforgettable experiences like wine tastings at private vineyards and gala dinners in historic castles.

More than 80% of the staterooms feature French balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for excellent views. Other in-room amenities may include adjustable climate controls, satin linens, pillow-top mattresses, terry cloth robes and more. Outside of your cabin, you'll find perks such as a sun deck, a putting green, enrichment programs like cooking demonstrations, a fitness center and complimentary bikes for onshore exploring.

Tauck caters to affluent, English-speaking cruisers – primarily Americans in the 55-and-older age group – though you may also find families with adult children on board. The line appeals most to travelers who prefer all the details of their trip to be taken care of for them, versus those who like to plan activities independent of the cruise line.

What travelers say: Recent passengers generally speak highly of their Tauck river cruise experiences, pointing to the exceptional level of organization and spacious, luxurious accommodations. Others said they were underwhelmed for the price.

Aerial of Emerald Cruises river cruise ship on river in Urbar, Germany.

Getty Images

Number of passengers: 84 to 180 Sails to:  Europe, Asia

Previously known as Emerald Waterways, Emerald Cruises transports travelers across some of the most popular rivers in Europe and Asia, including the Danube, the Rhine, the Douro and the Mekong.

What to expect: The cruise fare covers all meals, beverages with lunch and dinner, daily shore excursions − which include more physically rigorous options called EmeraldACTIVE – Wi-Fi access and gratuities.

Emerald operates nine river vessels, all of which boast luxurious public spaces and accommodations with en suite bathrooms and flat-screen TVs. Common-area amenities span heated indoor pools, sun decks, spa and wellness facilities, and a variety of eateries. Onboard fitness classes are available, as are other forms of entertainment. On shore, cruisers can borrow bicycles to explore historic city centers.

Typical clientele aboard Emerald Cruises' voyages includes American and British passengers around retirement age, though some younger travelers may make an appearance as well. Children 12 and older are permitted on board and on tours, but there are no kids clubs or designated activities for younger cruisers. Special rooms and dinner reservations are available for solo travelers.

What travelers say: Cruisers on recent sailings – especially first-time sailors – enjoyed their experiences on Emerald Cruises. High points included the attentive crew members and the stress-free booking and planning process. However, some felt that customer service and communication were subpar.

Interior of guest cabin on Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours river cruise ship.

Gillies Zaiser | Courtesy of Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

Number of passengers: 68 to 163 Sails to: Europe, Asia

From the Danube to the Mekong, Australian travel company Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours offers lavish, all-inclusive river sailings with an emphasis on customization. The more upscale sister brand of Emerald Cruises, Scenic affords travelers the opportunity to do as much or as little as they want while on board and ashore.

What to expect: Enrichment activities are hand-picked by the line's "Journey Designers," and vessels provide a top-notch level of service thanks to their high crew-to-passenger ratios. In fact, each passenger receives a designated butler who can complete nightly turndowns and make laundry arrangements, among other tasks.

Spacious suites on board are larger than those on most other riverboats (ranging from 160 to 510 square feet). High-tech balcony controls allow lodgers to let in as much air as they'd like with the touch of a button. Cruisers will also enjoy special in-room touches like pillow menus, slippers and robes.

When it comes to dining, Scenic sources local ingredients and culinary inspiration from the ports visited on the itinerary to provide an authentic experience. All meals are included in the base cruise fare, along with beverages, gratuities, Wi-Fi access, shore excursions and electric bicycle usage in select destinations.

What travelers say: Recent cruisers were pleased with their experiences aboard Scenic's vessels, praising the spacious cabins, pampering butler service, and knowledgeable crew members and tour guides. However, some travelers were particularly disappointed with the food.

Side view of CroisiEurope Cruises river cruise ship.

Helwin Goetzinger | Courtesy of CroisiEurope

Number of passengers: 22 to 200 Sails to:  Europe, Asia, Africa

CroisiEurope is a family-run French cruise line that has been in business since 1976. This line has more than 50 ships and barges that sail to countries around the world, including Egypt, Cambodia and Spain . Unusual in river cruising, the line operates two custom-built ships that sail on Lake Kariba in southern Africa. Additionally, CroisiEurope has a division that sells barge cruises throughout France on six different canals, such as Burgundy or Provence.

What to expect: CroisiEurope is known for its wide range of destinations and is one of the only river cruise lines that operates custom-built ships on Germany 's Elbe river, the Guadalquivir and Guadiana rivers in Spain and Portugal, and Venice 's canals. Onboard accommodations are relatively basic, which keeps the cruise fare to a budget-friendly minimum. The cruise line aims to provide the best value for money in the cruise industry. Cuisine is focused on French food with some local flair in the main dining room, which is included in the cruise fare.

The passenger mix on a CroisiEurope cruise is relatively international, featuring large contingencies from France, Germany, the U.K. and North America. Announcements are typically given in both French and English. The cruise line sees a mix of older couples and groups as well as younger families, depending on the itinerary and time of year.

What travelers say: Several cruisers echoed that some of CroisiEurope's river ships are due for a refurbishment and that internet connectivity leaves a lot to be desired, while others maintain that the experience was superb.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Size: River cruise ships are smaller in size and the number of passengers they can accommodate, with one lounge and one main dining room being a typical setup.
  • Atmosphere: The overall vibe on a river cruise is more relaxed and far less busy than that of an ocean liner.
  • Onboard entertainment: River cruising is notoriously sleepy at night, with a focus instead on local enrichment like cooking demonstrations or liqueur tastings. Due to the busy schedule of port calls and excursions, most passengers are tired after a long day of sightseeing and don't mind a lack of nightlife.
  • Excursions: Most of your time on a river cruise is spent out exploring the destinations, which can sometimes be two stops in a single day. Passengers can choose from a variety of activities in port – including biking, kayaking and hiking – or explore the destination at a leisurely pace.
  • Cuisine: Cuisine tends to be focused on local specialties but is prepared to accommodate predominantly American tastes. Not every river cruise line offers unlimited drinks, but the majority include beer and wine at lunch and dinner, often showcasing regional varieties.
  • Price: River cruising typically comes at a much higher price point than ocean-based itineraries.
  • American Queen

Note that inclusions can vary by cruise line. For example, Viking rates – while not fully all-inclusive – cover beer and wine at meals and one tour per day, while gratuities and other drink packages are left to the discretion of the guest.

Avalon Waterways, on the other hand, offers a number of included tours in every port on select itineraries that range from cultural or culinary-focused to active.

In terms of inclusions and service ratios (the number of crew on board to guests), the following river cruise lines are considered the most luxurious:

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top Cruises on Small Ships
  • The Top Adults-Only Cruises
  • The Best Cruise Insurance Plans
  • The Best Annual Travel Insurance Plans
  • The Best Travel Insurance for Seniors and Retirees

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13 European Rivers and Waterways to Cruise

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Michael Runkel / robert harding / Getty Images

The number of river cruise ships sailing in Europe has been rapidly growing for most of this century, and river cruises continue to be a very popular way to see cities and towns inaccessible to ocean-going ships. 

Today, travelers can cruise over a dozen different rivers in Europe. Most river cruise lines sail similar itineraries and include shore excursions in each port of call. The price differential between the river cruise lines is usually due to the level of service, cabin size, and onboard amenities.

This article explains some of the differences in the 13 primary cruise ship rivers and their itineraries. Although each river is discussed individually, note that many river cruise itineraries cover more than one river. For example, if someone has about 3 to 4 weeks of vacation time and enough money, they can sail all the way between Amsterdam and the Black Sea on the same ship. River cruise lines offer other combinations, but they involve moving on land from one river to another.

The Danube River: Central Europe

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove 

The source of the Danube River (Donau in German) is in the Black Forest of Germany, and it flows almost 1,800 miles east through central Europe towards the Black Sea, passing through or touching the border of Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine. 

River cruises sail the length of the navigable Danube between Regensburg and the Black Sea, but most itineraries focus on one of the two most spectacular sections—either between Passau and Budapest  or between Budapest and Bucharest. The navigable Danube has 19 locks, with 15 of them between Regensburg​ and Vienna. 

Passau to Budapest River Cruise

This Danube River cruise covers some of central Europe's most gorgeous river scenery in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Wachau Valley , plus it stops in three of the continent's most fascinating capital cities— Vienna , Bratislava , and Budapest . Other ports of call include towns like Linz (for tours to Salzburg), Melk , Krems, or Durnstein.

Most ports are marvelous walking destinations, and river ships stop right in the heart of the town and include a walking tour and free time to explore. 

Budapest to Bucharest

Travelers love this river cruise itinerary because it gives them the opportunity to visit eastern European countries where travel for North Americans has just become very popular and accessible in this century.  The citizens of Hungary, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria welcome tourists and love to share their corner of the world with travelers.

As the Danube continues its way to the Black Sea, travelers first explore amazing Budapest, with most ships spending either one or two days at the dock to allow their guests adequate time to see the city. The ship next stops in Kalocsa , the "Paprika Capital of the World", before moving on to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is one of Europe's oldest cities and still carries remnants of the destruction of its last war in the 1990's.  As the ship moves downriver, guests explore a Roman archaeological site, museums of ancient history, the Iron Gates of the Danube, and miles of lovely scenery. Most of the river ships do not sail all the way to the Black Sea, but end at a small town near the Romanian capital of Bucharest.  Passengers are bused between the river and Bucharest, and the cruise tour includes time to see the city.

The Main River: Germany

The Main River (pronounced "mine") in Germany is the longest river that lies entirely in Germany. It flows west and joins the Rhine River near Mainz. The Main River is 327 miles long, but only 246 miles are open to traffic, and this navigable section of the river has 34 locks. The Main River cruise ports of call are Bamberg , Wurzburg , Wertheim , and Miltenberg . Each of these towns features interesting history, walking tours, and picturesque streets and architecture. 

Most river cruise travelers primarily see the Main River as a link between the Rhine and Danube Rivers. However, ships could not sail from the North Sea to the Black Sea until the Main-Danube Canal was completed in 1992, and it took 32 years of construction. Ships pass through 16 locks on the 106-mile transit of the canal. The Main-Danube Canal starts near the Danube River near Regensburg and travels north by Nuremberg to Bamberg. River cruise ships often feature day-long tours of Nuremberg while their ship passes through several of the locks, saving time for everyone.

The locks of the Main-Danube Canal (and elsewhere on the Danube and Main Rivers) are important to cruise travelers because the size of the locks dictates the size of river ships. Anyone who wonders why a river ship is so narrow will understand when they see the size of the locks. The low bridges over these same rivers control the height of the river ships. 

The Rhine River: Switzerland to the Netherlands

The source of the Rhine River is in Switzerland, and it flows over 800 miles generally northwest before dumping into the North Sea near Rotterdam in the Netherlands. River ships sailing only on the Rhine move between Basel, Switzerland (near the border of France, Germany, and Switzerland) and Amsterdam. The Rhine has 12 locks, 10 of which are downstream from Basel. All 10 of these are between Basel and Mainz where the Main River joins the Rhine. 

The cruise between Basel and Mainz features stopovers at Strasbourg and Heidelberg. Many visitors find Strasbourg particularly interesting since part of the city is in France and the other (across the Rhine) is in Germany. Heidelberg is not quite on the river but is very nearby. This university town is lively, and the city has a marvelous castle. 

The Rhine River cruise region between Mainz and Koblenz is one of the most scenic in Europe. The breathtaking castles lining the Upper Middle Rhine Valley make it a traveler's favorite. Many people take a European river cruise just to see these magnificent old castles. The Loreley (Lorelei) Rock is also found along this section of the river. Cruise travelers have many opportunities to see the "castles on the Rhine" since they are also included on cruises between Amsterdam and Danube River ports or on Moselle/Rhine/Main/Danube River cruises.

One cute town with lots to offer Rhine River cruise travelers is Rudesheim , which is between Mainz and Koblenz. It offers a fun "party" street, a mechanical musical instrument museum (way more fun and interesting than it sounds), a cable car to the top of a hill with great views of the river and surrounding vineyards, and a giant German monument. 

Another popular stopover on the Rhine River is at Cologne , Germany. As river ships approach the city, the huge cathedral soon comes into view, and a visit to the cathedral and its square is a popular site in the city.

The only other stop for most ships sailing the Rhine River towards Amsterdam is at Kinderdijk to see its 19 windmills, most dating back to the 18th century. Along with tulips, windmills are an iconic symbol of the Netherlands, and the most picturesque are at Kinderdijk.

The Moselle River: France, Luxembourg, and Germany

The Mosel (German) or Moselle (French) River begins in France and passes through Luxembourg and Germany before flowing into the Rhine River at Koblenz. The Moselle has 28 locks, but only 12 are on the section of the river used by river cruise ships. The Moselle is 255 miles long, but river cruises only sail on the last 100 miles before it enters the Rhine. 

The Moselle River is one of Europe's most scenic, with a river valley that twists and turns as it makes its way towards the Rhine. The hillsides are covered with vineyards, most growing grapes for Germany's famous Riesling.  Ports of call include Cochem, Bernkastel, and Koblenz. All three of these towns are delightful to explore, and ships dock near the town centers. A highlight of Cochem is its spectacular castle , and cruise ship guests all love the views of the river from its towers. 

Some of the river cruise lines' most innovative itineraries include the Moselle River. For example, Moselle River cruises often start in Luxembourg or in Trier , Germany. However, cruise lines sometimes include a few days in Paris before the cruise begins and then transport guests to the ship via the TGV train from Paris to Metz or Remich and then on to Trier via bus. It's an exciting way to start a cruise! 

The Moselle River is included on river cruise tours between Paris and Prague , Amsterdam and Basel, or Paris to Budapest. 

The Elbe River: Germany

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

The Rhine and Danube Rivers are the most popular rivers to cruise in Germany, but those who are fascinated by 20th-century history or by Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation will love an Elbe River cruise between Prague and Berlin . The 680-mile long Elbe has seven locks, but five are in the Czech Republic upstream from where river cruises embark in Melnik and the other two are downstream from where the ships disembark at Magdeburg for the drive to Potsdam and then Berlin. The Elbe eventually flows into the North Sea near Hamburg. 

Elbe River cruise tours include hotel stays in Prague and Berlin, two of Europe's great cities. Most of the cruise is in eastern Germany, and cities like Dresden , Meissen, and Wittenburg all have their own special charm. After being almost completely destroyed during World War II and now rebuilt, Dresden is a marvelous city to visit, with one of the world's great museums. Meissen has its fine porcelain, and Wittenburg has Martin Luther and the Reformation. Seeing the improvements in these eastern German cities since the reunification of the country in 1990 is impressive.

The Elbe River is often shallow, so cruise lines sailing the Elbe use smaller ships with a shallower draft for these cruises. 

The Seine River: France

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Almost all Seine River  cruises sail roundtrip from Paris, heading downstream and north towards Le Havre and Honfleur, where it enters the English Channel. The 483-mile river has 34 locks, but 29 are upstream from Paris.  Paris is a beautiful city and a perfect place to begin a French river cruise vacation.

Ports of call visited between Paris and the sea might include Vernon, Les Andelys, Conflans, and Mantes-la-Jolie.  Monet's famous  Giverny garden is near Vernon. A highlight for many travelers is an all-day excursion to the Normandy beaches of World War II .

Many river ships turn around near Rouen , which is 75 miles from the sea and navigable by ocean-going ships.  Others go 27 miles further downstream to Caudebec-en-Caux. Most cruise lines spend one or two nights in one of these two cities, which allows their guests to have a day on the Normandy beaches and to explore the charming coastal town of Honfleur. 

The Rhone River: France

France also has river cruises in the southern part of the country. One of these is a Rhone River cruise in the Provence region between Lyon and Arles or Avignon .  The 500-mile Rhone River has 13 locks, and 12 of these are between Lyon and where the Rhone empties into the Mediterranean Sea.  The source of the Rhone River is the Rhone Glacier in Switzerland. 

Some Rhone River cruise tours begin with a few days at a hotel in Paris and then include a transfer to Lyon to begin their cruise. It's not a surprise that many of the highlights of one of these cruises include food or drink. Wine and cheeses abound, and a tour of the Valrhona chocolate factory in Tournon is an unforgettable experience for all chocolate lovers. History buffs will love Avignon and its importance to the Catholic Church, and they'll also love exploring the walled-city of Viviers and the Roman Pont du Gard near Avignon.

Most river cruise lines have combination tours that include Rhone River cruises along with one on the Saone, Seine, or Bordeaux region of France. Extensions to Paris, Nice, or other cities in Provence or the French Riviera are also easily done. 

The Saone River: France

The 300-mile long Saone River is a tributary of the Rhone River, merging in Lyon. Since river ships can only sail about 80 miles upstream from Lyon through Macon up to Chalon-sur-Saone, cruises usually include time on the Rhone River also. Although the Saone has 51 locks, only 3 are impacted by river cruises.

Macon is a city in the south Burgundy region of France, so it has some fine wines and opportunities to taste them. This ancient city dates back to 200 BC, and the town also has several museums and historic attractions. Many of the interesting parts of the old city are on the Saone River. 

Chalon-sur-Saone  is also in Burgundy, and many local activities revolve around food and wine. 

Bordeaux Waterways: France

The fourth region of France with river cruises is Bordeaux , which is southwest of Paris. Ships explore the Bordeaux region on three rivers—the Dordogne, Garonne, and Gironde. The city of Bordeaux is the heart of the cruise, which primarily showcases the superb wines of the region.

These three rivers are not as scenic as those in other parts of Europe, primarily because they are subject to huge fluctuations with the tides (especially the Gironde). In addition, the land is very flat. The vineyards offer some beauty, but many cannot be seen from the rivers.

Some ocean ships can sail from the Atlantic Ocean up to the city of Bordeaux , but a bridge prevents them from going further. Bordeaux is a gorgeous French city and is fun to explore, even for those who don't like wine.

In addition to the city of Bordeaux, ports of call might include Cadillac, Libourne, Pauillac, Saint Emilion, and Blaye. Seeing the many famous vineyards  and wine cellars near Pauillac and Saint Emilion is memorable for all who love wine and historic cities. Travelers will have their friends talking if they take a selfie front of a Saint Emilion shop that sells bottles of wine for thousands of dollars each.

Some cruise lines even offer an optional tour to the city of Cognac, where guests have the opportunity to blend their own. Another fun activity is to go truffle hunting with a farmer and his dog (pigs aren't used anymore). 

The Douro River: Portugal and Spain

Until a few years ago, even experienced travelers did not know about the Douro River as a cruise destination . This 557-mile long river starts in Spain, but most of its navigable waters are in Portugal, and the river flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Porto. The Douro River has 15 dams that generate hydroelectric power, but only five are on the navigable section, and all of these also have locks to enable ships to go up and down the river. Because of its rapids, the Douro was once very dangerous for ships to travel, but it has always been used to transport valuable goods downstream. The first valuable was gold mined in the mountains, but wine eventually replaced the gold.

The Douro River valley is spectacular as the river winds its way down the mountains toward the sea. Once ships leave Porto and sail upriver, the scenery changes rapidly as the river narrows and cliffs are steeper. Only a few small towns are visible, although vineyards fill the slopes. The region is settled, but there is not much to be seen by just walking from the ship. Buses are needed to take guests sightseeing and to visit the historical and cultural sites. This is an amazing river cruise destination, so don't let the bus time scare you.

Ships sail up the Douro from Porto to Spain, turn around, and sail back down. They are not allowed to sail at night, but different shore excursions are offered upstream and downstream, so it doesn't seem repetitive. 

Douro River ships are specifically built to sail this river and are smaller since they need to navigate the sharp turns in the river and the smaller locks. Some river cruise lines feature 7-day cruise-only vacations, embarking and disembarking their ships in Porto.  Others have cruise tours that include two or three nights in Lisbon, a transfer to Porto, and then a 7-day cruise. 

The Volga River and Other Russian Waterways

A cruise on Russian rivers and waterways between St. Petersburg and Moscow is the best way to see parts of Russia on a cruise. Many will travel to St. Petersburg on a Baltic cruise and are amazed at the beauty and fascinated by the history and culture of this great city. Some of these travelers want to learn more about Russia, and this river cruise itinerary fits the bill.

The Volga River, which is Europe's longest, is the major river on this cruise. Its source is in central Russia and it empties into the Caspian Sea. Ships sailing from St. Petersburg embark on the Neva River, sail through Lake Ladoga and then onto the Svir River, which joins with the Volga-Baltic Waterway before entering the Volga River. The Volga system features many reservoirs, so often ship passengers feel they are on an ocean rather than a river. The last body of water is the Moscow Canal, but thanks to the lock system, Moscow is connected with the Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg and the cities on the Volga downstream to the Caspian Sea. 

This cruise is usually 12-13 days and includes overnights (or more) in both St. Petersburg and Moscow . Other ports of call include small towns on the Svir River that are perfect for shopping, trying different kinds of vodka, or experiencing a Russian banya (sauna and bath house). Ships also stop at Kizhi Island to see traditional wooden homes and churches, and at historic towns down the Volga River like Yaroslavl and Uglich that provide a look at the culture and life outside of the major cities. 

The tour guides on this river cruise recognize that travelers are very interested about their lives in Russia, so they feature many lectures and free-flowing discussions on different topics while the ship is sailing. Since the cruise is only in one country, the entire focus can be on Russian food, drink, clothing, schools, churches, politics, and everyday life.  And, since Moscow is far inland, it's an unexpected treat to visit on a cruise. 

The Dnieper River: Ukraine

The 1,333-mile Dnieper River is Europe's fourth longest and sails from Russia through Belarus and Ukraine before flowing into the Black Sea. It has many hydroelectric dams and is very important to the Ukraine economy. 

Cruises sail between Kiev and Odessa, so the entire cruise is in the Ukraine. These two cities are so important over half of an 11-day cruise is spent there. Kiev is the capital of Ukraine and is one of Europe's oldest cities, offering many historic sites and a major cathedral. ​Odessa sits on the northern shore of the Black Sea, not far from where the Dnieper River enters the Sea. Unlike Kiev, Odessa was not founded until the 18th century by Russian Empress Catherine the Great.Today, it is a transportation hub and its beaches attract many tourists.  

Other Dnieper River ports visited on the cruise are Kremenchug, Dnipro, and Zaporozhye, which is the ancestral home of the Cossacks. It's not surprising that Cossack horsemen put on a show similar to the one in Puszta , Hungary since Cossacks settled both regions.

Due to the political unrest in the Ukraine, many river cruise lines have postponed running their ships on the Dnieper River. Viking River Cruises is the only major river cruise line that caters to English-speaking guests that currently has Dnieper cruises scheduled.

Spring Tulip and Windmill Cruises: Netherlands and Belgium

A river cruise in the Netherlands and Belgium encompasses parts of well-known rivers like the Rhine and lesser-known rivers such as the Issel, Nedderrijn, and Schelde (or Scheldt). Some of the cruises are also on waterways such as the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal or Ijssel Lake. 

A spring tulip time cruise in the Netherlands and Belgium is a marvelous cruise for flower lovers, but also for those who appreciate quiet villages, windmills, and history. Travelers fascinated by the power of water will enjoy learning about how the Dutch have reclaimed much of their land from the sea and also how they keep the sea from flooding that precious land. The waterways of the Netherlands and Belgium have about 40 locks, all of which are important for flood control rather than height differences. (Don't worry, river cruises don't pass through all of them.)

Many of these cruises are roundtrip from Amsterdam , and a day touring this famous city is often included in the tour before the ship sails. 

The best time to see the tulip fields and world-famous Keukenhof Gardens is from late March to mid-May, so river cruise lines operate at full strength during this time. Most of the ships that sail the waterways of the Netherlands are 7 or 8 days long, while those that sail around the Netherlands and Belgium are usually 10-14 days. 

A few cruise lines also sail the Netherlands and Belgium in the fall months, but you won't see any tulips blooming in the fields at that time of year. 

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AWW Media [US]

AWW Media [US]

Set Sail on 14 Luxury River Cruises That Don’t Lack Adventure

Posted: April 28, 2024 | Last updated: April 28, 2024

<p>Why tour the world’s most striking riverside destinations on land when you can experience them from the water?</p> <p>Setting sail on a riverboat is one of the best ways to tour famous international waterways. Luxury river cruises offer a unique perspective of new and familiar locales in Europe, Asia, and other worldwide regions. From the Egyptian desert to the Australian wilderness, you’ll have a memorable time admiring spectacular views from the comfort of your cruise ship.</p> <p>Splurge on a deluxe river cruise for a one-of-a-kind sightseeing vacation on the water.  </p>

Why tour the world’s most striking riverside destinations on land when you can experience them from the water?

Setting sail on a riverboat is one of the best ways to tour famous international waterways. Luxury river cruises offer a unique perspective of new and familiar locales in Europe, Asia, and other worldwide regions. From the Egyptian desert to the Australian wilderness, you’ll have a memorable time admiring spectacular views from the comfort of your cruise ship.

Splurge on a deluxe river cruise for a one-of-a-kind sightseeing vacation on the water.  

<p>Hop aboard the <a href="https://www.amawaterways.com/destination/europe-river-cruises/2024/legendary-danube" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Legendary Danube</a> river cruise offered by AmaWaterways, and prepare to be amazed. The cruise departs from Nuremberg, a charming German city, and sails for seven days through Austria, ending in Budapest, Hungary. </p><p>Legendary Danube is the ideal European vacation for history lovers. Passengers will tour <a href="https://whatthefab.com/bucket-list-unesco-world-heritage-sites.html" rel="follow">UNESCO World Heritage Sites</a>, sample regional delicacies, and admire the centuries-old architecture. The ships that make this voyage have elegant amenities for a 5-star stay from start to finish.</p>

AmaWaterways Legendary Danube, Germany/Austria/Hungary

Hop aboard the Legendary Danube river cruise offered by AmaWaterways, and prepare to be amazed. The cruise departs from Nuremberg, a charming German city, and sails for seven days through Austria, ending in Budapest, Hungary. 

Legendary Danube is the ideal European vacation for history lovers. Passengers will tour UNESCO World Heritage Sites , sample regional delicacies, and admire the centuries-old architecture. The ships that make this voyage have elegant amenities for a 5-star stay from start to finish.

<p>Discover a new appreciation for American history aboard a <a href="https://www.americancruiselines.com/cruises/mississippi-river-cruises/lower-mississippi-river-cruise" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Lower Mississippi River Cruise</a>. American Cruise Lines is a top choice for service and facilities that go above and beyond. The eight-night journey begins in Memphis, Tennessee, passes through Mississippi, and ends in New Orleans, Louisiana.</p><p>During your cruise of the Mississippi River, you’ll create lasting memories. In Memphis, passengers will learn about local music legend Elvis Presley and sample delicious Southern barbecue. Vicksburg, Mississippi, boasts grand riverside estates from the Civil War, while New Orleans has fun jazz clubs and <a href="https://whatthefab.com/top-ten-places-to-eat-in-new-orleans.html" rel="follow">mouthwatering eateries</a>.</p>

American Cruise Lines Lower Mississippi River Cruise, US

Discover a new appreciation for American history aboard a Lower Mississippi River Cruise . American Cruise Lines is a top choice for service and facilities that go above and beyond. The eight-night journey begins in Memphis, Tennessee, passes through Mississippi, and ends in New Orleans, Louisiana.

During your cruise of the Mississippi River, you’ll create lasting memories. In Memphis, passengers will learn about local music legend Elvis Presley and sample delicious Southern barbecue. Vicksburg, Mississippi, boasts grand riverside estates from the Civil War, while New Orleans has fun jazz clubs and mouthwatering eateries .

<p>Gear up for a memorable <a href="https://whatthefab.com/african-safari.html" rel="follow">African safari</a> down the Chobe River. Chobe National Park in Botswana is a top vacation spot for thrill-seekers. A two-night trip on the <a href="https://www.chobe.com/zambezi-queen.php" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Zambezi Queen</a> will help you unwind in luxury and reconnect with nature. </p><p>The Zambezi Queen more closely resembles a hotel-on-water than a boat. Every aspect, from the spacious rooms to the plunge pool, contributes to the ship’s serene and intimate atmosphere. Watch for herds of elephants, buffalo, and hippos from the Zambezi Queen’s open-air viewing decks.</p>

Chobe National Park Zambezi Queen, Botswana

Gear up for a memorable African safari down the Chobe River. Chobe National Park in Botswana is a top vacation spot for thrill-seekers. A two-night trip on the Zambezi Queen will help you unwind in luxury and reconnect with nature. 

The Zambezi Queen more closely resembles a hotel-on-water than a boat. Every aspect, from the spacious rooms to the plunge pool, contributes to the ship’s serene and intimate atmosphere. Watch for herds of elephants, buffalo, and hippos from the Zambezi Queen’s open-air viewing decks.

<p><a href="https://www.uniworld.com/us/river-cruise/france/a-portrait-of-majestic-france/2024-bordeaux-to-paris" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">A Portrait of Majestic France</a>, coordinated by Uniworld, is a fabulous option for couples. This Seine River cruise is a romantic getaway that begins in Bordeaux and finishes in <a href="https://whatthefab.com/the-ultimate-paris-travel-guide.html" rel="follow">Paris</a>. Over 14 nights, tourists will taste world-renowned wines while admiring medieval cathedrals and the picture-perfect French countryside.</p><p>Uniworld lets you customize your cruise vacation according to your travel preferences. Join guided tours of UNESCO World Heritage Sites or wander through charming French villages at your own pace. Regardless of your choice, you’ll leave A Portrait of Majestic France with lifelong memories.</p>

Uniworld A Portrait of Majestic France, France

A Portrait of Majestic France , coordinated by Uniworld, is a fabulous option for couples. This Seine River cruise is a romantic getaway that begins in Bordeaux and finishes in Paris . Over 14 nights, tourists will taste world-renowned wines while admiring medieval cathedrals and the picture-perfect French countryside.

Uniworld lets you customize your cruise vacation according to your travel preferences. Join guided tours of UNESCO World Heritage Sites or wander through charming French villages at your own pace. Regardless of your choice, you’ll leave A Portrait of Majestic France with lifelong memories.

<p><a href="https://www.vikingrivercruises.com/cruise-destinations/europe/portugals-river-gold/2025-lisbon-porto/index.html" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Portugal’s River of Gold</a> is one of the most unique ways to sightsee this beautiful country. Operated by Viking, this cruise takes place on the Duoro River. The tour includes eight nights in Portugal and one in Spain, exposing tourists to numerous culturally significant landmarks. </p><p>Viking’s itinerary features several guided tours for guests to immerse themselves in Portuguese and Spanish cultures. You’ll see medieval fortresses, intricate architecture, and scenic valleys along the way. Food lovers will also enjoy sampling the <a href="https://whatthefab.com/food-of-portugal.html" rel="follow">local cuisine</a>, like port wine, cheese, and olive oil. </p>

Viking Portugal’s River of Gold, Portugal/Spain

Portugal’s River of Gold is one of the most unique ways to sightsee this beautiful country. Operated by Viking, this cruise takes place on the Duoro River. The tour includes eight nights in Portugal and one in Spain, exposing tourists to numerous culturally significant landmarks. 

Viking’s itinerary features several guided tours for guests to immerse themselves in Portuguese and Spanish cultures. You’ll see medieval fortresses, intricate architecture, and scenic valleys along the way. Food lovers will also enjoy sampling the local cuisine , like port wine, cheese, and olive oil. 

<p>See some of Oregon and Washington’s most picturesque regions on a <a href="https://www.americancruiselines.com/cruises/columbia-and-snake-river-cruises/columbia-and-snake-rivers-cruise" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Columbia & Snake Rivers</a> cruise. American Cruise Lines operates this eight-night voyage through lush <a href="https://whatthefab.com/pacific-northwest.html" rel="follow">areas of the Pacific Northwest</a>. Ships traverse the rivers between Portland, Oregon, and Clarkston, Washington, providing unique views.</p><p>The Columbia & Snake Rivers tour highlights legendary American landscapes, from thick forests to towering waterfalls. Guests can learn about famous areas like Mount St. Helens and Multnomah Falls from local guides and continue their experience with onboard presentations. </p>

American Cruise Lines Columbia & Snake Rivers, US

See some of Oregon and Washington’s most picturesque regions on a Columbia & Snake Rivers cruise. American Cruise Lines operates this eight-night voyage through lush areas of the Pacific Northwest . Ships traverse the rivers between Portland, Oregon, and Clarkston, Washington, providing unique views.

The Columbia & Snake Rivers tour highlights legendary American landscapes, from thick forests to towering waterfalls. Guests can learn about famous areas like Mount St. Helens and Multnomah Falls from local guides and continue their experience with onboard presentations. 

<p>Are you craving a grand European adventure? Uniworld’s 24-night <a href="https://www.uniworld.com/us/river-cruise/central-europe/danube/ultimate-european-journey/2024-amsterdam-to-bucharest" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Ultimate European Journey</a> is a vacation like no other. This epic river odyssey travels between Romania and The Netherlands, covering eight countries.</p><p>The 24-night trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour famous <a href="https://whatthefab.com/cheap-european-cities.html" rel="follow">European cities</a>, historical landmarks, and natural wonders. The S.S. Beatrice ship, on which the cruise takes place, is elegant and upscale, with delicious dining options and luxurious accommodations.</p>

Uniworld Ultimate European Journey, Central Europe

Are you craving a grand European adventure? Uniworld’s 24-night Ultimate European Journey is a vacation like no other. This epic river odyssey travels between Romania and The Netherlands, covering eight countries.

The 24-night trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour famous European cities , historical landmarks, and natural wonders. The S.S. Beatrice ship, on which the cruise takes place, is elegant and upscale, with delicious dining options and luxurious accommodations.

<p><a href="https://www.nourelnil.com/" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Nour El Nil</a> is an exclusive boat tour on Egypt’s Nile River. Guests spend five nights traveling south from Esna to Aswan. Along the way, the riverboat passes archaeological sites, ancient ruins, and striking desert terrain.</p><p>All of Nour El Nil’s boats are stylish and modern. Enjoy comfortable rooms and unparalleled service while cruising the world’s longest river. Experiencing famous Egyptian towns from a boat offers a unique perspective of this beautiful country.</p>

Nour El Nil, Egypt

Nour El Nil is an exclusive boat tour on Egypt’s Nile River. Guests spend five nights traveling south from Esna to Aswan. Along the way, the riverboat passes archaeological sites, ancient ruins, and striking desert terrain.

All of Nour El Nil’s boats are stylish and modern. Enjoy comfortable rooms and unparalleled service while cruising the world’s longest river. Experiencing famous Egyptian towns from a boat offers a unique perspective of this beautiful country.

<p>The <a href="https://www.aquaexpeditions.com/cruise-ship/aqua-mekong/" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Mekong River</a> cruise is a renowned tour available through Aqua Expeditions. It takes tourists through the diverse riverside landscapes of Cambodia and Vietnam. This ship is a luxurious option to sightsee without sacrificing comfort.</p><p>Trips down the Mekong River last three to seven nights. Each voyage includes off-boat activities to enhance your time in Southeast Asia. Aqua Expeditions coordinates unforgettable itineraries featuring rustic villages, lush tropical scenery, and holy temples.</p>

Aqua Expeditions Mekong River, Southeast Asia

The Mekong River cruise is a renowned tour available through Aqua Expeditions. It takes tourists through the diverse riverside landscapes of Cambodia and Vietnam. This ship is a luxurious option to sightsee without sacrificing comfort.

Trips down the Mekong River last three to seven nights. Each voyage includes off-boat activities to enhance your time in Southeast Asia. Aqua Expeditions coordinates unforgettable itineraries featuring rustic villages, lush tropical scenery, and holy temples.

<p>Explore some of Canada’s most picturesque regions on the <a href="https://www.stlawrencecruiselines.com/cruises/canadian-connection/" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Canadian Connection</a> cruise. St. Lawrence Cruise Lines operates this six-night trip between Lower and Upper Canada. Sailing the St. Lawrence River is a beautiful way to see the country.</p><p>Cruise highlights include the bustling cities of Montreal and Quebec City. Book a Premier Stateroom for top-tier accommodations. While rooms aboard the Canadian Empress are simple, they boast exceptional views and cozy beds for a good night’s sleep. </p>

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines Canadian Connection, Canada

Explore some of Canada’s most picturesque regions on the Canadian Connection cruise. St. Lawrence Cruise Lines operates this six-night trip between Lower and Upper Canada. Sailing the St. Lawrence River is a beautiful way to see the country.

Cruise highlights include the bustling cities of Montreal and Quebec City. Book a Premier Stateroom for top-tier accommodations. While rooms aboard the Canadian Empress are simple, they boast exceptional views and cozy beds for a good night’s sleep. 

<p>The <a href="https://www.delfinamazoncruises.com/our-cruises/delfin-iii/" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Delfin III</a> is a classy river tour of Peruvian Amazonia. This region encompasses portions of the Amazon jungle and is famous for its flora and fauna. Delfin Amazon Cruises allows guests to immerse themselves in the rainforest setting while maintaining high standards of luxury. </p><p>Suites on the Delfin III are chic and equipped with plush amenities, like floor-to-ceiling windows and fine cotton bedspreads. Optional excursions during your three- or four-night trip include kayaking, bird-watching, and hiking. When not exploring the Amazon rainforest, recharge at the ship’s pool, gym, or spa.</p>

Delfin Amazon Cruises Delfin III, Peru

The Delfin III is a classy river tour of Peruvian Amazonia. This region encompasses portions of the Amazon jungle and is famous for its flora and fauna. Delfin Amazon Cruises allows guests to immerse themselves in the rainforest setting while maintaining high standards of luxury. 

Suites on the Delfin III are chic and equipped with plush amenities, like floor-to-ceiling windows and fine cotton bedspreads. Optional excursions during your three- or four-night trip include kayaking, bird-watching, and hiking. When not exploring the Amazon rainforest, recharge at the ship’s pool, gym, or spa.

<p>For a 5-star river cruise experience, you can’t go wrong with the <a href="https://www.yangtze-river-cruises.com/ships/yangtze-explorer.html" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">Yangtze Explorer</a>. The ship is managed by Yangtze River Cruises, which offers three- or four-night tours of this stunning river in Central China. Your time on the Yangtze Explorer will be equally thrilling and relaxing.</p><p>Each cabin features a balcony to admire the dramatic landscapes, and guests can participate in enriching activities like Chinese calligraphy and cooking classes. You can choose from several Yangtze Explorer itineraries featuring UNESCO World Heritage Sites, mountains, caves, and more.</p>

Yangtze River Cruises Yangtze Explorer, China

For a 5-star river cruise experience, you can’t go wrong with the Yangtze Explorer . The ship is managed by Yangtze River Cruises, which offers three- or four-night tours of this stunning river in Central China. Your time on the Yangtze Explorer will be equally thrilling and relaxing.

Each cabin features a balcony to admire the dramatic landscapes, and guests can participate in enriching activities like Chinese calligraphy and cooking classes. You can choose from several Yangtze Explorer itineraries featuring UNESCO World Heritage Sites, mountains, caves, and more.

<p>Embark on <a href="https://www.pandaw.com/expeditions/the-all-ganges-river-cruise" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">The All Ganges</a>, an exclusive Pandaw river cruise, to see the best of India. The All Ganges is a 12- or 14-night voyage along the iconic Ganges River. Highlights of the boat tour range from ancient temples to quaint villages.</p><p>Passengers will sail on the RV Kalaw Pandaw, a modern and comfortable ship. Every room is designed for relaxation, with thoughtful touches like panoramic windows and dreamy mattresses. An expert chef prepares onboard meals, and the boat offers fun tours and performances to educate visitors on the local history. </p>

Pandaw The All Ganges, India

Embark on The All Ganges , an exclusive Pandaw river cruise, to see the best of India. The All Ganges is a 12- or 14-night voyage along the iconic Ganges River. Highlights of the boat tour range from ancient temples to quaint villages.

Passengers will sail on the RV Kalaw Pandaw, a modern and comfortable ship. Every room is designed for relaxation, with thoughtful touches like panoramic windows and dreamy mattresses. An expert chef prepares onboard meals, and the boat offers fun tours and performances to educate visitors on the local history. 

<p>Tap into your adventurous side on Murray River Paddlestreamers’ <a href="https://www.murrayriverpaddlesteamers.com.au/7-night-murray-river-cruise/" rel="nofollow external noopener noreferrer">All the Rivers Run</a> tour. Spend seven nights aboard a historic riverboat while admiring Australia’s rugged beauty. The Murray River flows through Southeast Australia and is a thriving habitat for native wildlife like kangaroos and wallabies.</p><p>Passengers aboard the PS Emmylou will experience various art, history, food, and nature tours. The ship has a distinct blend of Old World charm and modern convenience. Its exclusive amenities, like a restaurant, bar, and premier cabins, guarantee an unforgettable stay.</p>

Murray River Paddlestreamers All the Rivers Run, Australia

Tap into your adventurous side on Murray River Paddlestreamers’ All the Rivers Run tour. Spend seven nights aboard a historic riverboat while admiring Australia’s rugged beauty. The Murray River flows through Southeast Australia and is a thriving habitat for native wildlife like kangaroos and wallabies.

Passengers aboard the PS Emmylou will experience various art, history, food, and nature tours. The ship has a distinct blend of Old World charm and modern convenience. Its exclusive amenities, like a restaurant, bar, and premier cabins, guarantee an unforgettable stay.

<p>Sampling the local cuisine is an excellent way to enhance your travel experience. Next time you crave a change of scenery, indulge in a trip to the <a href="https://whatthefab.com/travel-destinations-for-foodies.html" rel="follow">world’s most delicious destinations</a>.</p>

Escape to a food lovers’ paradise on your next vacation

Sampling the local cuisine is an excellent way to enhance your travel experience. Next time you crave a change of scenery, indulge in a trip to the world’s most delicious destinations .

<p>Vacations are the perfect excuse to disconnect from the hustle and bustle. <a href="https://whatthefab.com/off-the-grid-destinations.html" rel="follow">Visit an off-the-grid location</a> to achieve total bliss and relaxation.</p>

Unplug and unwind from the chaos of daily life

Vacations are the perfect excuse to disconnect from the hustle and bustle. Visit an off-the-grid location to achieve total bliss and relaxation.

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COMMENTS

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    The best river cruises in Europe offer a new way to experience the continent. See lavender fields, terraced vineyards, and medieval villages aboard these lines.

  3. 9 best river cruises in Europe

    Explore the main rivers in Europe, from the Danube and Rhine to the Seine and Douro, with this guide to the best river cruises. Learn about the highlights, history, culture and wine of each destination and how to book your trip.

  4. 10 Best European River Cruises 2024/2025

    Find the best Europe river cruises with TourRadar. Choose from 1199 cruises with 1215 real tour reviews. Book now and save with TourRadar.com! Shop 2,500 operators. ... Reach out to us to get all your questions about Europe tours answered! Choose from 1,199+ Europe tours 1,215 verified reviews by TourRadar customers ; 24/7 customer support ...

  5. The 10 Best River Cruise Lines in Europe

    AmaWaterways also has food and wine-themed sailings accompanied by expert hosts. 6. Best European River Cruise for Solo Cruisers: Tauck. Tauck ms Emerald (Photo: Tauck River Cruises) Upscale river ...

  6. The 10 best places to go on a river cruise in Europe

    5. Eastern Danube (Hungary & Serbia) Travel a cross-section of Europe's less-touristed east. The two great cities of this stretch of the Danube are the capitals of Hungary and Serbia respectively. Budapest has something for everyone - from dramatic history and flamboyant architecture to healing thermal waters.

  7. 11 Best River Cruises in Europe For Your Bucket List

    1. Upper Danube River. View over Budapest, Hungary and the Upper Danube River. Cruising the Upper Danube offers a journey through the heart of Europe. Starting in Germany and flowing through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary, this river takes you to some of Europe's most stunning cities like Vienna and Budapest.

  8. 8 best river cruises in Europe, from the Douro to the Danube

    Viking River Cruises' Capitals of Eastern Europe itinerary is a 16-night trip covering the main cities on the Danube. It sets sail from Vienna, the elegant and sophisticated Austrian capital ...

  9. THE 25 BEST River Cruises to Europe (with Prices) on Cruise Critic

    Cruise Critic offers a variety of Europe cruises for river . Find dates, prices and cruise ships to plan your Europe river cruise. ... Grand European Tour Details. 157 Reviews. Leaving: Amsterdam ...

  10. 10 Best River Cruises In Europe

    Here are the top 10 European river cruises for 2023 and 2024. 1. Tulip Time Cruises. Map courtesy of AmaWaterways. One of the best river cruises in Europe is a themed voyage through Belgium and the Netherlands to witness the blooming of the iconic tulips.

  11. 25 BEST Europe River Cruises 2024 (Prices + Itineraries): Cruises to

    Enjoy up to $6,000 savings per suite. Applies to a global collection of itineraries through to 2026. Book before 31st July 2024 to enjoy this exclusive offer. Visit silversea.com, call 1300-306-872 or Contact your Travel Agent. Show more.

  12. Choose Your European River: Our Best River Cruise Guide

    Cruises are seven, 12, 13 and 14 nights. Seven nights will get you between Amsterdam and Basel, while a longer cruise will include the Moselle Valley or take you through the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal to join the Danube. Gateway airports are Amsterdam, Basel, Munich and Cologne.

  13. 11 Best River Cruises in Europe for 2024

    3. Amstel River Cruise. Bordering the Southern to Northern Holland stretch, the relatively short Amstel River starts in Nieuwveen and flows through Uithoorn and Amstelveen before joining the IJ. At only 19 miles long, this is one of the smaller rivers on our list, although no less impressive than the others.

  14. Luxury European River Cruises 2024/2025

    Be inspired by the history, culture, cuisine, and magnificent sights of Europe, from the charming castles and fairy-tale villages on the Rhine, Main, and Danube, and the iconic sites of France, to the renowned Portuguese wine regions along the Douro River. Explore these incredible destinations while enjoying truly all-inclusive ultra-luxury in ...

  15. Discover Europe's capital cities on a river cruise

    Viking's European river cruises help to bring some of Europe's most glorious cities to life where, in addition to coach and walking tours, they offer a fascinating range of immersive explorations.

  16. The 3 Best River Cruises in Europe [2024]

    Below are the best river cruises in Europe to check out, plus what you can expect when journeying along some of Europe's most popular rivers. 1. Viking River Cruises. Cruise At-a-Glance: Best for: Culture and history ; AAA member benefits: Onboard credit based on number of nights: $100 per person shipboard credit for all cruises 8-11 days

  17. Best 54 European River Cruises for 2024-2025 Luxury River Cruises in Europe

    Info. Talk with an expert. Build your ideal Europe trip. Call 1.406.541.2677. Start Planning My Trip. Enjoy a river cruise on Europe's major rivers, featuring leisurely bicycle rides and walks among castles, cathedrals, and vineyards on the Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Seine, Rhone, or Douro.

  18. The 10 Best River Cruises in Europe

    Rhine. The 776-mile Rhine River, which runs through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands, is known for being one of the best European cruises, famous for its castles and stunning scenery. On a typical seven-night cruise from Amsterdam, ports and excursions include Basel, Cologne, Koblenz, the Rhine Gorge ...

  19. 52 Best European River Cruises & Small Ship Cruises to Europe for 2024-2025

    Call 1.406.541.2677. Breathe in the culture and cuisine of the old continent on a cruise of Europe with Adventure Life. Explore Europe from the unique vantage of a luxurious river cruise down legendary European rivers such as the Danube , Rhine, Seine or the Douro as you tour classic European cities like Amsterdam, Budapest, Prague, Paris ...

  20. Europe River Cruises

    Europe River Cruises. With longer port calls and our destination-focused approach, Viking maximizes your discoveries in Europe. From the fairytale castles of the Middle Rhine to the natural beauty of Norwegian fjords, you will gain deep insight into the continent's cultural and historic riches. Departure Date. 9-11 days.

  21. River Cruises in Europe

    All-Inclusive, Luxury River Cruises. Uniworld, the world's best and most awarded luxury river cruise line, cruises spectacular rivers throughout Europe, Russia, Egypt, Asia, and Peru. Every Uniworld cruise is meticulously crafted to be an experience you won't find anywhere else. Plus, the included and optional excursions completely immerse ...

  22. European River Cruises: All Inclusive 2024/2025

    Inspired by the Destination. For 90+ years, the Tauck family has had a passion for sailing — aboard small ships and yachts at sea, riverboats along great inland waterways, and at home on the rivers and lakes of Connecticut and New York. When we began blending our land experience with our strong passion for cruising in our first European river ...

  23. The 10 Top River Cruise Lines for 2024

    Number of passengers: 16 to 166. Sails to: Europe, Asia, Africa, South America. Avalon Waterways sails 19 riverboats along popular thoroughfares like the Danube, the Rhone, the Seine, the Nile ...

  24. 13 European Rivers and Waterways to Cruise

    Elbe River cruise tours include hotel stays in Prague and Berlin, two of Europe's great cities. ... A cruise on Russian rivers and waterways between St. Petersburg and Moscow is the best way to see parts of Russia on a cruise. Many will travel to St. Petersburg on a Baltic cruise and are amazed at the beauty and fascinated by the history and ...

  25. Set Sail on 14 Luxury River Cruises That Don't Lack Adventure

    Setting sail on a riverboat is one of the best ways to tour famous international waterways. Luxury river cruises offer a unique perspective of new and familiar locales in Europe, Asia, and other ...