From fairy-tale castles to Roman ruins, Europe’s waterways are studded with star attractions. You’ll enjoy a slower pace of travel on a European river cruise, whether you’re passing through the romantic Normandy countryside along the Seine or through the wilds of the Black Forest along the Danube. The Moselle, Douro, Rhine, and Rhone all take passengers through the heartland of Europe to enjoy its most enchanting villages and cosmopolitan cities. View medieval architecture, WWII monuments and nature reserves along the way.
The Rhine River cuts through some of Germany’s most dramatic storybook scenery as it winds its way between Rudesheim and Koblenz. From hilltop castles to terraced vineyards and half-timbered houses, you’ll see scenes straight from a fairy-tale! The river’s full journey covers 820 miles, and it was used as an important trade route by the Romans - highlights include cities like Cologne with its Roman ruins.
The legendary Danube River is Europe’s second-largest. It can measure up to a mile in width in some parts and touches a full ten countries on its way to the Black Sea! Medieval architecture meets modern industry here. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore, from the opera houses of Vienna to the relaxing bath houses of Budapest. Vineyards, sleepy villages and wildlife reserves round out the attractions.
Enjoy a slower, gentler pace of life on a Douro River cruise. The Douro stretches its way leisurely from the Atlantic Ocean at Porto to the town of Vega de Terron in Spain. Along the way, it passes through a region famed for its port wine, with tiny villages and a gently rolling, golden landscape to rival Napa Valley or Tuscany. Be sure to explore Porto with its colourful hilltop houses and vibrant art scene!
Are you ready to set sail through some of Europe’s most picturesque regions? The Moselle River starts in the Vosges Mountains of France and winds its way to join up with the mighty Rhine in Koblenz, Germany. Along the way it passes through Alpine valleys, picture-perfect medieval castles, and pastoral scenery. Highlights include the wine capital of Bernkastel and imposing Reichsburg Castle just outside of Cochem.
Do you fancy exploring the heartland of Germany and Eastern Europe? Originally called the ‘Albis’ by the Romans, the Elbe River has a source in the Czech Republic’s Krkonose Mountains. It flows through Germany for nearly 725 miles before meeting the North Sea outside of Hamburg. Along the way, highlights of an Elbe River cruise include the fairy tale sights of Prague, castles of Worlitz, and canals of Hamburg.
A cruise down the Rhone is possibly one of the world’s most fragrant journeys; it passes through the lavender fields and orange groves of Provence as the river snakes its way from Switzerland into the Mediterranean. This area is famed for its wine production – have a taste! You’ll be able to stop at picturesque ports like Lyon, Arles and Marseilles, and see the spectacular scenery of the Camargue Delta as well.
Enjoy the journey from Paris to the English Channel on a cruise down the Seine. This French waterway passes through the lush Norman countryside, with highlights including Monet’s gardens at Giverny and the over-the-top beauty of Versailles Palace. History buffs can visit the notorious Normandy beaches of WWII and fishing town of Honfleur; and all the attractions of Paris await from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower.
Summer is traditionally the best time to navigate Europe’s waterways, when river levels have receded from spring’s rainy season yet haven’t had a chance to freeze over in the winter. You’ll be able to soak in the sunshine on your ship’s deck and get out to explore the countryside on hiking, biking or kayaking excursions. However, winter is also an enchanting time of year to take a cruise particularly along the Rhine, Danube, or Rhone rivers which allow you to visit traditional Christmas markets. And of course, there’s nothing like Paris in the springtime which makes this an ideal time for a cruise along the Seine!
There’s a picture-perfect moment beyond every bend in the top European rivers, from quaint fishing villages to storybook castles. Highlights along the Rhine river include the towering cathedral and chocolate museum of Cologne, while the Douro winds its way through UNESCO listed port wine-producing regions in Portugal. The Seine takes you from the romantic streets of Paris with its iconic Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum to the famous D-Day beaches of Normandy, stopping off in Monet’s famous Giverny gardens along the way. And for outdoor adventures, the Danube offers attractions including the nature enclaves of the Black Forest and Danube Valley.
A European river cruise involves virtually zero red tape for UK residents, which is one of the major plusses of this type of holiday! You don’t even have to set foot in an airport if you choose to combine rail tickets with your sailing experience – just take the Eurostar to mainland Europe to get to your cruise’s starting point. Nearly all the countries you visit will be part of the EU, with nothing required save for your valid passport. You can expect easy freedom of movement whether you’re drifting down the Moselle, Rhine or Danube, ensuring a fuss-free holiday experience.
You’ll be truly spoilt for choice on a European river cruise. Many cruises pass through several countries as part of their standard itinerary, all with their own unique culinary flavours to enjoy. Perhaps one of the best is the cruise down the Seine, which gives you flavours of Normandy including apple tarts, camembert cheese and calvados. The Danube’s not too shabby either with Austrian wiener schnitzel and Bavarian sausages on offer, while the Rhine Valley is famed for its luscious pot roast and locally produced Riesling wine. And for those cruising along the Moselle, expect honey-laden pastries and freshly caught baked trout.
"The contrast between the part of the city housing, the European Union buildings is beautiful and the old town Island with the Cathedral Notre Dame and the beautiful narrow streets."
"You get to see beautiful cities and towns and you park right in the heart of it all, without all the hassle of flights all over the place and unpacking and re packing on these wonderful floating hotels."
"River Cruising is very much about the itinerary and destinations and is a great alternatively to a single centre fly city break."
European river cruise
"There is no better way to discover the splendour of Europe than on a European river cruise. Europe’s grand waterways take you to the heart of many of Europe’s magnificent cities & medieval castles."
Taylor, Fleet, 25th Jun 2017
We have just returned from our fourth trip on the Da Vinci. The Rhine, Saar and Mosel river cruise was wonderful, the ship, our cabin, the food and the weather we're all perfect.
Jeffrey, Wingrave, 15th Oct 2018
Vienna and Budapest are beautiful places and we had a couple of days in each to get a good feel for them. Other stops were daily and sometimes twice daily.