Rivers of Europe: Which Is Right for Your Cruise Holiday?


For an unforgettable getaway, a river cruise is hard to beat. Differing from an ocean cruise in that both city and ship have equal focus, these unique travel excursions take you to some of the most exclusive destinations in the world. Spend time each day in port, touring the city or town and taking in the local culture. If you’re planning your first ever river cruise, then here’s a list to guide you on your way:

The Danube for Eastern European Magic

The heart and soul of Central Europe, the Danube flows through more countries than any other river in the world (10 to be precise). Originating in Germany, the Danube makes its stately way through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine before flowing into the Black Sea. Cruise the Danube through the forested slopes of Bavaria, the picturesque villages of Austria and the stunning landscapes of Hungary – maybe lingering in Budapest to use the soothing thermal baths while you’re at it. All this in a luxurious environment, seeing the world from a unique perspective.

The Douro for Lush Greenery

Most Douro river cruises will begin and end in beautiful Porto, known for its narrow cobbled streets, picturesque merchants’ houses and cafés. A trip along the river Douro cuts an unhurried course through Spain and Portugal’s glorious and fertile landscape. Travel through Spain’s mountainous Soria Province to Porto on the wild Atlantic coast. Surrounded for much of your journey by terraced slopes strewn with glorious grapevines, the Douro is one of the most fruitful wine regions of Europe. While aboard you can expect to visit such architectural wonders as the University of Salamanca, La Plaza Mayor and the Casa de las Conchas.


The River Main for Charm and Character

Quaint villages and historic wonders await you on a river Main cruise. This charming cruise will often be combined with a longer journey on the Rhine or Danube and gives you the opportunity to travel right to the heart of Europe. Flow along the Main and experience architectural treasures and historic sites of cultural magnificence. You’ll glimpse traditional German culture with lavish baroque and rococo architecture – prepare to be wowed.

Aerial view of Holbeinsteg main river

The Rhine for Legends and Fairytales

This river of immense contrasts will take you to Medieval cities, through vast forests taking in stunning fairytale castles. View the picturesque splendour of the Swiss Alps before travelling through Germany to the North Sea. Whether this is your first river cruise or you’ve embarked on many before, you’ll be mesmerised by this melting pot of culture and architectural opulence.

Aerial view of Stein am Rhein town in Switzerland

The Rhone for Culture, History and Café Culture

Cutting a course from central France to the mouth of the Mediterranean, a river Rhone cruise will sail past gloriously fragrant lavender fields and lavish vineyards, historic Roman ruins and picturesque villages. You’ll visit some of France’s most scenic cities – eat escargot in France’s foodie capital, Lyon, before witnessing the splendour of the Palais des Papes in World Heritage-listed Avignon. A cruise along the Rhone is sure to offer culture, history and endless cafés.

Avignon Bridge with Popes Palace in Provence, France

The Seine for Art and History

The city of love will be your starting point on this cruise that may bring out your inner romantic. Explore the beauty of Paris and take in the Eiffel Tower at night. Next, tour Monet’s France and walk the landscapes that inspired much of the great impressionist’s work. You can see the charming, pastel-coloured house where he created much of his art and, of course, the water lilies with Japanese bridge in his garden – artistic bliss!


Then, experience a completely different type of culture on the Somme. Explore the humbling battlefields and pay your respects to the 150,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who tragically lost their lives in this epic WWI battle. The Remembrance Circuit follows the poppy-lined tracks of the soldiers, featuring remnants of fighting, cemeteries and memorials to commemorate those lost.

The Volga for the Majesty of Russia

From the might and grandeur of Moscow to the nostalgia of small-town life, the Volga meanders through Russia’s cultural heart — introducing you to many of the country’s most iconic highlights. Like the landscape itself, Russian culture and heritage is imposingly expansive. With opulent architecture, colourful folklore and a vibrant history, there is much to discover in this beguiling country. Picture tranquil waters, idyllic landscapes and fascinating wildlife. The longest river in Europe, the Volga also has some of the finest sights. Take in the colourful, swirled onion domes of the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square. Enjoy Russian Caviar and blinis as you witness the beauty of rural life in small towns and villages. Your final stop will be the exquisite Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. A cruise along the Volga reveals the beguiling heart of Russia.

Whichever cruise you choose, you will enjoy a truly spectacular way to view the world. All this while enjoying luxurious facilities including lounge, bar and restaurant, outdoor space and leisure complex and all only a short walk from your bedroom door. Think of it as your own sumptuous floating hotel.

If you’re keen to start your first river cruise adventure, head over to our main site or call our friendly sales team on 0808 2746 777.

Rivers of Europe: Which Is Right for Your Cruise Holiday?
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Rivers of Europe: Which Is Right for Your Cruise Holiday?
Do you want to try a river cruise but not sure which river to pick - the Rhine, Main, Volga and Danube all have their unique charms. Find out more here...

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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