Have you recently become curious about cruising but are not sure how to start? Why not start with a river cruise before diving into the high seas and wild oceans? Though often overlooked by many cruising enthusiasts, river cruising could be an unforgettable experience whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie. Below, we’ll highlight the top-rated European river cruises. While AmaWaterways may not currently be cruising, now is the perfect time to plan your next river cruise vacation.
1. Christmas Markets
Christmas markets are a tradition in many European cities. These markets can be found along the rivers Rhine and Danube. Though many people prefer cruising during the warmer weather, Christmas Market cruises are an experience that you would not want to miss.
Taking the cruise along the River Rhine, for example, will be one of the most scenic and festive experiences you’ll ever have. Your journey will take you through snow-capped towns, warm and beautiful markets, and cheerful locals. You will be able to visit Christmas markets in Cologne, Breisach, Strasbourg, Manheim, and Rudesheim. Being the festive season, everyone on board will be looking to eat, drink, and make merry, giving you a home away from home feel. While visiting the towns, you’ll be able to take part in bike tours, visit monuments and take part in hikes.
Some of the best Christmas Market cruises are offered in France, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, and Austria.
2 Douro Cruises
Are you a wine enthusiast? Then this is the cruise for you.
The Douro River Cruise goes through the Douro River Valley, which is one of the oldest and most famous wine regions in the world and a historic site preserved by UNESCO. You will get a chance to discover Portugal and Spain through the Douro River from Porto through to the ancient city of Lamego and finally to Salamanca.
During your stopovers, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the history that is Lamego, take a full day trek through Salamanca in Spain and also see the deepest lock in the world, Carrapatelo. You’ll also be able to tour the fortified village of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.
This river cruise will be a luxurious history lesson.
3. Main Cruises
The Main River is strategically located between the Rhine and the Danube. Therefore, the Main River cruise is not exclusively on the Main River. It can also be combined with other waterways, the most common packages being Main-Rhine cruise or through the Main-Danube Canal. Some cruises could also take you along the Dutch, Belgian, and Moselle waterways.
Most cruises offered on this river will begin Amsterdam, Vienna, Nuremberg, or Budapest with a few of them beginning in Frankfurt. This cruise will take you through the cities of Frankfurt, Miltenberg, Wurzburg, Bamburg, and Miltenberg.
Depending on your cruise, you will visit cathedrals, monasteries, castles, and even vineyards. Additionally, you might even get the opportunity to visit the home of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Don’t know who he is? Look him up and be amazed. With a flexible itinerary, you will be able to enjoy the beauty that is Central Germany.
4. Moselle Cruises
This is one of the best European River Cruises because it gives you the opportunity to travel through three countries; Germany, France, and Luxembourg. Being a romantic cruise, your ship will go through picturesque villages, charming castles, and terraced hillsides that make up wine country.
There is so much to be amazed by if you take this cruise. From the medieval architecture in towns such as Cochem to the captivating ruins of the Roman Empire in the beautiful city of Tier, and the wine-making regions and traditions that go back over 1,000 years. With this rich history, beautiful architecture, and beautiful landscapes, this could very well be your next cruise.
5. Tulip Cruises
The Tulip Season River Cruise is a themed cruise through Holland and Belgium in the springtime. From mid-March to mid-May, you will get the chance to wind down the river as you view the region’s iconic tulips. Apart from tulips, you will be able to enjoy sites of daffodils, crocus, and even hyacinth.
This cruise is popularly known as the Dutch Waterways cruise and it will take you through inland seas and canals along the way. We advise that you take this cruise in the springtime to optimize the beauty of the tulips in Holland and Belgium. Your trip will ideally start from Amsterdam and wind through Dutch country sides filled with windmills, scenic harbors, and historic Old Towns. You might also get the chance to the Dutch Masters!
6, Elbe Cruises
Elbe River Cruise will go down to the rarely viewed regions of Germany and the Czech Republic. The most popular routes used in this cruise will take you through Berlin, Hamburg, and Prague. This cruise will give you an opportunity to enjoy the religious history of Wittenberg. In Meissen, you can wonder at the fine porcelain industry in the region.
From the modern architecture found in Berlin, to nature and beauty found in the Elbe Biosphere Reserve, there will be something for you to enjoy with every stop.
7. Danube Cruises
The Danube River goes through ten countries. It courses through Germany, Hungary, Austria, and seven other countries. This cruise will be a culture-filled experience that will let you access the ancient monasteries, sophisticated cities, and beautiful vineyards.
Most cruises will sail from Hungary and Germany, and Budapest and Passau where three rivers meet. To culminate your cruise, you’ll be able to visit the Vienna Opera House in Vienna and even tour where the musical legend Mozart was born, Salzburg.
8. Seine Cruises
The Seine River is a tourist attraction on its own. Cruising down the river will be able to see the beauty that is Paris. As the cruise winds down the Seine River, you get a chance to view the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. The Seine River flows down into Normandy and this will give you access to the Normandy’s D-day Beaches. Additionally, you and your party will partake in the beauty that is Normandy’s pastoral region. If you’re lucky, you might also get the chance to visit the famous city of Giverny.
9. Rhone Cruises
Yet another cruise taking you through beautiful France, the Rhone River Cruise will take you to southern France, specifically Provence and Burgundy. This cruise is especially geared towards food lovers and history enthusiasts.
The cruise will take you through Lyon, France’s food capital. Through wine country in Beaujolais and to the villages of Provencal. The Provence region is beautiful in the summer and you will get to enjoy sites of flowers in full bloom. The historic sites along the cruise have been said to date back through Roman times, giving you something to learn while on the cruise.
10. Rhine Cruises
Rhine river cruises typically take you through three countries; The Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. The Rhine, Main, and Moselle cruises will take you through the heart of Europe. In this cruise, you will enjoy seeing quaint villages, castles, medieval cities, and even the Dutch windmills.
This tour will be something out of a storybook, as the castles and villages seem like they set the stage for some of your favorite fairy tales. With an abundance of culture and tradition, there is so much to see and experience in this cruise.
So there you have it. These are some of the best river cruises in Europe. We’re sure you’ll find one that appeals to your interests. Your next vacation could be on one of these cruises.
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