Europe…often the very first destination that college-aged travelers decide to explore. They grab their airline tickets, Eurail Passes, and hostel maps - and decide they can just wing it across the continent. Amazing memories are created, friends are made (and lost), and stamps on their passport are a sign of their newfound independence.
Fast forward a couple dozen years. The hostels of years gone by aren’t nearly as appealing as they once were - and neither is wandering aimlessly around Amsterdam or Vienna or Budapest. Touring is now on your bucket list…a great way to see the cities and towns of Europe without having to worry about transportation, accommodations, or how you’ll find the important sights and attractions. You have an expert guide the entire time - one that most likely lives in the area, or at the very least has VAST knowledge of your chosen itinerary and destinations. Touring is and always has been a GREAT way to see Europe.
But what if there was a better way to explore? What if you could unpack just once and explore the destinations of Europe as deeply as any tour could offer. What if all your excursions and meals were included in the upfront price? What if you could expand your journey from Amsterdam to Vienna to Budapest in one bucket-list river cruise adventure?
River cruising is now one of the fastest growing travel options, with hundreds of thousands of clients slowly gliding down the waterways of the world every year! In Europe, itineraries typically encompass five distinctly different rivers, each with its own special sights and personality. You’ll experience historic battlefields and cathedrals, venture through scenic castles and towns, and discover new treats and local shops. The most popular rivers for a cruise include…
The Seine running north through Paris and into the English Channel, offers a wealth of fascinating places to visit. In Giverny, you’ll visit the home and gardens where Claude Monet gained inspiration for almost four decades. In Rouen, you see the spot where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and venture info the famous Cathedral. The Normandy region is focused Omaha Beach and the Point du Hoc monument and American Cemetery (pictured), all made infamous on D-Day, June 6, 1944 - virtually every river cruise offers a full day excursion to this area. Here is our favorite itinerary offered on the Seine.
The Rhone flows gently south into the Mediterranean Sea. On this journey, you’ll be gliding through Provence and Burgundy - a fantastic opportunity for lovers of French cuisine and wine! A typical itinerary offers plenty of tastings and visits to vineyards, in addition to longer excursions in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy; the famous lavender fields of Provence (pictured); Vienne, home to the remains of a 14,000-seat amphitheater and a temple built in 25 B.C.; and an excursion to Arles, where Vincent van Gogh lived and painted. Here is our favorite itinerary offered on the Rhone.
The Rhine flows for just over 750 miles from the Swiss Alps to Amsterdam through Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France. Itineraries here are a fantastic first sailing for many people, with dozens of hilltop castles and stunning scenery. On a typical seven-night cruise, you’ll experience the famous twin spires of the Cologne Cathedral, the converging Moselle and Rhine rivers at Koblenz, the amazing Heidelberg Castle, and hilltop castles and stunning scenery of the Rhine Gorge. Here is our favorite itinerary offered on the Rhine.
The Douro has gained huge popularity in the last several years - mainly because the Douro River Valley is the world’s oldest demarcated wine region and a UNESCO Site. Most cruises include an overnight stay in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto (pictured), and time in Lisbon, with ample time to explore both. Highlights along the route include seeing the world’s deepest lock, Carrapatelo, with its 115-foot-tall walls; excursions to Lamego to visit the 18th-century Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies pilgrimage church; and a full-day excursion to Salamanca in Spain. Along the way, you’ll want to enjoy Portugal’s national beverage, port. Here is our favorite itinerary offered on the Douro.
The Danube is Europe’s most popular destination for river cruises, flowing almost 1,800 miles through 10 countries, including Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Bulgaria, and directly through the city centers of historic Vienna and scenic Budapest (pictured). The classical music theme along the Danube is palpable, and the most popular itineraries include Vienna, once the center of the Habsburg Empire, with visits to the Hofburg Palace, the Vienna Opera House, and Ring Boulevard; Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart; and Melk home to the stunning Benedictine Abbey. Here is our favorite itinerary offered on the Danube.
In total, our river cruise partners at Viking offer dozens of itineraries in Europe - not to mention nearly a dozen more in bucket-list destinations like Russia, Asia, and Egypt! Along the above slowly-flowing waterways, you can expect to experience the storied local history of many of the worlds most fabled destinations. Since virtually all your vacation costs are covered in the initial cost, including accommodations (all water view on river cruises!), fine cuisine, educational and exciting excursions, even most drinks, you can unpack just once - and relax! We love this overview of what to expect on a river cruise - and we are ready to help guide you on your next river cruise journey!