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Best River Cruising in Europe | Danube, Rhône & More

Europe is filled with some of the best Rivers in the world. If you are ready for an adventure on the water, a must-do experience is a European river cruise. With luxurious boats that stop over at a few of the most picturesque cities, this is oneof the best ways to explore this beautiful continent.

Below, you’ll find all the reasons why you should consider going on a European river cruise. As well as the top 5 river cruises in Europe to add to your travel bucket list. If you are ready to start planning your next vacation to this area, make sure to check out a few popular tours in Europe that will add even more adventure to your trip.

Germany River Europe

Top 4 River Cruises of Europe

Would you like to sail from Amsterdam to Germany or Budapest to Vienna? Well, you can explore these beautiful cities while on a river cruise. If this is your first time planning a European river cruising adventure, here is everything you need to know about the best rivers to visit on your next trip.

1.   Danube River Cruise

The Danube River is the second-longest river in Europe and is 1,777 miles long. The river borders 10 countries, extending from Germany all the way to Ukraine.

Danube River Cruise

Cruises along the Danube River are usually between 5 to 23 days long, with different itineraries to choose from. When cruising along the Danube river, you will be able to take in the scenic views, experience the vibrant cultures of the different cities you pass through, and so much more.

Popular destinations on the Danube cruise include Budapest, Hungary, where you can go sightseeing and visit the city’s famous buildings. Including the St. Stephen’s Basilica Cathedral and the parliament building, which features gothic revival architecture. Another popular destination for this river cruise is Passau, Germany. Where you can climb the Heavenly Ladder and take in the marvelous views from the Veste Oberhaus.

Budapest Stephens Basil

European cruise lines for Danube River Cruises:

  • Scenic River Cruises: Cruise packages from 8 to 11 days, costs between $3,234 to $4,895.
  • Avalon Waterways: Cruise packages from 8 to 12 days, costs between $799 to $3,537.
  • Uniworld Cruises: Cruise packages from 8 to 25 days, costs between $3,214 to $10,685.

2.   Rhône River Cruise

The Rhône river is one of the most noteworthy rivers in Europe as it flows directly into the Mediterranean Sea. The Rhône is 505 miles long and extends into 2 countries, France and Switzerland.

River cruises along the Rhône can be between 3 to 28 days, these cruises usually cross paths with the Saône River. One of the most popular cities you will visit while on your journey along the Rhône River is Arles, which is located in Southern France.

Arles is well-known for its Amphitheatre, this is a must-see site that you can book on an onshore excursion. Other cities to visit along the Rhône River include Avignon, Tournon, Viviers, and Lyon.

Arles Amphitheatre

European cruise lines for Rhône River Cruises:

  • Tauck River Cruises: Cruise packages from 8 to 14 days, costs between $4,790 to $6,990.
  • Viking River Cruises: Cruise packages from 8 to 15 days, costs between $2,199 to $4,199.
  • Avalon Waterways: Cruise packages from 8 to 23 days, costs between $3,049 to $12,500.

3.   Rhine River Cruise

The Rhine River is a prominent river in Europe and is 820 miles long. This river flows into 4 European countries including, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands.

This river cruise is filled with incredible stops, which will allow you to make unforgettable memories. One of these stops includes Kinderdijk, Netherlands where you can view the Windmills, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another popular destination on this river cruise is taking in the views from the iconic Black Forest, which is a mountain range in Germany.

Rhine River

European cruise lines for Rhine River Cruises:

  • Emerald Cruises: Cruise packages from 5 to 10 days, costs between $1,451 to $3,092.
  • Avalon Waterways: Cruise packages from 5 to 18 days, costs between $1,499 to $7,710.
  • Viking River Cruises: Cruise packages from 8 to 23 days, costs between $1,999 to $6,999.

4.   Main River Cruise

The Main River is situated in Germany, flowing through many German cities, including Frankfurt, Mainz, Offenbach, and more. This river is 327 miles long and creates a link between the Danube River and the Rhine River. The Main River is the longest tributary of the Rhine River.

There are a few must-see sites when cruising along this German river. These includes visiting the Market Square in Nuremberg, tasting the local Rauchbier, and experiencing the glassblowing tradition in Spessart.

Germany Main River

European cruise lines for Main River Cruises:

  • Emerald Cruises: Cruises packages from 5 to 18 days, costs between $1,451 to $5,394
  • Avalon Waterways: Cruises packages from 6 to 24 days, costs between $1,699 to $9,087.
  • Viking River Cruises: Cruises packages from 8 to 23 days, costs between $1,999 to $6,999.

Reasons Why You Should Go on a River Cruise

River cruising is one of the best-kept travel secrets. It is a unique way of exploring different parts of Europe while getting the most out of one trip. If you have been on a river cruise before, then you understand why this is a must-try experience for all.

Not only will you fully immerse yourself in different cultures on one trip, but river cruises usually include accommodation and meals. Making these trips great value for money because you won’t have to book a stay at different hotels in different cities. All your meals will also be sorted out by the cruise line.

Germany Rhein River

When is the Best Time for European River Cruises?

The most popular season to go on a European river cruise is summer, which is between June and August. This will be the best time to experience the cities and take in the scenic landscape.

Visiting Europe during summer also allows you to take part in popular activities while on shore like hiking, and visiting local markets. You can also spend the day on a beautiful beach if you have not had enough of the water just yet.

On the other hand, if you are trying to avoid the peak holiday season to go on a river cruise, a better season would be Spring which falls between April and May. You can also cruise during early Fall, between September and October.

However, it is important to make sure you book your river cruise before late fall and winter because they are usually closed from December. If you are visiting Europe during this festive period, a must-see is the European Christmas market.

Germany Town Europe

Travel Tips for Your European River Cruises

Whether you are planning a 2-night Europe river cruise or a month-long cruise, there are a few things that you should know before setting sail. We have included 4 tips for all river cruises to ensure you have a smooth journey.

  1. Arrive at the city of your river port early – a good rule of thumb is to arrive at least 2 days earlier in the city that you will be departing from. This will help you settle in, and if there are any unexpected delays, you will have time to reach your river port on time.
  2. Plan your tours for each destination – a good idea is to research each of the stops on your river cruise and find out what you would like to do once you get there. Having a plan for each stop will save you time and ensure that you do not miss anything that you would have liked to do at the destination.
  3. Pack light – whether you are spending a few nights away or a month away, packing light is always a good idea. This will make it easier for you to move from place to place, and if you need anything, you can always buy from the local markets.
  4. Prepare for the motion – if you have cruised before, you will have an idea of how your body reacts to the motion of the water. But it is important to keep in mind that riverboats are usually smaller, and during rough waters, it is important to have motion sickness remedies on hand.

Tourists Europe

Final Thoughts on the Best European River Cruises

If you want to visit different cities in Europe on one trip, a river cruise is the best way to do it. Whether you have been on a river cruise before or have not yet experienced one, you will definitely have a unique experience. With different rivers to choose from and various itineraries from European river cruise lines, you can select the one that has stops at all of your dream destinations.

Whichever river cruise you choose, you will be in store for an unforgettable time on the water. Now that you know everything that you need to know about the rivers in Europe, you will be ready to plan your next epic adventure on one of the best river cruises in Europe.

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