European River Cruises and the rivers they sail ... everything you need to know
Which River is Right for You ...
European River Cruises have become very popular over the last 10 years and for good reason, the unique experience you have with each… you get to explore the most charming villages as you float along in your luxury boutique hotel. And perhaps you’re wondering which river to choose and what sets them apart?
Here’s everything you need to know about 8 of the most popular European rivers for cruising and what you will experience on each one…
THE DANUBE… Europe’s second longest river curves through 10 countries from Germany to Ukraine before flowing into the Black Sea. Danube itineraries vary widely depending on which part of the river you travel, but common ports include PASSAU, a medieval city where three rivers meet; VIENNA, a great capital of music and coffee culture; and BUDAPEST, with its wonderful thermal baths. During the holiday season, the Danube is a prime river for Christmas market cruising.
THE RHINE… The Rhine flows from Switzerland through Germany and the Netherlands to the North Sea, dotted along the way with medieval cathedrals and CASTLES viewable from the ship. Common ports include STRASBOURG, with its mix of French and German cultures; COLOGNE, dominated by its gothic Cathedral; and BASEL, known for the highest concentration of museums in Switzerland. Christmas market cruises are also popular along the Rhine.
THE RHÔNE… The Rhône is an ancient trade route linking the Mediterranean to Celtic Gaul. Rhône river cruises are all about exploring the FOOD, WINE, and culture of southern France. Common ports include TARASCON, where Van Gogh painted his Sunflowers; LYON (the culinary capital of France), with its secret passageways and ancient Roman theater; and the walled city of AVIGNON.
THE DOURO… Linking Spain and Portugal, this river is best known for the WINEMAKING region of the Douro River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But three other UNESCO sites lie along the Douro river cruise route: the old city of SALAMANCE, Spain, the prehistoric rock art sites in Portugal’s CÔA Valley, and the historic center of PORTO.
THE MAIN… A tributary of the Rhine, the Main changed European river cruising when it was canalized in 1992 to connect the Rhine with the Danube. Flowing through central Germany, the Main River showcases MEDIEVAL VILLAGES and CASTLES in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, and Hesse. Common ports include FRANKFURT, a bustling metropolis; WÜRZBURG, with its UNESCO-designated Baroque palace and gardens; and BAMBERG, with its UNESCO-designated and well-preserved medieval old town.
THE MOSELLE …. River Moselle is a left tributary of the mighty Rhine, which joins at KOBLENZ and winds though some of the most spectacular landscapes in Germany.With lush terraced vineyards, dreamy river promenades, fairy tale villages, half-timbered houses and rolling hills crowned with ancient castles, the Moselle Valley is rich with all the right ingredients for a romantic holiday.This stunning valley occupies a chunk of southwestern Germany and parts of France and Luxembourg. Steeped in more than 1,000 years of history, COCHAM CASTLE is straight out of a fairy tale. The castle sits impossibly pretty on the bank of the Moselle, towering over rolling vine-covered hills. A small part of BELGIUM is also drained by the Moselle through the Sauer and the Our.
THE SEINE… The Seine, France’s most important commercial waterway, begins at a town (appropriately named Source-Seine) about 20 miles northeast of Dijon. The river then flows through PARIS, and other common ports include GIVERNY where you can visit the home of Claude Monet; and the villages along the NORMANDY Coast where you can tour the historic Normandy beaches and cemeteries.
THE DORDOGNE… The Dordogne River flows through the BORDEAUX region of France which makes it the perfect river for WINE enthusiasts. Common ports include Blaye with a lovely coastal road, Libourne with charming markets, and Saint-Émilion with its ethereal monolithic church. From the ship, watch for the carrelets (fishing huts on stilts) which line the riverbanks.