I often rave about the unique experiences on European River Cruises… 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 7 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 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.
Now you have a better idea of the rivers in Europe and what you will experience sailing them. Which one would you love to sail? Contact us for your complimentary consultation. I would love to help you discover the right sailing for you.