Rivers run through continental Europe like veins, stretching to every extremity to bring life to the land. This means that river cruising is the perfect way to explore many of the different countries, as you take in the passing scenery from the comfort of your own stateroom.
Regardless of where you want to go in Europe, you can be sure there is a river route to take you there. Some rivers, such as the Danube, can even offer a mammoth tour spanning ten different countries and providing many immersive experiences along the way. So let’s look at the different countries a European river cruise can take you through.
The two main rivers in France are the Seine and the Rhone. The former flows from a small town just outside of Dijon into the North Sea, through major ports such as Rouen, Le Havre, and Paris. The latter actually rises in Switzerland and rushes towards the Mediterranean Sea, passing through one of France’s best wine regions along the way.
Both rivers can offer beautiful monasteries, abbeys, churches, and chateaux for you to view up close and from afar. You’ll also feel the influence of art as you visit the home of Monet in Giverny, on the Seine, and the Rhone-side city or Arles where Vincent Van Gogh lived for a while with Paul Gauguin.
Wine isn’t the only tipple you’ll get a taste for when in France, as you will also have the opportunity to sample the local calvados in Le Havre.
The best way to see Portugal is by taking a trip along the Douro River, which flows from Duruelo de la Sierra in Northern Spain to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean. This way, you get to see both sides of the country; the hustle and bustle of cities such as Porto, as well as rolling vineyards and the quiet riverside towns in which the grapes are turned into the finest Port wine.
The ‘Invincible City’, as Porto is known, offers plenty for any visitor to do; from a peek into its history via the fantastic architecture on display to shopping in the modern stores on its streets. As you leave the country’s second city, you will reach towns like Regua and Pinhao where the production of port plays an integral role in the economy.
As Germany lies at the heart of mainland Europe, it is unsurprising that it has many different rivers running through it; the most famous of these being the Rhine, Mosel, and the Danube. The Rhine works its way from the Alps to the North Sea, passing through the major German cities of Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Koblenz.
Perhaps the most scenic part of your Rhine cruise will be when you pass through the UNESCO Heritage Site of the Rhine Gorge. This part of the river is littered with castles that dominate the clifftops and is home to a variety of plant species that thrive in the microclimate created. The annual Rhine in Flames festival also lights up this part of Germany with fireworks in Sankt Goar in September and Koblenz in August.
The Mosel, a tributary of the Rhine, will give you the chance to see a different side of Germany. This is the country’s most famous wine growing region and so the banks of the river are awash with vineyards and picturesque towns such as Cochem where you can try the finished product. You can also explore Germany’s oldest city, Trier, during a Mosel river cruise.
The flat landscape of the Low Countries means that you can see for miles and miles as you sit on the balcony of your stateroom. The Netherlands are famous for their network of canals and a Dutch Waterways cruise is a great way to discover them and explore the towns and cities that they run through.
The most iconic city in the area is without doubt Amsterdam, and this is likely to be both the starting and finishing point of your river cruise. Once you have spent some time in the many museums, galleries, and markets that the Dutch capital can offer, you will head off towards other gems such as Nijmegen and Edam. The latter is famous not just for its cheese but also for its church; one of the largest in the Netherlands. All year round your route will be lined by quaint windmills, but any itinerary sailing in the spring is sure to include thousands of brightly coloured tulips.
Although the Rhine touches the western tip of Austria, it is the Danube that makes its presence known the most in this country. As one of ten countries that the river passes through, you will be able to see many of Austria’s major sights just by floating along its winding path. Vienna, Dürnstein, Linz, Melk and Krems will all feature on your itinerary, with an optional coach trip to Salzburg available as well.
One of the most popular attractions in this part of the world is the breath-taking Wachau Valley, and you will get to sail right through the heart of it on your Danube cruise. As well as the beautiful scenery on display and the delicate wines in production, Melk Abbey and Burgruine Dürnstein (where Richard the Lionheart was once held) dominate the landscape.
If you would like to visit any of these countries on one of our European river cruises, there are plenty of options available. Call us today for more details or submit your enquiry via our contact form.