Looking for a relaxing way to visit a few countries? A river cruise seems like the perfect way to explore. They offer you the chance to take in the beautiful scenery, and enjoy the rich culture of multiple locations. Take a look at some of our top choices for cruise destinations.
The sedate passage of vistas changing from rolling fields to deep forests to spectacular valleys is just one of the advantages on offer when you opt for a scenic river cruise. This is one of the fastest growing travel sectors and with an abundance of serene waterways to choose from, Europe’s aquatic wealth cannot be denied!
Whilst traditional cruising down the Nile, Mississippi or Yangtze rivers have their wonders, the grand ‘arteries’ of Europe are opening up in new and affordable ways. Elegant and relaxing, both intimate and vibrant, smaller river boats can often provide the more comfortable atmosphere that huge, coastal or ocean cruisers lack. And with the banks in sight, there’s always something new to look at!
The Rhine (Switzerland/Germany/the Netherlands)
Stretching from the Swiss Alps, through Lake Constance, this border-defining river (and Europe’s third longest) runs for over 1200km of shifting vistas on its way to the North Sea. Most cruising takes place in Germany and the Rhine Gorge is UNESCO listed making this the best way to experience it up close and personal! Famous for vineyards and castles, you’ll treasure every wonder as you make your way leisurely past medieval villages and Rhineland taverns. The Middle Rhine (between Bingen and Bonn) was referred to by the Romantics as the ‘landscape of the soul’. Just be careful not to be tempted by the legendary sirens of Lorelei Rock or you’ll want to stay forever - though that’s no bad thing!
The Seine (France)
Cruising down the River Seine is sure to be high on many romantics’ wish lists. The magic of Paris blended with the beauty of France’s Norman countryside is definitely a winning combination! Unforgettable experiences such as château dinners, cider, calvados & cheese tasting, farm visits, exploring the gardens of Monet and climbing the iconic Eiffel Tower as all on offer here. Tours take in quaint riverside towns and you can enjoy the changing scenery before you as you head out of the city, past historic Rouen and through Normandy on the way to meet the English Channel at Le Havre/Honfleur. Multiple itineraries are available giving you plenty of ways to fall for its Gallic charms!
The Meuse (France, Belgium, the Netherlands)
The Meuse is one of the most significant rivers in the Benelux region and a cruising here showcases the area’s history and relationship with the plentiful waters. Sail serenely past imposing rocky bluffs to visit the Castle of Freÿr near Dinant in Belgium and its fabulous gardens before heading to Liège to learn about its industrial importance and sample the amazing gauffres liègeois (Liège waffles). Or perhaps take in the Dutch city of Maastricht, birthplace of the EU and home to 1677 national heritage sites, before wending your way through fertile, tulip-growing countryside to the grand port at Rotterdam. Kick back, relax and enjoy the idyllic calm of drifting through the Low Countries!
The Rhône (Switzerland, France)
A cruise is the perfect way to explore the meandering secrets of this river, as it runs 813km from the Alps, through Lake Geneva, into southern France before splitting at Arles to create the fertile Camargue before entering the Mediterranean. The Rhône Valley is one of the world’s oldest and abundant wine-producing regions (since 600BCE) with many specialities, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape. On the Swiss side, highlights include the Roman ruins and amphitheatre in Martigny before stopping off in vibrant Geneva. Whilst in France, architecture and gastronomy abound in Lyon, which also boasts a UNESCO-listed historic centre as well as being the birthplace of cinema thanks to the Lumière brothers. So set sail for the Rhône and enjoy this wonderful experience!
The Danube (Central & Eastern Europe)
This important waterway, that once defined the frontiers of the Roman Empire, is Europe’s second longest. At 2,860km long, from its origin in southern Germany to its exit into the Black Sea on the Romanian coast, all ten countries (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova & Ukraine) can be visited on a cruise and you can easily wine, dine and sightsee the majesty of four different capitals - Vienna with its pastries and music, Bratislava and its soaring towers, Budapest with its relaxing spas and Belgrade with its bustling mix of cultural institutions. As well as historical cities, the Danube encompasses several major scenic valleys like the Gemenc in Hungary and Srebana Nature Reserve in Bulgaria. Holiday on the Danube and sail into history as you follow the ‘Route of Emperors and Kings’ for a wonderful time!
Planning on taking one of these cruises? All of them? Make sure that you always travel with peace of mind. A Flexicover Travel Insurance policy means that you're protected should any unexpected mishaps occur.