Europe’s best river cruises

The Trips

Europe is a cultural tapestry waiting to be explored.

River cruise Europe

Forget worrying about accommodation and transport – just jump aboard a European cruise and go rolling down the river past castles and cathedrals galore.

Our three picks of Europe’s best rivers for cruising can be swallowed whole or in bite-sized chunks – choose the destinations and duration that best suits your family.

The Rhine

The Rhine River meanders through Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Art-lovers will want to head to Basel, Switzerland which is packed with design museums, including a Paper Museum beside a canal in an old paper mill.

The grandiose architecture of Strasbourg will sweep you off your feet. Fans of chocolate and sport will find much to love under the Gothic spires of Cologne.

In Amsterdam, you can cruise the famous canals and explore cottages, cafes and markets. We recommend whizzing through the city by bike and exploring popular gems such as Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.

The Rhine joins up with a network of other waterways and tributaries, so your exploration of Europe’s rivers does not have to end there.


Though it might not be as blue as the song suggests, a cruise down the Danube certainly is colourful. Expect to see a vibrant, varied view of Europe.

On a Danube River cruise port stop, you can Duel with Dracula in a Gothic castle, create music like Mozart in an Austrian church, and explore the wares at the Christmas Markets.

Labelled by Napoleon as the “Queen of Europe’s Rivers” the Danube is the second longest river on the continent. It flows through ten countries, including Austria, Germany and Croatia.

Highlights include the Turkish Baths and Parliament buildings of Budapest, the baroque palace and Spanish Riding School of Vienna and the Bavarian cathedrals and sausage kitchens of Regensburg.


Tumbling over the Swiss Alps, through vineyards and lavender fields, and into Mediterranean seas near Marseilles – this is one wicked waterway.

Most cruises will start from the ocean and head inland, beginning at Arles, where you can hear the echoes of long-gone gladiators amidst the Roman ruins. Make sure you try a traditional Provence feast on a shore excursion.

This is a river cruise for history lovers. The journey will take you through medieval Avignon, Vienne, and onto Cluny, where you can delve into the centuries-old Benedictine Abbey, built just after Charlemagne’s reign.

Grown-ups will love wine-tasting in Burgundy, and foodies will flip out in the famous city of Lyon.

The Operators

Dozens of different companies offer river cruising in Europe. Some, such as Uniworld, are even kid-friendly so you can take the whole family.

For more river cruising ideas – check out these deals.

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