Europe's rich history and diverse natural beauty can be explored at a leisurely pace with a cruise along its picturesque rivers and canals.
Most of Europe's great cities developed along the banks of these rivers, and their historic trading ports now service cruise ships carrying passengers from all over the world on magnificent European river cruise itineraries. The ports provide easy access to world-famous attractions, museums and shopping districts without the hassle of transport connections.
Choose from a wide range of river cruises covering all of Europe's popular destinations, whether it’s a 7-day tour of France's wine regions or an international voyage from Amsterdam to Budapest or choose which river you'd like to cruise down.
- Rhine River Cruises
Starting in Switzerland and flowing through France, Germany and The Netherlands, the romantic Rhine River is lined with mighty fortresses, magical palaces and ancient cities.
- Moselle River Cruises
The Moselle River flows into the Rhine from Northeast France and Luxembourg. It is known for its picturesque medieval castles and excellent wines.
- Danube River Cruises
The Danube River crosses Germany, Serbia, Austria, Hungary and Romania, flowing past fairytale castles, Gothic cathedrals, vineyards and unspoiled hamlets.
- Douro River Cruises
The Douro is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, flowing through Northern Portugal from Spain. There is plenty to see along this stunning waterway including four World Heritage-listed Sites - the Alta Douro, Historic Centre of Porto, the old city of Salamanca and the prehistoric rock art sites of the Côa Valley.
- Volga River Cruises
Discover the soul of Russia along the shores of the Volga River. Take in the rich culture of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and discover the people who embody this proud country.
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Description & Region Information
- Currency - the euro is the official currency of many European countries, but depending on your cruise itinerary you may need to use other currencies in countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and the United Kingdom.
- Population - Europe is the world's third most populous continent, with 733 million people living in 50 countries and sovereign states. The countries with the highest populations include Germany (81 million), France (65 million) and the United Kingdom (62 million), with 110 million people living in the European side of Russia.
- Language - refreshing your foreign languages could be handy when dealing with local businesses, but during cruise activities you will be accompanied by a guide and interpreter. English is widely spoken as a second language in many countries, especially in major tourism destinations.
- Time Zone - the European mainland spans four time zones, from UTC+0 in Portugal, Ireland and the UK to UTC+4 in Moscow. There may be a time difference when crossing borders, such as when travelling between Central and Eastern Europe.
- Weather - most of Europe has a combined continental and oceanic climate with 4 distinct seasons, while the seasons in southerly regions tend to be categorised as wet and dry.
Did you know..?
The longest river in Europe is the Volga, which travels 3,692 kilometres through Russia from the Valdai Hills to the Caspian Sea. The second longest is the Danube at 2,860 kilometres, which passes through a total of 9 countries.
Who goes there?
River cruises are offered by a number of European and international cruise lines. Viking Cruises operates multiple routes with 13 vessels, while others such as APT Cruising and Uniworld River Cruises focus on major routes of the Danube, Main, Moselle, Rhine and Rhone rivers.
Avalon Waterways and Tauck River Cruising specialise in luxury cruises with all-inclusive food, drink and activities. Tauck also offers cruise options for families with children.
Best time to go?
Europe's cruise season is from April to October. Northern Europe experiences shorter summers, while southern destinations in the Mediterranean and Iberia offer comfortable cruising all year round. Some river cruises operate outside of the peak season, particularly early spring cruises of the Netherlands to see the tulips in bloom and December cruises of traditional Christmas markets.
- Bordeaux - combine a River Seine tour of Paris with an excursion through the romantic Bordeaux countryside. Float along the Garonne and Dordogne passing medieval towns and vineyards and stopping off to sample local wines and brandy in Cognac, on the way to the beaches of Arcachon on the Atlantic Coast.
- Netherlands - explore the cultural treasures of Amsterdam by canal boat before moving on to the Hague and other destinations in the Netherlands and Belgium. Art lovers will find some of the world’s best art history museums in the country that produced such notable figures as Vincent Van Gogh and Hieronymus Bosch.
- Russia - travel between the great cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg on a Volga cruise, taking in famous landmarks including the Kremlin and Red Square, Catherine Palace and the State Hermitage Museum.
- Italy - canal cruising is mandatory in the ‘floating city’ of Venice, and you can explore more of Northern Italy's romantic and cultural charms with a cruise along the River Po to Mantua, Bologna and Verona. Many itineraries combine cruises with overland tours to other significant sites including Florence and Rome to see historic sites and Renaissance art.