River Cruises 101: Europe’s Rivers

Written on August 03, 2023


With so many scenic rivers to choose from, it’s no wonder why river cruisers book a European itinerary. Perfect for both newbie and seasoned river cruisers, Europe’s rivers promise history, culture, arts, and architecture, all to be enjoyed up close and personal.

Each river, however, has a distinct personality, so let’s “meet” the rivers that wind their way through the beautiful countryside and capitals of Europe.


The Danube flows through ten countries in Central Europe and past four major capital cities. There are sixteen national parks along the river’s path and a cycling trail that is perfect for a leisurely storybook bike ride. Castles, vineyards, medieval fortresses, and churches also dot the river, and lounging on the top deck of your ship with a glass of wine is a relaxing way to see these passing sights. The Danube is the most popular river for those new to river cruising, but it is also perfect for past cruisers who have sailed elsewhere. 


The Rhine flows through five countries from the Swiss Alps to the Netherlands, passing many castles in Germany, craggy cliffs, and a variety of UNESCO World Heritage sites. This river is also popular with both new and seasoned river cruisers. 


The Rhone is for those who wish to experience the France of Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Gauguin. Passing lavender fields and hilltop villages, eating delectable French cuisine, and sipping local wines is both romantic and enchanting. A Rhone river cruise itinerary is perfect for those who are captivated by the allure of France. 


The Seine combines urban and rural France for a comprehensive dip into the country’s history and culture. Itineraries here particularly appeal to history buffs who are interested in the Middle Ages and World War II. Passing beneath 37 bridges and viewing the iconic landmarks of Paris (Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, and The Louvre) provides ample oohs and aahs, so keep cameras at the ready.


The Moselle is the little sister to the Rhine and flows through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. It’s a quiet and peaceful river with a beautiful wine region and fairytale scenery. Wine aficionados seek itineraries on the Moselle because of its endless vineyards.


The Douro passes through pretty Portugal, allowing for time to explore some of the country’s most iconic cities like Lisbon and Porto. Sipping Port wine while passing terraced vineyards and small villages among the rolling hills of the country is the perfect way to end a day. Douro itineraries are growing in popularity, as is Portugal as a tourist destination.

Europe’s rivers provide the backdrop for an incredible river cruise, and our team can help you determine which river and itinerary is your best fit for your next trip.