If your idea of the ultimate holiday is to take in as much culture and sightseeing as possible, without having to rise up off your deck chair, then it’s time to consider a European river cruise.
Iconic rivers criss-cross the continent, and most will take you past historic castles, stunning panoramic vistas, famous capitals, and lesser-known towns and villages. Europe’s rivers served as a vital means of transportation for thousands of years, which means along their courses you’ll find some of the continent’s oldest and grandest cities, including several capitals.
There are five large rivers on the continent that see most of the traffic — the Danube, the Loire, the Volga, the Elbe and the Rhine. Each has several tributaries, many of which are also navigable by boat, which means it’s also possible to combine more than one famous river on a single multi-day cruise. There are also several smaller rivers that have fewer cruise options, but are no less attractive or intriguing.
Although luxurious European river cruises tend towards the expensive side of travel, most are all-inclusive of meals and daily tours, such as walking tours and vineyard visits. If you’re unsure where to begin with picking the ultimate cruise, these 14 options are an ideal place to start.