Best River Cruises In Europe have never been more popular, and it’s easy to understand why – on one of their cruises, you can enjoy some of Europe’s most enchanting scenery from the deck of a luxury ship and visit towns, castles and palaces that feature in some of the continent’s most significant historic tales.
Best River Cruises In Europe
Here are four of Europe’s most enticing rivers for cruising holidays, along which a plethora of historic sites and stunning vistas await.
Steeped in myth and legend, a cruise on the Rhine is one of the most magical in Europe. Winding over 830km from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, the river has always featured prominently in the Europe’s history and story books. The majority of the river snakes through Germany, and it is here that ships embark on adventures through lands of medieval castles and vineyards. Explore the city of Cologne with its majestic cathedral, stroll through the narrow streets of historic Koblenz, and boat along the canals of Strasbourg.
In terms of natural, wild beauty, river cruises don’t get any better than those along the Douro of Portugal. Rolling hills adorned with sleepy villages, sprawling vineyards and verdant meadows line the route between the Spanish boarder and coastal town of Porto on the Iberian Peninsula. This tranquil trip is all about laying back and enjoying the scenery, with meadows filled with wild flowers in spring and the vineyards decorated with gold and auburn during autumn. One of the oldest wine regions in the world, there is plenty of opportunity to sample local tipples on a cruise, with vineyard tours aplenty. Explore the cobbled, gleaming streets of Spanish Salamanca, enjoy the vistas on the stint through the Douro Valley, and explore the UNESCO world heritage city of Porto.
Longest of the European rivers, the Danube winds through ten countries making it the perfect river cruise for those seeking diversity and adventure: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine – travel from some of Europe’s beat loved cities to some of its best kept secrets. With the fertile banks of the river having served as the perfect place to settle for pioneers throughout history, a cruise will take you past a number of captivating cities including Belgrade, Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna and the German city of Nuremberg. For folklore, culture and enchanting forests, this river cruise is the perfect choice.
The south of France has been the inspiration for countless artists, its colours and landscape featuring in the work of Monet and Van Gogh amongst many others. For those with an artistic, romantic temperament, this is a river cruise to quench the imagination and inspire. Cruising through Provence and Burgundy, expect breathtaking vistas, a sumptuous pallet of colours and story-book villages. Buy fresh bread and cheese at the outdoor markets in Tauron, visit the Roman ruins in Lyon, and take a walking tour through Avignon, City of Popes.
Things To Do In Porto
Porto is a beautiful city in northern Portugal, priding itself on its production of the very special Port Wine – it’s also Portgual’s second largest city, full of fun attractions and sights for the visitor.
The trick with finding good deals on flights to Porto is to look for flights leaving early, and often the earlier it leaves the cheaper it is.
There are hotels and parking at Heathrow airport, so you can arrive the night before without the stress of finding a parking spot, and then check into an airport hotel for the night so that you can give yourself a little more sleep than if you were to drive from faraway.
If you finally decide to visit this charming place, here is a quick guide to what to see and what to do…
Visit The Port Wine Cellars
Since Porto is world famous for its sweet, flavorsome Port wine, it wouldn’t be more than right to visit one of the many wine cellars to get a deeper insight into the wine, and taste (for free) this heavenly drink.
A tour generally costs between 3-5 Euro, including a tasting.
Many of the tours offer guides in English, French, Spanish and of course Portuguese.
Take A Boat Cruise
Taking a cruise up the river is both inexpensive and a great way to see the beautiful views and landscapes of Porto.
If you go as far up as Pinhao, you’ll see the beautiful vineyards perched on the hills surrounding the river.
This is the winemaking area, and if you come in Autumn this otherwise sleepy place is full of activity, as that’s the harvesting time of the year.
Walk The Streets Of Porto
The streets of Porto are very quaint, and although hilly, that’s part of the charm.
Take in the bohemian chill atmosphere and get lost in the maze of streets.
Small boutiques and cafes line the steep streets in colorful tiled buildings, and sitting down at one of the cafes tasting the local sweets and pastries is definitely a highlight of any trip to Porto.
When doing a self-guided tour around Porto, make sure you visit Mercado do Bolhão, a traditional market selling fruits, vegetables, meat and fish – to give you a glimpse into the local’s daily lives.
Porto is all about the atmosphere, it might not have many attractions in terms of churches, museums and such things – but it’s a city which is simply a lot of fun to just walk around in.