Europe River cruise boat sailing down river.

Guide to European Rivers

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This is the ultimate guide to help you understand all of the different Europe rivers and the types of river cruises each offers. From wine tastings to art tours to culinary explorations and much more, each river and cruise line will provide the best of what the European rivers offer.

Danube river with castle in background at sunset.
Danube River

The Europe Rivers

Bordeaux Waterways – World’s premiere wine region in Southwest France, includes Garonne, Gironde and Dordogne rivers. Great for wine lovers and prehistoric history buffs.

Danube River – From Germany’s Black Forest mountains the Danube flows west through 10 countries into the Black Sea. Cruises available from 7-14 days itineraries and from various cities. Upper and Lower Danube options.

Douro River – Located in northern Portugal in the scenic wine-producing Douro valley. Bucolic scenery.

Elbe River – Flows north from northern Czech Republic through Germany and into the North Sea near Hamburg. Be sure to allow time to spend a few days in beautiful Prague.

Loire River – Begins in the mountains of Central France, flows north and abruptly veers west to the Atlantic Ocean. Shallow water makes this river difficult to navigate so you’ll find mostly barges and 2-3 river cruise lines that ply these waters. Worth the effort to find your cruise here.

Main River – Picturesque little river runs through Central Germany, and since 1992 is a connector between the Rhine and Danube rivers. Memorable medieval villages dot the region.

Moselle River – From the Vosges Mountains of Northern France, the delicate Moselle (Moselle in France) flows north past steep slope vineyards in Germany til it meets the Rhine in Koblenz, Germany. Twisty, turny river with sleepy towns and magnificent castle ruins.

Po River – The Po flows from northern Italy into Adriatic Sea near Venice. Because a Po river cruise relies on weather conditions, smaller river cruise ships are able to traveler further inland on the Po. Most include overnights in Venice. Short cruises to Murano and Burano, the Po isn’t much of a traditional river cruise as you’ll motor coach into nearby cities like Padua.

Rhine River – The mighty Rhine begins high in the Swiss Alps flowing north and west until it meets the North Sea in The Netherlands. This quintessential river cruise itinerary and the most popular Europe river cruise, flows past UNESCO World Heritage sites and regions including the Rhine Gorge with its dozens of medieval castles, fortresses and ruins.

Rhône River – The Rhône starts its journey near Lake Geneva in Switzerland and travels over 500 miles west and then south to the distant Mediterranean Sea. Foodies will love Lyon, the culinary capital of France as well as Burgundy along the way to Provence.

Saône River – This 300-mile long river begins in Chalon-sur-Saône, the Burgundy region of central France until Lyon, where the Saône meets the Rhône. Saône river cruises are usually combined with the Rhône.

Seine River – Rising in northwest France, the Seine flows past the romantic river banks of Paris and continues north to the shores of Normandy to empty into the English Channel at Le Havre. From Paris to Normandy and may include Rouen and Honfleur, WWII history buffs will appreciate the itinerary as will anyone who wants to see Paris.

Volga River – The longest river in Europe, the Volga travels some 2000 miles from Moscow into the Caspian Sea. Volga cruises go between St. Petersburg and Moscow and include the Svir and Neva rivers. Adventure-seekers and those who don’t mind a less luxury than they’d have on a Europe river cruise.

Bottom Line

The Danube river is the best of the best when it comes to Europe rivers in my opinion and will continue to be my favorite. If you can catch a Christmas market cruise then that’s even all the better!

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