European River Cruises

River cruises in Europe are very popular among travelers. You will find a variety of packages from many different suppliers. The most common itineraries are along some combination of the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. But there are plenty of other options also available on other waterways throughout western, eastern and southern Europe.

Rhine River

Rhine River in Braubach, Germany With Marksburg Castle

Upper Middle Rhine Valley

The Rhine River flows in a northwesterly direction through northern Switzerland, along the border of France, through southwestern Germany and into the Netherlands. In Germany it is connected to the Neckar River in Mannheim, the Main River in Mainz and the Moselle River in Koblenz. 

Itineraries that combine the Rhine with the Moselle River are found among most suppliers. And cruises that combine the Main and Danube rivers with the Rhine are also very common. Sometimes the Moselle is also included. Most cruises that combine these waterways are on Lower Rhine, which is actually the most northern part of the River.

Sightseeing and dinner cruises are also available on the Rhine.

Danube River

Parliament Building in Budapest on the Danube River

On a Danube River cruise, you could travel through or along the border of up to ten different countries. The Main-Danube Canal connects the Main and Danube rivers. Cruises are typically between Nuremberg or Passau and Budapest. (Nuremberg is located on the Main-Danube Canal.) You'll also find itineraries between Vilshofen and Budpaest, Vienna and Budapest and Budapest and Bucharest.

There are several itineraries available that also include the Rhine and Main rivers. These cruises are usually between Amsterdam and Budapest or Amsterdam and Bucharest. Uniworld has an itinerary that is between Basel and Vienna, which includes the Upper Rhine from Basel to Mainz and the westernmost part of the Danube between Kelheim and Vienna.

Lunch and dinner cruises on the Danube River in Budapest are also popular among travelers visiting the city.

Other Rivers in Germany

Main River in Frankfurt, Germany

The Moselle River form a confluence with the Rhine River in Koblenz, Germany. Itineraries on the Moselle are typically round trip from Koblenz to Trier and are part of a Rhine River cruise package.

Also in Germany, the Main River is located between the Rhine and Danube rivers. It is almost always part of a package that includes the Rhine, Main or both rivers. 

Day trips from Frankfurt to the Rhine Valley and sightseeing cruises in Frankfurt are also popular among travelers who are visiting the city.

And finally, cruises on the Elbe River, though not quite as popular as the others, are also available. This river is located in northeastern Germany and Czech Republic. Two of its tributaries are included in an Elbe River cruise package from CroisiEurope. While most itineraries are between Berlin and Prague, CroisiEurope is the only company that travels by boat between Berlin and Prague and the the Elbe River. Berlin is located on the Havel River, and Prague is located on the Vltava River.

Dinner cruises are available in Berlin and also in Prague.

Rivers in France

Pont Neuf Bridge on the Seine River in Paris

In France, there are three regions where river cruises are featured. You can take a cruise on the Seine River in northwestern France between Paris and Rouen, Caudebec or Honfleur. Itineraries usually include a trip by motor coach to the Normandy Beaches.

Lunch and dinner cruises on the Seine River in Paris are also popular among travelers who are visiting France.

Or you can travel through Burgundy and Provence in eastern France on the Rhône and Saône rivers. 

Cruises are also available in southwestern France round trip from Bordeaux on the Dordogne and Garonne rivers and the Gironde Estuary.

CroisiEurope is the only river cruise company that currently features itineraries on the Loire River. However, there are several barge river cruise companies that offer packages on this river as well as on other waterways and canals in France.

Rivers in Spain & Portugal

Douro River Valley in Portugal

River cruises are available on the Douro River in northeastern Spain and northern Portugal. Most itineraries are round trip through from Porto, Portugal to Vega de Terrón, Spain.


And in southwestern Portugal and Spain, CroisiEurope offers cruises on the Guadalquivir and Guadiana rivers. You'll visit Cádiz and Cordoba, Spain as well as a few other cities in both Portugal and Spain.

Sightseeing cruises on the Guadalquivir River

Dutch & Belgian Waterways

Amsterdam Netherlands Church of St Nicholas

Amsterdam, Netherlands

You'll find some Rhine River cruise itineraries that include the Dutch & Belgian Waterways and are available year-round. For the most part, cruises on the canals and rivers in the Amsterdam and Belgium are seasonal. They're very popular during the spring when the tulips are blooming. All of the major river cruise companies offer itineraries round trip from Amsterdam during the months of March, April and May.

There are several options for canal cruises in Amsterdam that are available throughout the year, including a 5-star rated, Amsterdam Canals Cruise with Dinner Cooked On Board.

Rivers in Italy

Venice, Italy

The Po River is located in eastern Italy. Itineraries also include travel on the canals in Venice. There are only two river cruise companies that offer cruises on the Po River - Uniworld and CroisiEurope. You'll also find barge cruise itineraries available.

Other sightseeing cruises are available for travelers who are visiting the city of Venice.

Read more about River Cruises in Italy.

Other Rivers in Europe

Skyline of Moscow, Russia

Some other rivers should be mentioned, although they are not available from all suppliers. A few river cruise companies offer cruises on the Volga River in Russia between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Viking River Cruises did offer cruises on the Dnieper River in Ukraine, but canceled the itinerary after conflict erupted about two years ago. There has been some talk about opening up the itinerary up again.

For people who are interested in barge cruises, there are options available for cruises on the Thames River in England, the Shannon River in Ireland as well as several other canals and waterways in Scotland and France.

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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in  river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

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