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The Top 6 Best European River Cruises

26 January 2022

Discover scenic waterways and their stunning surroundings, rich with historical cities and landscapes that give a new meaning to picturesque, when you embark on a European river cruise. These all-inclusive expeditions artfully combine travel on local rail lines with small boat cruising experiences to create a vacation to remember. Whether you hope to explore France, Germany, Portugal or beyond, here are the top six best European river cruises to satisfy your appetite for adventure.

Amadeus Silver Rhine

1. The Glacier Express & Rhine Cruise

Panoramic vistas of sky-high mountains and lands so impressive they have warranted UNESCO World Heritage status beckon on the Glacier Express & Rhine Cruise. Begin in Switzerland, with time to explore Chur and Zermatt. Rides aboard the iconic Glacier Express and the highly scenic Gornergrat Mountain Railroad enhance your time here. The tour continues to Basel, where your luxury river cruise vessel awaits to whisk you down the Rhine, past quintessential German cities and through the majestic Rhine Gorge. Amsterdam's canals and windmills offer this Central European expedition an idyllic ending.

AMADEUS Queen Sailing

2. Imperial Cities & Danube Cruise

European river cruises also venture toward Western Europe on trips like the Imperial Cities & Danube Cruise. This vacation serves up adventure on a silver platter as you tour both Berlin and Prague. On arrival in Budapest, board your opulent Amadeus ship for a memorable cruise down the Danube River. Each day brings new intrigue, from exploring Slovakia's capital on foot to discovering the musical heritage of Vienna. Relish a private onboard performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, glorious sights of the Wachau Valley and your choice of adventures amongst Austria's pristine lakes. Medieval Regensburg caps off this 11-day tour, allowing you to savor history until the last drop.

Panorama of Douro river

3. Lisbon & Douro Cruise

Elegance is the centerpiece of many of the top river cruises, but the Lisbon & Douro Cruise tour redefines the word. Rich culture and a vibrant atmosphere welcome you to Lisbon, where a guided tour offers you your first taste of the wonders to come. Fairytale Sintra and Porto are other Iberian Peninsula destinations you get to enjoy before boarding the gorgeous Douro Serenity. Enjoy a wine tasting in Lamego and follow in the footsteps of royalty when you visit Castelo Rodrigo. The Douro River guides us further inland to Salamanca, Spain, for two days of excitement, including a guided tour and a flamenco performance. Before returning to Porto, spend the day exploring the exquisite grounds at Mateus Palace, a Baroque gem. 

Amsterdam Netherlands Dancing Houses Over River

4. Springtime Tulips & Keukenhof Gardens

Springtime in the Netherlands, is there anything more amazing? Watch nature's reawakening from the seats of a historic steam train and the panoramic windows of your floating hotel, a high-end Amadeus river cruiser, on the Springtime Tulips & Keukenhof Gardens rail and river cruise tour. This tour showcases the beauty of the Netherlands and Belgium, traveling through Amsterdam, Ghent, Bruges and Arnhem via intimate canals and beautiful inland waterways. Fortunately, your luxurious river cruise makes this an easy feat. Sightseeing adventures in storybook cities collide with military history and a rainbow of hues at Keukenhof Gardens to create a vacation unlike any other.

Panoramic View Of Nice

5. French Riviera & Rhone Cruise

Another popular river cruise, the French Riviera & Rhone Cruise, is one of the best ways to experience the grandeur that encompasses the French Riviera. This expedition travels along the Rhone River, one of the crowning jewels of the European continent, presenting destinations between coastal Nice and Beaune further inland. Soak in the culture with guided tours in Nice, Lyon, Beaune and Avignon. Taste wine in the heart of the Burgundy region in Beaune and look over landscapes so spectacular they inspired Van Gogh himself. A scenic train ride aboard the Train de l'Ardèche is the perfect complement to your time on the water. The Ardèche Gorge, Europe's Grand Canyon, offers the most dramatic conclusion to your sailing adventure. 

Cochem Germany Old Town And The Cochem Castle

6. The Magic of the Moselle

River cruises in Germany and Belgium are truly enchanting, especially those like the Magic of the Moselle that follow along the stunning Moselle River. Board a five-star Amadeus cruise ship in Trier, Germany's oldest city, and savor the romantic scenery of the Moselle region as you travel the course of the river. Enjoy a visit to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and time in several of Germany's ancient cities, including Bernkastel-Kues, Zell, Cochem, Koblenz, Rüdesheim and Speyer. Guided tours in these destinations only add to your immersive experience. Sip wine and watch the wonders as they unfold.

River cruises in Europe offer a juxtaposition of refinement and wonder, beauty and history. While many companies can make these visions come to life, Vacations By Rail raises the bar. We offer thrilling excursions, gorgeous cruising routes and package prices that give you more bang for your buck, combining these incredible cruises with outings on scenic regional railways.

There is truly no better way to gain multiple perspectives on the breathtaking countries of Europe, whether they lie on the coast or further inland. And on the water, the amenities are nearly endless.

All of our rail and cruise trips utilize high-end riverboats that host a smaller amount of guests and put luxury at the forefront of adventure. Enjoy spacious rooms with en suite bathrooms and well-appointed common areas to mingle with your fellow travelers. Delicious meals are prepared by some of the finest chefs in Europe and complimentary during your time on the cruise. Further, onboard entertainment - ranging from wine tastings to private concerts - is a special treat that enhances the journey. Come along with us and see what lies ahead.