Top 5 river cruises in Europe and beyond

Georgina Willcox | 30 January 2024
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A gentle, meandering river cruise is one of the best ways to see and understand a new place. The rivers are always the lifeline of the cities they flow through - the beating heart. It’s on the banks of rivers that cities were founded and flourished. If you haven’t included a river cruise on your bucket list, now is the time to do so. We offer a vast range of fantastic, scenic cruises through some of the world’s most fascinating regions. Much smaller than an ocean liner, the ships the travel specialists’ have chosen will take you into the heart of most cities you visit, giving you more time to “see more” and truly experience your destinations like a local. Check out our selection of the top European river cruises and in the wider world.

1. Danube River

Visit Budapest on a Danube River Cruise

The banks of the blue Danube come alive when it enters the cities of Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava. We offer an excellent Danube River Rhapsody cruise that packs in the sightseeing opportunities. The holiday begins in Munich, with a guided city tour through the German city of Passau before cruising on the MS Amadeus ship, which combines the elegance of a hotel with the versatility of a modern ship. Along the cruise, you’ll stop off in Emmersdorf, Austria, where you’ll enjoy a guided vineyard tour, as well as a wander through the town’s medieval streets and a visit to one of the world’s most famous sites: the 18th century Melk Abbey. You’ll witness the operatic beauty of Vienna, the bohemian wonder of Budapest and all the fabulous eastern charm of Bratislava. An invite to the captain’s gala dinner awaits you as the ship cruises into Linz.

2. Nile River

Uncover Egypt on a Nile River Cruise

Sail on one of the world’s greatest rivers with a 12-night Egypt holiday along the Nile. You’ll spend a few days in Cairo, sampling local cuisine and ancient sites with a full-day city tour that takes in the Egyptian Museum and a visit to the famous Khan El Khalili bazaar. Naturally, your visit will also include tours of the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx. Moving on, you’ll enjoy a relaxing cruise down the Nile with some excursions along the way through ancient temples, and hidden cities. The ship has several viewpoints from which you can admire the scenery on the banks of the great river. Your journey will come to an end with a relaxing few days in the beautiful beach resort of Hurghada, where you’ll unwind in a three-star hotel right by the blonde-sand beaches and Egypt’s Red Sea coast.

3. Rhine River

One of Europe's most iconic waterways, the Rhine river flows through Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. On our Rhine river cruise, you can enjoy a guided tour of Amsterdam before boarding the MS Amadeus ship where we'll discover vibrant cities like Cologne, Basel, and Strasbourg, each brimming with rich history and culture. Optional excursions ashore includes a visit to the renowned wine region of Moselle Valley, where you can indulge in local wines and savour the region's culinary delights.

Discover Cochem on Rhine River Cruise

4. Mekong River

Experience a Mekong River Cruise

The mighty Mekong runs through six countries in Asia and, on this Highlights of Vietnam holiday with Cambodia extension, you’ll experience some fascinating destinations. he first few days will be spent on land where you’ll discover Ho Chi Minh City with a local guide who will steer you through the country’s history, present and future. On your seven-night Mekong River Cruise, you’ll make your way to Cambodia and discover floating villages, floating markets, endless rice paddies and breathtaking scenery along the way. Highlights include a visit to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, a UNESCO world heritage site made up of 12th century stone structures in the jungle near Siem Reap, where you’ll witness one of the most memorable sunsets of your life.

5. Yangtze River

Experience a river cruise on the Yangtze

A Yangtze River Cruise in China combines the old with the new. Here you’ll witness a confluence of ancient traditions with modern cities looking toward the sky. Sometimes called the “Golden River”, the Yangtze is China’s lifeline and the third-longest river in the world. Beginning in Beijing, you’ll explore Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and the world-famous Great Wall of China, staying in carefully selected hotels. As you journey through China, you’ll visit Xi'an, taking in the famous Terracotta Warriors and Horses and the Giant Panda Breeding Centre in Chengdu. Most of the tour will be conducted on land with some internal flights (included) to get you across this vast country. Three days will be spent on a gentle cruise along the Yangtze, which will take you through the Three Gorges Dam. On the way, you can even benefit from some on-board Tai Chi lessons. No China holiday would be complete without experiencing the glitz and glamour of its most dazzling city Shanghai, where the final leg of the tour will be spent.

Set sail on a river cruise with us and take in multiple destinations. Each ship offers a range of fantastic facilities so you can sit back, relax and enjoy seeing the sights. If you still need some more persuasion, then check out our other blog post: 7 excellent reasons for taking river cruise

This blog post has been edited from an original article which appeared in the Irish Independent on February 12th 2019.

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