The scenic world of European River Cruises
|The Hungarian Parliament Building is just ONE of many sights you'll see when you embark on your river-cruise journey! All photography is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted.|
Have you ever dreamt of drifting down scenic European waterways while magnificent castles, storybook villages and pastoral countrysides pass you by? How about docking at the city's front door just a few steps from the city centre that promises an unforgettable cultural immersion in centuries-old surroundings? When you consider visiting multiple European cities in a single trip, do you find the thought of having to pack and unpack and pack and unpack a little daunting? What about hopping from train to train to train to squeeze it all into your trip of a lifetime? While that can be certainly one of the most romantic ways to travel through Europe, something I can personally attest to, visiting all of these European destinations from the convenience of your river-cruise vessel holds a certain appeal—moving from place to place and reveling in the journey along the way! Welcome to European river cruising and once you embark, you may never look back! Isn't it time you embarked on your dream of exploration to discover new places, historical treasures and most of all, the people of distant lands?
What can you expect to see? Let me show you!
|The Viking Odin in Volendam at sunset.|
|Buda Castle in Hungary. Photo: Wikimedia.org.|
By far, the Danube is one of the most popular if not THE most popular route that many of the big river cruise companies offer in their exciting European holidays because it's Europe's longest river and with that, the opportunities to explore multiple countries in a single week, and imagine even more with two. Beginning in the Black Forest in Germany, the mighty Danube—1,785 miles long—winds through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and still more, before emptying into the Black Sea. The list of sights and opportunities is endless and will send you reeling when you think of experiencing the history, art, architecture and culture through the cities' fascinating landmarks, bustling centers of diverse cultures, vast art collections spanning a thousand years and making new friends! Imagine seeing the Melk Abbey, the hills alive with "The Sound of Music," the home of Wolfgang Mozart not to mention the Schönbrunn and Hofburg Palaces in Austria; Saint Martin's Cathedral and the Bratislava Castle in Slovakia; Buda Castle in Hungary; all in the span of a week!
|Austria's Melk Abbey, yet another stop along your European river cruise. Photo: WikiMedia.org.|
The Rhine River
|Cologne, Germany, and its mighty cathedral or Dom in the background.|
Coming in second are scenic passages along the Rhine River offering some of Europe's most spectacular vistas: soaring mountains, magnificent castles and enchanting storybook villages. The Rhine flows for 785 miles from the Swiss Alps near Basel; through Germany's Black Forest area with visits to Breisach to see the St. Stephansmünster cathedral; France's Alsatian city of Strasbourg and its cathedral and the storybook La Petite France; Heidelberg and Germany's oldest university; Speyer's Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and Saint Stephen; Koblenz's Marksburg Castle; Rüdesheim's 1,000-year-old Broemser Castle and the Drosselgasse; a stop in Köln or Cologne to see its remarkable Gothic cathedral—the Dom; Kinderdijk in the Netherlands and the 16th- to 18th-century windmills; and finally ending in one of my favorite cities in the world—Amsterdam—from its timeless canals and uniquely Dutch architecture to the Anne Frank House, "coffee houses," and the infamous Red-Light District. Again, all of this in the span of one week!
|The magnificent Dom in Cologne, Germany.|
|Cologne, Germany by night.|
The Moselle River
|The idyllic countryside along the Moselle River in Germany.|
If pastoral settings of vineyard-covered hillsides, magnificent castles and cathedrals and the heart of Bavaria's medieval villages appeal to you, then perhaps it's a cruise along the Moselle River that flows 350 miles from France through Luxembourg and ending in Germany. Some of the sights you can expect along the way include Germany's oldest city—Trier with its Cathedral of Saint Peter with roots that date back to 326 AD, and the almost 2,000-year-old Roman Porta Nigra; Bernkastel's enchanting half-timbered village town square, the Palace of the Grand Duke and the WW II Memorial; the Baroque town of Cochem and its 1,000-year-old Reichsburg Castle, the Schlagkamp Wine Museum with wine tasting of course. All of this and more along the Moselle River and yes, in just one week.
|The Reichsburg Castle in Germany's Cochem. Photo: WikiMedia.org.|
Which European river cruise is right for You?
As you can see, I have barely scratched the surface of capturing all of the exciting destinations that river cruising offers. I've only mentioned some of them along three European rivers and we haven't even discussed Portugal's Douro, Ukraine's Dnieper, Russia's Volga, Italy's Po, and France's Rhone with its splendor of Provence—all offer even more scenic journeys and yes, in the span of just one week!
But how do choose from among all of the twinkling stars in the heavens? That's not an easy question to answer! Is it a visit to the enchanting villages in Germany that appeals to you? Or perhaps a wine tour through idyllic settings of the Moselle? Perhaps a Rhine Valley cruise through a valley of imposing fortresses and magnificent scenery? Listening to a Viennese concert or exploring ancient architecture? With a little guidance and the distillation of infinite online and printed brochures, destinations that pique your curiosity will suddenly surface above the clutter and before you know it, you're entrenched. Determine what appeals to you and visit multiple river cruise websites where you'll find informative and very pretty videos, day-by-day itineraries and a range of cruises spanning from eight to 50+ days. Imagine!
|Medieval half-timbered architecture of the village square in Cochem, Germany.|
What I love most about river cruising
|Viking River Cruises' "Viking Odin" lobby.|
- Intimate atmosphere onboard these river-going vessels with most ships carrying just 130 – 190 passengers—a striking contrast to the ocean megaliners sailing with 4,000 passengers or more.
- Convenience of unpacking ONCE yet exploring multiple countries in a single week.
- All meals, including beer and wine, are included with lunch and dinner.
- All excursions are included in the price of the cruise.
- The ship docks only steps away from Europe's most celebrated and historical cities without having to worry about transportation and hotel logistics. And at the end of the day, you stroll back to the ship and away you go on your next adventure.
|Vienna at Christmas! Photo: Property of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
Speaking of next adventures, this December, I will once again be sailing with Viking River Cruises and waltzing down the Danube River on their "Danube Waltz" cruise through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary and the best part is that in addition to experiencing all of these places for the first time, the cruise sails when Europe is donning its holiday best—adorned with twinkling lights, enchanting Christmas markets and oh the scrumptious food that awaits, not to mention glühwein to warm my frozen bones! Be sure to follow along as I continue my "In Search of Christmas" series this December.
Have you been on a river cruise? Please share your journey with me.