Whether you’re after outstanding food and wine, top-notch guided excursions or just really, really pretty views, coasting through Europe by river has got to be the swankiest way to travel. Not to mention, it’s one of the best ways to explore hidden nooks and crannies of your favorite countries. Here, five European river cruises for which you’ll be thrilled to pack your Dramamine.
THE BLUE DANUBE DISCOVERY WITH AVALON WATERWAYS
Sure, you’ve heard the famous waltz, but have you ever imagined sailing along the actual river? In a word: dreamy. You’ll start in Budapest, Hungary (wave hi to Slovakia as you pass by), and make your way through Austria and Germany to end in the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, aka the “Golden City.” The historic 13-day tour offers the opportunity for ample history and culture gawking. Think: the charming cobblestone streets of Dürnstein, Austria; wine tasting in Wachau Valley; and the medieval walls of Regensburg (one of the only German cities unscathed during World War II).
EUROPE’S RIVERS AND CASTLES WITH AMAWATERWAYS
Board in Luxembourg and wind down the Mosel River valley, taking in the lush hillside scenery furnished with plenty of rolling vineyards. In the Rhine River gorge, you’ll explore quaint German villages huddled amid dramatic backdrops, including plenty of fortresses and castle ruins. Along the Main River, you’ll see more medieval towns that time has apparently not touched—all of which you can peer at from your own French balcony. (Ya know, if you’re too lazy to de-board.)
RHINE ENCHANTMENT WITH TAUCK
Five countries. Seven nights. Milan to Amsterdam. Yeah, you’re pretty much sold. But here are some more details just in case. The first three nights, you’ll sleep in the historic Milan Hotel Principe di Savoia. From there, you visit Lake Como (say hi to George and Amal for us), take a walking tour through Basel or Zurich (your pick) and explore Riquewihr, a tiny Alsatian wine village (aka one the most beautiful villages in France), plus a whole lot more.
PORTUGAL’S RIVER OF GOLD WITH VIKING CRUISES
Why does it seem like everyone and their mom is heading to Portugal these days? Well, because it’s awesome. And you can see it all from a unique vantage point: on the Douro River. You’ll start in Lisbon (and stay the night there), and then hit up Coimbra, Porto and Salamanca (yep, they sneak a bit of Spain in there, too). But the best part? The Douro River valley also happens to be the world’s oldest demarcated wine region. We’ll drink to that.
BURGUNDY AND PROVENCE FROM UNIWORLD
Wine, truffles and the countryside that inspired Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin? Well, unlike a broke post-Impressionist, you’ll be doing it in luxury. Cruise the Rhône and Saône rivers for eight days (and hopefully with both ears), feasting on the region’s incomparable wine and food in France’s culinary capital, Lyon, and exploring the medieval wonders of Avignon. Just think of all the gorgeous French city names you’ll get to say over and over again. You fancy.