When it comes to river cruise locations, it’s pretty hard to beat Europe’s gorgeous waterways. Here are a few of the most popular itineraries.
When in Rhone…
Approaching the bridge at Avignon in the twilight is a highlight of a river cruise along the Rhone and Saone rivers in France. It’s a feature on most itineraries, which often include the café at Arles in the Place Du Forum where Van Gogh is believed to have painted his The Starry Night. Disembark at Lyon and walk around the old town and its traboules, or small secret alleys. Or attend a wine tasting at Beaune before heading to a local restaurant to enjoy the best French cuisine and wines.
Relive the elegance of the glory days of the Danube
On a river cruise on the Danube you will disembark to walk through lush green countryside, on to historical towns and cities such as Budapest and Belgrade. There’s a veritable treasure trove of history on offer in the Danube just waiting for you to explore.
Head to St Stephen’s Basilica, or the Royal Palace in Belgrade, for jaw-dropping architecture or the majestic ruins of Tsarevets castle. A tour of the Unesco-designated cave church of Ivanova and Basarbovo is the perfect segue. The Iron Gates Gorge stretches for mile after mile, dividing the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains and narrowing to a tiny 500ft at one point.
Castles and fairy-tale villages
The Rhine is arguably the best river for cruising with numerous attractions that will regale first-time cruisers and seasoned travellers alike, such as the sloping vineyards all around, the varied river traffic during daylight, and the twinkling magical lights at dusk of the many castles dotted along the banks. Stop off at real fairyland villages and taste local food, and meet the region’s friendly, welcoming people. Don’t be at all surprised if you stumble upon a harvesting of the grapes and the obligatory wine tasting afterwards.
Onboard opera on a cruise down the Rhine
Whatever your musical tastes, an opera-themed cruise down the Rhine is certainly worth it. Onboard concerts often feature a soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone. The experience is vastly different from watching opera in a huge hall or theatre. Being among an audience of a select few at a performance on a riverboat is such a personal, unique experience.
The route of emperors and kings
Sail the Danube on MS Serenity with Travelsure, from Passau to Budapest, through some of the 10 countries it feeds along its 185-mile route. The ancient Silk Roads from China, Java and Somalia ended in the Mediterranean, and the Danube allowed trade to continue into northern Europe and to British shores. Neolithic man left evidence of his presence 8,000 years ago in the pebbles along the shoreline, and Romans, Celts, Vikings, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Byzantine and Crusading armies all passed over these smooth stones. It became known as the Route of Emperors and Kings.