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Cruises are a fantastic way to explore the world, letting you cover multiple destinations without feeling rushed. With plenty of luxury added in, it’s no wonder cruises are so popular with travellers. While many of us head to distant shores on ocean-going cruises, Europe offers loads of fantastic river cruises. With a continent so steeped in history and full of different cultures, there’s more to see than you might expect on these 6 European cruises.
The Danube winds its way through the heavily forested countryside of Bulgaria and Serbia. This region is dripping with history and atmosphere. The Carpathian mountains offer a stunning backdrop as the river carries on towards the steppes and marshes of Romania. Most cruises stop at fantastic cities such as Belgrade and Novi Sad so you can explore these places at your leisure. You’ll also see the extraordinary rock formations at Belogradchik, carved by the wind itself.
For a beautiful trip filled with culture, why not cruise along the many routes the Rhine takes to the North Sea and explore The Netherlands and Belgium? Spring is the most popular time for this cruise, with swathes of fields full of bright, colourful tulips. However, there’s no wrong time of the year to experience the Lowlands. Most cruises will begin with a few days in Amsterdam, a city full of museums such as the Van Gogh museum, the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank’s House. After you’ve explored the Netherlands’ capital city, you’ll sail past ranks of 18th-century windmills. Then head into Belgium, where you can visit the stunning port city of Bruges, or the diamond capital of Europe, Antwerp.
Explore Portugal and Spain by river and see a side of these popular destinations that you might miss out on otherwise. Starting in Porto, you’ll make your way along the Douro river to Salamanca in Spain on this luxurious river cruise. Soak up beautiful views of the stunning medieval architecture, then treat yourself to some of the region’s exceptional wines. Along the way, you can stop at some of the most picturesque towns and monasteries Portugal has to offer. Once you arrive in Spain, there is so much to do. Sample some of the delicious food and take in a flamenco show before exploring the ancient and beautiful city of Salamanca.
For centuries the river Danube has been at the heart of trade and travel within Central Europe. Of all the stretches on this massive river, the Blue Danube, named after a famous waltz, is one of the most popular river cruise destinations. Every day brings you fantastic new destinations full of history and culture. This stretch of the river runs through Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. You can visit Vienna and the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, Budapest. Budapest comprises two cities, the medieval city of Buda on the Western bank and Pest on the Eastern bank.
A trip down the Rhône is the perfect getaway for any Francophile. The river is considered one of the best in Europe, and a cruise down it is a great way to immerse yourself in all things French. Glide past the vineyards of Burgundy and the sun-soaked countryside of Provence and enjoy some of the finest scenery France has to offer. On the way, stop in the beautiful city of Avignon, home to seven Popes between 1309 and 1377, and wander the streets and papal palaces.
The Elbe was tricky for many cruise ships to visit, due to its relatively low bridges, until newer shallow-draft boats came along. The river takes you through some stunning German cities, such as the hip capital Berlin and the elegant city of Dresden. With an amazing backdrop of forests and mountains, you’ll follow the river into the equally beautiful Czech Republic. Once there you can visit the fascinating city of Melnik.
This is just a sample of some of the beautiful cruises available throughout Europe. No matter which river you plan on sailing down in luxury, remember that you’ll need comprehensive cruise Travel Insurance for your trip.
Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance ExpertLast Updated: 1 March 2023
 Based on Trustpilot reviews of all companies in the Travel Insurance Company category that have over 30,000 reviews as of January 2023.
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