09 Nov 2023

The most beautiful rivers of Europe


a castle engulfed in the lush landscape on a hill overlooking the winding Rhine river a castle engulfed in the lush landscape on a hill overlooking the winding Rhine river

River Cruising


Excursions and Experiences

Europe is home to some of the world’s most charming, beautiful, and historic rivers, stretching through awe-inspiring regions against stunning backdrops.

From tiny, untouched medieval villages to geographical phenomena, the great river cruises of Europe explore some of the finest regions on the continent.

Each one of Europe’s major rivers possesses its own unique personality and charm – each distinctly different from one another. Here, we take a look at the wonderful rivers of the continent, and the highlights they have to offer.

The most beautiful rivers in Europe 

Sailing the Danube is a truly mesmerising experience. You can see many fantastic countries cruising this wondrous European river, including:  
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary
  • Croatia
  • Serbia
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria 

As the second largest river on the continent and one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe, there’s plenty to see and do as you make your way along the Danube’s waterways. Passing through major capital cities and charming towns, you’ll experience different cultures first-hand, learning more about what makes each nation unique.  

Discover more about the resiliency of Budapest’s Jewish community during World War II, gain a deeper understanding of the importance of classical music as you tour Vienna, and lose yourself in the wondrous medieval architecture of Regensburg.  

The best months for sailing down the Danube are between April and October, depending on whether you prefer warmer or cooler weather. Spring offers a touch of rain but avoids the summer heat. The summer itself is a great option if you love sailing in the sun. Autumn provides a beautiful backdrop but remember to bring a jacket for the evening chill.  


How long does it take to cruise the Danube?

A river cruise traversing the Danube will last either eight or nine days depending on which itinerary you choose. The Danube Delights and Danube Explorer cruises are eight days long, with Delights starting in Regensberg, Explorer in Passau and with both ending in Budapest. The Enchantments of Eastern Europe itinerary is nine days long, travelling from Budapest to Bucharest.   


The Rhine River The Rhine River
The Rhine River

A cruise along the Rhine will take you past breathtaking scenery. Both the natural sights and stunning city excursions will leave you speechless. As you make your way along one of the great river cruises of Europe, you’ll get the chance to explore the varied and interesting cultures of:  

There’s plenty to see and do as you cruise the Rhine. A guided bike tour to Waterland passes by Amsterdam’s famous windmills and flower fields – perfect for idyllic photo opportunities. At the UNESCO City of Literature of Heidelberg in Germany, you’ll discover how the area impacted the works of American writer Mark Twain and British artist William Turner.  

The best months to cruise the river Rhine fall between May and October. The summer is perfect for cruises where you want to enjoy as much sunshine as possible, whereas spring and autumn have fair, pleasant weather and there are fewer crowds around the tourist hotspots. 

  • The Netherlands
  • Germany
  • France
  • Switzerland


 How long is a Rhine river cruise? 

Rhine river cruises with Emerald Cruises last for 8 days, and there are three packed itineraries to choose from. Whether you’re looking to explore the sights of Germany or take in the beautiful views of The Netherlands, there’s plenty to see and do when you cruise up the Rhine. 

River cruises along the Rhône are ideal for romantic getaways. Winding through France, the excursions that await as you tour this beautiful European river are truly spectacular.  

Lose yourself in the country’s most famous culinary delights as you stop at Lyon, marvel at the stunning lay of the land at Tournon, and be inspired by the sights of Arles – the city that sparked Vincent Van Gogh to create over 300 works of art, including Starry Night Over the Rhône.  

When is the best time for a
Rhône river cruise?

Rhône river cruises can be enjoyed anywhere between April and October. Being so close to the Mediterranean means that even the spring and autumn months can still be quite balmy. The summer, in particular, is a great time for river cruises down the Rhône if you love to explore and relax in the sun.   

Douro River Douro River
Douro River

If you’re looking to enjoy one of the great river cruises of Europe, sailing the Douro needs to be near the top of your list. A river cruise on the Douro will take you through the heart of Portugal, with opportunities to explore neighboring Spain.

To get the most out of your visit to this beautiful, sunny Douro Valley, why not start your adventure in Lisbon? The city is famous for its Pombaline architecture, an ingenious design that was conceptualized to save Lisbon’s buildings from collapsing due to earthquakes.

No river cruise on the Douro should be without wine, and a stay in Porto will give you plenty of opportunities to enjoy a glass or two. Porto is well known for its wineries and dedication to the craft. 


What is the best time to cruise the Douro river?

Due to the warm climate, you could easily cruise the Douro River comfortably anywhere from April to November. Even in late November, Portugal can still reach temperatures as high as 65°F. During summer, the daily average high temperature is around 78°F – perfect for sun worshippers.

The Main is one of Europe’s less traveled waterways, but it easily ranks as one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe. Picturesque medieval towns and villages line the riverbanks and give way to lush green forests and spectacular views of hilltop castles and churches. The longest river lying entirely in Germany, the Main provides wonderful insight into this spectacular country.  

Most tours of Main will also include stops found along Danube and Rhine river cruises, including:  

For an all-encompassing journey, river cruises on the Main are certainly worth considering. Explore one of the most scenic areas in Germany and take some time to wander through the jewels of the Danube and Rhine as well. 

  • Amsterdam
  • Vienna
  • Budapest

Moselle River Moselle River
Moselle River

A river tour that goes hand in hand with wine tasting, you’ll never be short of wineries and vineyards to visit when you cruise the Moselle. You’ll also discover that the German stretch of the Moselle has been used for many TV and film shoots. Eberbach Valley was a key location for the film, In the Name of the Rose, and even served as the setting for the Game of Thrones season 5 trailer.  

As your cruise along the Moselle continues, there are plenty of sights to see. Castles that wouldn’t look out of place in a fairy tale, old city baths, and a medieval marketplace are all yours to explore, as you sojourn this beautiful European river. 

The rivers of Europe are truly beautiful, but they have to be seen with your own eyes to be fully appreciated. With Emerald Cruises, you’ll experience the cruise of a lifetime, where comfort, luxury, and a deep enrichment in local cultures come as standard.


If you want to learn more about the great river cruises of Europe, download your free Europe River Cruises brochure, and start planning your waterway adventure today. 

Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.