River Cruising is one of the most relaxing and luxurious ways to experience travel through Europe. So much of Europe’s rich history, commercial development and trade communications was centered around around the extensive network of inland waterways. Rivers were used as the primary source of travel and the shipping of goods from place to place enabled many European countries to gain wealth and power. As such most of Europe’s modern day great cities are situated on a waterway of some sort, and that wealth enabled those cities to create monumental cultural and heritage icons of architecture and development. River Cruising allows the traveler to experience these wonders in a luxurious and leisurely fashion. It offers an escape from tiresome packing and unpacking and checking in and out of hotels every other day, and long days spent in a coach. It offers a freedom to walk around and enjoy the multitude of facilities on board, or relax in your cabin or indulge in the fabulous food and beverage options available. You can be in a perfect state of relaxation while the majestic and ever-changing scenery unfolds before you. River boats are much smaller vessels so it offers a much more refined and intimate travel experience.
The Worlds Best River Cruise Options
Scenically stunning, culturally enriched, gastronomically delightful, there’s no doubt that the Douro Valley is best viewed by a river cruise. Porto, a World Heritage city and vastly underrated as a tourist destination, is the gateway and departure point for a journey across the natural and cultural diversity of the region. It is known for the Port wine which is shipped from here all over the world, but also for a heritage which combines ancient churches and monuments.
DAY 1: Porto (Embark)
Arrive in Porto
DAY 2: Porto, Cruising the Douro River, Porto Antigo
There’s much more to Portugal’s second city than its eponymous fortified wine—historic architecture, cutting-edge design, fabulous food and wine, and a hip, laid-back vibe. Discover its many charms with your choice of tours today.
DAY 3: Cruising the Douro River, Régua, Folgosa, Vega de Terrón
Learn about wine, which has been cultivated in the Douro River Valley since ancient Roman times.
DAY 4: Vega de Terrón (Salamanca), Barca d’Alva
You can visit the historic university town of Salamanca—the “Golden City”
DAY 5: Barca d’Alva, Pochino, Cruising the Douro River, Pinhão
Go medieval today at Castelo Rodrigo, both the name of a hilltop castle as well as the village that surrounds it. The view from the top is incredible and the village is a charming place to ramble, relax and replenish.
DAY 6: Pinhão, Régua
Your ship winds its way through the pristine, dramatic, UNESCO-protected landscapes of the Douro River Valley.
DAY 7: Cruising the Douro River Guimarães
Guimarães is the town where Portugal was born and its well-preserved architecture and stylish young residents make it a pleasure to visit.
DAY 8: Porto (Disembark)
The rivers of France provide a wonderful sightseeing experience. The Seine River Cruises in the north cover majestic Paris and it’s surrounds as well as the infamous Normandy battlefields and dramatic channel coastlines upto the lovely northern town of Rouen.
In the southwest, the Garonne and Dordogne river regions offer some of Frances most stunning scenery as well as some of the country’s best vineyards near Bordeaux. In the south east, through the valleys of Provence, the Saone and Rhone rivers encompass some of Frances most picture perfect villages and medieval towns showing off France’s best regional produce at their markets.
French river cruises are normally 7 or 8 days but you can also be easily combine two or more to create 15-21 day itineraries. The distances travelled are quite short, giving you more time on the ground to experience the region in intimate detail and sample the local delicacies.