Europe is the perfect destination to tour by boat to soak up its culture and scenic splendor. Bodies of water like the Rhine and the Rhône charm people from around the world who take a cruise on them. Here are some of the best places in Europe to view from the comfort of a boat and get the best out of this continent.
There’s a reason why Germany’s biggest river, the Rhine, is such a popular part of Europe when it comes to cruises. As well as being home to a beautiful river to drift along, the fairy tale-like region is dotted with medieval castles, palaces and fortresses. Because the river has been a strategic location for millennia, many of these sights are perched along the river and easily seen by boat.
A cruise on the Rhine can also link up with the Moselle River, providing a beautiful and scenic river ride, one of the prettiest in Germany. River cruisers also call in at the elegant city of Cologne, with its eponymous Cologne cathedral, and move from there to Koblenz. That’s where the waters of the Rhine and the Moslle meet, giving you the most scenic bang for your river cruise buck.
Venice, the city of canals, is a perfect destination to see Europe by boat. You can take a gondola ride or do like the locals and ride a traghetto; a short gondola ride that crosses the canals to get from one side to the other rather than ride along them. It’s a much cheaper and authentic experience. Popular spots like the Doge Palace, the Torre del Relogio (the clock tower) and St. Mark’s Basilica line St. Mark’s Square. But you’ll really want to break away from the tourist hotspots which can be very crowded.
One option is to visit three of the main Venetian islands: Burano, Mazzorbo, and, at the northern end of the lagoon, Torcello. The islands offer a break from the busy streets of Venice and the chance to learn crafts such as lace making.
A romantic river cruise through France plies through the elegant region of Provence and its endearing town of Avignon, which was the center of the Roman Catholic world in the early 1300s when the Popes lived here. If you happen to be stopping off at Avignon in July, you may be able to catch the Festival d’ Avignon, which is the largest arts festival in France.
You’re also likely to find the port city – and France’s second largest city – of Marseille on the itinerary. The 2013 European Capital of Culture simply sparkles now. Visit the old artsy neighborhood Le Panier, which means “the basket,” and discover its hidden squares.
Europe, with all its glistening, gorgeous rivers, is the perfect setting for a cruise that combines culture and sightseeing with relaxation and fine dining.