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Destination: Europe

River cruises in Europe

The best way to explore Europe

Imagine a holiday that enables you to explore many of Europe’s beautiful cities, historic towns, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and iconic landmarks in one seamless journey. Imagine going to sleep in Bratislava and waking up in Budapest. Imagine travelling from destination to destination and needing to unpack only once. Imagine strolling out of your room ready for a dip in the heated swimming pool and having a drink waiting for you when you get out. Imagine enjoying a light breakfast or lunch alfresco, as you admire the beautiful landscapes and breathe in the fresh air.

Take one of Emerald Waterways' river cruises in Europe and you don’t have to imagine; it’s simply what you can expect. From Rhine river cruises to voyages along the River Danube, so much of Europe can be explored through European river cruising; some of the most enticing cities and most charming towns in all the world sit along the banks of these mighty waterways.

The Danube River

Beginning in the Black Forest of Germany and gliding all the way to the Black Sea through Central and Eastern Europe, the Danube gives you a vibrant selection of cultures, cuisines, and histories. 

In Prague, you can visit famous sites like Mozart’s Theatre and the Astronomical Clock before indulging in some local Czech fare. Explore the Neo-Gothic Blatna Castle while wandering this Bohemian capital nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires.” Then sail onwards to the German town of Regensburg, where perhaps you’ll indulge in a beer tasting at a local brewery before relaxing to the folk music of a traditional Bavarian band. 

In the wine-growing region of Austria, be impressed by the Baroque architecture, gold leaf walls, and fresco ceilings of Melk Abbey overlooking the Danube. And in artistic and intellectual Vienna, experience a city of historic and modern significance, filled with impressive sites like the Hofburg Imperial Palace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Fall in love with the capital of Bratislava and its stylish cafes and plazas while you soak up the history of its Old Town, including Mirbach Palace and the Gothic Cathedral of St. Martin. In Budapest, the liveliest city of Eastern Europe, take in a Hungarian folklore show and traditional meal amongst the lights of the city. Roam the streets and enjoy popular sites like the Chain Bridge, its iconic link between the cities of Buda and Pest. 

The Rhine River

Winding through the German and Dutch countryside, the Rhine takes you past vineyards, medieval castles, and history ranging from the Middle Ages to World War II. This river offers a chance to view and explore the most dramatic of Germany’s scenery, including impressive architecture like the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the toll castle of Pfalzgrafenstein, and the Gothic cathedral of Kölner Dom.

In the beautiful town of Würzburg, you’ll see the famous terraced vineyards lining the steep hills and get a chance to sip local wines. Experience more impressive landscapes and culture in the Black Forest, where you can see recreations of historical farms and artisan workshops and have a taste of the Black Forest’s namesake dessert.

Across the river in Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region of France, find a mix of French and German life, architecture, and winemaking. Meander around the ancient town of Koblenz, known for its cozy alleyways and narrow lanes, before passing through the naturally spectacular Rhine Gorge. Wander amongst the cafes and plazas of romantic Heidelberg and walk up to the impressive castle that overlooks the city.

A journey along the Rhine also includes the famous windmills and canals of the Netherlands, affording you time to experience Amsterdam where  you can cycle around town like a local, visit a local food market, or venture out in a glass-topped canal boat.

The Rhone River

Snaking through the Provence and Burgundy regions of France, a cruise on the Rhone is perfect for wine lovers. From the Swiss Alps, the river flows through southeastern France, passing through the Beaujolais wine country before spilling into the Mediterranean Sea. Expect beautiful views of the French Alps and the famous lavender fields of Provence along the way.

In the culinary capital of Lyon, you can traipse cobblestone streets, dine at a quintessential French bistro, and explore the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière with its stunning hilltop views of the city. Then cruise to Chalon-sur-Saône, the birthplace of photography, before visiting the nearby village of Beaune. Surrounded by prestigious vineyards, it’s home to the Hospices de Beaune, a perfect example of 15th-century French architecture and now a museum containing legendary artwork.

Waking up in the riverside town of Mâcon will leave you the day to experience its half-timbered houses and Soufflot Chapel, along with its local vegetable market and famous white wines. Further along the Rhone, you’ll find Roman ruins and castles situated amidst mountains and a longstanding tradition of winemaking. You can bike through vineyards or learn a little bit more with a wine and cheese tasting.

Walk amidst history in Avignon as the city displays its Celtic past, evidence of the French Revolution, and the impressive former residence of the Pope. You can also visit colorful Arles, the capital of Provence and the city known for inspiring Vincent Van Gogh, which boasts 12th-century cloisters and a massive ancient Roman Amphitheater.

The Main River

The Main weaves past several of Germany’s most picturesque and historic towns, as well as some of its largest and most modern. In Cologne, you’ll find a mix of Romanesque churches and Gothic cathedrals like Kölner Dom alongside modern and pre-war architecture. The river also takes you past the UNESCO World Heritage town of Bamberg with its medieval winding streets, arched stone bridges, and 18th-century mansions. There you can wander the rose gardens of the New Palace, shop at the town’s many stylish boutiques, or visit one of the local breweries known for their smoked Rauchbier.

In Würzburg, stunning hillside vineyards line the bank of the Main river, along with the Bishop’s Residenz, known for its intricate Baroque style. Like many other German cities, Würzburg was rebuilt after much of it was destroyed in WWII, but it still retains its previous luster and charm. Further along, you can hike to up to one of the region’s most impressive attractions, Wertheim Castle, for outstanding views of the countryside and later walk around the Bavarian village of Miltenberg. Located along the Franconian Red Wine Hiking Trail, you’ll be able to taste some of the area’s best Pinot Noir surrounded by the town’s famed half-timbered buildings. 

The Douro River

Experience the rugged landscapes, well-preserved traditional lifestyle, and fortified wine of the Douro River Valley as you cruise through rustic northern Portugal. Packed with vibrant culture, the Douro begins in Spain and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at the city of Porto. 

Known for its riverside cafes, Old World architecture, and vast cellars of wine, Porto will have you spending hours exploring its alleys filled with tasting boutiques and wine caves. Or you might choose to travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Guimarães, the seat of Portugal’s first king. The Douro River will then weaves through rocky cliffs and steep slopes amidst family-run farms to the village of Pocinho. There you can observe prehistoric stone carvings, take a canoe trip through the river valley, and even dine at a quinta or local wine estate. 

You can learn more about winemaking and the production of port in the sun-bleached town of Régua. Only wine produced in the Douro River Valley can be labeled “port” or “porto” and you’ll see why. Winemakers in this region are still using the traditional hundred-year-old methods.

Dip into Spanish culture with a visit to Salamanca, a university town where you can leisurely make your way through the city’s endless tapas bars. Enjoy local food, entertainment, and dancing in the place that’s considered to be the seat of the Spanish language.

Our European River Cruises

Featured

Fly to Europe for $495pp

Danube Delights

8 days
Budapest > Nuremberg
An unforgettable cruise down the iconic Danube & through the heart of old Europe. Walking tours, invitations into the homes of locals & sightseeing excursions showcase the magnificence of yesteryear.
from $2,495

Rhine - Main Discovery Christmas Markets

8 days
Nuremberg > Amsterdam
World Heritage-listed Medieval towns, Baroque palaces, and picturesque villages intertwine with unrivalled natural beauty and sloping vineyards, while Christmas markets invite the festive spirit.
from $2,540
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Danube Explorer

8 days
Passau > Budapest
Walk the cobblestone streets of Medieval cities, explore Austria’s wine-growing region and marvel at the fusion of old and new in musical Vienna and eclectic Budapest.
from $2,995
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Classic Prague & Danube Delights

11 days
Budapest > Prague
Extend your journey with a three-night stay in the Czech capital, after your journey from Budapest invites the beauty of Bavaria, lunch with a Slovakian family and magnificent Vienna.
from $3,090

Secrets of the Douro

8 days
Porto > Porto
Terraced vineyards rise from riverbanks and Baroque villages remain a marvellous reminder of the past. Experience Roman Salamanca for its vibrant nightlife, and try Porto’s famous fortified wine.
from $3,245
Fly to Europe for $495pp

The Charms of Holland & Belgium

8 days
Amsterdam > Amsterdam
from $3,485
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Highlights of the Netherlands & the Beauty of Belgium

8 days
Amsterdam > Amsterdam
Let the Dutch charm sweep you up on an itinerary full of vibrancy and tradition. From 79 multicoloured acres of tulips at Keukenhof Gardens, to Zaanse Schans, artistic Antwerp and quirky Amsterdam.
from $3,495
Spring Savings – Save up to $3000 per person

Enchantment of Eastern Europe

10 days
Bucharest > Budapest
As the final stretch of the Danube weaves its way through the depths of eastern Europe, meet locals for lunch in their home, enjoy tours of Osijek & Belgrade & marvel at the beauty of the Iron Gate.
from $3,525 $2,025
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Jewels of the Rhine

8 days
Amsterdam > Basel
Architecture, history and natural beauty are ever-present on this wonderful journey down the Rhine, beginning in the Dutch capital and sweeping up Cologne, Koblenz and the Black Forest on its route.
from $3,595
Fly to Europe for $495pp

The Majestic Rhine

8 days
Frankfurt > Basel
from $3,595
Spring Savings – Save up to $3000 per person

Sensations of Southern France

8 days
Arles > Lyon
Romance, spectacular historic landmarks & Roman influence, celebrate France’s past & present on this sensory journey through renowned vineyards & world-class restaurants along the Saône & Rhône rivers
from $3,665 $2,165
Fly to Europe for $495pp

The Classic Rhine

8 days
Amsterdam > Frankfurt
from $3,695
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Legends of the Moselle Rhine and Main

8 days
Nuremberg > Frankfurt
UNESCO World Heritage-listed locations and picturesque towns make up this historically-rich itinerary, while vineyards and natural beauty create stunning riverbank backdrops.
from $3,815
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Lisbon & Secrets of the Douro

11 days
Lisbon > Porto
Start your journey with a three-night stay in the lively Portuguese capital, before embarking on a journey of rising riverbank vineyards, Baroque villages and vibrant nightlife.
from $4,040
Spring Savings – Save up to $3000 per person

Danube Delights

8 days
Budapest > Nuremberg
An unforgettable cruise down the iconic Danube & through the heart of old Europe. Walking tours, invitations into the homes of locals & sightseeing excursions showcase the magnificence of yesteryear.
from $4,043 $2,443
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Legends of the Moselle Rhine and Main & Prague

11 days
Bernkastel > Prague
from $4,360
Fly to Europe for $495pp

The Classic Rhine & Berlin

10 days
Amsterdam > Berlin
from $4,440

Rhine - Main Discovery

8 days
Amsterdam > Nuremberg
The Rhine’s legendary status is accompanied by the unspoilt countryside, fairy tale towns and ancient fortresses that scatter its banks, all are waiting to be explored during insightful guided tours.
from $4,495
Spring Savings – Save up to $3000 per person

Sensations of Southern France & Nice

11 days
Lyon > Nice
Set sail on the Rhône & Saône, celebrating France’s past & present through awe-inspiring historic landmarks and traditional fare before ending in Nice for a three-night stay, visiting Monte Carlo.
from $4,725 $3,225

Paris & Sensations of Southern France

11 days
Paris > Nice
from $4,740 $3,260
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Secrets of the Douro & Madrid

10 days
Porto > Madrid
from $4,805
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Enchanting Forests, Mountains & Rivers

12 days
Munich > Budapest
from $4,890
Fly Free to Europe

Christmas Markets of Europe

15 days
Budapest > Amsterdam
from $4,995
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Legends of the Moselle Rhine and Main & Paris

11 days
Nuremberg > Paris
from $5,010
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Sensations of Southern France & Barcelona

11 days
Lyon > Barcelona
from $5,040
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Berlin to Zurich & The Majestic Rhine

13 days
Berlin > Zurich
from $5,535
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Paris & Legends of the Moselle Rhine and Main with Prague

14 days
Paris > Prague
from $5,555
Fly Free to Europe

Prague & Splendours of Europe River Cruise

18 days
Prague > Amsterdam
from $5,650
Fly to Europe for $495pp

Madrid to Lisbon & Secrets of the Douro

13 days
Madrid > Lisbon
from $5,650

Paris to Nice & Sensations of Southern France

14 days
Paris > Nice
from $5,720 $4,285
Fly Free to Europe

Splendours of Europe River Cruise & Paris Escape

18 days
Budapest > Paris
from $6,290
Fly Free to Europe

Prague Highlights & Splendours of Europe River Cruise

18 days
Amsterdam > Prague
from $6,675
Fly Free to Europe

Prague to Paris & Christmas Markets of Europe

21 days
Prague > Paris
from $6,945
Fly Free to Europe

Paris & Splendours of Europe River Cruise

18 days
Paris > Budapest
from $7,215
Fly Free to Europe

Idyllic Rhine

15 days
Amsterdam > Basel
from $7,290
Fly Free to Europe

Paris to Prague & Splendours of Europe River Cruise

21 days
Paris > Prague
from $7,770

Douro & Southern France River Cruises

15 days
Porto > Nice
from $7,790
Fly Free to Europe

Rhine & Rhone River Cruises

15 days
Amsterdam > Nice
from $7,890
Fly Free to Europe

Treasures of the Danube

16 days
Nuremberg > Bucharest
from $8,150
Fly Free to Europe

Bucharest to Amsterdam

23 days
Bucharest > Amsterdam
from $10,150
Fly Free to Europe

Lisbon to Nice, Douro & Southern France River Cruise

21 days
Lisbon > Nice
from $11,230

Explore an Emerald Waterways cruise ship with Cruise Director Karla

Emerald Waterways Cruise Director, Karla

Budapest

In this video, Karla, an Emerald Waterways Cruise Director, gives you a tour of an award winning Emerald cruise ship and reveals why she loves working for Emerald Waterways.