Cologne Cathedral, Germany
Posted: 12 May 2016
Lined with spectacular capital cities, intriguing historic remains and natural wonders, exploring Europe’s rivers on board a luxury river cruise is quickly becoming one of our favourite ways to discover our continent’s tucked away wonders. Unpacking just once on your sumptuously designed vessel, a luxury river cruise will take you on a journey through an array of spectacular sights and fascinating cultural discoveries, allowing you to enjoy an effortless tour through a string of countries, cities and villages.
Having recently launched our voyage into the world of luxury river cruising with our introductory mini-brochure, and following on from one of our Senior Sales and Product Manager’s recent trip along the Seine, we wanted to delve further into these splendid waterways. Whether you are infatuated by fine art, have an insatiable taste for wine or are fascinated by unearthing the secrets of history, there is sure to be a river to appeal to your passions...
Top Sights The glittering capital cities of Vienna and Budapest, sobering WWII historic sites of Nuremburg, the Iron Gates gorges of Serbia and Romania and excursions to the legendary Salzburg, known as the setting of The Sound of Music and birthplace of Mozart.
The Experience Stringing across the borders of central Europe, the Danube weaves like a golden thread through the rich, cultural gems of the continent, contrasting centuries-old traditions with the vibrancy of modern cities. Springing from the Black Forest of Germany, the river curiously twists through storybook scenes of Bavarian towns, tempting those who pass through with promises of bratwurst, beer and crumbling gingerbread. Pushing on into Austria, through the idyllic Wachau wine valley, waltz across to Vienna; a visual wonder of a city that inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss. Teetering across the border of Slovakia, the monumental castle of Bratislava, the city’s guardian for centuries, gazes down from the hilltop, before the river finally drops down to Budapest, a romantic city crafted from a tapestry of historic styles with a trove of cultural treasures. Beyond, the beauty of the Balkans beckons, from the eerie Bran Castle, once home to Vlad the Impaler, to the dramatic Iron Gates Gorge and lively Romanian capital of Bucharest.
Top Sights The ornate gothic cathedral of Cologne, the half-timbered Medieval streets of Strasbourg, the stunning natural scenery of the Black Forest and the Rhine Gorge and magical Christmas markets during the yuletide.
The Experience Step into a fairytale come to life along the Rhine, and venture from the colourful Dutch capital of Amsterdam, meandering through the emerald green valleys of Germany, where hills are pinpointed with spires of gothic castles and romantic ruins, before reaching the scenic Swiss city of Basel, brimming with art galleries and medieval delights. Glimpse fascinating insights into intriguing European curiosities and captivating folklore, from the quirky musical mechanics of the Siegfried Museum, to the mystical wooded landscape of Black Forest, before being stunned by the staggering natural wonder of the Rhine Gorge. A backbone of culture and history, the Rhine is sure to capture imaginations, and is even more magical during Christmas time.
Top sights The fantastical sight of multicoloured tulips at Keukenhof Gardens, Anne Frank House and Rembrandt House in Amsterdam and the world’s greatest concentration of windmills at Kinderdijk.
The Experience Discover the phenomenal beauty of the Dutch waterways, with a scenic journey through the maze of canals that traverse the lowlands of the Netherlands, winding from waterfront cities to the gloriously blooming countryside. Fields of vibrant tulips make for spectacular springtime displays, punctuated with the enchanting sight of iconic waving windmills; see them in all their glory at Keukenhof Gardens or sprawled along the horizon in the northern regions. Experience the magic of Amsterdam, a city of canals that teems with modern culture and quirky Dutch traditions, made even more memorable when seen from the water. Take the time to get to know the delights of the many diverse regions, stopping to sample famous cheeses and syrupy waffles in Edam and Gouda, or investigating the colourful clogs at Zaanse Schans.
Top Sights The charming hilltop Cochem Castle, Germany’s oldest city, Trier, and the delightful wine town of Bernkastel.
The Experience An idyllic waterway, the Moselle river flows through the picture-book scenery of Germany’s prettiest wine region, a trickling tributary of the Rhine that twists and turns its way through gently cascading valleys, from the hills of northern France, along the border of beautiful Luxembourg, before emptying at the historic city of Koblenz. Narrow in breadth, the Moselle invites travellers on an intimate journey, revealing secrets in whispers, from wonderful walks along the hilly banks, to sipping on home-grown wine with local experts. Glide through charming towns of half-timbered houses, from Trier, Germany’s oldest city, where grand Roman relics remain to inspire, to Bernkastel, the medieval vineyard village overlooked by the hilltop Landshut Castle. With an enchanting landscape and delightful character, the Moselle offers a tranquil passage through Germany’s fascinating wine heartlands, where time will seem to stand completely still.
Top Sights Twinkling evening displays of the iconic Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, the dramatic Château Gaillard, built by Richard the Lionheart in 1196, the poignant beaches of Normandy and the striking cliffs of the English Channel.
The Experience Snaking from the romantic city of Paris, the Seine embarks on a fascinating journey, telling stories of centuries-old history and heritage, as it winds its way through picturesque orchids, meadows and hills, stippled with a vibrant palette of unrelenting greens. For many, the pièce de résistance is the glide into the ‘city of lights’ itself, faithfully living up to its name as evening sets, and the ambient illuminated skyline, with the Eifel Tower at its crest, casts wonder in the eyes of visitors. Beyond, the waterway winds itself into a whirlwind of art and history, where you may feel like you have stepped into an impressionist masterpiece, as you discover the immortalised lily ponds and gardens at the home of Monet. Be immersed in the past at historic Rouen, where Joan of Arc was famously martyred, and walk the sobering steps of the Normandy beaches, before stopping to gaze at the striking Alabaster Coast plunging into the waters of the English Channel.
Saône and Rhône
Top Sights The gastronomic and historic city of Lyon, the castle ruins of Tournon, the stacked arches of Pont du Gard and the Papal Palace of Avignon.
The Experience Venture the through the vein of rural southern France, along the beautifully bucolic Rhone. Discover the country’s gastronomic heart, where an afternoon may be spent truffle-hunting for ‘black diamonds’, encrusted deep within the tree roots, or experiencing the evocative wine regions of Burgundy and Beaujolais, where grape vines thrive like jewels under the nurturing Mediterranean sunshine. Sip on the nectar of some of the world’s most prestigous vineyards, while the landscape unrolls before you, bristling with blankets of fragrant lavender fields, gently swaying with the hilltop breezes. Nearby, beautifully preserved ruins echo time gone by, with magnificent Roman architectural masterpieces standing their ground, while medieval cobbled streets reveal the secrets of of a rustic culture, unforgotten. Relish in the grandroise of the graceful Medieval stone ramparts of Avignon, before emerging on the sun-baked coastal city of Arles, where Van Gogh famously sat and painted the mesmerisingly swirling night sky as he gazed from his window.
Top Sights The Baroque town of Lamengo, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and wine-producing region of Vinhateiro, the sandstone city of Salamanca and the nineteenth century palace of Porto.
The Experience Slicing from Spain across northern Portugal, the Douro River is a sun-soaked stretch of pastoral pleasures and sleepy harbour towns. Drift through the Mediterranean’s most picturesque wine region, where terraced vineyards sweep along the valleys, honing grapes destined for gleaming bottles of burgundy-hued port, and stop along your way to sample the fruity flavours of lovingly crafted wine, paired with delectable local specialities. Unmarred by the passage of time, wander the streets of centuries-old villages and medieval ports, seductively shaded in tones of ochre and speckled by picturesque pastel house frontages, and be transported back to a by-gone era with visits to marvellous manor houses and authentic quintas.
For more information on our luxury river cruises, or to make a booking, please call our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 200.