Five Major European Rivers Perfect for River Cruising

POSTED BY Allen Suss June 8, 2018 IN Blog, Travel | No Comments

Want to go on a European river cruise? In this article we reveal the top five European rivers perfect for river cruising.

Several major rivers connect the countries of Europe. River cruising these waterways is the perfect way to experience various countries. Several may be encountered in one trip.

The five major rivers are:

  1. Volga
  2. Danube
  3. Loire
  4. Elbe
  5. Rhine

The Volga River

european rivers perfect for river cruising - Volga


The Volga, regarded as the national river of Russia is 2, 294 miles (3530 kilometres) long. It begins in the Valdai Hills and ends at the Caspian Sea. It transports half of Russia’s river cargo. Water from the Volga irrigates the steppe regions of southern Russia. The Volga River holds mythological status with the Russian people because of its importance to their history and current economic security. Many iconic Russian sites are found along its banks.  The river is affected by winter conditions. The best months for cruising this river are from March to mid- December.

Famous Russian Cities along the Volga are:

  • Astrakhan
  • Volgograd
  • Saratov
  • Samara
  • Kazan
  • Nizhny
  • Ulyanovsk
  • Novgorod
  • Yaroslavl
  • Tver

The River Danube is 1,780 miles (2865 kilometres) long and is the second longest European river.

european rivers perfect for river cruising - Danube


It passes through ten countries.

  1. Germany
  2. Hungary
  3. Serbia
  4. Croatia
  5. Austria
  6. Slovakia
  7. Romania
  8. Moldova
  9. Ukraine
  10. Bulgaria


Famous Eastern European cities in the Danube region include:

  • Cologne
  • Vienna
  • Budapest
  • Nuremberg
  • Belgrade
  • Krem

The Loire River is 629 miles (1012 kilometres) one of several major rivers that run through France. It runs from east to west and midway divides France in two. The famous Loire Valley, famous for vineyards producing excellent wine, historic towns and many castles including Chenonceau and Chambord, is part of this river system. Paris is easily accessible from the Loire Valley

Famous French Cities found along the Loire are:

  • Orleans
  • Chartres
  • Brouges
  • Amboise
  • Tours
  • Blois
  • Descartes
  • Chedigny
  • Barrou

The River Elbe is 678 miles (1,091 kilometres) long. It is in central Europe. It rises in the Krkonose Mountains in northern Czech Republic, flows through most of Bohemia, then Germany. It flows into the North Sea north-west of Hamburg. It links Dresden and Prague. It was once the border between East and West Germany.

Famous Czech Cities on the Elbe are:

  • Hradec Kralove
  • Paradupice
  • Kolin
  • Karany
  • Melnik
  • Decin

Famous German Cities on the Elbe are:

  • Dresden
  • Wittenberg
  • Dessau
  • Magdeburg
  • Hamburg
  • Stade

The Rhine River is 766 miles (1233 kilometres) long and flows through Western Europe. Its source is in Switzerland, and it flows into the North Sea at Rotterdam in the Netherlands. It is known as “Old Father Rhine.” Picturesque towns, vineyards, and cliffside castles are seen from its banks.

european rivers perfect for river cruising - the rhine

The Rhine

The Rhine connects with the Danube.

The six countries the Rhine passes through are:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Principality of Liechtenstein
  3. Austria
  4. Germany
  5. France
  6. Netherlands

Famous Cities on the Rhine are:

  • Basel
  • Strasbourg
  • Bonn
  • Cologne
  • Neuss
  • Dusseldorf
  • Arnhem
  • Utrecht
  • Rotterdam


While these five European rivers perfect for river cruising, there are many other rivers in Europe. They are not as big as the rivers outline above. Examples are the Seine, Po, Oder, Volga, Don, Dneiper and Rhone.

Usually, cruises do not sail these rivers due to navigation restrictions, but they are still worth visiting.

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