After last week’s blog on whether river or ocean cruising is more suited to you, it only seems fair if we now discuss which cities river ships can reach. River cruising is quite a new aspect of the cruising market and has only really come to life over the last 20 years.
But this doesn’t mean the market hasn’t grown and now there are plenty of river cruise ships for all budgets sailing across the world. So here are some of the cities that you can visit when river cruising in Europe.
Usually marking the start or end of your cruise, Amsterdam is a staple for any Lower Rhine River sailing. Mainly known for its love of bikes, the city has been a cultural, economic and historical hub for centuries. With hundreds of great things to do here, there is no wonder it welcomes around 19 million tourists each year.
Amsterdam is one of those cities in which you have to immerse yourself to get the most out of it. The most notable monuments include Anne Frank’s House and the Van Gogh Museum, which you will need to pre-book to avoid long queues or the need for a ticket. Otherwise, the city sells itself. Walk beside the canals, taste great food and maybe even hire a bike to get out of the centre.
One of the first major metropolises you’ll see along the German section of the Rhine River, Cologne has become a fan-favourite destination. Just like any other German city, beer is a large talking point for a lot of guests; just remember to get the correct one – Kölsch is Cologne’s tipple of choice while Dusseldorf has Altbier.
Cologne Cathedral has stood as the centrepiece of the city since 1248, when construction first began. And, even though it was not finished until 1880, the historical feel just adds to the authenticity of the structure. The city also holds the title of ‘the busiest shopping street in Germany’, with both affordable and luxury shopping options down the main high-street, Schildergasse. Lastly, Cologne is home to the Cologne Chocolate Museum, taking guests back through the history of how chocolate is created and what makes Germany’s version so special.
Just to clarify, both ocean and river cruising can visit Paris. But the big advantage of river cruising is that you will dock directly in the city centre, so you can spend more time exploring. In contrast, ocean ships will dock in Le Havre and offer a two and a half hour bus journey. Either way, Paris doesn’t need much of an introduction as it consistently appears near the top of the list of most visited world cities.
When taking a first look at Paris, many cruisers may be inclined to head towards the most famous monuments, and they wouldn’t be wrong. But after seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, you might be wondering what else the city has on offer. Streetside cafés and nearby gardens are the next best thing, especially if you need an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Situated at the northern end of the Upper Rhine, Basel is one of the smallest cities on this list. From its colourful festivals to its red sandstone cathedral, this sunny municipality is a part of Switzerland that everybody should see.
Basel is a foodie’s paradise; everything from your authentic melt-in-your-mouth Swiss chocolate to fantastic fondue, the pinnacle of Swiss cuisine, resides here. Even if you are not a fan of festivals, Basel Fascnacht is the best way to get involved in the culture and also taste some great culinary delights. Lastly, the city surprisingly boasts around 300 days of sunshine every year, so no matter what time you visit, there are likely to be blue skies.
Prague is a city that takes beauty to a whole new level. From colossal castles to quaint cobbled streets, it has managed to preserve many of its 14th-century monuments, including the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area 70,000 square metres. But history isn’t the only reason it’s so popular. Prague boasts the ‘best beer in the world’ and, even if you don’t agree, it does compliment the amazing nightlife.
There is no shortage of things to do in Prague and you may have to choose your favourites before visiting. One of the oldest mechanical clocks in the world can be found in the Old Town, a 15th-century source of national pride that has managed to survive through two wars and has been repaired numerous times. Finally, the famous Charles Bridge has been a predominant, free monument for a while and attracts millions of tourists looking to take the trek between the old and new city.
Connected to the Danube, Bratislava is sometimes overlooked in favour of larger cities like Prague and Budapest, but being small is what makes it so great. From the Old Town to the welcoming communities, there are more opportunities to get engrossed in the city’s cultural side than you might think.
As both your entrance into the city and Europe’s second-longest river, the Danube almost splits the Slovakian capital in half. The main SNP Bridge that connects this gap is a unique engineering masterpiece, sitting at the highest point is a UFO-shaped dining area where you can enjoy a quick drink and catch some scenic views of Bratislava. Inside the city, you are greeted by two charming opera houses where music lovers can pick up tickets from just £2.25 for lesser-known artists and £9 for famous shows like Aida or Turandot.