European river cruises start and end in some of the Europe’s most amazing cities and regions. You’ve invested time and money getting here, so why not take advantage of this opportunity by extending your stay, even if it’s just a few days. You never know when you’ll be back!
You can extend your journey with added land packages offered through the cruise lines, guided tours where dates align, your own independent itinerary, back-to-back cruises, combining a river and ocean cruise or maybe adding a rail package – just to name a few ideas. Whatever your interests, the options are many.
Following are just a few ideas to get your inspiration flowing (no pun intended).
A typical Rhine River cruise sails between Amsterdam and Basel, bookend cities that offer a wide variety of options.
Switzerland in of itself is a stunning country. A typical extended stay would include a few days in Zurich, possibly Lucerne and a mountain experience with a visit to Mount Titlis, Pilatus or Rigi. An added land package may include the Italian Lake Region (Lake Como).
Switzerland has so many idyllic and picturesque places to experience. Not far from Zurich are the towns of Interlaken, Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen. Yes, a bit touristy, especially in high season, but nonetheless, worth your time. Another spectacular experience is the Glacier Express rail route that includes the alpine village of Zermatt with breathtaking views of the Matterhorn.
On the other end of a typical Rhine River sailing is Amsterdam. A vibrant city, one can easily spend 3+ days here and not even scratch the surface of things to see and do. Museums, great food and cafes are just the beginning. The city has interesting neighborhoods and architecture and if you love people watching, you are in the right place.
Beyond Amsterdam? Maybe a few days in Bruges. Or take the Eurostar to Brussels, Paris or even London.
Interested in combining cruises? The Rhine and Rhone pair well, as does the Rhine and Tulip Time.
All Danube River cruises include the beautiful city of Budapest, at the start, middle (if you are doing a Grand Danube) or end. Your cruise will include seeing a number of highlights the city has to offer. But if you are starting or ending your cruise here, consider a few extra days. Budapest is fascinating with an incredible history. One day of visiting highlights just isn’t enough.
Adding to your itinerary on the Danube is easy. What to choose, well not so much – so many things to see and do!
Typical cities that can extend your Upper Danube cruise are Prague and Munich. A few days in Prague will allow you to see the highlights, but if you have the time, a few extra days will give you time to go beyond Prague and experience some of the UNESCO sites, picturesque towns and wine country in the Czech Republic.
Munich is also an easy add on to a Danube cruise. Plenty of history, old and new, awaits you on a walk through the city center. Delicious regional foods shouldn’t be missed, along with a visit to some of Bavaria’s most famous castles, including Neuschwanstein Castle.
A newer trend: Krakow, Poland.
The Lower Danube sailings take you to Bucharest and to/towards the Black Sea. The cruise itself has eye opening experiences. The most popular extended stays? A visit to Sighisoara, the birthplace of Dracula, in Romania and/or a few days in Istanbul.
RIVERS OF FRANCE
The itineraries in France – Bordeaux, Rhone and Seine – are perfect ways to explore more of France and the Basque country of northern Spain.
If you haven’t been to Paris, a few extra days in the city is suggested. Most of the cruise lines offer options that include Paris plus the transfers to the ship.
France itineraries though offer much beyond Paris that is worthy of thought. The Loire Valley, filled with hundreds of chateaux and vineyards, is spectacular. The location of the valley makes it perfect for most France itineraries.
On a Seine River cruise, think about adding a visit to the historical walled city of Saint Malo and the island monastery of Mont St. Michel.
A visit to Spain’s Basque country is a perfect combination with Bordeaux. A Bordeaux itinerary includes a lot of history, chateaux and wine and an extension to this first class culinary destination simply extends your love of food and wine.
A Rhone River itinerary takes you into the heart of Provence, an area I highly recommend exploring. Go between late June and early August to witness the beautiful blooming lavender fields. Some of France’s most beautiful towns are in the Luberon region, including Gordes and Roussillon. Aix-en-Provence is a perfect base from which to explore.
Marseilles, Saint-Tropez, Nice and Monaco are also options to think about.
A few extra days in Lisbon and Porto are almost a given. Lisbon is a spectacular place with a tremendous amount of history. I spent a week in the city and the surrounding area and still left things for my next trip!
And it doesn’t need to stop with just Lisbon and Porto. The Algarve region in the south is a perfect spot for anyone who loves beautiful beaches. Adding Madrid to your trip is also quite popular.
Whether you go through the cruise lines or explore on your own, amazing pre and post cruise experiences await you on the rivers. I’ve listed a few above, but many more options are available.
Connect with me HERE to get started on your next river cruise adventure. So much to see and so little time!
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder