The Rhine, Main & Moselle
Endless variety and beauty
As the longest North Sea tributary, the Rhine has a wide range of landscapes and cultures to discover along its 880 navigable kilometres.
From the steep, vine-covered slopes of the legendary Loreley Rock, to the picturesque wine-growing towns and tributaries in Holland along the Lower Rhine, the scene is set by historic cities, vast low plains, fields, meadows and tree-lined riverbanks.
The Rhine’s best-known tributary is without doubt the Moselle, known for its steep vineyards, ancient small towns and villages like Traben-Trarbach and Cochem, which are renowned for their delicious wines, produced in the vineyards lining the shores of this graceful river.
Holland’s waterways and Belgium
The royal palace, the Rembrandthuis and the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam are just some of the places you may like to visit in this “Venice of the North”, as it is popularly known. In Rotterdam, see the largest seaport in Europe, home to numerous container terminals, cranes, warehouses and much more. The Keukenhof is the largest sculpture park in Holland, but is, of course, even more famous as the largest flower garden in the world. It was here that the former Countess, Jacoba of Bavaria, grew her kitchen herbs (kitchen garden = Keukenhof) and where today daffodils, hyacinths, crown imperials and tulips display a frenzy of colours and scents. Antwerp is the most important harbour city in Belgium and the second largest port in Europe after Rotterdam. Once a rich Hanseatic trading city, Bruges has become a magnet for visitors, as has Brussels, where a stroll through the old town takes you to one of the most famous and beautiful squares in the world – the “Grand Place”.
Royal cities, unique countryside
This “Queen of European Rivers” provides a habitat for a unique variety of flora and fauna.
It also unites countries, people and cultures, giving Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava an incomparable cityscape while providing you with a cruise that is full of cultural and scenic highlights.
The Danube is quite justifiably one of the most popular destinations in the world for river cruise enthusiasts.
For a chance to experience some of Vienna’s famous “Schmäh” – or “wit”, as it translates –why not enjoy some free time ashore. You may also like to visit the Schönbrunn Palace and gardens, which offer a splendid synthesis of baroque art and culture. Here you may walk in the footsteps of Empress Elizabeth of Austria as you find out more about the life of the imperial family during the 19th century.
Do not miss Budapest, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Stretching out on both sides of the river, it is truly breathtaking. To the west is the hilly Buda, while to the east is the flat plane of Pest and the prominent parliament building. The abundance of sights is immense and there is no other city able to integrate the Danube into the cityscape quite like Budapest does. Enjoy an impressive outlook over the city and views of the river from Gellert Hill, before discovering more about daily life in Budapest at the market hall.
The old town of Bratislava was lavishly renovated with great attention to detail. You should start your town visit at the fabulous main castle (Hrad), one of the great landmarks of Bratislava, where you will have amazing views out over the city.
The Rhone, Saone & Seine
France’s colourful south and magical north
It’s easy to get excited when you hear names such as Burgundy, Provence and the Camargue.
The Rhône and Saône take you right into the picturesque landscapes of the south of France, revealing ancient cities such as Lyon, Arles and Avignon, as well as natural scenery flooded with light.
Wild horses and flamingos will put a smile on your face in the Camargue. In the sunny climate of this countryside, where Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône ripen, you’ll feel the laissez-faire of the French way of life.
Whether it’s Edith Piaf, Claude Monet or Picasso – they have all been inspired by the magic of northern France.
The Seine doesn’t leave out a single facet of this beauty on its journey towards the Atlantic coast.
Countless sights such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre or the Champs Élysées await you in Paris.
Normandy is less ostentatious, but just as fantastically beautiful, as the river flows past lush green meadows and chalky white steep banks.
The Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh was fascinated by the special light in southern Provence. It inspired him to create numerous pictures in Arles on the banks of the Rhône and to become the founder of modern painting. As the former provincial capital of the Roman empire Arles is also home to numerous important sites of architectural interest, such as the amphitheatre. The Camargue is situated between the two estuaries of the Rhône, which splits up north of Arles and belongs almost entirely to the city area of Arles. You won’t forget your visit to a bull farm, where you’ll get an introduction to the world of bull breeding. Avignon along the Rhône has had a lasting impact on European history. For a few decades in the 14th century, it was the city of the Catholic popes. Wherever you go, you’ll come across the relics of the past with palaces, castles, squares, streets, the papal palace and, of course, the famous ruins of the Pont Saint-Bénézet which still straddles half the mighty river Rhône.
Monet’s heavenly idyll
From 1883 up until his death in 1926, Monet lived and painted in the village of Giverny. You’ll find details from the huge garden of his property in many of his pictures, including the famous water lily pond. Take a walk with us through the garden and be inspired by the beautiful surroundings.
The French capital on the Seine boasts many world-famous sights, such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame and the Champs-Élysées. A short stroll through the quiet Parc du Luxembourg will show you another side to this lively metropolis.
The Elbe & Oder
Cruising through central Europe
One of the greatest highlights along the course of the River Elbe is without doubt the Baroque town of Dresden. Be enchanted by its incomparable city backdrop and many lovingly restored historical buildings. Caspar David Friedrich was inspired by the bizarre rock formations of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains to create what are some of the most valuable works of the Romantic era. Meissen was established more than 1,000 years ago, when King Henry I of Germany ordered a castle to be built near the Elbe during a campaign against the Slavs. Equally splendid is the Czech Republic’s riverside landscape on the Elbe and at Vltava. You’ll be particularly impressed when you visit the “golden city” of Prague.
Meissen’s best-known product is porcelain. In its exhibition hall, the famous Meissen porcelain factory displays an extensive collection, ranging from the early 18th century right up to the present day. Find out how the Meissen porcelain is produced and take a look at the unique exhibits. Before you leave, it’s well worth taking a stroll through the narrow medieval streets of the picturesque Renaissance-era old town.
The historical quarter of Potsdam is full of wonderfully restored buildings. There’s also the chance to see the imposing summer palace of Sanssouci, where Frederick the Great spent his time being carefree (“sans souci”) and devoted himself to art, music and culture, away from the hectic bustle of Berlin.
For hundreds of years, Prague – a city characterised by Gothic and Baroque influences – has been a multicultural city inspired by Bohemian (Czech), German and Jewish cultures. Must-see sights here include the presidential palace and the Basilica, the Malá Strana quarter, the old town hall and the astronomical clock.
Through the home of port to the heart of the Iberian peninsula
The scent of dried spices and grasses hangs in the air. You look out onto an intoxicating countryside landscape of towering slopes and wine terraces of different shapes and sizes, where bulging vines stretch out towards the sun. The river makes its way gracefully through what is probably the most spectacular wine-growing region in the world – the home of port wine.
Coming from Spain, the Douro flows from east to west across Portugal, then out into the Atlantic at Porto. In the old days, skippers still transported barrels to the wineries by boat but today proud vineyards still adorn the river banks and along the river, medieval towns captivate with their beauty. This region attracted Romans, pilgrims and aristocrats, all of whom created idyllic gems here. Then there’s Porto: the origin of the illustrious Portuguese fleet, with its mix of traditional and modern architecture.
Fishermen, seafarers, traders and ship builders from Porto were involved in the voyages of Portuguese explorers. In the 18th century, Porto gave its name to one of the most refined wines in the world: port, which you must taste during your visit to this remarkable city. Afterwards, explore the narrow lanes and centuries-old buildings as well as the city’s landmark, the iron bridge over the Douro. From the cathedral on the Pena Ventosa hill, you get a breathtaking view over the river.
The golden city of Salamanca
All buildings in the city centre are clothed in a goldencoloured stone – Salamanca is unique! Join us on a tour through the oldest university in Spain to Plaza Mayor, where bull fighting once took place. The tour continues on to the House of Shells, a Gothic building that witnessed the wedding of two very influential families in the city. Visit the new Gothic cathedral from the 16th century and the old cathedral from the 12th century
The Cradle of Portugal
Guimarães is one of the most attractive cities in Portugal and is notable for its 15th century palace of the Dukes of Bragança, the last dynasty of Portuguese kings. In December 2001, the city centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2012, Guimarães became one of the cultural capitals of Europe.