If you’re unfamiliar with Europe or are looking into a river cruise as your next holiday, your early research efforts will yield, like they will for ocean cruising, a multitude of options and river cruise itineraries crossing different parts of Europe and traversing a number of rivers.

Your research will also reveal to you a plethora of river cruise brands sailing these itineraries, which is the next thing you’ll need to determine. Most you may recognise quickly as they are very active in promoting their products in the Australian market, while others may be a little more mysterious but no less reputable.

The first step to finding the right river cruise for you is to determine which part of Europe catches your fancy. Here, we’ll look at the major and most well known rivers you can cruise.

Rhine River

Where is it? Runs through the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria & more.

One of the most popular rivers in Europe for river cruising operations – you’ll find most, if not all river brands sailing on the Rhine. Most itineraries feature a stint on part of it, usually on the run between Amsterdam and Budapest, however a number of others will deviate from this and head into other parts of Switzerland or toward France. The Rhine is the second longest river in Western Europe (after the Danube).

Main River

Effectively a tributary of the Rhine, the Main River is another major part of most river cruise itineraries between Amsterdam and Budapest, the most popular city pair enjoyed by Australian travellers. Major cities you’ll encounter during your time on the Main include Frankfurt and Wurzburg, with available off-ship touring highlights including the Romantic Road which takes you through to the medieval town of Rothenburg.