Whilst Man’s affinity for travelling on water can be traced back to the earliest periods of history when crudely hollowed-out logs were used for fishing, hunting and the exploration of waterways, it seems the notion of boating for pleasure rather than for industry didn’t achieve widespread popularity until the late eighteenth century.
Since then, pleasure cruises of all types and sizes have established themselves as among the most popular types of holiday available. The excitement of sailing to new destinations coupled with the relaxing and enjoyable experience of travelling on water remains an irresistible combination.
Throughout Europe, an abundance of navigable waterways lead through beautiful and often spectacular scenery and connect towns and cities rich in history and culture. As such, taking a European river cruise aboard a comfortable, well-appointed and modern ship provides the perfect introduction to the simple joys of cruise holidays.
Take, for example, a cruise along the River Danube. The longest river in the European Union, stretching from Germany to the Black Sea, the stunningly beautiful Danube has inspired artists and composers for centuries. Uniquely, the Danube passes through four capital cities and in Budapest, the banks of the river form part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Winding through many National Parks and protected areas, the Danube offers river cruises an ever-changing panorama of landscapes ranging from dramatic canyons to gently rolling hills clad with vineyards. A leisurely pace allows travellers the time to fully admire and enjoy the Danube’s countless treasures from the unique perspective of the water.
These same pleasures apply to any European river cruise of course, and there are plenty to choose from each with their own individual characteristics and highlights. Whether your personal preference is for a romantic cruise along the River Seine, a stirring insight into historic Russia along the mighty Volga or to admire the medieval villages and spectacularly colourful flower fields that line Holland’s waterways, European river cruises really do offer something for everyone to enjoy.
It’s even possible to combine the twin pleasures of rail travel with river cruising, courtesy of the escorted holidays offered by Great Rail Journeys. Travelling by rail and by ship, with all arrangements taken care of, is arguably the best, most comfortable and most enjoyable way to admire some of Europe’s finest scenery and explore some of its most compelling and memorable destinations. For more information about European River Cruises escorted tours click here.