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23rd March, 2022

The Top Saga River Cruises in Europe

A view towards the Lorelei Rock at sunset on the banks of the Rhine River, in the Rhine Gorge, Germany

River cruises are a truly stylish way to see the world. Replacing the inconvenience of getting from A to B with the leisure and luxury of sailing on the world’s most beautiful rivers, a river cruise encapsulates everything that's life-affirming about travel - without any of the stress.

What are Saga’s Top River Cruises?

There’s something for everyone in our selection of Saga river cruises. For every incredible destination and experience we offer, though, a few stand out from the crowd - and the popularity of these cruises has hooked first-time travellers and seasoned sailors alike. You’re guaranteed to find something to love amongst our top river cruises, which explore the length and breadth of Europe via its many famous waterways.

Douro Discovery: The Perfect Way to See Portugal

The Dom Luis I Bridge crosses the Douro River in Oporto, Portugal

Showcasing the charismatic allure of Oporto, the historic grace of Salamanca and the heady beauty of the Douro Valley, our Douro Discovery river cruise is an adventure in Iberian history.

At a glance

  • Fly to Oporto and set off on your ship, Douro Spirit.
  • Sail to Régua and take a coach journey to Lamego, then set off to Pinhão.
  • Pass through Vega de Térron and visit Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.
  • Take a trip to Salamanca in Spain.
  • Depart from Barca d'Alva to sail through Cais de Espinho, with an afternoon visit to a local winery called Quinta do Seixo.
  • Head to Régua for a trip to the beautiful Mateus Palace gardens.
  • Alight in Oporto to enjoy a tour and port tasting in a port wine cellar.
  • After breakfast, travellers disembark for their flight back to the UK.

The Castles and Vineyards of the Rhine: Setting off into the Sunset from Düsseldorf

Traditional vineyards above the town of Rüdesheim in the Rhine Gorge, Germany

Few people can resist the charms of the castle-dotted Middle Rhine Valley. Following in the footsteps of JMW Turner and Lord Byron, our Castles and Vineyards of the Rhine river cruise captures the magic of the region that inspired Victorian romanticism.

At a glance

  • Arrive in Amsterdam and board Spirit of the Rhine.
  • Choose a coach, walking or canal tour of Amsterdam.
  • Sail to Cologne, and explore the city using our state-of-the-art interactive map.
  • Arrive at Koblenz before breakfast to spend the morning there.
  • Continue on through the Middle Rhine to the charming wine town of Rüdesheim. Spend the evening at an 'olde-worlde' tavern, or join an excursion to Siegfried's Museum of Mechanical Music or a wine tasting event.
  • Alight in and discover the city of Mainz, with an afternoon excursion visit to Heidelberg.
  • Embark on a city tour and canal cruise in Strasbourg, before enjoying a free afternoon. If you prefer, you can join an excursion to the strikingly attractive city of Obernai.
  • Spend the day in Breisach, the ‘gateway to the Black Forest’. Optional excursions include a trip to Colmar and Riquewhir, or taking a short cruise on Lake Titisee.

Prague and the Delights of the Danube: Four Countries in One Trip

The Charles Bridge at sunset in Prague, Czech Republic

The Danube is one of the most impressive rivers in Europe, passing through World Heritage Sites, striking landscapes and historic landmarks on its way across the continent. An artery of transport and trade for hundreds of years, the Danube is so influential that several of Europe’s largest cities can be found on its shores - and what better way to reach them than by ship on our Prague and the Delights of the Danube river cruise?

At a glance

  • Arrive in Prague to enjoy two nights at a locally rated 5-star hotel.
  • Benefit from an optional city or walking tour, free afternoon, and the option to enjoy traditional Czech entertainment with dinner.
  • Travel by coach to Regensburg, and board Spirit of the Danube.
  • Explore World Heritage Site and ‘medieval miracle’ Regensburg.
  • Enjoy the baroque architecture in a walking tour of Passau, or take a full-day excursion to Salzburg.
  • Discover Melk, and take an optional walking tour of the Benedictine Abbey and Wachau region.
  • Visit Dürnstein, where there is another walking tour that features an organ concert.
  • Arrive in Vienna to take a morning sightseeing or culinary walking tour, with the option of visiting Schönbrunn Palace.
  • Spend the day delving into Bratislava, either independently or on a guided tour.
  • Savour the sights of Budapest on a sightseeing or culinary tour (which includes strudel making), and consider an excursion in the afternoon.

The Rhine and Glacier Express to St Moritz: Travel By Rail and River

TThe Glacier Express train travelling over a bridge through beautiful scenery

Including an 8-hour trip through the Alps on 'the world’s slowest express train' (traversing 91 tunnels and nearly 300 bridges), our rail and river trip, The Rhine and Glacier Express to St Moritz, is an alpine extravaganza. The Glacier Express is a breathtaking journey of exceptional beauty, and one that includes an indulgent three-course dinner. From here, a sumptuous river cruise will carry you on to Amsterdam, with plenty of stops along the way.

At a glance

  • Visit the beautiful Chillon Castle for a wine tasting session.
  • Look around Lausanne, home of the Olympic Museum.
  • Take a coach to Brig to board the 8-hour Glacier Express train to St Moritz, enjoying the stunning scenery en route.
  • Explore the city centre of St Moritz, and take a train ride to Bernina Diavolezza, from which it is possible to take a cable car to view the Dialezza Glacier.
  • Take a transfer to the port in Basel, and board Spirit of the Rhine.
  • Enjoy a day in Breisach, with optional excursions to Colmar, Riquewhir or Lake Titisee.
  • Learn about Strasbourg on a city tour and canal trip.
  • See Germany's oldest university in Heidelberg, the Old Town and Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, and the quaint cobbled streets of Rüdesheim.
  • Pass the iconic Lorelei Rock and arrive in Koblenz, where you can join a fortress tour.
  • Take in Cologne, Germany’s cultural capital.
  • Sail overnight to Amsterdam, where you can choose from a variety of tours and excursions, including a visit to the floating flower market and canal cruise.

Across the Continent: Sailing through the heart of Europe

The old town architecture of Passau overlooking the Danube, Germany

Just as they have carved their way through the continent, Europe’s waterways are etched into its history. Our Across The Continent cruise takes to the Rhine and Danube to discover the heart of Europe, and understand its culture, folklore and heritage.

At a glance

  • Board in Amsterdam to a welcome reception of dinner and drinks.
  • Savour getting to know Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz and Rüdesheim, with a variety of fascinating excursions and extras to choose from.
  • Discover the beautiful town of Miltenberg, complete with traditional taverns and an optional brewery visit.
  • Tour the Residenz Palace, cathedral and Fortress of Marienberg in Würzburg.
  • Take in the medieval treasures of Bamberg, with the option of independent exploration, or guided a sightseeing/food and drink themed tour.
  • Sightsee in Nuremberg, home to the towering Nuremberg Castle.
  • Choose an optional trip to Weltenburg Abbey in Kelheim, or enjoy a walking tour of Regensburg.
  • Spend a day in elegant Passau.
  • Sail the scenic Wachau Valley and see Kuenringer Castle, where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned.
  • Explore Vienna, with optional excursions that delve into the city's food and traditions.
  • Discover the culture and history of Bratislava and Budapest.

What river cruise would you recommend for a first-time traveller?

If you are new to river cruises, there are a few different things to think about when you're choosing your ideal trip. If you are feeling adventurous, you can take the plunge with a cross-continent trip, but you may prefer to dip your toe into the world of river cruises with a shorter voyage. While your choice will ultimately depend on your personal preferences, our recommendation for first-time river sailers is Douro Discovery. An enchanting mix of urban exploration, lush countryside, wine tasting, history hunting and cultural immersion, a trip on Douro Discovery will have you converted to the perks of river cruises for life.

What itinerary should I choose for my next river cruise?

All of our river cruises include customisable elements, allowing you to build the itinerary that most suits you. We make sure that every trip is complete with optional activities such as sightseeing and culinary tours; excursions to historic houses, abbeys and landmarks; wine tastings; workshops; and shows; all highlighting the culture of the country you are visiting. And for those who like to do their own thing, we’ll never get in your hair - there’s plenty of time for independent exploration.

Our river cruises embrace all tastes, so if nothing on this list takes your fancy, you can explore the full range on our river cruises page. If you’d ever like a chat about the excursions and entertainment we offer on our river cruises, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.