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Bamberg's half-timbered city hall, sitting above the Regnitz River
26 July, 20193 minute read

Culture on the river bank

Europe’s waterways have been lifelines, trade routes and cultural divisions over the centuries. Today, they’re also extremely popular for river cruises. Taking passengers to multiple cultural hubs in one holiday, in a relaxed and luxurious fashion, they offer unique holidays along grand European rivers such as the Danube, Rhine, Douro and Rhône. If you are not pondering the possibilities, here is a selection of the cultural highlights you can find on the river banks of Europe.

Vienna - The Danube

The beautiful blue Danube is the second largest river in Europe. An exciting experience in itself, the Danube also has fascinating cities and historic landmarks to visit ashore.

Vienna, the capital city of Austria, is filled with beautiful architecture and cultural attractions. Here you can step back into history by visiting the Baroque Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer retreat of the Habsburgs built in 1642, and the magisterial Hofburg Palace, originally built in 1279 and the former seat of the powererful Habsburg dynasty. Be sure to also visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum), one of the finest in the world.

Bamberg - The Rhine

The Romantic Rhine winds its way through Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands, making it the perfect choice for a river cruise that introduces travellers to a kaleidoscope of European history and culture.

One of the most popular places to visit on a Rhine river cruise is the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bamberg, a wonderfully picturesque medieval city in Bavaria, Germany. Famous for its stunning architecture, Bamberg’s central attraction is the Imperial Cathedral, which was consecrated in AD 1111. Inside stands the astonishing equestrian statue known as the Bamberg Horseman, which dates from around AD 1237 and is an exquisite example of Gothic sculpture.

Guimarães - The Douro

The Douro links Spain and Portugal and flows through unforgettably beautiful Iberian countryside, including the matchless Iberian Peninsula, which charms travellers with its vivid colours and the countless vineyards that produce some of Europe’s finest wines.

Just a short trip from the banks of the Douro is the historic city of Guimarães. Formerly the first capital of Portugal in the 12th century, Guimarães was the imperial home of Don Alonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guimarães is renowned for its majestic medieval castle, first built in the 10th century.

Avignon - The Rhône

Flowing through south-eastern France, the Rhône was an important trade route from the times of Ancient Greece onwards. Surrounded by glorious countryside, historic cities and fascinating cultural attractions, the Rhône enables travellers to cruise into the past.

Avignon, a magnificent walled city, sits on the bank of the Rhône and amazes visitors with its unique character. Resonating with historical significance, the immense Palais du Papes is one of the largest, finest and most important medieval Gothic structures in Europe. The antipopes resided here during the Papal Schism that split the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1418. After walking its alleys, be sure to visit the Rocher des Domes, which provides a striking panorama of the Rhône valley.

A river cruise on any of the grand European rivers is the perfect way for travellers to enjoy an intimate adventure through the past and present of this fascinating continent. Where will Europe's rivers take you? Click here for more inspiration.

Image of blog author Jenny Chaplin

Jenny’s passion for culture and wildlife has taken her across the world. Favourite experiences so far have included snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, sailing on the Ganges in Varanasi, hiking through Norway and spending many hours on safari in Kenya and India spotting a menagerie of wonderful creatures.

Jenny | About the author

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