Top 10 wine river cruises in Europe
By Claire Benktander | 22 Oct 2021
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just want to indulge in some of the world’s best vintages, discover the top 10 wine river cruises through Europe with our list below.
Top 10 Wine River Cruises
1. Delights of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is the holy grail of wine regions, home to Saint-Émilion and the surrounding sun-drenched slopes. The Gironde, splitting into the Dordogne and the Garonne, slips through the chalky hills like a knife through foie gras with cruises offering all manner of winery tours and tasting options, as well as the balmy warmth that you can only find in southwestern France.
Viking’s new-for-2022 Châteaux, Rivers & Wine cruise starts from the ancient city of Bordeaux and includes several tours as well as on board education. There’s a day trip through the Medoc and Margaux wine regions, stopping to sample several wines, a tour of Saint-Émilion, and an excursion to Sauternes to see how the famed dessert wines are made and then, of course, sample them as well as discovering the ports, vineyards, farms and forests of Aquitaine. It’s all done on board one of Viking’s longships that feature the Aquavit Terrace at the front, perfect for sipping a glass of rich red as the shimmering scenery passes by and the sun goes down.
2. The Douro Valley
Portugal’s River Douro is one of the world’s best wine cruise destinations. A cruise here is delightfully languid journey from the coast right across the country through a steep valley along vine-covered terraces. Uniworld’s Douro River Valley cruise starts at Porto, calling in at the fortified village of Castelo Rodrigo and explore Porto’s historic Ribeira district, home to iconic rabelo boats, cutting-edge cuisine and a thriving art scene.
You’ll also visit Pinhão in Portugal’s heartland, the hub of the port-making area, with a visit to a producer to learn about the 400-year-old history of port and the process involved – and tastings. There are dinners at the family-owned winery Quinta da Avessada and at the Vintage House Hotel, a converted 18th-century wine quinta overlooking the river, as well as tours of Porto, Guimarães (Portugal’s early capital), the Baroque Mateus Palace (pictured on the Mateus Rosé bottle) and the medieval Spanish city of Salamanca.
3. Romance on the Danube
Experience the lesser-explored wines of Austria, Germany and Hungary as you sail along the Danube and take in the romance of Old World Europe. AmaWaterways’ Danube cruise will see you sail to the heart of Europe, exploring grand European cities like Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.
Then, admire the beauty of Salzburg and the Czech Republic’s charming mountain town, explore grand abbeys and fortresses above the Danube and see iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, enjoying wine tastings and vineyard visits along the way. Gourmet food on board includes a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs dinner with wine pairing and a captain’s gala dinner. And, if you were in the mood for some exercise, the ship even has complimentary bicycles.
4. Moselle & the Rhine
The wine regions in the heart of Europe have a character all their own, with steep and castle-topped hills and timbered towns. Avalon Waterways has a number of cruises in different regions – we love their Rhine and Moselle cruise that follows the Moselle wine route from Luxembourg deep into Germany. The best sight of the Riesling grape is when passing Reichsburg Castle, perched on a vine-covered hill.
At Rüdesheim there’s tasting at Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schoss, a hotel and wine restaurant with its own vineyard, a tour of the wine museum and tasting at Bernkastel, an ancient market town surrounded by Germany’s largest expanse of vineyards. Enjoy an intimate setting on board for the wine lectures and tastings as well as a food and wine pairing dinner.
5. The Idyllic Rhone
Travel through the Rhône wine region in splendour with Scenic Waterways. This cruise runs between Lyon and Marseilles – you can start your journey in either city. after meeting in Paris for a TGV train ride south.
A highlight is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape tasting, although a visit to a truffle farm comes close in epicurean hedonism. Cruise past picturesque villages and awe-inspiring cathedrals between private classical concerts preluded with olive oil tasting and fine dining as well as exploring Avignon. Back on board, there’s everything from salt therapy massages and fine dining to butler service to be enjoyed.
6. Castles and Wineries
Discover the very best of Europe’s wineries and splendorous castles with AmaWaterways’ Rivers and Castles Wine Cruise. Begin in Luxembourg where you will embark your ship. Visit Trier, the oldest city in Germany and continue along the Moselle River, famous for Europe’s steepest vineyards.
In Bernkastel and Cochem you can sample Mosel vintages before cruising the Rhine River, dotted with picturesque castles from Koblenz to Rüdesheim, sampling the likes of fine German wines, smoked beer, coffee and specially curated oof dna wine paiirng dinners on board. Stop at the medieval towns of Miltenberg, Wertheim and Bamberg before cruising through the Main-Danube Canal to beautiful Nuremberg.
7. The Rivers of France
Cruise from Bordeaux to Paris through France’s most beautiful rivers, the Garonne, Dordogne and Seine, on this Uniworld cruise. Hop between the famous wine villages and chateaux of Margaux, Haut-Medoc and Lafite-Rothschild with private excursions throughout, including a private wine tasting of famous Médoc and Sauternes wines and an evening tour of Bordeaux.
Another highlight is Medoc – where some of the most famous red wines in the world are cultivated, as well calling in at a family-run vineyard and wine-producer in Saint-Emilion, the medieval underground city renowned for its catacombs. End the journey among the romance of Paris.
8. Burgundy & Provence
Cruise from the Côte d’Azur to Paris on this Avalon Waterways cruise to take in a selection of wine-flavoured regions and the world-famous Burgundy and Provence varietals. In Avignon you’ll visit the famed wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and enjoy a guided tour of the largest gothic fortress in the world as well as calling in to Arles, famed for inspiring Van Gogh.
Mâcon plays an important role in the wine trade and you can explore the city before taking a short cruise to Tournon nestled among vineyards, where you’ll walk among this medieval treasure. You’ll also indulge in Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, all while on board a state-of-the-art, luxurious river cruise vessel.
9. The Delights of Italy
Sail on the lesser-explore Po river to delight in the splendours of Venice and northern Italy on this Uniworld cruise. Bookend your journey in Milan and Venice, where you’ll enjoy a private evening opening and lighting ceremony at St. Mark’s Basilica. Then, sip wine in the Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello regions, before calling in to charming Chioggia.
Further south, decadant wine pairings at a historic wine estate in the vineyards of Valpolicella add to the charm, alongside shopping in Bologna and visiting UNESCO-listed Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. Plus, you’ll enjoy all the indulgences of a Uniworld cruise, from a Captain’s Welcome evening to a Farewell Gala Dinner.
10. Flavours of Spain and Portugal
Pair the world-class wines of Spain with the beautiful Douro Valley on this wine cruise with Uniworld. Over two weeks, as well as sailing along the UNESCO-listed Douro, you’ll taste a whole range of varietals, from Old World village wines to port, accompanied by only the finest cuisine.
Enjoy a tasting of local favourites like almonds, cheese, bread and wine, as well as lunches in quintas and stops at Lamego, one of Portugal’s most important pilgrimage sites, and Regua – known for its port wine. It’s all finished off with three indulgent days in Spain’s food and wine capital, Madrid.
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