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The 5 Best Viking River Cruises in Europe

Contributor
Jeannine Williamson

Last updated
Mar 29, 2023

Read time
5 min read

If you're looking for the best Viking River Cruises in Europe, you have a lot to consider. Viking's itineraries on Europe's most famous rivers -- like the Rhine, Danube and Seine -- are some of the best river cruise options in Europe for almost every kind of traveler. But there are plenty of other options to consider.

Viking's longships dock in the heart of each city, so sights and excursions are on your doorstep (sometimes that literally means the Eiffel Tower in Paris). The line's high-end offerings and free shore excursions also help make Viking river itineraries some of the most popular in Europe.

To help you decide which is the best Viking River Cruise in Europe for you, we've rounded up our five favorites. Read on and get planning.

1. Viking Danube River Cruise: Dazzling Capitals That Are Great for First-Time Cruisers

If it's your first time on a Viking River Cruise in Europe, check out Viking's week-long sailings along the Danube River. Immortalized in the famous "Blue Danube" waltz by Johann Strauss, this is one of the most popular Viking river cruises in Europe. Starting in Germany's Black Forest, the 1,770-mile Danube winds through 10 countries and four capital cities; Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.

Viking's Danube River cruises sail between the grand Hungarian capital Budapest, a city divided in half by the river itself, and Passau in Germany. You'll visit the postcard-perfect landscapes of the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley as well as magnificent Vienna. There, you're likely to hear that famous Strauss waltz played at one of Viking's visits to an atmospheric music hall.

For return visitors there are voyages along the lesser-explored Lower Danube to discover the Iron Gates gorge and culture-rich capitals of Bucharest and Belgrade.

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2. Viking Rhine River Cruise: Get Your Fill of Riesling, Castles and Legends

One of the best Viking River Cruises in Europe takes place on the Rhine River and the scenery is spectacular. Rising in the Alps and meandering 820 miles through Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands, the Rhine is lined with fairy-tale castles and wine-growing villages. All of that makes the Viking's Rhine cruises a great choice for first-time European river cruisers and returning visitors alike.

Viking's Rhine sailings wind through Germany's largest wine-producing region. Expect shore excursions to include vineyard visits and tastings of the region's famous Rieslings. Those glasses of wine go great with the glorious landscapes of the UNESCO-listed Upper Middle Rhine Valley, where legends swirl around towering Lorelei Rock and fantastical gorge-hugging castles with names like Pfalzgrafenstein and Sterrenberg.

For the ultimate itinerary, check out Viking River Cruises' Grand European Tour. This 15-day cruise travels through the heart of Europe between Amsterdam and Budapest. In many ways, it's a combination of the best Viking river cruises in Europe as it takes in the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers and Dutch waterways.

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3. Viking Seine River Cruise: Art and Romance on France's Most Famous River

Viking's European river cruise fleet includes four slightly smaller longships built to navigate France's iconic Seine River. Those ships are your ticket to one of the best river cruises in all of Europe -- and not just because Paris is your starting point.

Food, wine and cultural treasures are among the many pleasures on Viking's Seine River cruises. The Seine runs through the heart of Paris and Viking has an exclusive central docking location just a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. As you leave the romantic City of Light, look out for a replica of the Statue of Liberty.

The Seine is one of the best Viking River Cruises for art lovers. This corner of France has inspired generations of artists -- perhaps none more so than Claude Monet. Visits to his beloved garden are part of Viking's Seine River cruise excursions, where you'll see the Japanese bridge and water garden unchanged from when he painted them.

Manageable itineraries of only eight days are available, though the line does offer longer options. Viking includes excursions to the poignant Normandy beaches plus the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer. You'll also get a dash of history in medieval Rouen and the quaint fishing village of Honfleur. Monet painted both.

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4. Viking Bordeaux Region Cruise: A Treat for Foodies and Wine Lovers

Any trip to France is perfect for food and wine lovers, and one of the best Viking River Cruises in Europe for foodies and oenophiles is in Bordeaux. Itineraries include the Garonne, Girande and Dordogne Rivers, all of which wind their way through rolling hills home to more than 9,000 wineries. Those produce about 700 million bottles of wine a year, so expect sips of Saint-Emilion, Medoc and Sauternes on a Viking Bordeaux river cruise.

Cruises generally last eight days, and Viking begins and ends their Bordeaux cruises in the elegant UNESCO-listed port of Bordeaux. You'll also spend some time in Blaye, where cobbled streets lead to the 17th-century citadel dominating the charming centuries-old town.

If wine isn't your speed, Bordeaux is also a Cognac-producing region. You'll have the chance to create a personal bottle of Cognac at the family-run Camus Distillery. And for a true direct-to-table dining experience, join a truffle hunt in Perigord or savor fresh oysters from the bay at Arcachon.

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5. Viking Douro River Cruise: Port and Vineyards as Far as the Eye Can See

Want a taste of Southern Europe on your next cruise? One of the best Viking River Cruises in Europe sails Portugal's stunning Douro River. Running from the mountains in Portugal's east, the Douro cuts through tranquil landscapes filled with vineyards.

Typical 10-day cruises start and finish in the Atlantic-facing city of Porto, where famous port wine warehouses line the waterfront. Learning the secrets of port production is a highlight on Viking Douro cruises, as are the lush green landscapes that stretch all the way to the Spanish border. From there, the line offers a scenic motorcoach tour to honey-colored Salamanca, Spain's oldest university town (try to spot the tiny frog hidden in the university's facade).

The Douro was first discovered by the Romans who named it the River of Gold. These days, it's hard to believe that the Douro was once a wild river, though when your Viking river cruise travels the awe-inspiring Carrapatelo Lock -- the deepest in Europe -- you just might see how history has shaped this region

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