The World’s Top 5 Scenic River Cruises

With the luxury of a larger than life ship, combined with stunning views of surrounding nature, a river cruise is an excellent choice for those looking for both comfort and excitement. Treat yourself to a relaxing experience where the business of life slips away as you peacefully float down a river. Immerse yourself in the landscape of the passing towns, then disembark for a bit of exploring on foot as you take in the culture of the villages.

To get you on the best river cruise experience, we’ve researched the top locations, cruise lines and additional tips for the trip of your life. Here are five of the most scenic locations and the cruise lines to look into:

The Seine, France

The Seine River in France

Calling all art fans! The Seine River travels a short distance, but it is overflowing with historic towns, art, castles, cathedrals and captivating countryside. Possibly the river’s most famous sight is an up-close view of the Eifel Tower.

The Yangtze, China

The Yangtze River in China

When we think of scenic, we can’t help but think of the Yangtze. This river is one of the longest in the world and lined with incredible landscapes. From forestry, ancient architecture and turquoise waters, the Yangtze displays magnificent sites of China. Most river cruises also travel down the Three Gorges, which is a 250-kilometer section of the river highlighting the most breathtaking views.

The Dordogne & Garonne, France

The Dordogne River

For those partial to French food, the Dordogne & Garonne rivers are a destination that offers a delicious experience. The ship stops in France’s most charming cities to adventure through the towns and work up an appetite for authentic French cuisine.

The Amazon, Brazil

The Amazon River

If you wish to see the nature and wonder of the rainforest, with a safe and comfortable proximity from snakes, a river cruise might be the best way to do that. Sailing down the Amazon allows you to experience the dense rainforest and wildlife encounters all from the ship’s deck. The option to venture into the forest is available through the several stops with guided tours, village excursions and a chance to see popular towns in Brazil.

The Rhine, Europe

Rhine River in Germany

There’s no place like the Rhine for Christmas. This river is gorgeous all year, but in the winter something magical happens. The towns along the Rhine river light up with Christmas decorations and the famous Christmas markets make their debut. Enjoy the traditional foods and shopping experiences that the towns of Germany and Switzerland do so well.

The Mississippi River, U.S.

A cruise on the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River caters to all the senses with incredible views, musical experiences, delicious smells and tastes of the south, and vibrant nightlife at the stops along the river. The river travels through the homeland of country music in Nashville, as well as the famous Memphis, Tennessee. The Mississippi has stories to tell and a culture rich experience to discover.

The Upper Danube, Europe

Danube River in Germany

Float through some of the quaintest towns in Europe on the Danube River. See traditional architecture and brightly painted coastline houses in each city. Cathedrals and castles are visible from the river, but there is nothing like taking offshore excursions and seeing it all up close in personal.

The Nile, Egypt

Egypt's Nile River

As a popular honeymoon destination, the Nile is a Romanic river with sailings following suit. The ships travel through some of the most famous monuments in Egypt while witnessing sunrises and sunsets on the water with little effort on the part of the guests, other than opening a window or going to the ship’s deck to see the views.

Tips to Make the Most of the Cruise

Consider the stops and accommodations of the cruise. If the river cruise stops at many destinations that you wish to explore, make sure to pack shoes that are comfortable for walking. Also, if the vessel has a jacuzzi, pool, gym or other features that you wish to partake in, pack accordingly. Although, if you forget something, most liners will gladly offer that item for sale.

If you are cruising through towns that you wish to see, make the most of the day in that town with a guided tour. If none are available, stop by a visitor’s center or get a map before leaving for the port to see the most important sights.

Top-Rated Cruise Lines

On these types of cruises, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a five-star hotel experience all while traveling on calm waters. From the most extravagant foods and service to elegant rooms, and evening entertainment, the world’s top scenic river trips are a vacation paradise that’s less intense than your traditional cruise.

1. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Whether you are sailing on their cruise of Rhine river, the Ganges or the Danube, if you are on one of Uniworld Boutique’s many unique ships, it will be an unforgettable experience. A plethora of events and activities are available on the ship for those looking for ways to fill their time. In addition to the onboard events, the ships stop at incredible locations for day excursions. Each vessel is specific to the area in which it travels. For example, the “Joie de Vivre” floats through France with a “20th-century Parisian design” décor. To make the traveling even more comfortable for you, Uniworld Boutique has over 50 different river cruise routes to choose from.

2. Viking

Choose any of the most beautiful rivers in Europe and Asia and you will invariably find a Viking Cruise ship floating down it. Viking has a total of 64 identical ships that operate worldwide, giving a familiar feel to their guests no matter where they may be. Take a tour of their ship as well as their stunning locales on their website.

3. AmaWaterways

Owned and operated by three individuals who are passionate travelers and even more enthusiastic about sailing, Amawaterways is an award-winning cruise line known for its outstanding customer satisfaction. Guests comment on the welcoming environment, beautiful destinations and delicious foods. Amawaterways travels remarkable rivers in Africa, Asia and Europe.

4. Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

As its name implies, Scenic Luxury Cruises offer top of the line tours of the most beautiful rivers in Central Europe, Portugal, Russia and Southeast Asia. Scenic Luxury Cruises are famous for their service on board. The tours through Europe are all-inclusive and provide butler service for all guests.

5. Avalon Waterways

Travel through Europe, Asia, and South America while watching the passing views from the comfort of your bed. Avalon Waterways display scenic coastlines of the most enchanting towns through their great hotel room windows. From wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, these windows are worth the upgrade. Avalon Waterways also helps you plan the day’s excursions, listing activities such as cooking classes, guided tours and more.

Superior Scenes on Superb Streams

On a river cruise, you can forget about the stress of travel and enjoy the passing views from a balcony. Sail away on tranquil waters and stunning sites with the world’s top river cruise lines.