One of the wonderful benefits of river cruises is being able to visit even the tiniest of towns and villages. And you do so without flooding the town with cruise ship visitors, as you may have experienced on an ocean cruise. Here are a few treasures on the rivers of Europe that you may not have heard of...
1 - Riquewihr, France
Riquewihr is an excursion choice on a Rhine River cruise and most guests agree, it's worth the relatively quick bus ride to visit this charming village. Named the "most beautiful town in France", its medieval charm was said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". Easy to believe when you wander the storybook streets here.
2 - Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Český Krumlov, its town center a UNESCO site, and one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe with cobblestone streets, picturesque Baroque and Renaissance-style shops, cafés and homes, and one of Europe’s largest castle complexes overlooking the majestic Vltava River. See this photographer's dream of a town on a Danube River cruise excursion choice.
3- Durnstein, Austria
In the heart of the wine-producing Wachau valley, this town is complete with fortress ruins that offer a stunning view of the town and the Danube river after a moderate hike to the top. The town oozes charm with its narrow winding streets and riverfront scenery.
4 - Bamberg, Germany
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bamberg is a beautifully preserved Bavarian medieval town. The town sprawls over hills where the Regnitz and Main rivers meet. Its old town preserves structures from the 11th to 19th centuries including the muraled Altes Rathaus (town hall), which occupies an island in the Regnitz reached by arched bridges. See this stunner on a Main River cruise.
5 - Vernon, France
Known for its proximity to Monet's home at Giverny, the historic town of Vernon on the banks of the river Seine in Normandy is a charmer with its gothic church, fine arts museum, 12th-century castles, and the famous old mill.
6 - Cochem, Germany
Cochem is a small medieval town of Roman origin dominated by a famous castle and rich in history and traditions, set in the rich wine area of the Moselle region of Germany. The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill 300 feet above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships.
7 - Saint Émilion, France
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town offers stunning views of vineyards and beautiful examples of architecture from ancient times to the modern day. The beginning of the wine tradition in this town dates back to the Ancient Romans, earning Saint-Émilion the title of the oldest wine-producing appellation in the Bordeaux region.
8 - Pinhão, Portugal
The pretty town of Pinhão lies at the very heart of northern Portugal’s famous Port wine-making region and is located at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhão rivers. Pinhão is a sleepy place for most of the year but bursts into life in autumn during the annual grape harvest.
9- Delft, Netherlands
An excursion option on a Netherlands and Belgium river cruise, Delft, known as the home of the painter Johannes Vermeer and Delft Blue earthenware. It's a beautiful, unspoiled town with traditional architecture, canals, and, of course, bikes.
10- Cluny, France
This fortified town in Burgundy is famous for its Abbey, which was the largest building in the middle ages. Take in the beauty of the medieval atmosphere: white and ochre stones, rounded pink tile roofing, and winding cobbled streets.
Start checking off your bucket list to see these towns in person!