River cruising enables you to see some fascinating sights in major towns and cities across Europe, as well as some that are slightly off the beaten track. However, sometimes you don’t even need to leave the ship to enjoy breathtaking points of interest. Sometimes the river itself is what everyone wants to see.
That’s the case with our list of natural attractions found on the banks of Europe’s rivers. So, during your next river cruise, pull up a chair on the sun deck, grab a refreshing drink and look out for these amazing sights.
Some of the most impressive structures found on the steep cliffs of the Rhine River include Marksburg Castle, Rheinfels Castle and Stolzenfels Castle. However, nature has created a fair few highlights itself.
The Lorelei is located between the towns of Sankt Goar and Oberwesel in the spectacular Middle Rhine Valley and has a mysterious legend attached to it. The story goes that this steep-sided slate rock saw the capricious Lore Lay throw herself to her death after begging to see the Rhine one more time. Having spent her life tricking men and causing their death, the echoes of her alluring song can still be heard by passing sailors, drawing them closer to the rocks and their ultimate demise.
Not to be taken literally, the Iron Gates are not what they sound like. Found along the Danube, the name is given to a breathtaking gorge located just after the city of Orșova and comprising some fantastic natural scenery. It creates part of the border between Romania and Serbia, separating the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains.
Whilst the whole stretch of river is a natural wonder, there are some striking things to look out for along the way. Perhaps the most well-known is the rock sculpture of the Face of Decebalus, a hand-calved relief depicting the last king of Dacia. Finished in 2004, it was created by twelve sculptors and commissioned by a Romanian businessman.
If one river isn’t enough for you, there are some places around Europe where two or more rivers meet, creating what is known as a confluence. In the town of Passau, a regular departure point for Danube River cruises, Dreiflüsseeck is the meeting point of the Danube, Ilz and Inn rivers. What makes it even more eye-catching is the fact that each waterway is a different colour, meaning you can clearly see where one flows into the others.
Zeller Hamm is a remarkable bend in the River Moselle where the waterway loops back on itself to create a fantastic photo opportunity. Whilst you can experience the scenic stretch from the top deck of the ship, the best vantage point is from an observation deck called the Prinzenkopfturm.
The small town of Zell, known for its production of ‘Schwarze Katz’ wine, is located on this part of the river. With sloping vineyards to be seen in all directions, the Black Cat (Schwarze Katz) label covers an area of 16 wine-producing estates.
Another corner (eck) where rivers meet, this one is found in the city of Koblenz. The confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers occurs at a concrete peninsula where the iconic Kaiser Wilhelm memorial stands. This statue depicts Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm I on horseback.
The name ‘Koblenz’ derives from the Latin for ‘fort at the confluence’ and Deutsches Eck remains one of the city’s most popular attractions and best vantage points.
If you take a Rhone River cruise during the months of June, July or August, the chances are that the banks of the beautiful Provence region will be covered in swathes of lavender. As well as being an emblem of the area, this colourful crop is a big draw and one of the main reasons tourists choose to visit.
Although the purple hues can easily be enjoyed from your ship, you can get closer to the natural beauty by exploring ashore. Some of the best lavender fields can be found in the national parks to the east of the Rhone, in places such as Sault, Gordes and Valensole. By doing this, you can enjoy the smell of the lavender fields too.
© Fred. Olsen Travel.
Registered in England and Wales No. 02287241. Olympus House, 2 Olympus Close, Ipswich, IP1 5LN
Bonded by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and by the Civil Aviation Authority's Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) scheme, you can look forward to your next adventure with the peace of mind that your money is financially protected in the event of unforeseen circumstances.