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8 Best cities to see with a river cruise stay

04 Oct 2016 | by Connor Waldram
A river cruise in Europe will typically take you on a 7, 10 or 14 night journey through countries such as Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. You may wish to spend a little longer in certain destinations which is why many river cruise lines fill their itineraries with excellent cruise and stay packages or simply offer optional extensions onto existing 7 night sailings.

With a river cruise and stay, guests can enjoy anywhere from a 1 to 3 night pre or post hotel stay (or both), giving the explorer types the opportunity to see and do things that they might not be able to do otherwise. Pre or post stays are also perfect for anybody wanting to make their river cruise that little bit extra special, perhaps for an anniversary or birthday.


One of the most popular cities on the Danube river and a popular choice for a hotel stay is the stunning Hungarian city of Budapest. Consisting of the two sides, Buda and Pest, this capital is most known for its iconic Parliament building, a famous landmark throughout Europe. Budapest is also home to a number of great tourist destinations such as Castle Hill (and Buda’s old town), Fishermen’s Bastion and Chain Bridge in Buda as well as St. Stephen’s Basilica, Andrassy Avenue, and the Hungarian State Opera House in Pest.


Known for being one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Europe, the Austrian capital Vienna holds a rich history as a city that cultivated many great musicians and artists, including Mozart, Strauss, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Haydn and more. An absolute must for any Danube cruise would be staying a few extra nights in Vienna, giving guests time to fully experience all that the city has to offer. Sights such as Ringstrasse, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the picturesque Schonbrunn Palace are must sees. There are also opportunities throughout the year to visit a number of events such as the Music Festival, Jazz Festival and International Film Festival.


As capital of the Czech Republic, Prague does not sit on a navigable river but can be visited as part of a Danube or Elbe cruise. Matching Vienna and Budapest in its magnificence, the city of Prague boasts absolutely stunning architecture which gives it the reputation of the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’. Make sure when you stay here that you see the Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, St Vitus Cathedral and the famous Astronomical Clock.


South along the coast from Douro’s gateway, Porto, lies the Portuguese capital Lisbon. Ocean cruisers will find Lisbon is a typical destination of a cruise in the Mediterranean but you can also visit it on a number of Douro river cruises as a 2 night hotel stay. Culture, tropical weather and exotic cuisine await you in this great coastal city as you explore its whitewashed streets and visit landmarks such as Belem Tower, Jeronimos Monastery, Bairro Alto and Sao Jorge Castle.


China’s great capital is home to a long history of Emperors and dynasties as well as seven world-renowned UNESCO sites – the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. River cruises on the Yangtze will typically include a 2 night stay in Beijing (along with stays in Xi’an and Shanghai), which is accompanied with included visits to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall.

Ho Chi Minh City

Resting at the delta of the Mekong river, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) is Vietnam’s famous capital known for its violent and rough history. Many cruises on the Mekong will include a 2 or 3 night hotel stay in this beautiful and lively city, with opportunities to visit its War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace and even the Cu Chi Tunnels. Don’t forget to visit the city’s Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office.


Italy’s Milan might come as a surprise to be on a river cruise, but boutique river cruise line Uniworld actually offer unique cruises in the Venetian Lagoon and along a small length of the Po river onboard the River Countess. These can include 2 nights in Milan, giving guests the chance to tour the elegant city. Here, you’ll get to visit the Duomo and Da Vinci’s The Last Supper housed in Santa Maria delle Grazie, followed by a stop in Verona (the romantic setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet) when you transfer to Venice.

Chur & Zermatt

While most cruises on the Rhine end in Basel or Lucerne, Riviera Travel offer an extended cruise that allows you to enjoy the picturesque Swiss Alpines with hotel stays in the towns of Chur and Zermatt. Existing since 3000 BC, Chur is the gateway to the alpines and boasts a truly peaceful and beautiful landscape with influences of gothic and Romanesque styles. After staying for a night in Chur, you then ride the Glacier Express through the Alps to Zermatt, at the foot of the famous Mt. Matterhorn, where you’ll stay for 2 nights enjoying the Swiss scenery.

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