In our opinion, after three fabulous sailings, Viking River Cruises are the best way to tour Europe if you want to see as much as possible, in absolute comfort, and with the least amount of stress. Imagine a trip where your accommodation and transportation are one and the same. How much time and effort would that save you? On a Viking European River Cruise, you wake up every morning, after sleeping in a luxuriously comfortable bed, to a new view, a new destination, and often a whole new country!
If this all sounds perfect to you then you really should take a look at the itinerary for the Grand European Tour. Picture yourself cruising through the heart of Europe on a beautiful Longship, admiring the stunning scenery of the Rhine and Wachau Valleys, snapping pictures of the fairy-tale castles and beautiful vineyards, all while sipping a glass of Riesling.
Then, when the ship docks, stepping ashore to explore charming towns and villages, historic cities and old-world wineries and breweries. If you can envision this you have an idea of what to expect on the Grand European river cruise.
Still, need more enticement? Well here are 10 reasons why you will love it.
On Viking’s Grand European River Cruise You Will:
1. See Four Countries
This epic cruise takes you to four of Europe’s most beautiful and historic countries: The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Hungary. If you begin your Grand European Cruise in the Netherlands, you will first see the famous Amsterdam canals and the iconic Dutch windmills.
Then you will explore German castles and palaces and drink delicious beer in quaint Bavarian towns. Next, you’ll be off to Austria where you will be able to admire the beautiful streets of Vienna, attend a Mozart concert, and maybe learn the Viennese Waltz.
As you sail into your final stop of Budapest you will be in awe of the incredibly scenic waterfront and will love exploring this historic, and exciting city.
2. Cruise Three Rivers
Your Longship will cruise along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers allowing you to experience all the beauty and interest these waterways offer. The Rhine River will take you through the Netherlands and Germany. You will stop at the UNESCO site of the Kinderdijk windmills and on to lovely German riverside towns like Cologne and past numerous hilltop castles and vineyards.
The Main River will then carry you through a fascinating series of locks to the Main-Danube Canal. Once on the famous blue Danube, you will continue through east Germany and into Austria and finally Hungary. Along the way, there will be more castles and vineyards and stops at some of the famous cities and charming quieter towns in Europe.
3. Admire Amsterdam
The unique city of Amsterdam with its many romantic canals, colorful gabled houses, and thousands of bicycles is like no other place in the world. You will have time to explore the charming neighborhoods and get lost in the maze of waterways as well as visit some of the many museums and historic sights.
If you prefer to spend your time eating, drinking, or shopping there is an abundance of interesting bars, cafes, and boutiques to visit.
4. Visit Vienna
The impressive Imperial grandeur of Austria’s capital makes it one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Architecture and history buffs will be in heaven when they set eyes on the famous Ringstrasse and Vienna palaces. Lovers of the arts and culture will have a hard time deciding how to spend their time with all of the attractions and performances.
After all, this was home to Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Johann Strauss. And shoppers will find street after street of luxury brands and top labels.
5. Explore Budapest
Just as beautiful, though not as austere as Vienna, Budapest’s riverside location is hard to beat for the title of most picturesque cities in Europe. The combination of baroque, neoclassical, and art nouveau architectural styles make it a fascinating city to explore with gorgeous buildings everywhere.
The country’s troubled past is also in plain view with bullet holes in the walls and the moving memorial to holocaust victims “Shoes on the Danube”. On the flipside, however, is a vibrant city with a young and exciting nightlife and plenty of great food wine and culture. We can pretty much guarantee you’ll want to be returning to spend at least another weekend in Budapest.
6. Relish in Beautiful Bavarian Towns
The Grand European Cruise itinerary also includes visits to some of the most charming and iconic Bavarian towns in Germany. You will have the chance to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Regensburg which is one of the few towns saved from devastation during the wars.
Voted one of the most beautiful settlements in Germany the little medieval streets and many breweries and cafes make Bamberg a pleasure to explore. These are just two of the charming towns you will see on this cruise.
7. Enjoy Excursions
Viking River Cruises offer an amazing amount of tours and excursions. There are 12 included tours covering many of the top sights at each stop. Plus there are fabulous optional excursions available to destinations like Munich and Salzburg and sights like the Top of Cologne Cathedral and Schonbrunn Palace.
For more unique experiences there are also tours to places and events like the Wachau Valley Winery, a behind the scenes look at the famed Lipizzaner Stallions and a day at the Budapest Thermal Baths. Viking also believes in offering immersions into local life and culture so you can learn as you explore.
8. Experience Two Weeks of the “Viking Difference”
From the minute you board a Viking ship you will feel the Viking difference. This difference is one of the top reasons we love this cruise line. Viking has mastered the art of providing guests with first-class service while maintaining a comfortable, casual atmosphere that makes everyone feel both at home and spoiled. In our experience, this is accomplished by the amazing staff.
Whether you need clean towels, have special dietary needs, want help with directions onshore, or have questions about the local food and culture there is always someone there to help facilitate whatever you need with a smile. After speaking with dozens of fellow cruisers during our voyages we have yet to find one person who doesn’t rate the service 5 stars.
9. Eat Fabulous Food
Aaaah the food! Every meal onboard a Viking River Cruise is an experience in itself. There are breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, that are the same every day, offering a variety of delicious meals. Plus there are several daily specials which change according to the local cuisine at your current location.
At breakfast and lunch, you also have your choice of ordering from your server or helping yourself from the small, fresh buffet…or both! In other words, there is something to please everyone. If you want a rib-eye steak or salmon filet for every dinner you can have it.
If you want to try a different meal every day for two weeks you can do that too. Can’t decide between the steak and the daily special? No problem, you can order both. Actually that may be the only bad thing about the food on board, it’s so good and so plentiful you may be tempted to overindulge. Luckily there’s a walking track on the top deck.
10. Drink World Class Beer & Wine
The Grand European Cruise is a delight for both beer and wine lovers. The Dutch love their beer and brew some of the best in the world. You will find plenty of breweries in Amsterdam to whet your appetite.
Then, of course, there is Germany. Home to Oktoberfest and a huge beer culture, Germany is one of the first countries in the world that people think of when they talk beer. You will find that every town you visit on this cruise will have multiple breweries, each with their own special brew. Be prepared for lots of tastings. Austria is also no slouch in the beer department having a long history of brewing great ales and bocks.
If wine is more your taste don’t worry. Germany produces some of the best white wines in the world and the Hungarian reds are amazing and incredible value.
Truth be told we could come up with easily another ten reasons to take the Grand European Cruise but if these first ten haven’t got you sold by now then maybe a luxury cruise down some of the most beautiful waterways in Europe just isn’t your cup of tea…or pint of beer.
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.