Seine River with view of Eiffel Tower Paris

There’s something about river cruising that’s just so irresistible. You get intimate access to the hearts of cities and historic regions. You sail right through some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes, getting a different perspective from the water. And you get to experience it all from your own private, luxury vessel. It’s safe to say river cruises are as popular as ever in 2024, so we’ve rounded up some of the best cruises and itineraries to book this year, from the iconic Danube to the mighty Nile.

1. The Danube, Europe

Danube River Budapest

Experience the dreamy Danube River on a cruise through Central and Eastern Europe. You’ll waltz through historic cities like Vienna, Budapest, and Bratislava, soaking up rich history and stunning architecture. Expect musical evenings, wine tastings, and guided tours that bring the regions’ stories to life.

Cruise the Danube on: Harmony of Central Europe

2. The Nile, Egypt

boats on Nile River Egypt

A journey back in time along the mighty Nile River remains one of the greatest river cruises in the world. You’ll sail from Luxor to Aswan and beyond, exploring ancient Egyptian temples, tombs, and the Valley of the Kings. As you watch daily life go by on the lush river banks, you’ll get a deeper insight into the significance of the world’s longest river and how it brings life to the region.

Cruise the Nile on: Elegance of the Nile

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3. The Mekong, Southeast Asia

people sailing on Mekong River

As the longest river in Southeast Asia, the Mekong is the lifeblood of the region. You can sail its waters through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, learning how communities live on the water, with floating markets, restaurants and homes. Stop off in tranquil villages and ancient temples like Angkor Wat, or head to the bustling cities of Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh and Luang Prabang.

Cruise the Mekong on: Cambodia & Vietnam in Style

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4. The Seine, France

Seine River Paris

The Seine stretches for almost 500 miles through France, but it’s best known for its gorgeous stretch in Paris. A Seine River cruise remains a rite of passage for any traveler to France, as it’s a great way to see the famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Louvre and the Grand Palais. Kick back with a glass of bubbles and soak up the City of Lights from the water.

Cruise the Seine on: Ultimate France

5. The Mississippi, United States

boat on the Mississippi River

A cruise along the Big Muddy is one of the classic experiences of the United States. You’ll get into everything here, from the New Orleans jazz scene to the deliciously soulful cuisine. Visit Civil War historical sites and discover the unique culture of small bayou towns on your Mississippi River cruise.

Cruise the Mississippi on: Southern Grace

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6. Venetian canals, Italy

Venice canals Italy

The waterways of Venice need no introduction. The historic canals have inspired countless artists and travelers over the decades, and they’ll always be one of the world’s most coveted spots for cruising. When in Venice, you can take a romantic gondola ride to see the iconic sites like Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge. Or learn more about the traditions of the Venetian waterways, like the glassblowing artists of Murano.

Cruise the canals of Venice on: Ultimate Italy

7. The Amazon, South America

Amazon River South America

As the lifeline of the world’s largest rainforest and the longest river in the Americas, a cruise down the Amazon is a very special experience. Here you’ll have the chance to spot rare and unique plants and animals, including sloths, monkeys, and even pink river dolphins, and learn how Indigenous communities live along this remarkable river.

Explore South America on: Classic South America

8. The Ganges, India

man sailing a boat on the Ganges at sunrise

The Ganges River is an important pilgrimage site and one of the most sacred rivers in India. A cruise on the Ganges will take you on a voyage through ancient cities, temples and spiritual traditions and rituals. Bask in the pink sunrises and witness daily life on the Ganges as locals bathe in the sacred water and worship the rising sun.

Explore India on: Essence of India

9. The Rhine, Europe


Aerial view of the River Rhine

Sail through the heart of Europe on the Rhine, famed for its riverbanks dotted with fairy-tale castles, vineyard-clad hills, and medieval towns. The river begins in the Swiss Alps and continues to run through Germany and the Netherlands. With stops in cities like Cologne, Strasbourg and Basel, a Rhine River cruise dishes up the perfect blend of history, culture and scenery, making it one of the best river cruises in Europe.

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10. The Murray, Australia

Murray River Australia

As the longest river in Australia, a cruise along the Murray offers a glimpse into the unique ecosystems and communities of the region. From the arid landscapes of the Outback to the lush vineyards and historic riverside towns, the Murray is a fascinating journey. You can learn more about the Indigenous cultures and explore nature reserves to see local wildlife like kangaroos, koalas and turtles.

Explore Australia on: Inspiring Australia

11. The Douro, Portugal

vineyard-clad hills flanking the Douro River Portugal

Cruise through Portugal’s pastoral wine region along the Douro River. Famed for its centuries-old tradition of wine production, the Douro is flanked by breathtaking hills blanketed in terraced vineyards. You can start by tasting the locally-grown grapes in the renowned cellars of Porto on the Atlantic Coast and journey all the way to Vega de Terron, the golden city of Salamanca in Spain.

Explore Portugal on: Spain & Portugal in Style

12. Rio Serrano, Chilean Patagonia

Serrano Glacier off the Rio Serrano Chile

Venture to the ends of the earth with a cruise down the Rio Serrano in Chilean Patagonia. You’ll pass by the most breathtaking natural wonders including the Southern Icefield as the river takes you to Seno Ultima Esperanza (Fjord of the Last Hope). Here you’ll see pristine rainforests and if you continue through the fjord by boat, you’ll also see the dazzling Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers.

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13. The Loire, France

chateau along the Loire River France

If you’re looking for the quintessential European cruise, filled with fairytale castles and stunning wineries, look no further than the Loire Valley. Renowned for its magnificent chateaux, lush vineyards, and Renaissance architecture, a cruise through the Loire is like stepping into a storybook.

Explore France on: Ultimate Southern France

14. The Yangtze, China

Yangtze River China

China’s longest river offers up a grand voyage through lush mountains, ancient history and surreal landscapes. Cruise down the Yangtze River to see natural wonders like Three Gorges, the Wu Gorge, the Shennong Stream, and riverside towns like the shrines and temples Fengdu Ghost City. It’s an unforgettable journey.

15. The Dutch Waterways, the Netherlands

Amsterdam canals, photographed at night with light reflections on the water

As a low-lying country, the Netherlands is almost built on water, with plenty of canals and rivers to explore. One of the best times to go is spring, when the gardens and tulips are in full bloom. Whether you glide down Amsterdam’s canals, or sail into the countryside to see the windmills and farmland, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sail in the Netherlands.


Your frequently-asked questions about river cruising, answered:


What is the most beautiful river cruise in Europe?

There’s so many stunning river cruises in Europe, it’s impossible to say just one. Each river has its unique charm. The Danube has its enchanting cities like Vienna and Budapest while the Douro has its ancient wine-making traditions. The Loire is dotted with fairytale castles while the Rhine is home to the Rhine Gorge, a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

Is a balcony worth it on a river cruise?

If you’re going on a river cruise with lots of scenic landscapes, a balcony is definitely worth it. You’ll be able to watch the scenery unfold from the comfort of your luxury room, and you’ll also have a private space to get some fresh air. There’s nothing like gazing out at the Wachau Valley along the Danube or the Rhine Gorge, all in your own cosy bubble.

What is the best time of year to go on a river cruise?

For European rivers like the Danube and Rhine, spring (April-May) and fall (September-October) offer mild weather and fewer crowds. For more tropical destinations like the Mekong or Amazon, it’s best to research the dry and wet seasons to decide what experience you prefer. While the dry season will have better weather (less rain), the wet season has greener scenery and high water levels that allow for more extensive exploration of smaller tributaries.

How far in advance should I book my river cruise for 2024?

It’s advisable to book at least 6 to 12 months in advance, especially for popular river cruises or during peak travel seasons. Early booking can also secure better deals and ensure you get your preferred cabin type.

Are river cruises suitable for families?

River cruises are traditionally popular with older adults, however many river cruise lines are now offering family-friendly itineraries and activities. It’s a great way for families to go on holiday, as you can unpack once and don’t need to hop around between destinations as frequently.

What are your favorite river cruises? Let us know in the comments below!