Enjoy a river cruise that goes further with Riviera Travel. Credit: Shutterstock

Choose a combined river cruise for further exploration

Author: James March

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What’s better than one river cruise? Two. Combining itineraries means you can explore more
and unwind for longer, says James March

Riviera Travel’s five combination itineraries – new for 2025 – span some of Central Europe’s finest scenes, from delightful medieval towns to pine-strewn valleys, via the Rhine, Danube, Main and Moselle.

Here’s a closer look at each one.

The majestic Rhine, Heidelberg and Switzerland

The first stop on this cruise is Lucerne, a wonderfully walkable Swiss city famous for its wooden stilted Chapel Bridge and old town’s delightful pastel-coloured townhouses.

Cross the German border, where eagles soar over the Black Forest’s rugged pine valleys and cascading waterfalls, and you’ll come to the lakeside village of Titisee, which hosts an ethereal evening dinner and violin performance.

Returning to the Rhine means stops at Strasbourg and Speyer, where you’ll see its 16th century Romanesque cathedral. Enjoy a captain’s dinner as the cruise eases into the wine haven of Rudesheim, where you can sample the warm and fruity local Asbach brandy.

Heidelberg has a rich heritage and an elegant beauty. Watched over by a half-ruined castle and surrounded by foliage, the city’s terracotta roofs and old stone bridge resemble a real-life painting.

The journey continues back through Rudesheim and Strasbourg before a grand finale in Cologne. When the spires of that city’s great Gothic cathedral emerge on the horizon on day two, you’ll know your destination isn’t far away.

But while there’s deep medieval history here, Cologne’s streets are also splashed with rainbow-hued street art. The craft beer joints and vintage and record shops in its Belgian quarter are also worth exploring.

Get onboard

Riviera’s 14-night 'Majestic Rhine, Heidelberg & Switzerland' cruise aboard MS Emily Brontë, which includes Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Cologne, Colmar and the Black Forest, departs on 29 April 2025, from £3,799 including return flight. Click here to discover this itinerary.

Admire the Rhine Gorge on a cruise with Riviera Travel. Credit: Shutterstock

Grand cruise of the Rhine Gorge, medieval Germany and Switzerland

The Swiss Alps give this cruise a superb start, as the Bernese Oberland Railway cuts a path around lakes and jagged mountains. Back on the water, the cruise joins the Rhine and passes the Black Forest’s tumbling pine-strewn valleys before docking in Strasbourg.

With pastel timber-framed bistros lining Grande Ile’s gentle waterways, be sure to kick back with a warm flammekueche – a regional bacon and onion pizza – washed down with a floral glass of white gewürztraminer. Easing into the widescreen valleys and hilltop castles of the Rhine Gorge, your journey continues into the small- town medieval charm of Andernach and Boppard.

After touring the grand city of Cologne, the cruise eases on to the Main River and into Bavaria, where Bamburg’s old town awaits with its arched stone bridges, dreamy spires and crooked timber houses. Remember to sample Bamberg’s smoked ale, the seductively aromatic rauchbier.

You’ll finish up in Nuremberg, an ancient bastion of Bavarian culture and a living museum. Wander around churches and past sculpted fountains before finding a lively beer hall to reflect on your journey with a pint of weissbier (wheat beer) and a bratwurst pork sausage.

Get onboard

Riviera’s 17-night Grand Cruise of the Rhine Gorge, Medieval Germany & Switzerland cruise aboard MS George Eliot, via Middle Rhine Valley, Koblenz, Strasbourg and Nuremberg, departs on 10 May 2025, from £4,949 including return flight. Click here to discovery this itinerary.

Begin your journey at Cologne's stunning cathedral. Credit: Shutterstock

Grand cruise through the heart of Europe to the Black Sea

Beginning beneath Cologne Cathedral’s soaring charcoal-black towers and finishing 29 days later amid the splendour of Budapest’s Neo-Gothic spires, this serpentine route across Central Europe winds through seven countries.

With terraced vineyards and fir forests tumbling into the Rhine, the opening stages of the journey cut through Germany’s most romantic valley – and there’s nowhere better to sit with a sweet glass of riesling and watch it all roll by. Make things even sweeter in Vienna by ducking into a traditional kaffeehaus for a hot chocolate.

On day two, a guided tour awaits through Budapest’s enthralling mix of Baroque, classical and Art Nouveau streets.

Then you’ll follow the Danube as it snakes into the Balkan region, marvelling at the natural majesty of the Iron Gates Gorge. You’ll emerge into the tranquil grasslands, estuaries and lagoons of the Danube delta on the Black Sea, which is home to 5,500 species of flora and fauna. Look out for gliding herons and cartwheeling terns up above.

This month-long journey comes to a fascinating conclusion via the bizarrely-shaped sandstone rock formations at Belogradchik, before you fly home from Budapest.

Get onboard

Riviera’s 28-night Grand Cruise through the Heart of Europe to the Black Sea aboard MS William Wordsworth, via Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade and Bucharest, departs on 6 June 2025, from £7,399 including return flight. Click here to discover this itinerary.

Koblenz is set at the convergence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Credit: Shutterstock

Rhine, Moselle and Switzerland

Start on a high in Switzerland, where the Bernese Oberland Railway weaves around snow-capped mountains and crystalline lakes. Back on the Rhine, your cruise ship will drift up to Strasbourg where a rocket-like 600-year-old Gothic Cathedral looms over half-timbered houses, twisting lanes and cobbled plazas fringed with cafes.

Your journey then bends west through serene valleys and quaint rust-orange architecture in medieval Koblenz, near where the Rhine meets the Moselle.

The Unesco-listed city of Trier – Germany’s oldest – packs in well-preserved Roman monuments including an amphitheatre, baths and bridge, and is a sublime spot to dine under the stars, just as Emperor Constantine once did.

Soak up the Rhine Gorge’s sensational views rising either side when you disembark at Rudesheim and take a cable car for majestic panoramas of the river and forests.

Bernkastel’s cobbled lanes await before you rejoin the Rhine to meander north to your final stop, Cologne, where it would be remiss not to toast the end of the journey with a riverside Kolsch beer beneath the languid willow trees at Aachener Weiher Biergarten.

Get onboard

Riviera’s 14-night Rhine, Moselle & Switzerland cruise aboard MS George Eliot, via Cologne, the Black Forest and the Bernese Oberland Mountain Range, departs on 24 June 2025, from £3,949 including return flight. Click here to discover this itinerary.

Bernkastel is fully of characterful taverns to sip a drink with the locals in. Credit: Shutterstock

Grand cruise of the Moselle, Rhine, Luxembourg and Switzerland

Starting in handsome Basel, this adventure takes in the serrated Alpine peaks of the Bernese Oberland mountain range before turning north on the Rhine through the Black Forest and Strasbourg.

The cliffs, tumbling fir forests and lofty medieval castles of the Rhine Gorge have attracted artists and poets for centuries, and this section of the cruise is a wonderful opportunity to relax under the sun and watch this stunning corner of Germany gently pass by.

Turning on to the Moselle, the wooden taverns of Bernkastel are perfect for sampling glasses of local riesling. Luxembourg City’s multi-layered topography is another unique highlight of this detour, with the winding Chemin de la Corniche walkway providing fabulous views of the Duchy’s gorges, bridges and twisting roads.

Back in Germany, Cochem’s 11th- century Imperial Castle peers over a valley. Delve deeper into history in the Roman city of Worms, which since 1900 has been home to the striking Nibelungen Tower.

Your journey ends in Bonn, Beethoven’s birthplace and a city with an insatiable appetite for the arts – so make time to explore the German expressionism decking the walls of its Museum of Modern Art. Bonn’s Wilhelmine architecture provides a fine backdrop for finishing your adventure in style.

Get onboard

Riviera’s 17-night Grand Cruise of the Moselle, Rhine, Luxembourg & Switzerland aboard MS Oscar Wilde, via Lucerne, Luxembourg City, Strasbourg & Rhine Gorge, departs on 9 July 2025, from £4,949 including return flight. Click here to discover this itinerary.

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