The Seine, Paris

European river tours: the best waterways from Paris to Amsterdam

A boat tour can offer a new perspective of some of Europe’s most beautiful locations and landmarks, while offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. From a gentle canal cruise through the Dutch capital of Amsterdam to moonlight meanderings through Paris, the boat ride of your dreams is within grasp. If you like the sound of a sightseeing trip along the water with your loved ones, we have put together a few of the best European river tours.

Amsterdam Canal Tour

Amsterdam canal

Constructed during the Golden Age of the 17th century, this patchwork of waterways aided maritime trade and helped the city expand and blossom. Stunning waterside estates adorned with colourful façades line the way as you float blissfully through the main canal ring, and you can stop off at the Het Grachtenhuis (Museum of the Canals) to learn about the network’s development over the centuries. Whether you choose a hop-on hop-off canal bus or something a little bit more luxurious – such as a romantic moonlit tour or three-course dining experience – there are plenty of sights to see along the way. Make sure you check out the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) and the neo-Gothic Centraal Station.

Paris Boat Tours and Beyond

Eiffel Tower on River Seine

Whether you choose to see Paris by day or night, a river cruise is the perfect way to admire the breath-taking monuments lining the City of Love’s stretch of the River Seine. Sail west from the Vedettes du Pont-Neuf by Paris’ oldest bridge, past the Musée du Louvre and Place de la Concorde towards the Eiffel Tower. You’ll then return east, gliding alongside the Musée d’Orsay and its extravagant clock, the Notre Dame cathedral on the Île de la Cité and the Hôtel de Ville on the north bank before you return. Should you wish to go a little further afield, just a short drive east from the city brings you to the French Champagne region. Take a barge trip down the Seine’s tributaries lining the vineyards, renowned for producing the area’s iconic bubbly beverage and stop off at picturesque cities like Epernay, the home of Moet and Chandon, or Reims – home to a striking medieval cathedral.

Bruges Canal Tour

Bruges Canal

One of Europe’s most beautifully preserved medieval cities, Bruges is surrounded and sectored off by a series of canals, allowing tourists to follow the winding paths used by old Venetian merchants. See areas of this quaint city inaccessible by foot on one of the popular boat tours, which range from just 30 minutes to a few hours in duration. Drift down the Spiegelrei and admire the waterside architecture en route towards Jan Van Eyckplein and the striking Poortersloge. Also known as Burghers’ Lodge, this dramatically towered 14th century building was once a meeting place for knights and aristocrats as well as a haven for politics and trade. After stepping off the boat, be sure to take in Bruges’ other must-see sights, such as the imposing Belfry tower sitting in the cobblestone market square, the popular Choco-Story – perfect for those with a sweet tooth – and the Bruges Beer Museum where you can learn about the history of Belgium’s famous beverage.

If this has inspired you, check out our adventure page for more ideas.