Going on river cruises can be a fun way to explore various countries in a short amount of time. European river cruises are particularly popular among tourists, who usually set off to explore cities and villages lining the Rhine and Danube rivers. This offers visitors a chance to briefly experience and appreciate the different places they visit, without having to book hotel rooms in advance or worry about getting lost on their way to their next destination. If you plan to experience a river cruise holiday here’s a guide to the places that are usually on the tour itineraries and some of their highlights.

1. Regensburg: Known as one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities, Regensburg is a popular stop during cruises on the Danube. The city is famous for its architecture, particularly its old tower houses, the Old Town Hall (and its assorted collection of art and antiquities), and the Stone Bridge of Regensburg.

2. Passau: This is another town known for its architecture, and tourists can visit historic landmarks such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Oberhaus Fortress. Passau is also relatively close to the Austrian town Salzbourg, and you might be able to book an optional trip for sightseeing and shopping depending on the tour package.

3. Vienna: Austria’s capital is an obvious choice, but some might feel overwhelmed by trying to pick the attractions they should visit. River cruises typically offer tours which allow you to see some of the main sights in a short amount of time. These include: the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Town Hall, and the Opera House. Alternatively, tourists also opt for a visit to Schonbrunn Palace, a concert, and a brief shopping spree.

4. Bratislava: The Slovakian capital is known for its museums and historic buildings, which is why many tours revolve around the Holocaust Memorial, Mirbach Castle, and Michael’s Gate. The latter is known as one of Bratislava’s oldest buildings, while the first two landmarks will give you a lot of insight on the country’s history.

5. Budapest: Many see Budapest as the highlight of any river cruise, and it is not difficult to see why. Tours of the Royal Palace of Buda (which includes the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest’s History Museum) are extremely popular among visitors of all ages. However, the panoramic views of the city from Fisherman’s Bastion and the spectacular bridges are a must for everyone who decides to visit Budapest.

6. Prague: It is pretty easy to visit Prague during a river cruise because most of the famous sights are grouped together. That way, you have enough time for sightseeing and shopping. Visits typically include Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock and the enormous Charles Bridge, but also Prague Castle and Hradcany Square (and Castle). Also, if you have a couple of hours to yourself, make sure you also stop and visit the neighboring Jewish Quarter.

7. Amsterdam: Many might see Amsterdam as just the departure point towards other cities lining the Rhine River, but this famous capital has many things to offer. For starters, a canal cruise is usually the first thing you should try to experience before exploring the city even further. You can easily admire the 16th century merchant houses, churches, and shops you come across. Then, you can stop and visit some of Amsterdam’s famous museums, which include: the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

8. Cologne: This historic city has been rebuilt after the Second World War, and now you can easily visit historic monuments located in the Old Town area. The Gothic Cathedral and Kolner Dom are among the most popular sights and you can admire both the dramatic interiors, but also the spectacular views of the city.

9. Antwerp: Antwerp is known as Belgium’s largest port and the home of the famous artist Peter Paul Rubens. Art lovers typically spend their time relaxing in local cafes and visiting the Gothic Cathedral of our Lady and the Renaissance Town Hall.

10. Bruges: Like many old cities, Bruges has its fair share of historic landmarks, especially churches (Belfry is the most famous). However, what sets this city apart from some of the others is its famous chocolate. You simply cannot go back to the ship without at least trying some of the local products.