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The 5 Best No-Fly River Cruises in Europe

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  • Great ideas for no-fly river cruise holidays in Europe travelling by Eurostar
  • Ditch the plane and let the train take the strain with our Eurostar vs flying guide
  • Explore exciting destinations in France, The Netherlands and Germany

Just because you’d prefer not to board a plane at the start of your holiday you don’t have to miss out on a memorable European break. Simply book a no-fly river cruise and you can travel by Eurostar and connecting trains, with coach transfers included in the price.

A fear of flying, medical condition, airport anxiety, reduced mobility or flight luggage restrictions – your personal preference for choosing Eurostar v flying is immaterial. And if you don’t live near London St Pancras, it’s not a problem either. Just start your river cruise by train at one of the UK’s many regional rail stations. For a supplement between a £10 and £50, you can board at Edinburgh, Cardiff, Liverpool or a number of other cities.

A standard class return seat will be reserved for you on Eurostar, with connecting rail travel taking you closer to your embarkation destination. Coaches then transfer you to your river cruise ship.

The best no-fly river cruises in Europe
Bruges, Medieval Flanders, Amsterdam and the Dutch Bulbfields River Cruise

One no-fly river cruise option is a trip to see Europe’s beautiful bulbfields along the Dutch Waterways. Travel by Eurostar and connecting regional train, and it’s only a 20-minute journey on a transfer by coach from Amsterdam rail station to your five-star ship.

The river cruise leaves Amsterdam the next morning, gliding over the calm canal waters of the city, passing by narrow gabled buildings and under historic bridges. The cruise also stops in Antwerp, where a cultural excursion will reveal more about Flemish art, architecture and the Antwerp diamond trade. Ghent, Ypres and Bruges – also a highlight on a Belgium river cruise – are sure to intrigue too. Prepare to be amazed by the spectacular colourful scene awaiting at Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden. Visit during April or May to see the floral displays at their most magnificent – over seven million tulips, daffodils and other perennials will be in bloom.

no fly river cruises keukenhof gardens

Burgundy, the River Rhône and Provence River Cruise

A no-fly cruise along the Rhône river may appeal more, travelling through France discovering the delights of Lyon, Avignon and Arles. It’s also easy to catch a connecting train from Paris’s Eurostar station to Lyon, where a transfer coach will take you the quick 20-minute journey to your ship’s embarkation point.

Once on board, guests can look forward to various onshore excursions, such as a wine-tasting tour in Beaune, the centre of the Burgundy wine region. Meandering through stunning landscapes, for example the Ardèche Gorges, will also be another highlight of this no-fly river cruise, especially when the ship reaches a huge natural arch, the Pont d’Arc. If eager to see Provence’s famous lavender fields in full bloom, book a cruise for late June or early July.

no fly river cruises pont darc ardeche france

Rhine and Moselle River Cruise

If you’re keen to explore Germany, yet do not want to fly, you have other choices. Swap the plane for a train and you can embark on a Rhine and Moselle river cruise visiting Cochem, the heart of the Moselle wine trade, as well as Bernkastel and Trier. Your cruise price includes a standard-class reserved seat on Eurostar from London St Pancras, and if you don’t live close to the capital, you can add on rail travel from your preferred starting point for as little as £10.

The renowned wine town of Rüdesheim, often on the itinerary of a Rhine river cruise, is an excursion stop after your ship sails through the awe-inspiring Rhine Gorge, where towering valley slopes are crowned by castles and forts. You can choose to visit a brandy distillery, go on a gondola ride or see a collection of around 350 instruments and musical boxes at the mechanical music museum.

no fly river cruises bernkastel kues germany

The Seine, Paris and Normandy River Cruise

Setting out on river cruises by train takes away all the strain involved with flying. There’s no waiting around airports, strict luggage allowances and on Eurostar you’re given a reserved seat. Embarking your ship on the river Seine in Paris, the coach transfer time from Gard du Nord station is around 45 minutes, shorter than that from Charles du Gaulle airport.

When considering a river cruise, Seine options are certainly appealing, calling at destinations such as Rouen, Honfleur and Bayeux. At the latter you can see the world-famous 70-metre-long Bayeux Tapestry, nine panels of extremely delicate embroidery telling the story of the 1066 Norman invasion of Britain. Artwork by Monet was inspired by the great master’s idyllic home and garden, easily accessible when the ship stops at Giverny. Best visited early in the day, the lily pond that features in his Les Nymphéas series looks magical in the delicate morning light.

no fly river cruises honfleur harbour

Enchanting Rhine and Yuletide Markets River Cruise

When thinking about what to buy loved ones for Christmas, why not also treat yourself to a no-fly river cruise visiting Yuletide markets along the river Rhine. This festive break allows you to shop at some enchanting winter wonderlands, buying tree decorations, wooden nutcrackers and handcrafted figurines. You won’t have to worry about airline luggage restrictions either if you’re travelling home by train – simply fill your suitcase with unique gifts and souvenirs.

There’s good news for solo travellers too. A number of cabins are available at no single supplement. If you’re feeling indulgent, you can also upgrade your Eurostar experience and sit in Standard Premier Class, enjoying a complimentary light meal and drink. As well as plenty of opportunities to soak up the merry atmosphere in seasonal markets, there’s also time to explore Bonn, Koblenz, Rüdesheim and Cologne, returning every evening to your exceptional floating hotel, where the Christmas celebrations can continue.

no fly river cruises cologne cathedral christmas markets

No-fly river cruises – get your adventure on track

As you can see, holidays in Europe are still a possibility, even if you choose not to board a plane. Let the train take the strain and simply sit back and relax, enjoying the every-changing scenery outside your window. You’ll travel through even more stunning landscapes on your no-fly river cruise or escorted tour.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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