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The world's top 5 most picturesque river cruises

4 min read

The world's top 5 most picturesque river cruises
River cruises offer travellers the opportunity to experience some of the most iconic destinations in the world, but which are the most picturesque?
Whether you’re drifting through the lands of the ancient Egyptians, or soaking up the sounds of the world’s largest rainforest, river cruises are becoming more and more popular. Offering travellers the chance to experience some of the planet’s most iconic destinations in a truly unique way, there are so many exciting waters to explore. But, which river cruises are the most picturesque of all?
To find out, the travel experts at PayingTooMuch have analysed social media data to reveal the most photographed river cruise destinations on Instagram and TikTok. They also spoke with travel writer and blogger Melody Moser who has provided her expert tips for passengers setting off on their first river cruise.

1. The Nile

With 89,600 Instagram posts and 35 million views on TikTok, a journey along the River Nile tops the list as the world’s most picturesque river cruise.
"The Nile is one of the most popular ways to take in Egypt's spectacular sights"
The Nile is the longest river in Africa at roughly 4,132 miles, and is one of the most popular ways to take in Egypt's spectacular sights, including the Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings.
The River Nile. Boats, buildings and trees are on the riverbank, a mountain is in the background, and hot air balloons dot the clear sky
The cruise will often take between three to seven nights, depending on your budget and what you want to see. The best time to visit is between October and April as the weather is not too hot, though this does make it the busiest season.

2. The Seine

The River Seine in France comes in second place, with 18,500 Instagram posts and an impressive 14.9 million TikTok views. 
"The Seine travels through the centre of Paris for breath-taking views"
The Seine is much shorter than the Nile at 483 miles, but travels through the centre of Paris for breath-taking views of the top attractions in the "City of Love".
Ferries on the Seine, with the Eiffel Tower and Parisian buildings in the background
From the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, to the Musée d’Orsay and the Notre Dame Cathedral, there’s no shortage of sights to see during a cruise along the Seine.

3. The Rhine

In third place is the Rhine, with cruises on this European river attracting 17,800 Instagram posts and 2.1 million TikTok views. The Rhine flows over 765 miles, travelling from the Swiss Alps through to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Rhine flows through Cologne at sunset
Passing through six countries, including France, Germany and Austria, a journey along the Rhine will give you spectacular views of cliff-side castles, sweeping vineyards and picturesque towns, so there are plenty of photo opportunities during a cruise here.

4. The Danube

With 2 million hashtag views on TikTok, and 26,500 posts on Instagram, the Danube is in fourth place. The second-longest river in Europe, the Danube flows 1,770 miles, from the Black Forest mountains in Germany through to the Black Sea.
The Danube flowing through central Budapest
The river passes through ten countries in Central and South-eastern Europe, including Hungary, Austria and Croatia, and a cruise is the perfect way to take in the incredible scenery, historic cities and diverse cultures of these destinations.
"The Danube passes through ten countries, from the Black Forest mountains to the Black Sea"
The best time to go is between July and August when the weather is warm and sunny, though this is of course also the busiest time.

5. The Amazon

Rounding off the top five most picturesque river cruises in the world is the Amazon. One of the longest rivers on Earth, it flows roughly 4,345 miles through Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.
Two cabins atop the flooded Amazon River at sunset
A river cruise along the Amazon is a great way to head into the heart of the rainforest, and travellers can expect to spot a number of animal species, including monkeys, caiman, giant otters, and even the notorious pink river dolphin.

Tips from a travel expert

Travel expert Melody Moser also shares her top tips for those embarking on their very first river cruise:
  • Choose your cruise carefully: “Ask yourself what type of excursions you want. Do you want to experience local life, such as visiting a farm and tasting cheese and wine, or having a meal in a local family's home? Or do you want a culinary-themed cruise or an active experience with cycling excursions?"
  • Think about the destination: "Would you rather cruise the rivers of Europe, Egypt, the United States or Asia? If choosing Europe, would you prefer to see castles on the Rhine, or Portugal's Douro wine country?"
  • Do your research: “Learn about the different cities and towns you'll be visiting before you go, and how much time you'll have at each location. It’s also a good idea to learn a few phrases in the languages of the countries you'll be visiting. You'll be rewarded with a smile.”
  • Pack appropriately: “When packing for a cruise, bring comfortable walking shoes and one dressier, but comfortable pair of shoes. Dress is casual, but you might want something dressier for special occasions, such as a Captain's Dinner, or a night-time concert.”
  • Stay flexible: “Things like water level and weather can affect your itinerary, so be prepared for plans to change.”
  • Plan for dietary requirements: “If you have dietary requirements or allergies, let the cruise line know in advance. Most cruise lines are very accommodating.”
  • Take out cruise cover: Before you head off on your cruise adventure, make sure you have the right level of travel cover. Adding cruise cover means you’ll get extra protection for things like medical emergencies onboard the ship, as well as missed departures or ports.
Banner photo: the River Nile in Egypt (credit: AXP Photography (Pexels))
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