Though Europe is the world’s second-smallest continent in terms of area, covering about 2.0% of the Earth’s surface, it is densely populated, housing slightly more than one-ninth of the world’s people. This close inhabitation gives Europe a similarly dense concentration of culture and industry, which our river cruises explore fully. Each river that flows through Europe has shaped both the landscape and the region’s history. European river cruises are the best way to see “the Continent” in depth.

Cruising Through History

Europe has had a major influence on the arts, culture, economics and social movements worldwide, and Viking’s cruises provide the opportunity to witness the birthplace of Western civilization firsthand. The origins of Western democratic society are often attributed to Ancient Greece; the Roman Empire also left its mark on law, language and government. After the decline of the Roman Empire, Europe entered what is known as “the Dark Ages,” during which isolated monastic communities compiled and safeguarded the written knowledge of the ages. Then came an Age of Discovery: a period of exploration, invention, and scientific development which had its roots in Italy but involved many European countries in exploring and building colonial empires. With the Renaissance, ideas of democracy once again took hold, leading to vast upheavals across Europe. The Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain in the late 18th century, facilitating a move away from agriculture and much greater general prosperity. And of course the 20th century brought two World Wars, the division of Europe by the Iron Curtain and its subsequent reunification, and the formation of the European Union.

European River Cruises With Viking

Throughout history, each great European river has played a crucial role, carrying goods and passengers from city to city and country to country. Today’s river cruises continue this proud tradition. The Rhine River, the Seine River, the Danube River, and the Elbe River evoke a timeless beauty and grace with their names alone. Viking River Cruises excels at giving travelers an authentic European experience on land and by river. Take one of our unforgettable river cruises along a legendary European river; these waterways cover the entire Continent, from the North Sea through the heart of Europe to the Black Sea. Enjoy natural wonders on our river cruises, like Austria’s Wachau Valley and Germany’s Rhine Valley, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and engineering marvels like the Main-Danube Canal. Hilltop castles, lush vineyards and gorgeous countryside are right outside your ship on our European river cruises. Experience Europe’s legendary history, contemporary life and bright future for yourself.