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Some of Europe’s Best Day Cruises

by Barbara Rogers

Apr 15, 2024

“Bateau Mouche” © Vlad Ghiea | Dreamstime.com


A week cruising along the Danube or the Rhine may be the stuff of dreams for many, but family travelers can enjoy views from the water in ways kinder to the family budget. Many riverside cities offer scenic cruises, and some Baltic or Mediterranean ports have daytrips to nearby islands or coastal attractions. In several cities you can cruise the canals, and in Switzerland you can spend a day cruising on Lake Geneva, with sightseeing stops in lakeside towns.


The two most famous day cruises in Europe are without doubt the Bateau Mouche in Paris and gliding through the canals of Venice in a gondola. Perhaps not as romantic as a gondola, but longer lasting and less expensive, you can get a €20  (about $21) 24-hour pass to ride the Vaporetto anywhere in Venice or its lagoon. This includes the Grand Canal; other canals; and trips to the islands of Murano, Burano and Lido.


Other cities are webbed with canals, too, and a canal cruise is one of the best ways to see Amsterdam’s beautiful rows of canal-side houses. Canal tours of the old Belgian town of Bruges are shorter, while Hamburg offers two-hour cruises through its canals on board a historic launch, as well as harbor cruises of the busy port and Elbe River.


Along with cruises around the city, cruise to the islands of Stockholm’s archipelago either for a scenic day out or for a day of island hopping.  Elsewhere in Scandinavia, you can see the majestic Sognefjord, Fjærlandsfjord and Bøyabreen Glacier on a full-day tour by boat from Bergen, Norway.


Begin a cruise of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva in Lausanne, Montreux, Vevey or Geneva. Or ride between towns on the regular passenger ferries running from Lausanne to Evian and Thonon-les-Bains, and from Nyon to Yvoire, on the French side of the lake.


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