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(Last Updated On: 11/08/2023)

Travelers looking for the Best Canal and River Boat Holidays in Europe can rest easy knowing Europe has terrific sights. However, to know where to go for the best sailing vacation ever, you have to do some research. There are five countries with fantastic canal and riverboat holiday options.

You can visit them all, or choose the one that appeals to you most. What’s certain is that you’re going to have some famous canal and river rides on these holidays. Here are our top five best canal and riverboat holidays in Europe:


1. Canal and River Boat Holidays in France

France is a beautiful country with many possible destinations for a channel or riverboat holiday. A few of France’s regions stand out in that regard: the Midi, the region of Aquitaine, and the Camargue. Each of them has unique qualities.

The first is Canal du Midi, a World Heritage Site and the oldest artificial waterway in Europe that still follows its original course. This work of Pierre Paul Riquet was completed in 1681. Along the way, cruising down the Midi, you can see Le Somail and Carcassonne, two charming medieval settlements. And if you love good food and great wine, you can try Midi’s famous Minervois and Corbieres, and cassoulet, a local delicacy.

Southern France’s Camargue is slightly more modern, with a beautiful sunny climate and the closeness of the Mediterranean sea. While you’re traveling the Camargue, you can study the lush nature and birdlife. What’s more, in urban areas there are also charming little cafes to see.

Finally, Aquitaine will capture your heart as you cruise through its luscious valleys, look at its waterfalls and breathtaking cliffs. There’s a multitude of routes to take, including sailing down the River Charente. In France, every path you take is enchanting, and experiencing it fully is a wonderful feeling.

Amsterdam to Paris Trains

London to Paris Trains

Rotterdam to Paris Trains

Brussels to Paris Trains



2. Canal and River Boat Holidays in Italy

When you think of channels and Italy, the first thing that comes to mind is Venice. The Venetian lagoon is vast, cut through with canals, and it offers a unique experience for travelers who love boating. But even more so than sailing the canals of Venice itself, the Italian coast is a highlight itself.

For starters, you can visit the enchanting islands Torcello, Burano, and Murano that have a lot to offer. If you want, spend time in one of their many specialist shops. If not, you can always sail on to the city of Venice itself. Every waterway is a beautiful one there, especially when the weather is good. Move on to River Brenta or Sile River for more scenic tours of the Italian countryside.

Italy’s got plenty to offer with its beautiful rivers, and the canals of Venice are a must-see. If you want to see the best of European sights and exquisite waterways, you will find them in Italy.

Florence to Rome Trains

Naples to Rome Trains

Florence to Pisa Trains

Rome to Venice Trains



3. Canal and River Boat Holidays in Germany

Canal and River Boat Holidays in Germany


Germany might not be the first place you think of when the best canal and riverboat holidays in Europe are mentioned. However, this country is far from lacking in beautiful waterways to explore. Two regions stand out from the rest: Mecklenburg and Brandenburg, with their fascinating canals and lakes surrounded by lush forests.

What’s especially charming is that along the way you can see stunning palaces, medieval castles, and quaint old towns. And those who love nature will undoubtedly enjoy the unspoiled wilderness and richness of the wildlife.

Berlin itself has more bridges than even Venice does, and almost 100 canals to explore. However, your German canal and riverboat holiday adventure could also take you towards Potsdam and Brandenburg. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore Germany in this unique and relaxing way.

Berlin to Potsdam Trains

Berlin to Hamburg Trains

Frankfurt to Berlin Trains

Berlin to Munich Trains


4. Belgium

Belgium has a great bonus on its side when it comes to the best canal and riverboat holidays in Europe. This bonus is the Flemish region and the beauty of its waterways. While the Belgian waterways aren’t traditional in the sense of offering breathtaking rural surroundings, they can certainly take you to some exciting places.

For example, Bruges is certainly worth visiting, and exploring it by canals makes the trip even more exciting. There is a certain romance in the air of Bruges, similar to Venice. And the charming medieval structures and chocolate shops only add to the atmosphere.

Then there is Ypres, a stunning place full of historical significance and unique Flemish sights, sounds, and flavors. Sail your way to delicious Belgian handmade chocolates, or vibrant and robust Belgian beers. The country will welcome you with pure delight for all the senses.

Brussels to Antwerp Trains

Amsterdam to Antwerp Trains

Lille to Antwerp Trains

Paris to Antwerp Trains



5. The Netherlands

Netherlands Best Canal and River boat Holidays

No list of the best European destinations can be complete without the Netherlands. That includes destinations that offer the best channel and riverboat holidays in Europe. The country of waterways had to find its place on the list, owing to its stunning views, scenic routes, and the ease and tranquility of sailing.

The Dutch countryside and its waterways offer a great experience. Perhaps no other place can boast such smooth sailing through tiny villages and next to so many beautiful sights. Imagine passing by traditional-looking Dutch windmills, with their recognizable appearance and charm. Imagine looking at the tulips swaying in the breeze while passing through the Frisian region.

Brussels to Amsterdam Trains

London to Amsterdam Trains

Berlin to Amsterdam Trains

Paris to Amsterdam Trains



Planning a Riverboat Vacation in Europe? Book Your Train Tickets with Save A Train and enjoy!



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