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It's no secret that Bavaria is home to some of the prettiest landscapes in Germany. And while driving through the bucolic countryside is certainly a nice way to experience this southern enclave, we think that a river cruise may just be the very best way to experience Bavarian lifestyle. Whether you're interested in exploring as many quaint Christmas markets as possible, or you'd like to float past smoldering foliage, setting sail on one of these winding rivers will have you considering a move to the countryside in no time.
“River cruising offers travelers the opportunity to discover beautiful and unique places while sharing the experience with a small group," said Patricia Lewis of Vantage Deluxe World Travel, a Boston-based company that offers exceptional cruise itineraries across the globe, and unparalleled hospitality from an English-speaking staff. "The dynamic is very different on a river cruise–our staff will know each passenger’s name before the end of their trip, and we focus on creating individual experiences based on guest preference."
Here's why we think a river cruise is the number one way to experience Bavaria:
You can travel solo with ease
Vantage Travel's Heart of Germany itinerary is a great fit for those going on a solo trip. While most cruise lines charge a supplemental solo traveler fee, Vantage eliminates that fee entirely, and creates a travel environment in which those traveling on their own can meet new people or stay to themselves, if desired, without feeling alone.
"[The cruises] provide a higher level of customization and service for our guests," said Lewis. "And, with a more intimate setting, our solo travelers never feel like they’re not part of a group. We like to say at Vantage that while you might be traveling solo, you’ll never feel alone as you enjoy each new location and experience.”
Or you can indulgence in total luxury
In terms of choosing the right cruise for you, it comes down to what you and your fellow travelers are looking for. Crystal Cruise's Rhine River itinerary, for example, is ideal for those looking for unparalleled luxury and indulgence. Aboard this ship, guests can expect the highest staff-to-guest ratio of all European river cruises, top-tier cuisine, and elegant suites with sweeping views of passing scenery.
You can avoid renting a car
One of the nicest things about cruising through the storied Bavarian towns by way of rivers? No need to worry about navigating the country's roadways and signage ( which is, simply put, not the easiest). Once you disembark, the ship's crew provides easy-to-use maps, so you can do all your exploring on foot while taking in the sights of the regions most storied locations.
Enjoy the ease of an English-speaking crew and tour guides
For those hoping to explore Bavaria without having to learn conversational German beforehand (although many Germans speak English fluently), cruise lines like Vantage hire an English-speaking crew, so all tours and on-board exchanges are entirely in English. There is no need to stress about potential communication snafus—but we encourage travelers to pick up a few phrases along the way.
You can see a different town each day of the journey
One of the best elements of cruise travel is the ability to see so much in just a week. Learn about the unique, vertical vineyards in Würzburg, visit the oldest sausage house in the world in Regensburg, explore Heidelberg Castle, and take a guided tour of Courtroom 600 (the location of the famed Nuremburg Trials).
It's the best way to hit all the Christmas markets in November and December
Starting in mid-November, most of the towns in Bavaria are draped in twinkling Christmas lights, big red bows, decorated trees, and more. Wander the cheery holiday markets and sample gluwein, pick out gifts, and snack on sugary roasted almonds. Be sure to stop by a cookie shop for lebkuchen in Nuremberg and a quintessential bratwurst at Bratwurstand Knupfung (the stand with a yellow-and-white striped awning) in Würzburg.