Blog, Travel Tips, & News

Activity and Discovery Excursions on River Cruises

Active and Discovery Excursions on a River Cruise-Featured Image-Avalon

The excursions on river cruising have changed over the last ten years, and inspires this week’s article…

Activity and Discovery Excursions on River Cruises

As I cruise right now on a special itinerary on the waterways of the Netherlands and Belgium, the variety in the shore excursions offered cause me to think that most of the folks who have never river cruised, and many of those who have, probably don’t realize the many options available to tailor the experience based on your personal interests.

River cruising has undergone a transformative evolution over the years, and certain active and cultural excursions transcend the conventional excursions that one might expect.

Most river cruise lines offer shore excursions related to the destination, typically walking tours in the historic areas or city tours of key sites. Those are interesting and insightful, and a great way to learn about a region.

But as more travelers repeat journeys on the same river, and folks look for more immersive experiences, the variety of shore excursions have expanded considerably.

There is a theme of ‘Active and Discovery’ and the options are quite interesting and inventive. My activities on this river cruise are so different from the standard city tour.

In the town of Schoonhoven Netherlands, we visited the Dutch Silver Museum, and after learning about silver and meeting a silversmith, we had a workshop and made our own necklace. The people that didn’t choose that workshop were jealous when they saw the fabulous mementos we would be taking home.

In Antwerp Belgium, we participated in a chocolate workshop, and learned all types of chocolate making techniques to create filled chocolates, shaped figures (I made a duck), and chocolate balls filled with marshmallows – a chocolate ‘bomb’ for hot chocolate.

Later in the week we’ll learn about oyster farming in Middleburg, where we’ll also have an oyster-and-lobster tasting. In Rotterdam, we’ll visit the Delft factory and we’ll paint our own Dutch pottery.

Clearly, there’s more to river cruising excursions than just the walk around the old city.

Whether you’re an adventure seeker craving heart-pounding activities or a curious explorer eager to delve into local cultures, there’s something extraordinary awaiting you at every port of call.

Discovery Themed Excursions

These newer shore excursions offer a deeper, more enriching perspective on travel. Step off the beaten path and into a world of interactive experiences that awaken your senses and connect you with the heart and soul of each destination.

From indulging in a painting class in the artistic haven of Amsterdam to savoring locally produced cheese and beer at an ancient abbey, every moment is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of culture and tradition.

So, whether you’re greeting the dawn with a sunrise stroll through Vienna’s quaint streets or partaking in a centuries-old ritual, these ‘Discovery’ excursions invite you to shift from observer to participant and embark on a journey of discovery unlike any other.

Cruising on the Danube River, you can also travel to Visegrad, Hungary, to enjoy discovering the intricacies of history as represented through the Medieval Knights Tournament at Visegrád’s Lower Castle. With demonstrations by members of the St. George Knightly Order, the discovery excursion earns a new layer of mystique.

A stop in Krems Austria offers much in the way of discovery, where you can join an interactive Wine World Experience. This wine-tasting adventure offers more than a journey for your tastebuds; it also explores the source of those tastes and how they change depending on where you are.

A Seine River cruise that starts in Paris, also runs through La Havre, which gives you a chance to step off the deck of the ship and enjoy an exploration of the Palais Benedictine, where the boast of ‘home to the world-famous Benedictine liquor’ comes to life.

If you try a cruise along the Rhone River in France, you can experience the creation of essential oils in an authentic Provencal farmhouse in Avignon, where international fame meets local tradition.

Other options include culturally enriched cooking classes in Lyon, which offer discovery for your taste and palate. Elsewhere on the Rhone, a painting workshop in Arles brings you closer to the style in which Van Gogh made his masterpieces.

Unique discoveries abound along the Rhine, where you can choose your options from Koblenz to Bresach and still have more left to explore.

You can think about a volcano visit as one of the most unique options anywhere. This particular volcano visit in Koblenz takes you through the “Lava City” of Mendig, where you can learn more about caverns, lava, and dangerous mining practices.

Other options include learning about beer making in Heidelberg, Germany, through exclusive brewery tours or visiting Bresach to enjoy wine instead of beer and discover the specifics of German winemaking.

Active-Themed Excursions

For those who thrive on motion and action, some cruise lines offer an enticing menu of energetic excursions that promise an adrenaline rush like no other. A number of river cruise lines offer an onboard wellness or activity host, who leads yoga onboard and hiking or biking excursions as you explore various destinations.

Picture yourself hiking through the rugged beauty of Val D’Enfer or pedaling along the cobblestone streets of Vienna on a thrilling biking tour.

Perhaps you’ll find yourself paddling down the majestic Danube on a canoe adventure or scaling the ancient walls of a medieval castle for a bird’s-eye view of history. These excursions are designed to satisfy your craving for adventure and leave you with unforgettable memories of boundless exploration.

The Seine River meanders through picturesque French countryside and historic towns as one of the most famous rivers in the world, offering a canvas and site for active excursions and cultural discoveries.

You can also choose the Les Andelys hiking tour, which guides you up to the Château Gaillard castle ruins for a smidge of historic preservation and culture. After all, the Château Gaillard was home to King Richard the Lionheart and distinguished itself via the sublime architectural mastery of its creation.

You can, for example, enjoy a guided E-Bike tour through scenic routes, beautiful parts of the city of Conflans, and end up at the Château de Maisons-Laffitte for a fitting end to your journey and experience. A river cruise in Bordeaux offers a similar opportunity for biking in the French countryside and ending at a Château family winery.

One option for an active experience along the Rhone is to glide through Gorges du Doux on a rail-bike excursion from Tain-l’Hermitage, enjoying the physical exertion expended on the rugged terrain and the panoramic views that make it worth it.

An exciting excursion on a Rhine River cruise includes a non-typical and incredible kayak tour that you can take in Amsterdam, which takes you through the canals and waterways of a city dubbed a second Venice.

On another part of the Rhine River, you can join an e-Bike tour to learn about the cultural significance of the Black Forest (and its magical history) along the way.

While cruising on the Danube, an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers lies in the tranquil waters of Krems, Austria, where a guided canoe tour awaits you. Every stroke of the oar and every ripple in the water reveals a new perspective of the Austrian landscape.

A Variety of Experiences

Whether you seek adventure or cultural immersion, these journeys cater to your heart, body, and mind, offering authentic and memorable experiences along the world’s most iconic rivers.