"Venezia Variation5" by Adrien Sifre via Flickr Creative Commons

Europe is the ultimate destination for the canal boat connoisseur with miles of pristine waterways to lap up. It’s also the domain of elegant rivers with historic towns and picturesque countryside. Wander past windmills in Holland, Venetian villas in Italy or the great cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia.

  1. Llangollen Canal, England and North Wales England is the place for canal boating with numerous waterways meandering past historic towns and rustic canal side cottages. The Llangollen received a touch of glamour when Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart punted it in 2004. The 46 glorious miles of canal start in Shropshire and continue to the purple tinge of the northern Welsh hills passing mossy pastures, through underground tunnels, by a 1000ft aqueduct, soaring limestone cliffs and beautiful falls.
  2. River Po The Po is second to none in Europe’s most romantic river stakes, crossing regions of Romeo and Juliet fame and ending in the almost over-sentimentalized Venetian lagoon.
  3. Holland The best time to glide through Holland is in springtime when the tulips bloom and the weather brightens amongst a feast of canals and windmills.
  4. Danube, Germany The second longest river in Europe begins in Germany’s Black Forest and wanders through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Sights include gorgeous valleys topped with austere castles, elegant cities, quaint villages, vineyards and medieval monasteries.
  5. Rhine, Germany Drifting past the vineyards, castles and medieval towns in the Rhine Valley is like entering storybook heaven.
  6. Guadalquivir River, Spain Spain’s colorful state of Andalucia takes on a different perspective from the River Guadalquivir from Seville to Cordoba and Cadiz past whitewashed villages and gorgeous farming districts of rice and cotton. Sneak ashore for a touch of flamenco, vino and Spanish guitar.
  7. Norwegian Fjords Norway’s fjords, inlets, bays and islands are a perfect choice for the water-going traveler. Passed at sea level the steep cliffs of spectacular fjords take on majestic heights. Sognefjord, 43 miles north of Bergen, is possibly the best and certainly the deepest (.8 miles) and widest (1.8 miles).
  8. Rhone, France This serene river flows through French countryside into the Mediterranean, touching on the highlights of Provence like Lyon, the stunning medieval town of Avignon, fifth century Viviers and the elegant Roman town of Tain L’Hermitage. Gorges, grapes and all the greatness of France in one journey.
  9. Duoro, Spain and Portugal It might be lesser known than its counterparts, but this only makes the Duoro more spectacular. Take in the beautiful wine-growing regions, whitewashed estates, scented citrus and almond groves and the sprinkling of timeless villages and historic towns.
  10. Volga River, Russia The Volga river connects with the Neva and Svir to link the great Russian cities of Moscow and St Petersburg. These waterways were once the haunt of the Tsars and apart from the splendors of the old imperial capitals there is plenty of time to experience Russian culture in its small villages, fortified monasteries and rural life.

Click here for the Top 10 River or Canal Cruise Vacations in North America