What to Pack for your Europe River Cruise

What to pack for your Europe river cruise

You’ve booked your luxury river cruise through Europe and now you’re wondering what you need to take with you. This helpful guide on preparing and packing essentials, will ensure you have a comfortable and relaxing journey.

The European seasons are very distinct and each one offers something diverse to enjoy in either the Winter magic, or fields of flowers during spring; vineyards of verdant green, temperate and longer days with reduced chill makes sightseeing a pleasant experience. See towns come alive with a burst of energy during the lovely summer days under the spell of a warming sun.

When it comes to average temperatures in Europe, they vary depending on region. On average, here’s what to expect:

During spring (between March and May) temperatures in western Europe typically range from: A daily low of 5°C to a high of 14°C

In summer (between June to August) temperatures in western Europe typically range from: A daily low of 14°C to a daily high of 26 °C (up to about 34°C in some areas)

In autumn (between September to November) temperatures in western Europe typically range from: A daily low of 7°C to a high of 15°C

In winter (between December and February) temperatures in western Europe typically range from: A daily low of -1°C to a daily high of about 5°C (up to about 13°C in some areas)

It’s therefore advisable to pack accordingly and dress in layers, as the temperature can vary during the day, and one day to the next.

Europe river cruise packing list

Here are some of the essentials you should be packing in your suitcase:

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Casual clothes that can be layered
  • Waterproof jacket, parka or raincoat
  • Smart casual evening wear
  • A secure day-bag
  • Workout gear
  • Swimwear
  • Hat and sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Adaptors
  • Walking shoes

During your river cruise, you’ll be docking in small ports and towns frequently, and heading ashore for enriching excursions. These could include everything from guided city walks, to kayaking on glassy lakes, taking an e-bike through the vineyards and mountain hikes. You’ll need a sturdy and comfortable pair of reliable walking shoes.

Top Tip: Be sure to ‘break in’ any new shoes prior to your departure to avoid friction blisters. Remember, much of Europe’s charm is found in wandering down ancient, and uneven, cobblestone laneways – making sensible footwear an absolute must.

Casual clothes that can be layered

During the day on your guided onshore excursions, you’ll need comfortable and practical attire. Your morning could start briskly before warming up under the midday sun, so be sure to pack a warm coat or jacket; and a light scarf or pashmina for those cooler mornings or late evenings spent on the ships deck, or in your private lounge or balcony, taking in the twinkling city lights.

Breathable, natural and lighter fabrics, such as cashmere, cotton and linen are advisable, especially during summer. During the day, most guests will opt for light, casual pants or trousers, a top beneath a light coat or jacket (which can be removed later), and sturdy walking shoes.

Waterproof jacket, parka or raincoat

It’s advisable to bring a hooded, waterproof jacket with you to have at hand during your onshore adventures. Rain can descend at any time, even during the hottest months. For instance, in Paris during July, a peak summer month, the city experiences its highest rainfall. If carrying a camera during your day excursions, a wet weather jacket can also serve as protection for your photographic equipment.

Evening wear

Evening wear adds a touch of elegance to your river cruise experience. Depending on the cruise’s dress code, you may want to pack a few smart casual outfits for special evenings on board. Think about versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched, such as a stylish dress or a pair of tailored pants paired with a nice blouse or shirt. Don’t forget to accessorise with appropriate jewellery and shoes to complete your evening look.

A secure day-bag

For your excursions, be sure to have a secure, small-size day-bag such as a lightweight backpack with zippers, or one that can be worn across or strapped across your chest. It’s handy for all your smaller items including wallet, hat, sunscreen, phone and your water bottle. In some cities, especially during the busier times with more tourists roaming, unfortunately pickpockets can be evident – so the more secure and inaccessible your valuables are kept, the less likely you are to be a target.

Workout gear

Your day may start with some gentle yoga moves as you glide down the Danube, or a sweat session in the on-board fitness centre – so be sure to pack suitable workout gear. You may also be able to use bikes to explore each town. Some guests prefer to wear workout tights and dri-tech exercise clothing when cycling.


You’ll want to take a dip in the inviting ship pool as you pass the castles and vineyards dotted along Europe’s waterways, so be sure to pack your swimwear.

Hat and sunscreen

When it comes to exploring under the sun, don’t overlook the importance of protecting yourself from its rays. A wide-brimmed hat and a high SPF sunscreen are essential items to include in your packing list. Opt for a water-resistant sunscreen if you plan on spending time near the pool, or engaging in water activities during your cruise.


It may be obvious for photography enthusiasts, but you’ll almost certainly want a good-quality camera with you when you explore Europe. Imagine capturing Budapest’s glowing Houses of Parliament at night-time from theDanube, ablaze with golden lights, using all the right camera settings? There is an aesthetic inspiration to be found around almost every turn. Consider all the associated equipment you’ll need, such as spare batteries, battery chargers, protective casing, zoom lenses, memory cards, back-up drives etc.

Even if you’re using the latest-release smartphone with impressive camera quality, it’s wise to have another option available just in case – even a small, instant camera will do. There’s always the possibility something could go wrong with your phone, and you’ll be in front of some of Europe’s most beautiful sites with nothing to capture them!


One of the most common packing mistakes is to overlook adaptors. One fitted with multiple USB sockets is handy. Pack your USB charging cables too, and you can charge your phones and other personal devices at the same time.

Personal safety

On board a cruise ship, there are generally abundant hand sanitisation stations for all guests to use. When exploring solo, you might like to have your own pocket sanitiser or antibacterial wipes with you. A spare mask is also recommended.

With your what-to-pack list sorted, it’s now time to get ready and prepare for that long-anticipated 5-star, European river cruise!