Rivers flow all around the world, but no two are the same. Some rivers have directly contributed to the development of ancient civilizations and are honored as part of various faiths. Some people bathe in them and drink their water while others ship goods and build huge economies from them. Rivers are an amazing way to get to know a city in a way you can't do by driving or walking.
The Amazon is the largest in the world by volume and spans up to six miles wide in some places. It starts in the Andes Mountains in Peru and flows 4,000 miles through Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil before meeting the Atlantic Ocean. The river is as varied as the countries it travels through, and it features giant water lilies, narrow rain forest tributaries, impressive waterfalls, and a wide variety of wildlife. River cruises travel up and down the Amazon with excursions that vary by boat and location.
The Rhine is 820 miles long, making it the longest river in western Europe. It serves as a natural border between Switzerland and Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein; also between Germany and France. The Rhine begins in the Swiss Alps and follows a unique path as it makes its way through Europe, continuously splitting and rejoining itself. There are cities, castles, and historical areas to visit along the length of the Rhine with countless tours available on land or by riverboat.
The Thames is the longest river contained entirely in England and travels over 210 miles from the Cotswolds to the North Sea. Along the way, it flows through beautiful small towns in the English countryside and eventually through the center of London. Whether you want to fish, walk riverside along the Thames Path, or have a bite at a waterfront pub, there are countless things to do along the Thames. Bring your camera along because there is no shortage of beautiful sites to see.
The Ganges begins high in the Himalayas with the Bhagirathi River and officially starts where the Bhagirathi meets the Alaknanda River in northern India. From there, it flows to the border between India and Bangladesh. Before emptying into the Bay of Bengal, the river creates the world's largest river delta, a fertile area covering 23,000 square miles. "Mother Ganges" is sacred to the Hindu religion, so if you visit the region, prepare to see devout Hindus drinking and bathing in the water with offerings of food and flowers.
The Seine is a slow-flowing river that's easy to navigate, which is why it's such an important commercial waterway in northern France. It begins outside of Dijon in the northeastern part of the country, eventually running through Paris and into the English Channel. In Paris, more than 30 bridges span the river, so it's possible to see a lot of it on foot, though there are plenty of riverboat tours available, too. Some take you past famous landmarks in the city, including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre-Dame.
There are a lot of impressive things about the Danube. It flows through or touches the border of ten European countries: Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Moldova, and Bulgaria. There are 600 miles of hiking trails to explore along the Danube and a bicycle path that runs the entire length of it. The Danube's delta is one of the largest in the world, second only to the Ganges, and serves as home to more than 5,000 species of plants and animals.
This southeast Asian river starts in the Himalayas in the Tibetan Plateau. It runs through Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea. River cruises in the lower portion of the Mekong are an ideal way to explore the area. Visit buzzing cities like Ho Chi Minh and Bangkok, or head deeper into the jungle and get a look at ancient architecture and learn about Buddhism. This area offers a unique mix of culture, natural beauty, and delicious cuisine that you aren't likely to find anywhere else.
Everyone knows that the Nile is the longest river in the world, but it's also the most famous northern flowing one. The main part of the Nile runs through Egypt and Sudan, though it also flows through five other African countries. The Nile River basin is arguably one of the most important areas for humankind as ancient civilizations evolved there. Today, a Nile River cruise is an ideal way to see some of the oldest structures in the world.
The Mississippi River has humble beginnings in a small glacial lake in southeastern Minnesota. From there, it flows south and empties into the Gulf of Mexico, passing through ten States along the way. There are riverfront attractions and cruises available all along the river, but if you're up for a road trip, try the Great River Road. This 3,000-mile journey through the Mississippi River Valley is a great way to see the U.S. and is particularly stunning in the fall.
At 2,294 miles, the Volga River is the longest in Europe. It begins north of St. Petersburg and empties into the Caspian Sea, acting as a drainage basin for most of western Russia. The Volga River delta is made of hundreds of smaller streams and home to Russia's flamingos, pelicans, and lotus flowers. The Kremlin grounds, the Church of Transfiguration on Kizhi Island, and the city of Yaroslavl are some of the many unique destinations to see along the Volga.