Ask Lonely Planet: Be your own skipper on Europe's rivers

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There's plenty to see while cruising along on the River Danube. Photo / Supplied
There's plenty to see while cruising along on the River Danube. Photo / Supplied

We have four adults in our family who are planning a trip to Europe in the next year or two. It has been mentioned to us that a Europe river cruise could be incorporated into our itinerary. Can you please recommend some really worthwhile river cruises where we would get plenty of good sightseeing and activities with onshore excursions.
- Adrienne King

There are plenty of river cruises in Europe and they include journeys such as taking the public ferry down the Bosphorus in Turkey, to renting house boats and criss-crossing rivers in France, to canal-boat holidays in England.

We at Lonely Planet are always encouraging people to travel independently. As such, we'd really recommend that you consider hiring a boat of your own to plan your own cruise and stops along the way.

You'd first need to decide where you want to base yourself and create an itinerary. After that, book your boat and stock up on supplies once you're there.

Hiring a boat in France or England is a leisurely way to see the country. The idea is to take things slowly and not cover too much ground. Boats are self-sufficient and can accommodate anywhere from two to 10 people depending on the size.

A quick Google on canal boat (England) or house boat (France) will yield a fair few boat-rental websites. Don't forget your Lonely Planet guide to help with the itinerary.

If you still prefer someone else to do all the hard work, you could consult your local travel agent or find one of the usual major agencies online. Companies such as APT generally have various packages along most of Europe's major arterial rivers such as the Danube, Rhine, Rhône and Volga.

What you book depends on where you want to visit, how long you want to cruise for and how much you want to pay. These cruises are good to get a "best of" Europe experience.

We're planning to visit Egypt and Jordan and possibly Israel. We've done a bit of research but were wondering what would be the best way, transport-wise, to visit the Dead Sea on our way to Amman from Aqaba. Our plan is to fly into Cairo for three days then train to Luxor, then trek up to Hurghada, ferry across to Aqaba (or Nuweiba) then hire a car to visit the Dead Sea on our way to Amman. I know there is public transport to Amman directly but can't quite make out whether they make stops at the Dead Sea on the way.
- Tai

Yes, you can take the bus between Aqaba and Amman. The JETT bus service has about five buses daily between the two destinations and the journey takes four to five hours. However, they don't stop en route to the Dead Sea.

Having your own transport gives you flexibility in stopping as and when you please. In theory, you can drive from Aqaba or Nuweiba towards Amman and pull over at the Dead Sea.

Otherwise, get the bus from Aqaba to Amman and hire a car from Amman to visit the Dead Sea. Most visitors visit the Dead Sea as a day trip from Amman, 1-1.5 hours drive.

You could also grab a local bus to Amman Beach in the Dead Sea from Amman if you end up not getting your own car.

A note on Hurghada: the Lonely Planet author described the place as " ... overpriced, Las Vegas-inspired, faux ancient Egyptian metropolis ... ". If your plan is to hit the beach for some quiet relaxation, Nuweiba is a good option.

It has golden beaches and crystal-clear waters.

PS: Don't forget to get an international driver's permit. You need it to drive in the Middle East.

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- NZ Herald

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