En español | You amble off your barge into a cobblestoned European village, enjoy a fresh-baked croissant and steaming café crème at the local café, then wander the streets, discovering a closet-sized clock shop and a charming handmade-toy store. After an hour or two, you reboard your floating hotel for a leisurely water journey past farms and vineyards to the next picturesque village.
See also: 3 great river cruises
Sound like a dream? It's one that can come true. Touring by barge offers one of the most comfortable and relaxing ways to explore Europe — and without having to pack and unpack your bags at each new destination.
What to expect
Conditions vary from barge to barge — and budget to budget — but generally, even the smallest cabins are similar to what you'd find in a cozy country inn, with comfortable beds and private bathrooms.
Barge passengers are guaranteed a much more intimate experience than on a large cruise ship. The smallest accommodate four or six passengers, and the largest up to 32. This is one reason why barge journeys are ideal for multigenerational family vacations or for a special celebratory getaway with a group of best friends. But many travelers voyage as a couple or solo as well and enjoy the camaraderie of newfound friends.
While a few cabins are as compact as 70 square feet, generally, accommodations at the small end of the scale range from 90 to 100 square feet. For more expansive travelers, cabins larger than 160 square feet are available on many barges, with some as spacious as 230 square feet. These usually come with similarly splendid accoutrements and furnishings.
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