Whether you come to Europe to walk down cobblestone streets, gaze up at centuries-old castles, sip wine in world-famous vineyards, or admire thousands of years worth of history, culture, and art — there’s no denying a river cruise is one of the easiest (and most cost-effective) ways to see it all. You’ll sail right through some of the most iconic landscapes on the continent, waking up in a new port each day. In some places, you’ll even dock right near the town’s main attractions and then tour them by bus. When you finally head back on board your ship, you’ll continue your immersion in the region’s culture through food or entertainment in a tight-knit atmosphere where everyone gets to know each other quickly. So with all the benefits of river cruising in Europe, which ships offer the best experience, and the best itinerary? We took a look at the European river cruise ships (we admit, they start to feel similar if you don't know what to look for) and picked the ones that really get it right, whether they nail the itinerary or bring local cuisine to the table. Here are our picks for the top nine cruise ships and their itineraries that capture the best of what river cruising in Europe is all about.