Discover Europe and Asia's UNESCO World Heritage

Across the world, UNESCO represents the benchmark in culture and heritage, highlighting and protecting cities, buildings and regions of invaluable cultural significance. Encompassing everything from precious ecosystems to ancient castles and churches, wherever you see UNESCO accreditation, profound cultural enrichment will surely follow.

At Emerald Waterways, we believe that UNESCO World Heritage Sites offer a glimpse into local history and culture like no other landmarks. That’s why we strive to include them as part of our award-winning river cruise itineraries – helping you get to the very heart of local life in all the destinations we visit on the continent’s rivers.

From the Danube to the Douro and Russia’s waterways to the mighty Mekong, you’re invited to discover the globe’s UNESCO World Heritage with Emerald Waterways.


Part of a vast network of rivers stretching the breadth of the continent, the Danube has had a profound influence on European history, and this is reflected in its wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From its source in the Black Forest to its mouth at the Black Sea, this incredible waterway passes through 10 countries – more than any other river in the world – and has supported life, civilisation and culture for thousands of years.

On an Emerald Waterways river cruise on the Danube, you can savour the highlights of the river as it winds its way from Germany to Romania, providing a showcase of cultural wonders along the way. Such is the significance of the Danube to people and place in the countries it travels through, that many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are found within a stone’s throw of the river – giving you a front-row seat to some of Europe’s finest sights and beauty spots.

From historic Budapest and the Wachau Valley to the heart of medieval Regensburg and the untouched Danube Delta; heritage abounds on the River Danube, and you can experience the very best of it with Emerald Waterways. Discover the full collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites you can expect on the Danube in our interactive video.

Discover the Danube with Emerald

Rhine, Main and Moselle

Flowing through central and northern Europe, the rivers Rhine, Main and Moselle are revered for their natural beauty and historic towns and cities, many of which have been recognised by UNESCO for their notable heritage and culture. The Rhine alone, which is considered one of Europe’s foremost waterways, boasts some of the continent’s most beloved World Heritage Sites – including the Upper Rhine Valley, Cologne Cathedral and the historic centre of Strasbourg.

Many of our Rhine river cruise itineraries incorporate destinations on the adjoining Moselle and Main rivers, providing a continuous passage through the scenic lands of southern Germany. Here, medieval cities like Bamberg and Würzburg provide heritage opportunities aplenty, while the vineyard-strewn landscapes of the Moselle Valley attest to the lasting influence of the Romans, who settled this region some 2,000 years ago.

From the spectacular alpine vistas of Switzerland to the charm of rural Holland, the Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers provide passage to some of the continent’s foremost heritage wonders; explore some of the highlights you can expect in our guide.

Explore these rivers with Emerald


Your gateway to the wonders of southern France, the Rhône has been an important passageway for thousands of years – acting as a Roman frontier whilst infusing the historic towns and cities of Provence with the vitality of the Mediterranean. From its celebrated produce to its ancient sites of worship, few rivers showcase so much culture and beauty on their banks, whilst promising such a wealth of heritage.

Begin in the north, where the beloved city of Lyon is recognised by UNESCO for its ancient city centre. Food, architecture and heritage combine to make Lyon one of the must-see cities of France, whilst further south, Avignon dazzles with its listed Palais des Papes and Pont Saint-Bénézet. Travel south through Provence to the cusp of the Mediterranean, and Arles, with its majestic Roman architecture, proves without doubt that the Rhône is one of the world’s great heritage showcases.

From Lyon to Arles, a river cruise on the Rhône with Emerald Waterways provides countless opportunities to discover local culture, history and heritage. Unearth some of the river’s unforgettable sights in our interactive guide.

Explore the Rhône with Emerald

Douro and Portugal

The famous Douro River cuts through a barely-touched corner of Europe, a place where local people remain true to traditions and customs passed down through the centuries. It’s one of the great wonders of Portugal, providing passage from the ancient heart of Iberia to the Atlantic Ocean, whose maritime influence remains keenly felt along the Portuguese seaboard.

Despite flowing through lands less travelled, the Douro River and its surrounds haven’t been overlooked by UNESCO. Indeed, the Douro Valley is considered one of the foremost natural heritage sites in Europe, its storied history of winemaking and trade cementing it as an irreplaceable cultural highlight.

Elsewhere, the ancient city of Lisbon has received recognition from UNESCO, owing to its precious mix of historic architecture, while the Spanish city of Salamanca, itself a great highlight of our Douro river cruises, has one of the largest designated Heritage Sites of any country in southern Europe.

Keen to learn more about the heritage highlights which await in Portugal? Explore the region’s treasured UNESCO sites below.

Explore the Douro and Portugal with Emerald


The Mother Volga is the lifeblood of Russia. This domineering waterway, Europe’s longest, twists through the continent’s most enigmatic country, providing passage through imposing cities and lands untouched by the modern world.

From St Petersburg to Moscow, the Volga transports you to the very heart of Russia, and is revered for its collection of esteemed World Heritage Sites, including urban architecture and traditional communities. With Emerald Waterways, you’ll experience the rich depth of Russian heritage, exploring UNESCO Sites such as the historic centre of Saint Petersburg, the traditional homesteads of Kizhi Pogost, and the imitable grandeur of Moscow’s Kremlin and Red Square.

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites you can experience in Russia.

Discover the Volga with Emerald

The Dalmatian Coast

The Dalmatian Coast is an enticing blend of tiny, beautiful islands and historic cities backed by dramatic mountain landscapes. The natural beauty and historic wonders of the region have earned recognition from UNESCO and have long drawn visitors from across the continent.

Perched on the Adriatic seaboard, the Dalmatian Coast is one of Croatia’s great treasures and is home to many of the nation’s most influential cities. From the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik to the paradise islands of Trogir, Hvar and Brač; you can experience the wonders of the Dalmatian Coast on an Emerald Waterways ocean cruise.

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites you can experience on the Dalmatian Coast.

Enjoy the Dalmatian Coast with Emerald


Covering thousands of miles, cutting through a cavalcade of countries, and taking on huge cultural and historic significance, the mighty Mekong is the backbone of Southeast Asia. From its source in China to its mouth in southern Vietnam, the ‘Mother of Rivers’ is an integral part of day-to-day life for over 70 million people that live in its basin.

The Mekong’s banks are lined with monuments, villages and temples that are effortlessly worthy of UNESCO World Heritage recognition. As you cruise these iconic waterways, you’ll uncover the mystery of ancient civilisations, learn the ways of Buddhist monks, and experience the spiritual enlightenment of Southeast Asia’s most revered sights.

Your Emerald Waterways cruise of the Mekong allows you to witness the majesty of Ha Long Bay, the bustling life of the 15th century port of Hoi An, and the awe-inspiring decorations of the Khmer Empire’s Angkor Wat. Find out more about the river’s UNESCO sights in our interactive guide.

Discover the Mekong with Emerald