The best European river cruise lines offer leisurely onboard activities and destination-intensive journeys. Due to the small passenger load of most ships, shore excursions can be very intimate opportunities for you to get a close-up look at the local way of life.

Opt for versatile and comfortable ensembles to get the most out of your daytime river adventures. For onboard dining, you may need more elegant evening wear, and for footwear, pack shoes with a bit of support and no-slip soles.

Stick with us for an unforgettable European river cruise adventure, and pack outfits that will make you feel comfortable and confident and leave a lasting impression.

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General Tips

Woman posing with her dog on a river cruise ship

Most European river cruise companies prioritize casual, comfortable attire for their guests. We recommend wearing lightweight items that you can layer. Summer tours are appropriate for shorts, but remember that some shore excursions visit religious sites that require modesty of dress. For men, we advise wearing long trousers and avoiding sleeveless shirts. For women - knee-length clothing and tops that are not too revealing or sleeveless work well.

There is no strict dress code for dining onboard as well. However, we recommend you pack some elegant casual evening wear. Cruises offer various dining facilities and organize special events to entertain their guests. Some have a more elegant and formal atmosphere where you will want to feel confident and refined during the special evening events on your European river cruise.

Romantic vibes

 Woman wearing a cami top with a midi skirt

This ensemble is perfect for your brunch cruise experiences or onboard lounge areas where you can chat with friends over drinks.

The choice for this outfit revolves around a midi pleated skirt in a soft pastel hue. Opting for a midi pleated skirt adds an element of sophistication and romanticism while providing comfort. The soft pastel color complements the relaxed and elegant ambiance of a river cruise brunch and lounge areas. Discover our selection of the best midi skirts for women made from sustainable and eco-friendly materials here.

Add a wide-brimmed hat to give the outfit a whimsical touch. Complete the look with ballet flats or low heels for a comfortable yet chic look.

Flirty Casual Look

 Close photo of a woman posing with a denim skirt and white sweater

Pair a denim skirt with a white sweater for a relaxed and casual day on the ship during your European river cruise. Opt for a comfortable denim midi skirt and pair it with a lightweight sweater tucked into your waist.

Choose white or pastel color to maintain a light and easygoing look. Drive positive change in the fashion industry and buy ethical and vegan sweaters from brands that support sustainable practices.


Classic Nautical Vibes

Woman posing with a striped blouse and white pants

Craft an outfit inspired by timeless nautical aesthetics with a navy and white striped boatneck blouse with cropped white trousers or jeans. The striped boatneck blouse exudes maritime charm and adds a touch of casual elegance.

Pair the top with cropped white trousers or jeans to create a clean and crisp contrast. White bottoms evoke a sense of freshness and are well-suited for sunny days on the cruise. Find affordable and sustainable white denim jeans made under high social and environmental standards here.

Incorporate espadrilles, a red scarf for a pop of color, and a statement watch. Perfect for a day on the deck.

Classic Casual

A couple posing in casual denim outfits

Wear straight-cut jeans with a basic tee for a laid-back and comfortable exploration of charming rural landscapes during your European river cruise.

Slip into comfortable sneakers or loafers. Choose a pair that complements the color palette of your outfit and provides support for walking through picturesque landscapes.

Sunset Cruise Glam

Woman posing in a light blue maxi dress

As you prepare to enjoy the breathtaking views of the sunset from the deck of your European river cruise, a beautiful maxi dress offers a glamorous yet comfortable ensemble that captures the magic of the moment.

Choose a maxi dress of breathable fabric, like linen or cotton, with a flowing silhouette to mix and match elements of ease and elegance. Here is our selection of the best affordable maxi dresses made in the USA under high social and environmental standards.

Complete the look with wedge sandals to add glamour without sacrificing comfort. Wedges are practical for navigating the ship's deck and add a bit of height to enhance the overall look.

Cozy Sporty Twist

Young woman posing with a cotton jumper and black leggings

For a day filled with active exploration during your European river cruise, combine sporty elements with a cozy twist by pairing leggings with a cotton jumper.

Remember that many cruise ships have fitness areas where you can keep up with your morning exercise routine. Wear a cozy and stylish cotton jumper to add a touch of casual comfort while staying warm during cooler mornings.

Playful Look

Woman posing on a deck in a mini skirt and white fitted top 

Wear a tennis-style mini skirt with a nice top for your daytime activities on a river cruise. Opt for a breezy tank top or a casual off-the-shoulder blouse for a relaxed day on the deck. A sun hat and sunglasses can add a touch of flair.

Find some of the best affordable and sustainable mini skirts to craft this playful outfit here.

Elegant Evening Wear

 Woman posing in a beautiful cocktail dress holding a glass

An elegant evening wear ensemble is essential for your European river cruise evenings filled with sophistication and charm. Opt for a flowy knee-length wrap dress. The wrap style adds a touch of femininity and allows for an adjustable and flattering fit. Choose a fabric with a bit of sheen, like satin, to elevate the dress for the evening.

Check out our selection of the best places where you can effortlessly rent modern, sumptuous dresses at an affordable price in the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.

Pair the dress with low-heeled sandals. Comfort is a key for an evening of dining and socializing, and a lower heel ensures you can easily navigate the ship and any cobblestone paths onshore.

A couple wearing elegant evening outfits

Men can opt for well-fitted trousers and a button-up in a dark, classic color, such as navy or charcoal gray. A tie and jacket are optional, but remember that a suit always exudes a sense of elegance and formality.

If you are interested in eco-friendly clothing, here are the best ethical suit brands that design and manufacture high-quality, durable, and timeless suits using transparent processes and socially responsible production practices.

A wristwatch and cufflinks can complete the ensemble without being too flashy.

Summer River Vibes

Woman posing in tailored shorts and a crop top

Pair denim or linen shorts with a fitted crop top for a sexy, laid-back feel. This outfit provides a mix of comfort, style, and practicality for various occasions during a river cruise.

Here is our selection of the best denim shorts for women and men.

Man posing with white tailored shorts and black basic tee

Men can go for tailored or Bermuda shorts in a classic color like navy, white, or khaki. The tailored fit elevates the overall appearance, making them suitable for both casual and slightly more formal occasions.

Lightweight Jacket

A couple wearing casual outfits with denim jackets

Keep in mind that many areas on the ship and locations you may visit on your itinerary are air-conditioned during the summer and may feel cold.

Remember to bring a lightweight, waterproof jacket, ideally with a hood. In case of lower temperatures, pack a heavier windbreaker. Find beautiful water and windproof jackets made under high social and environmental standards here.

Sunset Cocktails In Style

Happy young woman wearing a slip dress and holding a cocktail

European river cruises take you to many little picturesque towns where you will enjoy the best bars with a local atmosphere. Wear a not-overly-formal slip dress and pair it with casual accessories like low-heeled sandals, a sun hat, and minimal jewelry for a laid-back yet chic look.

If you plan to sip a cocktail and enjoy a beautiful sunset on the deck, a slip dress in a summery print or a light, pastel color can be perfect for enjoying this magical moment.

Best Versatile Piece to Pack

Close photo of a woman wearing a bordeaux turtleneck

Turtlenecks are great because they can suit various occasions depending on how you style them.

Pair a turtleneck with well-fitted trousers or jeans and comfortable ankle boots, and you are ready for some city explorations.

Tuck it into a high-waisted skirt or pair it with tailored pants. Add heels, statement jewelry, and a clutch for an elegant dinner ensemble.

For countryside excursions, wear a turtleneck with jeans or corduroy pants. Add sturdy boots for walking through picturesque landscapes, and layer with a warm jacket or sweater if the weather is cooler.

Chic and Edgy Look

Woman posing in black faux leather pants and cream leather jacket

Style faux leather pants with a fitted blazer or a stylish top for onboard cocktail parties or special events. Choose a dressier fabric or a top with embellishments to add a festive touch. Finish the look with heels and minimal jewelry.

Also, faux leather pants with a cozy oversized sweater work well for exploring cities along the river during the mid-season. Support designers and brands that promote sustainable practices and buy faux leather pants to craft this outfit here.


Happy woman on a boat enjoying food and sun

The following items are essential for any destination: sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, and an umbrella. Bring a warm scarf, gloves, and waterproof shoes if you are traveling in the colder months.

Here are some of the best affordable and sustainable sunglasses for men and women.

Safety Tips

Bring duplicates of prescription eyewear, copies of prescriptions for any medications (generic equivalents are usually easier to obtain), copies of credit card information, and copies of your passport information pages.

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About the Author: Iana Jekova

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