Cruises

The 10 Best Europe Ports for Beer

Princess Cruises | A German Biergarten

If your preferred beverage comes right out of the tap into a frosty mug, a river cruise down the Rhine, Main, or Danube can be just the ticket. Itineraries typically visit six ports within two or three neighboring countries, which means you can sample the brews of, say, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands all in one trip. And since European beers vary greatly in style and flavor, even the most experienced aficionados can discover something new.

Check out these top port towns for beer lovers, including our picks for where you should go to raise a glass of the local brews.

Beer sampling through European river cruises

If your preferred beverage comes right out of the tap into a frosty mug, a river cruise down the Rhine, Main, or Danube can be just the ticket. Itineraries typically visit six ports within two or three neighboring countries, which means you can sample the brews of, say, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands all in one trip. And since European beers vary greatly in style and flavor, even the most experienced aficionados can discover something new.

Check out these top port towns for beer lovers, including our picks for where you should go to raise a glass of the local brews.

1. Prague, Czech Republic

Czechs drink more beer per capita every year than any other nation (38 gallons!), and they prefer pilsners and lagers. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that many Czech beer halls (pivovars) are quite boisterous.

Raise a glass: A cozy spot not far from Old Town Square is U Tri Ruzi (The Three Roses), an atmospheric pub with a half-dozen refreshing beers on tap that accompany its traditional food menu.

2. Brussels, Belgium

Belgians take great pride in the flavor and quality of their beers, which range from Trappist brews (crafted in actual monasteries from centuries-old recipes) to potent hipster tripels (strong ales) such as Delirium and Westmalle.

Raise a glass: Choose an outside table at Little Delirium, where a generous sampler of three brews costs just 6.50 euros. On a hot summer afternoon, try the lambics — a distinctive style made with wild yeasts and sometimes fermented with fruits.

3. Heidelberg, Germany

This charming university town on the Rhine is the perfect port to spend a few hours during summer or early fall absorbing the ambience of a German brauhaus (brewery) or biergarten (beer garden).

Raise a glass: Visit Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg AG, where the beers are brewed in line with the German Purity Law of 1516. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, check out Vetter’s Alt-Heidelberger Brauhaus and enjoy your hops next to one of the large copper fermentation tanks.

4. Vienna, Austria

The Austrian capital is perfect for couples who are divided on their preference for beer or wine — it’s home to a great selection of bars dedicated to both.

Raise a glass: Craft beer lovers should head for 7Stern Bräu in the Spittelberg district, where seven house-made beers are on tap in an affordably priced gastropub setting that looks like a retro-industrial brewery.

5. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Beer behemoth Heineken’s former factory is here, so if you’re a fan, you can book an interactive “Heineken Experience” tour. But this canal-laced city is also home to Brouwerij ’t IJ, an independent brewery with the distinction of being located beneath Amsterdam’s tallest windmill.

Raise a glass: Brouwerij ’t IJ has a bar that serves on tap all the craft beers it brews, and during the summer you can sip them on the sunny terrace.

6. Bamberg, Germany

This postcard-perfect town on the Rhine is known for its rauchbier (smoked beer), and there are plenty of atmospheric spots to taste it along the cobblestone streets of its UNESCO-protected Altstadt (Old Town).

Raise a glass: One of the most historic breweries is Schlenkerla, located in a half-timbered house that dates all the way back to 1405.

7. Antwerp, Belgium

After you’ve eaten perfect Belgian frites dipped in salty mayonnaise, prepare yourself for some serious beer culture. There are countless bars and cafés with dozens of brews on tap. If you’re there in August, catch the four-day Bollekesfeest celebrating Belgian food as well as De Koninck brewery’s famous Bolleke amber beer.

Raise a glass: Take a tour of De Koninck (an Antwerp institution since 1833) and end with a tasting of the brewery’s most notable creations.

8. Miltenberg, Germany

Unlike some of its neighbors, Miltenberg is decidedly non-touristy as well as charmingly Bavarian with streets of crooked, half-timbered houses. And yes, there are plenty of places to pull up for a pint. 

Raise a glass: This Main River town is home to Faust Brewery, which dates back four centuries and offers tastings and guided tours.

9. Strasbourg, France

French citizens may be obsessed with wine, but in this charming medieval city on the Rhine that borders Germany, beer gets equal billing.

Raise a glass: Aux 12 Apôtres, located in front of Strasbourg Cathedral, is a low-key spot (and a favorite with locals) where you can enjoy a cold brew and a Bavarian-style soft pretzel.

10. Munich, Germany

You don’t need to brave this city’s often-raucous Oktoberfest; Munich’s beer culture is on tap year-round.

Raise a glass: During summer and early fall, head to fun and festive Chinesischer Turm, a large beer garden located under a Chinese pagoda in Englischer Garten (the city’s largest park), or to circa-1812 Augustiner Keller to mingle with locals beneath 100 chestnut trees.