A Guide to the Most Beautiful Bridges in Europe


Connecting cities and communities, bridges have played a fundamental part in shaping the cultural landscape of Europe. 

Since time immemorial, man has built bridges to grow and advance people and place, gifting the modern world a collection of structures which, for all their practicality, contribute to the beauty of their surroundings

One of the joys of cruising the continent’s waterways is enjoying a front-row seat as you pass beneath its wonderful bridges. From Normandy to the Rhineland, Porto to Budapest, bridges are a focal point on the rivers of Europe – and you’ll marvel at many onboard a luxury Scenic Space-Ship.

To introduce the incredible structures you can expect on Europe’s rivers, here we explore the continent’s most beautiful bridges, highlighting their fascinating heritage and how they’ve contributed to local life.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Budapest

Chain Bridge, Budapest

Crossing the great river Danube, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge is one of Budapest’s most recognisable landmarks, alongside the Hungarian Parliament Building and Buda Castle. The bridge connects the former segregated districts of Buda and Pest, and was among the first physical links to be built across the Danube.

Construction began on the Széchenyi Chain Bridge in 1842, ending during Hungary’s War of Independence in 1849. The bridge was a crucial part in the unification of Buda, Pest and Óbuda, and is attributed to the city’s growth and prosperity

Charles Bridge, Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague

Attesting to the remarkable heritage of the Czech capital, the Charles Bridge which sits in the centre of Prague was originally built in 1357 – making it one of Europe’s oldest medieval bridges. Originally called the Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge, its name was changed in the 19th century to pay homage to the man who commissioned it all those centuries ago, Charles IV.

In 1683, an ambitious project began to transform Charles Bridge, with some 30 statues of saints added along the length of the structure. This turned into a massive undertaking, with the last stone carvings added to the bridge in 1928 – 245 years after the first statue was laid.

Pont 25 de Abril, Lisbon

Lisbon Bridge

Closely resembling the Golden Gate Bridge of San Fransisco, Lisbon’s Pont 25 de Abril bridge is a remarkable feat of engineering. The bridge connects the centre of Lisbon to the commuter district of Alameda, stretching 1.5 miles across the Tagus River with a road height of 70 metres, which allows container ships to move freely between Lisbon port and the Atlantic Ocean.

Inaugurated in 1966, the bridge was originally named the Salazar Bridge, but its name was later changed to 25 de Abril, in homage to the bloodless revolution of 1974. Remarkably, the bridge’s foundations plunge to a depth of 79 metres beneath the surface of the Tagus, to account for seismic activity along the Portuguese seaboard.

Pont de Gard, Southern France

Arles France bridge

Pont de Gard is without question one of Southern France’s most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Believed to have been built in the 1st century AD, this Roman aqueduct spans the Gardon River, and was originally used as a means of transporting goods and fresh water to the Roman outpost of Nemausus, now the city of Nîmes.

The aqueduct is constructed from the now universally recognisable yellow limestone of Occitane, of which Roman engineers needed over 50,000 tonnes to complete the bridge. At its longest point, Pont de Gard measures 360 metres, making it one of the most impressive and best-preserved structures of the ancient world.

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne

Bridge with flowers above water in Europe

Arguably the most charming bridge in central Europe, Lucerne’s Chapel Bridge is quite unlike any other structure on our shortlist. Much of this ancient Swiss landmark is constructed from medieval timber, with a stone tower, named the Water Tower, built to protect the structure, and the adjacent city, from attack.

Chapel Bridge is a must-see landmark on Lucerne’s cultural map, connecting Lucerne Theatre to St Peter’s Chapel across the River Reuss. Sadly, in 1993, a large part of the bridge was lost to a fire, but it has since been restored to its former grandeur, giving visitors a glimpse into Switzerland’s grandiose history.

Luís I Bridge, Porto

An integral part of everyday life in Porto for over a century; the iconic Luís I Bridge is a remarkable, iron-built, double-decker structure spanning the beautiful River Douro. Built between 1881 and 1886, the bridge features two levels, one for traffic and for pedestrians, so visitors exploring Porto on foot can savour fine views over the city and its remarkable waterway.

As well as connecting Porto’s central Ribeira district to the Vila Nova de Gaia neighbourhood on the opposite side of the Douro, the Luís I Bridge played a pivotal role in the port wine trade of the 19th century, allowing for this famous aperitif to be transported quickly across the river.

Oberbaum Bridge, Berlin

Oberbaum Bridge Berlin

With its imposing, Moscow-esque architecture and heritage as a Cold War checkpoint between East and West, Berlin’s Oberbaum Bridge is among the most colourful and fascinating bridges on our list. Despite its mock medieval turrets, the bridge was built in 1895, replacing the original timber-framed structure which was built as a crossing over the River Spree in 1724.

Today, Oberbaum Bridge is one of the most recognisable landmarks of the German capital. It connects the cultural districts of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain to the south-east of Berlin’s city centre, and stands as a poignant reminder of the former divisions between East and West in this remarkable city

Normandy Bridge, Honfleur

Normandy Bridge

Proving that modern bridges can add to the beauty of the landscape, the great Normandy Bridge of northern France is a spectacular structure, spanning the vast Seine estuary at the mouth of the North Sea. This is the world’s largest cable-stayed bridge, stretching for a total length of 2,141 metres, at a height of over 50 metres, across the River Seine.

The bridge was commissioned and built by Bouygues Construction in 1995, with the purpose of connecting the towns of Honfleur and Le Havre on opposing banks of the Seine. Such was the ambition behind the bridge’s design that it broke the record for the longest cable-stayed span by 85%.

Pont Neuf, Paris

Proving that modern bridges can add to the beauty of the landscape, the great Normandy Bridge of northern France is a spectacular structure, spanning the vast Seine estuary at the mouth of the North Sea. This is the world’s largest cable-stayed bridge, stretching for a total length of 2,141 metres, at a height of over 50 metres, across the River Seine.

The bridge was commissioned and built by Bouygues Construction in 1995, with the purpose of connecting the towns of Honfleur and Le Havre on opposing banks of the Seine. Such was the ambition behind the bridge’s design that it broke the record for the longest cable-stayed span by 85%.

Old Bridge, Heidelberg

Old Bridge Heidelberg

Surrounded by exquisite medieval architecture, Heidelberg’s Old Bridge may well take the prize as the prettiest bridge on our shortlist. This simple stone bridge, built in the 18th century, was the first of its kind in this region of Germany, which had traditionally relied on timber structures to bridge its charming waterways.

The Old Bridge traverses the Neckar River, connecting the heart of Heidelberg’s beautiful old town to the pretty neighbourhood of Neuenheim. At its city end lies the imposing Bridge Gate, which formed part of Heidelberg’s medieval city walls, while a little further away stands the Heidelberg Bridge Monkey – a bronze monkey statue whose origins are rooted in Heidelberg’s long-held class divisions.

Pont D'Avignon, Avignon

pont d'avignon

A World Heritage-listed Site, the famous Pont d’Avignon is another of Southern France’s great historic bridges. Once forming part of an important pilgrimage route between Italy and Spain in the Middle Ages, this ancient bridge is wrapped up in the lauded heritage of Avignon, which is known around the world as the home of the remarkable Palais des Papes.

It’s believed that Pont d’Avignon has stood since at least the 12th century, though today only four arches of the original 22 remain, stretching halfway across the iconic Rhône River. The bridge was all but destroyed by the forces of Louis VIII in 1226, and despite rebuilding efforts which lasted until the 17th century, the bridge would never again offer a complete crossing over the Rhône’s waters.

Discover Europe's Bridges With Scenic

Memorable culture and striking architecture are just two of the things you can look forward to during a luxury European river cruise from Scenic. Explore our collection today or call our team on 0808 159 1401 for more help and information.