River landscapes are complex social-ecological systems with many benefits for people. A common challenge is to integrate social values in river planning and management. In particular, there is a paucity of research on the meaning and significance of place in river recreation and how people feel emotionally and spiritually connected to river landscapes. Based on five European case studies, this study compares different methods and approaches for mapping sense of place in river landscapes and subsequently addresses the question of how these studies can inform participatory processes. The case studies are set in diverse geographical, institutional and policy contexts, including the planning and evaluation of river restoration projects in Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Spain and the monitoring of the effects of newly constructed river dams in the Netherlands. This comparative study is a first step in understanding the breadth of analytical and spatial approaches that can be used to assess sense of place in river landscapes and their implications for resilient river landscape planning and management.