For a grand European river cruising experience, it’s hard to beat the beauty and charm of the Rhine. This mighty river stretches for over 850 miles through six countries, flanked by Roman ruins and romantic castles. If you’re interested in visiting medieval village straight out of a fairy-tale, you’ll see highlights throughout the Rhine Gorge both ancient and modern. You can pick and choose from an array of exciting experiences, i.e. relaxing in a Baden-Baden spa one day and cycling through vineyards the next!
River Rhine Cruises
Cologne, Germany - Rhine
Koblenz, Germany - Rhine
Strasbourg, France - Rhine
Mainz, Germany - Rhine
Basel, Switzerland - Rhine
Düsseldorf, Germany - Rhine
Bonn, Germany - Rhine
Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany - Rhine
Frankfurt, Germany - Rhine
Cologne’s an ancient city situated on the Rhine River. It’s dominated by the Cologne Cathedral, offering Gothic architecture and sweeping views for those who brave climbing its soaring towers! In addition to a quaint Old Town, Cologne’s famed for its chocolate museum, a true must for chocoholics. Nearby you’ll find the Museum Ludwig with its impressive modern art collection, as well as the Phantasialand theme park.
The Rhine and Moselle rivers meet in the ancient city of Koblenz. This romantic destination is a top draw for wine tasting and recreation with its ruined castles and enchanting parks. It’s located in the Middle Rhine district known for its terraced vineyards. View medieval castles like Marksburg or take the cable car up to the Ehrenbreitsetein Fortress, where you can get a birds-eye view of the valleys below.
Although it’s famous for being the seat of the European Parliament, Strasbourg boasts many charms for you to discover. Wander its cobbled streets and you’ll see medieval half-timbred houses alongside Europe’s tallest medieval building, the Cathedral of Notre Dame. This is where you’ll find the famous astronomical clock with its daily shows. After exploring, settle down in Place Kleber to watch the world go by.
Soak in the quintessentially German charm of Mainz. It’s famed for its imposing Cathedral of St Martin, a fine example of the Romanesque style. Mainz is home to the Gutenberg Museum dedicated to the inventor of the printing press, a medieval old town, and a church with stained glass detailing from Marc Chagall. It sits in the beautiful Rheinsteig region, where you can go wine tasting, hiking and castle-spotting.
Positioned in northwest Switzerland near the French and German borders, Basel gives you a little taste of all three cultures in one! The local cuisine is like a best-of compilation of European delicacies, and architecture features wooden half-timbred homes and red sandstone buildings alike. Don’t miss a visit to key sites like the Gothic cathedral, Basel Zoo, and charming marketplace with its unique craft shops.
Düsseldorf is a tale of two cities on the Rhine, with Altstadt Old Town positioned on the east bank and its modern finance district to the west. A centre for the banking, advertising and fashion industries, bustling Düsseldorf also offers plenty of places for leisure. Head to the Altstadt to enjoy hip bars and trendy coffee shops, or venture up the Rhine Tower to enjoy dinner with a view in its revolving restaurant.
The birthplace of Beethoven, Bonn is a top destination for any classical music fan to tick off their to-do list! You can see where the brooding composer was born at Beethoven House, now a museum. Once the capital of West Germany, Bonn retains a rather stately feel with its old city hall and Bonn Minster cathedral. Relax in a riverside café, stroll through the old government quarter, and enjoy the bevy of museums.
Tucked in the heart of the Rhine Valley, Rüdesheim is well-known for its winemaking tradition, which you can learn about in the Rheingau Wine Museum. After sampling the local Riesling, don’t miss the chance to try a Rüdesheimer coffee with its lashings of whipped cream and local brandy. In addition to its tasty tipple, Rüdesheim’s attractions include the Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet and Bromserburg Castle.
Visit this financial German powerhouse to see one of Europe’s largest stock exchanges and the European Central Bank headquarters. Though it’s a top spot for conferences, Frankfurt’s not all business! Visit the Goethe Museum to learn more about its literary history, or the Palmengarten to view a greener side. The central Romerberg town square is lined with pretty wood-framed houses, and outdoor cafes dot its plazas.
Laid-back, freewheeling Amsterdam is a great place to get lost. You’ll find quirky markets dotting its plazas with fresh flowers and second-hand books, while world-famous works of art fill museums.
One of the best times to take a Rhine river cruise is September, when temperatures are pleasant and water levels are generally stable. The large crowds of summer are gone by this point, giving you space to enjoy each port and indulge in wine tasting during the harvest season. However, summer can also be a fabulous time to travel with sunny skies allowing you to make the most of countryside excursions! Late November and early December bring the festive air and twinkling lights of traditional Christmas markets, while spring brings floral displays and Easter eggs.
You won’t be short on photographic moments during a cruise down the Rhine, but the most Instagram-worthy landscapes are found in the Middle Rhine area between Mainz and Cologne its abundance of picture-book castles surrounded by rolling vineyards. Mainz itself boasts fabulous medieval architecture in its Old Town, while Cologne offers Roman ruins, one of Europe’s largest cathedrals, and a chocolate museum sure to please anyone with a sweet tooth! You’ll want to stop off in Rudesheim to explore the Rhine Gorge, famous for its local wine and brandy, and venture to Strasbourg to see charming timbered houses and canals.
If you’re a UK citizen, there’s no red tape you have to worry about when departing on a Rhine river cruise. Visas aren’t necessary for this journey, whether you’re travelling along the river from end to end or just for a small portion of its scenery. The Rhine does pass through five countries, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Lichtenstein, but all are included in the EU and offer freedom of movement from one region to the next. Just remember to bring a valid passport for the start and end of your journey and you’ll be good to go!
This itinerary is favoured by foodies for its delicious cuisine, including culinary traditions that go back for centuries! Main dishes tend to include fresh fish, beef and pork with some form of potato or sausage. Try the Rheinische Sauerbraten, which is tender pot roasted beef marinated in wine and vinegar, traditionally served with red cabbage and dumplings. Reibekuchen are a must-try as well – these are hearty potato pancakes dished up with apple mousse. You can’t visit Cologne without trying the chocolate, and the Rhine Valley region is a major wine-growing area, making it a top destination for trying fresh Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
"The Rhine Gorge which is simply breath-taking, the castles and buildings along the way are picture postcard perfection! If you have never done a river cruise but really fancy it then don’t delay!"
"The Rhine is my favourite river to cruise on in Europe. The towns to visit along the Rhine are very charming and have some amazing sites such as Heidelberg Castlea and Namedy Castle."
"The Rhine – steeped in myth and legend."
"The Rhine is over 760 miles long, it passes through cities large and small and lets you unwind as it winds its way through the beautiful countryside stopping in cities and hamlets along the way."
By: Long, Oldham on 14th Jan 2018
We decided on a river cruise as we had always wanted to cruise down the Rhine although we were very apprehensive as our cruising experience has been on big ships. However we need not have worried.....
By: Manley-green, Oldbury on 13th Aug 2018
We booked the cruise to celebrate 30 years together, its hard to believe how much things have changed for same sex couples over those years!