One of the more significant of the Rhine’s numerous tributaries, The Main begins its journey near Kulmbach at the convergence of the Red Main and White Main waterways. From there, it flows through the valleys of the German Highlands before crossing the Lower Main Lowlands, where it then joins the Rhine River.
Crossing the heart of central Germany from Bamberg to Mainz through the states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse, the Main River is an ideal setting for scenic river cruising, flowing for 396km through a spectacular landscape of lush, rolling hillsides dotted with fairy-tale castles and charming medieval villages and towns such as Miltenberg and Würzburg and the large cosmopolitan city of Frankfurt.
Since 1992, the Main has been connected to the Danube via the spectacular 106-mile Main-Danube Canal, which stretches across 16 locks from beautiful Bamberg, via historic Nuremberg, to tranquil Regensburg and into the Danube River. This impressive feat of engineering has created a remarkable 2,200-mile long waterway by means of connecting the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, enabling river cruise ships to sail all the way from the North Sea to the Black Sea passing through 15 countries.
Full of medieval history and charm, Bamberg’s historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with good reason and much of the city is beautifully preserved and a joy to explore. Landmarks not to be missed include the cathedral which showcases both Gothic and Romanesque styles and the Rathaus or City Hall, located on the Obere Brucke bridge.
With a history dating back to Roman times, Mainz is a popular city to explore on a number of Main itineraries, rather fitting considering its name. Its strategic location was what attracted the Romans but, as well as their legacy, there are plenty of key attractions to see. The Gutenberg Museum is one of the most popular, along with the beautiful Dom St Martin Cathedral and Mainz Synagogue.
Located in northern Bavaria, Wurzburg lies between the key cities of Frankfurt and Nuremberg and is home to some incredible architecture. Extensively rebuilt following damage it suffered during the Second World War, it’s home to one of Europe’s grandest buildings the opulent Residential Palace, which is surely one of the highlights of any Main river cruise. The imposing Fortress Marienberg is another key attraction, offering some incredible city vistas.
Deriving its name from its location on an ancient fjord, Frankfurt is one of Germany’s most famous cities and offering a wealth of attractions for those who visit. It’s another Germany city which has undergone significant post-war re-building, with one particular highlight being the Cathedral of St Bartholomew, which has been lovingly restored. A much more contemporary attraction is the soaring Main Tower, which offers some incredible views of the city.
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