From its source high in the Swiss Alps, The Rhine follows the border of France before continuing its journey across Germany and into the Netherlands, where it discharges into the North Sea. Running a course of over 760 miles, it is one of Europe’s most famous and picturesque rivers and has long been a vital trade link and historically formed a large part of the inland frontier of the Roman Empire. Indeed, any voyage along the Rhine will reward cruisers with ample opportunities to view a large number of castles and historic sites which evoke its memorable past. Though a number of itineraries include visits to Dutch and Swiss cities, the most popular portion of the river is Germany’s Middle Rhine, where the World Heritage Site Rhine Valley gives way to a host of ancient sites, quant towns and areas of stunning natural beauty.
Cologne in Germany is one of the most famous cities you’ll visit on your Rhine cruise and its most celebrated attraction is its magnificent cathedral, the Dom, a true architectural gem and UNESCO World Heritage Site which is sure to leave a lasting impression on you. Explore the old town, the docks and other key attractions such as St Martin’s Church, The Botanical Gardens and Hohenzollern Bridge, where couples go to attach padlocks to one of its fences as a sign of their commitment.
Koblenz, where the Rhine is joined by the Moselle, is another popular port of call, and home to over 2,000 years of history. The Deutshes Eck marks the point where the two rivers join and is one of the area’s most popular attractions, while on the Rhine’s East bank lies Festung Ehrenbreitstein, an imposing fortress which is the perfect place to explore if you find yourself with a little more time. The city itself meanwhile, is home to a host of other historic sites.
Visit Strasbourg and you’ll discover a city influenced by both French and German cultures which offers a wealth of artistic, architectural and historic attractions. The city is home to the official seat of the European Parliament, a visit to which often forms part of Strasbourg shore excursions. You’ll also explore the city’s famous Notre Dame Cathedral and perhaps take a stroll around La Petite France, a beautiful cobblestoned area of quant medieval buildings and restaurants.
Heidelberg and Speyer
Situated across the Rhine from each other, Heidelberg and Speyer are popular ports of call to visit in a single day on your Rhine cruise. Heidelberg lies a little way down the Neckar River, one of the Rhine’s tributaries and the journey to it will reward you with some stunning views of the Neckar River Valley. The city itself is home to Germany’s oldest university, a stunning castle and an historic old town. Speyer, meanwhile, boasts its own UNESCO World Heritage Site in the form of its captivating 11thcentury cathedral, which is a definate must-see. If you find yourself with a little more time to spend in Speyer, then the impressive Technik Museum is a fascinating home to all things automotive.