On our Rhine river cruises, you’ll discover much more than just the Middle Rhine Valley and the Upper Rhine. Explore three of Germany’s rivers and their unique characters – the Rhine, the Moselle and the Main – and experience a wealth of exciting river tours and excursions.
Few European cities are as diverse as Amsterdam, with its multicultural charm, relaxed atmosphere, historic canal district and the highest concentration of museums in the world. Don’t miss the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum, which was restored to its former glory several years ago following a decade-long renovation project. Follow the locals’ example and explore by bike, or take a trip along the canals and discover Amsterdam from the water.
This city is traditionally considered the largest diamond trading centre in the world. As well as being home to four diamond bourses and around 1,600 diamond companies, it also has a diamond museum, where you can learn all about how these precious stones are processed, from sourcing to finishing. The old harbour area is a fantastic place to take a stroll. It is now a trendy, modern district, with lofts, theatres and night clubs occupying converted warehouse buildings, and luxury yachts from all corners of the world moored at the quay.
Whether you’re strolling along one of Germany’s leading luxury shopping streets, the ‘Kö’, enjoying an Altbier fresh from the tap in one of the old town’s more than 300 pubs or discovering one of the city’s many green spaces, such as the Hofgarten, on foot, Düsseldorf has almost everything you could wish for.
Most of the city’s population seems to frequent the Uerige – the archetypical Düsseldorf brewery – even though the name of the establishment comes from a local word for ‘grumpy’. The Köbesse – as waiting staff are known here – are rather unfriendly, in keeping with tradition. Nevertheless, it’s always full.
In the Upper Middle Rhine Valley – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the town of Rüdesheim marks the end of several old merchants’ routes. This strategically important point used to be protected by four castles. Picturesque Rüdesheim is known all around the world for its outstanding wines. Make sure you take a walk through the charming little streets of the old town. Drosselgasse, an alleyway with half-timbered facades, is known as ‘The World’s Longest Wine Bar‘ and is reputed to be the most-visited tourist attraction in Germany after Cologne Cathedral. Wine cultivation was already in full swing here in Roman times – learn more about the winegrowers of antiquity and their successors at the Rheingauer Weinmuseum in the Brömserburg, an old castle. And if you want to sample the wines that are being produced today, head to the rustic wine taverns in the old town.
This student city is the home of one of Germany’s oldest universities. Situated right on the Main river, the city is dominated by the Marienberg fortress. Previously used to house bishops, the fortress has two museums in it today. The Würzburg Residence is one of the most important buildings of its kind from the late baroque period, and the Mirror Cabinet – a room inside – is considered the best example of a rococo interior. Würzburg also has a great theatre scene, with a lot of improv groups, in particular.
Founded right on the spot where Switzerland, Germany and France meet, Basel soon became an important European hub and centre of trade due to its special location. A popular attraction in the city is Switzerland’s oldest zoo – which the locals affectionately call the ‘Zolli’. It is one of the most important zoos in Switzerland and has gained global recognition for its breeding programmes. Basel also has eight churches with historical organs that still fill the naves with excellent music today.
Long before you reach Rotterdam – Europe’s largest port city – you’ll see its fantastic skyline, featuring the Euromast tower and the Erasmusbrug bridge. You won’t be surprised to learn that this is a centre of contemporary architecture, home to the famous cube houses with their Kijk-Kubus (‘show cube’) and the Witte Huis (the ‘White House’), which was the first skyscraper in Europe. The home of the continent’s biggest sea port is a thriving metropolis that doesn’t scrimp on modern buildings or international flair. Over the past 20 years, a number of impressive new skyscrapers have sprung up – and there’s no sign of this trend stopping yet.
This old university town buzzes with energy. Rich in cultural attractions, it also boasts a varied nightlife, with imposing architectural monuments serving as a backdrop. During the ‘Gentse Feesten’ – a ten-day festival of street performance, music and culture that takes place in the city centre every July – these magnificent buildings really come into their own, illuminated by light installations It is a truly spectacular sight.
It’s not just the locals who consider Cologne to be among the best cities in the world. The typical friendliness that you find at every turn makes visitors feel at home right away. It’s not unusual to quickly get chatting to strangers and even go for a couple glasses of Kölsch with them. The main landmark – Cologne Cathedral – watches over the whole city. It is the third-tallest church building in the world, at 157.38 metres. It might be a bit of a trek up to the top of the tower, but it’s worth it. You’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable view of the city and the Rhine spread out before you.
Halfway between Lake Constance and the North Sea, the Rhine meets Mainz.
This carnival city is known for its cheerful atmosphere and its hospitality. Why not go for a stroll along the tranquil riverbank or enjoy a good glass of local wine while you’re there? You could also visit the city’s main landmark: Saint Martin’s Cathedral. It boasts one of the richest church interiors in the Christian world. Another important building in Mainz is the Kurfürstliche Schloss (Electoral Palace). This is a prime example of the German Renaissance style of architecture.
Here, at the heart of Europe, you’ll find the true centre of Rhine Romanticism: the Middle Rhine Valley. With vine-clad slopes, palaces and castles scattered across hills, and villages nestled along the riverbanks, it is clear why this area was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. This stretch of the river is also where you’ll find what is perhaps the most famous slate rock in the world: the Lorelei. In 1801, Clemens Brentano wrote the ballad Zu Bacharach am Rheine about an enchantress who was able to bewitch any man. Heinrich Heine later also referred to this legend in Die Lore-Ley – probably his best-known poem.
Charlemagne made Worms his winter residence in the ninth century – and not without reason. Part of Rhineland-Palatinate today, it is a wonderful place to visit. It is also full of history. The city is one of the most important settings in Germany’s most famous legend – The Nibelungenlied. As if that weren’t enough, it is also where Martin Luther was summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms.
Trier was founded in 16 BCE by the Roman Emperor Augustus. The city can lay claim to the title of Germany’s oldest city, and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Romans left a lasting mark on Trier, with historical buildings from that era still shaping the city’s appearance today: the amphitheatre, the Römerbrücke bridge, the Igeler Säule (Igel column), the Barbarathermen and Kaiserthermen baths, the Konstantinbasilika (Basilica of Constantine) and – of course – the city’s most famous symbol, the Porta Nigra. The name of this impressive former city gate is believed to be a reference to its weathered sandstone.
There’s a lot to discover between the Frisian Wadden Sea and the open North Sea: small harbours, endless white sandy beaches and water as far as the eye can see. The IJsselmeer is the largest lake in the Netherlands. Its shore is a great place for mudflat walking – and with a little luck, you’ll even find oysters washed up at low tide. On land, you can explore towns full of fascinating history, inspiring art and entertaining cultural attractions.
The Belgian capital offers its visitors a wealth of contrasts. That’s partly due to it having long been a city of immigrants – from other EU countries as well as from Morocco, Turkey and central Africa. Over the years, these newcomers have all brought their ideas and customs with them, creating a real melting pot of cultures. But the city itself is also full of contrasts: splendid historical buildings stand alongside new constructions, the traditional lower town differs from the elegant upper town, and great museums meet experimental crossover projects at abandoned factory premises. Cities don’t get much more exciting than this.
What do you get when you cross modern rationality with southern nonchalance? Koblenz. This is where you’ll find Roman history, a high-tech research hub and a buzzing cultural scene all in one place. Don’t miss the delightful Kaiserin-Augusta-Anlagen, the southern part of the Rhine promenade. It was turned into a landscaped park with artistic historical monuments and sculptures between 1856 and 1861. If you fancy a treat, try Debbekooche. Originally eaten by those who couldn’t afford goose on Saint Martin’s Day, it is now considered a regional speciality and is traditionally served with apple sauce. Delicious!
‘Hier bin ich Mensch, hier darf ich’s sein’ (‘Here I am man, dare man to be’). This quote by Frankfurt’s most famous son – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – actually comes from his play Faust (and the English translation by Bayard Taylor), but it is also a very fitting way to describe Goethe’s hometown. Frankfurt’s combination of modern skyscrapers housing major finance companies and the old town with its historic buildings and half-timbered houses is unique. And if you fancy a break from the hustle and bustle, you can take a leisurely walk along the lovely bank of the Main.
Even though it is Germany’s second-smallest district administrative centre, Cochem can look back on a long history, witnessed by its majestic Imperial Castle and the ruins of the Winneburg, each of which overlooks the town from its own small hill. Cochem is also home to the Pestkapelle (Plague Chapel) and the Kapelle zu den drei Kreuzen (Chapel of the Three Crosses). While these two places of worship are by no means huge, their understated elegance and beautiful location make them well worth a visit.
The Roman commander Drusus founded Strasbourg as a military outpost in 12 BCE. Today it is a thriving metropolis that has maintained many small half-timbered houses and an historic old town. Even the briefest glance at Strasbourg Cathedral will tell you that you are standing before one of the most important of its kind in Europe – and one of the largest sandstone buildings in the world.