The Rhine is a storied river that begins high in the Swiss Alps and travels more than 750 miles to the Netherlands and the North Sea. As one of Europe’s main waterways, it’s a hardworking river that serves historic port cities like Basel, Strasbourg, Rudesheim and Cologne; but, it’s also a fairytale river that flows below majestic castles, past charming villages, and through forests and vineyards.
Here are some highlights of the ports you can visit on a cruise of the Rhine:
Basel, Switzerland, is located on the border with France and Germany; a literal crossroads of Europe. The cathedral is beautiful, and the alleyways of the MarketPlatz are lined with quirky craft shops.
Strasbourg, France, has picture-perfect cobbled streets and timbered houses. Top sights include the cathedral, one of the tallest medieval buildings in Europe, and the Rohan Palace, which hosted Marie Antoinette and now houses multiple museums.
Rudesheim, Germany, is at the southern end of the Rhine Gorge, the part of the river with the steepest cliffs and the most castles. Stroll the Drosselgasse, Rudesheim’s most famous street, and sample some local wine and brandy.
Cologne, Germany, has a beautiful Old Town, Medieval city gates, stunning churches, and a museum of chocolate. It’s also famous for the Cologne Carnival, one of Europe’s largest street festivals, which begins November 11 lasts until Ash Wednesday.
Rhine River cruises range in length from three or four nights (not nearly long enough, in our opinion) to 21 nights or even a few more. Longer cruises will combine your sail of the Rhine with other rivers, such as the Main and Danube or the Moselle.
Summer is peak season on the Rhine, but the weather can be quite warm, so some cruise passengers prefer the cooler spring or fall. In the late summer or fall, you might be lucky enough to catch one of the “Rhine in Flames” fireworks displays, which take place during regional wine festivals. If a chill in the air doesn’t bother you, November and December cruises of the Rhine are special because they call on the region’s wonderful Christmas Markets. Cologne is especially beautiful in the Christmas season; be sure to take the 10-minute walk from the river to the Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral.
There’s much more to know about cruising the Rhine, so talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert soon