The Rhine River spans Central Europe and Western Europe, A journey along its banks is very varied. At 1236 km, the Rhine is the longest river with a navigable length of 844 kilometers. The Rhine River flows through or along the borders of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and The Netherlands. It is a major navigation way and played an important role in history and culture of Europe.
Shipping on the Rhine and its tributaries has a long tradition, because even before modern times important economic and industrial areas of Europe were connected via the river system or were even located on its banks. The Rhine and the Danube comprised much of the Roman Empire’s northern inland boundary, and the Rhine has been a vital navigable waterway bringing trade and goods deep inland since those days. The various castles and defenses built along it attest to its prominence as a waterway in the Holy Roman Empire.
The Rhine is one of the busiest waterways in the world. Among the largest and most important cities on the Rhine are Cologne, Rotterdam, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Strasbourg, Nijmegen, and Basel. The Rhine is navigable for larger ships and pushed convoys from its estuaries in the Rhine-Maas delta to Basel. Because of the developed fairway and the seasonally fairly regular rainfall in its catchment area, the Rhine is largely navigable all year round from the estuary to the port of Rheinfelden.
The Rhine tour includes part of the “Grand Tour” originated in the Middle Ages, European elites mostly cruised on the Rhine and rivers in France and Italy. The Grand Tour, became an educational “Rite of Passage” for many children of the British aristocracy. After the Industrial Revolution, cruising the river by boat has gradually become a symbol of the aristocratic status of European palaces. Today, as a new and fashionable way of travel, it has become a popular choice for domestic and foreign travelers due to its unique comfort.
There are eleven UNESCO World Heritage sites along, or close to, the course of the Rhine: the cultural landscape of the upper Middle Rhine Valley with its vineyards and medieval castles; the old town of Strasbourg; three monasteries, two cathedrals, prehistoric pile-dwellings, a fortress from the 1700s, an ensemble of Baroque châteaux, and a group of windmills. Wandering between European classical small cities and experience the natural scenery and historical civilization of Europe.
There are many luxury cruise liners along the river, some just short sections other going from the whole length or into the Main river and to the Danube. From Amsterdam to Basel, Zurich or Strasbourg or from the Rhine cruise up the Main and Danube to Budapest. The leisurely journey with plenty of stopovers typically takes anywhere from one to two weeks, with accommodation on the boat itself. Day-trip cruises on the Rhine River are also popular with departures available from many cities and even small towns on the Rhine.
Large operators include Avalon and Viking. The Köln-Düsseldorfer Rheinschiffahrt, better known as KD, runs cruises and scheduled services up and down the river between Cologne and Mainz. Rhine riverboats differ in size in and between companies but there is little difference between boats. Most boats cruising on the Rhine River have their own restaurants and bars but it is acceptable to consume your own food and drink on the open decks.
The high season for Rhine River day cruises is from end April to early October. Cruises in winter months are very limited but often a few cruises may be available during the Christmas market Advent season. Return trips on most Rhine River cruise lines are only marginally more expensive than one-way cruises. Smaller lines are often slightly cheaper, however, the price difference is very small.
In addition to the cruises, ferries of different sizes play an important role. Ferries driven by the current still exist in Basel and near Rastatt; they are mainly used for tourism. In the Middle Rhine Valley there are no bridges between Wiesbaden and Koblenz on more than 80 kilometers of river and between Neuwied and Bonn on more than 40 kilometers, only ferry connections. There are two car ferries in the area of the approximately 50 km longest stretch of river without a road bridge in the Upper Rhine between Worms and Mainz.
The Rhine region is the economic, cultural and industrial center of Europe. On the banks of the Rhine there are 20 communities with 100,000 and more inhabitants. Quite a few emerged from Roman settlements, such as Basel, Strasbourg, Mainz, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, Neuss, Nijmegen, Utrecht and Leiden. These are among the most important Rhine cities and are all located on the left bank of the Rhine, which is related to the role of the Rhine as the border of the Roman Empire. Among the major cities on the right bank of the Rhine, there are a striking number of younger residential cities such as Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Wiesbaden and Düsseldorf.
The port of Rotterdam is one of the world’s largest seaports at the mouth of the Rhine. It owed its upswing to industrialization in the economic centers accessible via the Rhine, such as the Ruhr area. Six Rhine ports are among the seven largest German inland ports in terms of goods handling. The Duisburg-Ruhrort ports are the largest inland port in Europe. Cologne has the second largest inland port in Germany. The next largest German Rhine ports are Ludwigshafen, Neuss, Mannheim and Karlsruhe. The Port Autonome de Strasbourg is the second largest inland port in France. The most important hub for Swiss imports and exports are the Swiss Rhine ports in Basel.
Parts of the legends of the Rhine are knights, dragons, lonely maidens on high rocks (Loreley), careless skippers in a wrecked boat or hard-working dwarfs, the brownies. Apart from a few songs, rebuilt castles such as Stolzenfels Castle near Koblenz or the Hohkönigsburg in Alsace are also to be owed to the romanticism of the Rhine. One of the most famous legends is the Nibelungenlied.
The numerous songs dedicated to the river are closely linked to the romanticism of the Rhine. The repertoire ranges from carnival hits such as “Einmal am Rhein” by Willi Ostermann to patriotic songs of the 19th century (e.g. “Between France and the Bohemian Forest” by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben) to the nationalist “Wacht am Rhein” by Max Spiral Burger. One of the best-known Rhine songs is “I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean” by Heinrich Heine.
The Upper Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen/Rüdesheim and Koblenz was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on June 27, 2002. The World Heritage area stretches 67 km along the gorge of the Rhine through the Rhenish Slate Mountains. The uniqueness of this cultural landscape is the extraordinary wealth of cultural evidence.
A series of park-like promenades along the Rhine are referred to as Rhine parks. From 1856, the later German Empress Augusta had the Rhine facilities designed as a park in Koblenz. The park was later expanded to a length of 3.5 km. It was extensively restored for the 2011 Federal Garden Show. In Bingen, the Rhine facilities were redesigned for the State Garden Show in 2008 and then marketed as a cultural bank. With the Rheinpark in Cologne, a sustainably used local recreation area was created for the Federal Garden Show in 1957. For the 1979 Federal Horticultural Show in Bonn, the Rhine meadows and agricultural areas south of what was then the government district were redesigned into a 160-hectare landscaped park, the Rheinaue. It serves as a local recreation area and is used for major events such as open-air concerts, festivals and flea markets.
The rhine river cruises stop at multiple destinations along the way, including some historical and cultural cities, leading guests to explore Europe in depth Authentic local customs. The river cruise include guided tour of famous sights, experience some folk activities, or taste well-known local delicacies. The rich itinerary truly immerse in the fun of travel.
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, and is known for the canals that cross the city, its impressive architecture and more than 1,500 bridges. The city is lined with romantic canals, world-famous tulips blooming, and 17th-century gabled buildings along the coast. The streets are full of laid-back Dutch cafes and bars; the distinctive three- and four-story buildings are decorated in blue, green and red like delicate toys. The bridges and canals are crisscrossed here. The canals are interesting and charming during the day, and even more enchanting at night. The city will bring you paintings by the Impressionist master Van Gogh, colorful art treasures, and unique ancient streets.
Famous world cultural heritage. The Amsterdam Canal Belt has a history of 400 years. The canals served for defense, water management and transport. The defenses took the form of a moat and earthen dikes, with gates at transit points, but otherwise no masonry superstructures. The river network is staggered and the river channels are vertical and horizontal. It has developed into a powerful and dense canal network and is a well-deserved “water city”.
The city of Amsterdam is centered on the central railway station and spreads out through the arc-shaped Singel, the Canal, the Emperor’s Canal, the Prince’s Canal and the outermost Singel Canal. Its main attractions are concentrated in the canal with a radius of about 1.5 kilometers. The canal during the day is beautiful and charming, and when the lanterns first come on, it adds a bit of enchanting. No matter morning or night, you can enjoy the beautiful canal scenery by taking a glass-top cruise, and truly experience the unique charm of the water city. Through the glass roof and glass windows, you can also admire the 17th-century gabled buildings on both sides. They are colorful and varied, gorgeous and historic. Today, the city’s biggest celebrations such as King’s Day and the Gay Parade take place on the canal.
Rotterdam, the largest port in the Netherlands, is the second largest city in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is a vibrant, multicultural city; it is known for its university (Erasmus), cutting-edge architecture, lively cultural life, industrial riverside setting, its maritime heritage and colourful summer events. The municipality stretches all the way to the North Sea with gigantic areas like Europoort and Maasvlakte 1&2. All belong to the Port of Rotterdam.
Starting as a dam constructed in 1270 on the Rotte River, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre. Rotterdam was gradually rebuilt from the 1950s through the 1990s. Since then many relatively high buildings (for Dutch standards) have been emerging throughout and around the city centre. Daring and new styles of apartments, office buildings and recreation facilities resulted in Rotterdam becoming a city of modern architecture and the only city in the Netherlands with a modern skyline.
Rotterdam is trendy, chic and modern. The harmony between the old and the new, and the conflict between tradition and art endow the city with a different temperament. Travel through Rotterdam and encounter a small but charming old city, Delft, which exudes a quaint, natural atmosphere and is the most elegant example of a small Dutch city. The most striking thing is Delft’s “blue porcelain on a white background”, which is regarded as a national treasure. Delft’s blue and white are suitable, beautiful and not pretentious, and it is also the most distinctive element of the town.
Kinderdijk Windmills, a testimony to the history and culture of the Netherlands. Located 15 kilometers southeast of Rotterdam, nineteen windmills built in the 1740s are still preserved, making it the most concentrated group of windmills. In 1997, Kinderdijk windmills were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The natural area surrounding Kinderdijk, known as the Groene Hart, is an oasis of calm, right in the middle of the Randstad, a gathering area comprising Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Take the time to enjoy the uniqueness of this place. The river flows quietly, the colorful wildflowers open at will, the ancient windmills squeak and turn, the reeds rippling in the small river, a rustic countryside scenery. The entire scenic area is quiet and leisurely. When the weather is fine, the blue sky, white clouds, breeze, lake water, windmills, wild ducks… form a quiet and beautiful picture of rural scenery.
Duisburg is a city in the Ruhr metropolitan area of the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In the Middle Ages, it was a city-state and a member of the Hanseatic League, and later became a major centre of iron, steel, and chemicals industries. Contemporary Duisburg is a result of numerous incorporations of surrounding towns and smaller cities. Today it boasts the world’s largest inland port, with 21 docks and 40 kilometres of wharf.
Due to its history as a harbor city and a trade and industrial center, Duisburg offers a variety of architectural places of interest, such as the German Inland Waterways Museum. Buildings vary from old churches such as “St Johann Baptist” in Duisburg-Hamborn, which was built in 900, to modern age buildings such as Micro-Electronic-Centrum in Duisburg-Neudorf, built in 1995. Besides Düsseldorf Duisburg is a residence of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, one of the major opera houses in Germany. The Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra is one of Germany’s orchestras with an international reputation.
Düsseldorf is a city on the River Rhine in western Germany and is the capital city of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Düsseldorf has the highest concentration of professional services, creative industries and media, and is regarded as the German capital of fashion. The city is famous for its nightlife, carnival, events, shopping and for fashion and trade fairs like the Boot Messe (trade fair for boats and watersports) and Igedo (fashion fair).
Düsseldorf is an international business and financial centre, renowned for its fashion and trade fairs, and is headquarters to one Fortune Global 500 and two DAX companies. Messe Düsseldorf organises nearly one fifth of premier trade shows. As second largest city of the Rhineland, Düsseldorf holds Rhenish Carnival celebrations every year in February/March, the Düsseldorf carnival celebrations being the third most popular in Germany after those held in Cologne and Mainz.
Cologne is a city on the Rhine river in North Rhine-Westphalia. Cologne is a major cultural center for the Rhineland; it hosts more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Cologne is not only a tourist destination, but on an equal note a major economic centre, a globally important trade fair location, a culture and media hotspot and a major transportation hub.
Cologne has a rich history, reaching back to the time of the ancient Roman Empire, when it was founded. As the fortress of ancient Rome in 38 BC, Cologne straddles both sides of the Rhine River. It is an ancient and modern metropolis. The Gothic architectural model is well-known all over the world. There are many high-rise buildings in the city, and many museums and galleries add a strong artistic atmosphere. A wealth of architectural heritage can therefore be found across the city ranging from pre-Christian times to strikingly modern buildings, with a high concentration of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, culminating in the magnificent cathedral (Dom).
The city’s medieval Catholic Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), the third-tallest church and tallest cathedral in the world, constructed to house the Shrine of the Three Kings, is a globally recognized landmark and one of the most visited sights and pilgrimage destinations in Europe. The cityscape is further shaped by the Twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne.
The Rhine is Germany’s longest river and a major attraction for locals and tourists alike. Discovering Cologne from the river will give you a very distinctive and unique perspective of the city. You can enjoy the impressive view along the Rhine by going on a panoramic tour, a harbour tour, a trip along the romantic Rhine valley or by visiting an evening event on board a ship.
The much extolled beauty of the Rhine becomes quickly evident on this trip along the river. Numerous castles line the Rhine Valley. Vineyards on steep slopes and picturesque villages invite you to wine tastings. Two of the most beautiful Rhine castles, rediscovered in the period of Rhine romanticism are Marksburg above Braubach near Koblenz and Stolzenfels Castle, which was erected by Karl-Friedrich Schinkel within the old Romanesque foundations of the former castle.
The federal city of Bonn is a city on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is a university city and the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven. Bonn maintains a cosy, relaxed atmosphere of a small town, featuring mostly low-rise buildings, a charming old town and a lot of greenery. Bonn has a wealth of museums and points of interest. Bonn was the capital of the pre-reunification Federal Republic of Germany (“West Germany”) from 1949 through 1990. The city still holds the seats of many federal institutions, and remains a popular choice for large-scale exhibitions and conferences.
Koblenz is a city in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in the Middle Rhine Valley in the Federal Republic of Germany. The ancient and romantic town is an important part of the world cultural heritage of the upper middle Rhine region. Breathtaking views of Max Castle and the most beautiful stretch of the Rhine. The scattered houses and the intricate little alleys can be described as one step at a time, which is fascinating. Today, Koblenz is an attractive city that is often used as a convenient base for exploring the region, as it gives easy access, either by car, train, boat or even bicycle, to both river banks of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and also to the German Moselle Valley. The city itself also has major tourist attractions including Fortress Ehrenbreitstein, the Deutsches Eck and Castle Stolzenfels.
The city is the northmost point of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage site. From Koblenz to Mainz is the most beautiful section of the Rhine, and the beauty of nature can be seen everywhere. Row upon row of castles and palaces, it is one of the greatest and oldest cultural sights in the whole of Europe and is highly acclaimed by UNESCO. The river is winding and winding, the water is crystal clear, there are many unique buildings on both sides, lush trees and colorful flowers make the Rhine even more charming. Sitting on the Viking cruise ship, looking far into the distance, the green vineyards are arranged in an orderly manner on both sides of the river, and small towns with truss buildings and majestic castles and palace ruins are dotted among the green mountains and waters. Sections of ancient legends bring people’s thoughts to the distant past from time to time, making people deeply indulged in this romantic Rhine beauty.
The triangular area at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers is the famous German Horn, also known as “Deutsches Horn” or “German Horn”. There is a magnificent bronze equestrian sculpture of William I, the first emperor of the German Empire, with a total height of 37 meters, of which the statue of a knight is 14 meters high and solemn. It is a landmark attraction in Koblenz. The statue was destroyed after World War II and rebuilt three years after the reunification of Germany in 1993. It is a symbol of the German spirit.
Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, is the second largest surviving ancient fortress in Europe. As high as 118 meters, it stands above the Rhine River, facing the German Horn, guarding the route between the Rhine River and the Moselle River. Between 1817 and 1828, the Kingdom of Prussia sent people to repair and rebuild the Ehrenbreitstein fortress on a large scale, with the purpose of garrisoning the army and ensuring the safety of the central Rhine region. The fortress was one of the most powerful fortresses built in Europe after 1815 and is still well preserved. Since 2002, Ehrenbreitstein Castle has been listed as a World Heritage Site.
Max Castle is the only castle along the Rhine that has not been destroyed by war, it perfectly preserves the life and history of the people of the Middle Ages. The ancient castle is not large in size, but it is functionally all-encompassing like a miniature town. It still preserves a series of daily life and production supplies. These cultural relics are the most intuitive material evidence for studying the development of German society in the Middle Ages. A “historical slice” of German medieval social and cultural life.
Bingen am Rhein is a town in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany at the junction of the Rhine and the Nahe, across the river from Rüdesheim. It came into being as a strategically important location for the Romans. Bingen was the starting point for the Via Ausonia, a Roman military road that linked the town with Trier.
Bingen is well known for, among other things, the story about the Mouse Tower, in which the Bishop of Hatto I of Mainz was allegedly eaten by mice. Bingen was also the birthplace of Saint Hildegard von Bingen, an important polymath, abbess, mystic and musician, one of the most influential medieval composers and one of the earliest Western composers whose music is widely preserved and performed. Bingen am Rhein was also the birthplace of the celebrated poet Stefan George, along with many other influential figures.
Mainz is the capital city of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. Mainz is notable as a transport hub, for wine production, and for its many rebuilt historic buildings. The city center of Mainz has the style of a big city, while some remote urban areas retain the structure of a village. Medieval epic poems are sung in the narrow, modern high-rise buildings and traditional ancient and gorgeous buildings find a strange and harmonious balance here. One of the ShUM-cities, Mainz and its Jewish cemetery is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mainz is famous as the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of a movable-type printing press, who in the early 1450s manufactured his first books in the city, including the Gutenberg Bible.
Würzburg is in Franconia, in northern Bavaria, Germany. Würzburg is still a beautiful old town, offers a charming culture and exterior, famous throughout Germany for its wine and as the northern end of the Romantic Road. A city rich in history that revolves around the Franconian locality, today Würzburg is a beautiful, historic, and lively city.
Mannheim is a city in the northwest corner of the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany, at the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar rivers. Mannheim served as a royal residence, and gave Schiller, Lessing, Goethe and Mozart a home for some time. Mannheim Palace, one of the largest palace complexes in the world, and the second-largest in Baroque style after Versailles, and now houses the University of Mannheim, which repeatedly receives top marks in business administration and is sometimes known as the “Harvard of Germany”. The Mannheim May Market is the largest regional consumer exhibition of Germany. The civic symbol of Mannheim is the Romanesque Mannheim Water Tower, completed in 1886 and rising to 60 metres above the highest point of the art nouveau area Friedrichsplatz.
Karlsruhe is a city on the Rhine in Baden-Württemberg in Germany. The city was founded in 1715 by Margrave Karl Wilhelm von Baden. The city was laid out on the drawing board. It consists of a central circle, containing the castle, and streets running towards the castle as radial “spokes”. This pattern is still visible today. Due to the fan-like layout, Karlsruhe is known as the “fan city” (Fächerstadt). Karlsruhe’s radial layout is one of the best early examples of New Urbanism.
Heidelberg is a jewel among German travel destinations. Germany’s capital of tourism and culture, a vibrant mix of tradition and modernity, romantic and idyllic with international flair and dynamism. Heidelberg has retained its baroque charm of narrow streets, picturesque houses and of course the world-famous Schloss (castle ruins). Heidelberg easily combines the wonderful scenery and modern life. The winding and quiet alleys connect the castle and the river, and everywhere is full of poetic and picturesque. It is home to the oldest university in Germany (est. 1386), visit the majestic Heidelberg Castle, overlooking the city from the top of the mountain, or you can stroll along the streets of the old town to the famous Heidelberg University to experience the history and cultural atmosphere of Heidelberg.
Heidelberg has attracted numerous artists, intellectuals and academics from all over Europe and has sometimes been referred to as Germany’s unofficial intellectual capital. People who have lived and worked in the city include the poets Joseph von Eichendorff, Jean Paul and Goethe, scientists such as Bunsen and Kirchhoff, philosophers such as the founder of the “Illuminati” order von-Knigge, atheist Ludwig Feuerbach, existentialist Karl Jaspers, political theorist Hannah Arendt, architect Albert Speer, and many more.
Strasbourg is the capital of the Grand-Est region of France and is most widely known for hosting a number of important European institutions. It is also famous for its beautiful historical centre – the Grande Île – which was the first city centre to be classified entirely as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Strasbourg is a popular tourist destination, the influence of French and German culture is divided equally. In history, Germany and France have alternated sovereignty over Strasbourg many times, so this city has the characteristics of both Germany and France, the fusion and collision of the two cultures has shaped its unique style.
World Cultural Heritage, also known as “Big Island”. The buildings here are mostly medieval wooden truss houses and Baroque sandstone buildings. The canal bridges criss-cross, along the way are old houses with brown roofs and black wooden slats on the outer walls. The flowers on the window sills are swaying in the wind. The occasional cruise ship slides over the water, sparkling, full of harmony and romance. This area has a large number of exquisite buildings from the Middle Ages. When you stroll through the winding alleys of the old town, you can see the charming Gothic cathedral and Green style brick and wooden cottages, and feel the unique charm of the world cultural heritage.
Strasbourg has many exquisite and beautiful bridges, the most fascinating is the medieval covered bridge composed of three bridges and four ancient towers. Three of these bridges stand silently over the River Ill, establishing a connection to the Petite France district. The covered bridge spans the Ile River, upstream (east) of the Vauban Barrage, about 100 meters away from the Barrage. Construction began in 1230, and it was completed and put into use in 1250. In 1928, France included it in the list of historic monuments. As a kind of fortification, the covered bridge was replaced by the adjacent Vauban Dam in 1690, but it was still used as a bridge. On the bridge there are some exhibitions about the history of the city of Strasbourg.
Located in the northwest corner of Switzerland, Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland and the chemical and pharmaceutical center of Switzerland. It is world-renowned for its superb watchmaking skills. The Rhine is Basel’s unofficial emblem. The Rhine River passes through the city and divides Basel into two parts. There are art galleries, 40 museums and avant-garde buildings in the city. Narrow streets and paths are all over the city, and you can see the beautiful scenery of the Rhine everywhere. Home to the world-renowned Art Basel and the dazzling Basel Watch and Jewellery, a city full of culture, quaint and modern, precise and intelligent.
The river is the perfect place to take a dip. The pivotal point of Switzerland’s commodity supply is located here, where Germany, France and Switzerland meet and the ships ply towards the North Sea.The best way to see the city from the water is while on a passage though the locks to Rheinfelden or during a harbour cruise on the Basler Personenschifffahrt company’s white fleet. Experience the wide world in miniature. In summer you will find life in all its facets here as sun worshippers, walkers, students and businesspeople all gather on the shore. The river is a perfect place for a refreshing dip or a pleasant ferry trip.