As travelers cruise down the Rhine River, each day holds new adventures and opportunities to explore central Europe. While there are more than 20 cities and countless destinations that Rhine River cruises visit, these are our favorite ports along the way.
This border town in France showcases a mix of German and French style, architecture, and cuisine. It’s also one of the most common ports of embarkation and departure for Rhine River cruises, which is one of the main reasons it made our list. A romantic evening canal cruise is a great way to start or end any Rhine River cruise.
Rüdesheim am Rhein is a charming town home to some of the world’s best Riesling wines from vineyards that have perfected their process over centuries. In addition to touring these traditional German vineyards, guests can enjoy a stroll down the picturesque cobblestone Drosselgasse Lane, where taverns and shops highlight the quaint atmosphere. Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet showcases automated musical instruments, and a trip to nearby Brömserburg Castle will take you back to medieval times.
This town marks the confluence of the Rhine and Main Rivers in Germany. One of the best parts about the Koblenz is getting there - the stretch of the Rhine between Koblenz and Rudesheim, known as the Rhine Gorge, is considered the most beautiful section of the whole river. In fact, this is where travelers will see the legendary Rock of Lorelei - the site where tales say a hopeless lover tossed herself into the Rhine and was transformed into a siren. In town, visit a local tavern in the UNESCO-designated Koblenz Old Town and try the Kölsch beer and potato pancakes known as Reibekuchen.
A city tour will take you to the impressive the Romanesque cathedral and the Chagall stained-glass windows depicting scriptural scenes in stunning blue. You’ll also see the resting place of revolutionary printer Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press. For more active travelers, a short hike will take you to the oldest university town in Germany at Heidelberg Castle. Alternatively, a scenic bike ride will take you along a scenic stretch of the Rhine toward neighboring Rudesheim.
As you visit this small but vibrant German city, make sure to check out the 18th century Baroque Mannheim Palace, where travelers can learn a bit more about the city’s history through the historical exhibits. This Baroque style is also reflected in the fountain at Marktplatz Square. It’s a great place to get in some souvenir shopping too!
Close to Germany’s Swiss and French borders, this town is a crossroads of culture. A survivor of both World Wars, this tiny village has miraculously preserved its 16th century charm. It’s great for active explorers who can cycle through the Rheinau woods and hike in the verdant hills that rise from the Rhine. Nearby Riquewihr, across the border in France, is known for its exquisite Riesling wines and is definitely worth a visit.
Unlike many of the smaller German towns that cruises visit along the Rhine, Cologne is a bustling city with a full slate of cultural, historic, and scenic activities to enjoy. The undisputed landmark of this city is the towering twin-spire Cologne Cathedral, a monument to high Gothic architecture in the Old Town and, at 516 feet (157.4 m) the third-tallest church in the world. There are also fascinating museums, including museums of chocolate, art, antiquities, and of course, the fragrance museum that commemorates the Eau de Cologne and the origin of many modern scents.
Basel is full of fascinating and engaging things to do. Near the border of France and Germany on the Rhine River, it is home to medieval treasures, like the Old Town square (Marktplatz) and Rathaus City Hall, notable for its distinct red sandstone. Travelers can explore the city by bike or on a walking tour.
Set upon the beautiful backdrop of the Alps, the metropolitan city of Zurich is one of the most significant cities in global politics and hosts many cultural and architectural gems that highlight the town for travelers. Grossmünster & Fraumünster Abbeys, the Old Town (Altstadt) Hall, and St. Peter’s (home to the world’s largest clock face) are just a few of the sites here.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Home to most of the population of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is a big city with a cozy atmosphere, owing to its rich culture and friendly people. The Van Gogh Museum, the famed Red Light District, the Royal Palace, and the windmills & barns of the open air museum at Zaanse Schans are must-visit destinations. Other highlights include the 70-acre Keukenhof Tulip Gardens and De Halve Maen (a replica of a Dutch East India Company trading ship). Of course the main attraction is the city itself, where a boat can take you through the romantic canals or a stroll in the old streets and parks will take you past marvelous art and architecture.