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Rhine - River and Region

Cruise down the Rhine along the fascinating last stretch of this river. From Cologne through the Netherlands and up to the Rhine Delta on the coast of the North Sea. 550 kilometres of river.

The itineraries of the Southern Rhine: this is about so much more than the Middle Rhine Valley and the Upper Rhine. This is where the Rhine shows itself in its best light, whilst the delicious wines of ambitious young vintners tantalise your taste buds.

River cruises on the Rhine

 

Amsterdam

The signature sound of Amsterdam is the cheery ringing of bicycle bells. This popular means of transport is the most flexible way of exploring all the exciting nooks of this city. Cycling alongside the historical canals enables you both to see the wonderful old merchants’ houses and to reach attractions such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum in a jiffy. Or indeed any other museum; Amsterdam has the highest density of museums in Europe. It also has many small boutiques where you can find unusual things that you won’t find anywhere else. And how about a stroll through the Nine Streets district? The Anne Frank House is one of Amsterdam’s most important historical sights. The Vondelpark is an oasis for relaxation. If you’re looking for something a little more lively, visit the exceptionally multicultural Jordaan quarter, which is packed with coffee shops, little boutiques and house boats.

Rotterdam

Rotterdam is many things: a colourful international port city with Europe’s biggest sea harbour; a city for shopping and going out in; and a creative, artistic city. And, as you’ll notice as soon as you arrive, it is a Dutch pioneer of contemporary architecture. The skyline is always changing, with futuristic new buildings constantly emerging and proudly growing skywards.

IJsselmeer

The IJsselmeer is Holland’s largest lake. Located between the Frisian mudflats and the open North Sea, its quaint harbours and never-ending sandy beaches are a wonderful place to stroll along the flats, go birdwatching and gaze at the distant horizon. The traditional fishing villages and small towns like Hoorn, with their enchanting doll's-house charm, have preserved their old Dutch atmosphere.

Antwerp

This port city in Flanders is a modern metropolis with both historical and futuristic buildings. Antwerp’s fashion designers have long been a fixture on the international fashion scene, and designer shops, museums and galleries line the streets in the south side of the city (Het Zuid). A diamond museum reveals where the city’s wealth come from. With four diamond bourses and around 1,800 diamond companies, Antwerp continues to be the largest trading place for diamonds in the world.

Ghent

Anyone who likes going out at night will have a lot of fun in Ghent’s quirky little bars. Belgium’s biggest student city is also known as the “Medieval Manhattan”. Back in the Middle Ages, Ghent was the second-biggest city north of the Alps (after Paris). So it’s not surprising that the city has more than 10,000 culturally and historically significant buildings. Incidentally, St. Michael’s Bridge is the city’s selfie hotspot. It’s the perfect location to make sure that your picture has beautiful historical gabled houses in the background.

Brussels

Brussels - the capital and royal seat of the Kingdom of Belgium - is home to the headquarters of NATO and the EU. Brussels is a true heavyweight in both cultural and political terms. The city has an impressive number of art nouveau buildings. And surrounded by this splendour are the city's highlights: the Grand Place, the Gothic town hall, the Cathedral of St Michael and the Atomium. As part of a crossover experiment, former factory buildings have been turned into fantastic museums, so deciding what to see first is made even more difficult.

Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf’s old town – also known as “the world’s longest bar” – is the heart of the city. Freshly pulled Altbier (the local beer) in over 300 pubs brings a wide variety of people together for friendly nights out. But you don't need alcohol to have fun in Düsseldorf. Luxury shopping boulevards like the "Kö" are great places to stroll, while green spaces and the beautiful Rhine Promenade would be lovely places to relax if only there weren't so many museums to visit! Düsseldorf is a city of art. The K20 collection, which includes works by Klee, Picasso, Beuys, Richter and many others, provides a particularly impressive overview of 20th-century art history. Meanwhile in the Ständehaus you'll find the K21 collection, which focuses on the younger generation of artists. If you're longing for something "real" after all this culture, the Carlsplatz market is open every day, offering an incredible selection of delicacies. Needless to say, the market also has a bar selling Altbier.

Cologne

There are many things to see in Cologne, and they are all overshadowed by the cathedral. Measuring 144.5 m long and 157.38 m high, this is the third-highest church building in the world. The view over Cologne, the Rhine and the surrounding areas makes climbing the south tower’s 533 steps well worth the effort! The basilica of Great St Martin Church is another fantastic sight. The brightly coloured houses of Cologne's fish market seem to glow in front of it. Located a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, you can soak up the atmosphere of the old town here. During carnival season, locals sing “Das Herz der Welt, das schlägt am Rhein” (“the pulse of the world beats at the Rhine”) – and when you get to know the people of Cologne, you’ll have to agree with this sentiment. It’s easy to get talking to people, and you’ll soon find yourself drinking a Kölsch (the local beer) with the friendly, down-to-earth locals.

Koblenz

Prussian discipline meets the Rhenish sense of fun just where the Moselle flows into the Rhine. The angle between the two rivers is known as “Deutsches Eck” (German Corner). Wide, elegant riverbank promenades lead from here to Koblenz’s winding old town. Here you can learn some Roman history and take a picture of yourself leaning against César’s bronze thumb before immersing yourself in the city’s young and trendy cultural scene. The city has changed a lot since it hosted the German Horticultural Show in 2011, becoming more lively, cosmopolitan and diverse. The Empress Augusta Gardens are particularly beautiful. Between 1856 and 1861, the southern end of the Rhine Promenade was turned into a landscaped garden with artistic monuments and sculptures. It is the perfect place to go for a stroll or simply laze around in the sun.

Rüdesheim

Width: 3 m. Length: 144 m. Visitors per year: more than 3 million, making it Germany’s second-most visited attraction (after Cologne Cathedral). We’re talking about Drosselgasse in Rüdesheim, a street also known as “the longest wine bar in the world”. With its half-timbered façades, the street functions as a picturesque showcase for the exceptional wines of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the embodiment of Rhine Romanticism. Rüdesheim was once protected by four castles, as it has a strategically important location at the end of former trade routes. The ruins of Ehrenfels Castle, Boosenburg Castle and Brömserburg Castle, which now houses the Rheingau Wine Museum, are relics of the town’s eventful history.

Mainz

The state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate overflows with Rhenish joviality. This successful media centre, which began its career with nothing less than Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, is exceptionally friendly – not just during Määnzer Fassenacht (Mainz carnival), but all year round. Mainz likes to live up to its reputation as a wine city. Located halfway between Lake Constance and the North Sea, Mainz has countless historical buildings. One of these is Mainz Cathedral, which has one of Christianity’s richest church interiors. Among the most important pieces are the altars and the gravestones of certain archbishops. The bright, glowing stained-glass windows of St Stephen’s Church are truly stunning. They were created by none other than Marc Chagall.

Frankfurt on the Main

In 2014, the New York Times published a list of the 52 places in the world most worth visiting. Frankfurt, the only German city to make the list, was at number 12. Anyone wishing to find out whether this city on the Main has more to offer than just a sophisticated skyline will discover a diverse, multicultural city with amazing museums and outstanding orchestras. New bars and cafés keep springing up and enriching life in Frankfurt. Then there’s the Main, the beautiful Odenwald forest and the Taunus mountains. With all this, you’d almost forget that Frankfurt is one of the German economy’s most important hubs.

Würzburg

When you order a glass of wine in Würzburg, you don’t really need a menu. The rule here is “Wer Schobbe petzt, trinkt Frankenwein” (“If you’re going to drink a glass of wine, make it Franconian wine”). And the wine here is really excellent. Located in a valley basin, Würzburg could be described as a city that’s both young and old. The cityscape reflects Würzburg’s 1,400-year-old history. For example, the Würzburg Residence is one of the world’s most important late Baroque buildings, while the Mirror Cabinet is widely regarded as the most perfect example of a rococo interior. Yet the city has also stayed young thanks to the many students who live here, bringing cafés, bars, concerts and modern culture with them. And then there’s the “Partykeller”, a special part of Würzburg’s nightlife.

Middle Rhine Valley and Lorelei

The Rhine really starts to make a scene in the Middle Rhine Valley – and it’s little wonder, seeing as in Koblenz, the Moselle pumps in an extra 315 m3 of water per second. And then the rocks close ranks, and the riverbed narrows by almost two-thirds. Up above, the legendary Lorelei has been impassively watching this natural drama since time immemorial. Winemaking villages respectfully huddle by the bank of the river, and castles look on from a safe height. UNESCO had good reason to designate the 526th–593rd kilometre section of the Rhine a World Heritage Site. Which of the old castles is most imposing? The Marksburg, perhaps? This 13th-century fortress, including its frescoes and knights’ hall as well as the steps carved into the rocks, is still largely intact. There are more than 40 ruins along this stretch of the Rhine. Unusual uses have been identified for these buildings in order to preserve them. For example, Stahleck Castle is Germany’s most famous youth hostel, and you can stay the night in Rheinstein Castle’s Commandant Tower. You’re never too old to play medieval games!

Cochem

Two castles sit on their hilltops, watching over the Rhineland-Palatinate town of Cochem an der Mosel. That’s quite a lot of castles for Germany’s second-smallest district town. Cochem Imperial Castle would be an excellent setting for any Harry Potter film. Winneburg Castle – owned by the von Metternich family since the 17th century – was besieged, captured and blown up by French troops in 1689. The ruin’s castle keep is still visible, but the ascent requires a some physical effort.

Worms

Worms crops up several times in history books. Martin Luther turned up here in 1521 for the Diet of Worms, after which he was excommunicated. Some time before, in the 9th century, Charlemagne used to spend his winters in Worms. The town is even an important setting in Germany’s most famous legend, the “Nibelungenlied”. That's why the Nibelung Festival takes place every year here on an open-air stage in front of a worthy backdrop: Worms Cathedral. The festival brings large numbers of visitors to the town.

Picture gallery