The Iconic Rhine – 12 river-tastic destinations to encounter

Strasbourg

Thinking about going on a Rhine river cruise in 2020?

Here are 12 destinations you can visit along the famous river, often featured in cruise itineraries exploring this beautiful part of Europe.

1. Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Known throughout the world, Amsterdam, capital of Holland, is one of Europe’s most popular cities.

‘The Dam’, as it is known, is renowned for its colourful gardens, bicycles, canals and museums.

Stop by the Vincent Van Gogh Museum to find out more about the famous Dutch painter’s life and works.

The museum still actively researches the famous painter’s life and works, ensuring that it is the point of reference on all information regarding ‘The little painter fellow’.

The Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands national museum, celebrating the history and art of this wonderful country.

Be sure to take in the selection of markets that can be found in the city. These include Albert Cuyp Market, the largest outdoor market in Europe, and the Floating Flower Market, displayed on barges that line the waterways.

When in town, time should be allowed so you can visit Anne Frank’s House.

Dedicated to Anne Frank, whose famous and tragic diary gave an insight into one of the turbulent periods in world history, the second World War.

The house, once home to the Frank family, and location of their hidden living quarters, the Secret Annex, provides visitors with the opportunity to explore this famous location and learn more about this tragic tale.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s most famous park, receives millions of visitors each year.

Busy year-round, the park offers a great selection of cafes for that essential coffee stop.

Depending on when you visit, there is a fantastic open-air theatre that plays host to live performances (between the months of May and September only).

Take an interactive tour through Heineken’s former main brewery.

The Heineken Experience offers a great tour complete with a bonus tasting room experience acting as the grand finale.

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam, one of three royal residences that King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands uses is open to visitors.

Guided Tours, including child-friendly tours, are available to visitors. Close to Dam Square, the Palace is in the centre of the city.

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2. Cologne

Cologne

Famous of for its imposing cathedral, the grand city of Cologne, split down the middle by the Rhine River, is a fantastic German city.

Over 2,000 years old, the city boasts some stunning Gothic architecture, none more iconic than the Cologne Cathedral.

One of the country’s most visited attractions, Cologne Cathedral, is an UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.

The cathedral’s two towers reign supreme over the rest of the city’s skyline, acting as a great beacon of progress whilst you travel along the mighty Rhine river.

Visitors can climb to the top of this great cathedral. We promise you will be rewarded with great views across the city.

At some point, you will need to navigate across the river. We recommend taking the route across on the Hohenzollern Bridge.

Close to the Cathedral, the bridge is another of the city’s landmarks. This is also the city’s very own ‘Love Lock’ bridge, where you can add your own lock to celebrate a loved one.

It is estimated the locks currently locked to the bridge’s railing weigh a couple of tonnes!

Indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to the Schokoladenmuseum. The spiritual home of chocolate in the city, the museum can be found near Cologne’s Old Town.

Charting the rise of chocolate throughout history, starting with the Aztec’s right through to today, the museum also offers the chance to get your own chocolate created by Lindt Chocolatiers!

Careful you leave some room for lunch. There are many great restaurants to be found in Cologne, that offer the chance to try some great local dishes, including Oktoberfest favourite Hämmche.

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3. Koblenz

Koblenz

Gateway to German wine country, Koblenz is also close to some great iconic ruined castles.

There are so many castles and fortresses close by that you would be best trying one of the local tours if you want to take in as much as possible.

If castles are not your cup of tea, must-visits include, Marksburg and Stolzenfels Castle.

Marksburg Castle, found within the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back some 800 years. The castle’s history is expertly traced within its own museum, found within this Rhine treasure.

Stolzenfels Castle lies just over 3 miles away from the centre of Koblenz.

The fortress complex can be easily reached with popular trails and tours are available within the castle throughout the year apart from December.

Learn about the glorious Rhine Valley and river. The Romanticum offers the chance to learn about this great part of the world.

Interactive, this experience covers all aspects of the Valley, including its rich history, relationship with wine, and legends of the land.

The Deutsches Eck, translated as the German Corner, where the Rivers Moselle and the Rhine meet, is a fantastic landmark.

Here, the intimidating figure Kaiser Wilhelm I has been immortalised in a great monument. Depicted sitting on his grand horse, the Kaiser is famous for bringing about the unification of Germany.

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4. Rüdesheim

Rudesheim

Known for its famous wine produce, Rüdesheim is a great stop on any river cruise.

Drosselgasse, ancient, narrow, and lined with historic buildings, is one of Germany’s most popular streets.

One of the town’s landmarks, Drosselgasse has a selection of great wine taverns serving the best local produce.

The Niederwald Monument overlooks the Rhine and will provide you with great views across the valley.

The monument is a celebration of Germany’s unification that took place in the 1870s.

Taking in the sights by cable car is a fantastic way to experience Rüdesheim.

Taking you up to the Germania Monument, where you will be met with great views, the cable car journey also allows you to take in the great vineyards that cover the landscape.

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5. Heidelberg

Heidelberg

One of the country’s most beautiful towns, Heidelberg known for its castle and gardens is a town rich in history.

The Old Bridge, centrepiece of the town, connects to the university side. Dating back to the 14th century, the university is one of the oldest in Europe.

Altstadt or Old Town can be found near the castle. Welcoming and with a range of restaurants, cafes, and bars available, Altstadt is the perfect place to take time out and plan your next stop on your tour of the city.

Iconic and with great ornate features, the Church of the Holy Spirit is the most famous church in town.

Not far from the castle, you can ensure that your adventure is efficient, taking in the best Heidelberg has to offer.

Heidelberg Castle, the quintessential landmark of the town, is a beautiful ruin.

Its Renaissance gardens, designed by architect Salomon de Caus, take advantage of the wonderful scenery on offer in this part of the country.

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6. Speyer

Speyer

One of the oldest cities in Germany, Speyer lies on the banks of the Rhine River, only an hour away from Frankfurt.

Despite being one of Europe’s oldest cities, Speyer has kept up with times.

A visit to the Technik Museum Speyer will take you on an interactive journey through over 2,000 exhibits.

Speyer Cathedral, the town’s most iconic landmark, is one of the largest Romanesque churches left in Europe.

Be sure to explore the Crypt and Imperial Tombs, burial site of Middle Ages Emperors and Kings.

Another great highlight of this fantastic city, a visit to the Jewish Courtyard is a must. Ruins of an ancient Medieval synagogue and bath can be observed here. Only parts of the buildings remain.

Speyer’s Old City Gate is one of the city’s most significant landmarks. This gate was used as the starting point for celebration parades led by past Emperors.

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7. Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Flowing through six countries, following the Rhine River will take you to some unexpected European greats. Strasbourg is no exception.

Home to the EU Parliament, featured prominently in Brexit negotiations, Strasbourg, capital of the Alsace region, lies just over 4 hours away from French capital Paris. Three hours away, the great Swiss Alps lie resting.

We recommend visiting Strasbourg Cathedral, and the Petite France region of the city.

Strasbourg Cathedral is a beautiful Gothic landmark standing on the site of a former Roman Temple.

The cathedral contains some wonderful ornate features, including some delightful stained glass windows dating back to the 12th century.

Another highlight within the cathedral is the range of tapestries dating back to the 17th century.

La Petite France is a historic quarter that has some wonderful character. Half-timbered houses skirt the streets that are broken up by canals, once crucial trade routes leading to the River Marne.

This area, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, features some buildings and bridges built during the Middle Ages.

Similar to Amsterdam, Strasbourg is best navigated by bicycle. This allows visitors to navigate the maze of streets and gives you time to check out the sights.

French cuisine offers the perfect lunch options. Famous Alsace dishes such as Tarte flambée and Baeckeoffe casserole will top up your energy levels.

Whilst in this glorious city, we recommend stopping by the Musée archéologique, a wonderful museum that traces the Alsace Region’s history by looking at historic archaeological pieces.

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8. Breisach

Breisach

Small yet essential, Breisach, found in the Rhine Valley is a German town full of character. Here, the Black Forest region arrives into view.

The town’s main landmark is St. Stephens Church. Overlooking the Rhine, this Gothic church can be seen for miles around.

With Breisach acting as a base, visitors can take in the wondrous Black Forest region.

Famously inspiring the Brother’s Grimm to write their fairy tale ‘Hansel and Gretel’, the Black Forest’s crowning glory is Lake Titisee.

Over a mile long, the lake is a popular holiday destination in itself and perfect for those seeking some outdoor activities.

Available activities include sailing where you can hire a boat and go off exploring in style.

The lake provides the perfect opportunity to relax and take in views. Great trails can be used to take you to some of the best picnic spots around.

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9. Basel

Basel

Close to Switzerland’s border with Germany and France, Basel is a stylish, fantastic cultural hotspot.

Home to over 30 of them, days can be lost just visiting the city’s great range of museums.

We recommend visiting the highly rated Basel Paper Mill Museum. Situated in a listed mill, the museum details the fascinating history of paper throughout the ages and even allows visitors to try their hand at helping staff in an original workshop.

A cauldron of sights, sounds, and smells, the museum has some truly historic pieces within its collection.

The Fine Arts Museum hosts some great exhibitions throughout the calendar year. Be sure to check out what’s on when in town.

Gothic and dating back to the 9th century, the Basel Munster (cathedral) is the city’s most famous landmark.

Standing out from the crowd, the cathedral is built from red sandstone and features two matching towers that stand tall and proud.

Basel Zoo, dating back to the 1870s, has a long and notable history. The first captive Gorilla birth took place here in the 1950s.

The zoo’s inhabitants include; Cheetahs, Snow Leopards, Spider Monkeys, Kangaroos, and Elephants.

A new Elephant enclosure was opened only last year.

Looking for a more historic highlight? Gates of Spalen it is then.

One of three entrances dating back to when the city was a fortress, the gate dates back to the 1400’s. Easily navigated, the gate offers great views across the city.

Basel’s Old Town is best navigated on foot. As well as containing the previously mentioned Munster, the Old Town’s Marketplatz offers the best local flowers, food, and potential souvenirs that could make a great gift for friends and family back home.

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10. Lucerne

Lucerne

Sitting on the banks of beautiful Lake Lucerne, the city of Lucerne is a great introduction to Switzerland. Famed for its Medieval architecture, Lucerne is a sight to behold.

Kappellbrucke, iconic around the world, is one of the most photographed landmarks in the city. Dating back to the 14th century, this wooden roofed bridge once formed part of the city’s fortifications.

Follow in the steps of the great American Mark Twain and visit one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The Dying Lion of Lucerne is a monument to fallen Swiss Guards whose lives were taken during the French Revolution.

Mentioned by Twain is his novel ‘A Tramp Abroad’, this sculpture, carved into a cliffside is fantastically detailed.

The only one of its kind in the world, The Water Spikes in Lucerne control the water levels of the great lake to fend off any potential flooding concerns.

A feat of engineering, the Water Spikes are lowered into the water to take water out of the lake. This is a must-see for anyone with an interest in engineering.

Consider yourself a bit of a ‘Petrolhead’? Check out the Swiss Museum of Transport. It has a wide display of transport that goes far beyond just cars.

Not afraid to take on the heights? Take advantage of the close proximity to Mt Zion. Day Round Trips are available to visit the magical mountain that includes the new aerial cableway known as the Dragon Ride.

On route, you will be greeted by some of the best views you may ever experience, past postcard-perfect streams and meadows.

Much closer to sea level, one of the largest lakes in the country, Lake Lucerne is surrounded by mountains.

Fantastic cruise trips around the beautiful Lake Lucerne are available onboard classic Paddle Steamer ships.

Best experienced in mid to late summer, these cruises act as great ferry options to the main hiking routes.

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11. Kehl

Kehl

Opposite the city of Strasbourg, Kehl in Germany combines history with more modern features that capture your imagination.

Celebrated for its eye-catching architecture, the town is often a port of call for holidaymakers venturing across the river to neighbouring Strasbourg.

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12. Mannheim

Mannheim

Best known for its landmark palace and water tower, Mannheim can be found in southern Germany.

Undoubtedly a key city experience Mannheim Palace, beautifully restored in recent years, dates back to the 18th century.

Another fabulous Mannheim location, the city’s Wasserturm or water tower is set in a lovely plaza.

Surrounded by well-kept gardens that come complete with their own water feature, the water tower rises some 60 metres into the Mannheim skyline.

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