Cruising the Rhine River

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle on the Rhine River
Courtesy J M Fisher on Unsplash

In my last post, I talked about river cruises on the Seine River in France. In this post, we will cover the primary destinations on the Rhine River. 

The Rhine River is almost 800 miles long, starting in the Graubunden Region of Switzerland, going all the way to the North Sea at Amsterdam. On its path, it touches Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and The Netherlands. 

The number of River Cruises on this river is massive. One estimate that I read was that there are over 300 river ships on this river in Europe alone. Consider it this way: A quick check of Avalon Waterways shows over 25 different river cruises when you search for the Rhine River. AmaWaterways lists 9 different cruises. One of these cruises – The Captivating Rhine – has 37 different sailings in 2024. So you can quickly estimate that AmaWaterways will have over 300 sailings on the Rhine River in 2024. Viking lists over 2,000 sailings when you search for Rhine River Cruises in their database.

So you can see that there are thousands of options to choose from. And a lot of those sailings include not only the Rhine, but also the Main and Moselle Rivers. And this also emphasizes why you need a Travel Agent to help you sort through all of the options.

In this post we are going to look at the sailings that stay strictly on the Rhine River, from Amsterdam to Basel, and only for three cruise lines: AmaWaterways, Viking and Avalon Waterways. The return route, Basel to Amsterdam is virtually identical, but in reverse order. 

Note also that not all of these stops are on every cruise option. For example, of these three, only Viking stops at Kinderdijk and Koblenz, only Avalon stops at Mainz, and AmaWaterways stops at Ludwigshafen.


Our starting point is Amsterdam, and all it has to offer. Many cruises will spend two days before embarking on the cruise, with guided tours available. You can also take advantage of pre-or post-cruise tours here, or we can set up an individual stay for you. 

There are several must-see or do items for Amsterdam, including canal cruises, a visit to the infamous Red Light District, the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, or the Van Gogh Museum. For these last three suggestions, plan ahead, because they are very popular places to visit.


Windmill in Kinderdijk

The main attraction in Kinderdijk is the many windmills there. You will be able to visit several windmills, learn how they work, and what purposes they serve. 


Cologne is one of my personal favorites, and a place I featured before. The Cologne Cathedral, pictured here, is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever visited. This building pre-dates Protestantism, and took over 300 years to build. 

But there are other things to do in Cologne, including a Roman museum that contains Roman artifacts found in Cologne. 

Or, just sit at one of the many outdoor terraces, have a glass of wine, or a Kölsch, and just take in the river and the city.


Koblenz Skyline at night

Koblenz stands at the junction of the Rhine and the Moselle River. There are several castles to visit here, or just enjoy the city center. 

Like Cologne, the origins of Koblenz date back over 2,000 years. For more on Koblenz, visit the city’s visitor site.


Rüdesheim Germany along the Rhine

Rüdesheim marks the beginning of the vineyards on the hills along the river. Given that the vineyards cover this area, you know that the wine here is worth trying. And don’t forget the famous Rüdeshimer coffee which is as much dessert as it is coffee.



Speyer Pilgrim Statue and Cathedral

Speyer is the final resting place of eight German Monarchs, and the oldest Romanesque church in Germany. It was built in the year 1030, and is a UNESCO designated site. 


Mainz, Germany

Mainz is at the confluence of the Rhine and Main Rivers. It is best known for its Medieval squares, and the Gutenberg Museum, which contains the first printing presses. 

From Mainz, you can also take excursions to Heidelberg


Heidelberg Castle

This isn’t a typo, that really is a picture of Heidelberg, even though we are talking about Ludwigshafen. It’s not that Ludwigshafen is not worth visiting, but several excursions go to Heidelberg from here. 


Strasbourg sits on the Rhine where one side is French and the other is German. So the cultures of both countries can be observe here. You may well want to consider coming back to this area on a second trip, because there is so much to do here. You are very close to the resort town of Baden-Baden, the town of Freiburg and Stuttgart. 

But in its own right, Strasbourg is well worth a visit. The main attraction in town is the cathedral and its astronomical clock. And the Alsatian wines here are excellent.


Breisach, Germany

Breisach is the gateway to Germany’s Black Forest, and that means Wine, Cuckoo Clocks and Black Forest Cake. 

From here, you can also visit the Alsatian town of Colmar, or the town of Freiburg.


Basel, Switzerland

Basel is the final destination (or the starting point, if you are going the other way) of most cruises on the Rhine. While most cruises will offer immediate transfer to Zurich for your return home, you can opt to spend a few more days in this area, or take advantage of post-cruise tours in Lake Lucerne or Zurich.

Getting There

Flights to either Amsterdam or Zurich are very easy to get from most major US international airports. 

Ready to Go?

Contact me to find out more about the numerous options for a Rhine River Cruise



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