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Best Rhine River Guided Tours All Rhine River Trips
Top Trip Memories
  • Sailing through Germany’s 40-mile-long Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where more than 40 castles and fortresses stand guard on hilltops.
  • Gazing up at the Lorelei Rock, where a lovelorn siren who plunged to her death is said to haunt the area, luring sailors to their doom in the swirling waters below.
  • Sipping a fragrant German white wine on deck as you glide past terraced vineyards clinging to steep hillsides.
  • Watching the world go by from your own balcony as you travel in comfort from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, via Germany and France – by far the most common itinerary.
  • Spending time before or after the cruise in Amsterdam – with canals for streets, bicycles galore and world-class art museums, it’s one of Europe’s most alluring cities.
  • Exploring the German city of Cologne, home to one of Europe’s most splendid Gothic cathedrals, known for its signature twin steeples.
  • Wandering Koblenz, a 2,000-year-old city where the Rhine and Moselle rivers join -- and perhaps taking a scenic side-cruise up the Moselle.
  • Discovering Heidelberg, the old German university town that showcases stunning medieval architecture and a Gothic castle.
  • Enjoying an excursion to France’s Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine, where French and German customs mix to add flavor to the cultural stew.
  • Strolling wine-country towns like Kaysersberg in Alsace-Lorraine and Germany’s Rudesheim – their names may be unfamiliar, but you won’t soon forget the storybook settings, or the local vintages.
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Tour Tips
  • Rhine cruises typically last between eight and 12 days, largely depending on whether or not they include side-trips along the Moselle, which branches off from Rhine at Koblenz.
  • Some longer itineraries may include other waterways in AustriaHungary or the Netherlands.
  • Be sure to allow at least one extra day in canal- and museum-rich Amsterdam and/or in Basel in Switzerland, to explore those cities before or after the cruise.
  • Christmas market cruises in late November and December are very popular along the Rhine, where festive village outdoor markets sell handcrafted gifts and are filled with the aromas of freshly made gingerbread, sizzling sausages, and mulled wine.
  • The busiest season for Rhine cruises is June through August. May and September can feature pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices.
  • There are about ten more castles on the right (eastern) bank of the Rhine River Gorge than on the left (western). (The Lorelei rock is on the eastern bank.) But don’t worry too much about which side of the ship your cabin is on; even if you have a private balcony, you’ll probably spend much of your time on the top deck, where there’s a 360-degree view.
  • Many Rhine cruise itineraries offer chances for interesting side-trips away from the river. Particularly appealing are the Alsatian city of Strasbourg in France, which combines French and German culture, and the Black Forest area of southwestern Germany.
  • You can also combine a Rhine River cruise with a Danube River cruise via a canal and sail down to Budapest, Hungary, or beyond through eastern Europe.
  • With the perennial popularity of Rhine cruises, don’t expect to find last-minute bargains. Book as early as possible – often a year in advance or more – to be sure to get the cabin you want.
  • To judge the best value as opposed to just the lowest price, keep an eye out for how many “extras” are included in the base rate – such as port excursions, port charges, alcohol, balcony cabins, and even international airfare on occasion – that could considerably inflate the price if purchased separately. (Gratuities are seldom included, though you may be able to pay them up front.)
  • If you plan on traveling alone on your Rhine cruise, check into the cruise lines’ policies on charging for singles supplements, and whether or not they will match you with a same-sex roommate if you’d like to avoid the extra charge.
  • Some cruise lines employ multiple tour directors and offer port excursions at different “speeds,” so you can choose how fast you want to walk or ride and how much you want to see.
  • Be sure to check with cruise lines if you have special diet needs. Some may not be able to do kosher food, for example, while others may fall down on gluten-free or even interesting vegetarian dishes. 
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Rhine River Travel Reviews & Ratings
5.0 out of 5

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11 Reviews

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Rating Details

Value
5.0 Guide
5.0 Activities
5.0 Lodging
5.0 Transportation
5.0 Meals
5.0
Tour Reviews

The most amazing river trip in Europe

Romance of the Rhine & Mosel

5.0 January 2017 Grand Circle Cruise Line Recommend: Yes Traveling from Belgium through 6 countries to Switzerland is one of the most amazing travel experiences in Europe, especially if traveling with Grand Circle Travel. The ship's crew and staff are the most professional and personable folks that I've ever had the fortune to travel with. Not only have I traveled European rivers with these folks once, but have done so several times. For a single traveler, traveling with Grand Circle is a great bargain, as there is very seldom an extra charge for traveling solo and if their is, the price is very modest. You can't go wrong with these folks. Read more

The trip of a lifetime.

Germany Rhine River Biking Tour

5.0 December 2016 Carpe Mundo Recommend: Yes This was the trip of a lifetime for sure. I loved getting to know everyone in the group- they were all amazing. The biking was super fun, not as hard as I expected it to be. I loved seeing all these castles and then staying in one. The leaders are great, having one of the leaders be from Germany was definitely helpful. Carpe Mundo is the best value, hands down. Read more

First guided bike trip, won't be my last!

Germany Rhine River Biking Tour

5.0 December 2016 Carpe Mundo Recommend: Yes This was my first guided bike trip, and I absolutely loved it! It was such an amazing way to see Germany, and I loved biking through small, charming towns that I otherwise wouldn't have seen. It was the perfect mix of biking and free time to shop and explore on our own. I loved knowing that I could stop biking if I needed to and ride in the van or take a riverboat to the next destination, but I never needed to or wanted to because it was so enjoyable. I enjoyed this so much better than the self-guided bike tour I did in France- the scenery was better, it was more relaxing with leaders to help, I learned more about the area with the leaders, and getting to know the other people in the group really added to it. I had some reservations, being afraiad of not having any independence and always being told what to do, but that wasn't at all the case. Whether you're an expert biker or just an occasional biker, I'd recommend this trip to everyone. Read more

The most adventurous, well-planned, and organized trip I have ever been on.

Germany Rhine River Biking Tour

5.0 October 2016 Carpe Mundo Recommend: Yes I went on the Germany Biking trip and it was the most adventurous, well-planned, and organized trip I have ever been on. The best part was my airfare was practically free. I was advised by the trip leader/founder on how to use airline miles. It was amazing and super nice not having to go through the hassle of booking flights. He was extremely helpful and a great trip leader. You only get the best on these trips. From the hotels you stay in to the activities you do each day, you will not have a boring moment! Mero prepares you every step of the way from booking your flights to packing lists. I can't wait for my next adventure with Carpe Mundo!! Read more

I'd highly recommend it.

Germany Rhine River Biking Tour

5.0 August 2016 Carpe Mundo Recommend: Yes This trip was incredible. It was so much better than I expected and I expected it to be amazing. Carpe Mundo makes you feel so well cared for, any need you have is met. The biking was great; I was a little nervous because I don’t bike a whole lot, but it seemed like nothing! The bikes are super nice and comfortable, it’s a great relaxed pace so you can enjoy the beauty around you and there’s so much to see. If you want to bike faster or slower than the group or sit out for part of the day (or the whole day) you can. You get to try a lot of great wines from the region. I loved knowing that we get to try authentic food, and the best food in the area because it’s been tested & tried by Carpe Mundo. They treat us like kings and queens- when you arrive at the hotel, all of your luggage is in your room already and taken care of. Any need you have you can just mention it and they’ll make sure it’s taken care of. Having a German and an American leader was a great combo. I could never do this on my own, but they made it so enjoyable. I loved biking past castles, vineyards, and the gorgeous countryside. I’d highly recommend it. Read more
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Classic Itineraries

Rhine River Cruise Highlights in 1 Week

Day 1, Basel: Guided walking tour through this quaint Swiss town. Prepare for you week on the Rhine

Day 2-5, Germany: Sail north through Western Germany, past beautiful vineyards and sites from the water including everything from Pfalzgrafenstein Castle to small idyllic villages. Disembark to visit the fairytale Black Forest and Vogtsbauernhof Museum, Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Koblenz where you’ll see Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, learn about winemaking and attend a special Rhine Valley tasting in Rüdesheim.

Day 6, Cologne: Your last stop in Germany. See the historic Gothic Cathedral, a World Heritage Site, and explore lovely Old Town.

Day 7-8, Amsterdam: End your cruise in lively Amsterdam where you can cycle along the canals, walk through the famous Red Light District, and enjoy Danish pastries in waterside cafes.

River Cruises that follow this itinerary:

Jewels of the Rhine with Emerald Waterways - 8 Days, premium trip

Premium Rhine Cruise with Great Rail Journeys - 8 Days, premium trip

Rhine Getaway with Viking River Cruises - 8 Days, premium trip

Or see All Rhine River Cruises in One Week

Rhine River Trips & Tour Advice

A voyage along the Rhine has attracted travelers and artists for hundreds of years. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a trip down the Rhine was considered a mandatory part of the European grand tour, and the castle-rich hilltops and colorful legends along Germany’s scenic Rhine Gorge inspired poetry by Heinrich Heine and opera by Richard Wagner.

The 700-mile-long river, which flows from Switzerland to the North Sea via France, Germany and the Netherlands, has also been a key means of transport and trade through Western Europe. “The Rhine combines every quality a river can exhibit,” wrote Victor Hugo, citing its “rapidity,” “breadth,” “sinuosity,” “translucency,” “historical reminiscences,” “regal dignity,” “mysterious influence,” “glittering streams” and “phantoms.”

The Rhine Gorge

Today the Rhine ranks with the Danube as among the most popular of all European cruising rivers. Its Rhine Gorge segment, which courses about 40 miles through steep hillsides dotted with more than 40 castles and fortresses, is one of the highlights of world river cruising, and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Small fairytale towns and villages line its banks, vineyards cling to terraced slopes, and large, intriguing cities await exploration as well.

Most Rhine cruising itineraries journey between Basel, Switzerland, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands; you can travel in either direction. The standard length is about a week, but you can easily extend it to 12 or more by combining the Rhine with the Moselle River, which branches off the Rhine at the German city of Koblenz and leads toward Luxembourg, or the Danube, which is connected to the Rhine by the Main Canal and leads to Budapest, Hungary, and beyond – a two- or three-week super cruise. If you’re pressed for time, some shorter, five-day cruises are also available from Basel, stopping at Dusseldorf in Germany rather than continuing on to Amsterdam.

Typical Itineraries

On the standard route, you’ll be able to tour the German cities of Cologne, whose landmark is its Gothic twin-towered Dom Cathedral; Koblenz, site of the huge Ehrenbreitstein Castle; and Heidelberg, which houses the country’s oldest university as well as memorable Romanesque architecture. The town of Breisach, gateway to Germany’s lovely Black Forest; the towns of Rudesheim and Kayserberg, among others, offering tastes of the wine country; and Strasbourg, France, with its canals, cathedral, and Alsatian choucrout (a hearty dish bearing both French and German influences) all help make Rhine port excursions some of the finest in Europe.

Not surprisingly, most every major European river cruise line operates on the Rhine, so it’s essential to compare and contrast not just itineraries but prices (don’t forget to check what’s included!), ship size, cabin sizes, amenities, and languages spoken aboard, among other things.

The good news is that Stride can help you make sense of it all, allowing you to book your Rhine cruise with confidence -- knowing you’ve chosen the cruise that’s right for you. And soon you’ll be gazing up at the same Sleeping Beauty-style castles on the Rhine that have enchanted travelers and artists for centuries.

Find more useful tips in our blog post "Top Ten Tips for Choosing a European Cruise Line." 

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