The Rhine River

Cutting deeply into mountains and winding its way through rolling hillsides, dramatic rocky gorges and past pretty Old World villages, the Rhine river is a romantic’s dream. Springing from a lake in the Swiss Alps, it charts a scenic course to the North Sea, lighting up some of Europe’s most captivating sights and customs. Immortalised by Wagner, Byron and Turner, the Rhine riverbanks are dotted with ancient castles and fortresses, award-winning vineyards, riverside cafes and dynamic cities. With beautiful scenery and enriching surprises around every turn, a journey along the Rhine is an unforgettable voyage into the heart of Europe. 

Rhine river cruises offer an added attraction each December, when Christmas markets spring up in all the riverside towns. Whether you’re doing a turn on the twinkling ice rink of Heidelberg or browsing the stalls in Strasbourg’s town square with a warming glühwein, our Rhine Christmas cruises are sure to put you in the festive spirit.

Highlights of the Rhine river

  • Basel
    • This pretty Swiss town is the first navigable point of the Rhine where Switzerland, Germany and France converge. Perhaps because of this, Basel is rich in history and charm, with world-famous choirs, theatres and museums. Its atmospheric Gothic cathedral houses the tomb of 16th-century scholar Erasmus.
  • Strasbourg
    • The capital of the Alsace region, Strasbourg is a cosmopolitan hub that is known for its excellent wines. Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets, which are lined with medieval buildings, and admire the winding canals of La Petite France in the heart of Strasbourg's Old Town.
  • Rüdesheim
    • A pretty little Rhine Valley wine town, Rüdesheim is a riverside village with an unusual attraction: Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, with its phenomenal collection of self-playing instruments. Be sure to enjoy a warming liqueur coffee at the cafe nearby cafe afterwards.
  • Rhine Gorge and Lorelei Rock
    • Sail through the UNESCO-listed Rhine Gorge, a beautiful stretch of water that is sprinkled with medieval castles, award-winning vineyards and crumbling fortresses. Pass the legendary Lorelei Rock where a heartbroken nymph was said to have lured sailors to their deaths.
  • Cologne
    • Cologne is the capital of the Rhineland and is known for its tradition of perfumery, its magnificent twin-steepled cathedral - which took 600 years to build - and its chocolate museum, where you explore the history and craftsmanship of this food of the gods.

Rhine River cruises

Romantic Rhine - Basel to Amsterdam

Offer

Most popular

from £1,577 per person

  • 8 days
  • Price based on 05 Nov 19
  • 35 dates available

One of Europe’s most legendary rivers awaits you on this exciting journey along the Rhine River, which begins in Switzerland and stops in France, Germany, and Holland! Board your vessel in Basel, Switzerland, then head for Breisach, Germany, located at the foot of the Kaiserstuhl Mountain on the French-German border. Here you’ll find the gateway to Germany’s Black Forest, an area of unrivalled natural beauty, best known for Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and the cuckoo clock. Continue your river cruise to Strasbourg, France, where you’ll be amazed by the red-sandstone gothic cathedral with ancient murals and the fascinating astronomical clock. Also, stroll through the lovely La Petite France district with its quaint shops, delightful bistros, and peaceful waterfront promenade. Visit the ruins of Heidelberg’s castle, towering magnificently over the city, and stop in Mainz for a guided walk and a visit to the captivating Gutenberg Museum. Next up is the charming wine town of Rüdesheim, and a visit to the unique Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum to see the impressive collection of historical self-playing instruments. You’ll pass through the dramatic Rhine Gorge - the most beautiful stretch of the Rhine River where ancient castles stand on cliffs 400 feet above the water. Last stop in Germany is Cologne - a 2,000-year-old city known for its gothic architecture and famous twin-spired cathedral. As an exclamation point to this wonderful Rhine river cruise, you’ll spend time in Holland’s popular, modern capital of Amsterdam. There is much to do with the world-famous museums and abundance of restaurants amongst the classic architecture and charming canals. The best way to see the treasures of this 700-year-old city is on a canal cruise along the elegant grachten lined with homes dating back to the city’s “Golden Age.”

Canals, Vineyards & Castles - Amsterdam to Remich

Offer

from £1,600 per person

  • 8 days
  • Price based on 02 May 19
  • 5 dates available

Start this magnificent European river cruise vacation in Holland’s popular, modern capital of Amsterdam. See the treasures of this 700-year-old city from a unique perspective—on a canal cruise along the elegant grachten. Then, begin your scenic cruise along the Rhine River and come to Cologne, Germany—a 2,000 year-old city known for its gothic architecture. On a guided city walk, see the famous twin-spired cathedral and explore the cobblestone streets of the Old City. You’ll sail through the dramatic Rhine Gorge—the most beautiful stretch of the Rhine River where ancient castles stand on cliffs 400 feet above the water. In the charming wine town of Rüdesheim, enjoy a stroll through its famous cobblestone Drosselgasse lined with shops, restaurants, and lively taverns. Along the Moselle River, you’ll stop at the picturesque town of Cochem where the Riesling grape is cultivated. Visit Reichsburg Castle, nestled among vineyards and offering breathtaking views of the town and river valley below. In Bernkastel, enjoy a guided walk and taste some of the region’s best-loved wines. Go on an excursion to historical Luxembourg City, offering unique and dramatic views as it is set on two levels—high above on straddling hills and dropping into two river valleys.

Canals, Vineyards & Castles - Remich to Amsterdam

Offer

from £1,684 per person

  • 8 days
  • Price based on 25 Apr 19
  • 5 dates available

Board your Avalon Suite Ship in Remich on the beautiful Moselle River. An excursion to historical Luxembourg City offers unique and dramatic views, as the town is set on two levels—high above on straddling hills and dropping into two river valleys. Enjoy a guided walk in the charming wine village of Bernkastel and taste some of the region’s best wines. Continue on the Moselle River to the picturesque town of Cochem where the Riesling grape is cultivated. Visit Reichsburg Castle, nestled among vineyards and offering breathtaking views of the town and river valley below. Sail into the Rhine River to the quintessential Rhine valley town of Rüdesheim. Here visit the amazing Mechanical Musical Instruments Museum, and enjoy a stroll through the town’s famous cobblestone Drosselgasse lined with shops, restaurants, and lively taverns. You’ll sail through the dramatic Rhine Gorge—the most beautiful stretch of the Rhine River where ancient castles stand on cliffs 400 feet above the water. Your last stop in Germany is Cologne, a 2,000-year-old city known for its gothic architecture. On a guided walk, see the famous twin-spired cathedral and explore the cobblestone streets of the Old City. Before this fabulous European river cruise concludes, you’ll visit Holland’s popular, modern capital of Amsterdam. See the treasures of this 700-year-old city from a unique perspective—on a canal cruise along the elegant Grachten. Experience spectacular scenery and discover legendary cultures along your Moselle and Rhine river cruise vacation.

Christmastime in Alsace & Germany - Frankfurt to Basel

from £1,719 per person

  • 5 days
  • Price based on 14 Dec 19
  • 1 date available

This Christmastime river cruise is a unique and unforgettable way to celebrate the season! Board your Avalon Suite Ship® in Mainz, Germany, then sail up the Rhine River to Basel, Switzerland, passing beautiful landscapes and quaint villages festively lit and decorated. This one-of-a-kind Christmas river cruise through France and Germany takes you on an excursion to Heidelberg, Germany, to visit the fascinating ruins of Heidelberg Castle, towering magnificently over the city. At this time of year, an ice rink can be found at the foot of the castle and the Christmas market is spread over five town squares. Delight in the holiday cheer with Glühwein (hot mulled wine), bratwursts, and other regional delicacies. You’ll also find an array of crafts, Christmas decorations, and gifts. Strasbourg, located on the border of France and Germany, perfectly blends the cultures of both countries. Strasbourg is home to one of the oldest and finest Christmas markets in Europe—dating back to the 16th century. Take in the aromas of mulled wine, spice cakes, and biscuits. Bask in the holiday atmosphere as you visit the Strasbourg Cathedral, a gothic masterpiece made of red sandstone, and containing ancient murals and fascinating astronomical clock. Your Christmas river cruise along the Rhine River takes you to Breisach, considered the gateway to Germany’s Black Forest—an area of unrivaled natural beauty, best known for Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and the cuckoo clock. There is no better setting than this time of year when smoke curls from the chimneys of the traditional Black Forest houses. Your delightful holiday cruise ends in Basel, Switzerland. Don’t miss this experience to savour the holiday season in traditional and beautiful Christmas traditions of European winter markets and festivities!

Tulip Time

from £1,731 per person

  • 8 days
  • Price based on 01 Apr 19
  • 6 dates available

This river cruise explores breathtaking springtime scenery, as well as the amazing diversity of original beer styles in Belgium and the booming beer scene in Holland. This Tulip Time river cruise for beer enthusiasts begins in Amsterdam. This 700-year-old city offers an abundance of classic architecture, cafés, and restaurants to explore. You’ll sail through Rotterdam’s harbor, said to be the world’s busiest port, visit the incredible Keukenhof garden—known as the “Garden of Europe.” If available, you may also choose an excursion to the city of Gouda, famous for its cheese and other specialties. Next, sail to Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city, combining ancient buildings and monuments with modern architecture. Later, get to know the famous Belgian beer in a local brewery. In Ghent, Belgium, join a guided city tour, including a visit to St. Baaf’s Cathedral. Perhaps, take a canal boat to a local brewery to learn how the local beer is produced. You’ll visit Middelburg, Holland—a historically important trading city—and see its gothic Town Hall, Abbey Tower, and bustling Market Square. No trip to Holland is complete without a visit to the technical miracle that is the 6-mile-long Delta Works barrier, constructed after the floods of 1953. This beautiful and historic springtime Holland river cruise concludes with more time to explore Amsterdam, including a canal cruise along the elegant grachten lined with homes from Amsterdam’s “Golden Age.” You’ll have the opportunity to taste delicious Dutch beers, and a knowledgeable Beer Expert will cruise with you to provide lectures, beer-tasting, and food and beer pairings for a memorable Holland and Belgium River cruise experience.

Learn more about the Rhine

Fast facts

  • Countries: Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, France, Netherlands

  • Source: The Swiss Alps

  • Mouth: North Sea

  • Length: 766 miles

Did you know? 

  • The name 'Rhine' comes from the Celtic 'renos', which means 'raging flow.'

  • Wagner's epic masterpiece The Ring Cycle (De Ring des Nibelungen) is based around the Rhine, with the first in the four pieces telling the story of the 'Rhinegold' (Das Rheingold). An unprecendented work in size, scope and artistic ambition, Das Rheingold is one continuous piece of music with no interval, lasting two and a half hours. The last in the cycle, 'Twilight of the Gods' (Götterdämmerung) lasts six and a half hours, including two intervals.

  • The Rhine still has its secrets. In 2007, a 1900-year-old Roman ship was found on the banks in Cologne. 

  • Strasbourg's old town, le Grande Île ("Grand Island"), was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1988: the first time such an honour was placed on an entire city centre.

  • It is thought that Julius Caesar was the first to build a bridge across the Rhine River, during the Gallic War of 55 BCE.

Geography

  • The Rhine begins life in the Swiss Alps, where the Vorderrhein and Hinterrhein rivers converge. From Reichenau, it courses north and forms a natural border between Switzerland and the mini-country of Liechtenstein, and then Switzerland and Austria. The Rhine then turns west, emptying into pretty Lake Constance, then creates a boundary between Switzerland and Germany. At Basel the river becomes navigable by ship, turning north at the so-called "Rhine knee" to flow alongside the border between France and Germany.

  • In Germany, between Bonn and Bingen, the Middle Rhine continues its journey through the beautiful Rhine Gorge - a dramatic natural gateway created by geological uplift and erosion. This stretch of the river is known as 'Romantic Rhine', a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing more than 40 castles and fortresses that date back to the Middle Ages.

  • On leaving Germany, the river heads west and enters The Netherlands, where it join the rivers Meuse and Scheldt to form one of the largest deltas in western Europe. The Rhine is at its widest as it enters The Netherlands, but then splits into three main distributaries and various smaller ones. These minor waterways then flow through the Dutch Lowlands and empty into the North Sea.

Browse our Rhine cruises

Available cruises: 25

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