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River cruises in Germany on the Rhine might include any combination of the Moselle, Main and Danube Rivers. The Rhine is directly connected to both the Main and Moselle. Flowing in a northerly direction from Briesach to Mainz where the Main and Rhine Rivers are joined, its course becomes more WNW from Mainz to Cologne.
The city of Cologne is located between Bonn and Dusseldorf on the northwestern part of the Rhine River. It’s the fourth largest city in Germany with a population of about 1 million. Cologne sits on both sides of the Rhine River and covers an area of 156 square miles!
There are seven main bridges that connect the city across the Rhine. The most well-known is the Hollenzollern Bridge. The Cologne Cable Car also crosses the Rhine and provides transportation from Cologne Zooligical Garden to Rheinpark.
The Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is often featured in Rhine cruise itineraries.
The Moselle River is southeast of Cologne. It’s joined by the Rhine River in Koblenz.
The Upper Middle Rhine Valley or the Rhine Gorge spans 40 miles of the Rhine River in Germany from Koblenz to Bingen. This area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll enjoy beautiful landscape and many cultural landmarks on a cruise along this part of the Rhine River, including the legendary Lorelei Rock.
Middle Rhine Valley Near Oberwesel, Germany
By King (Felix Koenig) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
The City of Rudesheim on the Rhine River
As you travel through the Rhine Valley on your cruise ship, you’ll pass by several cities on the east and west banks of the river. You won’t be able to visit them all. A few of the cities along this stretch of the Rhine include St. Goarshausen, Bacharach, Bingen and Rudesheim.
Most itineraries include a visit to Rudesheim, which is a favorite among tourists. A walk through the festive Drosselgasse is one of the city’s highlights. Lined with cobblestone streets, filled with restaurants and the sound of live music playing adds to the ambiance of this famous attraction.
Drosselgasse in Rudesheim
In the city of Mainz, the Rhine and Main Rivers are joined. Your ship might dock in this city, or you might just cruise by it. If your itinerary includes the Main River, you will begin to travel east from Mainz.
A cruise ship that keeps traveling along the Rhine – depending on the itinerary direction – will either travel northwest toward Rudesheim or south toward toward Heidelberg.
If your cruise ship docks in Mainz, the shore excursion might include a walk through Old Town or Alstadt and a trip to the Gutenberg Museum. When your ship departs from Mainz, your trip will either continue along the Rhine or the Main River.
Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany
Pedelecs by Wikivoyage and Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
If your journey continues south on the Rhine, the next stops on the itinerary will probably be Heidelberg and Speyer. The two cities are located on opposite sides of the Rhine River about 40 miles from Mainz. On the east side, the city of Heidelberg is located in the Rhine Rift Valley on the River Neckar, which is a tributary of the Rhine.
Heidelberg, Germany at Night
By Godoi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Shore excursions at this destination in Germany are likely to include a visit to the Heidelberg Castle and the Speyer Cathedral - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just south of Speyer, the Rhine River forms a boundary between France and Germany. On a Rhine Cruise, some of the stops on this stretch of the river will also be to cities in France.
The cities of Breisach and Freiburg are located in the Black Forest region of Germany. This region is well-known for food items – Black Forest Ham and Black Forest Cake and also for its hand-carved wooden clocks.
Freiburg in the Black Forest Region of Germany
As you walk through this area, a few sites you might visit include Münsterplatz in Freiburg and possibly to one of Europe’s largest wine cellars in Breisach or a trip to one of the clock-making shops.
Münsterplatz in Freiburg
By Marsupilami04 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Mulhouse and Mannheim are two of the largest German cities along the Rhine River. You’ll probably just cruise by them to the east as your ship travels about 32 miles between Breisach and Basel, Switzerland.
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