I took my daughter on a Rhine River Cruise in the fall of 2021. We had been starting to plan a trip in 2020 but had to put our plans on hold because of the pandemic. Our itinerary took us from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, traveling through France and Germany on the AmaSerena. As it turned out, the river water levels were low, but the AmaWaterways found some creative solutions.
As much as river cruise lines take pride in their impeccable service, the main reason travelers choose a river cruise is because of the amazing, breathtaking stops along the way. The countries on the Rhine are historic, romantic, and truly awe-inspiring.
For this trip, I chose a cruise with AmaWaterways. On an AmaWaterways cruise, you can choose from a selection of amazing tours, all of which highlight a unique aspect of Europe. With 25 incredible river cruise options throughout Europe, it can be a tough decision. The itinerary we chose is Castles & Swiss Alps, but there are many others to choose from.
Let’s take a closer look at destinations along the Rhine River.
A pristine alpine wonderland, Switzerland is beautiful any time of year. It’s known for its snowy mountain caps in the winter and lush green hills in the summer. Whether you’re taking a scenic train ride through the Alps or traveling the Rhine on a river cruise, Switzerland will have you wondering if you’ve walked straight into a fairytale.
Many river cruises on the Rhine start or end in Basel, a city known for its love of art and museums. The city has the highest concentration of museums in the country and is centered around a market square, making it easy to tour.
Basel is a fantastic representation of Switzerland as it’s situated right between France and Germany, two countries that have significantly influenced Swiss culture. Enjoy this melding of cultures as you dine alfresco at a cafe along the banks of the Rhine.
Lucerne is the ideal pitstop on your trek through Switzerland. Wandering through its majestic streets, you’ll encounter a city dotted with beautiful bridges, cafes, and chocolate shops that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Let’s book a ride on Lake Lucerne while we’re at it!
Parlez-vous français? Non? Well, no worries. A good translation app can do wonders to help you navigate the luscious countryside of France and its mouthwatering cafes and menus.
Wine and France go hand-in-hand, and if you haven’t had a bowl of French onion soup, you’re seriously missing out. Whether you’re stopping at a bakery in the morning for a fresh croissant and cafe au lait, a light lunch of a croque monsieur, or a full 3-course French dinner, you will not be disappointed.
Strasbourg, the charming capital city of the Alsace region is a stop on most Rhine River cruises. If wine tasting isn’t your idea of a relaxing afternoon, there is no shortage of other soothing activities in Strasbourg. The Parc de l’Orangerie, Parc de la Citadelle, and the botanical gardens are all equally serene places for an afternoon walk or bike ride.
Are you looking for modern stores, local boutiques, or street markets? You can find them all in Strasbourg. Most of Strasbourg’s old town is centered on Grande Île, an island in the middle of the city.
Christmas markets in Strasbourg are so popular you can find them any time of year. Make your way to the southwest corner of the Grande Île to Un Noël en Alsace to browse Christmas decor. And if you happen to be in Strasbourg during the holiday season, try a glass of vin chaud (mulled wine) to keep you warm along the way.
Traveling to Germany usually takes tourists to Berlin, Munich, and other metropolitan areas. On a river cruise with AmaWaterways, however, you’ll experience a whole new side of the country—one that is more traditional and inviting.
Cruising down the Rhine, you’ll see cultural hubs as well as quaint cities you may not otherwise experience. Rüdesheim and Cologne both offer a variety of entertainment including local musicians and museums, providing a well-rounded German experience.
Rüdesheim is a charming little city on the Rhine known for its production of Riesling wine. The first thing you’ll notice here is the beautiful combination of history and modern winemaking. Cobblestone streets and medieval-style castles lie just outside the vineyards and tasting rooms of Rüdesheim.
During the stop in Rüdesheim, you can choose between Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, a gondola ride, or a wine-tasting hike through the vineyards.
A popular way to spend time here is to take the cable car over the vineyards, up to the Niederwald monument, and then stop at the local shops on the way back.
A 2,000-year-old city, Cologne is best known for its colorful rows of houses and its famous Christmas markets. In contrast to the small-town charm of Rüdesheim, Cologne is a much larger city and cultural hub of this area of Germany.
Where Rüdesheim is medieval and rustic, Cologne is more Gothic and modern. Visible from the Rhine River, the Cologne Cathedral is a must-see landmark. Its two towers are still some of the largest peaks in the city.
The stop in Cologne offers the options of a Holy City walking tour and cathedral visit, Kölsch Beer tasting, or a Cologne bike tour.
What better way to end a Rhine River cruise than right in the heart of the Netherlands–Amsterdam.
A city known for its red-light district and overall carefree way of life, Amsterdam offers an incredible array of cultural experiences. Cruising one of the world’s most elaborate canal systems will show you much of the beauty this city has to offer.
If you prefer to observe the canals by land, you can opt for a tour through the bohemian neighborhood of Jordaan, which boasts trendy cafes, eateries, and shops. After grabbing a coffee, head to one of the many historical landmarks in this part of town. The Anne Frank House is located just outside Jordaan and across from the historical Westerkerk Cathedral where Rembrandt was buried in 1669.
These are just a few of the amazing destinations on a Rhine River cruise. Which country is calling your name?
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