Top 10 Reasons to Take a River Cruise
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River cruises on the Rhine, Moselle and Elbe rivers are sure to capture your imagination.
These three rivers will surely serve as a delightful introduction to both the wonders of river cruising and to Germany’s rich and historic heritage. The Rhine and Moselle river cruises are especially wonderful for those planning their first Europe river cruise vacation.

If you’re into extraordinary landscapes (such as the remarkable Black Forest region) that astound even the most experienced photographers, enjoy fine wines and wonderful food, a Rhine or a Rhine & Moselle river cruise, will be a “10” on the enjoyment and experience scale.

There’s something so special and romantic about a Rhine River cruise and the meandering tranquility of its little sister, the Moselle. Imagine being able to see and visit as many at 70 medieval castles in one week. Okay. You don’t actually get to visit each one, but imagine the scenery as you float gently down the Rhine where each bend prompts new vistas of hillside vineyards clinging to incredibly steep slopes each more impressive than the last, and many harboring their own castle.

Did you know that the proliferation of Rhine castles created the world’s first toll boothes? It’s true. In ancient times these castles were actually built as fortified homes and used by the residents to protect themselves and their land against intruders. They were built in such strategic locations, the land barons figured out that they could be used to control river travel. Thus, in order to pass without harm at a particular section of the river, the ship’s captain had to pay a toll fee to pass. Nothing changes I guess... sure reminds me of modern-day New Jersey!

Depending on your favorite itinerary (our's is the Rhine & Moselle cruise), you can start or end in Amsterdam, Vienna, Nuremberg or Basel. These itineraries will enable you to experience the essence of river cruising, combining the relaxation of a cruise paired perfectly with experiencing the history, architecture and beauty of an extraordinary region. For bicycle lovers: the banks of the Rhine and Moselle await you, too. The paths along much of these two wonderful rivers are pedestrian-only and ensure many opportunities to enjoy a safe, leisurely bike ride. Hey... what about a picnic? Now, here's a little taste of what’s in store for you when you choose a river cruise through Germany:

One of the first [or last stops] along the Rhine will be one of the most precious gems of all Europe... the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bamberg. As with Rome, it was constructed on 7 hills and is considered Europe’s largest intact Old Town center. The main difference between Bamberg and Rome is that Bamberg has a landmark church built atop each of the seven hills. One of the most picturesque portions of Bamberg is the colorful fishing village called “Little Venice.” Dating only back to the early 19th century, it’s one photo op after another as you stroll by the very colorful local homes. It’s well worth the short walk and we suggest you do it [if possible] in the late afternoon for best color.

If there is a town that seems to typify the essence of Germany, it’s old Heidelberg. This gem is home to Germany’s first University [1386] as well as one of the coolest castles in Europe. Heidelberg Castle perches above the town and is a must see on your list of places to visit. Heidelberg’s Old Town district provides a delightful area to stroll along its many tree-lined pedestrian-only streets where you can stop and enjoy a perfectly chilled Franconian wine or local beer in one of the many local cafes [By the way, have we mentioned that your river cruise price includes complimentary fine regional wines and beers?].

As the cruise continues to meander through the fabled Rhine River Valley, you’ll catch a view of ancient Roman ruins just before entering the 14th century town of Cochem. During a stroll through its castle and Old Town area, one of the most photographed in all Europe, Cochem history will seem to come back to life. While there are not a significant number of “known” sights, it’s the combination of ambience, ruins, castles and panache that makes Cochem one of our personal favorites.

Trier and Bernkastle.
another UNESCO site, Trier probably has more Roman ruins than any place in Western Europe including a very much intact, Roman bath. If you’re a German wine lover, look no further than spending time in Bernkastle, steeped in almost 500 years of winemaking history and guaranteed to provide a wealth of knowledge and great tastings.

Dating back to the Roman era and we feel Rudesheim is the most charming of the Rhine River towns and one of our personal favorites. If you enjoy shopping, you’ve got to visit Drosselgasse. This divine narrow alley houses some incredible wine taverns and intriguing local shops. And, do make sure your camera is available for some remarkable photo ops during your exploration.

We would be remiss if we forgot the historic old town of Koblenz where the Rhine and Moselle actually meet (you can visit the exact spot which provides an exceptional photo op). Koblenz personifies the essence of a medieval cobble-stoned town with romantic narrow streets and unusual squares dating back to the 12th century. Around every corner there appears to be another marvelous church, alleyway or amazing fountain. Its Old Quarter is like a maze and reminds me very much of walking through the interior of Venice, except Koblenz is much more ancient. If time permits, there’s also an aerial tram that crosses the Rhine. You can ride it to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress which has been perched high atop the hill since about 1000 BC.

Cologne (Köln).
Last, but certainly not least, is Cologne. While for the most part a very cosmopolitan city today, it contains probably the most well-known and visited Cathedral in Western Europe. The Cologne Cathedral is without a doubt the city’s most impressive landmark. It took 632 years to build and amazingly, it even survived intense bombing during WWII.

Germany's spectacular Holiday Markets.
River cruising in Germany can be enjoyed at any time of the cruising season as the weather is moderate throughout the late spring, summer and fall. For those seeking a celebration of the holiday season, do spend some time learning about Holiday Markets’ cruises that occur from mid-November through early December. If you’re looking for a thrilling journey back to a time and place where most of our holiday traditions originated, you’ll simply love a Holiday Markets cruise. READ MORE about Holiday Markets.

We didn’t really have room here to delve into the delightful aspects of a Main or Elbe river cruises but they, too, are simply fantastic journeys and a “10” on the experience scale as well. We recommend that you learn more about these two German rivers and all that they can offer.

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