There is so much to celebrate about the Rhine, from the fascinating cities and towns through which it passes, to the beautiful landscape that it has carved its way through over time.
The Rhine Valley is a feature of so many Great Rail Journeys tours, as we take the scenic route through this spectacular region by rail on our way to southern Germany, Austria and Italy.
Hilltop castles, sprawling vineyards and picturesque villages line the Rhine Gorge and can best appreciated from the comfort of a gentle river cruise. The famous Lorelei Rock is a major feature of any journey through the Rhine Valley and there is nowhere to get a better view of it than from the river itself. This UNESCO-protected part of the Rhine is the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea - the Lorelei itself is a tall, imposing rocky outcrop around which the river flows. According to legend, Lorelei was a mermaid who lured unwary fishermen to their deaths by singing the most beautiful song they had ever heard.
To add to the spectacle of this beautiful river are some of Northern Europe's most attractive towns and cities. None more so than Cologne - a long-time favourite with Great Rail Journeys customers. The city is an ideal stop-over destination; it is an important and busy railway junction, has an excellent choice of hotels located close to the railway station and has an array of charms that can be easily appreciated in just a short time. A quick walk around the cathedral, a stroll through the Old Town and perhaps a traditional "Kölsch" beer in a local brauhaus, and you will have had a brief but fascinating snap-shot of the city. Of course, when you arrive by river on the Premium Rhine Cruise, our included walking tour will point out the very best sights and monuments, explore the Old Town in detail and give you time to enter and explore the vast and imposing Gothic Cathedral.
In fact, the Premium Rhine Cruise, with its included program of shore excursions, offers no better way to explore the towns and cities of the Rhine. In Amsterdam we experience the city on foot and by canal boat, exploring the charming streets and fascinating waterways.
A canal cruise is also a feature of the included tour of Strasbourg - capital of Alsace. The city has changed hands several times over the course of history; the walking tour and canal cruise are the perfect way to see the German and French influences in the half-timbered houses and quaint streets. We visit the spectacular Notre Dame Cathedral, which towers over the Old Town and is home to Strasbourg's famous astronomical clock, and explore the Grand Ile that was the ancient heart of the city.
Picturesque wine towns
As well as the big cities, the smaller wine towns that feature on the Premium Rhine Cruise tour are a true reflection of the charm of the Rhine. Rüdesheim, located in the heart of the Rhine Valley at the southern entrance to the Lorelei valley, is home to the world-renowned Drosselgasse - a street lined with traditional pubs and wine cellars - and is one of the area's most popular wine towns. Half-timbered medieval houses narrow streets and old inns give the town a flavour of the Middle Ages. Koblenz, just a short distance away, is equally charming, with an abundance of historic buildings and cultural monuments, including a number of whimsical statues that are located throughout the town.
See it all on our Premium Rhine Cruise
It would be very hard to pick the top destination on the Rhine. So many charming towns and cities compete for that title, each offering a host of reasons to be chosen. Fortunately, on the Premium Rhine Cruise, floating along the river in style and comfort on board the superb river cruise vessel, it is a choice that you do not have to make. You can visit them all between indulgent fine dining experiences and relaxing time spent on the observation deck.
View our Premium Rhine Cruise