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The best towns and cities along the Rhine River

13 May 2024


Germany's fourth-largest city, Cologne, is a treasure trove of history and modernity. Your eyes are immediately drawn to its awe-inspiring Cathedral (Kölner Dom), a UNESCO World Heritage site that took over 600 years to complete. Its intricate Gothic architecture is mesmerising and, if you're feeling adventurous, you can climb the 533 steps to the top for panoramic views of the city.

Cologne's old town, with its charming cobblestone streets, is a mix of cosy cafes, vibrant breweries, and traditional German restaurants. It's the perfect chance to try local delicacies like sauerbraten and kölsch beer.


The enchanting town of Königswinter sits against the backdrop of the Siebengebirge mountain range, a landscape straight out of a fairytale. The star attraction here is Schloss Drachenburg, a stunning 19th-century castle that inspired the setting for Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

You can reach the castle on the Drachenfelsbahn cog railway which showcases wonderful views across the Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany as it rises into the enchanting forests.


Where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet, you'll find the city of Koblenz. Wandering to Deutsches Eck is a must while here with its huge statue of Emperor William I and inspiring vistas which include the mighty Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. It's a fitting symbol of unity and a great place for a photo op.

In the historic old town, you can admire well-preserved architecture and stop by quaint shops. The cable car ride across the river to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is great for panoramic views and a glimpse into the region's military history.


Sailing further along the Rhine, you come to Rüdesheim, a charming town renowned for its vineyards and wineries. The narrow streets of the Drosselgasse are lined with wine taverns and boutiques, making it an ideal place to sample the local Rieslings and enjoy live music.

For a unique experience, take a ride on the Niederwalddenkmal cable car to the Niederwald Monument, where you can witness stunning views of the vineyards and the river valley below.


A town draped in history, Speyer, is an example of traditional Germany. The Speyer Cathedral, another UNESCO World Heritage site, is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Its stunning interior, along with the crypt where emperors are buried, is a real highlight.

Explore the charming streets and visit the Technik Museum Speyer, which houses an impressive collection of vintage aircraft, cars, and space exhibits. Speyer's relaxed atmosphere is perfect to unwind and soak up rich German heritage.


Often hailed as one of Germany's most romantic cities, Heidelberg, was a favourite with 19th-century poets. The city's crown jewel is Heidelberg Castle, perched majestically on a hill overlooking the old town. Wander through the castle's ruins and enjoy panoramic views of the city and valley below.

Along the pedestrian-friendly Hauptstrasse, you'll find quaint shops, bustling cafes, and the historic Old Bridge (Alte Brücke). Heidelberg's charming ambience has inspired romantic creatives for centuries.


Across the border into France, Strasbourg is a blend of German and French influences, offering a unique cultural experience. The historic district of La Petite France is lovely for a stroll with its half-timbered houses and scenic canals.

Visit Strasbourg Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, and be sure to indulge in the city's renowned culinary scene, which includes dishes like tarte flambée and coq au riesling.


To satisfy your wanderlust and curiosity about these charming towns and cities, check out our Rhine River Cruises.