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Cruising Germany’s great rivers

A big-ship cruise on the Baltic will allow for a stop (or perhaps two) in Germany, but then you have to move on to parts of Scandinavia. If Germany is where your interests lie, then a river cruise is the right choice for a distinct inherently German experience, says Tim Fleming of the River Cruise Line.

The Rhine

The Rhine is a major transport artery, 766 miles long, and its waters sustain lots of boats and wildlife. Grand cities, including Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bonn and even Strasbourg, on the eastern tip of France, hang close to the river. There are also beautiful little riverside settlements along the way, which typify what people mean when they talk about the beauty of rural Germany.

This sense of the rural is accentuated by the numerous vineyards peppered along the Rhine valley. On most cruises, you can stop along the way and visit a vineyard or two, tasting their wines and trying the local food — which is about as authentic a German experience as you can get.

The best bit of the Rhine is undoubtedly the UNESCO-registered section between Koblenz and Rüdesheim, where the steep valley walls are topped with forest and dotted with crag-topping castles and half-timbered towns, each of which has its own river landing.

The Main

The Main isn’t as big as the Rhine, but at 327 miles it is still huge when compared to many other European rivers. Where the Rhine flows from south to north, the Main flows from east to west, through the heart of Germany. And it intersects with the Rhine near Frankfurt, just upstream of the latter’s UNESCO-registered section mentioned above.

Idyllic castles and countryside provide the gorgeous backdrop to a Main river cruise. Most routes pass through Frankfurt, allowing you the opportunity to spend some time in this vibrant city, but also to see it from afar. Its beautiful skyline has earned it the nickname ‘Mainhattan’, as it has some of the most impressively tall and elegant buildings in Europe.

There are also vineyards along the Main, so a comprehensive German wine tour of the Rhine and the Main might be on the cards for the die-hard wine enthusiasts.


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