mhe Rhine is a gorgeous river that flows from the Swiss Alps to the Netherlands, making it second only to the Danube in length. There are a lot of excellent cruises to be had along the Rhine, long and short. You can book a cruise that will last for days and see a lot of Europe, because many important townships developed along the banks of the river, which was one of the best ways of transporting goods and people.
I didn’t have the chance to do a whole cruise, but I did have a taste of it. I got on the cruise ship at Bonn and went on to Linz, a quaint little town that you should definitely visit if you’re going on a Rhine cruise.
This can quite easily be done as a day trip. I went by river to Linz from the Bonn, though a lot of people recommend going to Linz by train and coming back along the Rhine since you save more time that way. But I don’t understand that: why do you want to save time when what you want to do is have an excellent relaxing cruise, wave to people on other ships and watch the lovely landscape glide by?
For day cruises like this, you don’t need to book tickets in advance. You can check the schedule online, go to the dock and buy a ticket. I’d recommend sitting on the top deck because the morning sun is delightful, and the views are so much better – swans paddling around, lots of other cruises, people having picnics along the banks of the river, lots of castles. Most cruises have food and drinks available on the bottom deck, so you can grab a few snacks and go on up. But I didn’t do that because I had something to look forward to in Linz: their wine festival!
Since the Rhine was so important back when the waterway was the main form of transportation of everything, you’ll see lots of castles and fortifications along the banks of the Rhine. Some of them are still in good repair, many are in ruins. The landscape itself is gorgeous, with everything beginning to glow in autumn colours when I was there. It must be lovely in the spring, too. There are also a lot of vineyards, making for some excellent views.
Once I got to Linz, I saw why so many people recommended the little town. It’s so old-world, with its cobbled streets and picturesque houses with their window boxes. They really amp up that feel during their wine festival, with ladies dressed up as wine princesses, going about horse-drawn carriages and happily posing for pictures with tourists. Sitting out in the open, sipping on young, sweet wine and watching horses trot along, bands getting ready to play and little kids all dressed up and getting into the fun – it’s a lovely way to spend a few hours on a Saturday. If you’ve got a little extra time, go up to Burg Ockenfels, a hilltop castle with an interesting history. The new and old buildings of the castle, which was once ruined, have been integrated very well and it fits into the charm of this riverside town.
I’ve been told that while I had a really nice cruise, the best part of the Rhine cruise around Koblenz and Mainz. I couldn’t make it there, but if you have the time when you go, don’t miss it. I regret not taking the extra time and going onwards now!
Pic credits: Tambako The Jaguar: Rhine in Basel I; Roger Duisburg - Industry on Rhine River, 1960; Roger Rhine river cruise ship; Barbara Ann Spengler: Rhine in October 1985; Roger Rhine - Ruine Ehrenfels; Roger – Niederheimbach; onnola – Linz am Rhein; Burg Ockenfels via; and assorted companions who sent me photos, since I was an idiot and forgot my camera that day.