The 8 Best
Rhine River Experiences
Flowing through six glorious countries—Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany, Lichtenstein and the Netherlands—the illustrious Rhine River tells many tales along its twisting, turning course. It’s a real cultural eye-opener.
On my numerous research trips through the region, I’ve thrown myself into all kinds of pursuits along the Rhine that a discerning traveller such as yourself, dear reader, may find quite divine. It’s crucial that you experience some of the classic fineries along the way, and from my personal experience, here are the best of the best!
When In Germany, Do As the Germans Do: Eat Cake
Top of my list: one must sample cake in the Black Forest. And what else would the treat be, other than the famous Black Forest Cake? Layers of dark spongy chocolate cake interspersed with whipped cream and a rich cherry filling. Occasionally fortified with Kirschwasser. Hello! Guten Tag! If you’ve tasted it outside of the Black Forest, you need to try the real deal in the place of its origin.
All the Wine’s Fine Along The Rhine
The Rhine River valley presents some stupendously fertile lands in which some of the finest grapes and styles of wine are grown.
To wit, two highlights:
When in Breisach, swirl some Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) grown on the volcanic terraces of the Kaiserstuhl around in your glass, then say Noch ein Glass, bitte.
A further way down the river in Koblenz, a city with as many historical layers as a Black Forest cake has cherries, nip at a chilled glass of Riesling from the nearby Moselle Valley. (Do you even need an excuse? There’s no reason here not to sip on a Riesling).
Explore The Rhine By Boat
Is there a more famous waterway on our planet than the River Rhine? Explore this millennia-old trade route connecting (or dividing) six countries and a diadem of stately cities; towering castles; terraced wine regions; the focal point of history-altering battles and invasions; and the inspiration for epic music on the Rhine River Cruise Biking trip.DETAILED ITINERARY
Shop ‘Til You Drop in Strasbourg
Strasbourg is for shoppers. Elegant French souvenirs, artisanal soap, chocolate & jewelry, tucked-away book-binding workshops, Laguiole knives in all shapes and sizes, vintage and designer boutiques, Les Galeries Lafayette, teas from around the world and fromage. Otherwise pick a café terrace, say ‘Une pression’, and observe.
Step Into History in Heidelberg
Heidelberg is for history buffs. With Germany’s oldest university, its baroque Old Town untouched by the ravages of the Second World War, some very picturesque castle ruins overlooking town and Germany’s longest pedestrian street; you’ll wish you’d cycled quicker and gotten here sooner.
Indulge in the Middle Rhine
In the glorious stretch of the Middle Rhine, there’s a castle every mile between Rüdesheim and Koblenz. It’s no surprise that the Rhine Gorge became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. Listen carefully to the whispering of the famous Lorelei sirens. Then stop for a Flammenkuchen (imagine a pizza with an extremely thin crust and topped in crème fraiche, onions and lardons) and if you are bold, listen to Richard Wagner’s Twilight of the Gods; whose Norse heroes, before you, rode their bicycles (Editor’s note: The Norse gods had bikes?) along this very stretch of the Rhine.
Colossal Cologne is an All-Day Affair
Spend five glorious hours in Cologne, the largest city on the Rhine with about one million inhabitants. (Fun fact: yes, the generic term ‘cologne’, a.k.a. perfume, derives from the city’s famous citrus-scented Eau de Cologne 4711, which made its consumer debut here in 1709). View the city from its riverside bike paths, marvel at its Gothic Cathedral, perform a record-worthy peruse of the Ludwig Museum’s excellent book shop, wish there were time for a glass of local Kölsch, then return hastily to our ship before it leaves for Amsterdam.
Not spending at least 36 hours in Amsterdam is a sin worse than any the city has witnessed in its long and very colourful history. A biker’s delight, the capital city and its iconic canals and waterways are ripe for exploration. Here are a few of my (and my B&R colleagues’) favourite things to see and do.