In such beautiful landscapes so rich in culture and history, it is easy to lose focus on which sites to see given an allotted amount of time so here are 16 sights you will not want to miss while traveling along the Rhine, Moselle, and Main Rivers.
Located at the apex where Switzerland, France, and Germany meet, Basel, Switzerland is the first point of contact on the navigable portion of the Rhine River. With world-famous choirs, museums, and theaters, Basel is one of the most important cultural centers in Central Europe.
Continuing along the waterway on the French-German border, Breisach is nestled at the foot of Kaisertuhl Mountain and is the gateway to Germany’s Black Forest region. The fairytale castles and countryside of the region are as delightful to the eyes as the Black Forest cherry cake is to the taste.
Another mesmerizing border town, Strasbourg, France, is influenced by the culture of both Germany and France. It’s also the capital of the Alsace region known for its delectable wines. Admire the cobblestone streets, medieval architecture and winding canals of La Petite France in the heart of Strasbourg’s Old Town.
Farther along the River Rhine sits Speyer, Germany, an old imperial city boasting a Romanesque cathedral with six imposing towers and the finest and largest crypt in Germany. Four Holy Roman Emperors and four German Kings are buried in the impressive Royal Vault.
Mainz, Germany is situated on the left bank of the Rhine, opposite the mouth of the Main River. The Old Town has many interesting shops, tea rooms, and restaurants, and a fountain on the Schillerplatz is decorated with scenes of the famous carnival held here every year. Johannes Gutenberg, the father of modern printing, was born here, so it’s fitting that a visit here would leave and indelible impression.
The pretty little town of Rüdesheim is the perfect example of a Rhine Valley wine town. Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum with its collection of self-playing instruments is the quirky highlight of the quaint riverside village.
One of the first outposts on the Moselle River is Metz, France. Here, the Palais du Gouverneur has a colorful, Disneyesque flair and is a fitting welcome to the fairytale land.
The river continues on to Remich in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a quaint town nestled among rolling, vineyard covered hills.
As the river winds its way into Germany, it reaches a venerable Episcopal city, Trier. It it the oldest settlement in Germany and, some claim, even older than Rome. The famous Porta Nigra is the only surviving fortified gate from the original Roman city and it still gives access to the town center.
In the middle of the Moselle region is the charming wine village of Bernkastel with its well-preserved half-timbered houses surrounding the beautiful Marketplace. Wine growers in this area look after Germany’s largest expanse of vineyards, the most celebrated of the vintages being the Bernkasteler Doktor.
Continue on to peaceful Zell with its turreted buildings and famous Black Cat wine. Vineyard-covered hills line the shores from Zell to Cochem. Reichsburg Castle is a highlight here, as it sits atop a conical hill overlooking the town of Cochem nestled below.
- Main-Danube Canal
It’s no wonder that a canal that connects to the Blue Danube and, eventually, the Black Sea would be surrounded by colorful cultures and landscapes. The Main-Danube Canal passes through intriguing locks and dozens of charming villages.
One of the shoreline cities along the canal is Nuremberg. Famous internationally for the postwar Nuremberg Trials, travelers here can experience the softer side of the town, with traditional gingerbread goodies, tasty sausages and handmade toys.
Leaving the canal, the first stop on the Main River is medieval Bamberg, a breathtaking town that was chosen in its entirety as a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site. Discover the city’s grand cathedral, the Old Town Hall straddling the River Regnitz, and serpentine streets lined with charming houses and 18th-century mansions.
Known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” Würzberg is surrounded by sloping hills covered with vineyards. The magnificent Bishop’s Residenz is a classic example of Baroque architecture and was dubbed the “nicest parsonage in Europe” by Napoleon.
Journeying on toward the Rhine, delight in Wertheim, whose overlapping half-timbered houses are grouped along winding streets. Glassblowers have a long tradition in this town and, especially in winter time, they produce decorations that hang on Christmas trees all over the world.
- For more information on exploring these rivers in person with Avalon Waterways click here.For more information on a Rhine-Moselle-Main River Cruise or other great Avalon Waterways vacations, contact your local Boscov’s Travel Specialist, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-755-8020.