The Rhine is one of Europe’s most iconic rivers, flowing northbound from Graubünden in the Swiss Alps, through Germany and the Netherlands, and finally ending at the North Sea. Here are four unmissable German ports along the romantic Rhine, each with its own history and charm that we’re sure you’ll love. 


Mainz market
Photo credit: Todd Gardner on Unsplash

With half-timbered houses and medieval market squares, Mainz is like stepping back in time. Shop with the locals at the thrice-weekly markets near the Mainz Cathedral for fresh produce, flowers and treats; visit the Gutenberg Museum that pays homage to Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press; and sip on a locally-made sparkling wine while watching people go about their daily life.  


Photo credit: Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Founded in 38 BC, Cologne is best known for its twelve Romanesque churches – in particular, the famous Cologne Cathedral which took over 600 years to build! It now stands as the second tallest church in Germany, and the third highest in the world, at 157 metres tall. You can climb 533 steps up a spiral staircase to reach a viewing platform, giving you magnificent views of the Rhine and beyond. Churches aside, Cologne is also home to its own beer (Kölsch), a museum dedicated solely to chocolate, and a charming Old Town. 


Photo credit: Mateo Krossler on Unsplash

Heidelberg’s university is Germany’s oldest, having celebrated its 635th anniversary in 2020! Due to its prestigious nature, the city is very much a university-city with 1 in every 5 residents a student. Having avoided being destroyed by air raids in World War II, Heidelberg is still home to some original buildings that date back to the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance era. Complete with its iconic Castle, this historical city is a traveller’s dream.  


Photo credit: Julia Solonina on Unsplash

Situated across both the Rhine and Moselle rivers, this German city’s name hails from the Latin word for ‘confluence’. You won’t be short on activities that take your fancy in Koblenz. Take the cable car up to the Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein for breathtaking views over the city and rivers. Hot tip: car 17 has a glass panelled bottom which adds extra thrill to your journey! Tempt your tastebuds at the Weinhaus Hubertus – one of Koblenz’s oldest half-timbered buildings first built in 1689. And while exploring the city you may spot some silly statues and fountains…keep an eye out for the augenroller (eye roller) on the town clock in Saint Florin’s market which actually rolls its eyes every half hour! 

Thinking of cruising with us? Take a look at our full range of Rhine river cruises for your Avalon Waterways dream holiday. 


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