The Rhine River is one of the longest European rivers (more than 1200 Km!) and it flows through six countries: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and The Netherlands. It rises in the Alps and flows through many famous cities and beautiful natural landscapes before meeting the North Sea. Its name comes from a Celtic word meaning “raging flows”, and every country has its own legends and anecdotes about it, since it was always an important part of local life, either for trade, communication, travel, or war.
If you’d like to plan an itinerary touching more than one Country, just follow the Rhine River and visit these unmissable cities on its banks.
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10 Cities to Visit Along the Rhine River
Rhine River Cities in Switzerland
A modern city located in Northern Switzerland which is famous for having the highest number of museums in the whole Country. It is also home to the oldest Swiss university, and it is rich in cultural events and entertainment.
What to do:
- Visit the Cathedral: this majestic Gothic cathedral with its colorful roof tiles is the main landmark of Basel. It overlooks a picturesque square with a panoramic terrace offering a great view of the Rhine River below.
- Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Marktplatz: the beating heart of the city is this square where you’ll immediately notice the brightly colored building housing the local government. A popular market is also held there during weekdays.
- Have a swim in the Rhine River: locals love to swim in summer, and you’ll be amazed by the river’s clean water.
- Visit the Kunstmuseum: the oldest art museum in Switzerland was established in 1671. It houses more than 4000 works of art among paintings and sculptures and over 300.000 sketches and prints dating from the Middle Ages to today.
Rhine River Cities in Liechtenstein
The capital of this tiny ψountry squeezed between Austria and Switzerland is rather small in comparison with the other European capitals: with a surface of 17 square kilometers, it is often neglected by international visitors, but it’s worth a weekend of sightseeing. It’s also a great base to go hiking in the Alps!
What to do:
- Visit the Cathedral: St. Florin Cathedral is a beautiful Gothic church built at the end of the XIX century. Its highlight is its slender tower with a clock on each side.
- Admire the sculptures in the main square: other than for the Parliament building, it’s worth a stop for its many modern and abstract sculptures.
- Enjoy a stroll in Das Städtle: the main street of Vaduz is the perfect place to enjoy some shopping!
- Cross the border on the Alte Rheinbrucke: Switzerland and Liechtenstein are only separated by this ancient wooden bridge!
Rhine River Cities in Germany
Mainz is located right at the confluence of the Rhine River with the Main River, and it’s the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate Land. It was once the main German ecclesiastical center, and it’s still home to a prestigious university. Wine lovers will also love to visit this city which is surrounded by a famous wine-growing area!
What to do:
- Taste some local specialties at the market held in Marktplatz: it’s one of the oldest and richest German markets.
- Visit the Cathedral: St. Martin’s Cathedral was built in the X century in Romanesque style, and it was the setting of many coronation ceremonies throughout the centuries.
- Visit the Gutemberg museum: the most famous local citizen was Gutemberg, who first introduced printing to Europe in the XV century.
- Attend local Carnival: one of the most famous Carnival celebrations in Germany takes place in Mainz. Among the many local events and parties, the weirdest one is the Altweiberfastnacht, when women go around the city literally cutting men’s ties with a pair of scissors!
An elegant spa town located on the right bank of the Rhine River, only a bunch of kilometers away from Mainz and Frankfurt. It’s often off the radar of international visitors, but its noble and refined atmosphere makes it a popular location for German weddings.
What to do:
- Take the Nerobergbahn Funicular: reach the top of the Neroberg and enjoy the view! The iconic yellow cabins are powered by water and they’re 100% ecofriendly.
- Relax at the Kurpark: Wiesbaden is definitely a green city, and this beautiful English park is perfect for a stopover in nature.
- Pretend to be a nobleman or a noblewoman at the Kurhaus: this elegant mansion is home to several cultural events and concerts and it also houses a casinò. Once inside, you’ll step back in time to experience some authentic Belle Epoque atmosphere. Take a look at the event calendar at Das Kurhaus Wiesbaden | Das Kurhaus Wiesbaden
- Spend a few hours at the spa at the Kaiser Friedrich Therme: while visiting Wiesbaden, you can’t miss a stop at the spa.Just be prepared: being naked is mandatory there!
Koblenz is located at the confluence of the Rhine River with the Mosel River, and it’s an ancient city whose foundation dates back to the IX century BC. The city reached its peak during the Middle Ages when it was home to the powerful archbishops of Trier.
What to do:
- Reach the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress: you can get there by cable car and the panoramic terrace overlooking the confluence of the two rivers is really worth the trip! Inside the fortress, an interesting museum will teach you something about local military history.
- Visit St. Kastor’s Basilica: the oldest church in Koblenz is located in the picturesque Old Town and its twin towers make it easy to spot among all the other buildings!
- Attend the local summer event named “Rhine in Flames”: on 5 summer weekends, a great firework display lights up the night in Koblenz
- Enjoy a Rhine Cruise: being located at the confluence of two rivers, Koblenz offers a wide range of river cruises. Save an entire day to enjoy a trip to one of the cities nearby, to watch the vineyards and the natural beauties on the river banks or to reach the famous Loreley Rock.
You might like: The most beautiful Rhine river castles to visit.
A historical city overlooking the Rhine River and one of the most popular German tourist destinations. In Cologne, old and new come together to meet the needs of any kind of traveler. This vibrant city offers anything from historical monuments, beautiful churches, and interesting museums to cultural events, entertainment, shopping, and local beer, of course!
What to do:
- Visit the Cathedral: this Gothic masterpiece at the heart of the picturesque Old Town will amaze you with its richly decorated façade and with its slender twin towers. Inside, don’t miss its stained-glasses and its impressive organ.
- Enjoy the view from the top of the Köln Triangle: a super modern tower built in 2006 and featuring an observation deck at the 28th floor.
- Taste some Kölsch: local beer is an institution in Germany, and you can taste the special beer produced in Cologne in one of the countless picturesque bars of the Old Town. You can also take a themed tour to visit an authentic brewhouse (ex: Cologne: Kölsch Beer Brewhouse Tour)
- Learn more about the famous Eau de Cologne: the local Fragrance Museum will introduce you to this famous kind of perfume that was created in Cologne by an Italian perfumer in the XVIII century.
You might like: How to spend one day in Cologne.
The German capital of fashion, football, and electronic music. It’s definitely a modern city, suitable for young people and for travelers loving to discover the latest trends in advance.
What to do:
- Enjoy a stroll in Burgplatz: squeezed between the Rhine River and the Old Town, this nice and large cobbled square is the perfect place to enjoy an evening stroll. The staircase leading to the river bank is one of the best spots to watch the sunset in Düsseldorf!
- Go shopping in Königsallee: glamorous and trendy, it features all the main international brands. It’s also a scenic promenade on the banks of a lovely canal.
- Relax in Nordpark: even a modern city like Düsseldorf has its own green lung! The geometric style of its flowerbeds, the austere and plain basins and the many modern sculptures don’t affect the relaxing atmosphere of this popular urban park.
- Enjoy the view from the top of the Rheinturm: the tv tower is 168m high, and its observation deck is really impressive!
You might like: How to spend one day in Dusseldorf.
Rhine River Cities in France
This picturesque medieval city located in Northern France is worldwide famous for being home to the European Parliament. The capital of the Alsace Region is so close to the German border that it offers its visitors a unique mix of cultures, architectural features, food, and traditions making it one of a kind.
What to do:
- Get lost in the Petite France: this lovely neighborhood is crossed by several canals making it look like a smaller version of Venice. Take plenty of pictures of its medieval buildings and its picturesque bridges!
- Visit the Cathedral: Notre Dame of Strasbourg is a Gothic masterpiece dating back to the XV century. Spend a moment to take in all the details of its richly decorated façade and admire its 142m high spire.
- Have a walk in the Orangerie Park: if you’re travelling with kids, make sure to stop at the zoo, the mini farm and the fair!
- Enjoy a bike tour: Strasbourg can be fully explored by bike and a guided tour is the best way to visit all its main neighborhoods in just a couple of hours (Ex: Strasbourg City Center Guided Bike Tour with a Local)
Check out: Things to do in Strasbourg.
Rhine River Cities in The Netherlands
Often overshadowed by its famous neighbor named Amsterdam, this quiet and welcoming city is the ideal destination for travelers wanting to explore a location out of the beaten path and for people equally interested in nature and culture.
What to do:
- Have a stroll along the canals: just like Amsterdam, Utrecht is crisscrossed by many canals offering endless walks and a lovely scenery at any time of the day. Admire the beautiful and elegant buildings on their banks and stop for a drink along the main canal named Ouderacht,
- Climb to the top of the Domtoren: the tower of the Cathedral is 112m high, and it houses the largest carillon in Europe!
- Spend an unusual night out exploring the Trajectum Lumen: that’s a special walk letting you discover the light installations offered to the city by some international artists and lighting up streets, alleyways, monuments and bridges. Just grab the map at the tourist office and start exploring the night side of the city!
- Listen to some music at the Speelklok Museum: it’s a museum entirely dedicated to mechanical music. Once inside, you’ll be able to listen to the melodies created by a wide range of mechanical devices, from carillon, to musical boxes, to musical clocks.
Check out: Things to do in Utrecht.
Futuristic skyscrapers, a modern and busy harbor, some luxury shopping, and a bubbling nightlife: that’s Rotterdam, a perfect destination for young people! Art and architecture lovers will also be fascinated by this city which is one of the most trendsetting European destinations as regards urban design and planning.
What to do:
- Enjoy some modern and contemporary art at the Kunsthal: it’s a futuristic museum built in 1992 using some innovative techniques and materials.
- Observe the famous cubic houses: they’re local name is Kubuswoningen, and they were built in the 70s. This weird residential complex in the shape of a series of elevated cubes with a 45-degree inclination was designed by Piet Blom to save some space on the ground level while accommodating as many people as possible! Each house represents a tree and the whole complex represents a forest.
- Enjoy some shopping in Lijbaan: this famous shopping street offers the main international brands for all tastes and budgets, as well as many restaurants and cafes.
- Take a boat tour of the harbor: it’s one of the main and busiest European harbors, so you cannot miss a tour! (Ex: Rotterdam: 2-Hour Harbor Cruise)