Things to do in Rhine River

Things to do in  Rhine River

Germany’s waterway to the world

One of Europe’s great waterways, the Rhine River runs all the way from the Alpine mountain ranges of Switzerland to its vast delta on the North Sea. Forming a natural border between Germanic peoples and external influences since Roman times, the river has been an important symbol of German nationalism through history, spawning its own version of romanticism and even forming the basis for Richard Wagner's first opera, “Das Rheingold.” Of the cities it runs through, Cologne is the biggest, with more than a million inhabitants—and it boasts many attractions, among them river cruises that allow visitors to enjoy the views of the city while cruising the calm waters. Select tours from Frankfurt highlight a section of the Rhine Valley that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, punctuated by villages, vineyards, and castles. Downstream from Mainz in the Upper Rhine, you’ll spot naturally occurring river islands. In the Middle Rhine, Koblenz unites the joining of the Moselle River with a gorge that’s part of that UNESCO site; while a little futher down, the magnificent Burg Katz towers over the legendary Lorelei rock. The famed wines of the region are nowhere better than in Boppard, where the sweet eiswein (or icewine) is a local delicacy and can be tasted on a tour. For your best chance of seeing the Rhine in all of its splendor, book a tour or cruise, and ensure easy sailing through the Rhine.

Top 15 attractions in Rhine River

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

With its imposing Gothic façade and dramatic twin towers, the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the city’s most recognized landmark. Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificent cathedral is one of the most important in Germany and dominates the city skyline.More

Cologne Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum)

Opened by local chocolatier Hans Imhoff in 1993, theCologne Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum) is devoted to Cologne’s chocolate-making history. This fun family attractions lets visitors peek behind the scenes of a working chocolate factory, learn about the farming of cacao beans, and sample delicious Lindt chocolate.More

Dusseldorf Old Town (Altstadt)

Dusseldorf blends historic appeal with avante-garde energy—and nowhere captures that spirit better than the city’s Old Town (Altstadt. Located on the Rhine, the small but perfectly formed district boasts remarkably preserved, medieval architecture. Owing to its many pubs and restaurants, it’s also known as “the longest bar in the world.”More

King's Alley (Konigsallee)

With its rows of designer boutiques and luxury department stores bordering a serene tree-lined canal, King's Alley (Konigsallee) is surely one of Germany’s prettiest boulevards, as well as being Dusseldorf’s busiest shopping street. First laid out back in 1802, Konigsallee was originally named Kastanienallee (Chestnut Avenue), but was renamed in honor of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in 1848, as an apology for the notorious incident in which Dusseldorfers bombarded his carriage with horse manure.Today, the famous shopping street is best known by its nickname ‘Kö’ and is a popular hangout for both locals and tourists, offering a huge range of shops, restaurants and cafes to suit all tastes. Along with an impressive number of flagship designer outlets and jewelry boutiques, the Kö is home to the Sevens mall, the Kaufhof Kö department store and a number of 5-star hotels, while many shoppers can be found escaping the crowds for a stroll beneath the chestnut trees or a coffee break on the banks of the canal.More

Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke)

The best-known of Cologne’s seven bridges, the Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke crosses the famed Rhine River. First debuted in 1911 and later reconstructed following the devastation of World War II, the Hohenzollern Bridge is located near the Cologne Cathedral, and is today celebrated as a romantic destination.More

Rhine Tower (Rheinturm)

Towering 234 meters over the modern Media Harbor, the futuristic Rhine Tower (Rheinturm) telecommunications tower is Dusseldorf’s tallest building and most distinctive landmark. Built in 1982, the tower quickly became one of the city’s top tourist attractions, with its 172-meter high observation platform offering dramatic panoramic views along the Rhine riverfront, the nearby Old Town (Altstadt) and the sea of high-rises that form Dusseldorf’s commercial district.High-speed elevators take visitors to the top of the tower, where there is also a glass-fronted revolving restaurant, but the views are equally mesmerizing from the outside, with the illuminated tower also serving as the world’s largest digital clock.More

Media Harbor (MedienHafen)

Dusseldorf’s historic harbor was given an impressive facelift during the 1990s, transforming the bleak silos and shipping warehouses, into a lively cultural hub and one of the city’s most stylish districts. Taking its name from the abundance of media and communications company headquarters that sprung up in the area, the new Media Harbor (MedienHafen) is characterized by its ultra-modern architecture, and the glass-fronted office blocks, looming Rheinturm TV Tower and wave-inspired Gehry buildings form a sleek silhouette along the waterfront.As well as being the postcard image of modern-day Dusseldorf, the Media Harbor is also home to a selection of upmarket restaurants, bistros and bars and offers a glamorous setting for the city’s most exclusive nightclubs.More

Rhine River Promenade (Rheinuferpromenade)

With its two-tier walkways tracing the scenic Rhine waterfront and dotted with benches, grassy picnic areas and food vendors, walking the Rhine River Promenade (Rheinuferpromenade) not only offers a tranquil retreat from the busy city center, but it also links many of Dusseldorf’s top attractions.Start your walk beneath the Burgplatz castle tower, then follow the riverside paths through Dusseldorf Old Town, passing the Old Harbor (Alter Hafen); the Marketplatz, home to the historic City Hall (Rathaus) and the City Museum (Stadt Museum), before reaching the grassy Rheinpark, where you can look out over the striking waterfront of the nearby Media Harbor. As well as being popular with joggers, cyclists and roller-bladers, the promenade also hosts a number of seasonal events, including an open-air cinema, exhibitions and markets.More

Benrath Palace (Schloss Benrath)

With its fanciful pink façade and landscaped gardens stretching all the way to the banks of the Rhine, Benrath Palace (Schloss Benrath) is one of the region’s most attractive baroque palaces and makes a popular side-trip from nearby Dusseldorf. Built in 1755 for Elector Palatine Carl Theodor, the grand palace looks out over a glittering lake and backs up onto more than 14 acres of parks and gardens, dotted with pretty water features, herb and flower gardens and an orangery.Today, the palace is open to the public and home to a collection of three museums—the Palace Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Museum for European Garden Art—and also hosts concerts, weddings and theater performances in its halls.More

St. Lambertus Cathedral

Among the most iconic landmarks of Dusseldorf’s picturesque Alstadt (Old Town), St. Lambertus Cathedral is famous for its distinctive twisted tower. Originally built in the 14th century, the church tower was rebuilt after a fire in 1815 and the use of wet arbors caused it to twist. Legend however, tells a different story – a bride dressed in white came to the altar pretending to be a virgin, and the tower turned, allegedly to only return to its previous form when a real virgin appears at the altar.Today the medieval church is among Dusseldorf’s oldest buildings, with highlights including the bronze-coated door by Ewald Mataré, the exquisite Rieger organ and the tomb of Duke Wilhelm V of Jülich-Kleve-Berg.More

Cologne Old Town (Altstadt)

Stretching along the west bank of the Rhine River and presided over by the UNESCO-listed Cologne Cathedral, the Old Town (Altstadt) is both the navigational and historical heart of Cologne. With its colorful old buildings, beautiful Romanesque churches, and scenic riverside promenades, it’s an obvious starting point for any exploration of the city.More

Lorelei Rock (Loreley Rock)

A riverside highlight, Loreley Rock is one of the Rhine’s most storied landmarks. The slate rock soars some 433 feet (132 meters) in the air, and, according to mythology, was once frequented by a beautiful siren who lured sailors to their deaths. Today, the promontory is a popular sightseeing stop.More

Roman-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanische Museum)

Part antiquities collection, part archeological dig, the Roman-Germanic Museum (or Römisch-Germanische Museum) sits atop the last vestiges of the Roman town villa. In the museum's basement is a well-known Dionysus mosaic, undisturbed from its original installation.Remnants of Roman architecture, inscriptions, portraits of Caesar Augustus and his ceramics and more piece together the story of Cologne's development from a Germanic tribal settlement (the Ubii), to the Roman Cologne, to the capital of the Lower Germania.Other highlights of the museum are the 15 meters (50 foot) high sarcophagus of Poblicius, a legionnaire from the first century AD. Like the mosaic and the Roman road outside, this funereal monument was uncovered during excavations in the city. The collection also contains the largest collection of Roman glass, more mosaics and ceramics, as well as the stone, clay and bronze idols specific to various Roman cults.Tours are available, but the museum is fairly easy to negotiate by oneself. Given the wealth of archeological finds in the surrounding area, the Roman-Germanic Museum is one of the most important museums in the world, and is one of the most popular museums in all of Germany.More

North Rhine-Westphalian State Parliament (Landtag)

North Rhine-Westphalia came into being after Germany was restructured following WWII, and with more than 18 million people it is Germany’s most populous state. The state’s parliament building is the first completely new parliament building to be built in the history of the German Federal Republic. The parliament building (Landtag), which opened in 1988, represents the first time a German parliament designed its future home itself.The building was designed to be comparatively modest. At 344 feet wide, 640 feet long, and 70 feet tall, the Landtag building is more noted for its interesting shape than its size. Right angles were consciously avoided. The circular meeting chamber, which holds 300 people, is located in the center of the building. Four rooms for the parliamentary parties form a circle off the chamber, with a lobby that both connects and separates the spaces. A great way to see the interesting architecture of the Landtag is from above. The Rheinturm (Rhein tower) provides sweeping views from its deck, and there are various cafes, bars, and a revolving restaurant there.More

Museum Ludwig

Cologne’s major modern and contemporary art museum, the Museum Ludwig has been a top cultural stop since its opening in 1976. Housed in a striking wave-like building near the Cologne Cathedral, the museum is known for its expansive range of modernist, pop-art, and surrealist pieces, including an enormous Picasso collection.More

Top activities in Rhine River

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

All about Rhine River

When to visit

With its spectacular scenery, vineyards, and castles—the best time to visit the Rhine River area is when the weather is mild and sunny. The spring is a beautiful time to go for a boat trip, stop off at beer gardens, and explore the scenery without the peak season summer crowds. Don’t miss Rhein in Flammen (Rhine in Flames)—a spectacular pyrotechnic festival, which consists of five separate events along the Rhine River between May and September.

Getting around

The best way to admire the beauty of the Rhine River is on a river cruise. A variety of routes showcase different stretches of the Rhine—for example, from Frankfurt to Rudesheim and Lorelei; or from Cologne to Königswinter. To explore the local area on foot—a popular long-distance hiking path is the Rheinsteig Trail. You could also go for a bike ride down the Rhine Cycle Route, or enjoy a scenic train journey from Cologne to Koblenz.

Traveler tips

When visiting the Rhine River area, if you see Halve Hahn on the menu, it translates as “half a chicken”—but don’t be fooled, the dish doesn’t actually contain any chicken. Instead, it’s more of a local “in-joke”, as the dish is actually vegetarian. You can expect a rye bread roll with Gouda cheese, mustard, pickles, and raw onion on the side.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is the Rhine River known for?

When most people think of the Rhine River, they think of the grand castles, vineyards, and picture-perfect towns that line its banks. Beauty aside, the Rhine is also one of Europe’s longest rivers and a trade route used to ship cargo across the continent.

What can you do at the Rhine River?

The standout Rhine River activity is a boat cruise along its most scenic section, Germany’s UNESCO-listed Rhine Gorge (aka the Upper Middle Rhine Valley). If boating isn’t your thing, visit the Palatinate Forest to go hiking or cycling, or sightsee in cities such as Cologne or Mainz.

Which countries does the Rhine River flow through?

The Rhine River flows through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. It is also known by a variety of names (depending on which country you’re in and which language you speak): It’s the Rhein in German, the Rijn in Dutch, and the Rhine in French and English.

Is the Rhine Valley worth visiting?

Yes. If you’re planning a long trip to Europe, the Rhine River and its surrounds are worth including on your itinerary. To get the most out of your time, plan your days and make your bookings in advance; getting around the Rhine’s sights requires some organization if you visit independently.

What is special about the Rhine River?

Used as a shipping route since Roman times, the Rhine is steeped in history. For most visitors though, this history plays second fiddle to the river’s sights. Vineyards, castles, bridges, and palaces stud the meandering riverbanks, and taking a boat down the river offers a special, unique way to see such sights.

What activities can you do on the Rhine River?

The most popular activity is a cruise down the river, and there are vessels to suit most budgets and timelines. The Lower Rhine—roughly the section between Bonn in Germany and the border of the Netherlands—is also a great place to go fishing, rowing, or even water skiing.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the top things to do in Rhine River?
What are the top activities in Rhine River?
What are the top things to do near Rhine River?
Check out things to do near Rhine River: