The Rhine may start in Switzerland and empty into the North Sea in the Netherlands, but for much of it’s length it’s a German river and one that’s far more meaningful to that nation than just the sum of its parts. Several national legends are rooted here and have helped make the river quintessentially German in the national psyche. And of all the Rhine no part is more mythologized than the Rhine Gorge – a UNESCO World Heritage region that’s also dubbed “the Romantic Rhine” – which connects the attractive cities of Mainz and Koblenz in state of Rhineland-Palatinate, through a wonderful landscape of cliffs, vines, half-timbered towns and ruined castles.
Frankfurt is the nearest hub for the region, but the obvious place to start (or finish) a tour is the nearby attractive and historic state capital Mainz, a place second only to Cologne for boisterous Carnival celebrations. Its longstanding ecclesiastical power furnished it with a grand cathedral as a key site, but of far greater importance was the work of one Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press in the 16th century and is now remembered here in an excellent museum.
The 80km-long Rhine Gorge itself beings about 30km west of Mainz and is pretty unique for being equally easy to tour by car, bike, train or boat, with the last perhaps the most relaxing and best (you can take bikes on boats too). In following the river any itinerary here almost writes itself: certainly two spots not to miss are the Lorelei, a rock in the river where, according to legend, a maiden lured sailors to their death with her magical singing; and Boppard a pleasant little town with lovely scenic chairlift and a number of good hiking trails. Any number of romantic castles will also tempt you in for tours; as will dozens of wine bars who ply their trade in historic taverns below both them and the many acres of vineyards that carpet the landscape in these parts.
At the end of the most attractive stretch of the Rhine lies Koblenz, another good place for a wander with a nice pedestrianised old town and am impressive citadel overlooking it from the Rhine’s north bank. The river is also joined by the Mosel here, which upstream is dotted by more pretty towns, castles and vineyards and is arguably even more picturesque since the scale is far smaller. The most attractive stretch of the Mosel Valley ends near the Luxembourg border and Trier, a city which preserves northern Europe’s most impressive collection of Roman buildings, including amphitheaters, baths and and city gates.
We will start to add Rhine and Mosel itineraries and attractions shortly, so why not drop us a line now to tell us what you’d like to see covered?