Europe river cruises such as down the Rhine are increasing in popularity. Credit: Shutterstock

Rhine river cruise guide: Everything you need to know about cruising with Avalon Waterways

Author: Lucy Abbott

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Avalon Waterways offers a plethora of stunning Rhine river cruises, where you can experience a mix of eclectic cities and landscapes all onboard Avalon’s view-orientated ships.

Historic cities, majestic castles and extensive vineyards - the Rhine is made for river cruising. Flowing across the heart of Europe through six countries, you can simply step off your Avalon Waterways ship into the centre of these cultural hubs.

Beginning in the Swiss Alps, the Rhine stretches 766 miles through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands where it then escapes into the North Sea.

From the architecture-filled Cologne in Germany to medieval Basel in Switzerland, you are spoiled for choice with the famous cities which lie along the Rhine.

And that is exactly what river cruising is about, being right in the middle of the action. Avalon takes advantage of this ultra-scenic river with each ship consisting of 80 percent panorama suites - you never even have to leave your room to get a good view!

With free return flights if you book an Avalon Rhine or Danube river cruise before February 28, 2022, and select cruises having up to 45 percent off - what are you waiting for? Read on to discover the amazing destinations on the Rhine with Avalon Waterways

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What to see on a Rhine river cruise

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Avalon brings you right into the centre of colourful Amsterdam. This 700-year-old city features an abundance of canals to walk or cycle along, lined with homes dating back to the golden age of the city.

Ensure you visit the Van Gogh Museum and admire the colourful paintings before heading over to Anne Frank’s House to see and learn about an important part of history.

- READ MORE: How to pick the best river cruise cabin -

Cologne, Germany

Famed for its twin-spired cathedral which dominates the skyline, Cologne is a true German gem.

Admire countless medieval churches, ancient Roman features as well as the postmodern quarter right on the Rhine. The city also features a variety of intriguing museums such as Museum Ludwig, which includes 20th Century and contemporary art.

Admire the scenic views of the Rhine Gorge. Credit: Shutterstock

Strasbourg, France

Sitting on the border between Germany and France, Strasbourg combines the best of both countries.

Ensure you visit the European Parliament, the 15th century Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg and the Petite France district, famed for its pastel houses and stunning canal-side views.

Rhine Gorge

You don’t even have to step foot ashore to admire the beauty of the Rhine Gorge - the most scenic section of the Rhine Valley. Stretching 67km and boasting over 40 castles, this area was the heart of the medieval Holy Roman Empire.

Stunning sights include the striking Loreley Rock near the town of Sankt Goarshausen, famed for the legend of Lorelei - the story of a beautiful maiden who enchanted sailors with her song on the Rhine - as well as the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, at the end of the valley.

Explore this historic city by foot with Avalon Waterways. Credit: Shutterstock

Avalon Rhine river cruise excursions

A range of excursions are available with Avalon so you can gain an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the countless gorgeous areas you will visit beyond your independent explorations.

The ‘Biking in Amsterdam’ excursion allows you to discover the area like a local. Pedal your way past historic architecture and quaint villages as you make your way out of the city and into the beautiful Dutch countryside.

- READ MORE: Top tips for cruising alone, from romance to dining -

Alternatively, foodies will love the ‘Zaanse Schans & the symbols of Holland’ excursion, also in Amsterdam, where you tour a working windmill, watch wooden clogs being made from scratch as well as visit a cheese farm and learn all about the interesting process of making cheese.

‘Into the Alsace Countryside with Wine Tasting’ in Strasbourg sees you travelling along the famed Alsace Wine Route, where you can admire a string of stunning landscapes, picturesque villages and endless vineyards. You can also explore a traditional medieval Alsace village and partake in a cellar tasting of the local wines - don’t mind if we do.

The ‘Wonders of Basel’ excursion allows you to explore this 2,000-year-old city in depth both by coach and on foot. Wander around and admire the historic architecture - this is one to get your cameras out for.

Cruise to Amsterdam with Fred. Olsen and see an abundance of tulips. Credit: Shutterstock

Best time of year to cruise the Rhine

With each season bringing its own perks, it all depends on your cruising preferences as to which time of year is best to cruise the Rhine.

Spring cruises bring carpets of colourful tulips decorating the riverbanks, with Avalon offering a variety of Rhine cruises showcasing this beautiful display such as ‘Tulip Time Cruise’ visiting Amsterdam, the Garden of Europe in Keujenhof (Rotterdam), Ghent and Antwerp, sailing across spring 2022 and 2023.

Particularly popular with sun-worshipers, summer cruises down the Rhine are perfect for relaxing on the top deck and taking in the panoramic views. You typically won't have to worry about the rain stopping your city explorations early and you can also enjoy the longer evenings that summer brings in overnight ports.

Admire the leaves turning from green to red and amber on an autumn cruise down the Rhine. Autumn is also the time where grape harvests are plentiful, celebrated through a variety of wine festivals throughout the Rhine such as the Boppard Wine Festival taking place in late September to early October - a wine lover’s paradise!

Trust us - you won’t feel as Christmassy anywhere else in the world than on a Rhine Christmas cruise. Full to the brim with Yuletide markets and mulled wine, Cologne, Koblenz and many other cities along the Rhine embrace the Christmas spirit wholeheartedly. Avalon’s ‘Festive Time on the Romantic Rhine’ is the perfect itinerary to get in the Christmas spirit for 2022.

Ensure you wear comfortable shoes and bring a secure bag on your ventures to cities such as Cologne. Credit: Shutterstock

What to wear on a Rhine river cruise

With Avalon prioritising exploration and new experiences, comfort is key, which reflects the line’s casual dress code onboard and ashore.

Comfortable shoes are a must, make sure you are bringing a pair of walking shoes which you have been broken in - there is nothing worse than being distracted from the beautiful architecture of Cologne because your shoe is rubbing!

- READ MORE: Top 16 destinations to visit in 2022 and how to cruise there -

Dinner attire onboard is also casual with open-neck shirts and trousers for men and trousers, skirts or dresses for women - if you are feeling fancy, coats and ties can be worn too.

For the special welcome and farewell dinners, you can pull out a dressier outfit - but these nights are still not formal. No more panicking about steaming a dress 10 minutes before dinner!

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About Lucy Abbott

Lucy is a cruise journalist who has sailed on a variety of ships, from expedition to river – with her favourite being expedition cruising.

Lucy is interested in new sustainable ways to cruise as well as how cruising is becoming accessible for all.

She works together with Kaye Holland to keep the World of Cruising website up to date with all the latest cruise news.