Follow the romantic Rhine River on its winding journey through Central Europe, taking in the sights, history and culture of Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and France, as your riverboat glides along the river.
Experience medieval winetowns, cathedrals, castles, museums, and river landscapes of the kind that inspired JMW Turner and Richard Wagner. Enjoy a two-night stay at a luxury hotel in Bern, with a choice of a city tour or a trip up to the Jungfraujoch in the Alps, and an idyll in Lucerne; sail from Basel with visits to Colmar, Stuttgart, Rudesheim and Cologne... a Tauck Exclusive evening of dinner and music at Schloss Ehreshoven... a visit to the windmills of Kinderdijk, and exploration of Amsterdam including a canal boat tour along the city’s historic waterways.
Arrive Amsterdam and embark your riverboat
Tour begins: 6:00 PM. A transfer is included from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport or the train station to your riverboat. Settle in, meet your riverboat crew for an orientation briefing, then join us this evening for the welcome reception which is followed by dinner.
Amsterdam... art, canals & more
This morning, embark on an Amsterdam orientation tour that includes a visit to the world-famous Rijksmuseum, home to many art masterpieces of the Dutch Golden Age, including Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Amsterdam is often called the "Venice of the North" for its elaborate network of canals that wind through a romantic historic center of cobbled streets and stunningly well-preserved Dutch Renaissance architecture. Following your Rijksmuseum visit, you'll have a choice of boarding a canal boat for a cruise of the city from the inside, along 17th-century waterways lined with trees, gabled merchant houses and vibrant urban life (a great way to see it – including a slice of Dutch apple pie)... or joining a "Taste of Amsterdam" walking-and-tasting tour of the city's Jordaan district, a diverse, former working-class neighborhood that's become one of the most upscale areas of the Netherlands. Later, you’ll have time to explore the city on your own; Amsterdam’s compact urban landscape is made for exploring, brimming with art museums, coffeehouses, and eclectic architecture. Enjoy cocktails and onboard musical entertainment prior to dinner tonight, before sailing for Dordrecht.
The Kinderdijk Windmills
Your riverboat arrives this morning in Dordrecht, a wealthy trading port in the Middle Ages, for an excursion that offers insights into windmills and their ubiquitous role in Dutch life... a visit to the village of Kinderdijk (Child’s Dyke), where the flat landscape, crisscrossed with canals, presents the largest concentration of historic windmills in The Netherlands – which you can choose to explore on a walking tour and a boat ride, or on a two-hour bicycle excursion*. The 19 windmills, most of them built in the 18th century, are national monuments; for centuries, their massive wind-driven mechanisms have been used to pump water out of the polder and into reservoirs and canals, reclaiming land from the river. Such ingenious methods of water management have enabled a country that is almost fifty percent below sea level to exist at all, lending weight to the local saying, “God created the Earth, but the Dutch created Holland.” Return to the riverboat for lunch, then enjoy free time to explore the charming cobbled streets of Dordrecht, rich with historic sites, antique shops, and art galleries. Dine aboard ship this evening.
Spend a day exploring all this Köln plus a special evening at a castle
Cruise the lowlands of the Rhine this morning before arriving in Köln (Cologne) for a walking tour. One of Germany’s oldest cities (founded in the 1st Century AD), Köln was once a Roman provincial capital, and later a fabulously wealthy medieval trading port; the city was almost totally destroyed during World War II, but many of its architectural treasures have been restored, including its Romanesque churches, the 12th century town hall, and the towering Köln Cathedral, a twin-spired masterpiece of High Gothic architecture. Enjoy free time to discover Köln's urban treasures, such as its beer gardens, wine taverns and chocolate museum. Then depart for Engelskirchen and its neighboring castle, Schloss Ehreshoven. Built in the 14th Century and later expanded in the style of a grand Baroque manor house, the estate is surrounded by a moat, gracious gardens, and a castle park. Schloss Ehreshoven is frequently used as a film location but this evening it’s the elegant setting for a Tauck Exclusive cocktail reception and dinner with entertainment. Return to the riverboat, which sails tonight for Rüdesheim.
The Middle Rhine and a visit to musical Rüdesheim
The romantic Middle Rhine with its castle ruins, wine-towns, and steep sloping vineyards unfolds on this morning’s cruise, with commentary by your Tauck director; the landscape is alive with myths and legends, from the Nibelung to the siren of Lorelei Rock. After lunch onboard, dock in the winemaking town of Rüdesheim, at the foot of the Niederwald, where the ruins of Ehrenfels Castle and the lofty Niederwald monument preside over the Rhine Gorge. Here, you may choose a walking tour of this 1,000-year-old town with its cobblestone streets of storybook houses, cozy cafés and wine taverns; among its unique, must-see attractions is Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a museum dedicated to antique self-playing musical instruments, which you'll visit. Siegfried’s mesmerizing collection includes orchestrions, musical clocks, player pianos, fairground organs, self-playing violinas, and the world’s largest automated doll orchestra. Stop in for wine-tasting and snacks at Rüdesheimer Schloss, an historic hotel and restaurant with its own vineyard and family wine estate. Alternatively, you may choose to join us for a one-hour bicycle excursion* along the Rhine. Return to the riverboat for a reception and the chef's Signature Dinner this evening as you sail for Karlsruhe.
Stuttgart & Porsche, cycling or Baden-Baden
Arrive in Karlsruhe this morning, where you'll have the choice of staying in town for a bicycling excursion*; departing by coach for a visit to Stuttgart, the cradle of the automobile and the hometown of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz; or traveling to the spa town of Baden-Baden. Despite its reputation as an industrial powerhouse, Stuttgart offers a charming, small-town atmosphere, tucked in a valley between vineyards and forests, and an inviting urban landscape of historic sites, lakes, parks, and gardens. After a walking tour and lunch, you have a choice of touring the Porsche Museum – a dazzling ultramodern showcase featuring 80 cars, from the earliest models to the present (including concept cars and prototypes), in exhibits that trace the history of the legendary car company – or spending free time in the city center, exploring its magnificent architecture (neo-classical palaces, restored castles, gracious public squares and baroque fountains) as well as shops, galleries, cafes and wine taverns. Should you choose the Baden-Baden excursion, you'll have the choice of a guided walking tour or a visit to the Caracalla Spa. Return to the ship for dinner this evening, followed by musical entertainment onboard.
Colmar in the Alsatian wine country
Dock in the rivertown of Breisach, Germany this morning, then drive to the village of Colmar, France, in Alsatian wine country. The principal industry in Colmar is food and wine, but its irresistible charm lies in its beautifully preserved medieval architecture that conjures an idyllic place out of time: colorful houses and gardens, rambling cobbled streets and alleys, sculpted fountains, and canals that wind through a corner of town called Little Venice; aside from its winemaking heritage, Colmar is known as the hometown of Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty. A walking tour includes a visit to the Unterlinden Museum, housed in a Gothic convent, whose impressive collection includes Matthias Grünewald’s famous Isenheim Altarpiece, paintings, engravings and sculpture from medieval to modern (including works by Dürer and Holbein, Picasso and Léger), and a wealth of archaeological artifacts; join us for a private reception in the museum, a Tauck Exclusive! Later, sample the art of Alsatian cuisine at lunch on your own, then return to the riverboat for a cruise through the dramatic Upper Rhine Plain where sentinel castles, forests and rising mountain ranges drift past. Join the crew tonight for a farewell reception which is followed by dinner.
Lucerne & on to Bern
Disembark your riverboat in Basel, Switzerland, a major industrial and cultural center where France, Germany and Switzerland meet. The scenic mountain backdrop rises in stature and drama as you leave Basel and arrive in Lucerne, nestled beside a breathtaking blue lake in the alpine foothills. Features of Lucerne’s medieval old town (picturesque market squares, burghers’ houses, spired churches, and restored ramparts) unfolds on a walking tour which includes the 14th-century Chapel Bridge, the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, and the Lion Monument, an eloquent memorial to Swiss soldiers who died in the French Revolution. Following a lake cruise on shimmering Lake Lucerne, depart for Bern, the capital of Switzerland and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where an orientation tour discovers its spectacular medieval and Renaissance architecture (limestone buildings, arcades, bridges, fountains, and cathedral), beautifully restored and ringed by the Aare River. Check into the Bellevue Palace, a grand luxury hotel built in 1913, favored by celebrities and heads of state and featured in John le Carré’s spy novels. Your evening is free to spend as you please tonight in this city of cosmopolitan tastes and offbeat, intimate restaurants.
Travel to "the top of Europe," the Jungfraujoch, or explore Bern
You have a choice of sightseeing adventures today. Head for the snow-capped Alps on a full-day’s excursion to the lofty Jungfraujoch, known as the "Top of Europe" – journey to Grindelwald for a train ride to Kleine Scheidegg, then board a cogwheel train for the scenic climb through the Eiger tunnel to Europe’s highest railway station; here you’ll find a restaurant, observatory, research station, a gallery of ice sculpture, and stunning views of glacier-clad peaks that go on forever. Or explore the eclectic charms of Bern on a walking tour, followed by time on your own: medieval and modern mix artfully in this unhurried atmosphere where sights include open-air markets and cozy underground bars, the Parliament Building, the Gothic cathedral, a bear park (in honor of the town’s symbol and mascot), a house where Einstein lived and wrote his "Theory of Relativity," and the Zytglogge, a medieval astronomical clock featuring animated dancing figures. Join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner at the hotel.
Tour ends: Bern. Fly home anytime. Transfers are included from the Bellevue Palace Bern to the airport or train station (Bahnof Bern). Allow at least 3 hours for flight check-in.