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Rhine Getaway with Viking River Cruises ~ Ports and Excursions

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Choosing a Viking River Cruise from their enticing itineraries is like choosing the only chocolate you’ll ever eat for the rest of your life. Dark chocolate or milk? Butter cream or caramel? Lyon & Provence, or Danube Waltz? Imperial Jewels of China, or Waterways of the Tsars in Russia? When Viking River Cruises invited me to sail with them, indeed I felt like a child in a chocolate factory asked to choose my favorite sweet. After much deliberation, my husband and I selected the Rhine Getaway, an eight-day cruise on the Rhine River. Oh, what a wonderful choice we made! Here’s a round-up of my stories highlighting the best of each destination we visited during our epic romantic journey along the Rhine River.

Romantic Rhine Getaway with Viking River Cruises - A Round-Up of Ports and Excursions

Basel, Switzerland

Our Viking River Cruise set sail from Basel, Switzerland, home to 40 museums including one so tiny, we couldn’t even step inside. Expect a beautiful Old Town, gorgeous Rhine River views and exquisite dining options.

Wisteria blooming in romantic Basel, Switzerland

Wisteria blooming in romantic Basel, Switzerland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Germany’s Black Forest

Land of cuckoo clocks, fruit elixirs, and its namesake hams and cakes — the Black Forest seems like a place dreamed up by the Brothers Grimm for their fairy tales. As with most Viking River Cruise excursions, the bus tour to the Black Forest was included in our cruise pricing. Read more about our experience in Exploring Germany’s Fabled Black Forest with Viking River Cruises.

Germany's Black Forest feels like a fairy tale

Germany’s Black Forest feels like a fairy tale (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France captured my heart and has kept me daydreaming of moving to this beautiful French town with a German accent ever since our visit. Discover what’s so enchanting about this town in 5 Reasons You’ll Fall in Love with Strasbourg, France.

Strasbourg, France

Belle Strasbourg, France (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Heidelberg, Germany

Rich with history, Heidelberg is home to Germany’s oldest university, the ruins of a romantic Renaissance castle, and the world’s largest wine barrel. Read more in German Romance, Education and Debauchery in Heidelberg with Viking River Cruises.

Heidelberg Castle remains partially in ruin today - Germany's Heidelberg with Viking River Cruises

Heidelberg’s famous castle (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany

Rudesheim am Rhein is the picture of a quaint German town, filled with charming wine garden restaurants as well as souvenir shops peddling adorable Christmas treasures. Learn more in Rudesheim am Rhein in Germany with Viking River Cruises – A Love Story.

Oom Pah Pah Band in Rudesheim am Rhein

Oom Pah Pah Band in Rudesheim am Rhein (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Marksburg Castle in Braubach, Germany

Marksburg Castle was the most fascinating castle I have ever visited, and I’ve visited quite a few. Our Viking River Cruises tour guide gave an intriguing glimpse into what life was like during the time of castles, kings, knights and princesses. Find out what made Marksburg so intriguing in this story, Marksburg Castle with Viking River Cruises.

Marksburg Castle in Braubach, Germany

Marksburg Castle in Braubach, Germany (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany is known for its gothic cathedral and its unique Kölsch beer. It’s also the birthplace of the world’s first eau de cologne and home to some of the best shopping in the country. Check out Fun and Tasty Things to Do in Cologne, Germany.

Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany

Cologne Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Kinderdijk, the Netherlands

If you want to get your traditional Dutch windmill fix, Kinderdijk is the place to be. Learn more about windmills in the Netherlands in Why Visit Windmills in Holland at Kinderdijk.

Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site in Holland, the Netherlands

Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site in Holland, the Netherlands (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Keukenhof Gardens in Holland, the Netherlands

Our Rhine Getaway concluded in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Rather than purchasing the Viking Post-Cruise Extension, we opted to explore on our own. We were lucky to sail during spring when the tulips are in full bloom at the renowned Keukenhof Gardens outside Amsterdam in Holland. This sprawling botanic garden is filled with every varietal of tulips you could imagine, and so much more.  Read more in  this post, Tiptoe Through the Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens Near Amsterdam.

Tiptoe through the Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens

Tiptoe through the tulips at Keukenhof Gardens (Photo credit: Keukenhof Holland)

Viking has recently expanded its delicious offerings to include ocean sailings in addition to their signature river cruises. With tantalizing itineraries, like Southern Mediterranean Discovery or West Indies Shores, choosing where to sail with Viking has become even more challenging. Thankfully, you don’t need to choose just one chocolate, or one Viking Cruise, for the rest of your life. After looking back on the incredible memories made with Viking last year, I’m tempted to go book another sailing right now!

Save Money on Your Rhine Getaway with Viking River Cruises

Would you like to book the Rhine Getaway or another Viking River Cruise? You can save money and get perks when you book with CruiseDirect.

Do you have any questions about the Rhine Getaway, or about Viking Cruises in general? Let us know in the comments below!

Top photo credit: Viking Cruises.

A Note from The Travel Mama: Our cruise was hosted by Viking River Cruises. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Ellen Lanin says

    This beautiful photography said it all.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Does it make you want to go on another Viking River Cruise? Writing this story sure made me want to book another cruise ASAP!

  2. I would be interested in hearing your perspective on the food, included excursions, and the ‘crowd’ including the kid friendliness. Most river cruise reviews I have read have been by older cruisers…..

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      I’ve started writing another post all about Viking’s amenities to help readers decide if a Viking River Cruise is a good fit for them. (I’ll try to remember to post a link to it here after it goes live…it may be a while.) The food was very good for a cruise line, but not as good as a fine-dining restaurant, of course. They often provided local cuisine to match the destination of the day. Almost all excursions are included and although my husband and I balked at being part of a large tour group at first, we found them super interesting and informative. The headsets allowed us to wander off a bit and look at what we liked while still hearing the local guide’s presentation. Viking River Cruises are definitely not meant for children. Children under age 12 are not allowed and there are no offerings for kids. Viking is fabulous for a grown-up getaway, but if you’re looking for a family cruise – it’s not a good fit.

  3. Wow, I know I loved cruises for a reason! You simply get to relax and enjoy seeing the world! No accommodation plans, no worries that you’re going to miss the train or bus!

  4. Mohamed Marghany says

    As a cruise addict person would love to follow all your posts about cruises please keep me tuned.

  5. Thanks, Colleen for a great article. We are based in Germany and may end up doing the itinerary you suggested. We just moved to Europe from Asia and I am looking for good baby-friendly destinations. I wrote about them on the travel blog, I have bookmarked your site and intend to keep coming back. Thanks again!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Lachlyn – Congratulations on your move to Europe and your new travel blog! Keep in mind if you’d like to visit the destinations included in this story, you won’t be able to sail with Viking. Their cruise line is geared toward adults and only welcomes older kids aboard their river cruises. All of these destinations would be fun to visit on your own, though!

  6. Colleen, great post! We just took two viking cruises. They were good the Elegant Elbe and Russia. I would do the Elegant Elbe again but Russia was pretty touristy and the stops are made-up stops.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      David – Good to know about the Elbe and Russia cruises. I really do hope to set with Viking again someday!

  7. Colleen, which of the stops in Germany is closest to Wiesbaden?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      From looking at a map of Germany, it looks like Marksburg Castle in Braubach is closest to Wiesbaden.

  8. Ana Lucia Novak says

    My husband and I went on a Viking River Cruise from September 21-October 7,2016. The City of Lights started in Prague, then Germany and Ended in Paris, France.
    We extended our stay and stay in Paris for a week. I had hired a walking tour guide who showed us interesting areas of Paris- fashion and entertainment historical accounts. We walked daily and used Uber to get around and was able to spend quality time in the museums, Cathedral of Norte Dame, and shopping of course where the locals shop.
    Our itinerary for each day:
    Bamberg and Nuremberg, Germany
    Würzburg, Germany
    Heidelberg, Germany
    Scenic Cruising: Main River, Spessart
    Miltenberg, Germany
    Mainz, Germany
    Rudesheim, Germany
    Middle Rhine Scenic. Cruising
    Cochem, Germany
    Trier, Germany
    Paris, France
    Montmartre was on our own but the views and church are gorgeous and quaint town for dining and shopping

    We were on the Viking Odin ship and participated in the daily excursions with exception to Heidelberg as it was a day long excursion and we wanted to relax on the boat and view the scenic views from the river. It was a gorgeous day. Daily weather was 60 degrees or more and so I barely needed a sweater or coat.

    What we liked about our trip was how organized it was- we showed up daily for breakfast, went off on our daily excursions which were hosted by highly educated tour guides enriching our experience, shopping and sight seeing, as well as meeting wonderful people from around the country (mostly US citizens).

    Like you – as I walked thru Bamberg, Wurzberg, and Miltonberg, I realized that I would like to return and live there for 30 days. I fell in love with the area, scenic views and the way of life. Historical landmarks is a part of their daily lives reminding us that we are here now because of our ancestors. Learning the deeper part of history of how people lived, the poor too, made me appreciate clean drinkable water, the conveniences we have and modern healthcare.
    This trip left a footprint in my heart as I now want to travel more and return to some of my favorite towns in Germany and France. We are interested in the tour you came back from – but may end up doing the world tour.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Ana Lucia – I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed your Viking River Cruise as much as my husband and I did! How exciting that you will be embarking on another cruise. The world tour would be amazing! Enjoy!

  9. Taking our first Viking River Cruise in just about 3 weeks to celebrate my 60th. Interested in knowing if most of the excursions include a short bus ride from where the ship docks to where ever the tour might be? Also, we are going from Basel to Amsterdam. Made our own flight arrangements, as the ones Viking was offering took longer to get to Basel than we wanted to. We arrive in Basel around 10AM. Do you know if we can board the ship at least to leave our bags before the usual 3PM. It would be great if we could get a short lie-down before we trek through Basel for our first jaunt.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Ann- How exciting! I bet you’ll love Viking River Cruise! For most excursions, there is a bus ride before the walking tour. Often, information will be provided during the bus ride as well. I am not sure how early you can drop off luggage, but for sure before 3 pm. We arrived a couple of hours early and were warmly greeted. If memory serves, our room wasn’t ready yet, but they happily took our bags for us and they were waiting for us on the ship after we went out for a drink to pass the time. Enjoy!

  10. Hi Coleen, Enjoy reading your comments. Very helpful!
    We are taking our first Viking cruise in July from Basel to Amsterdam. Currently, we are looking at excursions. Are there some that you would recommend?
    Thank you!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Dee – Almost all excursions are included in the price of your Viking Cruise. There are, however, a few additional “extension” excursions that you can add on. My husband and I had a blast at the Rudesheim am Rhein dinner excursion: You can go on your own to the restaurant to save money but there may not be room at the restaurant for you and it really was fun to enjoy the meal and festivities with our fellow cruisers. Enjoy your Viking River Cruise!

  11. We are planning to take this trip Amsterdam to Basel October 26-Nov 2, 2018. With five extended days in Switzerland. We are concerned about weather. We are New Englanders and don’t mind cold. Hats and gloves are obvious but what about boots? Is there apt to be snow that early?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Joyce – You can check the average monthly weather forecasts by location via It looks like Basel typically has lows in the 40s and highs in the 50s or 60s in October. For Basel, click here: and scroll through to October and November. You can search the other destinations along your route as well. Enjoy your cruise!

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