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Viking River Rhine Cruise Review: Ports and Excursions

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Choosing a Viking River Cruise from their enticing selection of itineraries is like asking a child in a chocolate factory to pick just one sweet from an overwhelming array of tempting treats. 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! Review my round-up of all the Viking River Rhine Cruise destinations below.

Rhine River view from Rudesheim, Germany
Rhine River view from Rudesheim, Germany (Photo credit: julia-lav,

This story is brought to you in partnership with Viking Cruises.

Basel, Switzerland

Our Viking River Rhine Cruise set sail from Basel, Switzerland. This beautiful city is home to 40 museums including one so tiny, it's literally impossible to step inside. Expect a charming Old Town, gorgeous Rhine River views, and exquisite dining options. Read more about romantic things to do in Basel, Switzerland now!

Bicycle and flowers in Basel, Swizerland
Bicycle and flowers in Basel, Swizerland (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. Read more about what to expect when visiting Germany’s Black Forest with Viking River Cruises.

Germany's Black Forest
Germany's Black Forest (Photo credit: jentara,

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France captured my heart and has left me daydreaming of moving to this beautiful French town with a German accent. Discover what's so enchanting about Strasbourg, France before you go.

Strasbourg, France
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. Learn about these sites and more things to do in Heidelberg, Germany today.

Heidelberg's famous castle
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 and plenty of souvenir shops peddling adorable Christmas treasures. Learn more about Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany before your cruise.

Rudesheim am Rhein Christmas shop
Christmas shops are plentiful in Rudesheim am Rhein (Photo credit: yulan,

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 Rhine Cruise tour guide gave an intriguing glimpse into what life was like during the time of castles, kings, knights and princesses. Find out what made this castle so intriguing in this story, Marksburg Castle with Viking River Cruises.

Marksburg Castle in Braubach, Germany
Marksburg Castle in Braubach, Germany (Photo credit: haveseen,

Cologne, Germany

Cologne 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 the fun and tasty things to Do in Cologne, Germany.

Cologne Cathedral
Cologne's famous cathedral (Photo credit: hiro1775,

Kinderdijk, the Netherlands

If you want to get your traditional Dutch windmill fix, then Kinderdijk is the place to be. Learn more about Dutch windmills at Kinderdijk now.

Dutch windmills at Kinderdijk
Dutch windmills at Kinderdijk (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 among many other lovely flowers and things to do.  Read more about Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam.

Keukenhof Gardens in Holland
Keukenhof Gardens in Holland (Photo credit:,

Save Money on Your Viking River Cruise

After looking back on the incredible memories made with Viking, I'm tempted to go book another river cruise right now! Would you like to book a Viking River Cruise? You can save money and get perks when you book with CruiseDirect.

Princess Cruises wine tasting
Wine tasting on a Princess Cruise (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Get More Cruise Tips

Discover romantic things to do on a Princess Cruise.

Learn how to plan a cruise with friends.

Explore activities for couples on a Royal Caribbean Cruise.

Find out how to choose a Disney Cruise.

Viking Rhine River Cruise Review

Keep this Viking River Rhine Cruise Information

Considering a Viking River Cruise? Be sure to save this round-up of Viking River Rhine Cruise ports and excursions. Just pin the image above to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

If you enjoyed this story, then I bet you’ll like reading our other grown-up getaway ideas!

Would you like to embark on a Viking River Cruise? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Our cruise was hosted by Viking River Cruises. I did not receive any monetary compensation related to this story. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience! What month did you take this cruise?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Rebecca – We sailed on the Rhine with Viking in April. It was lovely weather — not too hot and not too cold. The crowds weren’t too bad either, especially when compared to the peak travel season.

  2. Christine Matzdorff says

    My husband and I are going on this exact cruise at the end of next month and after reading your descriptive blog, I couldn’t be more excited😀 I see that this blog was written in 2015. Do you have anything that’s more current?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Hi Christine – I’m so excited for you and your husband! I hope you both love your Viking River Cruise as much as my husband and I did! I wish I had something more up-to-date. Eventually, I will do some research and update these stories!

  3. Wow, this is SO on our bucket list. A couple of years ago I did a Baltic Sea cruise and loved it, only made me really want to add Viking River Cruise to this list! Thanks for the inspiration — on the list for our 20th anniversary!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Congratulations on 20 years together! My husband and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, too. What a WONDERFUL anniversary trip a Viking River Cruise would be!

  4. Kara Williams says

    Dreamy dreamy. A river cruise is definitely on my list of must-do’s. I’ve sailed the ocean with Viking, and sure would love to sail through these sweet European port towns with them … someday!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Kara – I bet you would LOVE a Viking River Cruise! You really spend much more time exploring and less time on the boat. I wish I could go book another sailing right now!

  5. Dana Howard Freeman says

    I love this itinerary. We sailed the Danube on Viking River Cruises last fall from Budapest to Nurenburg. I am jealous that you got to see the tulips in Amsterdam!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Ooh…I bet the Danube Viking cruise was amazing, too! I’d love to sail again with them someday!

  6. Jody A Robbins says

    I’ve never been on a cruise and to be honest, I’m not keen to go on one. Except… I would consider a river cruise. Weirdly, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Viking river cruises. I think it must be the preferred way to go for Canadians. I’d love to do a Rhine cruise as well – you hit so many highlights like the Black Forest! I’d also LOVE to do one that goes through all those Christmas market towns in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. One day….

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I would absolutely love to go back to Europe for a Viking River Cruise tour of the Christmas markets. That would be so magical!

  7. Corinne McDermott says

    Wow this looks amazing! I think a river cruise would be a great way to explore Europe without shlepping between train stations 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin says

      And you only need to unpack once! A river cruise is really more about the destinations than the ship and you are able to spend a lot of time out exploring.

  8. I am
    Not a big cruise fan but would love to try one of these smaller river cruises. This one in the Rhine looks ideal because it hits so many new destinations for me.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Tamara – Even people who don’t think of themselves as “cruise people” could enjoy a Viking River Cruise, I think! I hope you’ll give it a try someday!

  9. Lisa Goodmurphy says

    A river cruise in Europe has been on my travel wish list forever! I thought that my first choice was a Danube cruise but a Rhine cruise sounds amazing too particularly if it could include a visit to Keukenhof. Seeing those tulips is also on my wish list but it wasn’t open yet when we visited Amsterdam for spring break a couple of years ago so I need to return in April sometime!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Lisa – We had the same problem when we wanted to visit Giverny during a spring break to France — it wasn’t open yet for the season. I hope you can get to Keukenhof someday — such a huge an impressive botanic garden!

      • Lisa Goodmurphy says

        We missed Giverny on a trip to France too – our spring break in March is just too early for some sites in Europe!

        • Colleen Lanin says

          So true! Wouldn’t it be nice to have an April spring break instead?! I’m hoping we’ll get to Giverny someday…!

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. Mohamed Marghany says

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

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

      • Debra chalhoub says

        I want to say that Viking cruises doesn’t honor their promises by the chairman. He states that we could opt out of the voucher given because of Covid and get a credit and then reneges. I’m out over $9000. He said there is no cancellation penalty due to Covid and then imposed 50%.

        • Colleen Lanin says

          Hi Debra – I’m so sorry to hear you’re having a tough time with your Viking River reimbursement! I hope you find a resolution soon!

  20. 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!

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