The Rhine Valley is renowned for its villages and vineyards, as well as castles seemingly around every bend. This combination of driving tour and river cruise will give you the chance to explore the valley’s scenic views and cultural significance from two different perspectives — the river and the road.
A private driver-guide will give you a local’s insight into the landscapes unscrolling past your window as you drive through the hilly vineyards. In Rüdesheim, you’ll have time to meander along the town’s cobblestone streets or take the cable car up to the Germania monument for a panoramic view of the river and town.
From Rüdesheim, you’ll board a boat to Saint Goar. The Rhine has been a major transportation route for centuries, and you’ll get to see the castles and villages as countless others have over the years. This is also a chance to see the myth-wreathed Lorelei Rock.
Your private English-speaking driver will pick you up at your hotel. Together, you’ll head through the Rhine Valley toward Rüdesheim. The first part is on the highway, but you eventually make your way to quieter, more panoramic roads.
Once you arrive in Rüdesheim, you’ll have time to explore the town. You can walk the narrow cobblestone walkways that curve sharply around shops, cafés and restaurants and admire the traditional timbered buildings covered in ivy.
You can also take the cable car up to the Germania monument, which looks out across the calm, blue waters of the Rhine, the rooftops of the town and the leafy vineyards. The monument itself stands at 38 m (125 ft) tall, built to celebrate the unification of Germany after the Franco-Prussian War. The main part of the statue depicts Germania — a personification of the German nation in the form of a woman — holding a crown in one hand and a sword in the other. Beneath that is a relief that shows Kaiser Wilhelm I on a horse, surrounded by nobility, Army commanders and soldiers.
After exploring Rüdesheim, head to the jetty and catch your boat cruise, which is a shared tour. As you make your way down the Rhine, look up and glimpse the Germania monument looking down from the hillside. You’ll then pass a handful of castles, nestled strategically on the banks of the river. Many of the castles sprung up as a result of the wealth built up from the taxes paid by boats heading up the river to trade.
An audio guide is available in a few different languages, including English, to explain the sites as you pass them. Along the way, you’ll see the villages of Bingen, Assmannhausen, Lorch, Bacharach, Kaub and Oberwesel as well.
You’ll also pass the Lorelei Rock, a sheer slate rock looming on the bank of the Rhine that’s steeped in lore. Legend says a siren, Lorelei, would sit on the rock combing her blonde hair and bewitching passing sailors, causing their boats to wreck. The murmuring sound comes from the heavy currents and nearby waterfall, amplified by the echo created by the rock. However, those who like a good ghost story attribute it to the victims of the boating accidents that have happened nearby.
The boat’s final stop is at Saint Goar, where you’ll disembark and meet your driver to return to your hotel or head to your next destination.