From windmills and cheese to vineyards and wine
Cruising the Rhine is a dream come true for many. Do it from the saddle of your iron horse or the deck of the Iris.
Your adventure starts in Amsterdam. What more should we say? Bikes. Canals. Tall, beautiful people who speak fluent English. Those hazy cafés. Cozy bars and superb Indonesian food. World-class art, museums and breweries. Great 2nd-hand shops and bookstores. And it’s prettier than a Dutch Master’s painting.
The biking is flat and easy along Father Rhine, the greatest waterway in the world. Much more than a shipping highway, the river is the pulsing economic vein of Germany and Europe. Around every bend, legends spring to life…the plunging Lorelei cliffs, deadly Bingen Reef, the fabled site where Rheingold is buried…to name a few ancient places that touch our souls and connect us with great literature, music and history. And what about those mighty Teutonic cities…Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bonn where the old blends into new. Medieval villages, rural farms and gardens tended to perfection all exist alongside sparkling modern cities. It’s diverse and exciting.
And then….along the river with 3 names! Is it Mosel, Moselle or Musel? Depending on where you are, here we are on the German part of this river, so we call it Mosel.
We visit one of the most authentic family-owned castles in Europe! Hidden in the hills, it has been untouched by wars and fires, and just extended through the ages. it is very well kept and the oldest part is open for a great guided visit. OK, it is a walk to get there and back, but it is certainly worth the effort.
Our tour ends at Cochem, one of the most touristic villages along the Moselle. Or you can book the next trip which takes you further upstream to Metz in France!
Amsterdam to Wijk bij Duurstede
Our adventure starts in the heart of Amsterdam, where the IRIS is docked and ready to sail. We start sailing and give you a taste of the beauty of Amsterdam seen from the water. We’ll stop to get you on your bike for a scenic ride along the prestigious houses along the Vecht, where the sophisticated traders and aristocrats of Amsterdam had there countryhomes, or better: estates. The winding little river is a branche of the Rhine, so we are allready going in the right direction: upstream. Don’t worry…it’s flat cycling and stays like that all the week! Your biking ends in Breukelen (yes, indeed: where Brooklyn NY gets the name. By the end of the afternoon, we board our barge and cruise to Wijk bij Duurstede, a small fortified town on the river Rhine. Enjoy an evening stroll and turn in your comfortable cabin!
Wijk bij Duurstede - Wageningen - Arnhem
What a magical place! No visit to Holland is complete without a ride through Europe’s largest drifting sand dunes in the National Park Hoge Veluwe. Imagine an African safari with grassy plains and weathered pines, juicy bogs brimming with rare species and hardwood forests filled with birdsong. The geography is wild thanks to an Ice Age glacier that dumped its load of sand and gravel like a bulldozer. Awaiting us on the other side is world-famous Kröller-Müller art gallery and sculpture park with the largest private Van Gogh collection in the world. The one-eared master is not alone…works by Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondriaan round out the collection. From here we roll to Arnhem ‘Home of Eagles,’ given its name by Romans stationed on the Rhine. But we won’t make the mistake of going beyond the bridge! Perhaps you recall the 1977 classic A Bridge Too Far and the failed Allied-Forces attempt to break through German lines and take several bridges (including Arnhem) in Operation Market Garden? Renamed the John Frost Bridge, you may walk or ride across this beloved landmark into Arnhem center which is teeming with art, fashion and all things Lekker (Sweet, fun, cool).
Arnhem - Pannerden - Rees (Germany)
Of bridges, battlegrounds and castles…like the 13th century Doornenburg Castle. It’s an impressive brick behemoth where German commanders set up headquarters during the Battle of Arnhem. Naturally, it became a prime target for British bombers and you can imagine what happened next. After a tour, we pedal away and say tot ziens (see ya) to Holland, crossing the border into Germany. Around the bend is Emmerich, home of Germany’s longest suspension bridge. This engineering feat spans some 1,600 ft across the Rhine and you can bike across for super aerial photos. Some 500 ships pass underneath it every day. Before the Rhine was channeled in the 1800s, sturgeon, shad and salmon used to swim the river — not anymore. Now barges are the big fish. Emmerich is also home to a WWII Biber submarine and one-man U-Boat in the Rhine Museum. We finally whoa-up in Rees, famous for its medieval wall, towers and river promenade with art sculptures, restaurants and cafés…the perfect place to raise your Riesling glass or beer stein and watch the Rhine flow by. Maybe you’ll find a special Rhinestone on the shoreline. We all need a lucky charm.
Rees - Wesel - Düsseldorf
The great Ruhr region was once Germany’s blast furnace during the Industrial Revolution, until recently. Pedalling peacefully along the Rhine, you’ll see historic factory stacks, now mostly quiet and converted into other uses and venues—a reminder of when coal was king. This area is also where Neanderthal Man was found in 1856. And, it’s home to the mega supermarket chain Aldi.
We sail from the world’s biggest inland harbour in Duisburg to the modern, sparkling city of Düsseldorf—Germany’s fashion and advertising capital. Think supermodel Claudia Schiffer. And it’s here you drink Altbier which doesn’t mean the beer is old; it’s a top-down fermentation style that’s hoppy and bitter-crisp. The waiters won’t ask if you want a second beer, it will just appear in front of you. We love that! Explore the Altstadt along the river or check out Media Harbor—the rehabbed riverside warehouse district that will blow your mind. The city sparkles with international flair, übermodern architecture and swanky folk. A casual feeling reigns in the evening when the “suits” loosen their ties at the 17th century Füchschen Brewery for roast pork shank (Haxen) Say it…“Haxen!” (one of our favourite barbarian words) You’ll need a couple of cold ones to wash down the Haxen. Bring it on Düsseldorf!
Duesseldorf to Zons
First, we take some time to see Dusseldorf by day and continue on a lovely ride partly along the meandering Rhine and end our cycling in Zons. This seemingly small town, has a very long history! The first settlement in the seventh!! Century. Tourists visit the village walls and gates.
Zons - Cologne
Today’s ride stretches from one rival city to the other. Be it beer suds or soccer clubs, ne’re the two agree. In Düsseldorf we drink Altbier, but you’ll forget that word exists when you arrive in Cologne. Here in Köln, Kölsch is king. It’s the largest city on our Rhine cruise and #4 after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. Everything worth seeing is within walking distance from the barge. The city isn’t just big—it’s ancient. The Romans set up their northern military headquarters here in 50 AD. And you thought Sauerbraten was a German dish? Once again, we can thank clever Romans for setting the trend of wine-soaked meats. During transport to troops stationed along the Rhine, the meats were marinating and not going bad…the result: tender, delicious and its a Rhineland specialty. This blending of Roman and Germanic cultures comes to life in the Roman-Germanic Museum. After the telecommunications tower with its rotating restaurant, Cologne Cathedral is next. This giant Gothic beauty reaches God’s ears. It’s longer than a football field and holds 20,000 people! It takes an army of specialists to maintain the 750-yr old landmark…80 stonemasons, glaziers and roofers. You’ll never forget the toll of her famous bells either. There are many free concerts. Ear plugs provided on Sundays—no joke. The best place to take it all in is at Café Reichard for a German trifecta: coffee, cake and cathedral views. BikePlanet’s favorite district for rambling is the medieval Hay Market. Here you can fill your steins with good Kölsch beer. Top it off with an order of Himmel un Ääd (heaven and earth). Apples and mashed potatoes is Cologne’s comfort food on steroids. What a colossal city.
Cologne - Bonn
Today a great ride into West Germany’s former Capitol city. When the wall came down in 1990 most of the government moved back to Berlin. It’s the birthplace of musical genius Ludwig van Beethoven. Even after he’d lost his hearing in his ‘20s, Beethoven continued to write classics like Moonlight Sonata. It’s a tune that puts you in the Bonn mood. This is also where gummy bears are born every day. You can visit the world-famous Haribo factory with all the gummy sweets and gadgets—imagine Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Sure Bonn has its “museum mile,” but Bonn’s parks and gardens are the cat’s meow when it’s sunny. The first-rate Botanical Gardens at Poppelsdorf Palace are among the oldest. Have you ever seen a water lily whose giant pads hold the weight of a 95 pound child!? And the world’s rarest flowering plant, titan arum—the stinky Sumatran Corpse Flower that takes 7 years to blossom for one day…fairytale flowers! Stroll Bonn’s endless river promenade and the nearby Rheinaue Leisure Park. So many sights right near our dock. For the best views of legendary Siebengebirge hills, join locals under the great chestnut trees at the ‘Alter Zoll’ beer garden. It’s a former Rhine toll station and military fort along the river and another BikePlanet favorite.
Bonn - Koblenz
This morning we cruise past the Siebengebirge (seven hills) and officially enter the legendary middle Rhine valley with its dramatic cliffs and curves, romantic castles, sloping vineyards and sleepy half-timbered villages. We sail past the ancient volcano, Dragon’s Rock where the hero Siegfried killed the dragon and bathed in its blood to become invincible. The Dragon’s Castle lies in ruins, a reminder of French revenge. Today’s biking starts in Remagen with a stop at Ludendorff Bridge. It was only one of two bridges still intact over the Rhine during Operation Lumberjack in the final days of WWII. In a stroke of good luck, U.S. Army got 25,000 troops, six Army divisions, tanks, artillery and trucks across the river. We pass little villages with old churches and medieval harbor crane. Arriving in Koblenz, we moor in the shadows of mighty Ehrenbreitenstein fortress. Here the noble Riesling grape is the Queen of Cups. Trocken means dry. Order one and prepare to become a convert for life. Prefer a beer in the Koblenz’ Biergarten? Just steps away from the barge.
Koblenz - Burg Eltz - Cochem
On a morning sail we cross the first lock and enter the Moselle! Drop off gives us a headstart to the foot of the hills where the Burg Eltz is hidden.
Untouched by wars or fires, you will find this beautiful castle worth the effort of walking to it. The guided tour takes you back through the ages. This is the best castle ever.
After our visit, we continue cycling to Cochem, the most visited village on the Moselle River. A bustling and characteristic Mosel town with steep wine-clad mountains, wooded hills, an impressive castle and a picturesque square with beautiful timber-framed houses and cafes. Time for a Moselle wine and our farewell diner!
Cochem, departure day
After breakfast, it is time to say goodbye. Time to depart before 9 AM, as the ship needs to prepare for the next trip.
Passenger barge IRIS
One of the best: our comfort plus barge IRIS, sailing since 2005. Fully air-conditioned, lovely front sundeck, lounge and dining-area and selfservice Bar. Delicious 3 course dinners and packed lunches. Lots of options at Breakfast
ready to dock!
If you do not feel like cycling you are welcome to stay on board and have a private cruise! Picture of IRIS
Perfect to enjoy a cold beer or glass of Pinot Gris from our self-serve Bar. Picture of IRIS
Your air-conditioned cabin has two comfortable beds and lots of storage (for such a small cabin!). Ensuite your private bathroom.
Picture of IRIS
our modern en suite bathroom
recently renovated, brand new for our tours!
just let us know
Included: on barge IRIS
- 9 nights on board
- Bed linen and towels
- 6 x dinner on board, 3 on your own account (Duesseldorf, Cologne and Koblenz)
- Packed lunches for bike trips
- Coffee and tea on board
- Tour guide (from 18 guests 2 guides)
- Cabins cleaned daily
- Climate-controlled cabins
- Helmets, panniers and waterbottle
- Entrance of National Park Hoge Veluwe and Kroeller Mueller Museum
- Visit Burg Eltz
- Bike rental € 130,– for a regular bike
- E-bike € 270,–
- Entrance fees for museums, monuments, etc.
- Travel and cancellation insurance
- Miscellaneous beverages and expenses on excursions.
- Gratuities for Staff and Guides
E-bikes on request & availability € 270,- per E bike (2023) on IRIS