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. We will start our sailing on the Moselle though! the Moselle/Rhine confluence is at Koblenz.
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. See the “Bridge too far” and hear about Operation Market Garden, where so many lives were lost. Cycle through the car-free National Park and visit the unique private collection of van Gogh and the magnificent sculpture garden. Make sure you book some extra nights in Amsterdam to enjoy this world-class city.
Your adventure ends in Amsterdam. What more should we say? Bikes. Canals. Tall, beautiful people who speak fluent English. Those hazy cafés. Cosy 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.
But maybe all this and those vineyards and castles don’t float your boat. Or beer and brats don’t sizzle your steak…If mile-high cakes don’t make your heart beat faster or if noble wines or locally brewed beers don’t tickle your fancy, then you won’t like it here. But if all this sounds better than Disney, we’ll see you soon.Read more
Today you join the IRIS, docked in Cochem and enjoy the day in this typical Moselle&Wine village. The guide will take you on a walk to the Burg (Castle) to have a guided tour there!
Cochem - Burg Eltz - Koblenz
Our first ride will be along the river on the Moselle bike path. We will visit Burg Eltz today!. Part of it walking, as it is well hidden in the hills. This Castle is different from any other castle. It remained unscathed by wars. It has been owned and cared for by the same family from when it was built until today. Its architecture has no comparison and many of the original furnishings of the past eight centuries still remain in place. There are a Treasury and Armoury boasting world-class artworks in gold and silver. It towers high on a large rock but is still in a valley. So you understand: we have to go there! After this great visite, we will bike back to the barge, which will offer us an afternoon cruise to Koblenz were we will dock for the night.
Koblenz has a beautiful “Altstadt” (old city) in the triangle between the Mosel and the Rhine River.
Koblenz to Bonn, sailing to Cologne
In Koblenz, where we moored in the shadows of mighty Ehrenbreitenstein fortress, we will leave the hills with the noble Riesling grape. Did you enjoy a beer in the Koblenz’ Biergarten? Just steps away from the barge?
It’s time to start on our Rhine descent! 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. We will visit 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 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. 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 favourite. We will join the IRIS and enjoy a sail into 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 speciality. 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. Earplugs 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 favourite 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 to Düsseldorf
Today’s ride stretches from one rival city to the other. Be it beer suds or soccer clubs, the two won’t agree. In Düsseldorf, we drink Altbier, and we need to forget we ever had a Koelsch one. This is 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!
Düsseldorf to Rees
Our last harbour to reach is in a quiet little town called Rees, at the banks of the river. It’s not far from the borders to the Netherlands now! The closer you get to the border, the more rural the area is. We will cycle along meadows and dykes on this day, and leave the big German cities behind. So we spend our last German night 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. Let’s see if Rees still offers its sculptures depicting everyday people in a funny way.
Rees to Arnhem, the Netherlands
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 got channelled 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-person U-Boat in the Rhine Museum.
We cycle across the border and enter the Netherlands. Definitely not Holland, which is officially only the name for the two provinces at the west of the country. Here in the east, we are OK, but not more than that, if you say you are in Holland. But you can call us Dutch…everywhere in the country!
An area 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 stop at the Castle and maybe that great group picture to remember, we will continue to a pickup and sail into Arnhem.
Arnhem, the city of a bridge too far, the John Frost bridge is close to the docking spot. A town heavily attacked and a battleground in the days of 1944 where the Allies launched Operation Market Garden.
Arnhem - Hoge Veluwe - Wijk bij Duurstede
Today we are leaving the Rhine at Arnheim and cycle on its cyclepaths up to the National Park Hoge Veluwe. This park is almost totally car free, and bikes are the way to visit it!
We will spend some time, as much as we can, at the Museum, which is famous for its large collection of van Gogh pictures! AND its sculpture garden. So here we have a dilemma about where to spend our time. Did I mention the lunch options already?
After our break, we continue cycling through the park and leave it to get back to the river and its dykes. See if we can reach Wijk bij Duurstede, a lovely little walled medieval town, with a windmill at the harbour. How Dutch can we get?
Wijk bij Duurstede to Amsterdam
We will start with a long morning sail, to drop you off at Breukelen, yes, indeed: where Brooklyn NY gets the name!
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 their country homes, or better: estates. The little winding river is a branch of the Rhine.
And then, finally, we arrive in Amsterdam. The old city of Amsterdam is maintained perfectly and has so much to offer that we certainly recommend you to stay here a (few) day(s) longer!
Amsterdam, time to say goodbye
After the last on board breakfast buffet, it’s time to say goodbye to the crew and your fellow cyclists.
Tot ziens, Auf Wiederschauen, Goodbye!
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 cruise?
If you do not feel like cycling you are welcome to stay on board and have a private cruise!
Your air-conditioned cabin has two comfortable beds and lots of storage (for such a small cabin!). Ensuite your private bathroom
Perfect to enjoy a cold beer or glass of Pinot Gris from our self-service Bar.
What’s Included on the Bike&Barge tour:
- 8 nights onboard
- Bed linen and towels
- 7 x dinner onboard
- A glass of wine or beer at dinner
- 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
- Guided tour at Burg Cochem
- Guided tour at Castle Eltz
- Entrance to the National Park Hoge Veluwe and Museum
What’s Not included:
- Bike rental € 90,- per bike (2020)
- E-bike on availability, € 180,- (2020)
- 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 € 180,- per bike