Updated: Sep 26, 2019
Now that September is only a week away, let's talk about fall vacations for those of you who are planning a last minute getaway. One of the best places to visit this time of year is the Rhine, and my favorite way to see it? A river cruise. River cruises are probably the most laid back way to experience the destination. You unpack once and never need to worry about a renting a car or catching a train to the next destination - you just...relax! The stunning landscapes that you will watch slip by from the deck or your stateroom will be tinged with gold and red. Onshore you will walk or bike along paths and cobblestoned streets covered with fallen leaves. Fall is a magical time of year anywhere, but with the harvest in the vineyards and the local events, there is nowhere like the Rhine.
The Rhine is lined with over 40 castles, so sit back and relax as you glide along the river and keep an eye out for the castles silhouetted against the sky as you float by. Rhine river cruises are also known for their opportunities for active adventure along the way, and there is so better time of year to take a guided hike or bike ride. Both hiking through Germany's famous Black Forest before enjoying a slice of the namesake cake, or pedaling along the river and through the charming towns you find along the way are both particularly lovely when the cooler weather comes along.
If you choose to extend your trip, there are also a number of authentic local events that you can time your visit to coincide with so that you can get a better taste for local life. In Amsterdam, where many cruises along the Rhine either depart or end, they have the Amsterdam Pure Markt which is held every second Sunday of the month through October. In Switzerland, Basel is having their Wine Fair from the end of October through early November. Swiss wines are not as well known outside the EU, but they are truly lovely and definitely worth trying for those of you who love wine! And, not to be outdone, Heidelberg in Germany is holding the Enjoy Jazz Music Festival from October through mid-November. And this is just a sample of what the Rhine has to offer!
If September and October are a little too close to plan your travel, have you considered a Christmas Markets river cruise? The Rhine and the Danube come alive for the festive season, with twinkling lights, a cozy atmosphere, and charming Christmas markets to explore. The markets open in mid to late November and stay open until late December, so it is a great way to get in the Christmas spirit and purchase some unique Christmas gifts for friends and family back home. If you want to be away during the holidays, Christmas and New Years are particularly special when enjoyed onboard a river cruise. Each ship truly gets in the spirit of the holidays and there are special events and Christmas surprises for both the young and young at heart.