2021 Daily Itinerary for the Summer on the Rhine Cruise

A different view of the same part of the Rhine as headed up the main tour page. Looks very different, doesn't it.

This is the day by day itinerary for our 2021 “Summer on the Rhine” cruise and is in three parts.

1.  The blue section immediately following details the optional pre-cruise extension in Switzerland that connects with the cruise.

2.  The green section in the middle is the main cruise.

3.  The blue section at the bottom is the optional post-cruise extension to Lille and perhaps on to Paris.

The main page explaining the tour and with the joining form is here.

Saturday 7 August (or sooner) : Travel to Zurich

You can choose your preferred airline and flights to get to Europe and Zurich and join the tour.

If you are planning to enjoy the optional pre-tour extension in Switzerland, you will probably need to fly to Switzerland (if you’re in the US) today.  

Most flights to Europe from the US are overnight, so you’d leave this afternoon and arrive tomorrow.

Of course, you can fly earlier to anywhere in Europe, either today or any earlier time, and travel on to Zurich on Sunday, perhaps by train, perhaps by plane, or get there any other way it suits you.

Sunday 8 August : Arrive Zurich

The Limmat river runs through Zurich.

Make your way to Zurich any time today and check into your hotel for the next two nights.

If you wanted to “play it safe” you might want to arrive a day early, or at least, make sure that your journey to Zurich today is from a nearby location rather than from the US, in case of any unexpected delays en route.  On the other hand, if you are a day late, the tour group will still be in Zurich tomorrow.

Monday 9 August : Zurich

Exploring Zurich's back streets and alleys reveals many charming scenes.

After breakfast this morning you’ll be taken for a guided “Little Big City” tour that shows you both Zurich’s historic past and its progressive future.

You have the afternoon to explore the city as you wish.

Tuesday 10 August : Zurich to Lucerne

One of the many steamboats that ply Lake Lucerne.

After breakfast this morning, there’s an easy short transfer to Lucerne, a lovely city on the banks of Lake Lucerne, the fourth largest of Switzerland’s beautiful lakes.

You’ll enjoy a lovely cruise on the lake, and will have the balance of the day free in Lucerne. 

Wednesday 11 August : Lucerne

Lucerne, and its lake behind it.

Lucerne has lots of history, dating back to the 13th century and even earlier.

After breakfast, you’ll be given a walking tour of the city, including the spectacular medieval walls and towers.

You have free time in the afternoon to get to know more of this lovely city on the shores of such a beautiful lake.

Thursday 12 August : Lucerne to Basel, board ship

The 1820 Lion Monument in Lucerne.
A street scene in the older part of Basel.
A night scene of Basel, on the banks of the Rhine.

After breakfast this morning we first visit the Lion Monument – a rock relief in the city itself.  This was sculpted in 1820-1821 in memory of the Swiss Guards massacred in Paris during the French Revolution.

It is then an easy hour and a half to Basel, where we’ll have a highlights tour of Switzerland’s third largest city.

Basel has long been an important university, banking and trade center, and its glorious past is still evident in its medieval Town Hall and beautiful 18th century patrician homes.

You’ve time to enjoy a bit more of Basel and have lunch, and then mid afternoon, we travel the very short distance on to where the Amamora is waiting for us.

This is the end of the optional pre- cruise tour.  Please now scroll down to Thursday 12 August in the main tour (green) section immediately below to continue the tour itinerary.

Wednesday 11 August (or sooner) : Fly to Basel

You can choose your preferred airline and flights to get to Basel and join the cruise.

If you are leaving from North America, and wish to arrive into Basel for the official start of the cruise on Thursday 12 August, you should start your travels today or (recommended) yesterday or even sooner.

Note we recommend arriving into Europe and getting close to Basel a day or more earlier so as to have spare/emergency time up your sleeve.  So you might choose to leave home a day or two prior to today.

We can arrange a transfer from the airport to the ship, but there’s not really any need for that.  Taxis from the airport are simple and reliable.

Thursday 12 August : Join the Amamora in Basel

A view of Basel from across the Rhine.
Meeting the captain, and ladies get a fresh rose.

We board the Amamora today.  You’re welcome on board, and if you arrive early, you’ll be cared for in the public areas while the rooms are being readied for you.  Rooms will be available at 3pm.

We suggest you don’t arrive too late in the day, because in the early evening there’s the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and introductions, and then of course, our first dinner on board.  They usually go to a bit of extra effort to make the first dinner a great one.

And, please, do be on board by about 9pm.  At 10pm, the ship sets sail down the Rhine.

Friday 13 August : Touring in either France or Germany

The beautiful French village of Riquewihr.
A back-street just a block or so from the main heart of Freiburg. It pays to seek out the quieter and more special parts of these historic towns.

We wake up in Breisach, on the German side of the river, this morning.  France is on the other side.

After breakfast, you can decide where you’d prefer to visit – a visit to Riquewihr in France, or to Freiburg in Germany.  Riquewihr, in the heart of the Alsace wine growing region, claims to be one of the most beautiful villages in France, and has wonderful old buildings going back to the 13th century.

Freiburg, founded in 1120, is so enchanting that I lost track of where I was and got lost the last time I was there!  Both it and Riquewihr are lovely places.

There are two more choices – an excursion through the lovely Black Forest in Germany, or a Breisach wine country bike tour.

We set sail again in the afternoon, giving us a relaxing afternoon cruising along the beautiful Rhine.

We arrive into Strasbourg after dinner this evening.  An evening stroll?

Saturday 14 August : Strasbourg

The "La Petite France" part of Strasbourg.
The European Parliament building in Strasbourg.
One of the inner city streets, with Notre Dame cathedral in the background.
The German seeming food on this Strasbourg street stall hints at the German influence in Alsace.

We spend all day in Strasbourg, on the west bank of the Rhine.  The other side of the Rhine is Germany.  It is the capital city of the Alsace region, and due to its location, has German influences as well as an undeniable French element.

It is also one of the two major administrative centers for the EU (together with Brussels) and lawmakers shuttle between the two cities, dividing their time between them.

We’ll have a lovely coach tour around the city, and then a chance to walk through the “La Petite France” area of historic buildings, and to the Notre Dame Cathedral (lots of cathedrals in France are called Notre Dame, not just the one in Paris).

If you’re seeking something more active, there will also be a bicycle tour around Strasbourg offered.

We stay in Strasbourg until 11pm, in case you wish to enjoy some Saturday night entertainment in the city.

Sunday 15 August : Heidelberg and Rudesheim

Heidelberg's castle overlooks the lovely historic town beneath it.
The enormous size of Speyer's cathedral - the largest Romanesque cathedral in Europe - is apparent when compared to the buildings around it.

A YouTube video showing aspects of the amazing Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum.

Today we have a “twofer” – we stop in two different places.

We arrive into Ludwigshafen, probably while you’re enjoying another sumptuous breakfast.  You’ll have a choice of three different tours this morning.  You could choose to visit Heidelberg, a perfectly preserved medieval city nestled in the Neckar River Valley along Germany’s Castle Road, and home to Germany’s oldest university (636 years old). Discover the iconic red sandstone Heidelberg Castle and Great Vat, an 18th-century 49,000-gallon wine cask – the largest in the world.

For a more active adventure while in Heidelberg, join a guided hike up the Philosopher’s Path, aptly named during the Romantic Period, and be rewarded with panoramic views of the city.

Or, ride along the river Neckar to the medieval town of Ladenburg where you’ll have some free time to explore the shops and quaint Marktplatz.

Alternatively, you can visit one of Germany’s oldest cities, Speyer, known for the largest Romanesque cathedral in Europe—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and the medieval Altpörtel, Old Gate.

In the early afternoon, we sail on to Rüdesheim, arriving there at 7.30pm, where we’ll stay overnight.

This evening you could visit an amazing collection of player pianos and other such devices at Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum.  As an alternative, a second tour of the town includes a chance to taste one of the town’s special delights, Rüdesheimer Coffee, ceremoniously made with brandy.

Monday 16 August : Rudesheim, Rhine Gorge, Lahnstein

Enjoy a scenic gondola ride from Rudesheim up to the Niederwalddenkmal Statue with wonderful views around the wine growing region and to the Rhine.
On the left, a 13th century castle overlooking the Rhine, on the right, the Lahnstein area, as shown on an early 1900s postcard.

We stay in Rudesheim all morning, and have a choice of three tours.

You could take a gondola ride to the Niederwalddenkmal Statue, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the river.  Afterwards, indulge your taste buds with a sampling of Riesling wines in the vineyards.

If you prefer a more active adventure, hike through Rüdesheim’s vineyards, taking in views of the town, the Roman Bridge and Bromersburg Castle.

Or join a guided bike ride through the town and along the Rhine River.

The ship sets sail once more at 1.30pm, and during the afternoon, we travel through the scenic 40 mile Rhine River Gorge with its fabled legends and many castles on hilltops looking down to the river.  This stunning section of the Rhine has been made a World Heritage Site.

We make our way to Lahnstein where you’ll enjoy a visit to Lahneck Castle.  We stay overnight in Lahnstein, leaving early the next morning.

Tuesday 17 August : Cologne

Cologne from the Rhine. Three "crane shaped" 17 story buildings in the foreground (two office, one residential), and the cathedral in the background.
For a change, perhaps consider a bike tour today?
Lovely view across the Rhine to Cologne's glorious cathedral.

Shortly after midday, we arrive in Cologne, a city dating back at least 2,000 years.  We have three tour choices this afternoon.

The first choice is a walking tour of the city, going through Cologne’s “Old Town” area, including a visit to one of Germany’s most revered Gothic masterpieces, the Cologne Cathedral, now UNESCO-designated cathedral, and where the remains of the fabled Three Kings—the Magi— are believed to rest.

Alternatively, ride a bike along the Rhine and through the historic Stadtgarten.

Or if you prefer indulgence to exercise or touring, the third tour takes us to a local tavern to taste Kölsch beer and reibekuchen mit apfelmus—potato pancakes served with applesauce.  Better go easy on your lunch if this is your choice!

We leave Cologne in the early evening and cruise through the night.

Wednesday 18 August : Amsterdam

Welcome to Amsterdam!
Amsterdam's canals, bridges, and architecture is sure to captivate and enchant you.
We overnight in Amsterdam. Perhaps an after-dinner canalside stroll?

We have a relaxing morning of cruising, turning off the Rhine and traveling up the canal to Amsterdam, arriving there just after midday.

Amsterdam boasts amazing history, art, architecture, and museums, and you have a choice as to how you wish to explore it. The famous canals of Amsterdam await discovery on your city tour beginning with a scenic canal cruise.

If you prefer exploring the world with your taste buds, stroll past traditional canals, gabled houses, narrow bridges and house boats to taste Dutch specialties at a grand Amsterdam café (this tour assumes we can dock at the usual location – occasionally the ship is moved to an alternate dock which makes this walking tour impractical).

Thursday 19 August : Cruise ends in Amsterdam

Unmistakably, Amsterdam.

This morning marks the end of the main tour.  Because the ship arrived into Amsterdam yesterday afternoon, you can obviously leave as early as you like, or if you prefer, enjoy one last lovely breakfast before leaving Amamora and continuing on as you choose.

Hopefully you’ll be coming with us for our extension down to Lille and on to Paris.  Please continue reading the next section for details of our optional post-cruise extension.

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2021 Summer on the Rhine cruise, or continue reading for the optional post-tour extension in France and Belgium, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

Thursday 19 August : Touring to Lille

The Old Port in Rotterdam.
A mix of architectural styles in the Zurenborg residential area of Antwerp.
The Grand Place in Antwerp.

If you are continuing on with us (and of course, we hope you are!), we’ll meet up with our guide for the next some days (Christine, someone who has worked with previous groups of Travel Insiders and been universally praised by everyone on such tours) and leave Amsterdam this morning after breakfast.

Traveling by coach, we first visit Rotterdam, a curious mix of old and new, and with the largest port in Europe.

After time in Rotterdam, we cross the border into Belgium and travel on to Antwerp, the largest diamond hub in the world, with about 80% of all diamonds passing through Antwerp.  Thousands of diamond traders, cutters, and polishers are based in the city center.

After time to buy a diamond or two (!) and to have lunch, we’ll continue on to lovely Lille in northern France, where we’ll stay for the next four nights.

Friday 20 August : Lille

Formerly the cloisters, now a beautifully restored and characterful part of the interior lobby area of the Couvent des Minimes Hotel in Lille.
The Stock Exchange in Lille.
Fountains in the grounds of the Palais des Beaux Arts in Lille, the largest museum outside The Louvre.

Lille is a lovely city, and we’re in a lovely hotel from which to enjoy it.

This morning we’ll go on a tour around the city so you can get your bearings and understand where the best places to eat, drink, sightsee and shop are.

This afternoon you’ll have free time to see more of Lille as you wish.

If enough people request it, we might see if Christine can give us an optional afternoon tour to some more of Lille and the surrounding area.

Saturday 21 August : To Dunkirk and St Omer

In May 1940 almost 200,000 troops were evacuated off (now the remains of) the one mile long East Mole in Dunkirk harbor.
Painting of the Descent from the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens at Saint-Omer Cathedral

We head out of Lille this morning, traveling first to Dunkirk.  We probably don’t need to tell you too much about why we’re going there, and of course we’ll see the beach where the British evacuated from.  We’ll also see some of the quiet backstreet residential parts of the town as well, to understand it from a local perspective as well as its WW2 fame.

After lunch, we travel to the town of St Omer, a historic town dating back to the 600s, possibly earlier.  If people preferred, we could visit the Museum of La Coupole, just out of St Omer, built in the tunnels of what was a WW2 German V2 site.

Sunday 22 August : Ypres and Bruges

Bruges is definitely the most beautiful town in Belgium.
300,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives around Ypres in WW1. The Menin Gate entrance into Ypres honors the 90,000 of them who were never found and formally buried.
The backs of the buildings, facing onto the canals in Bruges, are just as beautiful as the fronts.

We’ll spend much of today in Belgium, with two major stops and perhaps one or two other stops too.

The first major stop is in the town of Ypres, in one of the most fought-over regions during WW1.  Even now, there are areas where people can not go due to so many unexploded munitions barely beneath the surface of the ground.  Ypres itself has repaired its battle damage and now is a lovely small town.

We move on to Bruges, perhaps the most charming and beautiful destination in Belgium, and a UNESCO world heritage site.  It is well known for its beer, its chocolate, its lace, its canals, and its historic buildings.

Monday 23 August : Extension ends (Train to Paris?)

The Grand Place in Lille.

I hope you enjoyed your time in and around Lille.  This morning represents the end of this post-tour extension.

You’re free to now do what you wish, where and how you wish.  I’m planning on heading to Paris – it is a simple short one hour train journey to the Gare du Nord station in Paris.  If you’ll be flying home, it is also an hour (or less) to take a train direct to Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Let me know if I can suggest or help with your onward plans.

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2021 Summer on the Rhine cruise, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

An earlier Travel Insider group enjoying a meal in Lille.
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