FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Romancing The Rhine

Jun 1, 2015
2015 / May 2015

A kaleidoscope of color bursts above the Rhine River as flotillas of brightly lit boats ply the storybook setting. The crowd goes wild. The fireworks display, called Rhine in Flames, is one of many annual festivals along the ancient waterway. But there’s always been great fanfare in this European region whose spectacular scenery has fueled generations of poets, painters and composers.

This major European border river — whose Celtic name Renos means “raging flow” — spills into the North Sea from its source, a glacier in the Swiss Alps. Roughly 820 miles long, the nautical lifeline winds through Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands as it tugs at visitors’ heartstrings through a string of historic cities.

Cradled in a landscape mired in mountains, plateaus and terraced viniferous slopes, this chunk of Europa is molded as much by manmade forces as by nature. The wondrous scenery encompasses some of the Continent’s oldest wineries, fortresses, ancient castles and medieval villages. No river in Europe is richer in legends and myths than the Rhine.

No wonder a young Beethoven drew inspiration from its ebb and flow at his home in Bonn, Germany. The Middle Rhine from Bonn to Mainz courses 760 miles past medieval castles and villages, while the Upper Rhine Valley affords an easy way to visit Switzerland, France and Germany.

So kick back and get a feel for the Rhine. Experience romance and nostalgia in guided or self-guided tours via a scenic river cruise, culinary and wine tours, or cycling if time permits. Any major hub like Frankfurt, Basel, Strasbourg or Düsseldorf serves as a good launch pad for the legendary Rhine excursions.

Father Rhine and His Daughters sculpture in Düsseldorf

Father Rhine and His Daughters sculpture in Düsseldorf © Hel080808 | Dreamstime.com

The Neo-Baroque sculpture Father Rhine and His Daughters in Düsseldorf makes a fabulous introduction to the Rhine-Romantic Route, a 364-mile stretch from Düsseldorf to Mainz linking Germany’s best-loved tales. Stop in Bonn to visit the Beethoven-Haus museum. Listen to an audio guide of Beethoven recordings as you view manuscripts and mementoes. In autumn, music fans gather for the annual BeethovenFest Bonn, which heralds an international ensemble of acclaimed performers.

As you pass by the craggy Siebengebirge, myths come alive. Learn the story of how the dwarves digging up lakes and throwing the dirt over their shoulders created the “seven mountains.” The natural beauty of rugged cliffs and steep slopes holds a commanding sight as you enter the narrows of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley.

A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2002, this 35-mile section between Koblenz and Bingen is the most popular Rhine sightseeing spot with a patchwork of 40 castles of the 12th to 15th centuries. Meshed between quaint villages and crumbling ruins, this protected area boasts the most castles and palaces in the world. Tour Marksburg Castle, the only intact castle in the Rhine Valley, and Burg Rheinstein, a symbol of Germany’s Romanticism period.

Marksburg Castle atop the mountain

Marksburg Castle atop the mountain © Serrnovik | Dreamstime.com

Some 20 million visitors wander the Upper Middle Rhine Valley every year. Explore quaint villages like St. Goar for cuckoo clocks and beer steins, then ascend the hillsides to fairy-tale places. High atop a cliff looms the Rhine’s largest castle, Burg Rheinfels, open for tours. In Koblenz, ride the cable car for stunning panoramas across the river to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Nicknamed “The Guard of the Rhine,” the Prussian-built structure built in 1817–1828 overlooks the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers.

Around the river’s narrowest point rises the Loreley, the rock named after a legendary mermaid whose song caused innumerable shipwrecks that still captivates those who pass by. At the Loreley Valley Visitor Center get information on nature, hikes and wine tasting tours. In summer, enjoy a concert at the Loreley Open-Air Theatre.

Ever since the Romans introduced grapevines here, oenophiles have enjoyed extraordinary vintages. In the Middle Rhine, one of Germany’s famous wine regions, sample fruity, tart Rieslings at the Weingut Bastian in Bacharach and meet eighth-generation winemaker Friedrich Bastian, known as the singing winemaker.

Sightseers flock to the round-trip river cruises from Bingen and Rüdesheim for enchanting Loreley and castle-themed tours at the UNESCO southern gateway to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Bingen is laden with quaint cobbled streets and vine-growing slopes, while neighboring Rüdesheim boasts castles, regal residences, churches and eclectic museums. Diners retreat to quaint taverns for local delicacies and to sip Asbach brandy, produced in Rüdesheim since 1892.

In the Upper Rhine Valley, which attracted 20 million visitors in 2013, rolling hills rise gently on both sides of the river to the German Black Forest and French Vosges. Bound by Germany, Switzerland and France, this area remains rich in traditions, history, wine and food. Enjoy some of the finest cuisine in a region the size of Tuscany, and save room for the luxurious spas where the Ancient Romans once indulged.

The world-renowned hot springs around Baden-Baden once attracted guests like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy for the healing qualities of the thermal spas and the gaming tables of the casino. Entertainment remains a common pastime in this playground of the rich and famous. Head to Germany’s oldest casino, Casino Baden-Baden, built in 1824, or watch an opera at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Germany’s largest opera house. Exquisite private art collections are on display at the Fabergé Museum and the Richard Meier-designed Museum Frieder Burda.

In a 120-mile strip of land in northeast France bordering the Rhine and the Vosges Mountains lies Alsace, France’s smallest region. The hilltops possess 400 castle ruins, Europe’s richest region of feudal castles. By the forest of Sélestat rises the fabled Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, a restored fort that remains one of the most frequently visited in France.

Blessed by fertile soils and a good climate, Alsace’s white wines are highly sought after along the flat-lying Route des Vins, where Sylvaner, the most widely grown grape, produces a light and sparkling wine. Many winemakers offer wine tours and free tastings. The charming town of Colmar, the capital of Alsace wines, boasts the nickname “La Petite Venice” because of the half-timbered houses lining the canals. It carries another big claim as the birthplace of Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the Statue of Liberty. Visit his nascent home to view personal mementoes and models.

Along the Franco-German border lies the Alsatian capital of Strasbourg. The historic town center of Grand Île is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg is currently celebrating its millennial anniversary. The Gothic structure, once the world’s tallest building, is situated in the lively Cathedral Plaza. Stroll by a warren of tightly woven cobbled streets in the quarter La Petite France with its whimsical, half-timbered buildings and stop by the waterways replete with fine taverns and shops. Sightseers can easily walk across a bridge linking Germany and France to watch the sailing ships.

Cafés in La Petite France, Strasbourg

Cafés in La Petite France, Strasbourg © Sergey Kelin | Dreamstime.com

Foodies, meanwhile, hone in on the thriving culinary scene as 66 Michelin-starred chefs dazzle the Upper Rhine Valley. Strasbourg, one of France’s great gastronomic cities, boasts such institutions as Au Crocodile, renowned for its fine Alsatian fare. Baden-Baden lures culinary highbrows to its newly anointed Michelin 2-star Brenners Park Restaurant.

Wherever in the Rhine region, visitors discover quaint taverns and cafés around for generations that have their own charm and rightfully need to be sampled, one spoonful at a time. The profusion of customs, tastes, sights and sounds along these fabled riverbanks will no doubt make any visitor kick back and stay awhile.

Rhine Info to Go

You can explore the Rhine River Valley from several hubs. To start a Rhine River cruise, regular train service runs from Frankfurt Airport (FRA) to towns along the Rhine. Rüdesheim, Bingen and Koblenz are popular port towns for day cruises.

Where to Stay in the Rhine

Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa Offering unparalleled luxury, this legendary spa hotel from the Belle Époque situated by the green-fringed Lichtentaler Allee features exquisite amenities with fine service. 4-6 Schillerstrasse, Baden-Baden, Germany $$$$$

The Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois Overlooking the Rhine River by the Old Town in Basel, one of Europe’s oldest 5-star hotels boasts 110 luxurious guestrooms and a bevy of famous guests. 8 Blumenrain, Basel, Switzerland $$$$$

Hôtel des Berges Along the tranquil L’Ill River in Alsace, this 5-star family-run hotel between Colmar and Strasbourg blends opulent romance with a ravishing Romeo and Juliet suite. 4 Rue de Collonges au Mont d’Or, Illhaeusern, France $$$$$

Restaurants in the Rhine

Auberge de l’Ill At one of the oldest 3-star restaurants in France enjoy a menu inspired by acclaimed founding chef Paul Haeberlin with handpicked wines by the “best sommelier in the world,” Serge Dubs. Hôtel des Berges, 4 Rue de Collonges au Mont d’Or, Illhaeusern, France $$$$$

Au Crocodile Legendary Michelin 3-star chef Emile Jung has left the building, but this temple of gastronomy still conjures the finest Alsatian fare with Chef Philip Bohrer’s classic French cuisine. 10 Rue de l’Outre, Strasbourg, France $$$$$

Stübers Restaurant Enjoy an extraordinary farm-to-table experience overlooking the Rhine. Celebrity chef Andreas Steuber celebrates the world heritage region in his locally infused menu. Rhein-Hotel Bacharach, 50 Langstrasse, Bacharach, Germany $$$$$

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Jul 30, 2021

American Airlines Uses Science-Based Targets to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

With more companies around the world becoming more environmentally friendly, American Airlines recently announced it committed to set a science-based target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This move will sharpen the company’s strategy for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and aligns its path with the global imperative of limiting temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Sports Industry Awards returns to Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah for 8th Edition

The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.

United Arab Emirates
Jul 29, 2021

World’s Deepest Pool Opens in Dubai

Deep Dive Dubai, home of the deepest swimming pool for diving in the world, opened in Dubai, in the Nad Al Sheba neighborhood. Guinness World Records verified the pool as the world’s deepest swimming pool for diving at a depth of 60.02 meters, or almost 197 feet, holding 14 million liters of water, equivalent to six Olympic-sized swimming pools.

eFlyer Reviews
Jul 28, 2021

JW Marriott New Orleans Review

Family gatherings are extra special this year and we chose to celebrate a milestone birthday in New Orleans. The JW Marriott New Orleans, across the street from the historic French Quarter, is ideally situated for exploring the city. Streetcars roll in front of the property and are especially fun for first-time visitors. Within a ¾-mile radius, we could walk to the National WWII Museum, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Sazerac House, Harrah’s Casino, the Shops of Canal Place and numerous restaurants.

Finest Punta Cana is Where You Should Stay Next

You probably didn’t know you needed to visit the Dominican Republic until you learned about the new, beautiful, modern, all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.

eFlyer News
Jul 28, 2021

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 2024 World Cruise Breaks Booking Record for Third Year

For the third year in a row, Regent Seven Seas Cruises broke the company’s world cruise opening day booking record. The 2024 World Cruise sold out around 11 a.m. on July 14, after going on sale that morning at 8:30 a.m. Fares started at $73,499 per guest for a deluxe veranda suite, up to $199,999 per guest for a master suite.

Sports & Games
Jul 28, 2021

Paddleboard Around the World with iROCKER SUP Boards

Now is the time to get out of the house, soak in the sun and try something new. From bread making to learning the latest TikTok dance, Americans picked up new hobbies since the COVID-19 pandemic. As travel gets busier, keep the momentum going with paddle boarding that can travel with you anywhere in the world.

Elevate Your Travel Experience with AirPass

As more travelers return to the skies, American is here every step of the way to ensure an elevated and seamless journey. Experience flying freedom with AirPass, American’s all-inclusive, pre-paid travel membership program.

Daily
Jul 27, 2021

6 Reasons to Put Okinawa, Japan, on Your Travel List

As the vaccine rolls out and travel picks up, it’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Okinawa with us.