River-faring vessels have access to more than 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) of inland waterways in Germany. Many routes are sought after by travelers who enjoy relaxing on a cruise ship and letting the world drift by.
Go with the flow and get to know Germany from another perspective
For some, a cruise is the ultimate upmarket vacation, while for others it means boring bourgeoisie. But the view from the deck of a cruise ship doesn't always have to be drab and monotonous.
The alternative to a high-sea tour is to take an inland river cruise on one of Germany's many trafficked waterways -- and take in German cultural history along the way. Opportunities for multiple-day trips are plentiful -- whether on the Rhine, the Weser, the Danube or the Moselle.
The River Rhine -- muse of poets and painters
The Rhine is Germany's most famous river, in part because so much has been written about it.
The Loreley on the Rhine has been an inspiration to creative minds for centuries
It was mainly the Romantic painters and poets of the mid-19th century that turned their attention to the water cutting through the western edge of Germany. Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), for example, dedicated one of his world famous poems to the Lorelei cliffs that overlook the Rhine near St. Goarshausen.
A trip down the Rhine can be particularly romantic, despite the occasional turbulence-causing shallows.
Following the footprints of the Romantics
For the traveler interested in learning more about the history and culture of southern Germany, a cruise on the Danube River would be a good choice. Europe's second longest river, the Danube has a wealth of history to offer its visitors -- even the Romans left their traces along the river.
Some unusual musicians await visitors in Bremen on the Weser
The Danube flows by the medieval city of Regensburg, then crosses the German border and continues on to Vienna and Budapest. Castles, chateaus and vineyards are visible from the river and invite travelers to disembark and try their land legs.
Nature and culture
A river cruise on the Oder, Germany's eastern most river, is also an exploration of the German-Polish border. Visitors glide past natural parks like the Maerkische Schweiz and unique everglades like the Oderbruch.
Medieval Regensburg is a highlight on Europe's second longest river, the beautiful blue Danube
A river trip from Magdeburg to Prague is a good option for the traveler with plenty of time. The Elbe, the most important waterway between southeastern and northeastern Europe, is over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) long. The Bauhaus city of Dessau and Martin Luther's Wittenberg are located near the banks of the Elbe, as are Meissen with its china manufacturers and Dresden, the capital of Saxony.
Fairy tale travels on the Weser
Many German fairy tales and legends have their roots on the river. A traveler on the Weser River, for example, passes through northern Germany where the legendary musicians attract visitors to Bremen and, a bit further upriver, the Pied Piper whistles river-drifters to Hamelin.