Rhine and Main River day-trip pleasure cruise boat excursions are possible during the pre-Christmas advent period from Rüdesheim, Mainz, and Frankfurt with Rhein boat cruises possible in the Loreley Valley some winter days.
Day-trip riverboat cruise excursions on the Rhine are far less common during winter than in summer. However, in winter, KD riverboats often cruise on the Rhine from Rüdesheim / Bingen to St Goar / St Goarhausen (and the Loreley Rock). During the pre-Christmas Advent season, sightseeing pleasure cruises depart mostly on weekend afternoons from Rüdesheim, Bingen, Mainz, and Frankfurt am Main. Special New Year’s Eve cruises depart from Frankfurt to welcome the New Year on the Main River and from Rüdesheim, Koblenz, and Mainz on the Rhine.
KD’s winter program is in operation from 23 October 2023 to 29 March 2024. Car and passenger ferries operate year-round on the Rhine.
Winter Rhine River Cruises in the Loreley Valley in Germany
Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) operates pleasure boat day-trip excursion cruises on the Rhine River throughout the year. Even during most of the winter, KD’s Rhine riverboats cruise along the Middle Rhine and the Loreley Valley – the most beautiful part of the Rhine River in Germany.
During the winter season, is usually possible to cruise from Rüdesheim / Bingen to St Goar / St Goarhausen past the Loreley Rock on daily cruises.
During winter, reservations are essential (tel 0221-2088-318) as boats only operate if there is sufficient demand. These boats may sail daily but it is worth having alternative dates available if not. Sightseeing cruises also depart from Cologne during winter (mostly on weekends).
KD’s winter schedule for Rhine River day trips cruises operates from late October to a few days before Christmas and again from early January to early April. From a few days before Christmas until early January, no Rhine River boat excursions are possible except for the special New Year’s Eve party boats in Cologne, Düsseldorf, or Frankfurt am Main, Mainz, and Koblenz (see below).
Christmas Market Rhine River Cruises from Rüdesheim and Bingen
Rüdesheim annually hosts the International Christmas Market of the Nations (Weihnachtsmarkt der Nationen) from around November 20 to December 23. (The day of the week that Christmas Day falls on determines the exact dates for the given year.) The market is hugely popular with day-trippers and bus parties, who are well-catered for in Rüdesheim year-round.
In 2023, the Rüdesheim Christmas market is from 20 November to 23 December 2023.
KD’s riverboats depart on most weekend afternoons during the Christmas market period on two-hour sightseeing cruises from Rüdesheim and Bingen. Coffee and cakes are available but not compulsory.
Bingen-Rüdesheimer operates the car ferry crossing the Rhine year-round but also has pleasure boat cruises. From early November to 23 December, daily departures are possible in the afternoons from Bingen / Rüdesheim to Assmansshausen, weekends all the way to Rheinstein, and on some Thursday and Friday evenings fondue cruises.
Christmas Market Main River Cruises from Frankfurt in Germany
Frankfurt am Main annually hosts the biggest Christmas market with the tallest Christmas tree in Germany. (Both claims are disputed by other cities but the Weihnachtsmarkt is jolly good and big anyway.)
During the Christmas market period, it is possible to take one-hour and two-hour sightseeing cruises on the Main most Friday and weekend afternoons. Food and drinks are available but not compulsory. Both KD and Primus Linie boats depart from Frankfurt am Main.
On Friday and Saturday nights during Advent, a three-hour all-inclusive dinner cruise may be booked for around €80.
Similar cruises are usually also available in Mainz.
The main attraction of a Main riverboat cruise is to see Frankfurt’s skyline, as it remains the only German city with a concentration of truly tall buildings. If nature and romantic historic castles are of more interest, take the train to Rüdesheim and cruise the Loreley Valley instead. Tours from Frankfurt to the Rhine by bus with a cruise on the river are often available in winter too.
New Year’s Eve Cruises from Frankfurt, Koblenz and Mainz
KD’s Silvesterparty (New Year’s Eve party) boats depart Frankfurt ( also on Primus Linie), Koblenz, and Mainz around 8 pm on December 31 and return around 1 am on New Year’s Day. These all-inclusive party boat cruises include a buffet dinner, unlimited drinks, Sekt at midnight, and dancing to DJ-played music. Prices are around €190.
Early bookings are advisable — 2023/24 New Year’s Cruises from Rüdesheim were already sold out in mid-October 2023.
More on the Rhine River in Germany
Day-Trip Excursions and Pleasure Cruises on the Rhine River:
- Middle Rhine (Loreley Valley) — UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed Area and the best part of the Rhine River for short and all-day boat cruises:
- Lower Rhine — Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn to Linz
- Special events: Cruises to Rhine in Flames Fireworks, Christmas and New Year’s Cruises in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Rüdesheim
- Moselle River Cruises (Cochem, Bernkastel-Kues, Trier, Koblenz, Burg Eltz)
- Cruises on the Main River in Frankfurt (or better By Train from Frankfurt to the Best Rhine Cruises)
- Cruises from Worms, Mannheim, Heidelberg (on the Neckar River)
- Cruises from Speyer
- Rhinefalls (Rhine Waterfalls, Schaffhausen, Stein am Rhein, Kreuzlingen) in Switzerland
Tips and Savings on Day-Trip Rhine Cruises