Day trips and boat pleasure cruises on the Rhine River (Rhein) and Loreley Valley are easy from Frankfurt am Main Hauptbahnhof and Airport (FRA) in Germany — use the train to Rüdesheim or Koblenz.
Regular day pleasure boat cruises on the Rhine River (Rhein) rarely depart from Frankfurt am Main itself but are easily arranged. Fast trains from the Hauptbahnhof and Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) allow even passengers with a few hour stopovers to enjoy cruising Germany’s most famous river and see popular sights including castles and the Loreley Rock. It is a short train ride from Frankfurt’s main station or directly from the airport to Rhine towns including Rüdesheim, Bingen, and Koblenz, which are all ideal departure ports for Rhine River valley day pleasure cruises. Organized day-trip tours including bus transportation are available in the high season while boats cruise on the Main River for one-hour panorama cruises almost daily.
Day Cruise Trips on the Rhine River from Frankfurt am Main
Although day pleasure cruise boats depart from many cities and towns between Mainz and Cologne, the most popular part of the Rhine River for day cruises is the Loreley Valley with boats departing from Rüdesheim or Bingen to St Goar and St Goarhausen. This part of the Rhine River valley is inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list. Here the valley is the steepest and narrowest, often covered by vineyards, and sporting a castle or castle ruin every two kilometers or so.
Rüdesheim is one of the best departure ports for pleasure cruises on the Rhine. Rüdesheim sees many departures by numerous cruise lines including the largest (KD Köln-Düsseldorfer) and many smaller (and sometimes slightly cheaper) boat operators. Rüdesheim also has excellent train connections to Frankfurt with the Rüdesheim (Rhein) train station very close to the boat landing, as is the case in most Rhine villages — see train timetable to Rüdesheim at Deutsche Bahn.
See also Day Trip Rhine and Main River Cruise Boats from Frankfurt for pleasure boat excursions on the Main and Rhine, although the train to Rüdesheim is generally a better choice than the boat to see the best parts of the Rhine.
By Train from Frankfurt am Main and Airport to the Rhine River
Frankfurt am Main is Germany’s transportation hub. Not only is Frankfurt International Airport by far the busiest in Germany but the Hauptbahnhof is also the most important railway hub in Germany.
Numerous routings are available from Frankfurt to the Rhine Valley but it is best to stick to direct trains – missed connections, and German regional trains, unfortunately, do not always run like clockwork, which can mean long delays in boring stations.
Regional Express (RE) or Regional Bahn (RB) trains run from Frankfurt Main Station on either side of the Rhine and again meet up at Koblenz at the confluence of the Mosel and the Rhine. Trains on the right bank run mostly once per hour while the faster trains on the left bank run every two hours. RB and RE trains are local trains on which many discount tickets such as the Hessenticket or even the RMV Day Ticket may be accepted.
Trains on the Right Bank of the Rhine River in Germany
Traveling times from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to major stops along the Rhine where connections are available with Rhine day excursion boats are:
- Frankfurt-Höchst – 10 minutes
- Mainz-Kastel – 25 minutes
- Wiesbaden – 35 minutes
- Eltville – 53 minutes
- Rüdesheim (Rhein) – 1h12
- Lorch – 1h22
- Kaub – 1h29
- St Goarhausen – 1h39 (Loreley Rock)
- Kamp Bornhofen – 1h50
- Braubach – 2h00 (Marksburg)
- Koblenz – 2h15
- Neuwied – 2h33
Passengers from Frankfurt International Airport may save time by taking the S-Bahn train S9 to Wiesbaden and change there or at Mainz-Kastel to the RE trains rather than going to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof first. From the airport to Rüdesheim takes around 90 minutes.
The trains on the right bank of the Rhine are operated by VIAS and may have VIA in the train name. However, for most travelers, the differences with regular DB German Railways trains are hard to spot and the same tickets and deals are accepted.
The journey through the Rhine Valley is the most scenic but if returning from Koblenz to Frankfurt via Limburg an der Lahn, consider a longer stop-over to see this most beautiful old town center and fantastic Romanesque cathedral. (Avoid the ICE train station Limburg-Süd, in contrast to Limburg Bahnhof, this station is far from the town center.)
Trains on the Left Bank of the Rhine River in Germany
Trains from Frankfurt am Main to the left bank of the Rhine River are less frequent but somewhat faster than on the right bank.
Traveling times from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to major stops on the left bank of the Main and Rhine Rivers on the Regional Express (RE) trains are around:
- Frankfurt Airport – 15 minutes
- Mainz Hauptbahnhof – 42 minutes
- Bingen – 1h05
- Bacharach – 1h12
- Oberwesel – 1h18
- Boppard – 1h30
- Koblenz – 1h45
Further slower Regional Bahn (RB) trains operate on the left bank but generally start from Mainz. S-Bahn trains S8 have further connections from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof and International Airport to Mainz. RB trains also stop in popular tourist towns including Bacharach, St Goar, and Boppard.
Note that the fastest trains between Koblenz and Frankfurt usually stop only in Mainz and at Frankfurt International Airport and not in the smaller Rhine villages.
More Rhine River Cruise Options in Germany
See also Loreley Valley Rhine River Day Cruises for more information on the variety of Rhine River short and single day cruises available on the Middle Rhine and Top Rhine River Day Trip Cruise Lines for a selection of the top day pleasure cruise lines operating in the Loreley Valley. Regional Express, Regional Bahn, and S-Bahn trains running along the Main and Rhine are local trains for which Deutsche Bahn has several special discount tickets.
The KD Rhine Pass savings deal has not been on sale in recent years but Get Your Guide offers easy booking (and often sensible cancelation options) for day-trip cruises on the Rhine departing from many popular cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Koblenz, Boppard, Ruedesheim, Cochem, and Frankfurt. Most cruise lines now also accept online ticket purchases but several still prefer to sell tickets directly at the quay or on board cruise boats.
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