Day-trip riverboat cruise excursions depart from Mainz and Wiesbaden on the Rhine to the Loreley Valley and on the Main to Frankfurt.
Boat cruises on the Rhein and Mainz rivers depart daily from Mainz and Wiesbaden in Germany during the high season. Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) has excursion cruises downriver on the Rhine past Rüdesheim to the Loreley Valley and Koblenz. Primus boats cruise occasionally between Frankfurt am Main and Rüdesheim with stops en route in Mainz and Wiesbaden. Primus also offers event cruises from Mainz and Wiesbaden. It is no longer possible to cruise all the way from Mainz to Cologne on a single day-trip excursion.
Cruising on the Rhine River from Mainz and Wiesbaden
The longest possible day-trip cruise excursion on the Rhine River from Mainz or Wiesbaden is to St Goarhausen just downriver from the Loreley Valley. This includes the most scenic part of the river — the narrow, steep valley with endless castles and picturesque villages and vineyards between Rüdesheim and St Goar / St Goarhausen near the Loreley Rock. The once-popular eleven-hour cruise from Mainz to Cologne (Köln) is no longer possible, although, with a boat change, it is possible to continue all the way to Koblenz (around two hours downstream from St Goarhausen).
Cruising on the Rhine River is possible daily from Mainz and Wiesbaden from mid-April (or Easter) to mid-October. In the off-season, special events may bring the boats out but in winter, cruises are more likely from Rüdesheim, Frankfurt, or Cologne. Cruises are usually more frequent over weekends, especially during the spring and autumn seasons.
The Rhine Valley is wide with the river fairly slow-flowing from Mainz to Rüdesheim. Travelers with limited time should consider taking the train from Mainz or Wiesbaden to Rüdesheim or Bingen from where many more cruises are available per day. Boats from here cruise the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed Middle Rhine Valley, the most beautiful part of the Rhine with endless castles and the famous Loreley Rock.
Rhine Cruise Times from Mainz and Wiesbaden
The main cruises from Mainz and Wiesbaden to St Goarhausen are on the Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) riverboats. During the main season, a daily boat departs from Mainz around 9 am and from Wiesbaden-Biebrich 15 minutes later. The boats return from St Goarhauen at around 13:00.
Some of the stops on the Mainz to Koblenz with average cruise times between ports are — note a boat change is usually necessary at St Goar / St Goarhausen:
|Down River||Up River|
|St Goar / St Goarhausen (R)||1:30||1:20|
Note: (L) left bank, R right bank. Passegner ferries are available in among other Rüdesheim-Bingen and St Goar-St Goarhausen.
It is easy to return by train from any port — it is mostly just a short walk from the boat landing to the station (except in Wiesbaden).
See timetable on German Railways website.
On longer cruises, the KD Rhine Pass could be a great savings deal. It is not always available and not sold directly by KD but rather through resellers such as Get Your Guide. It cost around €35 and covers all regular cruises for a day. Note that the Rhine Pass is different from the KD RheinCard that gives a 50% discount on regular cruises for a year — also a great deal for frequent cruisers.
Cruising on the Main River from Wiesbaden and Mainz
Mainz is at the confluence of the Rivers Main and Rhine with Wiesbaden only a few kilometers downstream. During the summer season, Primus Line offers cruises a few times per week from Frankfurt am Main to Rüdesheim with stops en route in amongst others Mainz and Wiesbaden.
The cruise time from Frankfurt am Main to Mainz is around two hours (three hours for the upriver cruise). In contrast to KD, tickets on Primus are almost always for return journeys. It is possible to return by train for the same price but this must be indicated when the tickets are bought.
Primus cooperates closely with other cruise lines making it possible to change in Rüdesheim from a Primus line boat to a different boat to cruise down the Middle Rhine and Loreley Valley. However, note that some discount offers and bicycle policies may differ.
Event Cruises from Mainz and Wiesbaden
Primus Lines and KD offer special panorama cruises from Mainz and occasionally from Wiesbaden. These are mostly only once a week or so during the main season and not as frequent as the regular cruises in Frankfurt am Main, Koblenz, Cologne, or Düsseldorf.
These cruises usually include meals and need prior reservations.
Cruising from Mainz and Wiesbaden in Germany
Mainz, the state capital of Rhineland Palatinate, and Wiesbaden, the state capital of Hessen, are located on opposite sides of the Rhine River in Germany. However, both cities somewhat turned their backs on the famous river with the town centers away from the Rhine itself. Getting to the boats from the relevant main train stations (Hauptbahnhof) is fairly easy:
- In Mainz, Rhine and Main boats depart from quays (Pier) behind the Rathaus / Rheingoldhalle on the left (west) bank of the Rhine River. It is around half an hour’s walk from the central train station to here. As buses 28,54,55,56,57,60,61,68,70,71,90,91 all stop at Rheingoldhalle/Rathaus a suitable bus departs almost every minute for the 15-minute journey. The old town center with cathedral is close enough to the piers for easy walking.
- In Wiesbaden, the center of town and main train station are even further away from the Rhine River and not a simple stroll. Here, boats depart from quays in Wiesbaden-Biebrich. It is a 15-minute bus ride from Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) to the stop Biebrich Rheinufer. Buses 3 and 4 make the journey several times per hour.
Boat cruises upriver from Mainz and Wiesbaden are very rare, although a few special excursion cruises are available each year mostly heading to Heidelberg. Multiday-boat cruises frequently sail between Mainz and Strasbourg in France and Basel in Switzerland. Cruises upriver from Mainz are possible at larger Rhine towns such as Mannheim (and Worms & Heidelberg) and Speyer.
More on the Rhine River
Day-Trip Excursions and Pleasure Cruises on the Rhine River:
- Middle Rhine (Loreley Valley) — UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed Area:
- Upper 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)
Tips and Savings on Day-Trip Rhine Cruises
- The best part of the Rhine for day-trip excursion cruises in the Middle Rhine between Rüdesheim / Bingen and Koblenz. See Savings Tips and the Best Cruise Lines cruising in the Loreley Valley.
- Save with a KD Rhine Pass on Rhine River cruises (unfortunately not always available but a potentially good savings deal on longer day-trip cruises).
- Check train times for Germany (and most of Europe) at German Railways.