What to expect
The beautiful Rhine Valley boasts romantic castles, World Heritage sites and historic towns, some more than 2,000 years old. With gorges rising steeply on the river banks, this relaxing bike and boat tour is the best way to take it all in. You’ll live and dine aboard the spacious MS Arkona, setting off on scenic daily rides and stopping off at typical villages. From Cologne, you'll pedal to the city of Bonn, Beethoven’s birthplace, and the geyser in Andernach, before pushing on to the UNESCO-listed Upper Middle Rhine.
Suitable for all levels, you’ll be riding on paved or tarmacked cycle paths, with few gradients. Of the many hilltop castles you’ll encounter, Marksburg is the most intact, and ruined Rheinfels is the largest. Along the way, you’ll taste delicious regional delicacies and sample Rhine Valley wines from steep and scenic vineyards. Towards the end of the tour, look forward to legendary Loreley Rock and its fabled sirens. Mainz is your final destination, with its half-timbered houses and medieval market squares.
At a glance
- Historic cities with half-timbered houses
- Castles, ruins and the legend of Loreley Rock
- Rhine Valley vineyards and local cuisine
- Easy cycling on gentle riverside paths
Day 1 (Sat):
Step aboard in Cologne between 3pm and 5pm. It’s worth arriving early to experience the city’s twin-spired Gothic cathedral and 2,000 years of history. Spend a relaxing evening on the boat, or visit a beer house for a Kölsch beside the River Rhine.
Day 2 (Sun):
Cologne - Bonn
23 miles (37 km)
Stroll through the narrow alleyways of Cologne Old Town before cycling to the former capital of Bonn. Make an optional visit to the Rheinaue wetlands en route. Arrive in the beautiful city of Bonn with its colourful buildings and pink and gold Town Hall. The House of History museum, House of Beethoven museum, and Bundeskunsthalle exhibition hall are all worth visiting.
Day 3 (Mon):
Bonn - Andernach
28 miles (45 km)
Cycle towards the town of Andernach, stopping off at the late 19th century Drachenburg castle in Königswinter – climb up or take the train for fantastic views over the river. When you arrive in Andernach, see the world´s highest cold-water geyser spouting 60m high.
Day 4 (Tue):
Andernach - Koblenz
16 miles (25 km)
Ride towards Koblenz and discover one of Germany’s oldest cities. On the way, you’ll pass the Baroque summer residence of Engers castle in Neuwied, and the beautiful ‘Deutsche Eck’ (German corner) where the Mosel merges with the Rhine. Pause at the well-restored Ehrenbreitstein fortress and enjoy views over the Rhine and Moselle, or take the cableway there from Koblenz (tickets for the cableway are available on board). Koblenz itself dates back 2,000 years – look forward to grand residences, beautiful churches and a stunning mountain backdrop.
Day 5 (Wed):
Koblenz - St Goar
24 miles (38 km)
Cycle through the UNESCO-listed Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Ride past Marksburg fortress – the only hilltop castle in the Middle Rhine that hasn’t been destroyed – as well as Boppard city and Kurfürstliche Burg castle. Arrive in St Goar, and see the Rheinfels fortress. Across the river, you could visit the Katz und Maus (Cat and Mouse) fortresses in St Goarshausen.
Day 6 (Thu):
St. Goar - Rüdesheim
20 miles (32 km)
Continue beside the Rhine, past beautiful castles like Burg Reichenstein and Burg Rheinstein. Stop off where the narrowest stretch of the Rhine makes a sharp turn and learn about the legends of Loreley Rock. Continue to the city of Rüdesheim, famous for making Riesling and other wines. Stroll around the historic town, or take the cable car to the Niederwald monument for views over the Old Town and Rhine.
Day 7 (Fri):
Rüdesheim - Mainz
20 miles (32 km)
Pedal to the city of Eltville am Rhein and the Kurfürstliche Burg fortress. Ride on to Mainz with its half-timbered houses and medieval market square. Here, you can admire the red sandstone of Romanesque Mainz Cathedral, and the Renaissance architecture of the Electoral Palace. The colourful historic buildings along Mainz pedestrianized ‘Augustinerstrasse’ street are another highlight, along with the Gutenberg Museum, which celebrates the inventor of the printing press and showcases two of his original bibles.
Day 8 (Sat):
Depart from Mainz
Disembark after breakfast before 9am.
Cologne to Mainz - 2019 departures
The MS Arkona was completely refurbished for 2018 departures. Both the upper and main deck cabins are comfortable and modern (approx.11m2). The main deck has 34 twin cabins with windows that do not open. The upper deck has 12 twin cabins with sliding glass doors and French balcony, plus two cabins with a French double bed (140cm) and panoramic windows that open. All cabins are en-suite with shower and toilet, individually regulated air conditioning, hairdryer, small safe and satellite TV.
On the upper deck there is a saloon with a bar and a bright restaurant. The partly shaded large sun deck has deck chairs from which you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Cologne to Mainz - 2020 departures
The superior class MS Olympia was refurbished in 2016 and has 49 cabins with a maximum of 96 passengers. There are 21 main deck twin cabins (approx. 11m²) and 22 upper deck twin cabins (approx. 11m²). Four larger upper deck twin cabins located at the stern where engine noise is possible. All cabins are en-suite with shower and toilet, individually regulated air conditioning, fridge, hair dryer, small safe, TV and large panoramic windows (that open on the upper deck cabins).
On the upper deck there is a panoramic saloon with a bar and the restaurant is on the main deck. The partly shaded large sun deck has deck chairs from which you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Mainz to Cologne - 2019 departures
This is the reverse route from Mainz to Cologne on the MS Arkona.
Mainz to Cologne - 2020 departures
This is the reverse route from Mainz to Cologne on the MS Olympia.
Dates & Prices
Please click on a departure date for price options at a glance - 2020 dates on sale
- 7 nights accommodation: MS Arkona for 2019 departures or MS Olympia for 2020 departures
- Board basis: Full board including breakfast, packed lunch for cyclists or light lunch on board (non-cyclists) and dinner
- English speaking on-board guide with daily briefings of the bike tours
- Maps and route information (GPS tracks available on request)
- Welcome meeting with drink
- Local contact number for assistance
- Daily cabin cleaning
- Mooring fees
- Coffee in the afternoon
- Flights and transfers
- Cycle helmets
- Bike hire
- Entrance fees and excursions
- Drinks on board
- Transfers to/from the docking place
- Ferry fees & tips
Bike Hire & Extras
Bikes come with a pannier and a handlebar bag, small repair kit with spare inner tube, pump and lock are given per cabin and are included at no extra cost when you hire a bike.
Hybrid bike with 7 gears
Hybrid bike with 7 gears
News, Reviews & FAQs
Simply click on a question to reveal the answers
Will the itinerary ever change?
For Boat & Bike tours the boat will generally keep to the advertised itinerary, however the captain may have to adapt the itinerary due to the river or sea conditions.
How much space will I have in my cabin?
There is limited space in the cabins, so pack light and take a soft suitcase.
Can the boat cater for special dietary requirements?
Please advise us of any special requirements at time of booking and we will notify the boat operator in advance. Understandably, kitchen galley space is limited and it may not be possible to provide specialist products (eg. Gluten free). We suggest you bring a few items with you and, in some cases, these can be provided at a supplement.
Can I stay on the boat during the day and not cycle?
Yes, you can relax on the boat or explore when you arrive at each destination instead of cycling.
Will I be cycling with other people?
Although there is no organised group, self-guided guests regularly find they come across their fellow passengers along the route during the day and may even get together to form their own cycling groups.
Can I book by myself?
Absolutely! Boat & Bike tours are very sociable and a good choice for single travellers wishing to mix with other guests and share your common interest of cycling.
What does my on-board Tour Leader do?
Your on-board Tour Leader provides daily briefings ahead of the next day's ride. These are always beneficial, including information on the local area, main sights, and tips on good places to stop en route.