The Main River meanders through Bavaria with picture postcard countryside for company. Enjoy views of medieval castles, crystal-clear rivers and lakes, forests, national parks, sun-soaked vineyard slopes and romantic low mountain landscapes with Alpine summits.
Step back in time on the River Main as it winds its way through the magnificent Bavarian landscape. Bavaria is one of the oldest states in Europe and was once a sovereign state. The Main offers a feast for historians and culture vultures with medieval castles, charming small towns, famous cities, opulent palaces and Baroque churches.
Enjoy itineraries with something for everyone, experienced cruisers and beginners alike. Tour historic cities and charming towns on foot with our experienced guides or explore by bike. Visit world-class attractions and enjoy delicious local cuisine or chill out on the sun deck with a drink and a beautiful view for company.
Sail through Bavaria’s peaceful and pastoral landscapes and discover some highlights of Germany’s fascinating historical treasures and heritage. Explore the ancient towns of Miltenberg, Würzburg, and Bamberg and marvel at the majesty of Wertheim Castle, with numerous UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites to explore. Discover a treasure trove of unspoiled, picturesque landscapes and historic towns with our luxury River Cruise offers, the ultimate blend of heritage and culture combined with the region of most spectacular river backdrop.
In partnership with our trusted cruise partners, indulge yourself in the hand-picked delights and highlights of the Main River, secure in the knowledge that you’ll enjoy optimal service with operators that dedicate themselves to the customer experience for a truly memorable Main River cruise.
Hand-picked itineraries with local expert guides offer travellers a blend of the famous and unmissable mixed with a selection of secret gems. Our tour guides pride themselves on offering visitors the essential ‘must see’ landmarks blended with some ‘outside the box’ destinations. Follow a set programme or head off and explore on your own.
Enjoy five-star cuisine with an authentic flavour of the riverside regions. Our gourmet chefs take advantage of local produce and inspiration to bring stunning dishes to the table with recommended provincial and international wine lists. There are daily vegan and vegetarian options, plus special menus for those on restricted diets, with taste and flavour always the top priority.
*This is an example itinerary of one of many of our Main River cruises. We have a huge selection of river routes, cruise lines, and ships. Speak to our crui.se advisor today to find your perfect Main River cruise
This tour starts on the Rhine and then heads off onto the Main, the Rhine’s largest and most significant tributary. Enjoy a day in Cologne, the largest city on the famous Rhine River and the fourth largest in Germany. Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an unmissable landmark and offers bird’s eye views of the city and the river. Embark your luxury cruiser in the evening.
Set sail from Cologne along the Rhine to the charming city of Koblenz with its Roman origins and the significant Marksburg Castle, the only Rhine fortress still standing with spectacular views over the river. The cruise continues through one of the most beautiful stretches of the Rhine, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and past the Lorelei Rock, located at the river’s narrowest point and named after the legendary and mythical Rhine maiden who lured sailors to their death.
Enjoy stunning river views as you cruise through the Spessart region, home of Snow White and an area noted for its glassblowing traditions, with a live demonstration of this ancient art on board for guests to enjoy. In the afternoon, we dock at Miltenberg, a pretty town crammed with half-timbered houses and home to Germany’s oldest inn. A walking tour makes the most of this charming riverside location with plenty of free time to explore.
Würzburg is a city famed for its lavish baroque and rococo architecture. It has a wonderful 18th-century Bishop’s Residenz, a vast and ornate palace complete with a renowned fresco by Venetian artist, Teipolo. Würzburg is also the centre of the Franconian wine country, a hallmark of which is the distinctive ‘bocksbeutel’ or flattened glass bottles, the perfect opportunity to sample some iconic vintages. Guests can also enjoy an optional full-day excursion to Rothenburg, another feast for lovers of Gothic and baroque architecture, where half-timbered houses line the cobblestone lanes of the old town.
Sail the Main in the morning and then arrive at Bamberg in the afternoon, which sits at the confluence of the Regnitz and Main rivers. Reputedly one of Germany’s most beautiful towns, Bamberg has a stunning medieval city centre and Europe’s largest intact original city wall. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A guided walking tour includes the 11th-century cathedral reworked in late Romanesque style in the 13th century and the picturesque city and town hall, which sits on a tiny island in the middle of a river. Famous for its smoke-flavoured beer, Bamberg is a mecca for beer lovers, so allow yourself enough time for a tipple.
Nuremberg offers a fascinating insight into the demise of the Third Reich with the opportunity to visit the Palace of Justice, the location of the famous Nuremberg Trials and the Nazi parade grounds of the 1930s. There’s also a chance to view the famous underground chambers where priceless art was hidden during the Second World War. For those who like their history a bit older, Nuremberg was an important commercial hub from the Middle Ages onwards, as well as the toy-making centre of Europe. There are well-preserved historical landmarks like the Imperial Palace and the walled Old Town. Nuremberg is famous for its gingerbread, so don’t forget to try some!
Cruising from the Main onto the Danube, arrive in Regensburg, a beautifully preserved medieval city untouched by the bombs of World War II, with Roman origins and plenty of 13th and 14th-century architecture. Dine at the famous Alte Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), Germany’s oldest restaurant. Guests also have the option to travel to Munich for a full-day tour of this historic city.
Passau sits at the confluence of the Ilz, Inn, and Danube Rivers, your last port of call on this eight-day voyage. A historic town, Passau is known as the ‘Three Rivers City’ and lies on the Austrian border so guests can opt for a full-day tour of picturesque Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and the setting of the iconic film, The Sound of Music. Passau marks the end of your river journey, but it is the perfect location to continue your travels or stay a while longer.
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Start your cruise on the Rhine before joining the Main, the longest tributary of the Rhine River after Koblenz. The Main follows a winding and circuitous route through some of Germany’s most scenic landscapes and forms a unique cultural and geographic divide separating peoples, religions and cuisines. Enjoy a fascinating tour through beautiful forestland, vineyards and some of Germany’s most famous and historic landmarks.
Set sail down the Main with Crui.se
Beth, Crui.se Expert
I have cruised the Danube and the Rhine numerous times, so travelling the scenic Main River was a real eye-opener, even for an experienced cruiser like me. If you like your history, this cruise spans about 1,000 years, plus all the heritage and culture that go alongside it. I really liked the mix of famous cities and small, picturesque towns, which give you an authentic flavour of the people who have lived along the river. And the Main is just so picturesque, with a lazy, meandering route which suits the holiday pace of life so well. This cruise is an excellent choice for people who have cruised a lot but also those who want to dip a toe into the water and are cruising for the first time.
“We were tempted by the fame and reputation of cruising the Danube or the Rhine but also wanted to do something just a bit different on this, our first cruise. And we hit the nail on the head as this cruise includes rivers and the Main, a fascinating tributary with history and heritage at every turn. The port itineraries were really well thought out and run by expert guides, and the vessel was the height of luxury.”
“A great trip for people like us who like to get under the skin of a place and avoid the obvious well-trodden tourist routes. Not that this cruise didn’t visit some high spots like Nuremberg and Munich, but there was also so much for the traveller who likes to get off the beaten track, like us. We didn’t opt for the ship’s planned itineraries, but all the way the tour guides were helpful and shared information to help us explore (such as local vineyards!). It felt like we had planned our own holiday and were almost lone travellers, just perfect.”
“Planning a cruise as a surprise is a bit risky, especially as this was our first river holiday, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the experience. The vessel was fabulous, and we spent a couple of days just lounging around on the sun deck; it was so pleasant. The port excursions were informative and well-planned, but there was no pressure to go on them. The food was superb, with different regions and local dishes reflected on the daily menus. All in all, a great experience and a really different and interesting way to holiday.”
“We like to think we are experienced cruisers and know our way around the rivers of Europe. We decided to break away from our usual cruise partner, always a risk, but we were more than happy with the quality of the vessel and onboard service on this Main River journey. The main ports stopovers are as good as any you will find elsewhere, with a real emphasis on finding something to appeal to everyone plus, there are destinations on this cruise that you don’t get with other companies. The boat was well-appointed, and the staff was polite and friendly, so we will definitely explore further with this company.”
You can check our frequently ask questions here anytime
Our gourmet chefs offer varied menus daily, including vegetarian and vegan options, and can easily tailor dishes to suit any allergies or restrictions – just let us know when you book. The cuisine is a mix of international and locally inspired fare with no compromise on taste or flavour, whatever your diet.
All our cruisers are specifically designed for optimal access, so let us know your needs when you book, and we’ll be able to accommodate you. Some vessels have interconnecting staterooms, perfect for people who require assistance from a family member or friend. We are always happy to tailor rooms to give guests the best cruise experience and can also help with special dietary requirements and any medical needs whilst you’re on board.
Our booking team will let you know when you make your river cruise reservation. We follow the latest World Health Organisation Covid guidance and refer to local protocols in the regions we sail through. Our on board staff are all fully vaccinated.
Depending on how many countries you sail through, you will probably need a visa or visas. Passengers must arrange their own visas and should do so well ahead of their cruise date in case of delays. Our friendly booking team will be able to give you some general advice on what’s involved when you make your reservation.
The Main River, also known as the Main, is a significant waterway in central Germany. It flows through the central part of the country, primarily in the state of Bavaria, before joining the Rhine River (the longest river located in Germany) near Mainz.
The Main River is linked with the Danube Rivers and the Main-Danube Canal, forming an essential European waterway network. While it is not linked directly with the North Sea, the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal connects the Main River at Bamberg, Germany, to the Rhine River near the town of Mainz. From Mainz, the Rhine flows northwest, eventually reaching the North Sea in the Netherlands.
In Regensburg, Germany, the Main and Danube rivers merge. This connects two major European rivers, allowing for easier navigation and transportation across the continent. The Danube River flows northwest towards the Black Sea from Regensburg, while the Main River flows northwest towards the Rhine.
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