For guests aboard a German river cruise, the most pertinent World Heritage site is the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Often called the Rhine Gorge or the Romantic Rhine, this 40-mile stretch of the Rhine River meanders past more than five dozen medieval towns and more than 40 castles—some well-preserved, others in various states of ruin. In fact, this stretch of the Rhine River became famous during the Romanticism period (end of the 18th century to late 19th century), when many of Europe’s leading authors, including Lord Byron, wrote poetically about its dramatic vistas and scenery. Those written works inspired many affluent Europeans to visit the Rhine Gorge to take in the region’s natural splendor.
Those who sail through Germany on a European river cruise can take in another of the nation’s most popular natural attractions, the Black Forest. According to reports, Bavaria is the most popular destination within Germany for international visitors, and within that region the nature reserves of the Black Forest are among the country’s most popular tourist sites, according to the German National Tourist Board. The Romantic Road, a 220-mile stretch of roadways running through the Black Forest, is based loosely on an old Roman trade route and connects numerous palatial castles and medieval towns that served as the inspiration for many of today’s popular fairy tales.