5 of the Best Frankfurt River Cruises

by Oliver Stallwood  |  Published September 29, 2023

Frankfurt is a buzzing economic behemoth – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t calm to be found. One of the best ways to see Germany’s fifth most populous city is from the water, with a variety of cruises along the river Main taking in the sights at a more leisurely pace. 

Frankfurt is one of Germany’s more futuristic cities (Photo:

Frankfurt am Main can come as a bit of a shock to visitors. German cities, by and large, don’t really do lines of skyscrapers so arriving at the country’s financial beating heart can feel a bit like arriving in one of the manic metropolises of North America or Asia. ‘Mainhattan’ twinkles in the sun, its towering glass structures bouncing light like disco balls, with the near one million inhabitants seemingly all off to their next meeting. But let it settle, and like many towns and cities in Germany, the history shines through, with hazy beer gardens, tree-lined boulevards and lush green parks punctuating the concrete jungle. However one of the most relaxing ways to experience Frankfurt’s skyline and the surrounding area is from a river cruise, which keep the hustle and bustle at arms length and chug along the majestic Main all day long.

Frankfurt: River Main Sightseeing Cruise with Commentary

Proof that the cheapest cruise or tour isn’t necessarily the worst, this bargain bucket boat ride fits in a lot of what you want to see during a weekend visit for the price of a schnitzel. Choose between 50 minutes upstream or 50 minutes downstream, or 100 minutes to combine both, and take in the skyscrapers of the city’s skyline, as well as other sights like the pubs of Sachsenhausen, one of the city’s oldest and largest neighborhoods, and the European Central Bank. There is an audio guide in English and the chance to hop-on, hop-off at a couple of points of interest too. From € 13.50 per person.

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From Frankfurt: Rhine Valley Day Trip

Combine a city break in Frankfurt with a trip own the Rhein (Photo:

At the other end of the scale, this river cruise from Frankfurt not only takes in the city but also the Rhine Valley, a UNESCO world heritage site. The two couldn’t be more different – the dramatic cityscape making way for looming fairytale castles, densely forested hillsides and steep vineyards that look like they will slide into the water. It’s one of Germany’s most romantic and alluring areas and an unexpected bonus of any trip to Frankfurt. Along the way is the beautiful “Lorelei-Felsen,” or Siren’s Rocks, views over the valley from the Niederwald monument, as well as the opportunity to try fine wines in local taverns. Lunch and local wine tasting is included, as well as the bus ride back to Frankfurt at the end of the seven hour trip. If you have the time, this is a great way to see two different sides of German life.  From € 149 per person.

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Frankfurt Private Walking Tour with Relaxing Cruise

For a bit of sightseeing one upmanship, this tour combines two different forms of seeing what Frankfurt has to offer with a private walking tour plus river cruise. Starting on foot, it takes in St. Paul’s Church (Paulskirche), a key landmark in German democracy, Goethe’s House, and the Gothic Frankfurt Cathedral. Then a river cruise heads either up- or downriver on the Main, with the choice of seeing Dreikönigskirche, Literature House, the industrial memorial site Ruhrorter Werft, Städel Museum, Commerzbank and University Hospital. The tour then concludes with a walk past Goethe Statue on the Goetheplatz and through Goethestraße, a high-end shopping street open since 1892. Considering it’s just three to four hours, it’s not a cheap way to see the city, plus the boat ride is just a few euros and many sites can be seen solo, but for a complete package it is comprehensive and hassle-free. From €192.90.

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Frankfurt: 1-Hour Panorama Boat Cruise on the river Main

The Panorama Boat Cruise is a relaxing way to see Frankfurt (Photo:

Another budget cruise, think of this as more of a bar on water. This good value cruise is just an hour long and features a great terrace with beers on tap – perfect for anyone who really doesn’t want to take their sightseeing too seriously. The audio guide comes out of the tannoy, so you don’t even need to bother with headphones. This one hour spin takes in the dizzying financial district, historic landmarks like the 95m tower of the cathedral (the cathedral itself dates back to 852) and Eiserner Steg bridge. Serious history buffs might want to look elsewhere, but anyone looking to kick back and take in some of the sights it’s 14 bucks well spent – you even get free cancellation up to a day before. From € 14 per person.

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Private day trip to the Romantic Rhine Valley with river cruise and wine tasting

To really push the boat out (excuse the pun), this tour whisks around the Rhine Valley by private vehicle and includes personal wine tasting sessions in a wine cellar in Oberwesel. It also includes a two-hour river cruise and the local guide will delight in tailoring the itinerary to specific requests as well as give the lowdown on essentials like local bakeries and spots for lunch. For many this will be overkill and a bit too removed from actually getting to know people on the way, but there are others who will like the quiet seclusion of an air conditioned ride and a dedicated guide at their beck and call. You’ll need deep pockets though. From €699.00.

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