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Setting sail from Basel
Basel lies where Switzerland, France and Germany meet, a sophisticated and multicultural city with a picturesque setting astride the river Rhine. The medieval Old Town is exceptionally well preserved, best appreciated from the summit of the hilltop cathedral, which offers incredible views across the city. Basel boasts a wealth of museums and galleries, and plays host to events including the renowned Art Basel contemporary art fair, held during the summer, and Fasnacht, Switzerland's most famous winter carnival.
The food here is great, with so many different influences. Try salmon ‘nach Basler Art’ (in a white wine marinade with fried onions), and wash it down with the local Riesling.
Breisach is a small town on the western fringe of the Black Forest, separated from the French region of Alsace by a bend in the river Rhine. This proximity to France is reflected in a vibrant food and wine scene, and architectural highlights include the hilltop St Stephen's cathedral.
Strasbourg is the capital of France’s Alsace region, right next to the border with Germany, and there is a tangible Germanic influence that sets the city a little apart from the rest of France. Highlights include the beautiful Gothic cathedral, the old town’s fairytale half-timbered houses, and the pictureque canals of the Petite France district.
Hugging the river Rhine to the south of Frankfurt, the pleasant little town of Speyer has a long and distinguished history. This was one of the Holy Roman Empire’s most important cities, as evidenced by the beautiful Romanesque cathedral, and is also home to a delightful Christmas market during the winter months.
Boppard is one of the most attractive towns on the Rhine, situated on a horseshoe bend with a lovely riverside promenade. Take the chairlift up to the Vierseenblick for fantastic views, go hiking in the woods or explore the pretty streets and handsome architecture of the town itself.
The pretty little town of Rüdesheim, situated on a bend in the Rhine surrounded by vineyards, is a popular destination for travellers looking for a slice of quintessentially German village life. The Drosselgasse, a narrow cobbled lane flanked by old timber frame buildings, is particularly atmospheric.
Germany: Trier, Cochem
Koblenz was founded by the Romans, who valued the city’s strategically important location where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet. Rebuilt from the rubble of the Second World War, modern Koblenz has a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, and serves as a gateway to the Romantic Rhine.
Cologne is a wonderfully warm and welcoming city, its skyline dominated by one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Europe. You will likely spend most of your time in the attractive Altstadt (Old Town), home to beer halls aplenty and some fascinating museums.
Arriving in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities to visit, as well as also being a perfect base to explore the nearby landscape of windmills and dikes. The Amsterdam canal belt is now officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and from them there are so many neighbourhoods to explore, such as the Jordaan with its higgledy-piggledy streets and its famed garden courtyards (hofjes). There are also a wealth of famous museums and galleries to choose from, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House, not to mention some more, shall we say, quirky options.
Explore by water, or by bicycle to get a feel for the city – a hop on hop off canal boat, or rented bike or pedalo will do the trick.
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Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Basel
The Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois (three kings) is one of Europe’s oldest city hotels.
Excursions from Basel
If the Romans are your thing then you'll enjoy Switzerland’s largest Roman ruins at Augusta Raurica, with the excellent Römermuseum alongside.
Two nights in Amsterdam
There is a fantastic range of canal front hotels to choose from, but we love the new Waldorf Astoria.
Visit windmills in Zaanse Schans, the flowers at Keukenhof, or the cheese market in Alkmaar.