Cathedral in Mainz, Germany. Photo via Flickr:Heribert Pohl
Mittlere Brücke in Basel, Switzerland. Photo via Flickr:son_gismo

Main street in Speyer with Cathedral in the background. Photo via Flickr:Daniel Sancho
3.7/5 (7 ratings)

Mainz to Basel

Germany, Switzerland, France Bike + Barge Tours

Bike and Boat tour along the Rhine River

Flowing through four countries, the Rhine River courses through Europe. On this bike and boat tour in Germany, Switzerland, and France, you will follow the river beginning in either Basel or Mainz. This is a region with blurred borders, but the independent cultures maintain their unique identities.

If you begin in Basel, you will travel from the Alsace region to the German Upper Black Forest, before continuing the journey to the Palatinate region and finally to the city of Mainz.

If you begin in Mainz, the route will lead you all the way up to Basel, the tripoint between Switzerland, Germany, and France.

You will cross the French-German border several times during your tour. Large churches, Baroque castles, and idyllic Old Towns with half-timbered medieval houses will line your way. Both the French region of the Alsace and the German Black Forest area have many delicacies to entice you such as wonderful chocolate, very fine wine, and great cuisine.

*This tour runs in both directions.

Be sure to check out our full like to bike and barge tours in France.

Tour Dates

2016:
Mainz to Basel
: July 30, August 27, September 24, 2016
Basel to Mainz: August 6, September 3, and October 1, 2016

2017:
Mainz to Basel:
 July 15, July 29, August 26, and September 23, 2017
Basel to Mainz: July 22, August 5, September 2, and September 30, 2017

Skill Level

Easy self-guided bike and boat tour with daily distances between 30 and 70 km. You will mostly be biking on car-free paths, rural country roads with little traffic and asphalted bike lanes but also some dirt paths and dirt roads, with a few short sections on federal highways. The routes are mostly flat but there are some hilly sections with only a few graded steep.

Where You’ll Stay

On board the comfort plus vessel, the MS Andante

What’s Included

  • Accommodations for 7 nights on board
  • Welcome drink
  • All meals included (breakfast buffet, packed lunch for cycle tours or lunch snack, coffee and tea in the afternoon and three-course dinner)
  • Daily cabin cleaning
  • Change of bedding and towels
  • Passenger and port fees
  • Daily tour briefing
  • Tour director on board
  • Maps and information material 1x per cabin
  • 7 speed hybrid bike rental equipped with hand and back pedal brakes and one pannier bag. There is a very limited number of bikes with hand brakes available and must be reserved in advance.

What’s Not Included

TourBike+Boat
TypeSelf Guided
SkillEasy
Length8– days
From889 Rates
Client Reviews

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Day-To-Day Itinerary

Mainz to Basel Map

2016 Mainz to Basel:

Day 1: Arrival in Mainz, sail to Gernsheim 
Day 2: Gernsheim - Mannheim (by ship) | Mannheim - Heidelberg - Speyer, 19 to 37 mi. (30 - 55 km)
Day 3: Speyer - Sondernheim, 12 mi. (20 km) | Sondernheim - Rastaat/Plitterdorf, by ship
Day 4: Plittersdorf - Gambsheim | 25 mi. (40 km) Gambsheim - Kehl/Strasbourg, by ship
Day 5: Kehl - Breisach, 25 mi. (40 km)
Day 6: Breisach, two cycling options, either 28 mi. (45 km) or 44 mi. (70 km)
Day 7:  Breisach-Basel, 25 mi. (40 km)
Day 8: Basel

*All distances are approximate. The above planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc.

There are slight changes to the itinerary in 2017. Please ask us!

Day 1: Arrival in Mainz, sail to Gernsheim
Individual arrival in Mainz.  Boarding time between 3 and 5 PM. There may be time to see the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate with its lovingly restored half-timbered houses.  At 6 PM, the ship sails to Gernsheim, where you will spend the night.

Day 2: Gernsheim - Mannheim, by ship | Mannheim - HeidelbergSpeyer, 19 to 37 mi. (30 - 55 km)
First on the agenda is a morning boat ride to the the lovely town of Mannheim. The Baroque Palace here is the largest in Germany and took forty years to erect. From Mannheim, two options are provided.  One route leads directly to Speyer and the other via Heidelberg with its world-famous castle ruin and Heidelberg University. The cathedral in Speyer, today’s destination, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

*In 2017, you will have the opportunity for an optional excursion exploring the city of Speyer on a guided walk. Payable on board.

Day 3: Speyer - Sondernheim, 12 mi. (20 km) | Sondernheim - Plitterdorf, by ship
Cycling through the Palatinate countryside you will reach the small town of Sondernheim, a former fishing and sailing village. The entire surrounding area has been designated as an environmentally protected area. The MS ANDANTE (in 2017, ship will be the MS Alessia) awaits here to motor to Rastatt-Plittersdorf, a town characterized by its Baroque buildings and two marvelous Baroque palaces. The Plittersdorf district is close to the Nature Reserve, Rastatter Rheinaue (Floodplains of the Rhine River).

*In 2017, optional excursion, Brick Museium will be available to reserve and pay for on board.

Day 4: Plittersdorf - Gambsheim | 25 mi. (40 km) Gambsheim - (Kehl) Strasbourg, by ship
Today you will set foot on French soil when cycling to the village of Gambsheim in Alsace. From here, the ship sails to Kehl in the afternoon. Only the Rhine River separates the German town from Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region. You can decide whether to enjoy the charm of the German small town Kehl or to have a guided tour in Strasbourg (not included) and see the famous historic squares like the Cathedral Square and the Suckling Pig Market as well as fascinating buildings like the Cathedral.

Day 5: Strasbourg - Rhinau, by ship| Rhinau - Breisach, 26 - 28 mi. (42 - 49 km)
In the morning, the boat motors to the village of Rhinau in France, situated amidst an amazing landscape shaped by the Rhine River. Here you leave the ship and continue the tour by bike, cycling towards the town of Breisach upon Rhine. From the rocky hill on which the Romanesque cathedral Saint Stephen towers over the town, there is an amazing view reaching from the Vosges Mountains over the Rhine valley to the Black Forest, with the local vineyards surrounding the town. This is home to Europe's largest producing wine cellar.

Day 6: Breisach, two cycling options, to either Colmar or Freiburg, 39 mi. (63 km)
Two options will be provided this day. While the ship remains moored in Breisach upon Rhine, you can decide to go for a cycle tour to Colmar, the unofficial capital of Alsatian wine, or to Freiburg in Breisgau, with its gorgeous buildings like the Freiburger Münster, a gothic cathedral, in the wonderful Old Town. Return to the boat is possible by train if you prefer (train ticket not included).

Day 7: Breisach - Basel, 38 mi. (62 km)
The MS ANDANTE will cruise to the small French village of Chalampé from which the cycling itinerary begins along the French bank of the River Rhine via Ottmarsheim and across the border to Switzerland. You can choose to cycle the route or enjoy a rest day on board! Enjoy your stay in this marvelous Swiss city in the tripoint between Germany-France-Switzerland. Basel calls itself the ”City of Gourmets” and has more than 20 restaurants.

Day 8: Basel
Disembarkation after breakfast approximately 9 am.

Text in italics above is covered by boat.

Itinerary for Basel to Mainz

Day 1: Basel. Boarding between 3 & 5PM.
Day 2: Basel - Breisach 
Day 3: Breisach 
Day 4: Breisach to Kehl
Day 5: Kehl - Plittersdorf
Day 6: Plittersdorf - Speyer
Day 7: Speyer - Mainz
Day 8: Mainz. Departure following breakfast.

Looking for a different flavor? Check out our entire list of bike and boat tours or view all our featured bike trips, news, and specials.

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Customer Feedback

  • Linda Callard 10 months ago

    The boat was great and we all got the cabins we were hoping for – the food was really good. The girls commented that they weren’t expecting the food to be as good as it was.
    • The biking was as easy as we expected, I didn’t like the bikes as much as the bikes we had on the Danube the year before but the bikes were exactly what they said on the web-site. Pretty well all the trails were paved – makes it hard to come back to PEI trails!
    • Apparently we weren’t on as pretty a section of the Rhine as we could have been but we saw some great scenery and little villages were so clean, friendly and relatively easy to get around. The crew said they didn’t like this route because it wasn’t as scenic and not as many places to stop. Apparently, they are not going to do the same route next year.
    • I don’t think the tour itself was quite as well run as the one on MV Story on Danube IN 2014. I didn’t think the tour guide this year gave nearly as good instructions as the previous year and often it was difficult to figure out exactly which trail to take. The book with maps had a number of errors but guy said that would be fixed. I think they were some translations errors as well.. Last year, the tour guide always biked the route (he would wait until boat left so was always behind us and we knew he’d catch up). This guy said he was always behind us but we only saw him once and very briefly. He didn’t give suggestions of places to eat etc like they did last year. We always found good spots so that was not an issue but not because he provided suggestions. In 2014 the directions were very very clear and the company put arrows on the sign posts to show the directions. That was very helpful but non of that happened this year 2015. Maybe if they had continued the tour they would have done that as well.
    • The directions we got for where the boat was docked in Basel were wrong – the directions said to go to West side and that was where the boat was always docked!! Well, it wasn’t there it was on the east side. Thankfully when it wasn’t where it was expected to be, the cab driver knew where it “probably” was. We did NOT feel the cabby took advantage of us as a few other couples has same issue and one of them had taken a bus to the dock!!. Tripsite was very responsive when we explained this and you were very generous in reimbursing us for cab fares (should have been 21 E per cab but was 54E per cab). I saw the meter and he only charged us what the meter said, plus he turned meter off a couple of times. We did give him tip. We took 2 cabs for the 6 of us and they followed each other so we all had same issue.
    • We would absolutely go on another Tripsite trip and we all had a great time – just wanted to give you the feedback. If asked, I would recommend the Danube over this section of the Rhine. I would however try a different section of the Rhine and we may look at Holland another year.

    Boat: MS Andante

  • Susan Miller 10 months ago

    The guide was not well prepared with maps and the boat kept changing docking locations. The Rhine is very industrial from Basel to Mainz. The rides were not very interesting or long. It was not one of your better offers.

    Boat: MS Andante

  • Jessica Kiedrowski 11 months ago

    I was pleased with the points of interest on the tour (Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Colmar, Breisach), however, the route was very industrial at times and there was just nothing special about it. The maps and route descriptions were terrible and I'd say that was the number one complaint of fellow passengers. I talked to the guide and he said they will redo the route for next year so hopefully with some changes, it will be much better.

    Boat: MS Andante

  • Anna Zdancewicz 11 months ago

    The boat itself is nothing remarkable, but quite comfortable and clean. The staff was amazingly friendly. Route descriptions were sparse in some sections so there was some guessing involved. The maps themselves didn't have any road names on them if you did get lost they were of no use. We honestly didn't rely on the maps/route descriptions as much as the info from our daily meetings with the tour guide. There were good and bad days as far as scenery on the rides, a few days were pretty boring with not a lot to look at, while others were quite beautiful. We docked within walking distance to town on all days except one (where you had the option of one lonely restaurant). On board you are provided with maps and flyers for each overnight town. The bikes were super heavy and cumbersome (not bikes I am used to) but this is the norm in Europe. The food on board was excellent. I would recommend this trip as I know the routes are being reviewed and descriptions/maps updated.

    Boat: MS Andante

  • David Miller 11 months ago

    Garrit, our bike tour leader, was a novice on this route as well as a poor communicator to the english speaking clients. The docking area changed at each stop from the printed instructions, and the maps and turn-by-turn instructions were only partly correct! Everyone got lost at some point in the trip!! I had asked for GPS routing for my bike Garmin GPS but was told the route was to new and that it was not available! I think some accurate preparation would have made the trip more pleasant.
    Second - the route along the Rhine is not scenic (as on the Danube) with few small towns to stop and look/snack on the way. The most notable sights were gravel pits and cement manufacturing. Of course, that is not the fault of the tour operator, however, they should have provided a detailed description of the small towns on the way (although not on the river) to give us the option of exploring the interesting ones and forgetting about the towns with 3 streets and no interesting sights.

    Boat: MS Andante

  • Norbert Glatt 11 months ago

    Boat staff need to learn how to be more polite and friendly. The management seems to be in the military service.

    Boat: MS Andante

  • Gregory Akin 11 months ago

    The Rhine from Mainz to Basel, for the most part, is industrial and not as picturesque as other European bike and barge routes we've enjoyed. There were a few cities (Heidelberg, Germany and Strausbourg, France) which were beautiful and offered much to do, but we were expecting the scenic bike routes with quaint towns for cake and coffee, or beer stops along the way and were sorely disappointed. But the most disappointing aspect of this trip was the inability of the on-board guide to give proper instructions nor enlighten us of things to see or visit. We found out about popular sites from all channels except the guides. In Strausbourg, while chatting with tourists, we heard of an amazing evening light show projected onto an enormous cathedral - huge crowds gathered to enjoy this historic presentation, yet nothing was mentioned of it by our guide. We have needed so little guidance to enjoy our bike and barge trips, but this one missed the mark. Based on previous trips that we've done, we'd convinced 2 other couples to join us and they were underwhelmed and disappointed as well. The barge and accommodations were adequate, though rooms were random sizes no matter which deck you choose. One couple paid extra for the upper deck, but their room was much smaller than another couple's on the lower level. The staff and meals on this barge were top notch and we can't say enough about the gourmet chef and tireless staff.

    Boat: MS Andante

  • Paula Birch 11 months ago

    I really enjoyed the bike/boat tour on the Rhine. Accommodations on the boat were very good and the meals were excellent. On our arrival we found that our boat was not at the dock as listed but had changed locations and was on the other side of the river. This created a longer taxi drive thus a much bigger fare (54 euros instead of 21 euros) for the 3 of us in each taxi. We had a briefing each morning by our tour guide and on almost every day, the directions were not detailed enough. One of the people we biked with had a GPS and with that and along with discussions among all of us, we managed to find our way back. I really feel this was a big gap and should be rectified before another tour. However it was a wonderful experience and we met many lovely and
    interesting people. I would love to do a different bike/boat tour at some time in the future.

    Boat: MS Andante

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Mainz to Basel Boats + Barges

MS Andante Photo

MS Andante France, Germany, Switzerland Comfort Plus Class Boat Last refurbished in 2008/2009, the spacious river barge, the MS Andante, will provide comfortable accommodations for your active vacation. There is a lounge/bar and dining room with panoramic windows on the promenade deck. Cabins are equipped with two low beds, dressing table with mirror, flat screen TV, individually controlled air conditioning, and windows that open. There is also a partially covered sundeck with seating.

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