While on the topic of German rivers, the Rhine River (German: Rhein) and its tributaries deserve top spot as the artistic masterpiece of nature, that singlehandedly brought the country into international tourist attention.
Art lovers in search of inspiration are credited with having discovered this hitherto hidden gem and enthusiastically presented it to the rest of the world. The deep blue waters of the Rhine and the striking scenes it leaves in its wake are said to have inspired immortal poems and other works of art, and brought tourists in their thousands to German shores.
This epitome of romantic inspiration flows into Lake Constance from Switzerland and makes its way past France and all the way into the Netherlands. This makes it the longest of all German rivers.
All along its banks you find the best and finest of German culture in all its delightful variations. Its main tributaries carry its spectacular beauty along the Neckar, the Ruhr, the Tauber, the Main, and the Lahn rivers. The Ahr, the Saar, the Moselle, and the Nahe flow into the Rhine from the west.
The Main River takes you through some of the most picturesque of the verdant Franconian countryside, the World Heritage Site of Bamberg‘s romantic Old Town and other similar treasures, and through to the modern city of Frankfurt and beyond.
Moselle River brings to the Rhine the lively energy of the vineyards through which it came. All along its way you’ll find the most glorious of the German countryside showcasing enigmatic medieval architecture from the ruins of Landshut to the Cochem Castle, sleepy little villages, and extensive pastoral placidity.
The Danube River holds within it the indelible rhythm of history going all the way back to the Stone Age. Along its banks you can see the impressions left by eons of human occupation from the Romans soldiers, overseas traders, various royalty, religious monuments, historic ruins, down to the modern developments of big city chic.
The Danube, whose German name is Donau, originates hesitantly from Donaueschingen and on to Passau where it sheds its shyness and gathers all the grandeur of the second longest river in Europe. From the north, the Regen and the Altmühl merge into its waters, while the Isar, the Lech, and the Inn do so from the south.
The Lech River flows along the picturesque Romantic Road adding greatly to the romantic aspect. Eventually you hit what is perhaps the most beautiful spot in all the land — Upper Bavaria — where you’ll see the Mad King Ludwig II’s fantastic fairy tale Neuschwanstein Castle, among a host of other stunning architecture.
The shores of the Altmühl own a unique landscape which favorably showcases the various Roman fortifications, palaces, and cathedrals to advantage.
The Elbe River originates in the Czech Republic and chooses a fabulous landscape to its final destination, the North Sea. It passes the Elbe Sandstone Massif, tiny wine villages, open farmlands, the artistic city of Dresden, and the modern city (and state) of Hamburg.
The Weser River (passing through Bremen) easily flows in and out of the realm of fairytales to enchant the viewer with picture-perfect vistas inhabiting the exquisite space between the imagined and the real.
It’s said to have inspired the Brother’s Grimm, and it can easily do the same to anyone who decides to cruise along its scenic banks. Not surprisingly, it meanders along the German Fairy Tale Road linking the various fairy tale villages where the stories are placed.
The Oder River, though not technically flowing through Germany, does form a border between the country and Poland. It originates in the Czech Republic and eventually flows into the Black Sea.
More Rivers in Germany
- Aller River — Discover the best Central German has to offer on this 260 km (162 mi) long river that flows though Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony.
- Ems River — 371km (231mi) from classy Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock to the bi-lingual Dollart.
- Fulda River — The 221km long Water Boy of Hesse.
- Havel — A 334km long water way near Berlin feeding the mighty Elbe.
- Lusatian Neisse (Lausitzer Neiße) — a 254 km long river, 198 of which builds the German/Polish border.
- Lahn River — On 246 km this river zig-zags its way through 3 states, in 3 directions, through some amazing countryside.
- Leine — 281km through northern Thuringia and southern/central Lower Saxony showcasing industrialism and fauna.
- Ruhr River — 219km feeding German industrialism in the Ruhr Area of North Rhine-Westphalia.
- Saale — 413km leading through three German states along historical sites and exquisite wine.
- Saar River — 246 km (153 mi) through France and Germany, along vineyards and a stunning, postcard perfect countryside.
- Salzach — This trip is a quick one as the majority of the Salzach flows through Austria.
- Spree — 400km from Upper Lusatia to the City of Change.
- Werra — 300km through Thuringia, Hesse, and Lower Saxony to feed the Weser.