The Rhine River is one of the most popular rivers for cruising in Europe, with companies like AmaWaterways, Viking, and Uniworld making their way along parts of its 760 miles. Most cruises travel from the Swiss town of Basel north to Amsterdam (or vice versa) with stops in picturesque towns on either side of the riverbank.
While many cruises include tours and activities in the cost, it can be worthwhile to strike out and explore on your own—and you don’t have to spend much to do so. Here are seven things you can do on a Rhine River cruise for less than 10 euros (or about $10 USD).
In Riquewihr or Rüdesheim am Rhein: Taste the local wine
Both Riquewihr in France’s Alsace and Rüdesheim am Rhein in Germany’s Rheingau beckon wine lovers with small, family-run tasting rooms and spectacular vineyard views. In Riquewihr, one of the few area towns not destroyed in WWII and reportedly the inspiration for the town in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, check out wineries like Domaine Hugel Et Fils or Domaine Dopff et Irion, where tasting fees range from free to around 6 euros per person.
In Rüdesheim, travelers can sip wine at a number of wineries right in town for similarly low prices, or head to one of the two wine-tasting stands in the town’s main square (open seasonally). For a view of where all those grapes come from, hop on the Rüdesheim cable car that glides over the vineyards to the 19th-century Niederwalddenkmal (Germania Monument) overlooking the valley. A one-way ride is €5.50 (€8.00 for roundtrip).
In Strasbourg or Cologne: Marvel at a historic cathedral
Both Strasbourg, France, and Cologne, Germany, have stunning cathedrals that are well worth a visit—and the effort to climb to their tops for a spectacular view. Cologne’s cathedral, which was built from 1248 to 1473, left unfinished for 400 years, and then finally completed in 1880, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the tallest twin-spired church in the world. One of its major attractions is the Shrine of the Three Kings, a large reliquary made of bronze and silver, which reportedly contains relics from the three wise men who brought gifts to the birth of Jesus. Admission is 4 euros.
Admission to Strasbourg’s cathedral, which was built from 1647 to 1874 and is the sixth-tallest church in the world, is a similar bargain: It’s €4.60 to access the viewing platform and an additional €2 to watch its 60-foot-tall astronomical clock (one of the largest in the world) put on its show twice per day.
In Heidelberg: Visit the student prison
The now-crumbling ruins of Heidelberg castle are the main attraction of the city, but one lesser-known must-see is the Heidelberg University Studentenkarzer, or student prison. Since 1386, Heidelberg has been home to Germany’s oldest university, and for nearly as long, unruly students have been jailed in some form of student prison.
Opened in the 16th Century, the Studentenkarzer moved several times before settling in its current location in 1712 and ultimately closing for good in 1914. Today, the former prison building looks just like it did before World War I, complete with the graffiti left by bored students who were held there for up to four weeks at a time (but still allowed to attend classes). Rest assured, a stint in the jail wasn’t too terrible, as the conditions were similar to life in the dorms and many students considered incarceration there a rite of passage worthy of bragging rights. Admission to the jail now costs €3 and includes a ticket to the University Museum.
In Rüdesheim am Rhein: Have a Rüdesheimer coffee
The diminutive town—and UNESCO World Heritage site—of Rüdesheim am Rhein is known for a few things besides wine: the lovely vineyards that surround the town, a summer wine festival, and Rüdesheimer coffee. This local specialty has been warming the bellies of locals and visitors for more than 60 years.
The secret: Asbach Uralt brandy and sugar cubes mixed with coffee. First, the bandy is flambéed and the sugar is dissolved, and then it’s topped with coffee, sweet whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. Several restaurants serve the concoction; one popular option is Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss, where a cup costs €8.
In Cologne: Drink a cold kölsch beer
Kölsch, a light pilsner-style beer, is to Cologne what Champagne is to, well, Champagne. That is, a kölsch can only be a kölsch if it’s brewed within 30 miles of Cologne. There are 13 kölsch breweries in the city, though you can find it served in any pub or biergarten here.
Look for brands like Sion, Gaffel, and Dom; the beer will be served in a small 0.2-liter cylinder glass, which will be replaced until you signal that you don’t want any more by placing your coaster on top of your glass. Prices vary, but typically you’ll pay 2 or 3 euros per glass.
In Amsterdam: Honor the past at the Anne Frank Museum
The story of Anne Frank—a young Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis with her family in a small attic for nearly two years—is well-known, but nothing brings her famous diary to life like a visit to the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. Open since 1960, the museum preserves the spaces once inhabited by the Frank family, and includes exhibits on Anne’s life, the heroic efforts of the people who hid her family, and ultimately, the sad conclusion to her story.
The museum is the third-most visited museum in the Netherlands, with more than a million visitors stepping into Anne’s annex each year. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and cost €10 for adults. There’s a €,50 surcharge for online purchases, which technically puts a visit over the 10 euro limit, but if any experience is worth the extra cost, it’s the chance to gain a deeper understanding of Anne’s life and legacy.