Main River Cruises

The Main river flows through the heart of Germany from modern, densely populated Mainz to more traditional medieval Bavarian towns lined with lovely forests and small towns and dotted with hilltop castles and churches.  Choose from 1,956 river cruises along the Main river travelling with Europe's leading river cruise lines.

Popular River Cruises View all


19 Days Amsterdam to Zagreb

Operator: Scenic

From 10,418
Save 2,703

6 Days Frankfurt to Nuremberg

Operator: Avalon River Cruises

From 3,772
Save 409

8 Days Frankfurt to Nuremberg

Operator: Uniworld River Cruises

From 5,348
Save 694

8 Days Frankfurt to Prague

Operator: Avalon River Cruises

From 4,660
Save 418

The Main River

Map of the Main River

Where does the Main River start & finish?

The Main River originates from two sources: the Red Main and the White Main, which merge near the town of Kulmbach in Germany. The river flows westward, ultimately joining the Rhine River at the city of Mainz. The Main spans a total length of approximately 525 km's (326 miles).

Architectural Timeline

Cruising the Main River offers a journey through architectural history. From the medieval structures in Bamberg to the modern skyscrapers of Frankfurt, you'll witness an evolving skyline as you sail along.

Beer & Smoked Fish

The Main passes through Bamberg, known for its smoked beer (Rauchbier) and smoked fish. Many cruises offer culinary excursions that give you a taste of these local specialities, something some of us might pass on!

Art & Culture in Würzburg

This city along the Main is home to the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque palace with the world's largest ceiling fresco. An excursion here is often a highlight, offering a glimpse into the opulence of 18th-century German nobility.

Popular starting ports for cruising the Main River

Frankfurt and Nuremberg serve as popular points of departure or arrival for a Main River cruise.

From the North Sea to the Black Sea

The Main River is that it is part of the Main-Danube Canal system, which makes it possible to travel by river from the North Sea to the Black Sea. What's surprising is that this ambitious idea dates back to Charlemagne in the early 9th century. The modern canal was only completed in 1992, fulfilling a concept that was over a thousand years in the making.

River Cruise Operators on the Main RiverFeatured Operators View all

One of our favourite sayings that describes Avalon Waterways is ‘the possibilities are as wide open as the views’. From Europe to the Galapagos and Asia,...more you can cruise in relaxed luxury with Avalon Waterways, with choices as unique as you. Avalon offers you a range of choices from excursions, dining options, activities that help you tailor your experience. Just imagine gliding away down the world’s most spectacular rivers, all while enjoying a unique vantage point from your own private oasis. Our floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows in our suites blur the line between where the world ends, and your suite begins; allowing you to experience the world less seen from the comfort of your bed. This is river cruising from a unique point of view.
Main Rivers73
Known For:Panorama Suites
Fleet Size:16
With Scenic, it’s more than a 5-star river’s a seamless journey from start to finish that places you, our guest, at the heart of everything...more we do. It’s taking you to extraordinary regions and immersing you in meaningful and enriching experiences. It’s exquisite cuisine, indulgent wellness, and a world-class team who will anticipate your every need. You'll find the difference is in the details with Scenic: the innovative ship design, expertly trained crew, immersive journey, and an unrivalled focus on health and safety protocols.
Main Rivers244
Budget:Premium & Luxury
Known For:Luxury Cruising
Fleet Size:14
Emerald Cruises
From culture-rich cities to world-famous wine regions, Emerald Cruises represents a new chapter in the world of river cruising. Our deluxe fleet of revolutionary...more Star-Ships promise contemporary comfort and unique on-board innovations, while our generous offering combines affordability with great dining, exceptional service and immersive itineraries across Europe and Asia. With return flights, transfers, all on-board meals, complimentary drinks, tips and much more included in the price of an Emerald Cruises river cruise, we’ve taken care of everything. Our attentive team of crew, sommeliers and personal butlers are available day and night to ensure every minute on-board the Emerald Cruises fleet is as enriching, enjoyable and relaxing as possible.
Main Rivers126
Known For:Affordable Luxury
Fleet Size:9

Discover Must Do Experiences and Highlights



Step into a storybook and journey through rich medieval history with a visit to Gothic St. Jakobus Church, Miltenberg Castle with its panoramic views, or Miltenberg's vibrant Market Square.



Marvel at iconic landmarks such as Marienberg Fortress with its sweeping city vistas or UNESCO-listed Würzburg Residence. Perhaps even sample a drop of vintage from the surrounding Franconian wine region.



With its half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets, Rothenberg is a Bavarian medieval gem. Visit the Crime Museum, or explore the Marktplatz, Gothic town hall and iconic clock tower.



Visit Bamberg's Old Town Hall and find yourself in the middle of a bridge! Admire the fusion of architecture at Bamberg Cathedral, or wet your whistle with some 'Rauchbier' - a smoke-flavoured beer.



Integral to our modern history, Zeppelin Field and the Palace of Justice are some noteworthy WWII sites to visit during your time in Nuremberg. Or choose to explore more medieval marvels at Nuremberg Castle.

Latest Reviews What our clients are saying about their journeys along the Main river

Perfect way to see Europe   , QLD, Australia, Dec 2023
Two weeks aboard Viking River Ships is the most relaxing way to explore a beautiful part of Europe. To wake up in the morning and look out the floor to ceiling window and see the stunning river and scenery go past is magical. Viking made everything so seamless (including a ship swap due to flooding rivers). The staff were incredible and the ship was more so comfortable and beautifully decorated for Christmas. Each town and city offered something different and we had plenty of free time in each place. A truly perfect way to travel.
Viking Grand European River Cruise     , NSW, Australia, Nov 2023
Our first river cruise with Viking did not disappoint! We enjoyed the excellent experience and attention we received from the staff onboard. They welcomed us onboard around 10:30am even though our boarding time was 4:00pm. We were able to leave our luggage and continue to explore Budapest. Viking provided our lunch on the first day and if we needed more we could have had lunch on the last day of our cruise after checking out of our cabins at 9:00am. Viking will hold your luggage as well if you have a late flight and want to continue to see the sights after leaving the cruise. This was a thoughtful gesture.

We had a couple of things that did not go to plan. Our ship the Viking TIR had some damage because a log hit a part of the propeller and it was causing vibrations so we had an unscheduled stop in Linz so they could repair the damage. The rivers were in flood which made it difficult for the nautical crew and when we reached Passau we were advised the water level was too high for us to continue. Viking had a sister ship coming from the other side of the river and we had to pack up our things and they transferred them to the Viking VALLI whilst they put us on a bus for the planned excursion and then onto the Vali docked in Nuremberg. Because all their ships are the same we were allocated the room and we continue on without further disruption.

The included tours were informative and because we have traveled to Europe many times before we didn’t do any of the optional tours offered. I will say that I found the price of the optional tours expensive as we had been to most of the places offered and at a much cheaper cost. The food was restaurant quality and you could have as much as you wanted. The one thing I didn’t like was that lunch and dinner were at set times. The laundry was expensive however we were able to do everything except our jeans in the bathroom which had a heated floor and most things dried overnight. Most of the other passengers were in their seventies with a sprinkling of a few younger and older. Overall the experience was great and we were able to see the Christmas markets in Budapest, Vienna, Nuremberg, Kolbenz, Cologne and Amsterdam. Global Journeys and Georgie always give exceptional service and advice and we look forward to making our future travel plans with them.
Luxurious all-inclusive river cruise.   , Auckland, New Zealand, Nov 2023
From the moment we embarked on our scenic river adventure, it was evident that Scenic was committed to providing a level of luxury and enrichment that surpassed our expectations. The highlight of our trip was the private concert at Richitenstein Palace - the intimate performance In the opulent Palace setting was a prestigious event and was the epitome more of the Scenic experience.

What stood out to us was the genuine commitment of the Scenic team to go above and beyond for their guests. Cathy, our cruise director was the most cheerful person I’ve ever met. She was full of positive energy which made us feel energized too. The bar staff, all of them were working hard. Ali and Luka were constantly offering drinks to guests. The restaurant staff, the housekeeping staff, the hotel manager, all of them were committed and made a very good team between themselves.

One of the standout features of the Scenic River Cruise was the comprehensive all-inclusive package, from meal to excursion, all day drink onboard to gratuity, everything was included and this made our vacation worry-free experience. In conclusion, we really enjoyed our river cruise. We are grateful for the memories created and can't wait to embark on another adventure with Scenic in the future. We booked our cruise through Georgie of Global Journeys. The booking process went on seamlessly and Georgie is a wonderful agent to deal with.
15 Day Magnificent Europe river cruise   , VIC, Australia, Nov 2023
Would definitely book again through Global Journeys. The river cruise was good but not quite what we thought it would be. Most day trips were only 2 - 3 hours in length. Fellow passengers were enjoyable company and the entertainment, Tori & Dave, were excellent. Maybe we are too young to be going on river cruises!!