Situated at the confluence of the Altmühl and Danube rivers, Kelheim — a Bavarian town with narrow lanes and medieval buildings — is famed for a Benedictine monastery founded in 650 and the elegantly neoclassical Befreiungshalle (Hall of Liberation) perched atop a mound overlooking the 15,000-inhabitant town. Most river-cruise ships don’t sail directly to Kelheim but offer day trips to the region from Regensburg.
What We Love
The Danube Gorge: Take a small boat cruise through this narrow section of the Danube flanked by 400-foot cliff walls that rise nearly vertically up to the skies. Regarded for its natural beauty, the gorge and its surrounding banks are popular grounds for picnicking and swimming — especially for locals on holiday.
Weltenburg Abbey: It’s one of the oldest and prettiest monasteries in Bavaria, and the monks know how to make one heck of a good beer at the on-site Weltenburger Klosterbrauerei. Try the superb dunkel, a dark, full-bodied brew that's slightly creamy and bitter. And don’t forget to go into the abbey; its Baroque interiors are well preserved and elaborate.
Best Known For
The Befreiungshalle: Created to commemorate victory over Napoleon in 1815, this iconic circular structure — commissioned by King Ludwig I — sits atop a hill not far from the Danube Gorge. Construction on the neoclassical landmark began in 1842 and was completed 21 years later, in 1863.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs and Beer Lovers: It’s worth a trip to Kelheim just to try the monastic beer at Weltenburg Abbey. Couple that with a cruise past the scenic Danube Gorge and a tour of the 19th-century Befreiungshalle, and you've got a strong alternative for those who have already "been there, done that" in Regensburg.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Summers Get Crowded: Mid-July is far from relaxing at Weltenburg Abbey and other area attractions. Expect throngs of tourists and long lines that may cut into your time at port.
Aaron Saunders is a Calgary-based contributor to ShermansCruise.com.